Almost Like Being in Love (6 page)

BOOK: Almost Like Being in Love
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“There's an empty dressing room!” Margo marshaled them forward, using her minisuitcase of a purse to clear a path through the crush of women. “Those three girls just walked out!”

Caron averted her eyes from some of the bridal expo attendees who, in their search for the ultimate bargain, had abandoned all hope of securing the privacy of a dressing room. Instead, they chose to try on garments in between the racks of sample dresses. Or while friends formed a human barrier around them. Or wherever they found some open space in the convention center.

“Grab that room before someone else does.” Caron tightened her arms around the shifting load of bridesmaid dresses. “I am not changing clothes in public—not even for you, Margo. There was a TV news team interviewing people in here earlier.”

Leslie and Brooke, who carried their own loads of purple-hued bridesmaid dresses, nodded in agreement and murmured an endless litany of “excuse me, excuse me” as they tried to keep up with Margo. Emma, in true I've-got-this-under-control maid-of-honor fashion, succeeded first, and positioned herself in front of the prized location of the dressing room with her sister.

“Okay, get in there and start trying dresses on.” Margo pulled back the white curtain.

Caron blew a wisp of hair out of her eyes, but didn't budge. “All of four us? At the same time?”

Margo waved the curtain like a flag flapping in a strong coastal breeze. “The sooner you try these dresses on, the sooner we find out if anything works, and if we need to go looking again—”

“Be reasonable. Four women and who knows how many dresses in that makeshift space would be a disaster waiting to happen.” Caron shifted the armful of dresses again as the one on top started to slip. “Why not let Emma and Brooke go first? Then Leslie and I'll go.”

Emma, who balanced her stack of dresses like a professional juggler, nodded. “Caron has a point. No sense in having your bridal party suffocate under a mountain of purple dresses.”

“Fine. But I want to see everything you try on. Everything.”

“Yes, ma'am. You're the bride-to-be.” Emma motioned Brooke into the room as Margo held the curtain open. “You're in charge today.”

“Three months to plan a wedding. Three months.” Margo settled onto the expo's concrete floor, which, for today's festivities, was covered in a bold blue carpet. “I must be crazy. Tell me all this will be worth it so Ronny and I can have the wedding we want.”

“It will be worth it.”
Caron joined Leslie and Margo on the floor, setting her selection of dresses to the side, creating a semicircle in front of the dressing room.

“What about you?” Margo ran her fingers through her short-cropped brown hair and then leaned back on her hands, her gaze focused on Caron.

Caron pointed to herself. “What about me
what
?”

“What about you and Alex? You've been dating for almost two years now. You go to the beach. Have dinner every weekend with your parents. When are you going to make life easy on yourselves and get married?”

The clamor of women's voices seemed to intensify as if someone had found a universal volume control and twisted it all the way up. The air was thick with an overwhelming blend of competing perfumes.

Make life easy. Get married.
When were she and Alex going to get married? Good question. One both sets of parents asked with increasing frequency.

“Oh, I don't know. We're both so busy with work—”

“Now you sound like some sort of jet-setting celebrity couple who won't ever set a wedding date.
We're both so busy.
” Margo stopped when the dressing room curtain swished open and Emma stepped into view.

“What do you think?” Emma stood with one hand on her hip, the other holding up the too-long skirt of her plum-colored halter dress.

“I like yours better than this froufrou thing.” Brooke hung back in the doorway, plucking at the feathered neckline of her short cocktail dress.

“No to the feathers.” Margo waved Brooke back into the dressing room. “Yours, Emma, is a definite possibility. Next.”

Without missing a verbal beat, Margo refocused on Caron. “So do you want a summer wedding?
That would mean waiting another year. Fall? That would be a challenge to pull off. Maybe a Christmas wedding?”

“I haven't really given it much thought.” Caron played with the zipper of one of the dresses. Up. Down. Up. Down. Up.

“Oh, come on. Every woman imagines her dream wedding. Surely you and Alex have talked about it—”

“A little.”

Or not.

