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“I don’t want to get used to it. I don’t want to be on a stage when I eat dinner. Next thing you know, we’ll be given a book of etiquette to study.”

I saw a slight smile on his lips.

“You don’t have that book, do you, Ethan?”

“A little fairy put it on my dresser when I first arrived.”

“I wonder who that was,” I said, and shook my head.

“You weren’t serious about our wedding, were you?” he asked.

“Yes, why?”

“Oh, you don’t want to do that, Semantha. A father gets so much pleasure from making his daughter’s wedding. Your dad surely wants to enjoy it, too, don’t you think?”

“I don’t know,” I said. I hadn’t thought of it from that viewpoint.

“Well, just give it some more thought, okay?”

I nodded, but I had a Cassie thought. Was it really my father he was thinking of, or was he thinking of himself and what an impression he would be making on his family and his friends? I hated having such a thought about him and shook it out as soon as it occurred.

In the days that followed, I didn’t have much time to think about it, anyway. We went to Daddy’s award dinner, which was quite impressive. There were television and newspaper people all over us the whole time. When we returned home, there was too much going on in the house to think about much else.

Lucille apparently had decided to make some significant decorative changes, which included some of the upstairs, but not yet my wing. I learned about it as it happened. What surprised me was how deep some of the changes were. Not only were walls repainted and floors redone, but furniture was replaced. With something else happening every day, it was hard to catch my breath and ask about what had been done.

What shocked me most of all was Daddy’s acquiescence. For all of my life, the furnishings and decor of Heaven-stone had been sacrosanct. Mother had been permitted to make only the smallest of changes compared with what Lucille was doing, which included a total revamping of the kitchen to make it “a first-class gourmet kitchen.” The old furniture was relegated to the attic, which was rapidly becoming the Heaven-stone historic cemetery.

Of course, I complained to Ethan, who told me it was only natural for a woman to want to put her own stamp of identity on her home.

“You would do the same thing,” he said, which put a new thought in my head, especially now that I saw what Lucille was doing and Daddy was letting her do.

“Maybe you’re right. After we’re married, we’ll have our own home. I suppose we should start thinking about it.”

He looked at me strangely. “Our own home? You mean, you’d want to move out of Heaven-stone?”

“It’s not my home now. You just said so. It’s Lucille’s.”

“But it’s so big. Four families could live here without ever seeing each other.”

“Don’t you want your own home, Ethan?”

He thought a moment and nodded. “Yes, you’re right,” he said. “I just never thought you’d want to move.”

“I didn’t until now,” I told him.

We didn’t discuss it again for a while. Instead, the conversation returned to the subject of our wedding. Lucille had suggested some dates. Ethan didn’t come right out and say she was basically deciding when we would get married, but I read between the lines when he talked about his work and what was being planned.

“We can get married here,” I said as a form of compromise, “but I don’t want hundreds of strangers. As I said at dinner when we announced our engagement, let’s just have our families.”

He didn’t argue, but I knew he was discussing it with both Lucille and my father. Finally, Daddy brought it up at dinner one night. When he spoke, Lucille kept her eyes on her plate and pursed her lips and listened.

“We have so many close friends who would like to share in our happiness,” Daddy began. “We don’t have to have a wedding as big as Lucille’s and mine was, but we could have a modest affair.”

“Modest? I’m sure you’ll have trouble cutting down on the list, Daddy. Look how hard it was for you with your own wedding.”

“You just let me worry about that, Semantha.”

Lucille glanced at me and then looked at Daddy. “If it’s really making her that uncomfortable even to think about it, Teddy . . .”