“I can’t do it!” Frances steadied herself against the car.
“You have to.” Beatrice took her hand and gently led her towards the wooden doors.
“No!” Frances’s lip trembled and her eyes filled up. “I can’t. You’ll have to go in there and tell them it’s all off.” She picked up her skirts and took a step back towards to the beribboned car.
Cara blocked her way. “Listen, I’m not going to let you do this. Inside that church, the man you love is waiting patiently. He’s probably wondering what the hell is going on but…” She leapt back, but not quickly enough.
“I’m sorry.” Frances wiped the remaining strands of sick from her chin with a white, lace-edged handkerchief.
“OK, so perhaps it’s best if I don’t follow you down the aisle after all, but I’m still not going to watch you ruin your life. You and Andy were made for each other. You’ve been planning this day for ages. Now take a deep breath, hold Bea’s hand, and get yourself down that aisle.”
“Is there a problem?” The vicar stood in the doorway, a look of concern on her face. “I think there’s a paper bag in the vestry. I’ll be back in a minute.”
Two minutes later she was back with a paper bag and the groom.
“Darling, what’s wrong? Are you OK?” Andy sat on the church steps beside her and wrapped his arms around her. “Whatever it is, we can sort it out.”
The vicar handed the bag over. “Breathe into this. It’ll calm your nerves. I’ll leave you two alone now. Come inside when you’re ready. She went back inside, followed by Beatrice and Cara.
As soon as they were out of earshot, Andy’s fingers tightened on Frances’s arm. “Don’t you dare make a fool of me. Get on your feet, and get yourself down that aisle. Now! And put a smile on your face.”
The congregation fell silent as the organ started up, and then, as the party made their way towards the altar, the whispers began. “So romantic! She was too overwhelmed to walk down the aisle until he went to fetch her. Don’t they look so in love?”
After the vows, Andy kissed his bride and everyone applauded.
Not one of the guests wondered why she had insisted on a high-neckline and long sleeves for a summer wedding.