Miss Cavanaugh: A Wedding Novella
Cris and Daveigh are finally getting married. Except, one person at Kingsbrier seems determined to stop the happy couple from having the wedding of their dreams.
Release date: October 22, 2017
Print pages: 55
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Miss Cavanaugh: A Wedding Novella
“It is probably better you’re getting married here,” Adam says with a straight face. He tosses the hammer I’ve given him and catches it by the handle. His sister’s husband walks past us carrying a bale of hay. “Brier has a tendency to push Drew in the pool at Cavanaugh family weddings.”
“Har, har,” Drew responds. He places the squat straw rectangle in a row next to the others we’re using to create pews and turns back to get the next bale, passing Colton, who carries one on each shoulder.
As soon as Daveigh and I announced our engagement, her brothers had taken to harassing me about marrying into the family. It tends to be good-natured ribbing. The same kind of shit they put Drew through. Or one another, for that matter.
“We could always accommodate the family tradition.” Eric, my best friend and soon-to-be other brother-in-law, points toward the horse’s stable. “There’s a full trough right over there. What do you say we hold Drew down first and then baptize Cris?”
I wind a copper-colored wire around one final nail, hanging the last string of lights atop a tall pole. Then I climb down the ladder Adam is supposed to be holding and shake my head. The guys talk a good game. However, there’s no reason to take the threat seriously. They wouldn’t do anything to ruin today. As usual, each one is pitching in.
Inspecting my handiwork, I brushed my sweaty palms against the thighs of 501 jeans that are washed to a perfect fade and softness.
Eric slings his arm over my shoulder. “This looks great.”
He’s right. It makes all the effort it took for us to harvest the trees from beyond the back forty, dig the pits, and then cement the rough timbers into them worthwhile.
Hundreds of varying sized round bulbs zigzag back and forth across the barnyard from the horse stable to the old barn, then across to Daveigh’s new veterinary building. Now that I’ve finished stringing the thousands of feet of wire, it has created a canopy effect. Once evening falls and the lights are illuminated, the bulb filaments will cast a soft amber glow above everyone’s head.
Colton throws down the last of the hay bales, leaving Drew to adjust the final placement. Finding the sheep better company, he heads for the paddock where Cordero bleats, protesting the noise in his sanctuary.
I know better than to take Colton’s demeanor personally. We don’t have anything against one another. Life-changing events tend to draw out a range of emotions from everyone. I include myself in that category.
“You lucked out. The weather’s holding up.” Eric looks up at the sky. There is the slightest chance of a shower tonight, but it’s not predicted until late, long after the festivities end. “I’ve never seen Daveigh and Momma go toe-to-toe on as many things as they have with this wedding.”
Most recently, Miss Rose threw a conniption when her daughter refused to let her rent a tent for the evening. It was out of character for Daveigh’s mother and, as a general rule, Daveigh is the most easy-going woman to deal with.
Or at least she has been since we’ve figured our shit out.
Last summer, we moved beyond the eight-year age difference between the two of us and that her father is my employer. I also finally gave Daveigh overdue credit for the way she cares for my son instead of worrying if anyone thinks I’m trying to find the boy a replacement mother.
I laugh beneath my breath. It’s funny how, once I had the balls to go after the woman—and Daveigh admitted she’d been in love with me the whole time too—those frustrating bouts of animosity she directed toward me suddenly made sense. Maybe men are clueless. I definitely was when it came to the way Daveigh felt.
In any event, for our big day Daveigh dug her boots into the dirt, mimicking the most defiant quint. She refused to accept her mother’s hard-line insistence that the mansion was still the perfect place for a large party. This is her wedding and I don’t fault her for wanting it to be different from her sibling’s nuptials held by the pool.
Miss Rose’s jaw dropped, and she had to brush back a white-blonde tendril that escaped from her refined French twist when Daveigh proposed holding the reception in the farmyard.
To me, the idea makes perfect sense. This is the place where we first met. My twelve-year-old son, Mateo, and I lived in the stable apartments for years before moving to the newly constructed Victorian on the adjacent property. And even before we came into her life, Daveigh’s heart resided right here taking care of the animals. The unoccupied whitewashed building, located where the apartments used to be, with its black shutters and metal roof, is the place she’s building her practice after finishing her veterinary residency.
