Copyright 2011 Rachel
All rights reserved.
is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This
may not be re-sold or given away to other people. Thank
you for respecting the hard work of this author.
I hope you enjoy “your” book!
Thank you for your unfailing support.
You inspired the very best of her,
my dear friend
Special thanks to Michelle,
Madeline, Andrea, and Mary
for all of your help,
advice, and support.
Thank you to Nicholas
J. Ambrose for editing services
Book cover design by
Thank you to my
wonderful parents. Your support means everything to me.
Special thanks to my
family. I love you guys!
Thanks to Andrea and
for inviting me to a lovely wedding—from
which I stole many ideas!
‘Whether you are
planning your big day yourself, or letting the pros handle it, a wedding can be
a very stressful undertaking. The sheer number of details that must be
accounted for could overwhelm even the most dedicated amongst us. It is
essential you devote as much time as possible to planning—this is, after
all, the biggest day of your life!’
The Bride’s Guide to a Fabulous
It was 6:30 on Friday night, and I
wanted to go home.
It had been a long day—a long
week, really—and all I wanted was to be out of the office and back home,
preferably in comfy clothes with a glass of wine in my hand. Unfortunately, we
were all stuck here for the foreseeable future.
“Any word yet, Jen?”
I looked up to see Amanda, a junior
account manager in my department, leaning in my doorway.
“Nope,” I replied, leaning back in
my chair. “Haven’t heard anything.”
Amanda sighed and walked into my
office—and I use the word office here figuratively. Closet, or cubby
hole, would have been more accurate. Amanda plopped herself into the chair
opposite me and promptly put her head on my desk.
“It’s going to be Jason,” she
moaned. “I just know it.”
“You’re probably right,” I agreed
sadly. “Little bastard that he is.”
“I’ve been here four months
longer!” she exclaimed, sitting up straight and brushing her curly blond hair
out of her face. “It’s just so unfair.”
Amanda had a point, and I could
commiserate with her. But, disloyal though it may be, I also felt that she
wouldn’t have much chance of beating someone like Jason even with years of
seniority on her side. In the decision of whom to make a senior account
executive, Jason was a natural fit.
Amanda was good at what she did,
sure, but she didn’t possess that killer edge that our bosses seemed to love so
much. Jason had that edge.
“He’s just so…so smarmy!” I could
tell Amanda was starting to get worked up, so I settled back and tried to get
comfortable. We’d been down this road before. “Who would want someone like that
planning their event?”
“A lot of people wouldn’t,” I
soothed her. “That’s where you and I come in.” I didn’t add that the big money
accounts were the ones perfectly suited to the
of our firm.
I had been at
, the premiere event
planning firm in the metro-Detroit area, for nearly two years now—a few
months less than Jason and half a year a shy of Amanda’s tenure. In that time I
had seen two people promoted from junior manager to senior account executive.
It wasn’t hard to get the lay of the land around here—Jason was a
And, as such, I was beginning to
get pretty irritated that I was stuck here, on a Friday night, awaiting the
partners to make their final decision. I knew it wasn’t going to be my name
that was announced, or even Amanda’s, my closest friend here, so what was the
point in waiting around? The thought of congratulating Jason, of sipping
champagne while everyone plastered fake smiles on their faces and pretended
they weren’t dying of jealousy, was not my idea of fun.
“What does he have that I don’t
have?” Amanda muttered, once again laying her head flat on my desk.
“Balls?” I suggested. Amanda only
sighed. “Oh come on, I don’t even get a sympathy laugh for that one?”
Amanda looked up from her pillow of
files on my desk. “Seriously, Jen. What’s holding me back?”
It was my turn to sigh. How could I
tell her what I really thought? Amanda was adorable. Much shorter than me, she
was also somewhat round, with rosy cheeks and a perpetually cheerful
demeanor—with the exception of this evening. She was best suited to
smaller, more intimate events—definitely an important part of our
business, but she hardly brought in the kind of money that impressed the
I, on the other hand, played the
game—or tried to. I studied what the partners seemed to be looking for,
and I emulated it. I dressed in simple, sophisticated clothes. I kept my dark
brown bob sleek and my makeup impeccable. I never left the house with my feet
in anything but heels. I went out to the lunches, to the drinks after work, to
the parties and the swanky dinners. Did I enjoy any of it? Hell no. But I was
willing to put in the time now if it would get me where I wanted to be.
Loathe though I was to admit it, I
guess I was more like Jason. But hopefully much less of a douchebag.
I was saved answering Amanda’s question
by the ringing of my cell. I glanced at the display and smiled. “Hey, sweetie,”
I said into the phone.
“Where are you?” Ginny, my best
friend and roommate, sounded irritated.
“They’re announcing the promotion
tonight,” I answered. “We’re all stuck here until they’re ready.”
“Is it Jason?”
“We think so,” I replied, trying to
keep the bitterness out of my voice.
“Well, kick him in the nuts for
I couldn’t help but laugh. “I don’t
think that will help my chances for next time.”
be you next time,” Ginny said seriously. “I know it.”
“Thanks, Gin. How’s the baby?”
“Oh, Jen,” she squealed, her voice
lighting up with excitement. “He walked around the entire couch today!”
“Well done, Danny,” I smiled.
Ginny’s son, nine- month-old Danny, had recently started to take a few
steps—while holding onto something.
