I know that Alisha loves strawberries, so I made two of the layers with fresh strawberries with alternating chocolate layers. White, milk, and dark. I bribed the florist so she would get me identical flowers from Alisha’s bouquet and Rich’s boutonniere. I know it’s not the design they chose to begin with, but there was no way I could learn the skill of piping in half a day.

The engineer in me was able to figure out how to support the tiers and make sure they didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t want another cake fiasco, so I made sure this beast could hold up the weight of the cake and then some.

“I can’t believe you pulled it off. Who the hell did you get to make one so fast?” Rich’s eyes widen as he looks at the towering dessert.

“Just so you know, I’m going to leave a very nice tip to the cleaning people in the guest house, but I did it myself.” I press my lips together to repress my smile, but I’m actually pretty damn proud of this cake.

“You’re lying.” He turns to look at me and hits my arm. “There’s no way you made this. It’s beautiful!”

“Are you saying I can build skyscrapers and weld metal with these hands but I’m incapable of baking?”

He looks back and forth between me and the cake, utterly stunned as his new bride walks up behind him. She moves beside him and the happy look he had on his face moments ago falls as his bride sees what we’ve done.

“Honey,” she says cautiously as she looks to Rich and then the cake. “Do you want to tell me something?”

He looks at me and then to Alisha and for half a second I think he’s going to lie to her. But then I realize this is Rich we’re talking about and he just blurts it all out without stopping to take a breath.

“I’m sorry I was on the golf cart and there was a wild pack of geese and then they attacked and I couldn’t get the cake and what I saved wasn’t edible and then Hank said he would take care of it and I didn’t know what else to do and I’m so sorry but I didn’t want to ruin your special day but I think it turned out kind of nice and please don’t be upset I’m sorry.”

He takes a gulp of air after his long-winded confession and Alisha turns to him and puts her hands on either side of his face.

“It’s more beautiful than the one we chose,” she says before she goes up on tiptoes and kisses him. I look away because it’s far too intimate to witness, but it’s their wedding day so I just wait.

“Thank you,” Alisha says, walking over to hug me. “Thank you for taking care of my groom who was probably freaking out.”

“A little,” I admit, and we share a knowing smile.

I’ve known Alisha for most of my life and she’s like a little sister to me. We know how Rich can be when it comes to her, but it’s one of the reasons she loves him so much.

“I almost don’t want to cut into it, it’s so beautiful.” She goes back to her groom, and just as she says it, they announce it’s time to cut the cake.

Since the ceremony it’s been a whirlwind of pictures and dances and getting everything in place. I haven’t even had a chance to eat dinner yet. Now that the hard part is over, I plan on kicking back and enjoying the night free from obligations. The stress of today is finally catching up to me and I walk over to the bar to grab a drink.

As the happy couple pose for pictures next to my contribution to the wedding, the bartender hands me my beer. I stand there for a moment and scan the room to see so many familiar faces. I’ve grown up with Alisha and Rich together, so that meant plenty of family functions where I met most of her people before today. I wave to one of my cousins and raise my drink as the father of the bride gives a toast.

When I continue to scan the crowd, I spot a dark-haired girl I’ve never seen before off to the side. She’s got on a blue dress that stands out against the dark colors everyone else is wearing, but with a body like hers she could never blend in.

I take a long pull on my beer and watch her with the blonde beside her as they whisper to one another. I don’t know the other girl either and I wonder how they know Alisha. They certainly don’t know Rich, because if he knew a woman like that, I would definitely remember seeing her before.

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