Operation Elopement went as follows:
- Brandon and Carson would drive to Lucky Palms Thursday night. They would scout out the chapel that Stella had found online. If there was something wrong with it, then it would be up to the guys to find another one from the list of back-ups that Stella gave them.
- Sarah and Stella would drive up Friday afternoon once Sarah finishes her shift at the hospital. Any last minute details can be finalized once the girls arrive.
- Saturday is the BIG DAY!!
- They all drive back Sunday morning, just in time for the weekly family dinner where they announce that they are already Mr. & Mrs. Crowe.
Stella put all of her energy into Operation Elopement. She was on a mission, determined to still have the wedding of her dreams. She searched online for hours until she found a chapel that was quick and cheap, but didn’t look it. She booked the rooms at the Camelot Hotel and Casino. She and Sarah even went to a dress shop two towns over to ensure that they wouldn’t be recognized.
“As promised, no giant bows,” Stella commented on the dress that she found for Sarah. Stella watched her best friend admire herself with approval in the mirror. Sarah exampled herself from every angle while Stella was pleased with her decision.
“Now, let me see the dress that you picked out for yourself!” Sarah emphasized the importance for Stella to be able to pick out her own dress.
(Did you actually think that I would show you Stella’s wedding dress already?! Just like Brandon you are going to have to wait!)
“I’ll see you tomorrow in Lucky Palms,” Stella and Brandon said their goodbyes outside their home Thursday night. “I don’t know how I will be able to sleep without you tonight.”
“It will only be for a few nights,” Brandon held Stella close, “then we will have the rest of our lives to spend together.”
“Won’t you get sick of me by then?” Stella teased.
“Never.” Brandon kissed his wife-to-be before he got into this car with Carson.
The next day, right on track with the mission’s timeline, Stella heard a knock on her door. For a moment she was worried that it might be one of her aunts. How would she distract them without anyone getting suspicious? But come to think of it, Aunt April, Aunt May, and Aunt June have been surprisingly distant. So have Cindy and Ryan. Stella couldn’t recall the last time that she had spoken to her family, which was not like them.
A strange ominous feeling fell over Stella as she tried to come up with a reason why her parents or aunts have not called in almost a week. Are they all busy with wedding plans; plans that Stella was no part of? Or was there something else?
The knocks, louder this time, brought Stella back to the present. She was determined to ask whoever was at her door why they had not called or texted her. Then get them to leave. But Stella didn’t have to worry after all.
“You are here early,” Stella greeted Sarah at the door. “I thought that you had to work until noon.”
“It was a slow day,” Sarah helped Stella get all of her bags into the car. “so they let me go early.”
Sarah was impressed with herself at how well she was able to lie. Of course she didn’t want to lie to her best friend, but after all Sarah did have a very good reason for doing so. She knew that she couldn’t tell Stella about the errand she had to run for a friend.
The trek to Lucky Palms is almost 6 hours of driving through dry, hot desert. Lucky of them, Sarah and Stella drove in style in a rented 2017 Porsche convertible. Sarah brought plenty of snacks and created the prefect Getting Married play list.
They were listening to Bruno Mars when Sarah handed Stella her phone. “Why don’t you text the guys to let them know that we are about 30 minutes away?”
“Well, well, well,” the Cheshire Cat grin on Stella’s face spread from ear to ear. “I see that Carson is in your Contacts.”
A few seconds later Stella got a text back saying that the guys were about to grab some dinner, but will wait for the girls.
“So,” Stella’s smile could have been seen from space. “how many times have you and Carson gone out?”
Sarah has never been one to blush, but at the mention of Carson she could feel her cheeks turn a slight shade of red. “We have only been out once. All I am going to say is that he is the perfect gentleman. I have never been out with a guy who opens every door for me.”
“You two make such a cute couple.” Stella gushed. “I am going to start calling you two Sarson!”
“Only if I can now refer to you and Brandon as Brella!”
Stella teased her best friend, but it was all in fun. She was so happy that her two closest friends found the same happiness that she felt for Brandon.
Dinner was at a quant little bistro, or at least as quant as Lucky Palms could be. The four of them sat outside with their table over looking the small river than ran through the city.
“We were able to book the chapel without a problem,” Brandon recapped the day.
