What's Life Without the Sprinkles - By Misty Simon

Chapter One

A hush, broken only by the ticking of the antique grandfather clock, fell over the crowd in the spacious room. When one of the three doors on the far wall slowly swung open, the crowd sucked in a collective breath. Within seconds, that collective inhale was released in tears and joyous laughter.

The dressing room of Decadence, the scene of this rite of passage, was filled with every shape and size of woman, seventeen total, gathered on this spring morning to approve their friend’s wedding gown.

The mother of the bride raised her hand dramatically and another hush immediately ensued. Claudia Bradley had seen it so many times it was like a choreographed ocean wave. The noise swelled and receded, depending on the mother’s whim, after the resplendent bride-to-be hesitantly stepped into the throng of women.

Standing alone on the edge of the crowd, Claudia watched as the mother cupped the daughter’s face in her hands and kissed her on the cheek. Claudia’s friend, May Blanchard, who had created the dress, winked at her and turned back to the bride.

Claudia discreetly took her leave and went to the bakery section of the store, where she was far more comfortable. Very few people cried over cake, unless it was her Double Deluxe Chocolate Fantasy with Butter Cream Icing.

An hour later, after stamping the check from the mother of the bride For Deposit Only, Claudia ran back to the tiny office they all shared and grabbed up the phone. Hitting the first speed-dial number, she waited impatiently, dancing from one high-heeled foot to another. “Come on, come on,” she said as the phone continued to ring in her ear. Finally, the line was answered, and Claudia didn’t waste any time with pleasantries.

“You are talking to the proud new holder of an eight-thousand-dollar check,” she crowed, still astounded. They had never been able to charge that much for a dress before. And there would be more where that came from, when the bridal party put in orders for the flowers and the cake.

“Holy cow,” said her best friend, Nate West, his voice rife with disbelief.

“None holier.”

“Hey, hang on, let me turn down the television.”

Claudia smiled. Typical Nate. “No, no. Don’t worry about it. I have to call Zoe anyway, so I have to go, but I just wanted to yell it at you first.” Nothing had ever felt better.

“Well, that’s awesome. We’ll celebrate this weekend, if you don’t have plans.”

“You’re on and you’re buying.” Before he could protest, she hung up and twirled around, almost knocking into the desk chair and the bookshelf.

Once she righted herself, she picked up the phone again and called her sister. She crowed the same few beautiful words, emphasizing the amount this time.

“Get out of here,” her sister Zoe screamed.

“I am getting out. I have to go to the bank and cash this puppy, after I photocopy it to hang on our wall.”

“Well, make sure it’s in that tiny space we call an office, so we can charge even more next time. Why tie ourselves down by announcing that eight thousand dollars is a lot for us? Are they coming back for flowers next week? Did you remember to ask?”

“You are absolutely right,” Claudia said, and laughed. “And yes, they are coming in, and I remembered to confirm. Thanks for all your support.” Eight thousand dollars. And for a dress May had sewn over bowls of corn flakes and reruns of Friends. Outstanding.

Zoe’s voice brought her back. “I can run it to the bank, if you want. I’ll stop by between errands.”

Claudia laughed again. “Yeah, you wish. I got it covered, and I won’t be tempted to go buy a new wardrobe.”

Zoe, as usual, ignored her. “So what’s the first thing you’re going to do with your vast portion of the money?”

“I’m going to find a boarding school to tuck Justin into until he stops leaving his clothes all over the floor, wanting a dog, and tracking mud in the house. Oh, and dropping hints that it would be a good idea if I found a man.” Boarding school wasn’t a bad idea, but not one she’d follow through on. She’d miss her son too much, but God, he was giving her fits lately, constantly asking about her love life.

“You wouldn’t really do that, and you know it. He may be a pain right now, but you would freak if he was more than ten miles away.”

Claudia sighed. “How true.”

“So what are you really doing to celebrate?”

“Nothing really. Get back to