Paige Westmoreland was on the verge of pulling off the impossible. Most of the wedding planners who came before her swore it couldn’t be done, and there had been a few times (two particular flaming disasters came to mind) when she’d also doubted its possibility. But here she was, about to manage the perfect wedding.
Pride swirled inside her as she stood in front of the two-story wall of windows and looked out over the manicured gardens the way a painter stood in front of her masterpiece. Sure, it might be a little premature to claim it yet. The bride hadn’t even walked down the aisle, for goodness’ sake. But she had a good feeling about this one. After forty-seven attempts, this was the first time she’d ever gotten this far without so much as a hiccup. Every single box on her pre-wedding checklist was marked off, the kitchen was fully staffed and running right on schedule, and the bride and groom, along with everyone they considered important to their wedding, were in excellent health and fantastic moods. From where Paige stood, she could almost see the glittering pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow. And since the bride of this particular wedding was her best friend’s cousin, it made the victory that much sweeter.
She drew in a deep breath, letting the joy of the perfect day sparkle through her. In her opinion, especially on days like today, she had the best job in the world. Every weekend, and the occasional weekday, she got to see love win. And, as an added bonus, she had the privilege of doing it in Hilltop, the charming resort town nestled in the heart of the Texas Hill Country.
Paige ran through the timeline for this particular wedding in her mind. Ten minutes until the groom and his men took their spots and the wedding processional started. Twelve and a half minutes until the bride walked down the aisle at exactly five o’clock. Which meant…
“I made it.” The jovial voice echoed through the otherwise empty room, but even this didn’t surprise her. She typed 8:30 into the timer on her tablet and pressed start before she looked up at the latecomer.
Aiden Pierce strolled across the marble floor of Hilltop Resort’s famed wedding pavilion, The Chateau. He had the laidback gait and easy smile of someone for whom life always seemed to work out, and the sight of him brightened Paige’s already sunny day.
“Cutting it a little close, aren’t you?” She gave Aiden a hard time because that’s the kind of friendship they had, but inside her pride beamed with such force she wondered if it made her glow. She’d planned this wedding so perfectly that she’d even anticipated his late arrival. Earlier, she’d caught wind that Aiden’s golf game on the resort’s course was going to be a close finish, and since he was the bride’s cousin, she’d prepared a way to sneak him to the front row where his family was seated with minimal disruption.
Aiden tied his sapphire tie as he walked, not bothering to speed up his lazy pace. “The bride hasn’t walked down the aisle yet. Therefore, I’m not late.”
There was a twinkle in his eye. The same friendly one that won over almost everyone he spoke with. From what Paige had gathered in the eight years she’d known her best friend Ciera’s older brother, it was impossible for anyone to be upset with him. Plus he had the kind of charismatic personality that made him instant friends with everyone in the room.
Paige glanced out the window again at her perfect wedding. Almost all of the two hundred white wooden folding chairs were occupied, but she could see the empty one on the end of the second row she’d saved for him. It just so happened that Aiden’s very punctual mama, who was also aware of his tardiness, had chosen the seat right next to it. What could she say? While she could plan for most things, she wasn’t a miracle worker.