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Bad Boy’s Bridesmaid

By:Sosie Frost

Chapter One – Mandy




The ivory wedding invitations were mistakenly printed on indigo paper. That accident was the same color as the positive line on my secret pregnancy test.

The bride would flip out, and she was already a couple roses short of a bridal bouquet.

I had to fix it—and fast. My fingers shook as I pulled the invitation from the box.

The tissue paper wrinkled, crinkled, then ripped.

Uh-oh. Now they were the wrong color and wrecked. This was a disaster, but at least we ordered a printed sample of the invitations before we sent them out to the three hundred invitees.

The flaking purplish ink stained my fingers and did not bode well for the bride’s wishes or my likelihood of surviving her impending tantrum. Lindsey had been specific in her designs. It was a…delicate word to use in lieu of unrepentant bridezilla escaped from the clutches of Satan.

The devil reserved a special circle of hell for traitors, thieves, and wedding planners. While my sister wasn’t usually the biblical plague type, little things like the wrong color invitations or photographers who overused sepia tones triggered a furious nuptial wrath. At least she refused the outdoor venue we toured—less chances for a wave of frogs or locusts.

I sighed and tucked the invitation in the box. The Prescott/Harris wedding was one bad shrimp ring away from a nuclear meltdown. If carnations in the centerpieces were any indication of Lindsey’s mood, purple invitations would set the bridal party to DEFCON two.

I sighed. I probably couldn’t bleach the invitations before her inspection, and there wasn’t enough White-Out in the world to hide the purple. I’d have to tell her what happened.

I checked the calendar. Eight weeks until the wedding.

I swiped my phone. Eight minutes until her daily call at noon to discuss the wedding preparations.

Eight minutes it was then. I should have spent them actually doing the work my Dad and his advertising company paid me to do, but I collapsed at my desk. Pregnancy fatigue won out.

What I wouldn’t do for eight hours of rest. So far, the itsy-bitsy break was the only peace I had since I ripped open the pregnancy test one week ago and discovered I was now a Maid-Of-Dishonor.

Of all the complications in my life, I thought the worst would be getting hit by a bus or beat to death with the bridal bouquet.

But a baby?

I was twenty-three. Single. And my family was in full crunch-mode for a wedding that would rival Will and Kate’s royal shindig. The preparations were not going well.

The twice-baked-mini-sweet-potato appetizer nearly tore my sister and her fiancé apart, and Mom had cried for two hours about improperly dyed high heels. I was still apologizing to the caterers for Dad’s choice words about the impractical ice sculpture, and I owed the church one hell of a tithe after the accidental insult about the placement of an “unsightly” crucifix.

My family would spontaneously combust if I revealed the pregnancy now. So I wasn’t risking anything. My lips were zipped until after the wedding.

If I could hide it.

And if I could keep the secret from the baby’s father, Nate.

The agency’s main line rang. Dad grumbled from his office.

“Mandy, can you grab that?” The telltale rustle of a fast-food bag outted him. “Gotta finish this email.”

“Did that email come with onion rings?”

Dad hesitated. Like he’d ever get away with lying to me. “French fries.”

My best friend, Dad’s cardiologist, wouldn’t be happy about that. Rick did not order Dad onto any low salt diet that included a cheeseburger and chili fries with a giant Coke to wash down the coronary waiting to happen. Hopefully he’d just have heartburn by three o’clock. Luckily for us, I stashed a bottle of Pepto-Bismol in my drawer. I bought it when I still thought my nausea was just a little bug.

Boy (or girl?), was I wrong.

Well, I could cure Dad’s indigestion, but I’d never fit him into a tux before Lindsey’s wedding. Pretty sure she had finally re-invited him last week. I’d have to check. The tailor was on standby anyway.

The office line rang again. I answered the call with a glance to the clock on the wall. 11:55. Maybe I’d salvage five minutes of peace?

No dice.

“Mandy!” Lindsey practically growled at me. I flinched, holding the phone away from my head in case my sister learned how to reach through the receiver. “Answer your freaking texts before I march down there and shove my veil down your throat!”

