“I’m here!” a woman’s voice sang out. Danica turned and saw her investigator making her way to them. They needed one witness for the marriage certificate, and when Mai couldn’t rearrange her shift at the hospital on such short notice, Danica called Aisha. She was not only a colleague but a friend and the most trustworthy person Danica knew. Aisha was paid well to keep people’s secrets private, and Danica was sure she would be discreet about the wedding, as well.
Aisha was stunning in her full-skirted dress, her dark skin glowing against the daffodil yellow fabric. She gave Danica a once-over with her shrewd gaze, then handed a small bouquet of white roses to her. “Brought these just in case. Looks like you might need them.”
“I knew there was something I forgot.” Danica’s smile was only half-faked. “You look great.”
“Not every day I get to be a bridesmaid at the last minute,” Aisha laughed. “How did you arrange this so fast anyway?”
“Friend-of-the-family favor.” Luke said. His phone buzzed, and he looked at the screen. “If you two will excuse me? I’ll be right back.”
Danica watched him leave. When Aisha touched her shoulder, she jumped.
“That’s some bridal nerves,” Aisha deadpanned.
“Yeah, well, y’know.” Danica’s gaze focused on Luke’s receding back.
“Actually, I don’t. Can we talk privately? Before the groom returns?”
Danica wrenched her gaze away. Aisha sounded serious. And when she was serious, it meant whatever she had to say wasn’t good news. “What’s up?”
“Cinco Jackson. Why is he calling my office and asking about you? Does it have something to do with this sudden wedding?”
“He’s asking about me? What did he say?” Danica’s nerves were already scrambled. This put them into a blender set on high.
Aisha shrugged. “How long have I worked with you, did I know you well, how long you have worked for Dallas, general stuff like that.”
Danica searched Aisha’s gaze. “Did you tell him about the wedding?” Luke planned to put out an announcement eventually, but without mentioning the date. Just a general “Luke Dallas and Danica Novak are pleased to announce their marriage. The bride and groom will reside in Atherton, etc.”
“Of course not!” Aisha scoffed. “That’s your personal business. But a few days ago, you had me checking on women’s marital statuses, and now you’re the one getting married? Jackson isn’t the only one who is curious.”
She sounded miffed. Danica didn’t have many friends in California. She didn’t want to lose this one. “It’s...a spur-of-the-moment decision. But one we’ve thought through.”
“Right.” Aisha didn’t look convinced, and why would she? Danica’s words didn’t make sense to herself. “Dallas is incredibly well connected, his mother practically owns Bay Area society, and yet it’s just the two of you plus me here for the ceremony?”
Danica tried again. “We didn’t want a circus. Just us.”
Aisha’s expression was still skeptical. “Word on the street is there’s some sort of snag with the Ruby Hawk acquisition, and that snag is the Stavros family and whatever they have on Dallas. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ve done some work for Irene and you do not want to be on her bad side.”
“Why would marrying Luke put me on Irene’s bad side?” Danica widened her gaze.
Aisha regarded her for a beat. “Hey, if that’s the way you want to play it, fine with me. Like I said, it’s your life.”
Luke walked back to them. He offered his arm to Danica, causing the hyperactive butterflies in her stomach to go into overdrive. “Shall we?” he said. “We’re up.”
From what she was told later by Aisha, it was a perfectly adequate ceremony. She remembered nothing except squeaking out her responses at the appropriate time and the warm pressure, over far too soon, of Luke’s lips on hers. The rest was a blur. Before she knew it, they stood outside the courthouse, the crushed bouquet still in Danica’s hands.