“We’re extremely limited in food and resources,” Lotti warned. “I was expecting to close up today for several weeks so supplies are almost nonexistent.”
Finn looked worried about this. “You mean food? We’re short food?”
Pru, sitting next to him, raised a brow. “Since when do we need food to get married?”
“We need sustenance, that’s all I’m saying. Maybe—”
“Hold on.” Pru gave him a long look. “If you’re trying to say you don’t want to do this after talking me into it, then let me be clear and say that I will run you through with my umbrella while you sleep.”
Finn blinked. “That was oddly specific and violent.”
“I stand by my statement,” Pru said.
Finn eyed said umbrella and nudged it farther away from her.
Pru laughed before looking around the room at her friends, all of whom were sitting around, taking part in this emergency wedding meeting. “I know we could wait,” she said. “I could start all over with a new venue, but . . . I don’t want to.” She reached for Finn’s hand. “Everyone we love and need is right here. I want to do this. Here.”
Finn leaned over, and apparently not at all concerned about their audience, kissed her softly. He stayed close, their gazes connected for a long beat during which their love seemed to fill the room.
It was so . . . real that Lotti actually had to look away. She’d never experienced anything like what the two of them shared, had never in her life yearned that much for one person. Her gaze collided with Sean’s and her heart skipped a beat. Okay, so she had felt that way. Once. But she’d been young and stupid. It’d been puppy love, clearly not anything like what Pru and Finn so clearly had. But now she could admit that after only a few days with Sean as an adult, he was even more appealing than he’d been all those years ago and looking into his green eyes, she saw emotion there, deep emotion.
I want a chance to right my wrongs with you, Lotti. All of them.
Damn but he still could still reach her. In the gut. In her overactive brain. And the hardest hit was . . . right in her heart, and she had to close her eyes and remind herself she no longer was interested in such things. Not even a little bit. She’d already planned to go the opposite route from here on out and she needed to stick with that. Sun, surf, surfer.
She realized everyone was looking at her and that Pru had asked a question. “I’m sorry,” she said. “What did you say?”
“I just wanted to make sure you’re really okay with all this,” Pru said. “It’s asking an awful lot of you. We’re of course going to pay for everything; the extra stay, your time, your resources, all of it. But . . . are you really okay with us pretty much hi-jacking your B&B and turning it into a wedding site?”
“Of course,” Lotti said with much more ease than she felt, avoiding Sean’s gaze because he seemed to still be able to read her like a book. “We’re already halfway there.”
Pru nodded and reached over and hugged her. “Thank you.”
“What will you wear?” Elle asked.
Pru’s smile fell a bit. “Oh crap. I don’t have a dress. I never even thought of that.”
“I have a dress,” Lotti said and when everyone looked at her, she lifted a shoulder. “Don’t worry, it was never worn. We’ve done weddings here before, in the backyard. There’s also a pretty wooden archway in the shed out back. And I have those beautiful potted flowers in the dining room and foyer. We can rearrange them in here to make an aisle.”
Everyone was looking at her in awe like she was some sort of creative genius. But she wasn’t. Not even close. It’d all been for her wedding, the one that hadn’t actually happened. But hell, it might as well all go to some good, right?
By that night, Lotti was looking down at her clipboard thinking they might actually pull this off. The property next door belonged to a rancher who’d been the son of her dad’s best friend. Jack told her to send someone over, that he could help with extra provisions. On the far side of him was another neighbor, Sally, a close friend who ran a garden nursery. She said she didn’t have much in the way of blooming flowers at this time of year but to come over and help themselves.
Lotti had sent the guys to the ranch and the ladies to the nursery. Everyone came back wet but the men had three frozen pizzas, a package of bacon, and the makings for tacos. Lotti slid a worried look to Pru on the items but she seemed on board.
“I know some people are all about live, laugh, love,” Pru said. “But I’m all about pizza, bacon, and tacos.”
During the cleaning and straightening and planning melee, Lotti’s mom called to check on her since she’d seen the weather on the news. Lotti had told her she was fine, she still had guests and was working.
Her mom had paused. “Anyone single and gainfully employed and worth going for?”
Lotti had rolled her eyes and then rushed her off the phone before being dragged into that conversation, because her mom had nothing on the CIA. She could sniff out a secret from five thousand miles no problem.
Not ten minutes later, Lotti’s phone buzzed an incoming text from her cousin Garrett.
Garrett: You didn’t get to Cabo.
Lotti: Mom’s such a tattletale. Weather’s bad.
Garrett: She didn’t say anything about the weather. She had hopes you were with a guy.
Lotti: Is there a point to this conversation?
Garrett: Just remember, if his name starts with A-Z, he’s likely to ruin your life. You were warned.
Lotti had to laugh, but she put her phone away and her family out of her mind. That night, they all shared the pizzas, saving the bacon for the morning and the tacos for the wedding feast. Afterward, everyone went to bed early.
With the storm still battering the poor house, Lotti stood in the living room and took in the big picture windows and wide open wooden staircase, knowing that it’d make a beautiful spot for a wedding. One that would actually happen . . .
She drew in a deep breath and wondered what had come over her to agree to such madness. She had no idea.
Except she did. In spite of herself and the things she’d been through, she still believed in love.
And . . . she wasn’t quite ready to have Sean walk away. Not yet. The thought gave her a hot flash. Needing some fresh air, she walked through the kitchen and stepped out the back door, stopping under the roof overhang, listening to the rain fall as she took in the view of the valley. Dressed in a light sweater, skirt, and tights, she wasn’t exactly prepared for the weather but she didn’t care.
A few minutes later, someone joined her on the patio.
He met her gaze, studied her face as if he was making sure she was okay, and when he realized she was, he gave her a small smile. They stood there together, neither speaking, standing side by side as the rain fell. When their fingers brushed against each other, Sean turned his hand, touching his palm to hers, entwining their fingers.
“You were amazing today,” he said. “I can’t believe how you put an entire wedding together in one day.”
She shrugged, hoping to keep her secrets to herself. She felt the weight of Sean’s gaze on her face and she closed her eyes so he couldn’t catch her thoughts like only he seemed to be able to do, but she was too late.
“Lotti,” he said softly. Just that. Just her name, with a whole lot of feeling in it.