“Margo mentioned your brother, Logan, had a destination wedding, right?” Leslie leaned around Margo to join the conversation, her layered black hair falling over her gray eyes.

“Yes—in Destin, at the Henderson Beach Inn. Logan was living in Oklahoma and Vanessa lived in Colorado.”

“So what about that?” Margo played with the strand of turquoise beads around her neck. “Or you could do something out of the country. Italy. Or the Bahamas.”

“A destination wedding? I don't know.”

How long did it take for Emma and Brooke to change dresses? And why couldn't they talk about Margo's August wedding instead of Caron's yet-to-be-scheduled one? She and Alex were in a relationship holding pattern: girlfriend and boyfriend. Marriage would happen . . . sometime.

“I read about a couple who dated for twelve years before they got married. Can you imagine? Twelve years.” Leslie shook her head, grabbing her sunglasses just before they toppled off her head. “No, thank you. I would have broken up with the guy long before that.”

“Maybe she did.” Margo stretched her long legs out in front of her, her white capris showing off her tan. “Maybe they were that perpetual on-again-off-again couple, but somehow she always knew he was the one.”

“Or he knew she was the one.”
Caron averted her eyes as a woman right behind Margo peeled off her sundress to try on a long, electric-orange gown. “Why do we always assume it's the girl hanging around, waiting for the guy to make up his mind and propose?”

“Good point.” Margo ducked as a woman walked by, an assortment of dresses slung over her shoulder. “Although, really, you'd think you'd know what you wanted in a relationship after twelve years, right?”

They were surrounded by nonstop noise and motion as Caron searched for some way to change the topic. “Didn't you mention you and Ronny were buying a house?”

Leslie stared straight ahead, eyes locked on the dressing room curtains, while Margo looked everywhere but at Caron. Something between a laugh and a groan wheezed out of her friend's mouth. “Funny you should mention that . . .”

“I'm not following. Are you buying a house?”

“We're still looking.” Margo's next words rushed over her. “And Kade Webster is our Realtor.”

Kade Webster?
Her
Kade Webster? Well, not that he was “her” Kade Webster anymore. They'd broken up two years ago—or rather, she'd broken up with him.

“Margo, why didn't you say something?”

Emma and Brooke stepped into view again, interrupting Margo's explanation. This time Emma wore a short lavender dress with an Empire waist and a flowing, layered skirt. Leslie wore a long plum sheath.

Margo turned her attention to the other women, tilting her head and tapping her forefinger against her chin. “Yours is fun, Emma. What do you think?”

“This style feels a little young for me. It's more like a junior
bridesmaid dress or something I might have worn to homecoming. I like the one Brooke has on.”

“I like this one, too.” Brooke turned a slow three-sixty, standing on her tiptoes in her navy-blue flip-flops.

“Did all of you find that style in your size?”

Caron couldn't seem to push past the reality that Kade Webster was in Colorado, too. Of course she'd known that. Still remembered the night her father mentioned the news that Kade had left Florida to strike out on his own in Colorado, starting a realty company with a friend. How had she forgotten he was
right here
—and why hadn't Margo told her that she and Ronny were using Kade as a Realtor? Her world suddenly felt small. Too small.

Enough. Today was about Margo's wedding. This trip had nothing to do with her ex-boyfriend. And Margo didn't have plans to go house-hunting while Caron was in town. Did she?

“Caron?” Margo's voice pushed through the haze of questions whirring in her brain.

“I'm sorry. What?”

“Do you have the same style of dress as Brooke is wearing?”

“I lost track. Maybe.” Caron riffled through the pile of dresses, the material soft against her fingers. So many purple hues. Maybe if she tried to name them all it'd help fend off any memories of Kade. Dating him was nothing but a momentary stop on her romantic journey to happily-ever-after with Alex.

“Well, keep that style in mind. If we decide we want it, we can look again.” Margo rose to her feet and took a closer look at the dress Brooke wore. “I think it will look good on all of you.”

The moment Brooke and Emma disappeared into the dressing room again, Caron turned to Margo. “Explain yourself.”

“What?”

“You know what.
Explain this failure to mention Kade Webster is your Realtor.”

