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The closer it got to their wedding, the more affectionate Poppy and Everett were with each other. They were always making out and coping a feel, even in front of our parents. Even in front of me after I told them to get a room. It was the moaning and smacking of the wet kisses that really got on my nerves, not so much the public display of affection.

But most times I liked seeing them like that. I liked seeing my sister happy, even though I could do without having Everett around the house so much. I like the dude a lot but he’s got some weird habits. Like, he’s oddly obsessed with our dishwasher. It’s like he’s compelled to mess with the knobs whenever it’s running.

I asked Poppy about it but she chalks it to him being a techie with a joy for tinkering. She thinks it’s cute. I find it annoying that I always have to redo the dishes because of him.

In spite of that, I can’t wait for their wedding day to arrive so I can witness my sister and her fiancé on the supposed happiest day of their life.

I also want to get all this wedding talk over and done with for good.

“Did you take a look at the seating arrangements as yet?”

“Pop, I told you I’m busy.” And I was. We hit a snag in the construction of the clinic because we didn’t have the proper permit. It pushed us back a few weeks and cost a lot of money to fix. The whole thing was stressful and annoying, though not as annoying as wedding planning. “Why can’t you let Mom help you with that?”

“Cause Mom’s not my maid of honour, you are.”

“There’s honour in deciding who sits where at your reception?”

“Don’t be so dramatic. It’s the least you could do since you’re slacking off on your duties. You totally blew me off when it came to choosing the floral arrangements. You know I can’t rely on Everett’s judgement.”

“Why not? He’s your husband-to-be and it’s his wedding too.”

“Hello!” She scoffed. “He wanted a Star Wars themed wedding for goodness’ sake! Complete with me wearing Princess Leia hair and him in a Hans Solo getup, and Yvie as a little Yoda!”

Now that would be the best part of that wedding! Yvie as little Yoda! I’m sure she’d appreciate it more than having to wear a poofy dress. I know I would. “I’m sorry. Picking flowers shouldn’t be a hard choice since you like red roses so much.”

“Roses aren’t in season again until fall and this is an end of summer wedding. That’s why I went with pink and orange carnations. It’s super pretty what the florist is gonna do with the centerpieces!”

“Huh. Cool. See, you figured it out without me.”

“I shouldn’t have to, Olive. You’re supposed to be helping me!”

If I had known she’d be so dependent on me for this type of stuff I would have told her no when she asked me to be the maid of honour. I thought all I’d have to do was show up and help her get ready on the day itself. All this girly crap just isn’t really my style and I was really busy with work too. “I’m sorry P, but I have more important things on my mind!”

“More important things? More important than me, your sister? I’m getting married Olive, and it’s like you don’t even care!”

“Of course I care. Don’t be ridiculous.”

“I don’t know what’s your problem lately but you’ve been moody and distant and…”

“I have a lot on my plate, P.” I groaned. “I have a charity that I’m running plus I have to hire a full staff and find a qualified veterinarian to run the hospital so we can get get this thing rolling.”

“I get all that but the least you can do is make a little time for me too. We hardly see each other as it is and in a matter of weeks I’m gonna be married and moving out. You should want to spend more time with me if not for any other reason but that!”

“Fine.” I rolled my eyes. I’ll look at your stupid seating chart later.”

She glared at me like I said the most offensive thing in the world. I only realised how bad of an idea it was to call her seating chart stupid after the words left my mouth and it was too late to take them back.

“I should have asked Nori instead!”

“Oh come on!” I groaned.

“Ask me what?” Nori popped in. Her timing was impeccable.

“To be my maid of honour. Interested? I have an opening.” She said, unflinching and with as much attitude as she could muster.

“Uh…” She yawned a little as she sat down. I guess she was still a little jet-lag. “I thought you already picked Olive?”

“She has more important things to do.”

“Oh? Well, sure.” Nori said so fast I nearly got whiplash as my head snapped in her direction.

“Good.” Poppy smiled as she shoveled some of her bass and asparagus into her mouth. “That settles it.”

“I hope you’re prepared.”

“Actually, I’ve been thinking about your theme and I have a few ideas. Do you mind, P?”

“Sure, like what?”

“I was thinking we can set up a few flower trellises in the reception room. Kinda bring the outside inside. I think it would be a nice touch if you can get flowers that match those cute centerpieces.”

