Authors: Lucy Kevin
Tags: #Four Weddings & a Fiasco#5
The Wedding Kiss
Book #5 in the Four Weddings and a Fiasco series
© 2012 Lucy Kevin
Rose Martin, proprietor of San Francisco’s premiere wedding venue the Rose Chalet, is trying to convince herself that the man she’s marrying in a week is the right one for her. But with only seven days left until he loses her forever to another man, RJ Knight, the landscaper and handyman at the chalet, can’t step aside any longer. He might not be a wealthy member of San Francisco high society like her fiancé, but RJ is desperately in love with Rose…and he’s pretty darn sure that she’s in love with him, too. Now, with help from the rest of the Rose Chalet staff, he just needs to prove it.
“Are you sure that there’s nothing I
can do to help?” Rose Martin asked Anne Farleigh for the third time.
“I’m absolutely, positively sure.”
Rose and Anne had been close friends since kindergarten. When Rose had opened the Rose Chalet as a San Francisco wedding venue five years ago, she’d immediately hired Anne as her on-staff wedding dress designer.
bridal shower,” Anne reminded Rose, “which means no running around trying to take care of everything like you usually do. For today, you get to sit back and be treated like a princess while everyone else gets things ready.” Anne swept an admiring glance over her. “Besides, you look too beautiful today to get any wrinkles or stains.”
Rose had worn her hair loose over her shoulders, but she’d made up for it by wearing a slightly formal dress in dark green. Normally, she wouldn’t have dressed up quite so much for a wedding shower, but she wanted to make sure she made a good impression with Mrs. McIntyre, her fiancé’s mother.
Rose took a breath and forced a smile for her friend, before trying to follow Anne’s directions by taking a seat on a floral printed chair in the living room. She clasped her hands together on her lap and watched the activity bustling all around her.
Julie Delgado was bringing in the food with the assistance of her fiancé Andrew Kyle. Julie had briefly taken care of catering for the chalet a year ago, and that was when she’d met Andrew, who was not only the brother of the groom, but also a famous TV chef. The two of them had been the chalet staff’s first happy-ever-after.
Phoebe Davis, who had done the flowers for the Rose Chalet since the day Rose had opened her doors, was working her usual magic with exquisite flower bouquets. Her boyfriend, Patrick Knight, was helping her carry in the large vases while she finalized the arrangements.
Classical music played through the speakers set up in the corners. As the music director for the chalet, Tyce Smith had a knack for knowing just the right songs to pair with each bride and groom, and he’d put together a beautiful selection for her today. His girlfriend, Whitney Banning, had travelled from Colorado for today’s party.
Even Anne’s fiancé, Gareth Cavendish, a private investigator, was helping to move furniture around.
Rose never ceased to be amazed by how big a part the chalet had played in all of her friends’ relationships. After Julie and Andrew had fallen in love, Phoebe and Patrick had met on the dance floor at one of the weddings. And then, in an even more romantic twist, after losing touch for five years, Tyce and Whitney had been unexpectedly reunited when Whitney had been a bridesmaid at her Aunt’s wedding. Only Anne and Gareth hadn’t met at the Rose Chalet.
Now, Anne’s beautiful Craftsman house was a hive of activity. A hive in which Rose suspected she was supposed to be the carefully immobile queen bee. Honestly, though, she wasn’t sure how much longer she could sit there doing nothing. She was used to not only working long hard hours, but multi-tasking. Sitting still while everyone else bustled around her wasn’t something she would ever get used to, even though they were clearly doing a great job.
“You know,” she said to Anne as her friend brought over a glass of wine, “we could have held this in the chalet just as easily, and then you wouldn’t have had all this chaos in your home.”
“Oh, don’t be silly,” Anne said. “You know how much I wanted to throw you this shower. Besides, you’re having the wedding at the chalet, the bachelorette party will probably start there, and we’ll all be working
there for the next week. Don’t you think it’s nicer to have at least one event somewhere else?”
Rose nodded as she looked around the large front room of her best friend’s house. It was decorated in a retro-style that fit Anne perfectly, and half the furniture was antique. It really was a beautiful place to hold the shower.
She could still hardly believe everything that had happened for Anne in the past few months. From out of the blue, her friend had learned not only that her beloved father had had an affair twenty years ago...but that she also had a half-sister named Jasmine. The other woman had been quite intent on getting half of the estate Anne’s deceased parents had left her, and had taken Anne to court for the money. Fortunately, in the end, Jasmine had decided to behave reasonably.
“I’m so glad Jasmine decided to accept your offer to give her half the worth of the house in cash, rather than insisting that you sell it,” Rose said to her friend.
“Me too,” Anne admitted. “Though I’m even more glad that she might actually want to try to meet for coffee one day soon so that we can get to know each other better.” Anne looked pensive for a moment, before brushing the thought away with her hand in the air. “But today isn’t about me. It’s about you. And there’s only one week to go until you and Donovan get married!”
One week until Rose Martin became Mrs. Rose McIntyre, wife of a successful plastic surgeon who came from one of the most important families in California.
She felt as if she’d been waiting for their marriage day for so long that now that it was almost here…well, it was hard to wrap her head around it. Donovan was off on a hunting trip with his father and a few colleagues, and would be back in a day or two. In the meantime, there were so many final details remaining with the music, the dress, the flowers, and decorating the venue.
