“It’s not all right with me,” her grandfather said. “You’re all crazy.”

Marco straightened. “You know what, Pop? Get over it. You’ve been ruling this family with an iron fist ever since your father died. I remember when I was little, I would hear you talking to Mama about him. How he controlled things. How he was a bully. You hated him as much as you loved him, yet you turned out exactly like him.”

The room went silent. Katie raised her head and looked at her grandfather. He paled, then sat heavily in his seat.

“That’s not true,” he murmured. “My father was a hard, cruel man.”

Grandma Tessa reached for her husband’s hand. “Lorenzo, you’re a good father. A good husband.”

In a matter of seconds he seemed to age twenty years. Katie’s throat got tight as she watched his skin turn gray. His broad shoulders seemed to shrink.

“You all stand against me,” he whispered.

“Pop, it’s not that dramatic,” her father said.

Brenna sniffed. “Yeah, Grandpa. We all really love you, but sometimes you’re a giant pain in the ass.”

Brenna slapped her hand over her mouth. Katie sucked in a breath. Grandma Tessa reached for her rosary. Grandpa Lorenzo turned his attention to Brenna, and the life returned to his face in the form of blotchy red color.

“What did you say?”

She cleared her throat. “You can be a real pain in the ass.”

Katie braced herself for the tirade, but instead she heard an odd sound. Almost a choking. She blinked. Her grandfather’s mouth was open. He was…laughing.


She and Brenna looked at each other, then at him.

“Pop?” Marco asked cautiously.

Grandpa Lorenzo slapped the table. “I wish I’d told my father that,” he said, still chuckling. “Fine. I’m a pain in the ass, but I’m still in charge of this family. You, Mia.”

She jumped. “Yes, Grandpa?”

“No more engagements until you’re sure. And maybe older.”

She swallowed. “Okay.”



“Stop calling me names.”

“Katie’s right. It’s time to stop throwing people out of the family.”

He frowned. “It’s one of the few pleasures I have in my old age.”

“Get a hobby.”

He grinned and held open his arms. Brenna flew toward him and they embraced. Katie swallowed, knowing she would be next. She felt a little like Dorothy, about to face the great and all powerful Oz.

Sure enough, her grandfather released Brenna and turned his attention on Katie. “What have you to say for yourself?”

Everyone else was being brave, so she supposed she would have to suck it up as well.

“That you better get over being mad at Zach because I’m in love with him.”

It had been an hour for announcements and stunned silences, she thought as everyone stared at her.

She shrugged. “It’s true. I don’t know how he feels about me, but as soon as we’re done here, I’m going to go find him and ask. If there’s a chance for us, I want to take it.”

“You love him?” the old man bellowed.

She nodded. “Completely.”

“She hears bells,” Brenna offered helpfully.

“That bastardo. That-”

“Amazingly nice guy you’re thrilled to have in the family.”

Katie gasped and spun around when she heard Zach’s voice. He stood in the doorway to the dining room, casually leaning against the door frame. She couldn’t believe it. Oh, God! How much had he heard?

Brenna recovered first and asked the question for her. “How long have you been standing there?”

“A while. I got halfway to my car when I realized I didn’t want to walk away. Not this time.” He straightened and started toward Katie. “You stood up for me.”

She swallowed and nodded. He’d heard everything? Even her declaration of her feelings? And he hadn’t bolted for Montana?

She was hopeful, embarrassed, excited, and terrified.

His blue eyes darkened with an emotion she couldn’t read. “You told your whole family that you loved me.”

She nodded again.

“Don’t you think you should have told me first?”

She bit her lower lip. “I was going to call you on your cell phone as soon as we were finished here.”

He touched her cheek. “I had this big plan when I met you, Katie Marcelli. I was going to use you for my own purposes.”

“I know.”

“I wasn’t even subtle about it.”

“You’re not subtle about many things.”

“You weren’t what I expected.”

She felt some of her confidence returning. “Because I didn’t cave to your demands? Because I stood up to you?”

“That and because you tricked me.”

“What? When?”

“When you made me fall in love with you. I don’t believe in relationships, remember? I don’t believe in happily ever after or forever, or even the next morning.”

Her throat got all tight, but in a good way. She started shaking. “Zach…”

“But I believe in us. You and me.” He smiled. “Do you really hear bells when we’re together?”

“Yes,” she whispered.

“I’m not a knight on a white horse. I’m a hard-assed lawyer. Cynical, stubborn, set in my ways.” His expression softened. “But I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

Katie threw herself at him. Zach caught her and pulled her close. “I love you, too,” she whispered, just before his lips claimed hers.

“This is romantic,” Brenna said as she picked up one of the invitations. “You know, we could still use these. We could just scratch out David’s and Mia’s names and put in Zach’s and Katie’s.”

Just then a tall, pregnant woman walked into the room. “Hi, everyone. What did I miss?”

Brenna stared at her twin and shook her head. “What is wrong with you?”

Francesca held up her hands. “What? I was working.”

“This is not about your studies. This is a sickness. You need a twelve-step program.”

“I’m ignoring you.” Francesca looked at Katie and Zach. “They’re kissing.”

“They’re getting married,” Brenna said.

“Wow. That’s great. What happened?”

“Dad found out they’d had sex and threatened Zach with a machete.”

“You’re lying.” Francesca grabbed a couple of grapes from the fruit salad. “Katie, I’m really happy for you.”

Katie, still lost in Zach’s kiss, waved at her sister.

Brenna grinned at her twin. “You know what this means, don’t you? Another dress to bead.”

Francesca patted her stomach. “Not in my delicate condition.”


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