The front door opened with a cascade of soft chimes. A summer breeze stirred up the flowers and rustled the hanging gowns that lined the back wall. The dresses and stacks of crates and folded chairs created a wave of white that filled the back of the stout store.
At the front counter, Sandra looked up from her notebook, clicked her pen closed and set it aside. A broad smile stretched across her lips as she rolled up her crimson sleeves.
“Good morning, Mrs. Anderson.”
Mrs. Anderson’s tight bun pinned to the back of her head, barely bobbed with her curt nod. The loose drape of her floral patterned scarf fluttered as she floated forward. The delicate fabric rubbed gently against the fat pearls ringing her wrinkled neck. She kept hands delicately folded in each other, causing folds in her coral sleeves that peeked beneath the silk. A glistening ivory purse dangled at her elbow and swayed to a stop as she came to the counter in a heavy cloud of lily scented perfume. Sandra blinked to keep her eyes from watering.
“Thank you so much for seeing me,” said Mrs. Anderson.
“It’s not problem. Many of my bride’s mothers come to visit me.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” A crisp glint sparkled in her icy eyes. “You know I don’t want to interfere but I just wanted to make sure Betty’s has everything covered. Weddings can be such an ordeal to plan and she hasn’t mentioned much to me.”
Sandra watched Mrs. Anderson’s eyes peruse the boxed flowers and hanging garments behind her.
“I think Betty has a good handle on everything.”
Mrs. Anderson’s head whipped back around. “Well, she’s never done this before.” She laid a conspiratorial hand on the counter lined with tabbed folders. Her glittering diamond and gold band clacked against the counter and sparkled. “Not like us.”
“Of course.” Sandra felt her smile turn as sweet as icing. She picked up her cell phone resting by her abandoned pen. “Did you want her to be here?”
“Oh no,” countered Mrs. Anderson with a swift wave of her manicured hand. The pearls about her neck rattled. “She’s so busy these days. I don’t want to be any trouble.”
Sandra set down the phone. “Why don’t you have a seat and tell me what were you concerned about?” She motioned to the tall stool standing empty at Mrs. Anderson’s side and then clasped her hands lightly on top of the counter.
“Thank you.” The older woman stepped up into the chair and placed her purse on the crisp white seams of her lap. She sat straight and rigid, just like her tone. “I wanted to make sure she had the lilies all ordered for the altar.”
Sandra licked her lips and settled her feet in place on the beige carpet. “Betty wanted roses actually.”
“Really?” Mrs. Anderson shook her head slightly and blinked viciously. “Lilies are really more appropriate.”
“Maybe but that’s what she’d like.” Sandra shrugged and kept her voice chipper.
Mrs. Anderson let out a small short, breath. “What about the cake. She ordered five tiers of course?”
Sandra spread her smile. “They wanted pies.”
Mrs. Anderson pressed a hand to her chest. “Pies?”
“Yes, five of them. They thought that would be more fun. I’m sure you know how much Jeremy loves pies.”
“Who has pies at a wedding?”
“Your daughter,” Sandra said as gently but as firmly as she could.
“I never heard of such a thing.” Mrs. Anderson’s bun wobbled with another startled shake.
“It’s rather popular these days for those looking to shake up old traditions.”
Mrs. Anderson’s tone lowered to a hoarse whisper. “But this is a wedding, not some kind of picnic.”
“Perhaps you should talk to her about it.”
“No.” Mrs. Anderson waved off the suggestion with a single swipe of her hand as her words tumbled. “Can’t you just change it? Make it right? Isn’t that what she’s paying you for? To help throw her the perfect wedding?”
“She’s paying me to make her wedding, Mrs. Anderson. I only make suggestions. The decisions are all hers and Jeremy’s.”
“Good gracious.” She poked at the counter with a firm finger. “She’s going to make a mess out of the whole thing. I mean, first it was not wearing my dress and now the flowers, and this. Pies!”
“I think it will actually turn out quite beautiful. Your daughter has excellent taste.” Sandra reached into her file drawer and pulled out a fat folder. She turned it around so that the photograph of Betty and Jeremy that covered the front faced Mrs. Anderson. “I’d be happy to show you some pictures of their selections.”
Mrs. Anderson’s hands recoiled from the counter and clasped around her purse’s shiny handles. “Someone has been filling her head with all sorts of notions.” Her lips firmed, sending wrinkles around her mouth. Those lines matched the ones around her squinting eyes that were aiding the glare shooting across the counter.
Sandra set down the folder with a soft sigh. “Again, I’d suggest you speak with her. This is her wedding after all.”
“But I’m her mother. I know what a wedding is supposed to be.” She slid off the seat and slung her purse back onto her elbow. “I thought you did too.”
Sandra endured the speculative stare. “I know what kind of wedding your daughter wants and that’s what I want to make happen.”
Mrs. Anderson shook her head once more. “Someone has to talk some sense into her.”
“Be my guest,” said Sandra with a broad grin.
“I didn’t want to be any trouble,” said Mrs. Anderson, once again punishing the counter with a quick tap of her finger.
“I’m sure Betty would love to share what they have in mind with you. And if they have any changes to make, they know where to reach me.”
Mrs. Anderson’s arms folded once again. “You’ll be hearing from them. Soon,” she added ominously.
“That sounds terrific,” countered Sandra cheerily.
“Well then. Thank you again for your time,” said Mrs. Anderson, turning towards the door.
“My pleasure.” Sandra’s words were drowned out in sharp jangle of her door chimes. She winced and picked up her phone as she watched Mrs. Anderson storm towards her rental car.
Her thumb dialed the number written across the top of the folder.
“Hi, Betty?” She smiled at the warm greeting and the quick question that came from the other end of the line. “Yeah. You were right. She just left.”