“We are going to get everything done in time, aren’t we?” Rose asked Anne.
“Of course we are. You know,” her friend said with a grin, “you sound just like one of the brides who come through the chalet. So I’ll tell you exactly what I always tell them: we’re going to make everything
for you. It will be your dream wedding.”
Anne hugged her, and Rose let the warmth of her friend’s arms cut through the chill she hadn’t been able to shake all day. Though as she did, Rose couldn’t help quickly looking over her friend’s shoulder and checking that everything was ready for the shower. Music? Check. Food? Julie had said more was on its way, but even now, the buffet table looked great. Flowers? Thanks to Phoebe’s flower arrangements, the room both smelled and looked beautiful.
So why did Rose still feel so nervous?
She sighed, knowing exactly why.
Vanessa McIntyre, Donovan’s mother, was San Francisco’s leading society maven. Her hair was never out of place, her body was kept in perfect shape by a combination of personal trainers and the very discrete attentions of Donovan’s plastic surgery colleagues, she was always immaculately dressed, and of course she had both the refined tastes and perfect manners of someone who knew
how wealthy her great-great-grandparents had been.
That kind of perfection was, frankly, a lot to live up to. Rose was only too aware that her own hair often had a mind of its own, and that she tended to freckle far too much in the sun, that is when her pale skin didn’t simply burn first. And while she knew which fork to use at the society dinners he took her to, Rose spent almost every one of those meals wondering when people would see through her charade.
Because instead of growing up in high society, Rose had spent her childhood doing her homework in the back room of the bowling alley her mother worked at.
Just then, Phoebe came over to join Rose and Anne. Her beautiful dress hugged her figure, while her dark hair spilled down her back, and her high cheekbones were slightly flushed from the exertion of moving heavy vases of flowers around.
For a second or two, Rose found herself wondering if standing between her two beautiful friends was really that good of an idea.
“What’s wrong?” Anne asked her.
“I was just thinking, what if Vanessa McIntyre sees me standing with the two of you and decides that her son could do a lot better?” Rose laughed, trying to make a joke of it. “And what if she decides that I urgently need the attentions of a couple of plastic surgeons, a team of beauticians, and at least one specialist in deportment before I’m allowed to marry Donovan?”
“Oh, don’t be silly,” Phoebe said, “you’re gorgeous, Rose.”
But when Rose still looked worried, Anne leaned in close and joked, “How about this? I’ll sneak her phone out of her purse during the party to see if she has a team of manicurists and stylists on speed dial, and I’ll wink three times in a row if she does to warn you.”
That would have been funny if Rose hadn’t chosen that moment to look down and see that in her worry about the wedding she’d started biting her nails. It was a nasty habit she thought she’d trained herself to stop doing a long time ago. She hurriedly balled her hands up into fists so the others wouldn’t see them.
“Whitney,” Phoebe said as Tyce’s girlfriend came into the room, “you must know Vanessa McIntyre, right? She’s not so bad, is she?”
After several years as Vice President of Banning Incorporated, a large wellness products company that was founded by her father, Whitney had decided to make a switch to becoming a veterinarian. But she had grown up in the same society circles as the McIntyres.
Whitney looked lovely in a pair of dark slacks and a light blue blouse as she smiled and nodded. “I’ve met her at various events. She’s always been perfectly polite to me. I’m sure she’s a very nice person,” Whitney added.
“Rose,” Anne assured her, “you’re elegant and intelligent and beautiful. I’m sure she adores you, just as Donovan does.”
“But,” Rose found herself saying, “what about my mother?”
“Your mother’s lovely,” Anne insisted. “
likes her. I used to love getting to spend time with her at the bowling alley.”
Rose’s mother more-or-less ran the bowling alley where she’d worked for more than two decades. Both Rose and Anne had spent countless hours there as kids, bowling when no one else was around, eating on-the-house snacks from the concession booths, or doing their homework with the sound of balls knocking down pins in the background.
Rose definitely loved her mother, it was just…what would a highly regarded society queen like Vanessa McIntyre make of Susie Martin?
Half the time, Rose could still smell the disinfectant used for the bowling shoes on her mother whenever they were close to one another. As much as Rose hated to admit it, she’d actually been half hoping that Mr. Philips, who owned the bowling alley, wouldn’t give her mother this Saturday off. That way they could have celebrated Rose’s upcoming wedding privately, instead.
When the doorbell rang, Rose quickly turned to get it before anyone else could leap to do it. She opened the door and saw RJ Knight, the Rose Chalet’s handyman and gardener standing on Anne’s front porch.
, she thought,
he looks good today.
He was wearing casual jeans and a flannel work shirt with a couple of open buttons at the neck. As usual, his dark hair had an untamed look to it and his piercing blue eyes gazed out levelly from underneath.
“RJ?” She worked to repress the flutter of awareness from the warmth of his gaze on her as she asked, “What are you doing here?”
It always took RJ a few seconds to take in Rose’s beauty. He remembered the first time he met her, when he was interviewing for the position at the Rose Chalet. He’d expected a round, matronly woman to be the owner of the wedding venue...not the young, gorgeous, vibrant redhead who had greeted him with a brisk handshake and a long list of incisive interview questions.