“Mia is still learning.” Autumn adjusted her blouse to nurse Arianna. “It takes time. Everyone makes a few mistakes. Mia, find out where Tracey intends to hold her wedding and reception as soon as possible. Get as many details as you can. Maybe there are things on her list and Rose’s that overlap and you can dovetail the planning you’ll need to do. A busy New York City wedding planner has back-to-back events all the time. If they can do it, you can, too.”
“Thanks, Autumn,” Mia said, a wave of gratitude washing over her. She avoided meeting Claire’s eye as she stood up and crossed the room back toward the stairs. “I’ll go call Tracey right now.”
“She’ll never pull this off. She’s so young,” Mia heard Claire say as she went upstairs. Mia increased her pace, not wanting to hear any more, but Autumn’s answer floated up toward her.
“Don’t underestimate her, Claire. I think she’s more on the ball than any of us give her credit for.”
“Where are we putting this thing again?” Jamie called out as he and Cab struggled to get the queen-sized mattress out of the guest room door and down the staircase of Luke’s cabin.
“The basement over at Mom and Dad’s.” Luke took hold of one end of the box spring while Ethan grabbed the other. They tipped it vertically to fit through the bedroom door.
Luke hadn’t remembered how hard it was to get a bed in and out of these rooms until they were too far into the job to call it quits. He directed the operation as best he could, hoping against hope neither of the other men would take a tumble down the stairs before they were done. He’d grabbed Jamie, Cab and Ethan from Linda’s Diner, where he’d gone to lunch after another run out to Amanda Stone’s, and asked them to help him real quick before they got back to their workdays. His own brothers were all busy today and there was no way he’d ask Holt to wrestle a mattress down a flight of stairs, not with the stiffness in the old man’s hip. Besides, his dad was nowhere to be seen these days. His mother said he had a new project brewing that he hadn’t even told her about.
“You sure it’s a smart idea to build a nursery for Mia before you two even sort things out?” Ethan asked him.
“The whole point is to show her why we should sort things out. I need her to know I’m the kind of man who puts her and the baby first.”
“Where are you going to get all the baby stuff?”
“I’ll buy it.” On credit, unfortunately. His next truck payment was going to eat up a big swath of his monthly income. Luke backed out into the hallway until Ethan’s end was free of the door. Then they changed directions and Ethan backed slowly down the stairs. Cab and Jamie were nearly at the bottom when Cab stumbled, yanked the mattress forward and pulled Jamie off his feet. Fortunately the mattress broke his fall, but he landed on top of it in an ungainly heap.
“Where’s my camera?” Ethan said. “There’s a pinup pose if I ever saw one.”
“Ha, ha.” Jamie scrambled up and set his hat back on his head. “Cab, you okay?”
“I’m fine. Just got tangled up in my own feet.”
“Well, untangle them, pick up your end of the mattress and get to it.”
“Why don’t you both get to it,” Ethan called down.
They managed to make it the rest of the way to Luke’s parents’ house without incident where they stored the set in the basement. Back at his cabin, Luke thanked everyone for their help.
“Just remember sets,” Ethan told him. “Everything has to match—the crib, the changing table, the dresser. And the baby blankets have to match the curtains. And then pretty soon you’ll find Mia trying to match the toys to the wallpaper. It’s like an illness.”
“Match everything. I can do that.”
“What’s her favorite color?”
“The baby’s?” Luke frowned.
“Mia’s, idiot. Does she know if she’s having a boy or girl?”
“Not yet. I don’t think.”
Ethan rolled his eyes at him. “Find out. In fact, you’d better go to that appointment; it’s an important one. And don’t buy anything or paint anything until you know. But then don’t use pink or blue—those are out. Choose yellow or green, but make it masculine or feminine depending on what the baby is. You know.”
Luke was glad to see he wasn’t the only one staring at Ethan. “I don’t think I do know.”
“You will,” Ethan said darkly. “Trust me.”
“It’s the only weekend Tracey’s sister can make it,” Autumn reported back to Mia several days later. “Nora is a Marine on active duty. If Tracey doesn’t hold her wedding on that Friday, her sister can’t come.”
Mia sighed. “Well, at least that explains things. I didn’t think Tracey was that insensitive. Did you tell Rose?”
“Good. Well, that’s that. I’ll just have to be super-organized. The whole weekend will be like one big party.”
“Let me know if I can help.”
“I will.” Mia was already making lists in her head as she trailed up the stairs to her own room. She was due to meet with Tracey tomorrow morning, Lila White tomorrow evening, and Rose the day after. She decided she’d put together a big checklist for each event and start calling venues and suppliers. By the time she met with each of her clients she’d have everything under control.
Her phone buzzed and she picked it up.
“Mia?” It was Inez. Mia’s gut tightened with anxiety.
“I drafted my letter. Can I e-mail it to you to take a look at? How is yours coming?”
“Great.” Actually, it wasn’t coming at all. She’d tried once or twice to sit down and put the events of six years ago into writing, but no words had come.
“I know it’s hard.”
“I’ll do it.” Mia overrode Inez’s comforting words. “It is hard, but I will do it.”
“Thank you. I’ll send my letter over right now.”
“Maybe it will help me to read it.”
Mia found herself reluctant to open Inez’s email when it came, however, and while she found its contents frank and well written, when she heard a commotion in the living room fifteen minutes later, she was grateful for the interruption. She ran lightly to the head of the stairs and found Jamie squared off with Autumn down below.