alexis morgan



Alexis Morgan
© 2024.

alexis morgan

"I'm sorry, but there's no way. We can't possibly pull a wedding together this fast."

Abby closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose trying to ward off a tension headache. She'd already been talking to her mother for a solid twenty minutes now, and the conversation hadn't changed.

All she could do was try again. "Yes, we can, Mom. Like I keep telling you, Tripp and I don't need or even want something fancy—just a simple ceremony while his parents are here. Pastor Jack is available to conduct the service. We already have the rings, and Bridey offered to make the cake. That's another reason we need to do this now. Her due date is only two weeks away, so the clock is ticking."

She paused to catch her breath before continuing. "I've already spoken to Owen, and he's going to cater the event. He'll bring everything in his food truck and set up on site. We've hired a bartender for the evening, and a friend of Tripp's is going to deejay and provide the music. I've been to city hall and reserved a spot at the park right by the river big enough to put up three large pavilions—on for the service, one for the buffet, and the other for the dance floor."

"Just so you know, our fall back plan would be to elope Las Vegas. It would be less expensive, for sure. Tripp has been checking on possible airfares, hotel reservations, and what shows will be in town that we can still get tickets for. I'm pretty sure a week in Las Vegas would be a lot more relaxing."

Then she went for the kill, hoping she sounded more confident than she actually felt. "Actually, you know what, maybe it would be best if we went that route since you don't think having an actually wedding and reception would be feasible. I'll tell Tripp that we should book our flights."

Her mother took the bait. "Now, let's not be so hasty. You wouldn't do that to your family and friends."

"Actually, we would. We don't want to cause everyone a lot of trouble. We'd be just as married whether the ceremony is performed by Pastor Jack or an Elvis impersonator."

The long silence was either a precursor to a total surrender or else a major meltdown. Abby petted Zeke's big head as she waited to find out which it would be.

"So, you want to be married at the park?"

"Yep. We'd like to go for a picnic with friends and family vibe rather than some be formal to-do. Dress can be more casual. I'm going to wear a cocktail dress, not a formal wedding gown. Gage will be Tripp's best man, and he's going to wear a suit, not a tux. Tripp hasn't decided yet if he'll wear a suit, a tux, or his uniform. If Bridey hasn't gone into labor, she'll be my matron of honor."

What about flowers, chairs, and dishes?"

"I hadn't gotten to that far down on my to-do list."

"Are you absolutely sure you want to do this? I don't mean marrying Tripp. It's clear to anyone who sees you two together that it's a real love match. I'm talking about doing this on such short notice."

"Yeah, Mom. I swear this is what we both want. It just feels right."

After one last big sigh, her mother surrendered. "Okay, then. You've already done a lot to get things moving. Let's get a team together and start delegating. You have a lot of friends who are going to want to pitch in and help, and there's no reason the two of you should have to do everything yourselves. Give me Mrs. Blackston's phone number, and the two of us will get started."

Abby smiled. "Thanks, Mom. I was feeling a little overwhelmed."

"You just worry about finding the perfect dress. If we have questions, we'll call."


Tripp rubbed more chalk on the tip of his cue stick as he walked around the pool table twice before stopping to line up his shot. With a quick flick of his wrist, he sent the white ball caroming off his intended target. His opponent cursed as the orange ball dutifully dropped into the corner pocket.

Gage grumbled a bit more. "I swear, you have all the luck."

"Luck had nothing to do with it. You just don't recognize skill when you see it."

His father chimed in. "He's right, Tripp. You were always pretty decent at pool, but you seem to have taken it to a whole new level since the last time we played."

That sent Gage off into gales of laughter. "That's because Abby has been coaching him. She probably got tired of not finding any real competition here in town."

Tripp took another shot before responding. "I won't deny that she and I play pretty often."

Glancing toward his father, he explained, "Abby routinely beats not only me, but also Gage, her biker buddies, and even the owner of this fine establishment. I keep telling her she should turn pro."

His dad looked a bit shocked, but surprisingly it wasn't because his future daughter-in-law had a reputation as a pool hustler. "Seriously, she has biker buddies?"

Tripp nodded as he line up his next shot. "Yep, she does. Just so you know, they want to form a processional to lead her limo to the park when she leaves home for our wedding ceremony. I'm betting she won't have the heart to turn their offer."

Gage snickered. "I'll be surprised if Gil doesn't convince Abby to ride pillion on the back of his bike to the wedding instead of in a limo. He aware she's never been on a motorcycle and keeps inviting her to go for a ride. Knowing her, one of these days she's going to accept. Seriously, Tripp, you need to man up and accept his offer to loan the two of you his bike for an afternoon. Well, if you actually know how to handle a Harley."

