Shortly after the morning waitress who replaced Markie at the Oxford coffee shop has a child, Pam is looking for help to fill the morning shift. Trisha, a homeless girl, is counting change in a booth. Pam hires her and, having recently married, sets Trisha up in the house she was preparing to sell.
Nate and coworkers come into the diner for lunch and see the new girl. Nate mentions in passing that he bets he could get her in bed on the first date. They call him on his statement, so he sets things up. Figuring Trisha as a less than proper girl, he charms her, hoping to win that bet. Little does he know she is much more complex than he ever expected. After the date, Nate must decide whether he should leave her alone as intended or open his mind and risk exposing his heart.
Pam came running as best she could in her wedding dress and high heels the second Markie stepped through the door into the coffee shop. They hugged like sisters after a long separation.
“You look amazing,” said Markie with astonishment after they released their hold on each other.
Pam wore a white gown with a gentle, low curve exposing her chest slightly above the bra, her neck surrounded by a lace collar attached to the dress at the shoulders. A large V curving toward the middle of her back left her shoulder blades visible. The length of the dress barely reached the floor, but it was ample enough to allow unrestricted movement. The silk glistened in the light. Her hair was up in oversized curls, adding six inches to her height. It was her signature strawberry blonde, but she had frosted it with streaks of reddish brown. Pale blue eyeshadow accenting her long lashes emphasized her eyes, commanded attention.
“Thanks to you. I get to be the first to wear a Markie Stevens original wedding dress. You really outdid yourself on this one.”
“You are worth it. Besides, after what you did for me, it was the least I could do. I owe you so much.”
“After this, you have change coming. And you look gorgeous in that dress.”
“This is a Tammy dress. She’s become a first-rate designer. It was her choice of fabric, and it just so happens that the aquamarine color matches your eye shadow, almost like she expected you to wear it.”
Markie’s dress was similar to Pam’s gown but somewhat simpler, flowing softly down to the floor. Her chest and back were barely visible through the white embroidery embracing her neck. It was elegant but complemented the bridal gown, ensuring that Pam would be the focal point of the ceremony.
Markie had curled her auburn hair but let it drape over her shoulders to help keep her height in check. The last thing she wanted to do was tower over the bride. Her shoes were low heels as well.
“Is Tammy coming?”
“She wanted to, but her boy had a pretty high fever yesterday. She was concerned she might get everyone sick.”
“The baby must be getting big.”
“Oh, yes. He’s a handful, too. Just wait a couple more months when he starts to walk.”
“Did Mike go straight over to the church?”
“Yes. He was truly honored that Bernie asked him to be best man.”
“I sort of suggested it, but Bernie loved the idea.”
Markie looked around. “Where’s Suzette?”
“She’s in the back. I think the dress is a little tight. She’s grown a bit since we measured her.”
Markie smiled, a little embarrassed at the mistake. “I should have taken that into consideration. She’s due any day, isn’t she?”
“Yep. Then she’ll go to the evening shift. That leaves the day shift open again. You interested?” Pam’s wry grin appeared as she winked.
“There are those days where I’d love to jump at the opportunity.”
Pam looked at the clock on the wall behind the counter. “It’s past noon. They should be ready for us.” She turned and called, “Suzette? You ready?”
Suzette walked out. Her dress closely matched Markie’s, but for the large bulge in the midsection. Her sandy brown hair was up in tight curls, though her short bangs were still straight, barely touching her eyebrows. She wore the same eye shadow as Pam. Markie assumed she borrowed it.
“I thought I’d never get into this, but I was fully prepared to die trying. It’s absolutely beautiful.”
“Thank you. I’ll let Tammy know you said that.” She hugged Suzette, and the three of them left the coffee shop to walk the four short blocks up Main Street, crossing the Chenango River on the way.
* * * *
Standing in front of the alter inside the white church was Bernie, with Mike by his side. Dressed in traditional black, Bernie had opted for tails—unconventional for his personality. Pam had determined that he wanted to step away from his previous life. She knew very well that he loved his first wife dearly. She liked the idea that he wanted to start fresh, figuratively speaking. Pam also saw that he was bending over backward to make her happy.
Mike had chosen a light gray suit. It came with a ruffled white shirt and bowtie that he had Markie tie for him. Standing next to them was the church minister.
The three faced the congregation as the pipe organ announced the entrance of the bride. Suzette led, followed by Markie three paces back and Pam about double that in the rear of the procession.
They took their respective places to the minister’s right, and Pam faced Bernie. The look of admiration in his eyes told her he was most appreciative of the time she invested in her appearance. She looked at him with complete satisfaction as well and was extremely pleased with who she was about to be joined together with.
The minister began. “Dearly beloved, we are gathered in the arms of matrimony...”
Pam instantly immersed herself in thought. Here was Bernie, who had worked for five years in the kitchen of her coffee shop without ever once mentioning his feelings, yet she could remember almost every little hint, now, in hindsight. He needed her to make the first move. Pam reflected on the little innuendos designed to give her an opening, all too subtle for her to recognize. She might never have seen them if Markie hadn’t opened her eyes. Once she gave Bernie the green light, however, he took every advantage to sweep her off her feet. What a pure gentleman she was getting.
“May I have the rings?”
Pam snapped back to the present. Markie took the bouquet in trade for the simple gold wedding band, which Pam handed to the minister. She watched Bernie pass her diamond-encrusted ring to the minister’s other hand.