Jeremy Johns looked me up and down and then did the same to Kate. One eyebrow arched in obvious disapproval. I wasn’t sure if it was my khakis casual look or Kate’s just-tumbled-out-of-bed hair that elicited the near grimace. “And you would be?”
“I’m Annabelle Archer and this is my assistant, Kate.” I put out my hand for him to shake. “We’re from WeddingBelles.”
His face remained blank.
“They’re the wedding planners,” Mandy added.
“Oh.” He gave me a perfunctory handshake. “Then maybe you can explain these miserable blue linens.” He pointed at the pile of pale blue tablecloths like he was accusing a murderer from the witness stand.
“These must be what Richard sent over for the bride to pick from.” I ran a hand through the pile. Aside from one unfortunate shiny number and a too-heavy brocade, the linens weren’t bad. They were exactly what the bride had requested: pale blue with some texture. I especially liked a nubby powder blue silk.
Jeremy Johns put his palms up. “Maybe there’s been a misunderstanding. You see, I’ve been given compete artistic control over this event and these linens do not fit into my vision.”
“Since when do you have control over this wedding?” Kate asked. “We’ve been working on this for five months.”
Jeremy folded his arms across is chest. “Since Mrs. Barbery called me in. This wedding is going to be on national television.” Again with the arching eyebrow. “You don’t think she’d leave the design up to you two, do you?”
Mandy gave a nervous laugh, “Why don’t we all talk this . . .”
“It isn’t just the two of them,” Richard walked through the sliding door behind us and I saw it led to a galley kitchen.
I breathed a sigh of relief. I rarely had this reaction when Richard joined a tense situation but it was good to have a diva on our side, too.
“You’re with them?” Jeremy sized up Richard but didn’t make a face. It helped that Richard wore a flawless polished cotton shirt in peacock blue with crisp tailored white pants and looked every bit the nautical aristocrat.
“Richard Gerard of Richard Gerard Catering.” He didn’t extend his hand. “But, yes, I’m with them.”
“And I’ll have you know we’ve designed some very fancy weddings,” Kate said. She’d made it from drowsy to defensive.
“I’m sure you have, sweetie,” Jeremy's voice became syrupy sweet. “But this is a whole other league. Trust me, I’ve designed Mrs. Barbery’s house in the Hamptons and her flat in London.”
“Decorating a house and designing a wedding are two entirely different things,” Richard said. “So unless the client wants new drapes, why don’t you run along and let us do our jobs?”
Jeremy sucked in air audibly and Mandy groaned.
“Mrs. Barbery flew me down to put my signature style on this wedding.” His voice was nearly a hiss. “All the properties I’ve designed for her have a distinct style and so will this wedding.”
“I’m almost afraid to ask.” Richard said. “What is the signature style?”
Jeremy fanned his hands out in front of us like he was pulling back curtains to a stage. “South Beach meets the South of France.”
Everyone was silent for a moment.
“You must be out of your mind,” Richard finally said.
Jeremy sniffed. “Mrs. Barbery likes to mix the vintage with modern. It’s eclectic.”
“I know I’m still half awake,” Kate muttered to me. “But I don’t get it. It sounds like "shabby chic" on crack.”
Jeremy’s face reddened. “I don’t expect you to understand what we’re doing up in New York.”
“This is insane.” Richard turned to me. “First we have a TV crew crawling all over the ship and now we have to work in a neon-goes-French-country theme?”
I broke in. “Aren’t you all forgetting something?”
“I doubt it,” said Jeremy and Richard at the same time, then they glared at each other.
“What about what the bride wants?” I asked. “This is her wedding, after all.”
“Thank you, Annabelle.” The bride stepped into the room behind Jeremy. This was getting absurd. Any more people and we’d be nose-to-nose in the narrow dining room.
Kristie wore black yoga pants and a form-fitting Batik-print tank top and it looked like she’d just finished her practice. Her ash blond hair was pulled up in a high ponytail giving her an extra inch or so, which she desperately needed. Everything about Kristie was tiny and delicate down to her soft voice.
Jeremy turned around and smiled at the bride. “We were just discussing your wedding,” he gushed. “And how it’s going to be a fairytale come to life.”
Kate made a gagging noise and I dug an elbow into her side.
“Oh, I heard you. My stepmother may have flown you here, Jeremy, but this is not her wedding.”
Jeremy opened and closed his mouth like a fish.
Kristie smiled at the rest of us. “But since my father and stepmother are hosting this wedding, and Jeremy is here, I hope we can all work together.”
Richard started to say something but Kristie continued. “Because if we can’t, then I’m perfectly willing to call this whole thing off.”
She spun on her heel and left the room.
“Well, I guess that settles it,” Mandy clapped her hands together, clearly glad to have the confrontation over with.
“Hardly,” Jeremy said. “That girl is not in charge. I’m going to talk to Mrs. Barbery.”
“Come on,” I said, looking from Jeremy to Richard. “I’m sure we can find a compromise.”
Jeremy turned and pushed through the door. “Over my dead body.”
“That can be arranged,” Richard called after him.
I shot him a look. “You are not helping.”
“What?” he asked in his most innocent voice. “You said to be accommodating.”