Daring Brides
wedding present? Her first response would probably be anxiety over the expense. His money still made her nervous. Then she would panic about wearing it. But hopefully she would soften once she read the note. Well, he would find out as soon as he saw her at the ceremony.
    “Mac Maverick Maven,” Rhett called out. “Come on over here and sing with us. We need another bass.”
    They didn’t, but he rose from the couch and spared a glance for his future brother-in-law, who sat in an arm chair with a bourbon in his hand.
    “Are you planning to join us?” he asked Tanner. “I don’t think I can fight Rhett off any longer.”
    “Sorry,” he said with a shake of his head. “You have to face the lions alone. Or throw them out.”
    Even though he knew the man was teasing, he stroked his chin as if considering the suggestion. “If Rhett’s voice brings in the hounds, we might have to.”
    Since he wouldn’t put it past Rhett to corral Dustin into dragging him over if he didn’t come willingly, Mac strolled over to join the singing party. Some of the guys were casually sitting on bar stools while others were standing. Rhett had joked that his location was closer to the Pappy Van Winkle, but the man hadn’t touched his bourbon for over an hour. He’d been too busy singing like a lark.
    “Mac, my boy,” Rhett said, reeling him in with a meaty hand. “Good of you to join us.”
    Mac took his position on Rhett’s right side while Dustin peered at him from the man’s left.
    “Hiya, Uncle Mac,” he said, grinning in that dopey, delighted way teenage boys did when they were included in adult male rituals.
    “Hi, Dustin,” he said and gave his nephew a high five.
    Rhett jostled them both when he wrapped his arms around their shoulders.
    “Do you have a request, Mac?” Rye said, fingering the chords.
    He gave them all a sly smile. “How about ‘I Have Friends In Low Places?’”
    Rhett slapped him on the back. “Now, I know you mean that to be a joke, but I do love that song. Rye?”
    The country singer’s only response was to start playing, and that was how Mac Maven ended up singing a Garth Brooks classic on his wedding day.
     
    ***
     
    Jill was acting like a rabid beauty queen in her attempts to strong-arm Peggy into putting on a darker lip gloss. She’d balked at lipstick since she rarely—read almost never—wore makeup. But Jill was sneaky. She’d convinced Peggy to let her dab some powder and a splash of color onto her cheeks so she could avoid grease shine in her wedding photos, which was when she had stealthily swiped the first round of lip gloss onto her mouth. Since it hadn’t looked terrible, Peggy had kept it on.
    “Jill, I am not going to put Plum Berry or whatever that is on my lips,” she said, crossing her arms. Who came up with names like that, anyway? “I have more than enough goo on my face.”
    “But it will match your ruby,” Jill protested. “We have to change your lip gloss.”
    Match her ruby? “Because of my necklace? What planet are you from?”
    “Venus,” Meredith said, and when Peggy gave her a blank look, she added, “Never mind. Jill, leave the poor bride alone.”
    Jill re-inserted the wand into the container, and Peggy breathed a sigh of relief.
    The door to the suite clicked open and inside ran her son, followed by her brother, Tanner.
    “Mom!” Keith said, coming to a stop in front of her. “You’ve got to see what Dad set up in the reception area. It’s so cool. It’s a S’mores bar with a fire and everything. He said he did it for me. Isn’t that the coolest? Of course, he said I’d need to share because other people like S’mores too.”
    Her heart melted like a glob of wax under a flame. Keith had already taken to calling Mac “Dad” because he adored him. Thank God the feeling was mutual since Keith’s father pretty much defined deadbeat. Who else but Mac would have thought about giving her son something special on their wedding day?
    “That

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