Because I’ve been focusing on editing and revising A Holiday Wish, I haven’t had any time for blog posts. So instead, today I’ve got a snippet from Chapter Four.
Stay tuned for more information on A Holiday Wish – it’s coming!
“I’m really sorry, Brooke,” I say when I reach her. “But I have a personal situation I just can’t ignore. Believe me, I’d love to do your wedding.” She doesn’t have to know I’m lying. “But I just can’t. If you give me your e-mail address, I’ll get a list together of reputable wedding planners I think would be willing to work with you on such short notice.”
“I don’t want another wedding planner,” Brooke says. “I want you.”
Everett leans against the wall. I feel his gaze on me. I try to ignore it.
“I — can’t,” I repeat. I’m not sure why she’s so set on me. I know I’m really good at what I do. I’ve worked hard to build a reputable business. But I’m hardly setting the world on fire, and I’m not the only one around. Springhollow is a suburb of Philadelphia. There are dozens of wedding planners just twenty minutes away who would gladly do a lavish wedding for an orphaned heiress.
“Please.” Her tone’s adopted a cajoling quality. “This is so important to us. Will’s mom might not have much time left. She’s going through chemo, but she’s stage four. And Christmas Eve is her favorite day of the year. She says that Christmas Day is a letdown, but Christmas Eve is so full of possibility. It’s the perfect day for a marriage. And Christmas weddings are your specialty. I’ve been on your website and seen your portfolio. They’re beautiful. We won’t settle for anything less. Please. Let me be your last client.”
I’m shaking my head no when Brooke reaches into her oversized purse and withdraws her checkbook.
“How much money will it take?” she asks.
“It’s not about that,” I protest. “My sister is having a baby, and she’s already lost three.” Why am I telling these strangers Kate’s private business? “I’m already committed to moving back home to help her out.”
It’s like I haven’t even spoken. “How much do you charge?”
“It varies.” Damn. She may be unassuming, but she sure is stubborn. “It depends on the package.”
“I want everything,” she says. “I need all the help I can get.”
I peek at Erin. She gives me an encouraging nod.
“Well, the full package involves pretty much everything…” I won’t cave. I won’t. If I try to plan this girl’s wedding, I’ll just end up ruining it. I don’t have it in me to make her dreams come true when mine are crumbling all around me. “Ten thousand dollars.” It’s a ridiculous amount, and not even true, but I’m hoping it will push her out the door.
“Okay.” She pulls out her checkbook and sits down on the couch. While she scribbles, I shoot Erin a helpless glance. Rich kids. What is it about the word “no” that they don’t understand?
“Here.” Brooke’s back in front of me before I know it, and she holds out a check. “I know what I’m asking you to do isn’t easy. I know two months isn’t very long at all. I’m sorry for that but there isn’t really anything I can do. If the doctors were more encouraged…” She trails off. “It has to be this year.” She gestures with the check. “Take it. Please.”
I don’t want to. But it’s as if my hand has a brain of its own. I reach out and take the check between two fingers.
“Brooke, it’s not a matter of the money,” I say again.
“Just think about it,” she begs. “Please.”
“I can’t — ”
“My phone number is on the check,” she informs me. “Give me a call.” She shocks me by giving me a hug before she turns and heads for the door. Everett, with a final wordless look at me, grabs his beat-up and dripping leather coat from its hook and follows her out into the rain.
I literally feel myself deflate once they’re gone. I don’t even have any words.
“Well, I guess I’ll call Ron and let him know to put the building up for rent,” I say to fill the silence.
Probably not the best thing I could have said. Erin resembles a perky blonde hound dog right now, the way her mouth is turned down. She just shakes her head.
Oh, well. I’ll do all I can for her. But really, there isn’t anything else I can do. My mind’s made up.
I head for the conference room and toss the check in the trash can on my way. It misses. Even her freaking checks won’t take no for an answer. I bend down, pick it up, and almost fall over onto my butt when I see what’s written on it.
Pay to the order of Silver Bells Wedding Designs, it says. In the amount of twenty-five thousand dollars.
©2016, Courtney J. Hall