Her friend cleared her throat, tugging at her top. “It's the craziest coincidence—”

“Right.”

“No, really. One of my coworkers used Kade when she bought a house, and so when I mentioned Ronny and I wanted to buy a house, she recommended him.” Margo's words tumbled out faster and faster. “She gave me his phone number, and I called him. We were talking before I realized—”

Caron held up her hand, eyes closed. “Fine.”

“Fine? That's all you have to say?”

“What else am I supposed to say? It's done. I'm just too tired for surprises today.”

Almost three hours later, they'd conquered the madness on the dress sales floor. Four gowns labeled amethyst, boysenberry, antique fuchsia, and lavender were stowed in the trunk of Leslie's car, and the escape to outside the convention center was a welcome relief—even if it was located in the middle of Denver.

The bride-to-be declared it was time to visit vendors and consider reception decor, wedding cakes, and announcements.

“That was worth it.” Brooke linked her arm through Caron's.

“We found bridesmaid dresses for under a hundred dollars apiece. I should say so.”

And the topic of Kade Webster had been dropped. Fine. He was Margo's Realtor. Caron was only here for a week. She could evade memories of the man for seven days.

Caron bumped into Leslie, who had come to a halt just inside the event center doors. “What is going on?”

“Prizes.” Leslie waved a ballpoint pen and a square entry form. “We're entering for Margo. Saves us time.”

“You should enter, too.”
Brooke gathered several squares of paper, digging through her purse for a pen.

Caron tried to move around her friends. “Me? No. Margo's the bride-to-be.”

Margo blocked her path, handing her several entry forms and a pen. “That's a brilliant idea. Go ahead and enter. You could win a wedding dress, jewelry, a photography package—the grand prize is some sort of destination wedding in Telluride. Wouldn't it be fun if we both won something?”

Caron resisted the offer of the pen and paper. “But I'm not even engaged—”

“It's only a matter of time. You and Alex have been together forever.” A chorus of agreements followed Margo's statement. “Fill out one or two, just for fun. Put an imaginary date on the form. Besides, what are the odds? There are hundreds of other people here.”

“Fine. But just one.”

She'd humor Margo. One of the reasons she'd come to Colorado was to join in on the prewedding fun, right? It was all about making the bride-to-be happy today. Caron scribbled her name on the form. She picked a date sometime next fall for the line labeled
Wedding Date
, filling out her phone number, e-mail, and future husband's name.

Caron stuffed the slip of paper into a large box wrapped in white paper covered with silver filigree hearts and topped with an enormous silver bow. She trailed behind the other women into the side of the convention center filled with all things nuptial. Vendors displaying wedding invitations. Tables decorated for wedding receptions in coordinating table linens. DJs playing competing playlists—each advertising the perfect songs to get guests on the dance floor. Floral bouquets and displays. Romantic getaways for honeymoons. Caterers with food displays. All
overlaid by a frantic buzz of nonstop conversation punctuated by laughter.

“Where do we start?” Caron had to raise her voice to be heard.

“Let's just go counterclockwise around the room.” Emma took charge. “Margo, you let us know when you want to stop at a particular booth, okay? If we get separated, we'll meet back by the display with the huge black-and-white geometric wedding cake in an hour. Sound good?”

“It's a plan.” Caron stepped aside as another group of women flowed into the room. One girl with long blond hair wore a white sash emblazoned with the words
BRIDE-TO-BE
. Did she think this was some sort of bachelorette party? “Let's get moving.”

•  •  •

When, oh when, could they head south to Margo's apartment in Colorado Springs? Caron didn't want to fight crowds of brides and their bridesmaid wannabes. She didn't want to listen to wedding music. Didn't want to ooh and aah over reception favors. Didn't want another stranger to ask her, “So when are you getting married?”

All she wanted was something to eat and then crawl into bed and go to sleep. She'd start having fun again tomorrow.

“Can we leave now?” Caron tapped Margo's shoulder, certain she sounded like a whiny child on an endless road trip asking her mom,
“Are we there yet?”

BOOK: Almost Like Being in Love
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