Jocelyn slapped the magazine shut. “You hate it. I knew it. I know you want to go simple and just get it over with, Dannika, but this just looked like you.”
Dannika was overcome with a feeling she had never imagined she would ever have. It hit home that she was going to be the center of attention for something good, something people celebrated, and wanted to be a part of. So different from the usual reasons she drew attention to herself. She tucked her chin as she felt a tear roll down her cheek
Jocelyn frowned a little. “Well, I didn’t mean to make you sad.”
“No, Joc. It’s perfect. It’s exactly what I want. It’s gonna be amazing. I guess it just made me think that…”
“Yes, sweetie, think that what.”
“That I wish my real mom could be there, you know.”
Dannika couldn’t hold back the tears then. She’d never really dreamed about her wedding day, but it was almost here. Ivan would give her away, and she actually had a sister and three amazing friends to be bridesmaids. But despite how lucky she felt for all of these people in her life, it just didn’t make up for not having her mother. She’d always thought that by the time she got married—that is if she ever did—that she would have found her mother by then.
Jocelyn tugged her hair. “I know. I’m so sorry, Dannika. But you do have people that love you. And you’ve got Bain. He’ll be good to you. You’re going to be okay now.”
Dannika just nodded, but now she’d planted her face into Jocelyn’s lap. She let the tears come and tried to let all of the emotions attached to those tears slide away, imagining them as a slippery water slide, and the hurtful emotions would slide on down and be washed away (which was some new pop-psychology stunt Witt was trying with her). After she felt it all had passed, she sat up and wiped at her eyes.
“Do you think it’s expensive, all of this?” Dannika pointed to the page, and imagined herself in that dress, her black hair braided back into a messy bun, those long sleeves barely covering her black diamond ring.
Jocelyn smiled. “Bethie gave me the go-ahead.”
“So, she loved it, too?”
“She said it was perfect.”
“Then let’s do it.”
“I’m on it,” Jocelyn closed the magazine and stood. “I have to get some paperwork done, but I’m planning to hit the Dance Hall tonight. Wrangler Joe is playing again, finally.”
“Oh, and that Tank guy. He’s playing, too.”
Dannika laughed. Tank and his sister, Raile, had been introduced to IPA on their last case, and Raile was new discovered Visionary. Tank was supposed to go back home to Montana, but apparently the memory scan idea freaked him out and Ivan had the bright idea of introducing him to Wrangler Joe that takes care of everything up at the Wilderness Retreat. Seems Wrangler Joe and Tank hit it off, and Joe picked up on Tank’s skill with the horses. Not to mention Tank could play a mean harmonica.
It was a good thing. Raile didn’t want to have to leave Tank behind, and Joe was getting older and could certainly use the help. But keeping Tank meant keeping Ms. Robinson, the colorful woman in her mid-fifties that had taken in Dannika, Raile and Tank when they were on the run in the last case. Turns out she’s got a criminal record of her own and has a knack for all things crime-related, so she could pose some serious risk to IPA.
But Tank talked Raile into refusing to accept IPA’s agreement without a place for Ms. Robinson at IPA. So far, she’d taken up as the bartender at the Dance Hall and assisted Jocelyn at Research. Apparently, Jocelyn loved working Ms. Robinson, which Dannika still couldn’t understand.
Dannika saw a text come through. It was Bain.
Bain: Hey D. Miss you. I’m forcing myself into that hole just to dance with you tonight.
Dannika: Bain, you don’t have to do that. I’ll come up.
Bain: No, I can do it. For you, I’ll do anything. See you at 8.
Dannika: K. Love you.
Bain: I Love you, Dannika. I can’t wait to marry you.
Dannika: Yeah, me too.
Daylea, Dannika’s twin sister, ran through the door, her arms overflowing with flowers of all kinds. Her blond hair was pulled back into a high ponytail and she wore a short tennis skirt with a sleeveless athletic tank showing off her perfectly toned arms.
“Hey sis, what’s all this?”
Daylea set the flowers on the table. She was panting hard and seemed flustered. “This wedding is going to be here before we know it, D. We have got to pick out flowers, not to mention a dress and bridesmaid dresses and whatever the groomsmen are going to wear, I can’t even imagine what you’ll pick for that…”
“It’s all done. It’s all been chosen.”
“What? How..what are you talking about? I thought you were leaving this all up to me?” Daylea’s face was squished up an unappealing expression and Dannika could tell this really was a shock to Daylea.
“Well, I mean, I was fine with you doing everything, but then Jocelyn showed me this magazine and it had a wedding in a forest, and the dresses and the hair and the flowers and the guys, were all just, perfect. So I told her to go for it.”
“What? You’re letting Jocelyn plan your wedding now? What about me? I am your sister. Your twin sister, Dannika. You said I could plan the wedding.” Daylea was huffing out the words by this time, and Dannika was afraid she might grow some claws.
“Dude. Chill out. Look, Daylea, you know me. I don’t really care too much about all this stuff, as long as at the end, Bain and I are together forever. I’m really sorry, but I didn’t realize this was so important to you.”
“Of course it’s important to me. You’re my sister and I never in a million years thought someone would marry you, so…” Daylea slammed her hand over her mouth and her eyes were wide.
Dannika stood, glaring at Daylea, and tucked her phone in her pocket. Her heart had sunk to her stomach with Daylea’s words, but she refused to let Daylea get the best of her, whether she meant to or not. “Well, I’m sure Jocelyn could use some help. It’s all been decided.” Dannika picked up one small white lily and smelled it. She kept it as she walked through painted stage curtain doorway.