“I’ll get it,” I said.
“Hey,” Emma said, walking through the door. “I brought tequila!” She hugged me quickly and I was shocked at how cold she was.
“Did you walk here?”
“Not far,” she shrugged and we headed for the living room.
“Emma, nice to finally see you,” Adam said gruffly.
“Oh, stop moping, I’m here and I’ve missed you too, so don’t go all big brother ball buster on me.” She put the liquor on the coffee table and hugged Adam, then Kate and Preston. “I was just telling Preston about the time you took me dress shopping, Em,” Kate said. “She’s great at picking stuff out.”
Kate had come out of her shell so much since I saw her last. And I knew Adam was a credit to that. She was never an overly girly type of girl. Simple, plain and functional was her main criteria for most fashion. But just the fact that her hair was pinned back was a huge step of improvement. She always wore her long red mane completely down to cover the scars running from her jaw to her neck. Seeing the glow on her skin and happiness in her eyes, I wanted to hug Adam all over again for supporting Kate the way he has.
“Which reminds me, we have to go dress shopping for your bridesmaids’ gowns.”
Emma smiled. “Glad I brought the tequila then.”
“It won’t be that bad,” I smiled. Emma may be a tough chick, but she had a frilly side—so long as it wasn’t overdone. So naturally I had to mess with her a little. “I was thinking ‘Gone With The Wind’ theme. Head-to-toe lace and corsets.”
“Ooh! And a mini-umbrella thing! What are those called?” Kate asked.
“Parasols,” Emma grumbled.
“Yes! Those things are adorable.” Kate said.
I laughed and Preston leaned over to say to Adam, “This is what you’re in for, my friend.”
Adam nodded. “I just need my fiancé to set a date. How did you get Megan on board so quick?”
“Oh my goodness!” Kate clamped her hand over her mouth. “Megan…you look so…”
I glanced down the front of me, then back at my best friends. Kate and Emma were sitting on two chairs facing me.
After lasagna night a couple weeks ago, Adam and Kate had headed back to Chicago and Emma had been scarce herself lately. We three girls hadn’t got a chance to really catch up for a while.
Spot lighting drenched me in a soft yellow glow and I looked over my shoulder at the wall-sized mirror behind me. The seamstress fussed with the back of my dress as I stood there before the girls, waiting for their thoughts.
Kate fanned her eyes and Emma smiled wide.
“You look amazing, Megan!” Emma said, nearly bouncing out of her seat.
“It’s perfect, Meg,” Kate said, choking back a sob.
“Don’t do that.” I pointed at her. “Because you’re going to make me cry if you start crying.”
“I can’t help it, I just…I’m just so happy for you.”
The seamstress tugged on the dress, wrenching the breath from my chest. It was two days before the wedding and this was the final fitting. I swear this dress felt tighter than it did a few weeks ago.
“I’m sorry your mom can’t be here,” Kate said. She held up her cell phone and clicked a photo.
“Yeah, my dad isn’t doing so well so they’re coming in tomorrow for just the party and wedding.”
“Is the new live-in nurse helping?” Emma asked.
I nodded. “So much. My mom said my dad is acclimating well with her and the help is wonderful.”
“That’s great!” Kate said.
The seamstress tugged again and an agonized groan pieced my lips. I sucked in harder, hoping this damn thing would fit.
“Did everything finally get squared away with Simon? Do you have custody?”
Kate sighed. “Not yet. His grandparents still legally have him but we get to see him all the time. Most of the week he stays at our place. I just want Tim to sign the damn papers.”
“That guy is an ass-hat,” Emma said, leaning back in her chair.
“Total ass-hat,” Kate agreed. “Even in jail he has parental rights and is throwing fits about wanting his parents to take Simon. It’s not that they don’t want to, they are just getting older and it’s hard chasing a little boy around. I’ve spoke with them and they aren’t going to fight me trying to get full custody.”
I nodded. “Well, Simon wants to be with you anyway, right?”
“Yeah.” Kate looked down at her hands. “I want him so much. Adam is amazing with him and Simon just loves him to death. I just can’t wait for this to really be over.”
Emma patted Kate’s shoulder.
“Things will work out,” Kate affirmed, as if giving herself a mental pep talk. She ran her gaze along my dress again and smiled at me. “You look really happy, Megan. After everything that’s happened…” she trailed off and I knew where she was going with it.
“I am happy.” And that was the truth. What started out as a contract ended up being more. A small grin tugged at my lips when I recited the same thought I’d been having for over a month: I was in love with John Preston Strauss.
Though I hadn’t said it to him yet, I was confident the rules of the game had changed that night he came for me in my apartment. Every day he opened up a bit more. Between planning the wedding and a nearly insatiable fiancé, my days and nights had been pretty booked, but I was so glad I finally had my two friends in the same room, and that this wedding was actually happening.
“Well, anyone can see how much he adores you,” Emma said. We had all spent the last couple days together. Both Adam and Kate were in a suite at the hotel. We’d all been nearly inseparable. Dinners and lunches. Planning the final touches on the wedding. I was so grateful that Adam and Kate were able to fly in a few days early.
“Well, I swear Adam has a man crush on Preston, he won’t shut up about him,” Kate said.
“Tell me about it.”
Preston talked about Adam too. They had a lot in common, being business moguls and whatnot. I wanted to roll my eyes a little, but it was good Preston had made a friend out of Adam. He had only spoken of one other man, Rhys, who I met at the Armory event. He was showing up for the wedding—a fact Emma avoided like the plague so I didn’t push her on it.
“Adam said that Preston has a hotel in Chicago. Any chance you might be coming back home to set up shop?” Kate’s eyes sparkled, and I couldn’t help but love the idea too.