Tommy’s wedding day dawned, but it gave her no joy. In a short space of time, Adam made the arrangements: marriage in the Presbyterian Church in the morning, and invited guests joining them for a luncheon at the hotel. He provided gowns for her and the bridesmaid, Fiona, and arranged flowers and suits for David and Jamie. He spared no expense, obviously wanting everyone to share his victory, his total domination of the little English rose.
“This is so exciting.” Fiona skipped around the parlor. “Your wedding gown is beautiful. Adam showed excellent taste.”
“Yes, he did.” She tried not to snap at Fiona, who assumed this to be a love match, and she dared not tell her otherwise. If David found out about Adam’s true feelings he would put a stop to the wedding, even if it meant they ended up homeless and destitute. If only people knew that he didn’t want a wife, just a brood mare.
She had only seen Adam once since agreeing to marry him. He dropped in briefly to fill her in on the arrangements he made for their wedding. He also got her measurements, so he could arrange for a bridal gown to be made up at some exclusive dressmaker’s in
“I’ve waited years to take a bride, so I want to do it in style; the community would expect it from a man in my position.”
She had pleaded in vain for a small quiet wedding.
“No, we do things my way or not at all.” He held all the winning cards and they both knew it.
“You’re an uncouth, ill-bred pig.”
“Just be at the church on time.” He’d fired one last parting shot. “I don’t like being kept waiting.”
The cream satin wedding gown had puffed sleeves, and fitted snuggly, emphasizing her tiny waist. The skirt had a long, heavily embroidered train. The bonnet was of cream velvet, trimmed with orange blossom and silver thread embroidery under the brim. A tambour lace veil covered this.
Fiona wore a long-sleeved gown of pale green satin; the skirt sported an elaborate bustle and tied back train. “Oh, Tommy, you look so beautiful.”
“Thank you, so do you.” Tommy gave her a hug. “David won’t be able to take his eyes off you.”
“Do you think so?” She gave a girlish giggle. “Could I, what I mean is, one day if I need to, could I borrow your wedding dress? It’s a secret, David hasn’t said anything yet, but he will.”
“I’d be pleased to welcome you into the family, Fiona. Of course you can borrow it.” Tommy felt like ripping the exquisite gown off right then and there and kicking it across the room. “It wouldn’t need much alteration to fit you.”
When the bridal coach arrived, its opulence surprised her. A liveried coachman, wearing a white rosette, drove it. Even the whip was decorated with a white bow.
Inside the coach white satin cushions were provided for them to sit on. “My goodness what grandeur,” David remarked with a grin. A wonder he even noticed; his eyes had barely left Fiona. He was entranced by her, and what man wouldn’t be? She was such a sweet-natured, pretty girl.
David and Jamie wore dress jackets over their waistcoats; their trousers were black, and they had white neckties and gloves.
“You look pretty.” Jamie reached over and patted Tommy’s cheek.
“Thank you. You’re very handsome too, both my men are.”
David snorted and Jamie chuckled. Adam insisted the boy be in the official wedding party, and he’d barely been able to contain his excitement at such a grown up honor.
Yes, to give him his due, Adam knew how to handle Jamie. No wonder the child worshipped the ground he walked on.
When they arrived, the church was packed to capacity. Tommy hovered in the doorway. Anxious dread washed over her. It took all her courage not to turn tail and run for her life.
“Nervous?” David asked.
“No, not at all.” She trembled within, petrified.
Adam stared straight ahead, his eyes fixed on a point just above the Minister’s shoulder.
“The bridesmaid is here,” the Reverend said with a benign smile.
As the organ music pealed out, everyone watched the bridal party. Adam turned his head and the breath jammed in his throat. Tommy looked beautiful, almost ethereal as she waited near the doorway. He felt a sudden, strange pain tugging at his heart. Remorse for having forced her into marriage? Damn it all, why did he keep tying himself in knots over Tommy Lindsay? They both agreed about the suitability of the arrangement. He wanted sons. She needed financial security for herself and Jamie.
Tommy caught a glimpse of Adam’s face as he turned towards her. He gave her an encouraging smile as she started walking down the aisle. Her heart lurched and her legs almost buckled. What a splendid specimen of manhood, so proud and princely, like a Roman gladiator primed and ready for his date with destiny.
As she stood quivering beside him she wondered if anyone else noticed. The ceremony commenced. After the minister blessed the wedding ring, Adam slipped it on to her trembling finger.
“You did me proud,” he whispered, his breath warm against her cheek. He gave his vows clearly, confidently. Tommy’s voice came out so low only those at the front of the church could hear.
When they adjourned to the vestry, Fiona stayed in the church to distribute “favors,” which took the form of a white rosebud, mingled with lily of the valley.
They signed the register, his hand steady as a rock, hers trembling like a leaf in the wind. Tommy Lindsay was now Mrs. Adam Munro. He put the marriage certificate in his pocket, and slipped her arm through his, giving her hand a reassuring squeeze. The bridal party proceeded down the carpeted aisle to the sounds of the organ. As Tommy glanced around, she saw posies of white rosebuds tied to the end of each pew.
A liveried coachman and groom drove the bridal couple away from the church in an elegant landau, drawn by chestnut horses with rosettes in their bridles.
“Well, Mrs. Munro, everything went off rather well.” Adam grinned.
“It was a farce. I don’t know how you had the gall, standing up in church, making false vows in front of God. To love and honor, to cherish; it’s a wonder lightening didn’t strike you dead.”
“How do you know they were false?” His intense gaze caused her heart to beat a rapid tattoo against her chest wall. “Smile at the people.” He raised his hand to acknowledge several onlookers in the main street. Tommy did as he asked, easier than arguing with him. She felt too overwrought to do anything else at the moment; besides, she needed to save her strength for later. Her mouth went dry every time she thought about what Adam would expect from her tonight. Like most young women she dreamed of having a fairytale wedding—but not like this. Not when the groom was only interested in breeding from his wife.
“Don’t look so tragic.” He gently ran a long, tanned finger across her lips.
She forced herself not to rub her cheek against his hand and let him know how his touch affected her.
“You made an exquisite bride. Every red-blooded man in the church envied me.”
“As long as you think you’ll get your money’s worth.” She gave a bitter smile.
“I’ll know after tonight, whether I’ve got my money’s worth or not.” He picked up her hand and drew it to his lips. “I don’t think I’ll be disappointed.”
When she snatched her hand away, he burst out laughing.
Arrogant devil, she wanted to slap the smirk off his face.
At the hotel, the bridal table reposed at the back of the dining room, while tables for fifty or more guests lined each wall.
“You must have worked hard getting this organized at such short notice, Adam,” Fiona exclaimed, not even trying to keep the awe out of her voice.
“You can get anything done if you’re prepared to pay for it,” Tommy said tartly. His grip on her arm tightened, warning her to be careful what she said; but he favored Fiona with one of his devastating smiles.
They stood together under an archway covered in white flowers, to receive their guests.