A RAINBOW IN PARADISE
RAINBOW ROCK ROMANCE SERIES (BOOK 5)
Eden plucked a tissue from the box on the corner dressing table and delicately blotted her forehead, hoping her makeup wasn't running. She glanced at the clock and took a deep breath. It was not yet 10:00 a.m., and already the July sun was turning the high desert into an oven.
Outside, people milled about in the shade of the dooryard sycamores, chatting and laughing while a piano and viola tuned in discordant harmony. Most of the citizens of Rainbow Rock, Arizona—not to mention three generations of McAllisters—were here today, creating a scene of happy chaos.
Eden patted her face with a light dusting of translucent powder, and stood, smoothing her dress. Leaving her room, she walked down the hall and strolled into the master bedroom. “Almost ready?”
Eden exchanged a smile with Alexa, the new bride of Chris’s older brother Kurt, who was tucking a stray lock of Sarah’s lovely red hair into place.
“I’m off, see you gals soon.” Alexa blew them each a kiss on her way out.
Eden sighed as she regarded her best friend. Sarah was glowing and Eden knew everything would be perfect. She already knew Chris was the perfect guy for Sarah, but she’d been a little worried that Sarah might have jitters. Looking at Sarah’s serene face, Eden realized that Sarah had truly let go of the pain from her first marriage and the death of her husband. She was ready to move on.
“Let’s get this show on the road,” Eden said with a smile.
Moments later, the musicians began Pachelbel's Canon in D. The crowd in the front yard, took their seats and a hush descended as the summer air filled with lilting music and magic.
Eden blinked back tears as she clasped Sarah in a warm hug. She’d never seen Sarah look happier, or lovelier. The ivory satin of her simple gown made her warm complexion glow and the wreath of yellow rosebuds and baby's breath gave her the look of a red-haired Celtic queen.
“Check my sash before you go?” Sarah asked.
“Sure. Turn around.” The sash was the one concession Sarah had made to lavishness. Its deep lavender blue matched Eden’s gown. “You’re perfect,” Eden said as she gave the bow a tiny tweak so it puffed out perfectly at the small of Sarah’s back.
Sarah gave her mirrored reflection a critical look. “I hope Chris thinks so.”
“Get real, girl. He worships the air you breathe.”
“Then you’d better get a move on,” Sarah said with a twinkle. “I’ve got a bridegroom waiting.”
“Lucky you!” Eden answered, and she raised a hand in a gentle salute. “True blue,” she said.
“Through and through,” Sarah answered, raising her hand to Eden’s for a high five. They both blinked back tears. Their childhood pledge of friendship had never held more meaning than it did today.
Eden sniffled, flashed another smile at the bride, picked up her bouquet and hurried into the living room. There she paused just long enough to give Wiley Richards, Sarah’s father, a fond kiss on the cheek.
“Hey!” Wiley said, grinning warmly and grabbing for her hand.
“It’s showtime.” Eden made her way to the door leading outside. The musical cue changed to a Mozart concerto which signaled to Eden that the groom's party, including the minister, would be stepping up onto the porch from the other end about now. When the first strains of the “Wedding March” reached Eden’s ears, she began her sedate procession onto the front porch of the McAllister family home, the home that would now be Sarah’s.
Just before she stepped outside, she was struck by an odd sensation, a sense almost of... She hunted for a word, but couldn't think of anything that described the feeling. It was almost as if this happy change in Sarah’s life signaled an important change for herself as well. But how can that be? Chalking it up to borrowed bridal jitters, she stepped out the front door.
* * * * *
“Here they come,” the bridegroom whispered, his voice ripe with anticipation, and Logan turned toward the door. He fidgeted uneasily in the heat, adjusting his tie. For the tenth time in ten minutes, he patted his coat pocket that held the rings. Just to make sure. He’d attended enough of these shindigs to know how things were supposed to go from here, but he still felt uncomfortable in his new role. He’d never been a member of the wedding party before, let alone the best man.
But when Chris asked him, he didn’t hesitate. Chris was the first biligaana, the first non-Navajo, he had ever called friend, and the only one to whom he owed this kind of loyalty. He looked up, expecting to see Chris's bride.
But the woman who came through the door wasn’t the pretty, red-haired veterinarian Chris was going to marry. This woman was a fantasy, a raven-haired confection in lavender blue. Logan started with a shock of... Recognition? How can that be? He’d didn’t know her. He’d barely even caught a glimpse of her when she’d first arrived at the McAllister farm a few hours before. She’d rushed into the house with Alexa, who’d picked her up at the airport, with a wave to Chris, Doc Wiley and himself as she followed Alexa down the hall. He hadn’t truly seen her before, but he saw her now. He hardly saw anything else.
She floated toward him, the lavender fabric of her dress drifting about her like soft blue-violet clouds around the sun. Hair as black as a moonless night tumbled down her back. He was Navajo, so most of the women he knew had black hair, but he'd never seen hair so black on a woman so fair. She looked up at him just then and beamed a welcoming smile.
