I admit, my posts have been a little slack-a-lackin’ lately. But there are all sorts of big things going on in my life stirring up all sorts of anxiety in my world. All good (I think).
I have a great gift for all of you for the new year.
What? You ain’t never heard of New Year’s gifts? Don’t look a gift chapter in the mouth!
I present to you the first chapter of Be Careful What You Wish For, the third book in The Riley Sisters series, coming late January 2016.
“Just take a deep breath. We have it all under control.”
“HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT?! This is MY WEDDING, NOT YOURS! There is no cake, no groom, and it is going to rain on my outdoor reception,” the young bride collapsed in tears into Miley’s arms.
“Vanessa, you have to stop this. You will ruin your makeup. We have sent a car to go fetch the groom. He wants to be here, but his car broke down. It is the ones that don’t want to be married that are the hardest to resolve. And 20 years from now, all you will see in the pictures are your makeup and the groom. So, you see, your job is to stop crying. Let us take care of the rest,” Miley reassured her.
“But the rain—,” the bride insisted.
“I once attended a wedding that got hit by a tornado, and it all turned out OK. We have tents being erected as we speak.”
“Tents? In the yard?” The bride dashed to the bedroom window to confirm the news. Now she began to cry again; this time with tears of joy.
Little did the bride know that Miley had actually ordered the tents a week ago, based on the extended weekly forecast. The outdoor reception would certainly need them. The uncertain part was that until the bride’s father actually saw the impending storm clouds blossoming in the sky himself, he wouldn’t agree to pay the added cost.
“What did I say was your only job today?” Miley reminded her.
“To not cry,” Vanessa the bride squeaked, smiling now at Miley. The bride stared up at Miley as a kindergartner does to their teacher on the first day of school, her big brown eyes reflecting her helplessness, like a cow at the fair. After a year of planning, Vanessa was finally going to put her trust in Miley to successfully complete the task she was hired to do.
“That’s right. I am going to send your bridesmaids in here to keep you cal—company. I have to go tie-up a few last minute details.”
“Were you really at a wedding that survived a tornado?”
“Yes. A few buildings in town were destroyed, but no one died. A lovely time was had by all,” she replied flippantly. Miley didn’t mention that she had only been fifteen years old and a guest at said event.
With that, Miley quickly excused herself from the room. She speed-dialed a number on her cell phone. A voice quickly responded from the other end of the call through the earpiece in her ear.
“Is the five-tier vanilla with vanilla cream on its way?” An affirmative response came from the other end.
“Did you have time to add some red flowers?” Another yes.
“Thanks. You are a lifesaver. You always come through for me with backup cakes.” Miley had an in with a baker who kept a stash of frozen cakes and an employee on-call at all times. Cake disasters were not common, but were always enough to send an already anxious bride over the edge. Usually a few accents in the wedding colors could be added to an all-white cake. And no one pays attention to the flavor when it is being smashed in their face. She pushed a button and silenced the phone as she hit the bottom of the stairs.
After finding the bridesmaids at the back door smoking pot, she sent them up to be with Vanessa. While Miley did not blatantly suggest it, she hoped they would share their stash with the keyed up bride.
Miley made sure the wedding guests had begun filing into the downstairs of the house. She had personally never been in a house where the dining and living spaces could be opened up enough to hold so many people. Even more would be arriving for the reception. That was saying something, as she had been in many lavish homes in her career of party planning.
“Just as long as the groom arrives,” Miley thought to herself. She pushed through a side door and cut across the impeccable lawn, taking a shortcut over to the reception tents. But she wasn’t quick enough.
“Miss Riley!” someone shouted from behind her. She held up her tablet to block her face and shield her from the shouter. She assumed it was probably the father of the bride. She knew her action was rude, but if he really wanted everything to go off without a hitch, he would let her check on the essentials. Miley had learned a long time ago from her mentor and business partner Jenny Jones, “Take care of the essentials, and the details will fall into place.” All the hardest challenges always happened before the ceremony began.
Miley’s light pink dress that came just above the knee flowed behind her as she hurried down the sidewalk, her high heels clicking all the way. She was glad she had chosen a sleeveless dress and worn her hair up. The humidity had been near one hundred percent all morning. She knew the impending storm would cool off the evening some, but never enough.
“I bet you are ready for vacation,” Travis yelled across the tables to Miley. She made a beeline over to him.
Travis Masen was a caterer that Miley used regularly when she was doing jobs close to home, such as in Huntington or Oakley. He was a great caterer. He made great food. He was very reliable. And he was Miley’s best friend.
Miley knew that after the cost of food, the delivery truck, advertising, and paying his employees, Travis didn’t make a ton of money from catering. But he was a bachelor who knew how to pinch a penny. And he drove a motorcycle, so that didn’t take much gas. Anything for the business was a potential tax write off. He did make enough that he didn’t have to work any other jobs for anyone else.
He hoped to one day get a store front. Not only would he be able to have access to industrial kitchen equipment that he did not have now, but he could also serve some of his specialties in a café-type atmosphere to customers off the street.
