‘THEY’RE never going to believe us.’ Taking Aiden’s hand, Tabitha stepped out of the car, her mouth literally dropping open as she watched the guests milling on the steps of the grand old Melbourne church like a parade of shimmering peacocks.
‘Why ever not?’ Aiden didn’t look remotely fazed, waving cheerfully to a couple of familiar faces in the crowd.
‘They’re never going to believe us,’ Tabitha repeated, after taking a deep steadying breath, ‘because I don’t look like a society wife.’
‘Thank God,’ Aiden muttered. ‘Anyway, you’re not a society wife; you’re merely pretending to be my girlfriend. So if it’s any consolation, you’re allowed to have sex appeal. They’ll think you’re my last wild fling before I finally settle down.’
‘They’ll see through it straight away,’ Tabitha argued, refusing to believe it could all be so simple. ‘I’m a dancer, Aiden, not an actress. Why on earth did I agree to this?’
‘You had no choice,’ Aiden reminded her, before she could bolt back into the car. They started to walk, albeit slowly, towards the gathering throng. ‘I played the part of your devoted fiancé at your school reunion in return for you accompanying me to my cousin’s wedding. Simple.’
‘No,’ Tabitha said, pulling Aiden’s hand so he had to slow down. ‘Simple would be telling your family that you’re gay. It’s the twenty-first century, for heaven’s sake; it’s not a crime any more!’
‘Try telling that to my father. Honestly, Tabitha, it’s better this way, and don’t worry for a second about not looking the part—you look fabulous.’
‘Courtesy of your credit card,’ Tabitha scolded. ‘You shouldn’t have spent all that money, Aiden.’
‘Cheap at half the price; anyway, I wouldn’t dream of throwing you into the snake pit that is my family without a designer frock and shoes. Oh, come on, Tabitha, enjoy yourself. You love a good wedding!’
After slipping into the pew and idly scanning the Order of Service, Tabitha let her jade eyes work the congregation, and though it galled her to admit it she had never been more grateful for the small fortune that had been spent on her outfit. What had seemed appropriate for the multitude of weddings she had attended this year definitely wouldn’t have done today.
Her dress had been a true find, the flimsy chiffon fabric a near perfect match for her Titian hair, which she wore today pinned back from her face but cascading around her shoulders. Her lips and nails were painted a vibrant coral that matched her impossibly high strappy sandals and beaded bag perfectly, and Tabitha felt a million dollars. It was a colour scheme Tabitha would normally never even have considered, with her long red curls and pale skin, yet for once the gushing sales assistant hadn’t been lying: it all went beautifully.
The guests that packed the church seemed to ooze money and style—for the most part, at least. But there were more than a couple of garish fashion mistakes to giggle over that even Tabitha recognised—born, she assumed, from a bottomless wallet and an utter disregard for taste. Aiden took great delight in pointing out each and every one, rather too loudly.
An incredibly tall woman with the widest hat imaginable chose to sit directly in front of Tabitha, which ruined any hope of a decent view of the proceedings. But even with Aiden’s and Tabitha’s combined critical eyes there wasn’t even a hint of a fashion faux pas in sight on this ravishing creature. Height obviously didn’t bother this woman either, judging by the razor-sharp stilettos strapped to her slender feet. Oh, well, Tabitha shrugged, it must be nice to have so much confidence.