Luke and Rachel are now married. But what about their family? And what about Ivy and Joshua?
Today we welcome Linda Carroll-Bradd, author of The Ring That Binds. The Ring That Binds is a heartwarming, delightful historical romance that has made its way to the Amazon western romance bestseller list and remained there—for good reason. If you enjoy reading American-set historicals, rich with flavor and period details, as well as emotion, you’ll enjoy Mikel and Celina’s story about a widow and mother, struggling to pay off her deceased husband’s debt, and the man who recognizes what a good woman she is, and yearns to make her his wife.
Today Linda has generously donated a $10 Amazon gift certificate to be given away. To enter, visit http://www.prismbookgroup.com/TheRingThatBinds.html, read Linda’s excerpt, and email email@example.com with the name of Celina’s young daughter.
Congrats to yesterday’s winner, Syndey, who will receive a free eBook copy of The Christmas Answer.
For those of you who are just joining us, A Blizzard Wedding is a continuation—and the grand finale—of After the Storm and Lightning Strikes. You can read the first two segments of A Blizzard Wedding right here on our blog.
If you haven’t read Lightning Strikes or After the Storm yet, download them for FREE on our website. They are also available through most of the popular eBook retailers.
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A Blizzard Wedding
Segment # 8 By Linda Carroll-Bradd
“What?” Deloris Harmon wailed. “Don’t tell me I missed my precious little girl’s wedding.”
With a gasp, Rachel turned toward the doorway and her eyes widened upon seeing the bedraggled group of loved ones. “Oh, Mama, you’re here. And Aunt Mabel.”
Ivy breathed out a sigh of relief. At least, they were all safe…if a bit late.
Fingers swiping at the tears, Deloris hurried into the room and held out her arms. “Let me look at you. Sweetie, you’re gorgeous.”
“Dad, Mom, you made it too.” Luke stepped away from Rachel and waved a hand at his family. “Come join us.”
“Can’t remember when I’ve seen so much snow.” The tall Ashton patriarch strode forward and shook his son’s hand. “Had to bribe the taxi van driver at the train station to follow the snowplow up the mountain.”
“Taxi? Maybe I can catch it.” Pastor Stevens stepped close. “I’ve got responsibilities at the church. Best wishes on your marriage, Mr. Ashton.” He shook Luke’s hand and dashed from the room.
The next several minutes were a buzz of activity as introductions were made and the women clustered around Rachel.
Joshua slid behind Ivy, his fingers grazing her elbow. “Can I talk to you?”
Ivy jumped at the warm tickle of fingers and glanced over her shoulder. “What?”
Blue eyes gleaming, he jerked his head twice in a come here gesture.
Her gaze flicked between her cousin, surrounded by chattering family members, and the best man. Curious at what he wanted, Ivy followed him to the rock fireplace that blazed with a colorful fire and whispered, “Okay, talk.”
“Let’s do the wedding ceremony again.” A wide smile accompanied his words.
Ivy’s automatic resistance to his bossiness kicked in. “Why?”
His brows wrinkled and he held out a hand toward the group. “So their families can be a part of the big day. I am a minister so I know the routine.”
“That’s not what Rachel wants.” Ivy bit off the words then leaned close. “Besides, there’s the reception…” She’d checked and re-rechecked the arrangements less than thirty minutes earlier and she wanted Rachel to see a perfect wedding buffet.
Joshua clasped her hand and squeezed. “Ivy, a short delay won’t matter. Think of how much the family members will appreciate this.”
At his touch, her fingers warmed and her stance relaxed. Of course, he was right. And Rachel would love the idea of repeating her vows. What new bride wouldn’t? She smiled and turned. “Hey, listen up everyone. Joshua has a great idea.”
Ten minutes later, Ivy stood next to her cousin, waiting outside the rustic double doors. “Everything’s set with the food, and I grabbed one of the servers to act as official photographer. I loaned her my digital camera and told her to snap everything.”
“Ivy, you’ve been great.” Rachel smiled and blinked rapidly. “Thank you so much for all your help. I can’t believe I’m redoing my wedding. And I get to say my own vows.”
“Yeah, isn’t Joshua’s idea wonderful?”
Ivy’s lips pursed together. “Um, wonderful.”
From behind the door came the sound of guitar twangs and a baritone voice singing, “Enter, rejoice and come in.”
Rachel nudged Ivy’s side. “That’s your cue.”
Ivy took a deep breath, opened the double doors and walked toward the center of the room in a slow cadence, matching Joshua’s repeated refrain. All in the small gathering rose from their folding chairs and turned, their gazes landing on Ivy for just a moment, then flicking back to watch Rachel’s approach. Deloris and Mabel dabbed at their eyes with white hankies. Gil and Clara Ashton and Luke’s younger brother, Paul, stood straight and tall.
From the side came the flash and click of a camera.
Joshua’s blue-eyed gaze locked with hers and held.
