And yet, over the next few minutes, the vows his friends had written for each other hit him harder than any wedding vows had in recent memory. Not only because the couple clearly dug each other and planned to do whatever it took to make their love last, but also because of the look on Kerry’s face as they pledged themselves to each other.
How many times had she heard people make similar vows to each other? Hundreds, at the very least, he figured.
And yet, as he watched her eyes tear up and her beautiful mouth wobble slightly at the corners when the couple sealed their vows with a kiss, the marriage vows clearly meant as much to her today as they must have the first time she’d heard them.
What, he suddenly wondered, would it be like for Kerry to hear those vows on her own wedding day? To say them herself to the man she was vowing to love, to cherish, to remain with forever? How much more would it mean to her to know that she had finally found the love she’d been waiting for?
Adam’s chest tightened.
It was hard to picture Kerry with another guy. Impossible, actually. Even harder than it was for him to picture himself as a groom in a tux in front of friends and family saying things about sickness and health.
Strange that he could see himself getting hitched more easily than he could see Kerry letting some other guy slip a ring on her finger.
Everyone around him jumped out of their seats to applaud the newly married couple as they walked down the aisle, and he lost sight of Kerry. By the time the crowd cleared out, she was gone. She had a show to run, and he planned to let her do her job. But though he normally avoided the dance floor at weddings—it was where the desperate single women always pounced—today it was the part he was most looking forward to.
Because it meant he’d get to hold Kerry in his arms for a few minutes.
The next couple of hours were perfectly orchestrated, and though he knew they must be flying by for his newly married friends, for Adam they dragged on and on, until the band finally started up and the happy couple took the floor for their first dance.
Adam didn’t waste one single second after it ended to take Kerry’s hand in his. “Our turn now.”
She looked momentarily surprised—and pleased—to find her hand in his. But though he sensed she wanted the dance as much as he did, she said, “Any other time, I’d love to. But I’m here to work today, not to party with the guests.”
“Looks like everything’s going great,” he said with a gesture to the very happy people all around them who were full of food and cake and champagne. “Besides, you want all of the bride and groom’s guests to be happy, don’t you?”
Figuring he’d already given her more than fair warning, with one deft move, he put her iPad on a nearby table, then sent her into a graceful spin. One that had her forgetting the rules for a moment as she laughed and came back, breathless, into his arms.
His friends looked over at them with big smiles, and when Kerry saw that they weren’t at all upset to see their wedding planner dancing with one of their guests, she finally relaxed.
He already knew she was the perfect fit in his arms, but this was a different dance than any they’d ever done before, and he wanted to savor every second of it. Her head on his shoulder, her delicious scent, the beautiful sound of her voice as she softly sang along with the classic crooner song, the softness of the skin at her wrist where he was gently rubbing his thumb along her pulse point.
For hours, time had dragged on endlessly. But now that he wanted it to slow, it raced forward faster than ever before. The song was ending too soon, leaving him only a handful of seconds with Kerry in his arms before he lost her until Thursday.
In a split second, her body went from loose and languid to taut as a bow. She stepped out of his arms before he could try to keep her close.
“Mother.” Kerry’s voice had a sharpness in it that hadn’t been there just minutes before. “I’m so glad you were able to come to the wedding.”
Adam could see where Kerry’s beauty had come from. Her mother was a stunning woman. A little too thin, perhaps, but otherwise she looked barely two decades older than her daughter.
Her mother gave her a kiss on both cheeks in the British style. “I would have been here earlier, but I’m afraid the event I was chairing ran long.”
Adam extended his hand and smiled as he said, “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Ms. Dromoland. I’m—”
“Adam Sullivan, the architect.” Kerry’s mother shook his hand. “I recognize you from the story I recently read about your work on the historic women’s club. I’m very impressed with the way you revived the building.”
“Thank you, I enjoyed working on it.”
Despite her compliment on his professional skills, Adam had a sense that Kerry’s mother wasn’t necessarily impressed with much else about him. Clearly, she knew of his reputation as a ladies’ man. Just as clearly, she wasn’t thrilled to find one of her precious daughters in his arms. If he had a daughter and found her dancing with a guy like him, he’d feel precisely the same way.
The thought didn’t sit quite right with him.
“How did you two meet?” Kerry’s mother asked them, clearly assuming they hadn’t just met at today’s wedding.
“Adam’s brother Rafe is working with us for his wedding. Adam helped design a marvelous gazebo for the event. He’s also volunteered to build it, which is very sweet of him.”
Adam had to work to fight back a grin at the way Kerry was trying so hard to come up with a list of unarguably good points in his favor. At the same time, he wondered at her use of the word us as she’d spoken about working on Rafe and Brooke’s wedding. Was Kerry’s mother still involved in the business? That wasn’t the impression he’d gotten so far, but maybe he’d missed something along the way.
“I’m also a good friend of Jodi and Paul,” he added, “which is why I’m here today.”
“What do you think of today’s wedding?”
“Pretty much every Sullivan on the West Coast has gotten married in the past couple of years, so I’ve been to plenty of weddings, but the truth is that today’s wedding is by far the best one I’ve attended.”
Kerry’s mother was silent for a long moment as she studied his face to assess how genuine his statement was. Finally, she said, “Kerry is the best wedding planner on any coast.”
Kerry looked more than a little surprised—and very pleased—by her mother’s praise. “I learned from the very best.”
Her mother smiled at her, and he liked seeing the deep warmth in the other woman’s eyes toward her daughter. Kerry deserved to be loved by absolutely everyone.
“Everything except dancing with the guests rather than making sure everything is running smoothly,” her mother added, with a small upturn of her lips.
When he felt Kerry stiffen beside him again, knowing she was still mortified to be caught goofing off for a few minutes while on the job, he took her hand and held it as he said, “I didn’t give her much choice, I’m afraid.”
“Nonsense.” Her mother was still smiling, but the slight edge was back in her tone as she looked down at their linked hands. “One always has a choice.”