“We can skip that part,” Ryan said, his expression turning as self-satisfied as a cat who’d just eaten the canary. “Daniel and Brianna want a military wedding.”
“As in everything red, white, and blue?” Evelyn tried to picture the couple standing beneath an arbor draped in patriotic bunting.
“That’s where I went, too. But no. I asked Daniel about it. He said he was thinking more about all the gold buttons and insignia on the Marine uniform. Gold, with touches of red. He’ll wear his uniform instead of a tux. The same for his groomsmen.”
“That could work. It’d definitely make for a beautiful wedding.” An unsettling uncertainty stirred in her chest. She tilted her head. “Does Brianna know about this?”
“From what Daniel said, it was her idea.”
That decided it. If the couple had chosen their theme together, who was she to argue? She’d been right about one thing. Ryan had been keeping a secret. She slanted a look at him. Did he know how important this was? How many people needed this information? “Who else knows this will be a military wedding? Did you mention it to Alicia or Jenny?”
Ryan’s sheepish grin made her heart quiver. “Never even thought of it.”
“When we finish up here, we’d better make some phone calls if we want to give this couple a perfect wedding.” She paused when a new thought occurred to her. Ryan had known about the theme all along, but he’d let her spend the last fifteen minutes giving him a lesson on weddings. A lesson he obviously hadn’t needed. She pursed her lips. “If you knew about the theme and everything else, why’d you let me ramble on for so long?”
Ryan shrugged. “I must like listening to you talk, I guess.”
She stared at him. Had his ears actually turned pink? She blinked and looked again. Yep. Like they had whenever he’d gotten flustered as a kid, his ears had turned so red they practically glowed. But why? They were just two friends, having a discussion. He shouldn’t be embarrassed. Unless…
She picked at a loose thread at the hem of her shirt.
Unless he liked her.
A shiver that had nothing to do with the temperature in the room worked its way from her shoulders to her feet. Did Ryan’s feelings for her go beyond friendship? The concept was so new, so foreign, she stilled. Her mind whirred with a whole world of possibilities she’d never allowed herself to consider.
“Evelyn. Earth to Evelyn. You okay over there?” Ryan began to rise from his chair.
Marshaling her thoughts, she waved him back into his seat. “What’d you say?”
“I said, I still don’t understand how we’re going to make sure Brianna and Daniel don’t cancel their wedding.”
She might not know whether Ryan liked her as, well, more than a friend, but she had a plan. A good one. “We’ll double-team them,” she announced, her voice firm and decisive. “Starting tomorrow, we’ll go with them to every store that’s participating in Wedding-In-A-Week. We’ll sit beside them during the tastings at I Do Cakes and Food for A Day. We’ll ooh
and aah over the floral arrangements at Forget Me Knot.” When Ryan rolled his eyes at the last one, she conceded the point. “Okay, you don’t have to gush about the flowers. But the rest of it, definitely. While we’re at it, we’ll remind them why they’re perfect for one another and why they’ll never find another love as true as the one they’ve found in each other.”
“She’s the yin to his yang,” he put in. “Where he’s weak, she’s his strength. Vice versa and etcetera.” He waited a beat. “You think it’ll work?”
“It has to. Otherwise, things like venues and who pays for dinner at Bow Tie Pasta won’t matter, ’cause without our help, Daniel and Brianna will make the biggest mistake of their lives.” She wagged her finger back and forth between them. “And guess who everybody’s gonna blame.”
“Whoa!” Ryan threw up his hands. “Neither of us wants that.” For a long minute, he sat quietly. At last, a sly smile formed on his lips. “You know, there is an upside to all this.”
Evelyn cocked her head. “What?”
“It’ll give us”—his eyebrows rose and fell—“a chance to get to know one another better.”
Her heart caught. She’d been right earlier. There was something going on between them. She swallowed. “I’m afraid we’ll have to work pretty close together if we’re going to save this wedding.”
“Good.” Ryan stood. “We were friends for a long time. Then we just…”
“Drifted apart?” she finished. Why that had happened was one of life’s little mysteries.
“Yeah, that. So, friends again?”
“Sure.” She let out a long, slow breath. Friends. He wanted to be friends. She should’ve known she was wasting her time hoping for something more. Despite the disappointment that pricked her chest, she squared her shoulders. Heart’s Landing was counting on them. They had a job to do, a wedding to keep on track. If that meant she had to spend the next five days working with Ryan, so be it.
She’d just have to keep her guard up. She’d constantly remind herself he wanted to be friends—and nothing more. Otherwise, by the time Brianna walked down the aisle, she’d be in for a world of heartbreak.