It’s the wedding of the century. Her big brother – the man who was a second father to her after their dad passed – is the groom. And Nicole is fighting just to keep her head above water.
She’s surrounded by an aloof bride-to-be, a psychotic mother of the bride, ridiculous bridesmaids, and a town that feels like a parody of Americana. Her own family is perfectly fine with everything – with the exception of her wise-cracking cousin Ella, whose antics only serve to get Nicole even further into trouble. The wedding stress is invading all aspects of her life, including her own relationship. Nicole only wants what’s best for her brother – but what if that involves her brother leaving his fiancée at the altar?
As the wedding day approaches and tensions continue to rise, Nicole is forced to figure out what love, loyalty, and honesty mean – before it’s too late and she loses everyone she loves.
Within minutes, the wedding party flooded out into the hall and fanned out, filling up the area gated off by the couches. A cacophony of voices filled the room as each girl turned and complimented the girl next to her, touching each other’s dresses and twirling around in their own. Cora wove around the girls, touching and smiling and talking in quick, unintelligible sound bites.
Rachel hiked up her dress, stepped onto the felt platform, and cleared her throat.
“Alright, everyone!” she called out, her arms spread wide. “Good to see that everyone’s bridesmaid dresses are fitting nicely. How do the dresses feel?”
“I still don’t think this dress is right for me,” Sarah immediately piped up.
Rachel sighed and rolled her eyes.
“What is wrong with your dress, Sarah?”
“It’s just not me.” Sarah picked up the edges and dropped them with extra force. “I need something that really demonstrates who I am as a person. Something like…” Sarah walked past the white couches to the other end of the room and held one side of a gown. “Something like this!”
“For the tenth time: that’s a wedding gown,” Rachel said, her eyes lowering.
“Yeah, but it’s so me, isn’t it?” Sarah held the fabric closer to her face. “Can’t I just try it on, so you guys can see what I’m talking about?”
“For the tenth time: no.”
Sarah let go of the wedding dress with a sour look on her face and stomped over to the couches.
“So, aside from Sarah’s color commentary, does anyone have any issues with their dresses?”
“Aside from the fact they look like oranges?” Ella whispered to Nicole.
“Florida oranges,” Nicole whispered back.
“Colors match, lengths match, roses match…” Rachel squinted her eyes as she scanned the group. “If there are no objections, then I need everyone to change out of their dresses. I will bring them to the Bachman estate in the back of my van. They will be hung up in the guesthouse’s dining room, which means no one will be allowed to eat, drink, or socialize in that room until after the wedding day. Do I make myself clear?”
A small murmur permeated through the crowd of bridesmaids.
“Alright, then,” said Rachel. “Let’s change back into our day clothes. Carefully. Very carefully.”
The group of girls disappeared again, leaving Angel and Cora with Nicole and the rest.
“Weren’t those just lovely dresses?” said Cora, her accent shifting to something more sing-songy.
“You have such a wonderful eye for fashion and beauty,” Angel responded. “I think those are the prettiest bridesmaids’ dresses I ever saw.”
“What do you think?” Cora asked, looking at Nicole.
“What?” Nicole yelped.
“The bridesmaids’ dresses. What do you think?”
“Uh…” Nicole looked to the ground. “They were…bold.”
“‘Bold’. You yanks have funny ways of complimenting people!”
“Are you celebrating Florida oranges with your dresses?” said Ella.
Cora tilted her head.
“Beg your pardon?”
“I mean, why else would you have orange dresses…” Ella’s brows lowered. “…if you were not celebrating oranges?”
“You certainly are clever!” Cora responded with a broad smile. “That’s exactly where I was going with that. Oranges are a source of pride for us Florida belles. I wanted my weddin’ to represent that.”
Ella’s jaw went slack. She glanced sideways at Nicole before pursing her lips.
“What did you think, Laura?” Cora turned.
“They’re nice. Really nice,” Laura said with an unsure nod. “They are, uh, really, um, eye-catching.”
Cora laughed again.
“I’ll never get you yanks.”
Eventually the wedding party came back, hanging up the dresses on the rolling rack one last time.
“Let me put these in garment bags for y’all and they’ll be ready to go,” Angel said with a huge smile before pulling the rack down the hallway and into the back room. Within minutes, Angel came out with the rolling rack again, this time with three garment bags consolidating the row of dresses.
“Let me roll this outside for y’all and y’all can load it from there,” Angel said, pulling the rack behind her as she exited her store.
The rest followed suit, with Nicole hanging as far back as she could. Sarah lingered behind as well, detouring over to a second row of wedding gowns, touching them gingerly as she passed.
“I still don’t get why Cora is the only one who gets to wear one of these on her wedding day,” she muttered to no one in particular. “I mean, what makes her so special?”
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