“But the smell, sugar!” Rose scrunched up her nose.
“Oh, momma, it isn’t like anyone’s going to trample through the paddocks. Cris’s crew can shovel manure. We’ll bring in fresh hay bales and the flowers will cover the lingering scent.”
“Keep daddy’s wine flowing and it ain’t like nobody’ll care once they’re three sheets to the wind,” her older sister interrupted, smiling as she flipped through the Country Bride magazine pages Daveigh had dog-eared.
“Brier, you are not helping matters. This is Daveigh’s big day. You’ve had your turn.”
“If I weren’t so tired from being pregnant with the twins, I would have stood up to you more when it was my turn.” Brier squabbled for the sake of maintaining her obstinance. She got up from the table in the terracotta kitchen and passed behind Daveigh’s chair, bending to kiss her cheek. “Stand your ground, baby sister. Everything you and Cris picked so far is wonderful, especially one another.” Then she mock-whispered. “Don’t budge an inch.”
Their mother would take a mile because Miss Rose has a stubborn streak which makes Brier’s look like a faded line.
Daveigh patted the hand Brier laid on her shoulder.
“Fine,” Rose conceded, exasperated. “Let’s keep the horses inside at least.”
Daveigh’s lips flattened to a line. “I don’t see the point to a rustic, farmyard wedding if there are no animals.”
She doesn’t want the same wedding as everyone else. The quints’ parents raised them as individuals. Heck, given her mother’s perfectionism when it comes to us getting married, Daveigh mentioned she’d run off and elope if it weren’t for the fact that having an actual wedding was something she’s always wanted.
“Cris, can you be the voice of reason, please?” Rose implored, looking across the table at me.
My hand landed on Daveigh’s knee and I squeezed so she understood I was on her side. “Compromise. Let’s keep the horses outside in the far field and the chickens in the large coop. That way everyone can watch them behind the wire.
More important to me is no one trips over the birds. As the ranch and vineyard manager, safety is of the utmost importance.
“Cordero can stay in his pen. He’s well-behaved and keeps the kids busy. I only hope they don’t feed him from the buffet.”
I winked and D caressed the side of my face, rubbing a thumb over my cheek where the fading redness encircles my eyelid. The area is a tricky place to get laser treatments on. The dermatologist has done an impressive job making the pigmentation fade to gradual shades of healthy pink. It helps me to feel like the change in my appearance is less conspicuous.
Caught in the memory from months ago, I absently touch where my short beard is growing back in.
Folding tables scrape against the floor of the box truck the catering company was unloading. The young men on my payroll lead the horses out to a far grassy knoll and a wheelbarrow of excrement passes by in the opposite direction.
Adam waves a hand under his nose. “Glad I didn’t get stuck with that job today.”
“Your lazy ass would be out there shoveling shit with a spoon if either of your sisters asked you to,” Drew remarks sardonically.
“You’re right, I would. They didn’t ask, though, did they?”
“Are we done?” Eric checks his watch. “There’s just enough time left to get cleaned up and have a few drinks back at the winery.”
“You all go on ahead. I’ll meet you in my office after finding out who is coming to get the crates of wine for the reception.”
The other men scattered to their vehicles to shower and change.
My crew and I wrap up and let them know how much I appreciate them coming out to help before they leave. Ready to walk across the access road home to clean up too, I hear the sound of truck tires on the gravel.
My white Silverado emblazoned with the Kingsbrier Winery logo tears into the barnyard. Daveigh jumps out, leaving the door ajar, but remembering to take the keys from the ignition. The jingle of the keyring adds to the other bustling noises. She runs the short distance and jumps into my arms. I grab her by the bottom as she wraps her legs around my waist.
“It’s amazing!” she says with dreamy excitement. “So perfect. Thank you!”
I hold her tight, taking in the sensation of her body pressed against mine. As her feet drop to the ground, I let out a slight groan.
“Oh, you poor old man! Was it too much when the boss’s daughter followed you down to the wine cellar last night? I did help bring up all those bottles for the rehearsal dinner. After I had my way with you,” she jokes.
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