Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
As she headed for the tiny boutique shop on the corner of Lexington Avenue and Sixtieth Street, Annabel felt the palms of her hands prickle with perspiration. Her breath quickened with excitement and what might have been a bit of fear. Today she would be trying on her wedding dress for the first time.
"Annabel, you look stunning!" Lilly gushed when Annabel finally emerged from the dressing room.
"Wow," Annabel whispered at her own reflection in the mirror, thinking that the person in there could not possibly be her. "It is so beautiful, Lilly! It's the most amazing dress I've ever seen."
"Thank you." A quick smile of satisfaction lit up Lilly's face. "You know, it's the least I could do, you being my best friend and all. Now, turn around." Lilly waved her hand imperiously. "Let's see if we need to make any adjustments." Lilly was tall and lanky. At five nine, she wore a size four and easily could have been a model, but instead she chose to be a designer, quipping that she preferred calling the shots instead of being a mannequin.
"Ouch!" Annabel felt one of Lilly's pins poke her waist.
"Sorry! Did I get you?"
"How much weight did you lose?" demanded Lilly. "If you had told me that you were planning to go on a diet, I would have waited with the dress. Now I have to take it all in.
"I didn't go on a diet," retorted Annabel. "I just haven't had much of an appetite lately."
"It's not like you have any weight to lose. You're skinnier than my models," Lilly mumbled, holding the pin between her lips as she continued to adjust the fabric. "What was that you said about not having an appetite?" Lilly straightened up to survey the alterations after she had placed several more pins into the dress. "Is everything okay between you and Jeremy?"
"Oh, it's nothing - just stress at work." Annabel shrugged, sensing Lilly's inquiring stare. "I don't mean to sound like a Bridezilla, but the planning is exhausting. Meredith has been helping me, but there is still a lot to be done."
"What about Jeremy? He should be pitching in."
"Tell me about it! I can't even get him to look at the guest list. But in his defense, he's been really busy with his book. Athena and he are working round the clock."
"He sure has been spending a lot of time with that hot book agent of his." Lilly raised an eyebrow.
"It's nothing like that. They're working together. According to Athena, a book deal should be coming through any day, and she's saying that it's going to be really big."
"Okay, okay. I'm sorry. You know that I have issues with trusting men." Lilly smiled apologetically, busying herself with another round of fabric adjustments.
"Don't worry about it." That was one of the things about Lilly -she never pulled any punches.
"Well, it seems my work here is done," announced Lilly. "That is, unless you decide to lose any more weight in the next month, which you'd better not, since I won't be doing this all over again."
"I won't. I promise." Annabel smiled. At times Lilly was worse than her own mother. "You'll be glad to know that I'm going to meet Meredith for a cake tasting at Veniero's. Do you want to come?"
"I wish I could, but I'm swamped here as it is. I am scrambling like mad for this Paris trip."
"What Paris trip? You never told me anything about it."
"Well, I didn't want to jinx it, and it's only become official this morning," Lilly admitted guiltily. "I'll be going to Paris in three months to present my collection in a fashion contest for new designers. You had to apply to be considered, and I've been holding my fingers crossed for the past six months. I could get some real orders there, Ann. This could be it!" Lilly whispered, her eyes lighting up.
"Lilly, this is terrific news! I'm so happy for you. I know that you'll blow them away!"
"I hope so." Lilly twisted her hands nervously. "I've been wracking my brain since this morning what to pick for the contest."
"I can relate to that. All your dresses are beautiful."
"Oh, stop it! You're flattering me when I need brutal honesty!" Lilly waved her hand, blushing with pleasure. "Is that your cell phone ringing? Let me guess. Is it Meredith?"
Annabel fumbled in her purse, groping for her cell phone.
"Hi Meredith. Yes, I'm on my way - I'll see you there in five." She hung up the phone, looking at her watch. "I've got to run. You know how Meredith gets about people being late. Are you sure you can't come?" Annabel offered one last time.
"I wish I could, but there's just too much to do. Have an extra pastry for me."
"See you later. Thanks again for the dress. It's a dream come true!"
As usual on a Saturday afternoon, Lexington Avenue was bustling with shoppers. Annabel checked her watch. She was supposed to meet her cousin Meredith at two o'clock, and it was already one-thirty. With traffic, it could easily be a twenty-minute ride to the Village, which was where Veniero's was located, but if she got a cab right away, she would just about make it.