Kissing for Keeps
Kissing for Keeps
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- Enemies to Lovers
- Foreign Romance
Coming on the heels of a big, fat failure at work, my best friend Madi's glamorous French wedding is the perfect opportunity to prove I can do some things well–even if it kills me, which is looking like a distinct possibility. Maid of honor duties are no joke. And while I could honestly use an extra hand or ten, I have to refuse the offer of help from Madi's flirt of a brother, Jack. Nothing would spoil the beautiful wedding festivities faster than her finding out about that thing that happened between Jack and me that one time . . .
Not that there's any danger of it happening again. It was so long ago, I've forgotten everything about it, down to the brand of his cologne. Aqua Di Gio is so utterly predictable.
I admit, I haven't been the best brother to Madi. Okay, slight understatement–a history of dating her friends and ruining those friendships has landed me squarely in her black books.
But my offer to help Siena isn't some underhanded scheme to hurt Madi a third time. I genuinely want to be a better brother. As for teasing Siena in the meantime? That's just standard procedure for me.
Because everything is totally normal here. Nothing to see, folks.
Intro to Chapter 1
Intro to Chapter 1
I flip open my computer and pull up the spreadsheet titled “Wedding of the Century.” You’d think I’d reserve that title for my own wedding, but it just shows you how much I love my friend Madi—and how determined I am to be the best maid of honor in history.
Or maybe I lack confidence in my own odds of getting married. Both are valid theories.
Coordinating a wedding with someone who lives thousands of miles away has its challenges, the time difference foremost among them. Hence the color-coded spreadsheet where we keep track of different aspects of the wedding and when they’ve been scheduled, paid for, and confirmed.
There are a lot of cells in this sheet, which means I have my work cut out for me. It’s all worth it for Madi and Rémy. From the moment Madi called me from Paris and told me about her disaster of a meet-cute with her French Airbnb host, I was rooting for Rémy. And now I’m planning their wedding.
The two of them are taking bits and pieces from American and French wedding tradition, which is going to be a fun and unique experience for all of us involved. Not least because all the wedding festivities will take place at a chateau—a bona fide, country chateau in France.
I glance at a row midway down the spreadsheet: Siena’s flight to France. It’s not for a couple of weeks, but honestly, it couldn’t come soon enough. I could use all the distraction I can get right now.
My eyes flit to the other spreadsheet that’s hiding behind this one—one that’s been a permanent fixture for months. It’s titled “AMY STEWART FOR SENATE!” It can now be closed once and for all. Maybe even deleted for good measure.
I don’t have the heart to do it yet, nor do I have the courage to open it and really analyze where I went wrong. Probably because I know some places I went wrong, and seeing the evidence of them in those tidy little cells makes me nervous for Madi’s wedding and what unwelcome surprises are lurking in those cells.
But not all the mistakes I made as Amy’s campaign manager could have been solved with a better spreadsheet. Not sure if that’s heartening or disheartening.
My phone starts ringing, and Madi’s picture pops on the screen for a FaceTime call. I glance at the time. It’s only 8:30 in the morning here—an hour earlier than when we scheduled.
“My little croissant!” I say as I get a glimpse of her face. It looks like she’s in a taxi, and she doesn’t hear me because she’s speaking in French to the driver. It makes me feel incredibly proud and slightly strange. Her life has really transformed in the last year and a half, and even though I’ve visited her twice in Paris, and she’s been back to California a couple of times, I’ve missed a lot more of the daily progress than I’m used to. It’s been seven years since we made the quick transition from strangers-sharing-a-dorm to best friends.
“Sorry!” she says to me in a harried voice. “We’re on our way to do some unexpected paperwork. It’s like all the French bureaucracy has combined to make sure Rémy and I don’t get married.”
“Do I need to fly over there right now? Handle some maid of honor business?”
“I wish you would, just so I could see you! But you’ve got a ton going on. I heard about the election. I’m so sorry, Siena. You worked so hard.”