Poppy’s eyes lit up instantly. “That’s a cool idea! I was worried about the reception area looking too bland. When Mom and Dad married there she wanted everything white and shiny and that’s so not my style so I wasn’t sure what to do to liven it up.”

“I only wish I came earlier so I could help you with some of the planning but the tour just finished…”

“Nor, I totally get it. I’m just so happy you’re here now!”

What the hell was happening? Nori doesn’t even like weddings. She doesn’t even like romance films and she absolutely hates Love Day traditions. How all of a sudden did she just effortlessly slide into my role when she doesn’t have a romantic bone in her body? “Didn’t think you’d like this stuff at all, Nori.”

“Yeah, well, Poppy’s our little sister and she’s getting married. It’s a big deal.”

I could feel Poppy staring at me, probably with a smug look on her face like ‘see, that’s how a sister is supposed to be’. Leave it to Nori to show me up yet again. Not only is she great at everything she does but she’s also better at pacifying Little Miss Bridezilla.

I know I shouldn’t be mad that Poppy basically fired me and chose Nori instead. This is exactly what I wanted – to be relieved of these unnecessary duties. Yet, it bothered me that I was so easily replaced.

She and I were always like two peas in a pod. Ever since we were little we were always hanging out while Nori hid away in her room cause she liked being alone. Now she and Nori have become besties and I’m the one left out. I mean, I am getting what I wanted but I didn’t think I would miss her annoying voice waking me up too early on a morning to talk about party favours.

I’ve been having a lot of long days at the office lately which is why I have little patience for her nagging. One time I spent the entire day trying to convince one of our donors not to cancel his pledge. Though I loved every minute of it, this job was demanding! It required a lot of ass-kissing and smooth-talking and for once I managed to do it all and get home before sunset. I so rarely get home in time to catch mom cooking dinner anymore.

She was mixing up something that smelled like chocolate while there was something in the oven that smelled like a casserole of some sort. I secretly hoped it was ratatouille. “Hey Mom. What you making?”

“Oh, hi sweetie. I’m making double chocolate fudge brownies for your sister.”

I saw her crack an egg into the bowl and realised I wasn’t expected to partake in those brownies at all. “For Poppy?”

“Of course. You know Nori doesn’t eat this stuff anymore.”

“Oh yeah. She’s all gluten-free now.”

She sucked her teeth as she mixed in the egg into the rest of the batter but still kept a smile on her face. The same kind of smile she always had whenever she was about to gently chastise one of us.

“I don’t know how I managed to get three girls all with very different tastes in food. You’re a vegan, Nori’s gluten-free, Poppy’s allergic to nuts – you should count yourselves lucky I have the culinary chops to accommodate all of you.”

“You’re a culinary goddess, mother!” I joked. “We are all eternally grateful!”

“Damn right. My mother only knew how to order a pizza.”

“Seriously?”

“Well…every now and then she’d make a grilled cheese or a salad but I mostly grew up eating microwavable dinners and fast food.”

“So how did you even learn how to cook?” I wondered about that since she’d always talk about how neither one of her parents knew their way around the kitchen.

“It all started with a brownie.”

“A brownie?”

“My grandmother on my Dad’s side loved to cook. She had this journal filled with her own recipes. I found it one day and the first thing that caught my eye was a recipe for fudge brownies. The same recipe I’m making now. Actually, a lot of my home-style recipes are based off of hers. Dad said that she wanted to be a chef but then she got married and decided to start a family instead. I think that might be where my love of cooking comes from.”

“Probably.” I shrugged as I watched her effortlessly fold in some chocolate chips. She always looked so graceful when she cooked. Maybe she really was a culinary goddess.

“Family is very important, Olive.” Her tone a little more serious now. “When I was your age both of my parents were gone. Lyra and Kaleb were in the city and…I was on my own in this big house. But I knew if one of them needed me I would drop everything in a heartbeat and run to them, and they would have done the same for me.”

“Uh…where are you going with this?”

“Poppy and Nori are down at the Bridal Boutique. She’s getting her final fitting done today.”

“So?”

“So why aren’t you there?”

I figured as much. I’m surprised it took her so long before she got involved in our business. “Poppy has Nori now. In case you haven’t heard, she fired me as her maid of honour.”

“And you’re okay with that?”

