It Had to Be You - Georgia Clark Page 0,1


Panic shot through Liv’s chest.

The arbor was no longer an arbor. Two pieces of wood lay five feet apart, as if refusing to speak to each other. And Eliot wasn’t around to fix it.

“Liv, I’m so sorry.” Zach’s London accent rendered every word as plummy as Christmas pudding. “I was just showing this young lady the size of the, er, lake.”

The bridesmaid gave a tipsy giggle.

Henry Chu rushed into the boathouse with two bushels of fresh lavender. “What happened?”

“Arbor,” Liv sighed. “Zach.”

“Hello, Henry,” Zach called, popping to his feet and yanking up his pants.

“Oh, hi Zach.” Henry, petter of neighborhood dogs, sender of birthday cards, unflappable designer of all things floral, ducked and wove away from a bee circling his head. He glanced at Gorman. “Have you told her? They’re getting worse.”

But Gorman’s gaze had wandered to the hot, young Brit zipping up his fly.

Liv clicked her fingers in his face. “Gor! Let’s try to fix the arbor. Zach, button up your shirt, this isn’t Mardi Gras.”

Zia Ruiz breezed in, carrying wineglasses. “Oh, Liv,” she called, heading for the bar at the back, “looks like there’s a couple of pigeons loose in the kitchen.”

Liv pinched the bridge of her nose, trying to remember if she’d secured the cage door. Apparently not. “How good are you at catching birds?”

Zia laughed. “Not very.” Even in her white blouse and black pants, she retained a whiff of carefree boho backpacker. Maybe it was the ylang-ylang she wore instead of deodorant. If Liv didn’t trust her so implicitly, she’d assume Zia would be the kind who’d free a few caged birds.

Weddings were about tradition, but more so, how traditions were changing. Liv’s tradition was that the business she ran with her husband was respected, professional, and nimble in a crisis. She’d troubleshot hundreds of events, always able to steer the runaway horses away from the cliff at the last moment. But right now the steeds were bolting and she couldn’t find the reins. Liv picked up the two pieces of the arbor, glancing around for something that could be fashioned into a hammer.

Darlene Mitchell, the wedding singer, strode in with a wireless microphone. Her tone was as prim as her appearance: a cream silk dress that showed off her dark skin. “Zach. We need to sound check.”

Zach ran a hand through his flop of hair. “Coming, love.”

The bridesmaid’s lipstick-smeared mouth fell open. “Love?! Is she your girlfriend?”

He laughed. “Not exactly.”

Darlene shuddered. “Not at all.”

Satisfied, the bridesmaid continued to ooze over Zach, pressing herself against his side.

And while Liv should have been hurrying the two musicians along, and fixing the arbor, and finding a solution for the escaped pigeons and newly awakened bees, the thought that formed as clear as lake water in her mind was this: it had been months since Eliot had touched her like that. Maybe even years.

“What. The. Hell.”

Everyone froze.

Liv swung around.

The bride stood in the doorway.

Liv’s stomach dropped through the floorboards and into the frigid lake below.

Not the bride. Anyone but the bride. Today, the bride was president and prime minister, the CEO, God herself. Things could be a freewheeling disaster behind the scenes. The mother-in-law could slap the priest, or the best man could lose the rings in a bet involving hot dogs (true stories). But the bride must only experience a highlight reel of physical and emotional transcendence. It was her day, and it was perfect. Except now, it wasn’t.

“Oh my God, you look gorgeous,” Liv said.

Ignoring her, the bride addressed the bridesmaid. “You’re supposed to be helping me get ready, not screwing the busboy!”

“DJ,” Zach corrected, tucking in his shirt and giving her a wink. “And MC, and I’m also a musician. Man of many hats, really.”

“Sorry, babe. Got distracted.” The bridesmaid hooked an arm around Zach’s neck. “It’s a wedding.”

The bride’s gaze found the pieces of wood in Liv’s hands. “What happened to my arbor?”

Gorman, Henry, Zach, Darlene, and Zia all looked at Liv, who said, “Everything is completely under control.”

A couple of pigeons fluttered past the bride’s head. She jabbed a finger in the air. “Someone said those are my doves?” She advanced on Liv, a football field of white tulle dragging behind her. “I’m getting married. This is supposed to be my special day.”

Eliot would calm this woman with his own special brand of magic that quieted, charmed, and switched focus to a champagne toast with bridesmaids.

“It is!” Liv said. “And it’s going to be wonderful. Can everyone please get back to what they