Engaged in Embellishments
By: Nikki Duncan | Other books by Nikki Duncan
Word Count: 9793
Available in: Adobe Acrobat, Epub, Mobipocket (.mobi)
About the book
Always a planner, never a bride…until one man vows to mend a broken promise.
Tulle and Tulips, Book 5.5
Lori Mullins walks a tightrope every day of her life, acutely aware that there are no guarantees. No guarantee she’s left the demons of her past behind. No guarantee that her future is assured.
Though she believes love is a powerful force, she can’t help but wonder if it is all-conquering.
Trevor Masters runs a successful business, but professional loyalties fail to fulfill his dreams. Dreams that the woman he loves forgives herself for the past. Dreams that she will finally accept his offer for a shared future.
Though some dismiss dreams as nothing more than nice pastimes, he can’t stop believing in their power.
And he finally feels like he’s close to making this one come true.
Warning: Contains a man whose world shatters when he breaks a promise, and a woman who flounders in the debris. All wrapped up in a Glittering Groot. Seriously.
An excerpt from the book
Copyright © 2015 Nikki Duncan
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Lori Mullins, the creator and owner of Tulle and Tulips Designer Weddings, knew a thing or two about glamour and elegance. She joked that she’d learned at the hands of a high-profile madame. Only recently, after her friends had gotten her sufficiently loosened up with wine and the finest of homemade chocolates, had she finally shared the truth few people knew.
She’d been recruited and trained by a secret government agency that had employed her as a spy. She’d fallen in love with weddings and wedding dresses during a mission where she’d worked as a wedding planner for an arms dealer. After her retirement, beginning Tulle and Tulips had been a dream come true.
Occasionally she had the pleasure of putting a wedding together for a friend. Better than that, she got to work with friends when she did.
“Glittering Groot.” Tabatha Sampson shook her head to get her hair away from her face. Her chuckle was rich and happy as she wrapped shimmery brown tulle around a strand of tiny white lights that would be strung back and forth across the ceiling of the arch. The ballroom’s two sets of double doors would be opened after the ceremony to unite the ballroom and the tent beyond into one space for the reception. “I would never have thought we could make a comic book wedding glamorous.”
Lori moved to the next chair to continue the tulle chain that would keep people out of the aisle. “When the Bunny of Bling gets married, elegance is the only way we could go.”
Instead of trying to recapture a particular comic book story, Darci and Victor had chosen a scene from Guardians of the Galaxy. That scene being the pivotal moment when the characters truly went from being individuals to being a team. When Groot sacrificed himself to protect the others and instead of saying “I am Groot” said “We are Groot”. With Darci’s eye for all that sparkles, the day promised to be everything she and her comic-book-loving husband-to-be could want.
“Says the woman whose silk slacks remain unwrinkled after a ten-hour day.”
Lori looked at the deep purple slacks she’d chosen that morning and could only shrug over their smoothness. Being wrinkle free was little more than a smart fabric choice.
“What will your wedding be like, Lori?” Tabatha asked.
Nearby, where she was decorating the table that would hold the cake, Gisella Sands snorted. It wasn’t a classy sound, but Gisella was better known for her stark audaciousness. “Lori’s never going to have a wedding. She’s having too much fun with fiancée-on-fiancé friskiness.”
“You say that like fun is a bad thing,” Lori said. Being with Trevor Masters was fun, but more importantly it was something she hadn’t known until he’d hired her as an escort. It was safe. He was safe. “And by the way, it can only be fiancée-on-fiancé friskiness when there’s been an engagement.”
Tabatha, glowing with the newness of requited romance, shook her head. “How is it possible Trevor’s let you go so long without accepting him?”
“He says he’s willing to wait for me.” For all the control Trevor commanded in his business deals, he seemed perfectly content putting the control of their future in Lori’s hands. The longer he stayed patient with her, the more actively she began to question her denial of his daily proposals. Being with him was safe, but she hadn’t convinced herself she’d always be safe with him.
“Only as long as you’re not making him wait for sex, right?”
“I’m not ready to be the one walking down the aisle, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stay a virgin until that day comes.”
Tabatha laughed. “You could abstain from sex as easily as Darci could go a day without wearing a shiny bauble.”
“That’ll never happen,” Gisella said.
“I’ve seen the way you and Danny look at each other,” Lori challenged Tabatha. “You can’t deny you’re addicted to him.”
“He stayed loyal when I tossed him away.” She sighed the moony sigh of a woman newly in love. Except it wasn’t really that new.
Lori stopped working with the lights and tilted her head. “And he’d have waited as long as necessary to get you back.”
“Ugh.” Gisella groaned. “If you Google sappy for a definition I bet a picture of you two would pop up.”
“Awww. Poor Gisella. She doesn’t have a man.”
“All the more reason for my friends to give me things to be happy about.” Gisella set out a clay pot that would serve as the cake’s base holder. The cake itself was a growing Groot. Around the pot on the table, the table cloth had been hand painted to depict the scene where Groot wrapped himself around his fellow Guardians to protect them. Where there had been a spark of light in the movie’s scene, there was a yellow stone that sparkled as bright as any newly polished diamond.
Tabatha tied the tulle into a bow at the end of the lights and carried them to the wedding arch. Leigh’s husband, Burton, had spent weeks collecting driftwood and constructing the arch, interweaving the branches to allow enough room for fairy lights to be twisted through. The lights had been given the lightest coat of yellow metallic spray paint to give them a diamond twinkle effect.
“Tomorrow’s wedding will give you and many others plenty of happiness,” Lori promised.
Maybe she was promising herself as much as her friend. Trevor asked her daily to marry him, some days making the request an elaborate show while others it was only a simple question. Each day she’d told herself he was going to stop asking and that he’d walk away. Believing in a coming rejection had been easier than believing in a forever future for herself.
Most recently, after watching Tabatha deal with the reappearance of her estranged husband, Lori had begun to accept the possibility that she wouldn’t be left out in the cold. That she might be safe taking the next step with Trevor.
“We’re almost finished here,” Lori said to Tabatha and Gisella. “Why don’t you two go get some sleep?”
It was almost eleven o’clock. Lori had quickly pegged Gisella as a morning person rather than a night owl; she was always in her office or her back office kitchen by the time Lori got to work. Tabatha was a different story. She would rather stay up all night and sleep late, but she enjoyed spending her nights with her man.
“Are you leaving?” Gisella asked.
“I’ll be right behind you.” After handling a few more details.
“You couldn’t have been a very good spy, because you’re a horrible liar.” Tabatha leaned against the arch.
“I’m a very good liar,” Lori insisted.
“You tell yourself that if it makes you feel better.” Tabatha grinned in that way she had that said she knew every secret. “But I know you’re going to be here at least two more hours setting stuff up. I also know, in this case, it will do me no good to remind you that venues, and by extension decorating them, are my domain.”
The planners never crossed into each other’s domains when it came to client weddings. But when Misty had married Jace, they’d set a precedent on handling the weddings of their fellow planners. The precedent being they all worked together on all the aspects leading up to the big day. Come wedding day, their staff took over while they enjoyed the time with their friends.
“You can argue with her if you want, Tabatha,” Gisella said through a yawn. “Sleep keeps my hand steady when I put the final touches on a cake.”
“I’ll walk out with you.” Tabatha winked at Lori. “Though I won’t promise I’m going home to sleep.”