Blue. As blue as the desert sky in midsummer, as blue as the treasured turquoise. He'd never seen such striking-colored eyes, especially not smiling at him. He shivered. It was the Fourth of July and hot enough to bake cookies on the floorboards, but he shivered when she looked at him. Then, as she neared, he caught her scent—warm and rich, earthy and achingly familiar. Logan swallowed hard and tried not to stare as she walked up beside him and stopped, almost close enough to touch. He longed to reach out and do just that. Instead, he managed a stiff smile, swallowed again, and forced his eyes back to the doorway.
* * * * *
Eden trembled despite the summer heat. Best man. Talk about a perfect title! With the possible exception of the groom and his two handsome brothers, there wasn't a man in all of Rainbow Rock that fit the description better.
He was tall, well over six feet, and powerfully built judging by the breadth of his shoulders in his formal wedding attire. His hair was thick and black, fashionably short but long enough to show a hint of a wave over his broad, high forehead, and his eyes were nearly as black as his hair. Prominent cheekbones, a chiseled profile, and a deeply burnished tone to his complexion testified to his native ancestry.
Sarah had told her Chris’s best man was an attorney for the Navajo Nation. She scrambled her brain to remember his name, but she was having a hard time concentrating with the tall hunk standing so close. Sarah had extolled the man's stellar inner qualities, what a good friend he was to Chris and how he’d come to their rescue two months back during a freak winter storm. Either Sarah had been too love-struck with Chris to notice another man, or she was clearly holding out. Focus, Eden!
She finally remembered his name: Logan Redhorse. Well, Mr. Redhorse you may be a lawyer, but you look like you should be on the cover of GQ Magazine.
Eden risked another glance and found Logan watching her. Those velvet dark eyes stared into hers with such intensity she felt a rush of heat flush her face. She didn’t know what else to do, so she smiled at him. And almost swooned when he smiled back. If he was handsome before, his smile made him look like a movie star. But there was nothing Hollywood-slick about his smile. No, Logan’s smile was genuine and warm and full of promise, almost as if...
Her breath caught in her throat and she blinked. Get hold of yourself, Eden. This is your best friend’s wedding. Stop ogling the best man! She cleared her throat and looked away, fussing with her flowers and hoping her knees would hold out through the entire ceremony. Yet even when she dared sneak a peek at him again, she still had the odd sensation….
Why do I feel like know him? Her knees started to give way, and the reverend caught her elbow. “Are you all right?” he whispered.
Eden gave him a wobbly smile and steadied. “It's the heat,” she whispered.
A moment later the audience stood, and Eden turned her eyes toward the door where Sarah emerged on her father's arm. Sternly, she reminded herself to remember the moment. She was here for Sarah's wedding, after all, not for...
She tried again to identify the odd sensation that floated about her, almost as if it had come to sweep her away. And then a word flashed in her mind: destiny. She repeated the word again in her mind and then tucked it away, as she tried to focus on the couple about to take their vows.
* * * * *
“May I have the rings?” the minister asked.
Logan managed to deliver them both without fumbling or dropping anything. That surprised him. He'd been so busy trying not to gape at the woman beside Sarah, or drown in her sweet fragrance, that he’d almost lost track of where they were in the ceremony. A few minutes before, she’d looked like she was about to stumble and Logan’s first instinct was to reach out and wrap his arms around her, but the minister reached for her arm and steadied her. Logan was thankful and disappointed at the same time. Thankful the minister was quick-thinking enough to help her and disappointed that he couldn’t be the one to come to her rescue.
The minister’s voice brought Logan back to the present. The older man spoke about the symbolism of a circle that has no beginning and no end. Logan knew circles. The People knew circles. Even their traditional homes were built in the pattern of the circle, finding harmony in the shape of the natural world. One day his people would build a ceremonial hogan for him and then there’d be another wedding, a different kind of wedding, an 'iigeh.
With a start, he realized that the time must be coming soon. He was older than his biligaana friend, almost twenty-nine. His father’s friends from various clans had almost given up on introducing their eligible daughters and nieces. Perhaps it was time he gave the matter some thought. He had always known how he would be married—in a new hogan with loomed rugs beneath his feet and a holy man of the People to offer him the sacred blue cornmeal and sprinkle precious pollen over him and his bride. All he didn’t know was when—or who. He had often pictured her, a woman with a tangle of midnight black hair—
He broke the thought, staring wide-eyed at the woman on the other side of the bridal couple. She was incomparably lovely and the black hair fit his image, but she was biligaana—other, alien, not of the People. And yet she looked so... He paused, trying to identify the odd sensation that had been coursing through him since she glided out onto the porch. A vision in lavender blue. And then the word occurred to him. She looked right, so right.
Right? A biligaana woman? He was getting his signals crossed somewhere. He reined in his wayward thoughts long enough to focus on the ceremony as Chris presented a ring to his new bride.