Rocky Mountain Wedding

By: Sara Richardson

A Heart of the Rockies Novella

Chapter One

Whoever coined the term blushing bride had it all wrong.

Ruby James studied herself in the full-length mirror that hung over the door in her friend Avery Walker’s bedroom. In front of an audience that included her bridesmaids, Avery and Julia; her soon-to-be aunt-in-law, Elsie Walker; and her matron of honor, Paige, Ruby’d been attempting to squeeze herself into her wedding dress for the last ten minutes. It was supposed to be a prewedding tea, one more girls’ celebration before she officially became Mrs. Hawkins.

But now her hair, which had been neatly piled on top of her head, had broken free, frizzing around her face as if she’d just spent an hour out in the humidity. Speaking of her face…her forehead looked like it might pop a vein.

Blushing bride? More like gasping, heaving, red-faced bride.

“Come on,” Paige said, clutching either side of the gaping zipper. “Suck it in, Ruby. We can do this.” If anyone could do it, Paige could. The woman actually had biceps. As a mountain guide, she’d climbed most of the cliffs within a thirty-mile radius of Aspen. You’d never know it just looking at her on the street, what with her petite frame, gleaming hazel eyes, and wavy streaked hair, but Paige was pretty much a badass. “Suck it in,” she commanded.

“I am sucking it in,” Ruby wheezed. Lordy! She’d been sucking it in for the last decade. Not that she was overweight, just a bit curvy, which her faithful fiancé, Sawyer, insisted he loved. Don’t you dare lose a pound, he’s say when she’d mention a diet she might like to try. You’re perfect. Then he’d grab her ass and tell her he liked having something to hold on to. She directed her gaze to the mirror again and ran it down her body in a critical assessment. Lately, though, it seemed like he’d had a whole lot more to hold on to. Obviously. The wedding was four days away and her dress didn’t fit.

Grunting, Paige yanked on the fabric. “Okay, on the count of three you’ll inhale and clench that stomach,” she instructed. “Then I’ll jerk up that damn zipper before it knows what hit it.”

“Good idea,” Paige’s sister-in-law, Julia, chimed in, wheeling her chair closer to the spectacle like she wanted a front-row seat. Julia had recently gotten back from her own wedding in Tahiti, where she’d married her childhood sweetheart, Isaac. And wow, the woman looked good—the tanned and glowing new bride. Her long dark hair was sun-streaked and lovely, and those exotic brown eyes of hers seemed to glisten in a way they hadn’t before.

Ruby would bet that the woman hadn’t had any problem fitting into her wedding dress.

Then there were Avery and Elsie. They’d probably never sucked it in. Though she had a seven-month-old, Avery had one of those naturally lean bodies. Along with her blond hair and ice-blue eyes, she could still walk the runway somewhere. Elsie may have been a bit plump, but she was still petite and graceful—the typical grandma-to-everyone.

Cheeks puffed out in a sigh, Ruby checked herself in the mirror again. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.” It was Thursday. The wedding was on Sunday. “I’ll have to find a new dress.” Which would break her heart. After she’d bought this dress, she’d had Elsie make a matching dress for Brookie. In just a few short months, she and Sawyer would be officially adopting the sweet foster girl they’d both come to love and they’d wanted to make sure she was an integral part of the ceremony.

“Like hell you will,” Paige grunted. She’d always had a slight competitive streak, and this dress had just become her nemesis.

“We’ll get it this time, dear,” Elsie soothed. “Don’t you worry.”

“It’ll fit fine,” Avery agreed, but concern rounded her eyes and Ruby could practically see her thinking through a plan b.

“Here goes,” Paige said, getting a tighter grip on the material. “One, two, three.”

Straightening, Ruby inhaled and held her breath, cinching her ribs so tight she swore they touched her spine.

Behind her, Paige cursed with the passion of a sailor and jerked the two edges of the satiny material together.

Blood pounded in Ruby’s head. Her fingertips tingled.

“Come on!” Paige groaned. “Avery, pull up the zipper!”

Avery jumped into action and tugged.

Ruby’s body jolted. She swayed. Whoa…she was going to pass out. The air whooshed from her mouth with hurricane force. Her body slumped forward. “God, I feel like I’m going to break a rib!”

Paige stood behind her, eyeing that zipper. “I’m sweating,” her friend complained. “I’m actually sweating right now.”