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.Aunt Sheila said, “Darling, Jeremy tells me that Mum and Hilary and Giles are staying here at the villa overnight.Here’s my hotel number, so call us if you need anything whatsoever.Otherwise we’ll just stop by in the morning to touch base.”“Fine,” I said, and I hugged her for volunteering to be “on call” to stomp out any fires if Margery should suddenly feel feisty and ready to cause trouble again.So, that night, after our houseguests settled down to sleep, and it was so quiet that it seemed as if even the owls and cicadas outside had gone to bed contentedly, I allowed myself to breathe a sigh of relief.My wedding was really going to happen, after all.Right here in Great-Aunt Penelope’s villa.Everything finally felt right, at last.Part SixChapter Twenty-fourThe next morning, I rose early, showered and crept quietly downstairs, feeling like a little kid on Christmas day.The house was very quiet.Celeste had come early, and was in the dining room, preparing a breakfast buffet for our guests.She’d already made a fruit salad of melon, berries, and grapes.I nibbled on some, then took a cup of coffee from her, and I wandered out to the garden patio, settling onto a lounge chair with my organizer, to dreamily indulge in pleasurable musings about my wedding day.Aunt Sheila had offered to coordinate the RSVPs with my mother, and she would interface with Honorine, who was now the efficient command center, managing all the other details of the wedding.Everything was beginning to come together with a speed and energy of its own, in that pleasurable way when people instinctively start to pull together and inspire one another.I hummed to myself, going over my notes of the sample CDs that Aunt Sheila, through her old contacts at the record companies and the BBC, had scoured up from various available musicians.Jeremy and I had played them on the way down here, and found that they were all very good, but we’d especially liked a quiet classical trio, whose delicate balance of violin, cello and flute was both light and yet profoundly moving, with just the right appeal to mind and heart.Now, imagining where the trio would sit, I could almost hear their music for the ceremony, resonating in the beautiful drawing room.As I went back inside, I contemplated the wedding procession.Some latent feminist instinct had prompted me to decide against being handed off from one man (my father) to another (my husband), so we’d agreed that, while our parents would all participate in the procession, I would walk down the aisle after them, alone.Following the ceremony, there would be champagne cocktails and the wedding feast at tables in the garden if the weather was fine (and why shouldn’t it be?), and then Erik and Tim had agreed to take charge of Jeremy’s “playlist” of recorded music for people to dance to.Finally, Jeremy and I would depart for our honeymoon on Penelope’s Dream.Suddenly, for the very first time, I could picture the entire wedding, from start to finish.It was a thrilling moment.I went into the drawing room quietly, with a light tread so as not to wake any late sleepers, and I traced the path of the bridal procession, walking straight up to where Jeremy and I would take our vows before the tapestry.But the wall between the big windows was empty.Someone had taken down the tapestry overnight.I frowned.David had carefully surveyed this location, and advised Leonora that it would be perfectly okay to leave the tapestry hanging here, with the drapes drawn to darken the room, until the wedding day, rather than carry the tapestry back to the château where it would have to be re- hung, only to return it here again in just a few weeks.Leonora, still looking slightly dubious, agreed to leave it behind, but she’d stipulated that she wanted to come back here this morning to check on it once more, just to make sure that not a single shaft of summer sun would fall across it and fade it.I guessed that she must have shown up early today, been somehow displeased, and decided against letting even a speck of salty air land on it.I could picture her, fussily insisting on taking the tapestry home after all.Perhaps Leonora instinctively hadn’t trusted Erik, Tim and Celeste not to touch it.This could be the first little ripple of trouble, but I resolved not to get sucked back into the flurry of clashing egos over wedding minutiae.“Delegate, delegate,” I muttered to myself, repeating Erik’s advice like a mantra, determined to let Honorine handle the details.My thoughts were interrupted by a chorus of French voices at the front door, as Celeste greeted Honorine’s family and ushered them into the dining room for breakfast.I heard Honorine asking for me, and then, a few moments later, she came into the drawing room, smiling broadly.“David and my mother are here; thank you so much for the lovely breakfast.” She paused.“Did you take down the tapestry already? Maman will not be pleased, you know.There is a special way to roll it and store it.” Her face puckered in worry at the thought of a needless kerfuffle with her mother.“But I didn’t,” I said.“I assumed that David came here early and took it back.You’ve just arrived now?” She nodded.“Maybe Erik or Celeste took it down, so we could clean up without disturbing it?” I suggested.But I knew perfectly well that they’d never do that without consulting me.“No, no, I told them that you and I were going to look at it today, to compare and coordinate the swatches for the table setting with the colors on the tapestry,” Honorine said, confused.Jeremy entered the room now [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]