Queen of Babble Gets Hitched qob-3Meg Cabot
Queen of Babble Gets Hitched
( Queen of Babble - 3 )
Big mouth. Big heart. Big wedding. Big problems.
It's the wedding of the century!
Things are looking up at last for Lizzie Nichols. She has a career she loves in the field of her choice (wedding gown restoration), and the love of her life, Jean-Luc, has finally proposed. Life's become a dizzying whirl of wedding gown fittings-although, oddly, not necessarily her own-as Lizzie prepares (sort of) for her dream wedding at her fiancé's chateau in the south of France.
But the dream soon becomes a nightmare as the best man-with whom Lizzie might once accidentally have slept… no, really, just slept-announces his total lack of support for the couple, a sentiment the maid of honor happens to second; Lizzie's Midwestern family can't understand why she doesn't want to have her wedding in the family backyard; her future, oh-so-proper French in-laws seem to be slowly trying to lure the groom away from medical school and back into investment banking-in France; and Lizzie finds herself wondering if her Prince Charming really is as charming as she once believed.
Is Lizzie really ready to embrace her new role as Bride? Or is she destined to fall into another man's arms… and into the trap of becoming a Bad Girl instead?
One thing's for sure: this is a wedding no one is likely to forget-if it ever even happens at all.
Queen of Babble Gets Hitched
A HISTORY of WEDDINGS
In ancient times, weddings were a little more casual than they are today. Rival tribes, in order to increase their population, would frequently stage raids against one another, with the sole purpose of acquiring brides. That’s right—they’d steal one another’s ladyfolk. The raiding party was kind of what you’d consider your modern-day groom and his groomsmen.
Only, you know, they wouldn’t be wearing tuxes. More like loincloths.
Sometimes the young ladies in question got wind of the raiding party beforehand and didn’t necessarily put up much of a fight.
But this didn’t mean there wasn’t ill feeling on the part of their families and friends.
Tip to Avoid a Wedding Day Disaster
Always have more gifts on your registry than you do wedding guests. This way you can avoid receiving the same gift twice… and those guests who can’t actually make it to the festivities will still be able to find something lovely to get for you!
LIZZIE NICHOLS DESIGNS™
• Chapter 1 •
Whatever souls are made of, his and mine are the same.
— Emily Brontë (1818–1848), British novelist and poet
“Chaz,” I say, poking the man in the tuxedo who lay sprawled across my bed. “You have to get out of here.”
Chaz brushes my hand away as if it’s annoying him. “Mom,” he says. “Stop it. I told you, I already took out the trash.”
“Chaz.” I poke him some more. “I mean it. Wake up. You have to go.”
Chaz wakes up with a start. “Wha—Where am I?” He looks blearily around the room until his unfocused gaze finally comes to rest on me. “Oh. Lizzie. What time is it?”
“Time for you to go,” I say, grabbing hold of his arm and pulling on it. “Come on. Get up.”
But I might as well be pulling on an elephant. He won’t budge.
“What’s going on?” Chaz wants to know. I have to admit, it’s not easy, being so mean to him. He looks downright adorable in his tuxedo shirt, all stubbly faced and confused, with his dark hair sticking up in tufts all over his head. He squints at me. “Is it morning already? Hey—why do you still have your clothes on?”
“Because nothing happened between us,” I say, relieved that it’s true. I mean, stuff happened. But my Spanx are still on, so not that much stuff. Thank God. “Come on, get up. You have to go.”
“What do you mean, nothing happened between us?” Chaz looks offended. “How can you say that? That’s my beard burn you’re wearing.”
I lift a hand guiltily to my face. “What? Oh my God. You’re kidding, right?”