“Anyhow,” Ginny said, with obvious
restraint—she was liable to go on about Danny uncontrollably when
prompted—“Josh will be here soon to watch the baby, so please try and
hurry, okay? We’re going dancing tonight if it kills me.”
“I’ll do my best,
,” I said. Just then, Thomas, our administrative
assistant, popped his head in the doorway, gesturing us out into the hallway. “
go, Gin, I think they’re ready for us.”
“Good luck,” she said. “See you
I ended the call and stood, pulling
on Amanda’s arm as I went. “Come on. Let’s get this over with.”
I pulled into the driveway of the
little yellow house we were renting about an hour and a half later. There were
already three cars parked outside; Annie, my other roommate, must have already
gotten home. Josh’s car was there, too. I sighed as I climbed out of my Jeep.
They were probably all inside waiting for me.
I opened the front door and was
immediately hit by a rush of noise. Danny was crying, loudly, from the kitchen.
Over his yelling I could hear Ginny talking in a calm, measured voice, as if
reasoning with him. In the living room, Annie was sitting on the couch,
purposefully avoiding looking at Josh, who was typing something on his laptop.
Annie appeared to be watching TV and had the volume up full blast. I sighed
“Hello,” I called out over the
noise. Josh looked up at me and smiled.
“Hey, Jen,” he said.
“Hey.” I raised my voice even
louder. “Hello, Annie!”
She waved without looking at me.
Rolling my eyes, I headed into the kitchen, where Ginny was trying, with little
success, to feed Danny some gloppy-looking beige mush.
“They at it again?” I asked,
sitting next to her at the table.
“Of course,” she muttered. “I’ve
had about enough of it, too.”
“I’ll talk to her,” I promised.
“Hey, Danny-o!” The baby flashed me a huge, toothless grin, and I leaned over
to kiss him, messy face and all. “What the hell is your momma trying to feed
you here little man?”
“It’s cereal. It’s supposed to be
good for him. And no swearing by the baby,” Ginny commanded, spooning up
another glop of mush and holding it up to Danny’s mouth, which he promptly
slammed shut. Ginny sighed. “I give up.” She scooped up the bowl and took it to
“So, was it Jason?”
“Yup. We all had to stand there and
pretend to be happy for him while he smarmed around. Jackass.”
“Sorry, hon.” Ginny grimaced at me
as she attacked Danny’s face with a wet washcloth, making him squirm in his
talk about it?”
“Nah. Thanks though. I don’t want
to think about work at all for the rest of the weekend.”
“Sounds good to me.”
Ginny finished cleaning up the baby
and went back to the sink to wash his dishes. Danny grinned at me again and I
decided I needed to get my hands on him. I unbuckled him from his chair and
snuggled him close to me, breathing in his baby smell and trying to force the
stress of the day away.
It was hard for me to believe that
Danny was only nine months old. It felt like he had been with us so much longer
than that. The baby had been unexpected, to say the least. The day Ginny had
discovered she was pregnant was, without a doubt, the single most shocking
event of my life.
Ginny, Annie, and I had moved in
together shortly after we had graduated from college. We had been best friends
ever since freshman year of high school, and we had always wanted to be
roommates. It probably never would have happened though, if not for Josh.
Josh and Ginny had dated for years,
and had lived together at school. It was a forgone conclusion that they would
get married after graduation. Instead, they broke up. According to Ginny, it
was a long time coming, but to us, it was very much a surprise. So instead, the
three of us moved into this little house in our home town and got to the
business of starting our real grown-up lives.
Only a few months later, Ginny
dropped the bombshell: she’d had a rebound hook-up with Josh and had gotten
pregnant. Since Josh was out of the picture by that time, Annie and I stepped
in to help Gin with all of it: the pregnancy, the birth, having a newborn to
take care of. It changed our lives, all three of us, immensely.
The best part, of course, was that
we ended up with Danny. I know that I’m prejudiced and everything, but Danny is
perfect. He’s adorable and sweet, and clearly very bright for a nine-month-old.
I loved him to bits.
Luckily, Josh did too. It took him
ages to find out about the baby (long story), but when he did, we couldn’t get
rid of him. Eventually, he and Ginny decided to give it another go and they
seemed to be really happy.
But tonight was supposed to be a
girls’ night: no boys allowed, including Danny. I walked him out to his daddy
and plopped him in Josh’s lap, right on top of his computer. The two broke into
identical grins at the sight of each other. I had to admit, it was pretty cute.
“Annie, you need to get ready,” I
said loudly over the noise of the television. She turned it off without a word,
got up from the couch, and walked to her bedroom.
“Nice talking to you, Ann!” Josh
called out sarcastically.
“Knock it off,” I muttered. “You
two are driving Ginny nuts.”
“Hey, I’m not the one who—”
“I don’t care. Just try to get
along with her.”
Josh huffed and turned his
attention back to Danny.
“Ginny, come help me pick out
clothes!” I called to her. “Josh will finish the dishes.”
I smiled sweetly at him as he
flipped me off, then headed to my room. I was tired, my feet hurt, and I was
fast developing a headache. But it was the weekend. I didn’t have to think
about work, or Annie fighting with Josh, or any of the other things that
usually stressed me out. I was going to put on a cute dress, fix my makeup, and
go dancing with my two best friends.