“I also did everything that I needed to do before I left Twinbrook,” Sarah gave a slight wink in Brandon’s direction.
He nodded his head to signal that he understood what she meant. All the while Stella was busy wrapping her spaghetti around her fork; completely oblivious to what was going on.
After dinner the girls decided to retire early, exhausted from the long drive into the city. Brandon and Carson carried the bags up to the girls’ room, and said their goodbyes.
Stella couldn’t sleep a wink that night. She was too excited. In less than 24 hours she would be Mrs. Crowe. She would be standing next to the man of her dreams, her soul mate, her better half, ready to start their lives together. Happily Ever After!
She played with her ring in bed and fantasized about the rest of her life as Mrs. Crowe. She and Brandon had been talking about their future a lot lately. They both decided that they want at least 2 children. Stella would love to have a few pets as well, but Brandon wasn’t 100% sold on that idea.
Eventually Stella fell into a blissful sleep.
Sarah had the entire day planned, down to the smallest detail. But she also had a few surprises hidden up her sleeve. The first one being Stella’s favorite breakfast, fruit parfait, served in their room.
“Right after breakfast we have an appointment at the spa for some much needed pampering.” Sarah informed Stella of the day’s schedule. “And after the ceremony you and Brandon will be staying in the Honeymoon Suite.“
“Vis vis all too mus.” Stella tried to talk, unsuccessfully, with a mouth full of delicious fruit.
Sarah booked two of the most luxurious packages that the Silver Swallow Day Spa had to offer. Sarah and Stella were treated to deep tissue massages, facials, and mani/pedi’s. Last but not least, no trip to the spa would be complete without a relaxing turn in a sauna. There is no better stress reducer than girl talk while relaxing in a tub of mud.
“So, where did Carson take you on your date?” Stella couldn’t wait to get all of the details.
Sarah tried to act cool, and not her hopes up too high. Sarah had just gotten out of a bad relationship, and didn’t think that she was ready to start dating again, but already she could tell that Carson was different. Sarah’s cheeks began to blush, and it wasn’t because of the heat from the sauna. “Our first date was dinner and a movie. But enough about me. What about you? Where did Brandon take you on your first date?“
“We went to Hollowlog Springs Park,” Stella reminisced. “Brandon tried so hard to hide the fact that he was miserable, but obviously he didn’t do a good job at it.”
Sarah’s phone buzzed as they were leaving the spa. “The guys are already at the chapel. We can go back to the room, grab our things, and head over to the chapel.”
The Littlest Wedding Chapel of Lucky Palms was a typical wedding chapel on the outside. In contrast, everything inside of the chapel just screamed Lucky Palms. The lights looked like rolling dice, there was a giant spade on the doors, and there were at least two slot machines in every corner. At least the place didn’t smell of cigarette smoke.
The nice old lady at the receptionist’s desk showed the girls to their dressing room, which was also decked out in the casino theme.
“You look amazing,” Sarah, the one who is usually so even tempered, found it hard to keep the tears inside. “I am so happy for you. And for Brandon.”
Stella examined herself in the mirror. Sarah styled Stella’s hair like a professional. Her designer dress was beautiful, it looked like it was made specifically for her. And the tiara made Stella feel like a princess. Stella looked like she had just stepped out of a bridal magazine. On top of it all, she was about to marry the man of her dreams.
Yet, something felt off.
“I am having second thoughts here,” Stella confessed.
Sarah grabbed Stella by the shoulders. She would have shook some sense into her best friend, but Sarah didn’t want to ruin Stella’s hair and make-up. “Stella, I have been lucky to have had the opportunity to spend time with you and Brandon. And I can tell by the way that he looks at you, that there is no one in this world that will love you half as much as Brandon does. And I also know that…”
“It’s not that at all,” Stella interrupted, “I am not having second thoughts about Brandon. I love him more than anything. I am having second thoughts about eloping.”
Stella plopped herself on the sofa to help hold back the tears as she sadly said, “I wish my family was here.”
There are a few side notes for this chapter:
The song that Sarah and Stella were listening to was Marry You by Bruno Mars.
More importantly though, a thank you goes to Lila Remonn. Not only is she the author of The Kingston Legacy, but she also created the bridal shop that I used for this chapter. Which you can find HERE on her site the simperius curse.