Published by Doe Bay Publishing on April 11, 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Miss Amelia Bonnington's wedding to Lord Derrick Brinsley is the most anticipated event of English Society. As an artist and arbiter of fashion, Amelia is sidetracked from planning her perfect wedding by an abduction and an assassination attempt. Can the lady outwit the French spies and still have her fairy tale wedding?
Miss Amelia Bonnington dropped the tangle of wedding ribbons and rushed into the morning room to assist Lady Henrietta Rathbourne. Amelia winced in sympathy at the valiant, but unsuccessful attempts by Hen to adjust her very large and very pregnant abdomen into a comfortable position on the settee.
Grabbing a pillow from a chair, Amelia tucked the cushion under Hen’s swollen feet. “Darling, does this help?”
Not wanting to burden her best friend’s sensitive feelings, Amelia tried hard not to stare at the massive round hump straining against Hen’s morning gown. Amelia wasn’t sure she wanted her body to grow and distort in this most uncomfortable manner. “Would another pillow behind your back help?”
“Nothing helps. I’m the size of a whale. It’s not surprising that I’m having a big baby with Cord being a large man.” Hen could barely wrap her arms around her stomach.
Amelia didn’t want to think about the imposing size of her fiancée, Lord Brinsley, and how large Derrick’s babies would be. Although Amelia was inches taller than Hen, Derrick was a giant, the tallest and broadest man of her acquaintance.
Hen fanned her flushed face. “The entire family and staff are tiptoeing around me as if I might explode at any moment like a Guy Fawkes’s firecracker.”
It was true. The usual calm and composed Hen would tear up at the most unpredictable moments, leaving everyone around her baffled at how to respond.
Amelia squeezed her friend’s hand. “Everyone is concerned. And it’s obvious that you’re uncomfortable now that your time is near. ”
Henrietta stroked her abdomen in a protective and soothing circular motion. “Cord is constantly monitoring my growth. Every time he looks at me, I see that he is estimating the size of the baby. My enormous expansion has cracked his imitable confidence. He doesn’t say anything, but I can see that he is worried that the baby is too big for my small frame. And when my husband, the bravest and most fearless leader of our country, looks afraid, I feel a need to protect him.”
Amelia shook her head. “But my dearest, you know Cord likes to be in control of everything and everyone. I’m sure he is struggling with this birthing business.”
“My husband is used to bending all of England, even the King, to his will. His inability to control nature is driving him mad.” Hen shifted on the settee, looking miserable with the heavy weight of the large baby pressing upon her.
Amelia jumped back up from her chair and repositioned the pillow under Hen’s feet. “Does that help?”
Hen winced with the movement. “And Michael, you know my brother can’t hide a blasted feeling. It’s all there on his face—fear and worry.”
“It’s normal for the men to worry. Besides what other part can they play in the pregnancy?”
Hen rolled her bright green eyes toward the ceiling. “Well, we know what part Cord played in my condition.”
The childhood friends laughed together. And Amelia was relieved to see Hen able to have some semblance of her usual wit.
“I think I’m very close which means I’ll be able to attend your wedding.”
Amelia didn’t want to think about her best friend missing her wedding which was just three days away. Hen refused to follow convention and planned to attend despite her pregnant state and Amelia supported her decision. She and Hen had always planned to play a part in each other’s weddings. They had shared their fantasies of romance, their future husbands, and dream weddings since they were eight years old.
“I’m so very weary of discussing the size of my abdomen and ankles. How are all the wedding details coming?”
“You don’t have to pretend interest. I know you could care less about colors, fabrics, or flowers.”
“That’s true. I was very grateful that you did everything for my wedding. How is Derrick faring with your need for perfection?”
Amelia had orchestrated Hen’s, then Gwyneth’s, and, most recently, Gabby’s weddings. The brides were dramatically in love and barely cared about the details that turned a simple wedding into a glorious affair.
Their weddings had been the talk of all of London because of Amelia’s eye for design and color. After Beau Brummel, Amelia was considered to be the highest arbitrator of women’s fashion.
Amelia grumbled. “I really don’t need to have everything perfect.”
Hen shifted on the settee and raised both eyebrows accenting her round green eyes. “You changed the ribbon on my wedding dress at least five times to get the exact color of green moss. And the color of the hydrangeas and the candles…Should I go on?”
Amelia didn’t point out that Hen had looked magnificent on her wedding day because of Amelia’s attention to every aspect of the event.
“You did a remarkable job with all of our weddings, but left you exhausted and barely able to enjoy the festivities. I want you to enjoy your time as the bride.”
Amelia had relished doing her close friend’s weddings. But for her own dream wedding, she envisioned a thousand ways she wanted it to be perfect. And there lay the problem, she couldn’t decide. Every small detail became exaggerated and daunting, and she perseverated for hours over everything.
Amelia gave a half-hearted laugh. “I’m driving Derrick mad. He might decide not to marry me.”
“The giant growling bear of a man only smiles and laughs when you’re near. He isn’t going to change his mind. He loves you.”
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