Addie drew in a quiet breath and waited for her friend to give some indication that the familiar rant of the last few months had burnt itself out. When no sound except sniveling and sniffles followed, she knew they had crossed another hurdle and reached over and pressed her friend's hand into hers. "Do you love Zach?"
"Does he love you?"
Another head nod.
"What's the most important conclusion of today?"
"To be married," Serena choked out.
"Exactly, and even though most of your dreams of your perfect wedding were stolen from you, the outcome is one dream Veronica can't steal." She swept a chestnut-red ringlet from Serena's face, tipped her friend's chin with her finger, and forced Serena to look her in the eyes. "Now, you know as well as I do that when you get stressed or upset, your freckles pop out every which way."
Serena's hazel-brown eyes filled with panic.
"You don't want to ruin the perfect picture of your big day with a blotchy face, do you?"
Serena emphatically shook her head.
"Good, my suggestion is to go next door to your tea shop. Make a big pot of chamomile tea, drink it all down, relax, and then go to the yacht for your hair and makeup appointment as scheduled, and no more talk of calling off the wedding."
"Will you come with me just in case Dragon Lady strikes again?"
"I'll be there for my appointment at two."
"I promise. You're looking at the number one dragon-slayer, and I wouldn't miss this day for anything, not even a fiery dragon lady." Addie gave Serena's hand a reassuring squeeze. "Think you can go and relax for a while for me before I get there with my sword and shield?"
Serena nodded and stumbled out the back door into the lane.
Addie closed the door once Serena was safely inside her shop and hadn't dropped to the ground to curl up in a fetal position. Addie banged her head repeatedly on the metal door and heaved out a heavy breath. "Give me strength to make it through this day."
"Yes," she said, glancing at Paige, who stood in the doorway.
"I hate to interrupt, but . . ." She looked toward the storefront and smiled and turned back to Addie. "Marc's here, and he wants to speak to you."
"He's here and didn't barge into the back like he usually does?" She chuckled.
"I told him you were talking Serena off the ledge again, and he said he'd wait, but he's doing that pacing thing, so I thought maybe it was urgent."
"Okay, well she's gone now, so you might as well send the next Chandler with pre-wedding jitters back."
"He's dressed in his uniform . . . so I think it might be official," Paige said, waving him to the back room.
"Great. What have I done now?" Addie sank back down on the book crate. "Chief Chandler, what a surprise to see you this morning. Shouldn't the brother of the bride be at the tuxedo fitting right about now with the other groomsmen?"
Marc loomed in the doorway and toyed with his police cap in hand. His honey-brown eyes darkened and he averted his gaze, studying the toes of his boots. "Addie, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to come down to the station with me."