Here Comes the BridesmaidBy: Avril Tremayne
TO: Jonathan Jones
FROM: Sunshine Smart
SUBJECT: Bridesmaid meets Best Man
I’ve met Leo and I adore him!
We are on the same page, so fear not—your wedding reception will be everything you ever dreamed of!
Wish we could have the actual marriage in Sydney too, but hooray for enlightened New York!
Hugs and kisses to Caleb.
TO: Caleb Quartermaine
FROM: Leo Quartermaine
What are you doing to me?
Sunshine Smart cannot be a real name. And she wants to friend me on Facebook! NOT JOKING!
Despite being dropped in it with the lunatic, I will ensure the dinner doesn’t turn into a three-ring circus.
Can’t wait to meet Jonathan—but please tell me he’s nothing like his bridesmaid.
Sunshine Smart was looking forward to her second meeting with Leo Quartermaine. Despite their introductory meeting two days ago, lasting just ten minutes and ending with him declining her request to be Facebook friends.
She loved Leo’s restaurants—well, what she’d read about them. Because she’d never actually eaten at one...which she was about to remedy.
She loved him on TV—tough but fair, judging those reality TV would-be chefs, and dreamy as when fronting Cook It Up With Leo.
She was predisposed to love anyone whose brother was smart enough to marry her best friend Jonathan Jones.
And she just—well, loved him. In that Isn’t he adorable? way of loving people who were just so solid and serious and a teensy bit repressed.
But his hair—or lack thereof—was a problem. There was no reason for Leo to shave his head. It wasn’t as if he had a comb-over issue. He could have a full head of hair if he wanted! Lush, thick, wheat-blond. She’d seen the ‘before shaved head’ photos on the internet. And the start of the regrowth at their first meeting. She’d read a comment in an article about it being easier in the kitchen without hair—but she wasn’t asking for a ponytail!
Anyway, that could be fixed. There was time for him to grow it. She would just drop a word in his ear.
Sunshine checked her make-up. Her new red lipstick looked fabulous. Her eyes...well, what could you do? The grey eyeshadow was heavily layered; mascara so thick each lash look like a tarantula leg—make-up intended to distract people from her ocular weirdness. About which there was nothing she could do—unlike Leo Quartermaine’s hair!
She got out of her car—a bright yellow 1970s relic—and walked purposefully towards Q Brasserie.
* * *
Leo Quartermaine heard Sunshine approach before he saw her.
He associated that tap-tapping rhythm on the polished concrete floor with her, despite only having met her once before.
He was betting she was wearing another pair of ankle-breaking high heels.
To be fair, she was a shoe designer. But shoe designers made flats, didn’t they? Like those ballet-slipper things. Not that he could picture Sunshine Smart in ballet slippers. Or trainers—crikey!
‘Leo!’ she called out, as though he were a misplaced winning lottery ticket, suddenly found. He was starting to think ‘ecstatic’ was her default setting.
‘Sunshine,’ he said, managing not to roll his eyes. Sunshine! How had her parents put that on the birth certificate without gagging?
He’d already clocked the fact that she often started her utterances with ‘So!’ As though an amazing revelation would be out of her mouth on the next breath.
‘News!’ she said, tap-tapping towards the window table where he was sitting.
And, yep, six inches of spike on her feet. In electric blue patent leather. God help his eyes.
She stripped off her trench coat as she made her way across the floor, causing her long necklace to swing. He’d noticed the necklace last time. Pretty. Three types of gold—a rose gold chain, with a yellow gold sun and white gold moon dangling from it.
Miraculously, her dress was an understated colour—pale grey-blue. But it fitted her like a second skin and had one of those things—pellums? Peplums? Whatever!—that dragged a man’s eyes to a woman’s waist and hips. She had a hell of a figure, he had to admit. Curvaceous, like the hourglass pin-up girls of the 1950s.
Leo got up to pull out a chair for her on the opposite side of the table. She took the opportunity to kiss him on the cheek, party-girl air-kiss style—except it wasn’t like any air-kiss he’d ever had—and he’d had plenty. It was a smacking, relishing kiss. Not the kind of kiss to slap on a person you barely knew.
Oblivious to his momentary shock, Sunshine tossed her trench coat carelessly onto a nearby chair, sat, and beamed up at him. ‘Did you hear? They’ve set the date. October twentieth. So we’ve got two months. A spring wedding. Yay!’