She put it on her desk and lifted the lid. Inside were the wedding programs she’d had printed weeks ago. Beside them were the name cards, table markers and menus. Gretchen had thoroughly gone over everything when they arrived, so she knew they were good to go. She carried the programs into the chapel and left them on the small table just inside. The name cards were left on the round table outside the reception hall. Once the table linens were put out and the centerpieces placed, the cards would be laid out alphabetically for attendees to find their table assignment.
Gretchen continued on through the glass double doors into the reception hall. The large, open room was just a shell of what it would be. The bones were there—sparkling chandeliers and long draped panels of white fabric were hanging overhead, the stage and the dance floor cleared and ready to be occupied by tipsy revelers. The cleaning crew had already been through the day before to vacuum and arrange the tables and chairs.
It would take hours of work to decorate the room. She hoped to get a head start on some of it today, although a lot of things were last-minute, such as the dishes and the floral arrangements. The wedding was black and white, following along the musical note theme, so the dry cleaning company would deliver their cleaned, pressed white and black table linens sometime this morning. Some custom hand-beaded sheer overlays were ordered to be put over them, making the white tables look like sheet music. The napkins needed to be folded. Several hundred white pillar candles had to be put out.
Gretchen nervously eyed the bare ballroom. The list of things she had to do was staggering. How had she allowed herself to get roped into this romance charade? Just because things were handled the day of the wedding didn’t mean she wasn’t running around like a chicken with its head cut off the days leading up to it.
“Gretchen, the dry cleaning delivery is here.” Natalie stuck her head into the ballroom. She was wearing her headset, as usual, as she was constantly on the phone. She was the command center of the entire operation, coordinating vendors, talking to clients, booking future events and managing the bookkeeping.
“Awesome, thank you.”
She helped unload all their clean linens into the ballroom and decided she wanted to start laying them out. She didn’t have time to waste.
“I’m ready to hear about yesterday.” Amelia walked into the ballroom with Bree on her heels. “My cakes are cooling and I’ve got some downtime.”
Downtime? Gretchen tried not to snort. “Well, I don’t have downtime, so if you want to hear about yesterday, you can listen while you help me drape all the tables.”
“Fair enough.” Bree shrugged. She reached for a tablecloth and flung it over the nearest table.
“We’re alternating black and white,” Gretchen explained, and they all started at it. They got through about a third of the tables before Bree gently reminded her that they weren’t helping out of the goodness of their hearts.
“So, spill it. Did you kiss him?”
Gretchen felt her cheeks turn crimson again. “Yes. I kissed him a lot. He insisted we kiss until I could relax while I was doing it.”
“That is just crazy,” Bree said. “You’re getting paid to make out with Julian Cooper. How did this even happen?”
Shaking her head, Gretchen covered another table in black linen. “I recall you all twisting my arm until I agreed to it.”
“Are you getting more comfortable?” Amelia asked, ignoring Gretchen’s pointed accusation.
“Yes. I think we’re finally to the point where people might actually believe we know each other.”
“Ugh,” Gretchen groaned. “I haven’t known anyone biblically, so I can’t really say.”
“Say what?” Bree stared her down, the linen in her hands pooling on the table. “Did you just say what I thought you said?”
Amelia narrowed her gaze at Gretchen, too. She should’ve kept her mouth shut about the whole thing. She’d gotten good at it after all these years, even keeping the truth from her best friends. Now the cat was out of the bag.
Gretchen straightened the cloth on the table and admitted the truth, reluctantly. “Yep.”
“You’re a virgin?” Bree nearly shouted. “How could we not know that you’re a virgin?”
“Hush!” Gretchen hissed. “Don’t shout it across the ballroom like that.”
“I’m sorry,” she said, her blue eyes as big as saucers. “It just never occurred to me that my twenty-nine-year-old friend was keeping a secret that big. Did you know?” Bree turned to Amelia.