“No, I’m not kidding. You’re completely chafed.” A look of self-satisfaction spreads across his face as he stretches his arms. “Now come over here and let’s continue where we left off before you so rudely fell asleep, which I’m going to try not to hold against you, although I will admit it’s going to be difficult, and will probably necessitate punishment in the form of a spanking if I can figure out how to get those things off you. What did you call them again? Oh, yeah. Spanx.” Chaz brightens. “Hey, how appropriate.”
But I’ve already dived for the bathroom and am examining my face in the mirror over the sink.
He’s totally right. The entire lower half of my face is bright pink from where Chaz’s stubble rubbed it as we made out like a couple of teenagers in the back of the taxi on our way home from the wedding last night.
“Oh God!” I cry, staggering back into the bedroom. “Do you think he noticed?”
“Do I think who noticed what?” Chaz has seized me by the wrist, pulled me over, and is fumbling with the tiny buttons to my gown.
“Luke!” I cry. “Do you think he noticed I’ve got beard burn all over my face?”
“How would Luke notice that?” Chaz asks. “He’s in France. How do you get this thing off, anyway?”
“He’s not in France!” I cry, swatting at Chaz’s hands. “He was just downstairs. That was him, at the door!”
“The door?” Chaz pauses in his attempt to disrobe me, looking more adorably confused than ever. Not that I have any business noticing how adorable Chaz is. “Luke’s at the door?”
“No, not anymore,” I say, swatting his hands away once more. “But he’s coming back in half an hour. And that’s why you have to leave now. He doesn’t know you’re here. And I want to keep it that way.” I wrestle his tuxedo jacket from beneath the knee he’s resting on it and hold it out for him. “So if you wouldn’t mind putting this on and kindly vacating the premises—”
“Wait a minute.” Chaz raises a dark eyebrow. “Wait just a minute here. Are you honestly trying to tell me that you and Mr. Romance are getting back together?”
“Of course we’re getting back together,” I say, throwing an urgent glance at the clock. Twenty-five minutes! Luke will be back in twenty-five minutes! He only went in search of a Starbucks to grab us coffees and a couple of Danish… or whatever it is Starbucks has available on New Year’s Day. Which, for all I care, could be rancid pig fat in plastic containers. What does it matter? “Why else do you think I’ve been standing here asking you to please get up? I don’t want him to know you spent the night—or that you gave me beard burn.”
“Lizzie.” Chaz is shaking his head. But he’s putting his tuxedo jacket on. Thank God. “He’s not a little boy. You can’t protect him forever. He’s going to have to find out about us sometime.”
Icy tentacles grip my heart. “Us? What us? Chaz… there is no us.”
“What do you mean, there is no us?” He looks up from the inside coat pocket he’d been investigating, evidently in search of his wallet. “Did we, or did we not, just spend the night together?”
“Yes,” I say, with another exasperated glance at the clock. Twenty-four minutes! And I have to wash my hair. I’m sure there’s confetti in it from the wedding. Not to mention, I probably have raccoon rings of mascara around my eyes. “But I already told you. Nothing happened.”
“Nothing?” Chaz looks wounded. “I distinctly remember holding you tenderly in my arms and kissing you beneath a sky full of falling stars. You call that nothing?”
“Those were balloons,” I remind him. “Not stars.”
“Whatever. I thought we said we were going to work on the physical part of our relationship.”
“No. You said that. I said we’d both just come out of painful breakups and needed time to heal.”
Chaz reaches up and runs a hand through his hair, causing it to stand even more comically on end. Plus, confetti falls out of it and onto my bedspread. “Then what was all that kissing in the cab about?”
He has a valid point. I’m not sure what all that kissing in the cab was about.
Or why I enjoyed it so much, either.
But I do know one thing. And that’s that I’m not going to stand here and talk about it. Not right now.
“We had too much to drink,” I explain, with another frantic glance at the clock. Twenty-two minutes! And I have to blow-dry too! “We were at a wedding. We got carried away.”
“Carried away?” Chaz’s blue eyes look unnaturally bright in the winter sunlight filtering through my new lace curtains. “That’s what you call my hand down your bra? Carried away?”
