Home > Spring Fever(2)

Spring Fever(2)
Mary Kay Andrews

“Who the hell are all these people anyway?” she asked, glancing around at the packed church and zeroing in on the bride’s side of the aisle. “Not family, right? Since poor lil’ Celia is an orphan, and the only family she could produce is that elderly great aunt staying over at Mama’s house. Did Celia charter a bus or something?”

Annajane shrugged. “You’re apparently the only person in Passcoe who doesn’t think that Celia Wakefield is the best thing since flush toilets and sliced store-bought bread.”

“Don’t give me that. You hate her as much as I do,” Pokey said under her breath.

“Not at all,” Annajane replied. “I’m happy for them.”

“Yippy-fuckin’-skippy,” Pokey drawled. “Happy, happy, happy. It’s fine for you. In less than a week, you’ll pack up your U-Haul and head for Atlanta and your nice new life without even a glance in the rearview mirror. New man, new job, new address. But where does that leave me? Stuck here in stinkin’ Passcoe, with my mama, my evil brother Davis, and good ole Mason and his new bride, Cruella de Vil.”

“Poor, poor Pokey,” Annajane mocked her right back. “Richest girl in town, married to the second richest man in town.”

“Third richest,” Pokey corrected. “Or maybe fourth. Davis and Mason have way more money than Pete, especially since people quit buying furniture made in America.”

“Speaking of, where is Pete?” Annajane asked, craning her neck to look for him. Instead of spotting Pokey’s tall redheaded husband, Pete, her eyes rested on another tardy couple, Bonnie and Matthew Kelsey, hurrying up the right-side aisle of the church.

Bonnie Kelsey’s eyes met Annajane’s. She blushed, and looked away quickly, clutching Matthew’s arm and steering him into a pew as far away from Annajane’s as she could manage in the overcrowded church.

Pokey saw the maneuver for what it was. “Bitch,” she said.

“It’s all right,” Annajane said smoothly. “I mean, what do you expect? Matt and Mason play golf every week. From what I hear, Bonnie and Celia get along like a house afire. Best friends forever! Anyway, Bonnie’s not the only one to sign up for Team Celia. Every woman in this room has been staring daggers at me since I walked into this church. I knew when I agreed to come today that it would be awkward.”

“Awkward?” Pokey laughed bitterly. “It’s freakish, is what it is. Who else but you would agree to show up at her ex-husband’s wedding?”

2

Out of the corner of her eye, Annajane saw more people eyeing her with undisguised curiosity. She gave a tight smile and looked away.

“I had to come today,” Annajane reminded Pokey. “For Sophie. She made me promise. In fact, it’s the only way she’d agree to be in the wedding. It’s also my last official company function.”

“I still can’t believe you’re leaving Quixie,” Pokey said. “After how many years?”

“Too many,” Annajane murmured. “I never should have stayed after the divorce. I just didn’t have the gumption to get out and start a new life for myself. And then there was Sophie, of course.”

“You spoil that child rotten,” Pokey said, tsk-tsking. “And Mason is even worse.”

But before she could launch into her lecture about the kind of strict parenting her niece really needed, the soft strains of organ music that had been playing as guests drifted into the church segued into harp music.

“A harp?” Pokey turned and craned her neck to look in the direction of the choir loft. “Where the hell did she find a harp in Passcoe?”

Annajane gave a little shrug. “The harp made its first appearance at the rehearsal dinner last night. Which you somehow managed to miss?”

“I had one of my migraines,” Pokey said quickly. “I was all dressed and everything when it hit me. Pete gave me one of my pills and put me to bed at eight o’clock.”

“Migraine or not, you are officially on your mother’s list today, as if you didn’t already know that,” Annajane told her.

“I do not understand why Mama and my brothers have suddenly allowed Celia free reign with the company bank accounts,” Pokey said. “If Daddy were alive, he would be shittin’ kittens at the way they’re throwing money around. Pete doesn’t like it either. He says…”

Suddenly, the harpist was joined by a violin and a flute, the tempo of the music quickening.

“Shh,” Annajane said. “It’s starting.”

A door beside the altar opened, and three men in dark tuxes emerged following the pastor, a personable young priest from Boston, Father Jolly, who’d only been at the church for a few months. He even looked the part, Annajane reflected bitterly, short and stout, with a fringe of dark bangs and a beaming choir-boy countenance. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

But it wasn’t the priest Annajane was staring at. She involuntarily held her breath at the sight of Mason Bayless, in his flawlessly cut charcoal-gray Armani tuxedo. At thirty-nine, he still had the build of an athlete, broad shoulders, narrow hips, long, muscled neck. He looked like the baseball player he’d been in his college years. His dark blond hair had been carefully combed back from his high forehead, slicked into place with some kind of hair goo, a style he’d adopted only recently, since Celia came into his life. He was paler than usual, and those cornflower-blue eyes and ridiculously long curly lashes seemed focused on the floor, and not on the congregation eagerly awaiting the upcoming ceremony.

As Mason took his place to the right of Father Jolly, his younger brother, Davis, slid easily to his side. Pokey might have been the youngest of the three Bayless progeny, but Davis was now, and always, the baby of the family.

Twenty months younger than Mason, Davis was half a head shorter and easily weighed forty pounds more than his older brother. While Mason and Pokey had the Bayless blue eyes and dark blond hair coloring, Davis, alone among the children, took after his mother Sallie’s people. He had the Woodrow snapping dark eyes; thick, wavy dark hair; and the high cheekbones Miss Pauline always claimed came from their long-ago Cherokee ancestors. Davis looked eagerly around the room, tugging at the collar of his starched white tux shirt, nodding at friends and acquaintances, exchanging a sly wink with somebody, a woman, no doubt, seated on the far left side of the church.

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