"Whose party is this?" his sister shot back, still smiling, her voice artificially sweet. As if she heard every word ringing through his aching head.
"Well..." The girl glanced at Gretchen, who was too quiet for a moment, then at the other girls in the kitchen. What were they doing in the kitchen, anyway? Had they made such a big mess in the living room they had to retreat in here, where he thought he was safe? "Yours."
"Right. So if I want porcelain birds and silver rings and peach candy sticks for the favors, that's what we're having."
"Silver bells and silver-coated almonds and rhinestone-sparkle netting is what's in this year," Gretchen said with a chuckle and a toss of her head.
"What makes you think I care about what's in this year?" Dinah said.
"As your maid of honor--"
"You're not my maid of honor. There is no maid of honor, there is no best man. This is just a party." She raised her hands to her head, and Drake thought for a moment his sister would yank on her hair. Instead she sank down on the stool at the counter next to his. He handed her his coffee and muffled a chuckle when she took a big gulp of it, glaring over the rim at the wedding party.
"But it's your wedding reception," Gretchen said, her voice soft, her expression calm. "A once-in-a-lifetime experience. It has to be perfect. That's what we want for you. Perfection."
Drake thought if she reached out and patted Dinah's head to soothe her, his sister would do something drastic. Like throw that cup of coffee in her face. He didn't know if he wanted to make the sacrifice. He had stayed up nearly until 1a.m., thinking about the Stacy situation and praying hard. He woke up with a headache and fragments of bad dreams that he couldn't wash out of his mind with coffee. A long, hot shower was next. Maybe a couple miles on the indoor track at the BWU student center after that.
"Yes, it's my wedding reception," Dinah said at last, handing the cup back to Drake with a grimace. That was a good sign, he thought. She wasn't so distracted she didn't notice that it had no cream or sugar. "And Troy and I decided we wanted as little formality as possible."
"You have been this way since we were kids." Gretchen chuckled.
Interestingly, the other girls didn't join in with her this time.
"I swear, you have no sense of... of what's required of someone in your level of society. There are certain expectations, certain duties. Tell her, Drake."
"I'm with Di. I've hated all the fuss and feathers -- remember Mrs. B saying that?" Drake nudged Dinah.
"I wish she was here," his sister sighed. "And Stacy."
"While they both had their uses, they certainly don't have any part in this," Gretchen said. Her sweet, reasonable mask had gone brittle. "People need to learn to stay in their proper places."Drake sat up, feeling as if a sliver of a clue had fallen into his hands.