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Accidental Bride

By´╝ÜNoelle Adams

One




Kelly Beaufort stared down at her mostly packed suitcase—lying opened on the bed—and wished she had something sexier to wear.

For her entire life, sexy had never been a word applied to Kelly, either by herself or by anyone else. But still… She was going to Las Vegas for the wild, spontaneous wedding of two of her friends, and she’d liked to wear something appropriate for the occasion.

Only she didn’t have anything wild or hot or even particularly nice in her entire wardrobe, which was mostly made up of jeans, tees, and sweatshirts.

“What about this one?” her sister Deanna asked. She was rooting around in Kelly’s closet and now stuck out one arm, displaying a rose-colored sheathe dress. Both of Kelly’s sisters had come over this evening. They’d been planning a sisters-night of movies and chocolate, but after the Vegas wedding was announced, they’d decided to instead help Kelly pack for the trip.

“That’s a bridesmaid’s dress,” Kelly said, straightening her glasses and staring back down at her case.

“I know that.” Deanna sounded a little impatient. She was a practical, efficient sort of person, and she didn’t like dilly-dallying about routine tasks like packing for a trip. “You think I don’t remember Rose’s wedding?”

“You looked beautiful in that dress,” Rose added, wiping the dust off the one pair of heels Kelly owned.

“But it looks like a bridesmaid dress.” Kelly frowned over at the dress. She’d felt very pretty in it, for a spring wedding in the garden, but it wasn’t at all right for a weekend in Vegas.

“It does, kind of,” Rose admitted, setting down the shoes and heaving herself up. She was six months pregnant, and so she was curvier than ever beneath her light tunic top. “I wish we had time to go buy you something new.”

“I don’t need anything new.”

“But you never get anything new.” Deanna had hung the dress back up and emerged from the closet, evidently having resigned herself to the depleted state of Kelly’s wardrobe. “We’ve spent a fortune on this old house. We should have made sure you had a little money to spend on yourself.”

“I don’t need a lot of clothes.” It was true. It had been true when they’d all been teetering on the edge of poverty, because their old-fashioned grandmother wouldn’t give up the family’s shambles of a historical house in Savannah, Georgia. It was still true, even though both of Kelly’s sisters had married wealthy men over the last year and a half.

Kelly didn’t do anything but go to classes at a local college and work around this house, helping out her grandmother, since she was the only sister who still lived in the old Beaufort house. She had friends, of course, but they weren’t the kind that did anything but hang out, watch movies, and eat pizza, so she never needed to dress up. She had a few church dresses and the bridesmaid dress, and otherwise she wore nothing but casual clothes.

Growing up, she’d always been a tomboy, and once she’d gotten old enough, she’d realized it was wiser not to look too pretty or else her grandmother would be trying to marry her off. She wasn’t really interested in her appearance like a lot of women, anyway. She was twenty-one, but she’d never dated at all. She’d never met a guy who’d made her want to put herself out there. She’d much rather hang out with her best friend, Peter.

Her sisters were the pretty ones. Their grandmother, who had raised them all for most of Kelly’s life, had focused all her energy on getting the older girls married off to men who could restore the family fortunes. She’d never tried to marry Kelly off, and Kelly understood why.

It wasn’t just because she’d made a point of never looking too pretty. It was also because she had no “social graces”—a term her grandmother still used. She wasn’t born for marrying a rich man. She was born for staying at home and taking care of the house, taking care of her grandmother.

She’d never minded her position at all. In fact, she’d made sure she was never part of her grandmother’s manipulations. But, for the first time, staring at her old buff-colored heels, she wished she was a little bit prettier, a little bit sexier.

A little bit something.

Deanna apparently read something on Kelly’s face. She ran out the bedroom door, saying, “I’ll be right back.”

Rose shook her head and gave Kelly a little smile. “I wish I could still run like that.” She rubbed her hands over her rounded belly.

Deanna was twenty-eight—beautiful, tiny, and curvy. Rose was twenty-six—slightly taller, slightly curvier, and just as pretty. Kelly, at twenty-one, was the tallest of the sisters, and she wasn’t curvy at all.

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