So…she wasn’t cheerful today. At least I knew how to deal with her. Lindsey had skipped the blushing bride phase and transformed directly to fire-breathing hell-beast, but she was family…

I had double-checked. After the engagement dinner debacle, I’d demanded to see our birth certificates.

“You wouldn’t hurt your only sister.” I scrolled through my phone. Twenty texts in the past hour from her… mostly composed of angry frowny faces. Not good.

“You mean I wouldn’t hurt my veil,” she said.

“That too.”

“It’s hand-stitched.”

We weren’t reliving the cross-stitched rose fiasco too. “What’s up, Linds?”

“Do you have the invitations?”

Eek. I covered the box with work files and took a breath. “Um…”

Lindsey shrieked. “I tracked the package! They said it was delivered and signed for. What if someone destroyed them?” Her voice shrilled. “What if someone stole them?”

“No one is stealing your invitations.”

“They might!”

“What use would they have for a piece of paper with your names, church address, and date on it?”

“You work with Photoshop. Who knows what people will do for a wedding!”

Well, that was true. I was living through that madness first hand. Invitations were easy compared to the bridesmaids’ war that was strappy sandals versus slip-ons.

“I have the box right here,” I said.

“I expected you to be on top of this, Mandy. You were supposed to call the instant they arrived.”

“I know. I’m sorry, but listen. There’s a slight problem.” I tried to keep my voice light and bouncy. “Nothing I can’t handle, okay? The invitations are the wrong color. They’re indigo. But we can order new ones—”

Lindsey wailed. Great, now my sister made an enemy out of another section of the rainbow. After the sage/forest/mint green bridal shower crisis, I was running out of acceptable color pallets to use for the event.

My sister dropped the phone. I called her name. Lindsey didn’t answer.

What was the only thing worse than confronting a raging bride on the phone?

Mom picked up instead.

“Mandy? What are you doing to your sister?” My mother’s fake falsetto posed the question like I deliberately meant to cause another rampage.

“She’s okay, Mom. I can handle it.”

“She’s stressed enough as it is, the poor thing. She doesn’t need you causing problems.”

It was easier to apologize than argue with Mom. “Sorry. Let me talk to Lindsey. I’ll take care of everything.”

“You need to stop being so insensitive!” Mom muttered to me as she helped Lindsey to her feet, offering to fetch her some lemonade. “Honestly, Mandy. This might be the only wedding this family has. Lord knows you have no one and no plans.”

I didn’t have the patience for Mom to list all my faults next to the wedding day to-do list, but off she went.

No boyfriend. Working as an assistant to Dad. Making the wedding more difficult on my sister.

My hair was too long, my dress size too big, and, my favorite, somehow I lost the TV remote when I helped with the centerpiece planning last night.

Then, we went full circle.

“At least you’re saving us fifty dollars on the reception dinner. I won’t plan for you to bring a plus one to the wedding.”

She wanted a plus one to rsvp?

I had a pretty special guest who was coming with me, whether he or she wanted it or not. Obviously, I had someone. I mean…that someone might have been a one night mistake. Still, I wasn’t about to blab the baby to Mom to prove I wasn’t forever alone.

Fortunately, Lindsey grabbed the phone from Mom before I revealed the scandal of all scandals to rock our family.

“We can’t wait for these idiot printers,” Lindsey said. “I want you to come home now.”

“I’m working.”

“Yeah, for Dad.”

I crumbled a saltine cracker in my hand. “This is my job. He’s paying me.”

Lindsey’s huff mirrored Mom’s. “He owes us a lot more than whatever he’s paying you. Come home. We have to fix this.”

“Linds—”

“Now!”

The call ended.

Dad snuck out of his office. He offered me a bite of his cheeseburger. Just the sight of the oily, greasy, limp meat patty turned my stomach. I shook my head and pretended like I was texting her back. He slid a napkin loaded with fries on my desk.

Not the best for morning sickness, but I faked eating one so he wouldn’t suspect anything.

Dad ran a hand over his shaved head—dark, shiny, and absolutely a style Mom never would have allowed if he still lived at home. The goatee was new too, grown after I accidentally mentioned Mom talking at church with Mr. Calvin…who happened to have a beard. Dad probably thought it’d give him a chance.

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