Daring Brides

By: Ava Miles

“You really do,” Aunt April said, to which her daughters all nodded in agreement.

If the tight line of her mouth was any indication, Natalie was more than a little uncomfortable, and Meredith wondered whether she was thinking about her own wedding to Blake. It had been a casual beach wedding in Santa Cruz.

“Everything looks under control in here,” Natalie said, walking over and kissing her cheek. “I’m going to find the boys and make sure we get a good seat. If you need anything, just remember, I have the wedding emergency kit.”

“Jill’s acting like a drama queen,” she told her cousin. “Unless things go horribly wrong, we shouldn’t need anything that’s in there. What’d she stock it with, anyway? Stain-removal wipes, safety pins, and—”

“Static cling spray,” her sister finished with a glower. “You never know what could happen. I saw a wedding episode once where the bride’s veil got so much static cling her hair ended up looking like the bride of Frankenstein’s.”

Everyone chuckled as Natalie gave a wave and headed out. Meredith’s heart went out to her. She knew all too well how much divorce could hurt, and it was even worse for Nat because of how devoted she and Blake had been to each other before Kim died.

“She’s thinking about Blake,” Moira said, echoing her thoughts.

“She’s just not over him,” Caroline murmured. “I wish we could help her.”

Aunt April wrapped her arms around them. “I know you do. We all do. But your sister’s stubborn, and she’s going to have to decide to do something about it on her own. And that’s enough talk about that.”

“Jill, why don’t you pass those mimosas around?” Meredith asked, sensing everyone wanted to focus on happier things. “You’re being remiss in your bartending duties.”

Her sister wiggled her hips. “I’ll show you some action.”

When everyone had a mimosa in hand, Jill raised her glass. “To finding your Nora Roberts hero.”

Everyone gave a heartfelt sigh.

And as she drank her fruity concoction, Meredith took a moment to bask in gratitude and happiness once again for the quest that had brought her to Dare Valley, and subsequently to Tanner McBride.


Tanner McBride had never imagined he would get married. When he was covering war zones and hopping across the globe from Burma to the Democratic Republic of Congo as a war correspondent, the possibility of meeting some girl and settling down had seemed impossibly distant.

Then again, he’d never imagined coming to Dare Valley, and to be fair, he hadn’t come willingly at first. He was man enough to admit there was something bigger than him guiding his steps at times—call it fate or destiny—and he was sure glad it had brought him here, to Meredith.

He and his party were hanging out in a room usually reserved for church meetings and Bible studies. It was presided over by a stained glass window depicting a rose garden and a lone sheep, the meaning of which he couldn’t divine.

“I can’t wait to sneak away and roam through the Hale School of Journalism during the reception,” Asher Harrington, his best man, said in his perfect upper-class British broadcast journalist accent.

Tanner had been delighted his buddy could make it. They’d met years ago in war-torn Beirut at the famous Commodore Hotel over a game of poker, and their paths had crossed several times more in other places riddled with bullets and blood. Women swooned over Asher wherever he went. Fortunately, Tanner’s sister, who had opted to spend the pre-wedding hour with him rather than with Meredith and the other Hale women, was immune to the journalist’s accent and looks. Peggy McBride was the new deputy sheriff in town, and she looked as tough on the outside in her black pantsuit as the perfectly coiffed Asher was on the inside. While Tanner’s debonair friend never had a hair out of place, his looks were deceiving. Tanner had seen him stand down a tank in Afghanistan once.

“I’m sure Arthur Hale will give you a tour if you ask him,” Peggy said from one of the brown-clad chairs in the room.

“Can I come too?” her son, Keith, asked, bouncing on the chair next to hers.

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