I rush forward to place a hand over his mouth.
“We must never speak of this again,” I say, my heart booming—yes, booming—in my chest.
“Don’t even tell me,” Chaz says from behind my hand, “that you’re giving him another chance. Yes, he made the big romantic gesture, flying back from France on New Year’s Day, or whatever. But, Lizzie… the guy is a complete commitment-phobe. He’s never followed through with anything in his life.”
“That isn’t true,” I cry, wrenching my hand away from Chaz’s mouth and flipping it around for him to see. “Look!”
Chaz stares at the third finger on my left hand.
“Oh God,” he says after a minute. “I think I’m going to be sick.”
“That’s a nice thing to say,” I point out hotly, “to the girl your best friend’s just proposed to.”
Although the truth is, I feel a little sick myself. But that’s from all the champagne last night. It has to be.
“Lizzie.” Chaz flops back across my bed and stares up at the cracks in my ceiling. “Do I have to remind you that less than twenty-four hours ago you two were broken up? That you moved out of the apartment the two of you were sharing precisely because he said he couldn’t see you in his future? That you spent most of last night with your tongue down my throat because the two of you were supposed to be through?”
“Well,” I say, looking down at the emerald-cut three-carat diamond sitting in its platinum band. It seems to catch the light just so. Luke told me the certificate authenticating the gem is blood-free is on its way. “He changed his mind.”
“Because your moving out like that scared him shitless,” Chaz cries, sitting up again. “Is that what you want? A guy who comes running back to you and proposes just because he’s so scared of being alone, he’d rather be with a girl he knows isn’t right for him than be by himself?”
I glare at him. “Oh,” I say. “And I suppose you think we’d make such a better couple.”
“Yeah,” Chaz says. “Now that you mention it, I do. But the truth is, a monkey with a paper bag over its head would make a better boyfriend for you than Luke. Because you two are totally wrong for each other.”
“You—” I suck in my breath. I can’t even believe I’m having this conversation. “What… How can—I thought Luke was supposed to be your best friend!”
“He is my best friend,” Chaz says. “I’ve known him since he was fourteen years old. I probably know him better than he knows himself. That’s what makes me unequivocally qualified to say that he’s got no business asking anybody to marry him right now, let alone you.”
“What do you mean, let alone me?” I can feel tears brimming along the edges of my eyelashes. “What’s so wrong with me?”
“Nothing’s wrong with you, Lizzie,” Chaz says in a gentler voice. “It’s just that you know what you want, and Luke doesn’t. You’re a star. And Luke’s not the kind of guy who’s going to hitch his wagon to a star. He still thinks he’s the star. And you can’t have two stars in one relationship. Somebody has to be willing to be the wagon… at least some of the time.”
“That’s not true,” I say, wiping my eyes with the back of one of my wrists. “Luke’s a star. He’s going to be a doctor. He’s going to save children’s lives one day.”
Chaz raises his gaze to the ceiling.
“The day Luke de Villiers ever actually becomes a doctor,” he says solemnly, “is the day I switch to light beer. For good.”
I glare at him. “Get out,” I say, pointing at the door. “I mean it. Just get out.”
Chaz stands up—then instantly looks as if he regrets it. Nevertheless, when he regains his balance, he says, with as much dignity as he can seem to muster, “You know what? Gladly.” He stalks out of the bedroom and into the living room, finding his coat on the floor where he’d dropped it the night before. He scoops it up—holding his head a bit woozily—then heads for the door.
“You’re making a big mistake, Lizzie,” he turns to say when he gets there… looking a little surprised when he finds me right behind him.
“No,” I shoot back, pressing my index finger against his sternum. “You are. Your best friend is getting married. You should be happy for him. And for me. Just because things didn’t work out for you and Shari—”
“Shari?” Chaz shakes his head in bewilderment. “This has nothing to do with Shari. It has to do with you and me.”
