“Or not caring enough to get involved,” Carson said.
“But that’s just crazy,” Dora argued. “These are your weddings.”
“Not really,” Harper said with finality. “It’s a family wedding. That’s what weddings really are. And as such, they are events filled with compromise.”
“Well, look on the bright side,” Dora said. “You both wanted a lowcountry wedding and that’s what you’re both getting. Carson’s having the lowcountry plantation wedding. And, Harper, you’re having the lowcountry beach wedding. You’ve got the lowcountry wedding theme covered. It’s too late to change venues now, anyway. Money’s been put down and the invitations have gone out. So we might as well have fun helping plan each other’s wedding.”
The baker, Mr. James, returned to their table with a flourish of smiles. A slender man, he had well-trimmed, longish hair and was stylishly dressed in slim black pants and a crisp white shirt. Dora couldn’t imagine how a man could bake cakes for a living and still be so slender.
“So, ladies,” Mr. James said, a polite smile on his face, “do you have any questions before you make your selections?”
Carson told him she was undecided, but Mr. James wasn’t the least flustered. He focused his attention on Harper. He sat at the table with sketch paper and discussed with her the wedding themes and colors and tossed around ideas for design. The women clustered around him as he sketched his ideas for Harper’s wedding cake right in front of them.
Harper clasped her hands together at the sight of a three-tiered cake with Tiffany Blue icing and long, arching sea grass, shells, and coral. “It’s perfect. That’s the cake I want.”
“Done! Now it’s time to celebrate.” At Mr. James’s signal, a waitress carried out a tray with three glasses of champagne. “For you!” he said gaily. “Congratulations!”
“None for me, thank you.” Carson held up her hand.
“Me neither,” Harper said. “Thank you.”
“I’ll have some!” Dora exclaimed, taking a glass.
The waitress carried away two flutes of wine.
“Coffee then?” Mr. James asked. When Carson and Harper nodded, he said, “Very good. I’ll be right back.”
Carson watched him leave the room, then gave Harper a long, searching look. “I know why I’m not drinking wine. Care to tell us why you’re not?”
Harper shared a glance with Dora.
“Okay,” Carson said, catching the look. She sat straighter. “Tell me.”
Dora pinched her lips tight under eyes shining with knowledge.
Harper spread out her arms in announcement. “We’re going to have a baby.”
Dora could not be contained. Even though she’d already been told, fresh tears filled her eyes and she fluttered her hands in the air like butterfly wings. “We’re having a baby!”
Harper looked searchingly at Carson, who sat wide-eyed and speechless. Dora felt a flash of worry Carson might take the news poorly in light of her own miscarriage. Dora needn’t have worried.
Carson yelped with joy and wrapped her arms around Harper. “Congratulations! Wow, I didn’t see that one coming. When are you due?”
“Not till the fall. Late September.”
Dora counted back on her fingers. “Someone had a merry Christmas . . . ,” she joked.
“Does Mamaw know?” Carson asked.
Harper shook her head. “Only Taylor. Dora. And now you. I’ve been waiting till Granny James gets here. Two birds with one stone and all that. But I’ll need your support. I’m not sure how they’ll respond to my being pregnant before I’m married. Them being from another generation and all. Do you think they’ll be upset?”
“I can’t speak for Granny James,” Carson said, “but I don’t think it will be an issue with Mamaw. After all, it wasn’t when I was pregnant. All she cared about was my health and happiness. She stood right by me.”
“I agree with Carson. Times have changed. Besides, honey, what do you think they can say? Cancel the wedding? Ship you off somewhere? You own your own house! Your only worry, frankly, is fitting into your wedding gown. Though I have to say, I’m relieved I’m not the only one with that on my mind.” Dora peered past the table to Harper’s midsection. “You had me fooled with those loose tops. I never would have guessed.”
“Everyone will guess by the time the wedding arrives.” Harper frowned and cried in a forlorn voice, “I’ll be that pregnant bride.”
“You’ll be beautiful,” Carson said. “Don’t worry.”
“I’m happy . . . but I’m kind of pissed, too. All my life I dreamed of my wedding day. Now I can’t eat the tuna tartare or sushi I like or drink champagne. I can’t even drink much caffeine. And if all that’s not bad enough, I don’t think my dress will fit.”
“Aw, poor baby,” Carson teased while pretending she was playing a violin.
Dora took Harper’s worries seriously. “Can they let the dress out?”
“They can try. But the way it’s constructed . . . I have my doubts. I actually thought about canceling my wedding and just having a quick ceremony.”
“No!” Dora blurted out. “Don’t do it. Who cares if you have a baby bump? Besides, it’s too late. We’re tasting cake, for heaven’s sake. The invitations went out!”
“No, it’s not too late,” Carson fired back. “She can cancel anytime she wants. Even the day of, if she wants to.”
Dora was at a loss at Carson’s emotion on the topic. Dora had struck a nerve and it made her wonder about her runaway-bride sister. So Dora tempered her comments to restore peace: “Of course she can cancel.” Then Dora turned to Harper. “But only cancel if you don’t want to get married at all. Not because you’re pregnant. Lots of women get married with a baby bump.”
“I know,” Harper said dejectedly. “I must’ve read every blog on the topic. Most days, I’m confident that I made the right decision to keep the wedding in place. But there are other days I’m not sure. Like when I see models in wedding dresses looking so gorgeous with their tiny waists.”
“Don’t worry. You can always get another dress,” said Carson.