Love Letters(3)

By: Geraldine Solon

Nicole put her hands to her mouth. “Chloe…”

The Dior gown had long spaghetti straps with a simple lace design in front. The empire waist gave the dress an elegant touch, soft and flattering.

“This one is perfect,” Chloe breathed.

“You’re the most beautiful bride I’ve ever seen,” Nicole said.

Chloe hugged her friend. “Thanks for being so patient with me. I told Richard that our wedding wouldn’t be complete unless we have it at the Ritz-Carlton hotel that overlooks the ocean. I can already see myself walking down the aisle, smell the fresh air, and hear the sound of the waves. Totally breathtaking.”

Each workday, Chloe met future brides trying on wedding gowns while chattering with their girlfriends. She had never met a bride who wasn’t excited about her wedding day. Chloe looked down at her dress and spun a circle, thrilled that she, too, would fulfill her dream of becoming a bride.

As she came to a stop she looked around at Millie Adams’ shop. Brides Only was known for its simple yet elegant gowns at a reasonable price. Fortunately, Millie trusted Chloe to run her shop, since she had other businesses to attend to.

Brides Only was a cozy and intimate shop that made customers feel at home. It originally sold only ready-to-wear bridal gowns, but with Chloe’s ideas, they had added purses, tiaras, little trinkets, scented candles, and other accessories.

Chloe pampered future brides as they entered the shop, most brought in through referrals. Though Chloe had two associates to assist her with the shop, it was she who the customers looked for each time they entered the shop. Something about her enthusiasm seemed to rub off on the nervous brides, reminding them why they were here.

She walked over to a rack of gowns and fingered them. The gowns were hung on high-quality, white satin hangers with bows in the middle. The purses were a variety of small satin and beaded purses in either white or off-white from top designers: Jessica McClintock, Carolina Herrera, and Vera Wang.

“Why do you want to have your wedding in Half Moon Bay at the Ritz when you’ve lived here your whole life?” Nicole asked. “If I get married, I’m flying to Vegas. I don’t want to waste time planning a wedding.”

“C’mon, Nic, you know how much the Ritz means to me. That’s where I met Richard, and it’s where he proposed to me this morning. You need to be more romantic.” She would never forget the day she met Richard. She closed her eyes, remembering. He was dashing in his gray Armani suit. While she watched the sunset from a corner table in the restaurant, he kept eyeing her from where he sat with a client. He finally approached her after his business meeting. She smiled at the memory then opened her eyes.

“Yeah, yeah.” Nicole pursed her lips.

Chloe suddenly grew teary-eyed. “Dad won’t be here to walk me down the aisle,” She sniffed. “And with Mom not talking to me, all I have is dear Greta.”

“I’m sure he’ll be watching over you,” Nicole said, patting Chloe on the back.

“I’m sure Daddy would have loved Richard,” Chloe said, looking down at the dress her father would never see. “I mean, you have to agree with me that Richard’s a good catch with his flawless fair skin, short dark hair, broad shoulders, and lean hips.” She turned her back to the mirror examining her dress. “Not to mention how hard he works.”

“But he’s busy all the time,” Nicole reminded her.

“I know, I know, but he’s so smart and decent with good family values. He and Dad would have gotten along great, don’t you think?” Chloe said as she hurried into the fitting room to change back into her work clothes. “Of course I don’t know what Mom will have to say about him.”

“I guess you know the answer to that one, don’t you?” Nicole grinned as Chloe exited the fitting room. “Suzanne will scrutinize every flaw she sees.”

“You’re right. Are you free this weekend?” Chloe asked, as she hung her dress on the reserve rack. “I want to start looking at flowers, invitations, and cakes. What do you think my theme should be?”

“Let’s talk about it this Saturday. I have to go now.” Nicole shrugged into her coat. “A makeup artist’s work is never done.” Nicole, known for her beauty tricks, appeared flawless, unlike Chloe who struggled to keep her makeup looking perfect. “It’s like painting a house,” Nicole had once told Chloe. “Simple maintenance.”