“You and me?” I let out a stunned bark of laughter. “There is no you and me.”
“That’s what you think,” Chaz says, tugging on his coat. “And I’ll be damned if I’m going to wait around until you figure out that isn’t true.”
“Fine,” I say. “I’m not asking you to, am I?”
“No.” Chaz is smiling… but not like he’s happy. “But you would if you had the slightest idea what was good for you.”
And with that, he yanks open the door and storms through it, slamming it closed behind him with enough force to cause the windowpanes to rattle.
And then he’s gone.
A HISTORY of WEDDINGS
Once the kidnapped “bride” and her groom had safely escaped the wrath of her relatives, frantically searching for her around the outskirts of the village from which she’d been snatched, they’d lay low for a while, to avoid retaliation from her family (or any possible husbands already in existence).
This was also the period during which the “groom” exerted his dominance over his new captive, stamping out any desire she might have to escape or murder him in his sleep (a not uncommon practice in early “marriages” of this sort where the bride wasn’t as happy with the situation as a groom might hope her to be).
This “laying low” period could be considered the ancient predecessor to the honeymoon. Only it probably took place in a cave, not at a Sandals resort. And there definitely wasn’t room service.
Tip to Avoid a Wedding Day Disaster
Never try a new beauty product—or, God forbid, get a facial—on the day of or the days leading up to your wedding. The last thing you need is a breakout or rash! Stick to your normal routine, and you’ll glow like the angel you are.
LIZZIE NICHOLS DESIGNS™
• Chapter 2 •
Two souls with but a single thought,
Two hearts that beat as one.
Franz Joseph von Münch-Bellinghausen (1806–1871), Austrian dramatist
I blink. I have to admit: this was not the reaction I’d expected from the first person I’d told about my engagement to Luke. I’d expected Chaz to have some concerns, sure. I mean, it’s true that Luke and I have been having some problems up until recently. As recently as half an hour ago, as a matter of fact.
But all those problems are over now. Because Luke asked me to marry him. That was the only major obstacle standing in the way of our being together—that he couldn’t see me in his future.
But all that’s changed now. He’s asked me to marry him! I’m goi
ng to be a bride! Lizzie Nichols, a bride, at last!
And okay. It’s a little weird that every time I think about that, I feel like I want to throw up.
But that’s just all the excitement from having gotten engaged before I’ve had any breakfast. I’ve always suspected I’m a little hypoglycemic. Just like Nicole Richie.
And anyway, it’s all Chaz’s fault. Why, instead of being happy for me, had he had to throw that absurd little hissy fit, almost as if… well, almost as if he’d been jealous?
Except that that’s not possible. Because Chaz doesn’t like me that way. We’re just friends. I mean, sure, we’d messed around a little last night.
And, I’ll admit, it had been… well, nice.
Really nice, actually.
But we’d both been a little tipsy. Drunk, even. It hadn’t meant anything. It was like I’d said: still smarting over our respective breakups, we’d sought solace in each other’s arms.
But that doesn’t mean there was anything more going on.
Well, I’m not going to waste any more time worrying about it. Luke is going to be here any minute. I have to get myself cleaned up before he arrives. It’s bad enough he proposed—and I accepted—while I still had morning breath. I am not going to start my first day as a newly engaged person wearing the same underwear I’ve had on since yesterday.
By the time the downstairs buzzer goes off, I’m as sweet smelling and coiffed as I’ve ever been in my life—thanks to the world’s fastest shower, a quick change into a stunning 1950s Lorrie Deb pink chiffon party dress (perfect for the newly engaged, soon-to-be-certified professional wedding gown restorer), and a couple layers of undereye concealer—and ready to let in the man to whom I’ve just pledged my troth.
I feel lighter than air as I make my way down the twin flights of steps to the building’s front door (I have to get that buzzer fixed first thing when places open up again tomorrow morning).