Now, I’m not one to get all misty eyed, but let’s just say when I saw my daddy standing at the end of the aisle, dressed in his tux, I had to blink to clear my vision. He was so handsome, so regal, as he waited for his bride. It would have been a perfect moment if it hadn’t been for the woman he was marrying.
It was no secret Evie and I had been at war for years. It started when I was in fifth grade and had inadvertently kept her from getting too friendly with Dad, the local sheriff and one of the most eligible bachelors in Summit View.
After that, I was always a target for her cutting remarks. But at least I’d had my Sunday school teacher, Vonnie Westbrook, to stand up for me.
Evie would bark, “Donna, you’re slouching, can’t you stand up straight?
Vonnie would say, “Evangeline, why are you speaking to this child in that tone?”
Evie’d put her hands on her hips. “It’s just this child needs a mother.”
With all innocence, I’d reply, “No, ma’am, not if that mother was to be you.”
And now, all these years later, Evangeline was finally marrying my dad. Oh happy day.
So not only did the two of us have a history, though I was willing to forgive if she was willing to play nice, I had other concerns. For instance, I was concerned about Evie’s emotional stability. I tried to believe she’d merely had a case of wedding jitters, but in the past few weeks, she flittered from dating my dad then getting engaged to that hideous Bob Barnett before finally walking down the aisle with Daddy.
Talk about an emotional roller coaster.
That, and a couple of public temper tantrums, made me a bit nervous to embrace her as a close relative. But what could I say? Dad obviously loved her, and I was going to have to live with that fact.
Still, I was already missing Tuesday nights, when I’d cook Dad dinner and have him all to myself. Now, he dragged Evie along. It just wasn’t the same.
I clutched my bouquet of daisies and roses and stepped into my rehearsed glide, feeling a bit uncomfortable draped in pink satin. This froufrou look was a far cry from the tough girl image I’d so carefully crafted in my role of sheriff’s deputy.
Before I could break into a scowl, my eyes locked with the eyes of the man who raised me. His smile shifted from me to the back of the room, where Evie would soon appear.
He looked so happy. I vowed to look happy too. Besides, in recent weeks, Evangeline had seemed to soften toward me. So, I was going to try, really try, to soften toward her.
Just as I turned to join the other bridesmaids, two faces seemed to pop out of the crowded pews.
Both David Harris, fresh from Los Angeles, and Wade Gage, my old high school sweetheart, were staring at me as if I were an angel. The thought struck me so funny that I had to stifle a giggle.
Though I tried to keep my mirth under control, I caught Wade with one of his lopsided grins spreading across his face. He looked both amused and smitten, and I had to hold my breath so I wouldn’t laugh out loud. I was saved by the abrupt organ prelude to the “Bridal Chorus.”
When the music sounded, it was as if God himself had flipped a switch inside of me. My giggles stopped, and a heavy soberness engulfed me.
The crowd stood and turned as Miss Evangeline Benson, in her Grace Kelly wedding gown, floated toward the altar.
Everyone turned, except David. He was still staring moon-eyed at me. He jumped as his date shot him in the ribs with an elbow jab.
This might have struck me as funny if the jabber hadn’t been my long-lost baby sister, Velvet James. She was clad in white as if she were a bride herself. I’m no fashion expert, but I know tacky. Velvet flamed me with her eyes as she twined David’s arm into hers. Her little performance seemed right out of grade school.
The music crescendoed, and I shifted my eyes to Evangeline. She looked lovely as she blushed under the intense gaze of my father. Sweet. And she’d better stay that way. Otherwise, my niceness might crumble and she’d have to deal with the real me, the me I saved for passing out tickets to speeding tourists.
But what was I thinking? This was her wedding day, and I’d pledged to be on my best behavior.
Excerpted from THE SECRET'S IN THE SAUCE © Copyright 2011 by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson. Reprinted with permission by Revell. All rights reserved.