Acting like adults is something brides and grooms should be able to expect from everyone—including themselves.

Mamaw saw the party scene as a stage set. Each of the characters had a role to play. The brides and grooms with their respective families, the homey setting with candles lit, smiles in place. Tonight the families gathered for the first time before the two weddings. For some, introductions would be made, first impressions struck. It was a time to limit drinks, to not brag on family or pull out the embarrassing story. Acting like adults was something brides and grooms should be able to expect from everyone—including themselves.

Imogene entered the room at last. She held her chin high with hauteur. Mamaw had to admit Imogene looked regal in a long skirt of emerald-green silk and a creamy blouse that set off her pearls. Mamaw sniffed. Even if they were showy. The pearls were the size of quail eggs.

Devlin hurried to greet Imogene. He took her hand, kissed it, and said with a gallant bow, “Your Majesty.”

Mamaw stifled a laugh with her hand. Devlin had an Irish sense of humor, the kind that made people laugh by poking at the truth. Usually someone was pricked by the point of the joke.

To Imogene’s credit, she played along, eyeing Devlin with a glint of humor. “I see you’re still playing the role of jester.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he drawled. “Still rollicking in the sand and sea.”

Imogene’s rigid face cracked with a smile of amusement. “Incorrigible.”

Devlin’s eyes glinted with pleasure.

“Granny James.” Dora came up to kiss her cheek. “I’m so happy to see you again. We’ve missed you.”

“How lovely you look, my dear,” Imogene said, receiving her kiss. “Tell me, dear girl, why aren’t you joining this wedding parade? We could have a triple wedding. What’s one more?” Imogene turned to Devlin. “Scoundrel! Aren’t you going to make an honest woman of our Eudora?”

Devlin flushed and cast a telling glance at Dora.

“He’s tried,” Dora explained quickly. “It’s my fault, I’m afraid. I’m enjoying being footloose and fancy-free.”

“I see.” Imogene studied her.

“But don’t worry. Wedding bells are coming. We’re just biding our time.”

Imogene leaned close to Dora and said in a stage whisper, “Just don’t wait too long, my dear.”

Taylor walked over with a drink and handed it to Granny James, without asking her what she wanted.

Granny took it while eyeing him speculatively. She tilted her head questioningly then took a sip. “Delicious. Well done. You may do, after all.”

Dora gave a little laugh while Mamaw brought Girard to greet Imogene. Girard had the talent to make small talk appear effortless, and Mamaw was relieved to see that Imogene made no attempts to further her outrageous flirtation with Girard from her last visit, which she’d done purely to get a rise out of Mamaw. Harper interrupted to introduce her grandmother to Taylor’s parents. Girard stepped away and returned to Mamaw’s side with an amused wink.

“Granny, allow me to introduce you to Taylor’s parents.” Harper, a graceful and experienced hostess, guided them forward. Her emerald-green dress, the same shade as Granny James’s skirt, was bateau-necked with a slender, dazzling belt. Pavé diamonds encircled her emerald earrings, which took center stage as her red hair was slicked back in a chignon. With her sleek eyeliner, Mamaw thought Harper’s retro look could be on the cover of a 1950s Vogue.

“This is Jenny and Alistair McClellan,” Harper continued the introduction. “They’ve been looking forward to meeting you. I’ve told them so much about you.”

“Oh, dear, should I be worried?” Imogene asked with a warm smile.

“Not at all,” Mr. McClellan assured her. “Harper sings your praises.” He towered over Imogene as he stepped close to take Imogene’s hand and shake it hard.

Mamaw hid her smile as she watched Imogene teeter a bit with the force of it. “Well, I see where Taylor gets his strength from!” Imogene said good-naturedly.

And his size, thought Mamaw, seeing father and son stand side by side. Alistair wore the classic dress attire of a lowcountry man—pressed khakis, a pressed, open-collared shirt, and a navy blazer with shiny brass buttons. Beside him, Harper’s influence was seen in Taylor’s well-cut camel-hair jacket and Hermès tie.

“We all call him Captain,” Harper said with an affectionate glance at her future father-in-law.

“Then I shall, too.” Imogene turned to Jenny McClellan and smiled graciously. “Congratulations are in order, are they not?”

Mrs. McClellan was a small, sturdy woman, no bigger than Harper but more substantial. Her green eyes shone with warmth and her brown hair was naturally streaked with gray. Mamaw thought there was no question whom Taylor got his eyes from. Jenny wore a simple navy knit dress that showed off her fit body and plain navy pumps. Though a bit stodgy in dress, her manner shone forthright and open, a woman comfortable in her skin. The two women shook hands warmly.

“And you must be Miller, Taylor’s brother,” Imogene said warmly to the fifteen-year-old boy patiently waiting his turn.

“Yes, ma’am.” The boy made his parents proud the way he stepped up to greet her and take her hand.

Taylor beamed with pride and slapped his brother’s shoulder. Miller was tall like his brother but slim and gangly, like a puppy that had not yet filled out to fit his paws. Miller wore a carbon copy of his father’s clothes. Even the shoes looked brand-new. Mamaw thought Jenny did her men proud.

The scene was replayed with Carson’s future in-laws, Linda and David Legare. Blake looked very much like his father. David was also tall and slender, except his dark hair was more salt than pepper. Behind his heavy-framed glasses, David’s eyes were a warm brown. He was a professor of biology at College of Charleston and looked the part in his baggy brown suit and open-collared, plaid shirt.

Blake’s mother, however, was rather plump and plain in a mauve, flounced dress that only made her skin look all the more pale. A simple strand of pearls graced her neck, lovely and lustrous, but they appeared minimal compared to Imogene’s ostentatious pearls, as any others would. Mamaw thought the show of wealth out of place at a family gathering and was secretly glad she’d decided on topaz tonight. Still, she thought to herself, Imogene was on her best behavior. She was making an effort, it was clear. Imogene was a woman of substantial wealth, stature, and title. She was accustomed to grand fetes with a class of people who had high expectations. Like so many women of her station, she could be utterly charming to those people she found interesting or important. And cold and aloof to those she did not. Thus Mamaw warmed to Imogene’s humanity tonight. She had dropped the façade and was behaving as any grandmother of the bride should, graciously, even warmly, paving the way for healthy, prosperous relationships for her granddaughter.

Tags: Mary Alice Monroe Lowcountry Summer Romance