Light Me Up - Karla Sorensen

Chapter One

Rachel Hennessy was about thirty seconds away from committing murder.

"Raaaaaaaachel! Did you even bother to check these flowers? This bunch of hydrangeas isn't even close to being fluffy enough for this centerpiece. The mayor will be at this table; anything less than absolute perfection isn't acceptable."

Scratch that. Two seconds away from murder.

Pre-meditated, calculated and completely justifiable homicide. Emily's nasally, imperious, I-am-the-unofficial-queen-of-the-world voice caused every hair in her ear drums to shiver in rebellion. Rachel briefly closed her eyes and jammed the tip of her pinky finger in her ear, hoping to drown the sound out. That one request by its lonesome would be acceptable, because hey, nobody likes a droopy hydrangea.

But add it to the eight hundred and forty other minuscule issues that Emily had found with every aspect of the decor that Rachel had put together for the cancer research benefit, well, it meant that any ol' event planner would be ready to snap too. The edges on the napkins weren't crisp enough. Couldn't Rachel just quick press them? The cushions on the chairs? Not thick enough. The draped linens across the ceiling? Well, she just didn't remember agreeing to that shocking of a white. What Rachel wanted to do was scream. The intricately folded napkins looked amazing, the cushions had been approved by everyone, including Emily, and the thin white linens swooping down from the center point of the ballroom ceiling looked incredible. The large, austere space looked more intimate, almost heavenly with the whites, creams and golds around the room.

But, Rachel was a friggin professional, so she slicked her tongue across her teeth a tad bit harder than necessary and turned with a smile. "I'll be right over to swap that out, Emily. I asked the florist for extra buckets of all the flowers just in case."

What she failed to mention was that she'd asked for the extras because she knew Triple E would find some inevitable flaw in even the most pristine centerpiece.

For the last year, Emily Elizabeth Eaton had been the proverbial thorn in Rachel's ass. When Platinum Occasions was hired to do the cancer research benefit put on by one of the local hospitals, it had been a huge deal at the office. Platinum was a small, high-end firm in West Michigan with a stellar reputation. And while it wasn't the biggest event they'd ever been in charge of, it was the biggest one where Rachel had been project lead. The decor concept was hers, she'd crafted every detail down to the panko crusted crab cake bites smothered in a roasted pepper and chive aoili. And of course, Triple E was chairperson of the benefit. Her daddy's wallet, and the way that it endlessly opened for the hospital, meant that Emily was free to reign supreme over, well, everything. Including Rachel.

So for almost three hundred and sixty five days, she had smiled and nodded and taken every single criticism that Emily had thrown her way. And by sunrise tomorrow, she'd hopefully never have to deal with her again. All she needed to do was get through this final run through of the venue, go home to shower and slip into her favorite black dress for these kind of events, then come back later that night to make sure that everything went perfectly.

After she'd canned the offensive off-white hydrangea for a vastly fluffier one, she did a final sweep of the tables. Wait staff, already decked out in their crisp black and white uniforms, straightened salad forks and turned coffee mug handles to a perfect angle. Rachel pulled in a deep breath, and with it, caught the whiff of her boss Deidre's perfume. J'Adore by Dior, the same floral scent she'd worn as long as Rachel had known her, was a perfect match for Deidre. Her boss was dainty, overtly feminine. The kind of woman who had every conceivable color of the classic Chanel suit, held her pinky finger out when she noiselessly sipped her tea, and said 'Oh, bless her heart' when someone was on the verge of a complete mental collapse. So yeah, Rachel and Deidre were pretty fricken different, considering that Rachel had just been contemplating all the ways she could possibly hide Emily's body.

"Looks fantastic, Rachel," Deidre said from just behind her, her southern accent slipping back into her voice. "You should be very proud of yourself."

Her lips curved in a smile, wishing that Triple E was within earshot, because it did look pretty damn good, and hearing her boss say