“She’ll be fine. Whatever you do, just don’t treat her any differently than you usually would.”
“Okay. Act normal. Got it. Thanks again for calling us all, Brodie. That must have taken real guts.”
“Let’s hope Sophia sees it that way,” he grinned, and left her to make herself comfortable.
Stretching out her arms, Mrs. Gunner wrapped the tape measure around Sophia’s chest, and Sophia shrivelled in embarrassment as Mrs. Gunner slid the tape tighter and tighter. Although she never said anything about her lack of shape, Sophia decided it was obvious to both of them she was thin as a waif. She wondered how Mrs. Gunner believed she could design a wedding dress that would look remotely feminine when she had the body of a ten-year-old boy. Yet Mrs. Gunner was beaming as she stepped away and eyed Sophia up and down one more time.
“It’s going to be a push. It’s been a long time since I got to design a wedding dress and we have less than a week, but it would be a great honour to create something special for you.”
“We appreciate this is last minute, Mrs. Gunner. That's why there’s no budget. The perfect dress is a huge part of the day and we will more than compensate you for all of your trouble.”
“Trouble? Now, I won’t hear any more talk like that. The dress will be a gift. If us Lani Bay lifers can’t support each other, then I no longer want to be living here.”
Mel said nothing but threw her arms around Mrs. Gunner and broke down in tears.
“Do you have any ideas? Have you given much thought to what styles you like? I’m thinking something A line, big and bold. Does that sound like you?”
Dropping a hand to her hip, Sophia tried to picture herself in a huge sparkling ball gown like the one she would have chosen before.
“Actually, I was thinking of something more fitted. Nothing too huge. I want Brodie to see me and not the dress, if you know what I mean?”
“I know exactly what you mean. Hold on.” Mrs. Gunner scooped up a sketch pad and pencil, getting lost in her own little world for a minute as she put pencil to paper.
“What about something like this?”
When she flipped the pad around, Sophia and her mum were speechless at the sketch she’d thrown together. A corset top and simple A line dress with a lace overlay.
“It’s perfect. I love the idea of lace, but I worry I’ve got nothing to hold up the bodice.”
Mrs. Gunner threw a hand in the air and returned to the sketch pad. “What about if we bring the lace up? We could even add a bolero or some shoulder straps?”
“Yes, I love that. Could you do something off the shoulder? I’ve always loved off shoulder gowns, they remind me of Cinderella.”
“A dress fit for a princess,” Mel chimed in as Mrs. Gunner frantically scribbled away.
“Okay, leave this with me. I think I know exactly what you are hoping for. Come back in a couple of days and I’ll have a basic design for you to try on. If you're happy with it, then I can add the details.”
“This is so sweet of you,” Sophia smiled. Genuine excitement bubbled through her at the thought of what Mrs. Gunner might come up with. She had always been an admirer of creativity. There was something about seeing a design come to life that gave her such a rush. The same way she could throw together the perfect party in her head and have it roll out to plan a few weeks later.
Her mind wandered to work and visions of past events played out in her mind's eye. Her heart ached to be strong enough to be able to get back to doing what she loved. She had never been a jealous person but seeing Mrs. Gunner as excited as she was about getting to work made her long for her old life back. She never thought she’d have a career that she would fall in love with like she had event planning. It was her passion and dream to make her little business a success and, once again, she was reminded of another thing her illness had stolen from her.
“One more question.” Mrs. Gunner barged into her thoughts. “Do you mind a bit of sparkle?”
“Of course! I love a bit of sparkle, just nothing too blingy.”
“Got you,” Mrs. Gunner mumbled, already scribbling away at the design.
They both thanked her again, but she barely paid attention, and they saw themselves out of the outbuilding that she’d converted to a workspace.
Mel dropped Sophia at home and her heart sank when she didn’t see Brodie’s truck on the path. She assumed he must be running late from work, but felt exhausted after her day and had been really looking forward to snuggling up with him.
Mel made no attempts to rush off. “Do you want me to come in and fix you something to eat?” She offered.
“No, I’m good. I’ll be alright. See you tomorrow, Mum, and thanks for today. It was actually more fun than I thought it would be.”
“Good. You deserve to let your hair down once in a while.”