He wasn't wrong about Abby. She had trouble saying no to a friend and was likely to accept Gil's offer any time now. "I can handle his bike. I'll set something up the next time I see him."

By that point his father was looking more than a little horrified. "Am I understanding this correctly? How did this biker and Abby come to be friends in the first place?"

This was so not a discussion he wanted to have, but there was no avoiding it now. "Back when my ex-wife was in the crosshairs for a murder charge, Abby did some investigation into what happened on her own. Gil was briefly on her list of suspects. She cleared his name for the murder and told Gage's crew that Gil wasn't the one who started the brawl that broke out one night when we were here at the bar. Since she kept him from spending a night in the slammer, he brought her flowers the next morning to thank her. The bottom line is they've been good friends ever since. In fact, he's the guy I mentioned the other night who partnered with Abby to organize the 5K run at a festival here in town. He and his brother Gary are also both members of the veterans group."

Gage was now staring over toward the door, a big grin on his face. "Hey, look. Here's your chance to talk to Gil, Tripp. He and his brother both just walked in."


Rather than approach them immediately, he made quick work of clearing the table much to Gage's displeasure. Tripp handed off his cue to his father while Gage reset the table. By that point Gil and Gary were within shouting distance. "Hey, guys, can I borrow you a minute?"

Both men were dressed in their usual faded jeans, biker boots, T-shirts, and leather vests. Gil still wore his hair pulled back in a ponytail, but Gary had recently gotten his hair cut short. They waved headed straight for Tripp.

"What's up, Blackston?"

"I want to borrow one of your bikes for an afternoon if the offer is still good."

The biker shot Tripp a wicked grin. "What's the matter, soldier boy? Afraid your woman is going accept my invitation?"

There was no use in denying it. "Yeah, I am. Normally, I wouldn't care, but I've seen you ripping down the roads around here. No way I want her on the back of your Harley when you're trying to set a new land speed record."

Gary cracked up at that. "He's not wrong, Gil. You'd scare the stuffings out of Abby, and we'd never get her back on a bike again."

Gil gave his brother a disgusted look. "Cut it out. You know I'd never do that to her."

Then he turned his attention back to Tripp. "You can borrow the bike anytime. Just give me enough notice so I can get the training wheels installed."

By that point, even his father was laughing. He stepped toward Gil and held out his hand. "Seems Tripp has forgotten his manners since he hasn't bothered to introduce us. I'm Jay Blackston, his father."

Gill shook Jay's hand. "Nice to meet you, sir. We think a lot your son even if he had the bad taste to enlist in the army instead of the navy. On the other hand, his taste in women in impeccable. Abby is pretty terrific. They're a good match."

Tripp struggled to hold back a laugh at the expression on his father's face. Gil wasn't the first person they'd run into here at the bar who had gone out of their way to say something similar about Abby.

His dad gave him a quick glance before responding. "I've only just met Abby, but I think you're right on target about her. And for the record, I was in the army, too. Family tradition and all that."

Gary held out his hand next. "Gotta respect family tradition. Our old man served in the navy during Vietnam and then came home to open a motorcycle repair shop. We lost him a while back, but we keep his memory alive by continuing the family business doing custom bike design and repairs."

It was surprising how easily his father fell into a long conversation with Gary about what kind of bikes they each liked. A few minutes later, he joined the two brothers at a table to continue the discussion over burgers and a beer.

Maybe it meant that at least one of his parents was starting to get why Tripp liked living in Snowberry Creek so much. He hoped so, especially if it helped them accept that this was where he planned to build his life with Abby.

Gage finished setting up the table for another game. "Things settling down between you and your folks?"

Tripp motioned to Gage to take the first shot. "For the most part even if they're understandably disappointed that I'm not moving back to where they live. But now that they've gotten to know Abby and some of my friends, they're not as worried about me as they were. It wasn't easy explaining how hard it was for me to acclimate to civilian life. I don't think they ever realized how much the years I spent in the army changed me. At least now they're making a real effort to get to know the man I am now instead of expecting me to somehow flip a switch and change back into the eighteen year old kid they remember."

There was a world of understanding in Gage's eyes when he met Tripp's gaze. "That's good, because none of your friends here would have been happy to see you move away."

"Especially if I took Abby with me."

His friend laughed as he sent the cue ball careening across the table to send the balls flying every which way. "True enough."