Always the wedding planner, never a bride, Elliot Lynch is famous for orchestrating the splashiest weddings in Charleston, South Carolina. When her father’s sloppy management practices leave them on the brink of bankruptcy, Elliot will do whatever it takes to save the family business. When asked to appear on “The Marrying Type,” a reality TV show about the people behind the scenes as couples exchange I dos, she says yes to the invasion of privacy (and the hefty paycheck that comes with it). With a camera crew capturing every detail of her life, Elliot faces her most challenging contract yet: planning a wedding where her ex is involved in every part of the process. Add in a lazy assistant, liquor-loving bridesmaid, and rival planner encroaching on her turf, and Elliot’s wedding season goes from high-end to high-stress. Forced to confront her past, Elliot must live out her troubled present on national TV if she has any hope of saving her future.
Finding the bride curled up next to a toilet changed Elliot’s priorities. A rogue florist and brawling mothers paled next to a sobbing bride. Even having Libby bail last-minute meant nothing compared to this disaster.
Elliot kept her tone soft and light when she approached the bride. “Honey, let’s get you off the floor.”
The bride answered with a muffled sob. She didn’t budge. Elliot said a little prayer for strength, hoping her proximity to a chapel outweighed her distance from a toilet in God’s eyes. Elliot ignored the urge to gag—and her fear of ruining a pair of black slacks—to gingerly kneel beside the young woman.
She barely had time to prepare for the impact as the bride flung herself into Elliot’s arms. They sat in silence for several minutes, rocking back and forth. Elliot held the hysterical woman while she searched for any clues of what might have set off the bride. Unfortunately, her vantage point didn’t offer much.
The bride’s sobs turned into hiccups. Accepting a tissue, she blew her nose and murmured, “I'm late.”
“We have plenty of time.” Using one of the wipes from her wedding emergency kit, Elliot blotted the woman’s tear-streaked face to survey the damage. “We’ll call in the makeup artist and hairstylist to touch you up. You’ll be gorgeous and camera ready with plenty of time to spare.”
“No,” the bride said firmly. “I’m late.”
Elliot nearly repeated her words of comfort when she spotted an open pregnancy test on the counter. Paired with the bride’s sudden and mysterious stomach bug, and the constant stream of tears, she made the connection.
Oh, God. “You're pregnant.”
The bride sniffed. “Maybe. Probably. I haven't checked the test yet.” Her hiccups picked up. “My mother’s going to kill me. She says pregnant brides are tacky.”
She burst into a fresh set of tears. Murmuring comforting words, Elliot craned her neck to read the test results. A smiley face. Did that mean pregnant or not pregnant? She sighed. Of course it meant pregnant.
“Do you want to talk to your fiancé?”
The bride shook her head, sniffing and fighting back hiccups. “It’s bad luck to see him before the wedding.”
Elliot counted to ten before speaking. “A woman makes her own luck.”
“Telling him would only make him nervous,” the bride said.
“Maybe I can pretend this is a honeymoon baby . . .”
Elliot knew she should try to talk sense into the woman. The groom was smart enough to do math. Their parents and everyone else would be able to crunch the numbers, too. But facts wouldn’t save the bride’s wedding, or make her feel any better. A fresh coat of waterproof mascara and some hairspray might.
It only took Elliot five more minutes to comfort her client. Still puffy eyed, the bride pulled herself together for another hair and makeup session to repair the damage. Leaving the cosmetologists to their work, Elliot closed the bathroom door and leaned against the frame to draw a breath.
Much as she would have liked to hide behind a pew in the chapel, Elliot pushed away from the door. She had a wedding to run.
Rounding the corner, she found the TV show’s camera crew following the ongoing battle between the mothers of the bride and groom. She said a silent prayer of thanks they’d missed her situation with the bride. Unless they’d picked it up on her microphone, which was possible.
If the bride wanted to convince her family and friends she’d conceived a baby on her honeymoon and not before the wedding, having the truth broadcast on The Marrying Type would undoubtedly blow her cover.
Elliot still couldn’t wrap her brain around how quickly the show had come together. What surprised her most was how fast the network released advertisements for the show. They weren’t even done filming the first episode, but ads were running every hour.
Elliot snagged Claire, her assistant, as the young woman walked by. She needed an update on the florist, who was more than an hour late.
“I haven't heard anything,” Claire said, her attention focused on the fight brewing across the room.
“Get them on the phone. We wanted the bouquets an hour ago.”
“But . . .” Claire gazed longingly toward the more exciting issue at hand.
“I'll handle the moms.” Elliot played with the pearl pendant on her necklace while she considered her various crises. “Call the florist. And grab the bride a bottle of water and some crackers from my emergency stash.”
“Want me to take her some champagne?”
“No champagne.” Claire raised an eyebrow at her terse response. Elliot cleared her throat and plastered a smile on her face.
“She’s sensitive to alcohol. One drink, and she’ll be stumbling down the aisle. We need a sober bride for the ceremony.”
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About the Author:
Laura Chapman is the author of The Marrying Type, Hard Hats and Doormats and the Autumn and Tuck series, which appear in Merry & Bright and A Kind of Mad Courage. A native Nebraskan, she loves football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Until she fulfills her dream of landing a British husband or becoming a Disney princess, you can find her in a bar penning her next novel.
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