I shrug, like the burden of responsibility I feel for the loss isn’t shriveling me from the inside. “You win some, you lose some. When do you guys head down to the chateau?”
She takes in a big breath. “Good question and part of why I’m calling you…”
My stomach clenches. Her tone is not promising. Did I mess something up? This wedding has been in the works for almost a year now. It’s been hard not to be there to help with everything, but Rémy’s best friend, André, has done a lot since he’s actually, you know, in France.
“What’s up?” I try to keep my voice chipper, giving the impression I’m ready to meet any problem head-on. As maid of honor, it’s my job to shield Madi from the most difficult things, to make sure she can look forward to her wedding instead of getting lost in the minutiae of stressful planning.
“It’s André,” she says. “His mom isn’t doing well. He’s booked a flight for Wednesday to go stay with her. Indefinitely.”
My stomach drops. André is my man on-the-ground, but this is the news all of us have been dreading since his mom went into remission eighteen months ago. The cancer is back. “Oh my gosh. That’s awful, Madi. I’m so sorry.”
“Yeah, it’s really sad. I don’t think he’ll be at the wedding at all.”
There’s silence as I process this news and what it means. I scan my spreadsheet for all the blue cells. Those are the tasks André is supposed to handle. Was supposed to handle.
My cortisol levels skyrocket.
“Anyway,” Madi says, “We thought you should know. Rémy and I are going to handle everyt—”
“I’ll change my flight.”
“What? No. Siena, you’ve been campaigning for months. The last thing you need is to take a last-minute flight across the Atlantic. You need to rest.”
“Not likely.” I prop my phone against my laptop so I can navigate to my flight booking. It’s not until four days before the wedding—I figured I’d be right in the middle of implementing the next phase of strategies for the general election. But now my schedule is wide open. Depressingly so. “I need to stay occupied, Madi. You know me. And it’s not like anyone ever had to drag me to France kicking and screaming. Besides, this way, I can bring all the things you need before the wedding and make sure everything’s really in order. You’re staying at the chateau for a couple of weeks before the wedding, right?” It’s not a question. I know this because… spreadsheet.
“Yeah. I’m shooting a wedding in England this weekend, so we were planning to head down on Monday. But André was supposed to go to the weekly market by the chateau this Saturday to find favors for the guests, so I’m going to see if I can change Rémy’s flight home—”
“You’ll do no such thing, young lady. I’ll be there in time to go to the market.”
“Too late! New flight is already booked.” It’s not. But it will be as soon as the options load. “I’ll forward you the details when I get the confirmation email.”
She sighs, looking me in the eye. “Are you absolutely positive?”
“As positive as an unwelcome pregnancy test.”
Her laugh makes me miss her even more. “How are you a perfect best friend and maid of honor?”
“More like Friendzilla. But someone has to step into the zilla role, and that’s clearly not something you’re capable of.”
“Yeah right! I’m worse than Bridezilla—I’m your garden-variety scatterbrained bride. I love your spreadsheet and your organization. You are single-handedly keeping our world spinning.”
Rémy’s head pops into the frame. “It’s true. We’re relying on that sheet to run our lives, so thank you.”
I smile at those beautiful faces. I would do anything for these two, including taking on the role of both maid of honor and best man, apparently. Madi and Rémy are meant for each other, and they deserve the best wedding, especially after all the headaches they’ve had dealing with Madi’s visa and citizenship process.
“I will make you two adorable lovers as many spreadsheets as you want.” I’m just thrilled to be planning their wedding. If things had gone differently, I might have been trying to paste on a smile for Madi and her ex-boyfriend Josh.
“If you’re sure you’re okay coming early,” Madi says, “we already have a room booked for André—”
“She knows, love.” Rémy holds up his phone. It has my trusty spreadsheet displayed, including the details for the room at the chateau.
I smile benevolently upon him. “Ten points to Gryffindor. Or Beauxbatons, I guess.”