“It doesn’t bother me. And it’s not bothering her. She doesn’t need me.”

“I think she does sweetie. She was so looking forward to doing all this wedding stuff with you and you haven’t been there for her at all.”

“It’s not like I’m sitting around with nothing to do, Mom.”

“I know that…”

“I have work. You have no idea how stressed I’ve been lately!”

“And I get that but…sweetie, this your sister and she’s been freaking out a lot now…”

“Wait…she’s freaking out?” This I didn’t know.

“Yes,” Mom sighed heavily. “Marriage is a big deal and she’s nervous. Plus, you’re her best friend. I’m sure your disinterest hurts her more than she’ll admit.”

I never thought of it like that. Damn. I totally screwed up. Of course, this was way more than just flowers and invitations. Poppy’s girly but she’s not that girly, and she’s never been a perfectionist who has to have everything done perfectly. Her indecisiveness was a cry for help and I was so busy with my own stuff that I didn’t hear it.

“Where are you going?”

“Down to the boutique. Like you said, family is important right?”

“I’m proud of you, sweetie.”

I could tell by her tone of voice that she truly meant that.

It wasn’t hard to find Poppy and Nori once I got there. They had a private room but I could hear Poppy’s voice from all the way by the front door and then saw an irritated  looking sales clerk exit from behind a curtain.

I walked over and pulled open the curtain to find my sisters standing around in front of the floor to ceiling mirror. “P, Nor, what’s going on?”

“What are you doing here?” She asked, though not as angry as I thought she might have been with me. “I thought you had to work late again?”

“I got off early. Why were you yelling at the sales clerk?”

“Because…look at me!”

I looked at her, wondering what I was expected to see. “…I don’t see anything wrong.”

“She’s having regrets about the dress.” Nori added with a smile but I could tell she was almost at her wits end. “I told her she looks gorgeous but she won’t listen.”

“Kinda too late to change your mind now.” I said with a shrug. “The wedding is in two weeks, P.”

“I know that!” She cried out. “Don’t you think I know that?!”

“Okay, calm down…” Nori said.

“Don’t tell me to calm down. I look ridiculous!”

“You don’t look ridiculous!” I insisted. “The dress is beautiful. The fabric is great and it’s a perfect fit…”

“I look like a line-backer…” She mumbled so softly I almost didn’t hear it.

“What?”

“I shouldn’t have picked an off the shoulder. Mom said I should have gotten something with sleeves. I should have listened to her! Now my manly shoulders and arms are gonna be on display! I’ll look hideous!”

“What are you even saying?” I asked. “You have a killer body! Everett certainly thinks so. He thinks you’re the sexiest woman on the planet.”

“So what?”

“Poppy, you’ve never been insecure about your body before. Ever. Talk to me. Is this really what this is about?”

She let out a sharp breath and started rubbing piece of the fabric of the skirt between her fingers nervously. “What if…what if I’m making a big mistake? Everett and I are so young…”

“You’ve known each other since you were kids and you’ve been together for so many years. I think you know each other inside out by now.”

“Yeah, but, he’s…he’s so…moody and unpredictable…and he gets on my nerves sometimes.”

“I think that’s normal.” I said with a shrug.

“What if things change?”

“Then you’ll adapt. I know you P, you’re a fighter. When things get tough I know you’ll fight to make it work. And Everett adores you! There’s no way he’d ever give up on you either.”

“Are you sure?”

“Positive.”

She sighed and seemed more relaxed than before. “I’ve never been this nervous before. Even before a championship game I’m never this nervous! I just want everything to be perfect.”

“I’m sorry for not being more supportive. I was a total bitch.”

“Yes, yes you were!” She chuckled. “Don’t worry. I forgive you.”

“Glad you two made up.” Nori chimed in. She was so quiet the whole time I almost forgot she was there. “I’m gonna go relax and leave you two at it.”

“Tired of this stuff already?” I chuckled.

“Oh, you wouldn’t believe!” She grinned. “I spent the entire day in a car with her and Sean listening to that dumb EDM band they both like. I feel like my ears are still ringing!”

We all laughed a little as Nori sat down and continued complaining about all of Poppy’s Bridezilla moments for the day. I listened but also admired Poppy in her gown. I don’t know why she thought she looked ugly or manly or whatever. To me she was beautiful!

And I was glad I didn’t let work or my pride make me miss this moment.

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