him. She pulled away abruptly. “Kresley!” The Flynns waved and left the dance floor, meeting up with her along the side. Kresley was gorgeous tonight in a deep green maternity dress; standing next to her, Brooke recalled Jake’s words and wondered if perhaps she did look a bit drab. Tonight she was supposed to celebrating. Maybe something more festive— “You must be Jake?” Kresley tilted her head, regarding him with a puckish smile. “Kresley Flynn. I’ve heard a lot about you.” Brooke shot Kresley a warning glance that didn’t entirely match her friendly tone. “Kres, Dane, this is Jake McBride, Giff’s friend and our best man.” “Nice to meet you.” As he was shaking hands with both of them, Brooke heard her name being called. Meg was barreling down on them. “Brooke! Hey, Kresley, Dane.” She paused, her voice becoming a purr. “Jake. I don’t mean to interrupt, but can I borrow my sister for a moment?” “I’ll be right back,” Brooke said, hoping that was true and whatever emergency Meg was telegraphing with her eyes would be quickly settled. “Will you guys let Giff know, in case he comes looking for me?” She barely waited for their nods before trailing Meg toward the house and up the deck stairs. “Mom’s in meltdown mode,” Meg said. “I took herglass of Riesling away and suggested she go inside to freshen up.” If they hadn’t arrived together—a decision Brooke was seriously rethinking in retrospect—she might suggest that Meg take their mother home. Or, if Didi and Everett would act like adults who hadn’t spent Brooke’s entire life creating drama, they could go home together. The sniffling coming from behind the closed door let Brooke know which first-floor guest bathroom her mother occupied. She took a deep breath and knocked. “Mom?” Didi opened the door and peered out with reddened eyes. Streaks of mascara were beginning to smudge the tops of her cheeks. “It’s a l-lovely party, Brooke. And Grace is every bit as wonderful as you’ve described her.” Brooke sighed. “You don’t look like you’re having a ‘lovely’ time. Maybe you and Dad just need to talk, then you’ll feel better. I could go find him. You two could go home and—” “Oh, I wouldn’t dream of ruining your father’s fun,” Didi said tightly. “Haven’t you seen him out there, flirting up women half his age? After I gave him the best years of my life! Do you know how hard it is for a middle-aged woman to start over again?” Throughout their youth, Meg and Brooke had been warned multiple times that their parents might be separating. Should Brooke actually worry that this time there might be a grain of truth in the sentiment? Figures. They split up the night of my engagement party. Maybe theycan find a way to get divorce papers served during my wedding. Brooke was instantly appalled at herself. Was she really becoming so cynical? “Mom, I love you. You know I do. But—” “But I’m being a dark cloud, aren’t I? Everyone is so happy for you and Giff. The guests have been talking about what a cute couple you are all night. People told me how pretty the wedding invitations were, and it made me realize—I never had any of that, the fuss, the big day. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that Everett and I have had so many problems. He never even thought I was worth all that effort. Our wedding was so…expedient.” “Is it possible your mood is coloring your memory of the event? You’ve always told me how passionate and romantic it was to be caught up in the moment,” Brooke pointed out. “Yes, well.” Didi gave her a bitter little smile. “I guess we should just be glad you learned from my mistakes and won’t let yourself get caught up in romance.” Brooke blinked. She has a point. But what did it say about a bride-to-be who, at her own engagement party, was feeling grateful not to succumb to romance?
Chapter Ten Brooke found Giff at the bottom of the