The Cowboy's E-Mail Order Bride (Page 29)

The Cowboy’s E-Mail Order Bride(29)
Author: Cora Seton

Autumn’s mouth dropped open at the older woman’s tirade. A moment later Lacey turned on her heel and marched out the front door.

“Good riddance,” Rose said.

Ellie bustled over to a dress rack. “I think we all know you’ve picked your gown, but you try on a few more, just to be sure.” She held out a gown with a beaded bodice.

Autumn took it and dutifully turned so Rose could unbutton her current one, but her joy in the morning had gone out the door with Lacey.

* * * * *

The next week and a half flew by in a blur until Saturday rolled around again, and only a week remained until her wedding. In between fittings for her dress and all the other arrangements, she hardly had time to consider the drastic step she was taking. She also had very little time to worry about the fact that she still hadn’t told her mother, sister, or even Becka about the big event. But now with only seven days left until the ceremony, she knew she couldn’t put it off any longer. Ethan brought it up once, when they were coming up with numbers for Rose, who had volunteered to coordinate a potluck buffet dinner to hold down costs. About sixty people would attend the wedding, almost all of them Ethan’s friends and neighbors from Chance Creek. Aside from Becka and her family, Autumn couldn’t think of anyone to invite. She had plenty of acquaintances, but few real friends she’d ask to buy a plane ticket just to see her walk down the aisle.

“Your Mom and sister will be there, right?” he said. “I have to meet your family.”

“Of course they will – they wouldn’t miss it for the world,” she said.

But she hadn’t picked up the phone or sent an invitation. Now she had no choice.

She called Becka first.

“Ohmygod, Autumn! Where’ve you been – I was about to send the police after you!” Becka squealed.

“I know – I’m sorry. Things got really crazy here, really fast. You won’t believe what’s happened.”

“What, you’re going to marry the cowboy?” Becka laughed. Autumn, stunned, remained silent. A pause stretched out. “No way. Autumn – you’re not serious. You’re marrying him? You’ve known him, what – three weeks?”

“I know it’s crazy, but you have to meet him, Becks – he’s amazing. He’s so handsome and kind and wonderful.”

“He’d better be wonderful,” Becka said after a long moment. “If he’s stealing you away from me he’d better be awesome. Crap, you’re not coming back to New York, are you? Autumn – I’ll never see you again.”

“Sorry,” Autumn said in a small voice. “I’m staying here. I love it. The ranch is so beautiful – better than anything we pictured and we’re going to turn it into a guest ranch. There’s an amazing lodge basically all ready for people to come and stay. That’s where we’ll put you when you come out for the wedding.”

“When is it?”

“Next Saturday.” Autumn held her breath. Becka’s voice screeched over the line, “Next Saturday? Are you insane? That’s…next Saturday! You can’t marry him that fast.”

“The minister’s already booked and I have my dress.”

“I thought I’d be there when you picked out your dress,” Becka said. Autumn heard the hurt in her friend’s voice and sunk a little lower on the guest room bed where she’d retreated to make the call.

“I know – I’m sorry. Like I said, this all happened really fast. So can you come out on Wednesday and we’ll shop for your bridesmaid gown together? You can pick any one you want – on me! We’ll find you something really gorgeous and you can dance with all the cowboys at the reception. Pretty please? Don’t be mad – I still have to call Mom and Lily.”

“You haven’t told your mother you’re getting married next week?” Becka shrieked again.

“Can you blame me? Can you imagine her reaction?”

“Yeah – she’s going to think you got knocked up and needed a shotgun wedding.” Becka paused. “Oh, no. Autumn, don’t tell me you got knocked up.”

“I didn’t get knocked up! I mean, I don’t think…” She dropped a hand to her belly. “Okay, you can’t tell anyone about this.”

Becka groaned. “Lay it on me.”

“We didn’t use protection the first time we had sex. And I’m kind of late – just a couple of days, nothing drastic.”

“What the hell are you waiting for – why haven’t you taken a pregnancy test?”

“I’m going to – tonight. It’s been so busy and I haven’t felt nauseous in the mornings, so I’m good, right?”

“I don’t know, honey – go pee on that stick and we’ll find out together.”

“I wish I could, but I want to save it until Ethan gets home.”

“You’re not just marrying him because you might be pregnant, though, are you?” Becka asked.

“No. Definitely not. I’m head over heels for this guy, Becka. I never thought I’d be this happy.”

“Then I guess I’m happy for you,” she said, although she didn’t sound completely convinced. “Give me the details and I’ll buy my ticket right now.”

Five minutes later, she clicked off the phone and stared at it, willing herself the courage to dial her mother’s cell number. The conversation wasn’t going to be pretty – she’d told her mother she was here researching a story, but left the details deliberately vague, so her news was going to come entirely out of left field. She took a deep breath and punched in the number.

“Hi, Mom,” she said when Teresa picked up.

“Autumn! Hi, honey – where are you?”

“I’m still in Montana, working on that…thing,” she began and then wanted to knock her head against the wall. “But something’s happened.”

“What is it? I have to hurry, I’m on my way into the office.”

Autumn could picture her mother rushing around her ultra-modern townhouse, finding her shoes and her purse and her briefcase.

“I’m getting married,” she blurted. “Next Saturday. He’s a cowboy and I love him and we’re going to run a guest ranch and I totally love him. Can you make the wedding? We can put you up.” She bit her lip and waited for Teresa’s reaction.

Her mother appeared to have lost her voice. After a couple of strangled noises, she finally cleared her throat. “Did you just say you’re getting married?”