Ivy’s cheeks heated and she scooted to the left in front of the ring of chairs.
The last guitar strum faded and Joshua set the instrument on a chair then stepped next to the waiting couple. “To honor the importance of family witnessing such an event, the wedding ceremony for Luke and Rachel is being repeated. The official wording has been said, but I’m encouraging them to speak from the heart. In the spirit of love and grace, Rachel will start.”
Rachel passed Ivy her bouquet and turned to clasp Luke’s hands. “We met in a summer storm and we’re marrying in a winter one. Rather than viewing those events as deterrents, I believe our relationship has been tested by the elements—and come out stronger.”
Ivy heard the wobble in her cousin’s voice and silently urged her to be strong.
“Luke, you are a sweet, kind and loving man who I look forward to spending my life with. I promise to love you with all my heart and soul for the rest of my days.” The last words were only quiet whispers.
Luke leaned forward and kissed her cheek before he spoke. “Rachel, you and I have faced more than most couples when they stand together and profess their love. A deranged co-worker, me questioned by police in murder case, you hospitalized after the stalker attacked. Through the adversities, which we can now add a car accident and another hospital stay to that list…” He lifted his casted wrist for all to see.
Several chuckles sounded.
“Through the trials, we supported each other, as we will throughout our lives together. Rachel, I love your determination, your curiosity, and your soft heart where animals are concerned. I too promise to love you with all my heart and soul for the rest of my days.” Luke reached into his jacket pocket, pulled out the diamond ring and gently slipped it on his wife’s finger. After a gentle marriage kiss, he nodded at Joshua.
Holding his hands palm up, Joshua swept his gaze over the group. “In the spirit of love and grace, I ask that those witnessing these vows affirm their intent to support this couple.”
Ivy’s throat thickened as she spoke. That was a sweet addition. Her own experience may have been a disaster, but she’d do everything she could to support her dear cousin’s marriage.
“Luke and Rachel Ashton, I add my blessing to your union. Now, turn and greet your families as a married couple.”
Everyone crushed forward with congratulatory hugs, handshakes and back slaps. Ivy set the wedding bouquet on the nearest chair and dashed out of the room for one last check of the buffet. Once she was sure the kitchen staff was ready, she returned to the doorway. “Rachel and Luke, please lead your guests to the reception.” She stepped to one side but kept pace, needing to see Rachel’s reaction. As the amazement widened Rachel’s eyes and slackened her jaw, Ivy couldn’t deny the pride she felt in what she’d accomplished.
Miniature twinkling lights swagged between the overhead chandelier of the lodge’s bar and the room’s four corners. On a half-dozen scattered tables, red tapered candles rose from heart-shaped holders flecked with red and pink foil confetti. Vases of red and pink roses decorated the ends of the massive wooden bar and the buffet table. The three-tiered cake decorated with tiny pink fondant roses with a bold red heart silhouetting the bride and groom figurines on top stole the show.
Rachel gasped and swung around to clinch Ivy in a tight hug. “I love it. You did great, cousin.”
Blinking her eyes, Ivy squeezed her best friend’s back. “You deserve only the best. Be happy.”
Thirty minutes later, Ivy sat at a back table and nibbled at her last chocolate-covered strawberry. For just a few moments, she’d needed some space from the others. After hearing the gushing comments and congratulations voiced all around about how Joshua’s plan saved the wedding, she had to admit they were right. The resourceful, ex-soldier turned minister was a generous and caring man. A bit bossy, but she knew that trait well enough from her own personality.
Joshua slipped into the chair next to hers. “Well, it’s over.”
“Everyone seems to love the food.”
Typical man—thinking of his stomach. “So, I see.”
He reached inside his jacket and pulled out a red envelope then slid it across the tablecloth. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Ivy.” With a fluid movement, he stood and reached for her champagne fluke. “Can I get you a refill?”
Fingers caressing the thick paper, she swallowed against a dry throat and nodded. “Sure, thanks, Joshua.” Her gaze followed his confident stride as he crossed the room.
The pinch in Ivy’s chest told her that glass of champagne wouldn’t be the last thing he’d be bringing her in the future.
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And don’t forget to check out The Ring That Binds by Linds Carroll-Bradd!
Widow Celina Innes, a dress shop owner in the small 1886 mining town of Aspen, Colorado, struggles to run her shop and live down her late husband’s bad choices for the sake of her four-year old daughter, Keena. She made the mistake of following after one man’s dream of striking it rich and has sworn not to do it again. Co-owner of Toussaint’s General Store, Mikel, watches this proud woman run a successful business but wishes he could make her life a little easier. He has to be contented by slipping treats to the child in hopes of pleasing her mama. When illness strikes the child, Celina turns to Mikel for help and they work together all night to get past the crisis, deepening their friendship. But when the crisis is over, Mikel disappears from Aspen and Celina learns he is seeking to increase his stores. How could she have been so wrong about the man? Can a woman sworn to put down roots and a man looking for more riches find happiness?