Travis used to be a skateboarder. It was still evident in his long shaggy blond hair and the baggy clothes he wore on his days off. Miley always thought of him as a “skate rat,” but she couldn’t remember if that was a derogatory term or not, so she only used it in her head. He probably would still be hanging with that crowd, not doing much of anything with his life, if he had not found his love for cooking. He was mostly self-taught. Miley asked him once if that meant he just sat around and watched a lot of the Food Channel. He scoffed at Miley. He tried to explain how cooking had to be experienced by the five senses. He claimed you couldn’t know how to prepare food until you felt the textures with your hands. He told her you couldn’t smell onions sautéing through a television screen. He was right; at least not until next year, when the Smell-O-Vision 5000 hits stores. She didn’t really understand what he was getting at. But she did always enjoy eating the results.
Occasionally, he could still be seen riding his skateboard through the park on a cool evening at twilight. Miley didn’t understand the hobby. When she was driving and saw an assemblage of youth hanging out skateboarding, she turned up her nose at them. Just a waste of time. No value to it.
But when she saw Travis on his board, she never thought those things. It was the one time he truly looked free; even more so than when he was cooking. Miley suspected that is how he probably started skateboarding—to have freedom from his mother’s watchful eyes, to control when he came and went. Miley saw that board as the gateway drug to his motorcycle. He wanted to be sure he could go anywhere he wanted to—alone, without his mother following. Miley had ridden on it with him a few times. But she missed her radio. And air conditioning.
“This job might kill me before I make it to the airport,” Miley told him, a little too loudly. She looked around to make sure no one from the wedding party had heard. It was very poor customer service to bitch about your client while still at their residence. But this had been a brutal plan from day one. The event fell on a day when Jenny was unable to assist. It also fell the day before Miley’s vacation, which was enough to almost break her. Almost.
“So, you are really leaving me for sunny Los Angeles?” Travis cocked his head to the side in that way he always did, his sandy blond hair shifting to hang in his eyes. He rolled another aluminum food warmer, what he always referred to as a “hot box,” over near the table it would be unloaded onto. Travis moved heavy containers of food and often helped move furniture for events, but he never seemed to develop any more muscle tone. He was skinny, but not tall enough to be lanky. He was F a year older than Miley.
“Hells, yes,” Miley said emphatically.
“You know I hate it when you use that expression.” Travis gave her a sour look.
“Two whole weeks. I can’t remember the last time I took a real vacation. It is going to be so fun hanging out with my sister Kiley.”
“Don’t spend all your time stalking the stars. We don’t want another incident like last time,” he stated.
“What? There was no incident when we waited in the parking lot of the sports arena until GC came out. There was the bodyguard nazi, but we outwaited her lies that the band would never come out.”
“No, I’m talking about when you went to KR’s house and sat in his driveway for three hours until you saw him come out of the house with his gun,” Travis reminded her.
“Oh, ya, well. There was that. But he never filed any formal charges… that I know of,” she shook her head, recalling the experience again. “That totally scared me off of rock gods for good.”
“You just remember to come back home again, capeesh?” Travis stated pointedly. Travis knew better than anyone how a trip to Hollywood for Miley was like a trip to the liquor store for an alcoholic.
Miley dreamed bigger. She felt she was destined for more than merely some office job like her mother had toiled away at. Her dreams had always resided in the entertainment industry, although she had no specific talents of her own to exploit. But that is what was so great about living in the age of reality TV. Anyone could be discovered at any time. Maybe right now an executive wanted a reality show about an Alabama party planner!
“Oh, you’ll just have to wait and see.” Miley smiled at him, then headed back into the house to start the ceremony as the first raindrops started to fall. She could see the groom through the French doors that overlooked the garden. He was fussing with his hair and then his vest, flustered from having arrived so late.
This would be another success to add to her physical portfolio and her mental ego boost.
As the event was winding down, Miley headed out to find Travis to tell him to pick up her mail while she was gone. If he had already left, she supposed she could text him. Or mention it on their bedtime call, which had become routine between the two of them.
Miley soon lost her train of thought when she saw a shirtless an attractive man loading the catering truck. Miley thought she knew all the employees who worked for Travis, but this guy must be new. It was still warm and muggy after the rain. As she approached, she could see the moisture from the air clinging to the well-defined muscles in his back that moved as he worked. He turned so that she could see his nice chest and abdomen, but a box still blocked his face. Holding the box made his biceps bulge under the strain. She felt her whole body flush with the warmth of attraction. He was so yummy, Miley wanted to lick him. Or bite him. Or both.
“Ooo, who is that hunk?” Miley asked a server named Tanya.
“Who?” she asked, perplexed. “I only see Travis over there. You know Travis.”
As the man in question turned and put down the box, Miley could plainly see who it had been. Duh, of course Miley knew Travis.
“Oh, he must have walked away. Thanks, though,” Miley quickly covered.
Making goo-goo eyes at Travis? What was she thinking? She really needed to get laid again soon before her indiscriminate lusting really got out of control.
Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a Bug – AVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It – NEW RELEASE!
Be Careful What You Wish For – COMING JANUARY 2016!