“Oh my goodness, darling, you look fabulous. Utterly…totally…bloody fabulous.”
Megan held her full champagne flute to Brendon’s and they chinked rims, the sound tinkling around the plush West London hotel room.
“Thank you,” she said then hesitated with the glass by her lips. She stared in the mirror at her unfamiliar bridal reflection. With her dark hair piled high, her makeup natural and long, dangling silver earrings, she hardly recognised herself. “But do you think it’s maybe a bit over the top, you know, with the tiara?”
“No, no, not at all,” Brendon said, shoving his hand on his waist and jutting out his left hip. “You, my beauty, are a princess, so of course you should be wearing a bejewelled crown.” He tutted and tapped the base of her stem. “Sup, sup, it’s your wedding day, champers needs to be drunk from dawn till dusk.”
“Yes, but not too much,” Georgie said with a smile but also a hint of sternness in her tone. “We don’t want you sloshed as you walk down the aisle, Megan. You’ve got towering heels to keep control of. Beautiful, bespoke heels yes, I agree, but still, they’re high even for you.”
Megan took a deep breath and curled her toes into the soft beige carpet—her feet were a little cold even though the room was warm. In one hour she would be wearing the stunning new heels she’d designed and walking down the aisle to marry Dylan Dunkin-Buckshaw—yes, she would be Mrs Megan Rose Dunkin-Buckshaw and damn proud to be.
She could live with the name. Of course she could. She’d be sad to say goodbye to Winter, though, because Megan Rose Winter had a nice ring to it. But she’d used the name Winter to set up her beloved shoe design business a few years before, so if she looked at it like that, she wasn’t really giving up her name. She’d still have it, and still use it on a daily basis. The only difference would be that her driving licence and bank account would say Dunkin-Buckshaw. But what did that matter? Who ever saw a person’s licence or bank account? Well, Dylan would see her bank account now. He’d said they’d pool their cash once married—apparently that was what couples did after tying the knot.
“Are you sure you’re not going for the red?” Brendon held up her scarlet MAC lipstick. It was her favourite, the only one she wore. But today she’d decided not to. Today she was going for nude gloss.
“No.” She shook her head. “Dylan doesn’t really like it. He says it’s…” She paused, remembering the conversation.
“What?” Georgie fussed with a tendril of Megan’s hair that had escaped. “What does he say?”
“Yes, tell us?” Brendon added with a frown. “I’m curious now.”
“He thinks it’s a bit tarty.”
Georgie gasped and shook her head. “No!”
Brendon slapped his hand over his mouth and widened his eyes.
“He said that?” Georgie asked. “He actually, really and truly said that?”
Megan shrugged. It was no big deal. He was entitled to have an opinion.
“But you’ve worn that shade for years.” Brendon tutted. “It’s so…you. It’s your signature lippy.”
“And it suits you so well, highlights the pretty shape of your mouth,” Georgie added.
“Thank you, but it’s just for today.”
“Are you sure?” Brendon asked. “Because if you never wear it again I’ll be heartbroken. In fact, I may as well just lie down here right now and die.” He gestured to the four-poster bed then made a show of falling back onto it. He threw his arms over his face. “Oh, goodbye to the scarlet lips that we know and love. How can I go on?”
“Don’t be so dramatic, it’s only lipstick.” Megan laughed. “Come on. Help me with the dress.”
Georgie glanced at her iPhone. “Yes, you should get dressed. Time is ticking away. The bells will soon be ringing.”
Megan stood. Her stomach was heavy even though she hadn’t been able to eat that morning. Nerves, most likely. This was, after all, the biggest day of her life—or so she’d been told. If she wasn’t nervous there’d be something wrong with her, right? If there were no butterflies swarming she’d be abnormal. Every bride had this sensation, she’d read about it, seen it in movies.
“How does this feel?” Georgie asked, adjusting the ties on the back of the white basque Megan wore. “Too tight?”
“No it’s fine. It kind of feels like it’s holding me together.” Megan huffed at her silliness but it was the truth. With all the emotions rolling about inside her—apprehension, excitement, awestruck—the basque was like wearing a hug. It was comforting and made her feel secure.
“Your new husband will love that later,” Brendon said, crawling off the bed and nodding approvingly. His gaze took in Megan standing in her sexy underwear. “My, my, if I wasn’t into men, my sweetpea, I’d do you.”
“Well thanks, I think.” Megan giggled and reached for a pack of unopened white stockings.
“Who are you kidding, Brendon?” Georgie said, before picking up her champagne and taking a sip. “I shouldn’t think you’ve got the energy for any of that after last weekend.”
“Last weekend was a business trip.” Brendon scowled.
“Hah, business, yes, if you’re in the business.” Georgie rolled her eyes. “Everyone knows that you and Timothy Hung-like-a-Donkey Curtis weren’t interested in checking out that hotel in Brighton for a possible gig, you were just on a shagathon trip.”
