Title: The Wedding Gift
Author: Judy Kentrus
Genre: Contemporary, Romantic Comedy
Cindi Pearl Sullivan and Preston Reynolds, the loving couple from Winner Takes All are back and you’re invited to attend their nuptials. The perfect wedding has been planned and they’re eager to become man and wife.
Unfortunately, things do go as planned. Two weeks before they’re to say I do, Cindi gets an invitation to attend a holiday high school reunion. The invite brings back heartbreaking memories she’s closed off in her mind, but decides to attend and show off her handsome fiancé.
While dancing to one of their favorite songs, the couple is totally unprepared when a man, who once claimed Cindi’s heart, taps Preston on the shoulder and claims, “You’re dancing with my girl.”
Thomas Leland has a specific purpose returning to Laurel Heights. The errant moth he walked away from has turned into a monarch butterfly. First he has to break up her engagement as part of his revenge against Preston Reynolds.
They’ll have the help from three ninety-year-old ladies who call themselves The Lemon Sisters. It’s a fun, sexy, I never saw that coming story.
While Cindi put the bingo game away in the storage cabinet in the activity room in the assisted living center, she sensed something was afoot. Muriel, Sadie and Bertie, her delightful, geriatric friends, were whispering and giggling like schoolgirls.
“Ladies, it’s time for me to head out. I’m meeting Preston. We’re going to the florist to make the final flower arrangements for our wedding.”
“Let’s give Cindi her present.” Bertie reached into the side pocket on her scooter and withdrew a box wrapped in red foil paper. “We wanted to give you something to make your wedding night extra special.”
“Thank you so much.” Cindi kissed each of the women, holding back sentimental tears. “Is it okay if I open it now?”
“Wait!” Muriel put her scooter in gear. “Let me lock the door. Need to keep those pervert old geezers out. Don’t matter anyway. Their tallywackers don’t work.”
Cindi silently questioned the women’s peculiar behavior and wondered what they’d purchased that the men shouldn’t see. “Ah, before I open the box, how did you get this present?”
“We had one of the candy stripers order it online, but we gave her the money.”
“Open it! Open it!” Muriel urged.
Cindi discovered mounds of shocking-pink tissue paper. That should’ve given her a clue it wasn’t a Christmas present. Her mouth dropped when she lifted out silky lingerie. “Oh my!”
The camisole top and tap pants were a virginal white, but that was the only instance the word “virginal” could be inferred. A short, transparent skirt with a sexy side slit was attached to the lace-trimmed demi cups. The satin-trimmed elastic waist of the see-through tap pants would ride low on her hips. Preston’s mouth would hit the floor. “Frederick’s of Hollywood?”
“No, Shirley of Reno. Don’t you just love it!” Muriel beamed, before joining her friends in a giggle.
“Thank you so very much. This will make our wedding night extra special.” When Cindi’s cell phone indicated an incoming text message, she smiled. “Speaking of the groom, I’ve got to meet him in an hour.”
She repackaged the lingerie before reaching for her puffy quilted jacket. “I won’t be here next week, but Suzie Q will run the bingo games. Behave yourselves.” Cindi told herself it was wishful thinking.
The December air attacked her cheeks the moment she stepped outside the assisted living center, and headed toward Pansy, her orchid VW. Knowing she’d see Preston in a little while made her heart sing with happiness. In two weeks she’d be Mrs. Preston Reynolds.
When her cell phone rang, she smiled at the familiar number. Her parents had just gotten back from a much needed vacation.
“Hi, Mom, welcome home. How was your trip?”
“Fabulous! I think I’ve gained ten pounds from all the wonderful food. Dad picked up the mail that was being held at the post office, and there was a letter for you. I opened it to make sure it wasn’t anything important.
“Stevensville High School is having a special holiday party. It’s just a get-together for everyone who graduated in the past twenty years. You were supposed to RSVP a week ago, but we were away so you couldn’t get the announcement. And, of course, they didn’t have your new address.”
“When and where?” She really didn’t have time for this. Besides, it brought back too many bad memories.
“It’s tonight at the Roadhouse in Laurel Heights.”
“Tonight! That’s insane! Who the heck plans a semi-reunion three weeks before Christmas?”
“It’s signed by Merrilee Howard and Florence Knightly.”
“Sounds exactly like something they’d do. Mother, I don’t have time. Preston and I are meeting the florist to finalize the flower arrangements for the wedding, and then we‘re going to start going through our shower presents.”
“Daughter of mine, you’ve always been very independent and I’ve held back from giving you too much advice, but I need to speak my mind. It still irks me that a certain someone, who shall not be named, caused you to leave town in embarrassment. His bitch of a momma claimed you weren’t good enough because we were farmers and his family was big-shot lawyers.”
Cindi didn’t have to be reminded about the humiliation she’d suffered, as well as the pain of a broken heart. At eighteen, her world had come to an end, or she thought so at the time. Through her wonderful boss, she’d met the man of her dreams. Her life had never been richer or fuller.
“Cindi, are you still there?”
“Yes, Mother. I was just thinking.”
“Look at it from Preston’s angle. If he finds out about the get-together and you don’t go, he might think you’re ashamed of him because of his leg.”
“Mother! How could you say something like that? He’s the most wonderful, courageous, handsome, kind, generous, loving man in the entire world!”
“You know how much we love him, and he’s made you so happy. Prove to everyone you’ve made a success of your life. The other women will drool with envy. Walk in, hold your head high, and be proud of all you’ve accomplished. Most important, smile at the man you love.”
“Mother, you could sell snow shoes to polar bears.” They could spare a couple of hours to walk down memory lane. This time, she’d have Preston with her to keep the bad memories at bay. “What time does this thing start?”
“Now you’re talking! Seven o’clock.”
“I’ve got nothing to wear.”
“That’s why you’re going to stop at your favorite boutique and get a new dress.”
As usual, her mother had all the answers. “Thank you, Mother. I don’t know how I’d survive without you.”
There was so much more to this spur of the moment reunion. She’d have to tell Preston about he who shall not be named and the circumstances behind her humiliation. The bigger question was, would he be there?
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Cindi, like all brides, wants to have a wedding without any problems, but she’ll have lots of love and support from the man she loves, her family, and friends when it looks like the wedding may never happen. Be prepared to laugh at the antics of her “geriatric” friends who decide to steal the van from their assisted living center so that they can crash her personal bridal shower.
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