No regrets. No second thoughts. The fork loaded with a thousand calories passed through her lips and onto her tastebuds. Yes, the other seven people sitting at her banquet table stared at her, but she deserved dessert first. She'd just been best "man" for the love of her life. Witnessing him marry another woman deserved a reward. Especially meringue.
"Excuse me." She held up her hand to wave down one of the waiters serving the salads. "Can you bring me another one of these? Wait. Make it two."
JACQUI: I'm Still Learning
In the gloom shrouding the caboose that Wren’s friends had hauled from the tracks and transformed into a home just for her, a ghostly figure crouched by her bed. A man’s silhouette. Broad-shouldered. Big. Not big enough. Her excitement turned to alarm. He wasn’t Griffin.
She bolted upright and aimed for his nose. Too late. Or too slow. Her punch fell short. Or swung wide. All impossible to tell with a target dodging so fast, but utterly predictable after being denied a sparring partner for two years.
Strength was earned not given. Or so life had taught her. And kept teaching her.
Angharad, the fiery haired, blue-eyed seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, dreamed of a powerful warrior. She witnessed every failure with acceptance, knowing he was destined to bring peace and prosperity to their land. She'd had a vision of her love raising his broadsword high in the air, his battle cry ringing across the misty glen only to echo back again. ...it was time...
Finbarr, the black haired, green-eyed seventh son of a seventh son, was destined to know defeat. But he would never give up! Seven times he answered the call to battle, and seven times he failed. Fall seven times...the prophecy decreed... Stand up eight...and be victorious.
“Leave some to perform the incantation.”
“Can’t we just open another bottle? Riesling is Riesling.” Abby shrugged.
Evie snatched the glass from her friend since forever. “You know as well as I do that this is from the special stock. The first grapes of the first crop. It is not just any Riesling. And further,” she sniffed, her aging voice cracking as it did when she got agitated, “if you don’t believe in this, then we might as well drink the whole bottle and forget it.”
Abby looked at Iris, the only other founding member of the Fine as Wine Club and met her expectant gaze. Decades together had offered them many challenges, from births to funerals; they’d shared most every form of life experience together. “What do you think?” Iris was the most intellectual of the three.
She shrugged, her lavender cashmere sweater draping loose over her slender shoulders. “The book seems fairly clear on what transpires if all are of one mind.” Iris’s soft, brown eyes held Abby’s. “How badly do you want your grandson, Reise, to take over the family vineyard?”
Abby sighed. Bad enough to write and tell him that I plan to give it away to the first person I feel is worthy. Still, a little earth magic couldn’t hurt. “Go ahead Evie. We’re together on this.” Trusting her friends, trusting in the wine, she picked up her glass of white Riesling and wondered how her hot shot California lawyer grandson would respond to the news. “In Vino Veritas—in wine there is truth!”
“Go for it.”
That’s what they’d all said, throughout Cassidy’s entire life. Her mother when Cass had been reluctant to stay overnight at her friend’s the first time. Her music teacher when she’d been afraid to take the stage at the first recital. Her gym teacher when she hadn’t wanted to try pitching in softball. Her best friend when Cass had refused to go on a double date with two guys from frat house down the block from their dorm.
She had them all fooled. No, she wasn’t the bravest soul on the planet, but she’d gone for plenty of things others hadn’t suggested. Like writing a book. Like changing her major from business to philosophy. Like getting not one dog but two.
Like going out on that first date with Jonas two years ago—the one who drove an old Indian motorcycle and who liked leather jackets and art museums. And old Beatle songs. He made her mother’s eyebrows pucker in concern and her father sigh in envy over the bike.
He had them all fooled, too. The bad boy who wasn’t. And now he knelt in front of her with the open velvet box—and in front of her family who knew she’d never go for it. She grinned at him—the man who made her feel braver than anyone she’d ever known.
“Let’s go for it, Cassidy,” he whispered.
“We don’t need to go for it,” she replied. “We’ve already got it!”
And when she launched herself into his arms and he stood to swirled her in circle, she kissed him to prove it.
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