“Well, I take great offence to that, Georgie Porgy Pudding and Pie, because actually that’s exactly what we did. Prada is looking at holding a launch party there for their new line of summer purses”
“Yes, we’ll believe it when we see it.” Georgie laughed and set down her glass.
Normally Megan’s ears would have pricked at the mention of Prada summer purses—she loved purses for all seasons and all occasions—but not today.
“You want me to do that, Megan?”
“No, I can manage.” The wrapper on the stocking box was proving tricky and her hands were a little shaky.
“Here.” Georgie took the package and deftly opened it.
“Thanks.” Megan smiled. She was so happy that her two best friends were with her today. She couldn’t have done it without them. They were her rocks, her pillars of support, her port in a storm. They’d met over five years ago at a mutual friend’s party, all newly single and all wanting to have some fun. Before long they’d been partying hard, but also kicking back and putting the world to rights together. Now they spoke or dropped in on each other most days, did lunch or met for cocktails every week, and tried to get away at least once each summer to worship the sun on some tropical beach.
“Don’t look so worried,” Georgie said with a slight frown.
“Yeah, are you okay?” Brendon asked.
“I’m fine, absolutely fine.” Megan took a deep breath. “Come on, let’s get this show on the road.” She gathered the first stocking and carefully fed her right foot into it then pulled it up to her thigh. She repeated the action with her left and smoothed the lace holdup trims to ensure there were no creases.
“Ah, ah, one more thing before the dress.” Georgie dipped into her handbag. “Here.”
“A garter?” Megan queried. “Really? Isn’t that kind of old-fashioned?”
“Of course it’s old-fashioned, it’s traditional.” Brendon nodded seriously. “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”
“Yes, you have to wear one. It would be bad luck otherwise.” Georgie sank to her knees at Megan’s feet, garter held into a wide ‘O’. She smiled up at Megan. “The tiara is old, the dress is new and this is something borrowed and…” She twisted the garter to show off a tiny blue bow. “Is also blue.”
“Oh, okay.” Megan giggled at how serious her friends were taking this tradition. What was going to happen if she didn’t have something old, new, borrowed and blue? It would hardly spoil the day or curse their marriage for all of time.
Georgie slipped the garter up Megan’s leg to her thigh.
Megan stroked her finger over the delicate white trim. It was very pretty and no doubt Dylan would enjoy removing it when they reached the bridal suite—possibly with his teeth.
“This dress is to die for,” Brendon said, holding up Megan’s voluminous gown. “All this taffeta, it’s enough to sink a battleship.”
“Yes, I’ll certainly have to navigate carefully through doorways today,” Megan said then took a sip of champagne. She set the glass aside. “Come on then, help me into the monster.” She laughed.
Georgie didn’t laugh with her, instead she sighed and clasped her hands under her chin.
“You okay, Georgie?” Megan asked.
“Yes, of course. I’m just so happy for you and that this day has finally come. We’ve all talked for years about who would be first to get hitched and now it’s happening.”
Megan reached for her hand and squeezed. “It will happen for you and Tom soon, I’m sure it will.”
Georgie and Tom had been together for over a year and things were getting serious. They’d skied at Christmas, met the parents and both had a drawer at each other’s apartment for spare clothes and toiletries—surely a sign of true commitment.
Megan shrugged. “Maybe, maybe not, but it doesn’t matter today. Today is all about you and Dylan.”
“Who is likely to be arriving at church with his best man as we speak,” Brendon said, before clicking his tongue on the roof of his mouth. “There is an expectant groom waiting, so chop, chop ladies. Enough of this chatter, you two could talk for England.”
“And you couldn’t?” Georgie grinned.
It took both her friends to assist Megan into her dress. Luckily she could step into it, which meant her hair and makeup weren’t in danger, but still, the sheer amount of material created quite a challenge.
Brendon fussed over the many hems, straightening the layers and fluffing it out so the periphery was even bigger. Georgie fiddled with the top, drawing up the side zipper and puffing the cupped silk sleeves.
“It’s so beautiful,” Georgie said wistfully.
“And so virginal,” Brendon said, then cackled. “Except we know that’s not true.”
Megan skimmed her palms over the tight material at her waist then over her hips. Her hands became lost in the meringue nest of taffeta. “I’ve had some fun but I have standards.” She rolled her eyes. “But not as much fun as you, Brendon.”
“Yeah, well, I’ve not finished having fun yet,” he said, standing. “There’s many more fish out there for me to reel in and have my wicked way with.”
“But don’t you want to find the one?” Georgie asked, helping herself to a squirt of Megan’s perfume.
“Yes of course, but not for a while. I’ve still got things I want to do, places to go, people to meet. I’m not ready to commit to one person, and besides, I wouldn’t know if it was the right person anyway.”
“What do you mean?” Megan asked, taking her perfume from Georgie and spritzing it over her neck and onto her wrists.
“Well, I don’t know how you do it.” He looked between them. “How you can be so sure you’ve met your soulmate? The man you’re meant to be with for all of time. Go to bed with each night and wake up each morning next to.”
“You’ll just know,” Georgie said.