Authors: Casey McMillin
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the author.
Copyright © 2014
All rights reserved.
Table of Contents
Taylor Soren was trying to make it as an event planner. She worked for one of Nashville's biggest planning firms and could have worked her way up in the company to earn a decent living, but she wasn't content with working for someone else. She wanted her boss' job, and was prepared to do whatever it took.
Technically, she already had her own operation. It was called Taylor Made Events and, in spite of her friends being the only ones to hire her so far, she was optimistic about growing her business. Taylor worked almost full-time at Tri-Star (the other event planning place) and as many hours a week as she could squeeze in at a local coffee shop named Common Grounds. She could afford to quit the coffee shop and only work at Tri-Star, but she loved her customers and co-workers enough to hang on to the job.
She'd only done two event-planning jobs on her own, and both of them had been for a guy named Jason Lane. He was her friend Hannah's boyfriend and also one of the most successful songwriters in country music. Jason probably just hired her as a favor to Hannah, but Taylor had done a great job on his parties, and because of it, she had two other jobs booked already.
Today, however, Taylor was on the clock for Tri-Star. She was in a restaurant on the outskirts of town at a place she'd worked at many times before. It was an old, established steakhouse called Pat's of Middleton that was closed to the public on Sundays, but available for special events. Pat's was a huge country mansion, complete with a massive staircase that led to a beautiful front porch that spanned the length of the restaurant. The woodsy, picturesque setting and rustic charm of the restaurant made it a very popular place for private functions, and Taylor had worked more than a few events there.
Today's function was a wedding reception. The clients had the option to hire out the kitchen staff at Pat's, but they declined in favor of having Tri-Star cater since they were strict vegetarians and were very picky about the origin and preparation of the food. Sure, it was a little comical that vegetarians would have their wedding reception at a steak house, but the charm of the establishment outweighed the philosophical conflict.
The wedding party was scheduled to be there in just over an hour. A woman Taylor really enjoyed working with and had learned a lot from was running the show. Her name was Bonnie, and most of the time Taylor served as her right hand. At the moment, Taylor was on a ladder using a special tool to hang the last few huge, battery-powered paper lanterns from the ceiling. Her roommate, Gina, was working with her and the two of them had been doing the tedious job for the last hour.
Taylor climbed down off her ladder to inspect their handiwork. They'd hung eighty of the glowing globes from the ceiling. There were several sizes, but all of them glowed with the same pale yellow color. They strategically placed the lanterns between strings of white lights that they'd hung first. It was beautiful, just like it was every time they used that technique. As she stared up at them, she could see why so many people chose to use the lanterns and lights. It was every bride's bubbly dream.
"This looks great," Bonnie said, from behind her as she walked into the main dining room where everything was set up. Bonnie had been preoccupied with other things for the last little while, and was surprised at how quickly the lanterns made it up.
"I've hung these things in this room enough times," Taylor said. "I think I could do it in my sleep."
"Seriously," Gina said, "I think we should just leave the hooks in place for the next time we do it." Gina was busy with school, but had worked a few events with Taylor at Pat's since they always happened on Sunday.
Taylor laughed. "I think we're done with the ladders," she said.
Bonnie's expression turned serious as her expert gaze passed over the room. She inspected it carefully. "You can put one of them up, but leave the other one out just in case we're forgetting about something."
"I'll go put the one I was using in the van," Taylor said.
Gina looked at Bonnie. "I think we still have a few napkins to fold. I'll do that so we can start getting them on the tables."
Bonnie smiled and nodded at Gina then looked at Taylor. "Be careful getting that ladder down the steps."
"I carried it up," Taylor said.
"Yeah, but it's harder going down, and it was sprinkling when I was outside just now."
Bonnie was right. Going down the stairs was much trickier than going up. Taylor was relieved by the weather, though. She'd expected to get wet, but it was just really overcast—barely starting to mist. She leaned back, using leverage to balance the cumbersome load as she went down the huge, wooden staircase to the van. Her long, honey-blonde ponytail swayed from side to side as she lumbered along. Taylor set the ladder on the ground before she opened the back doors of the van. Then she picked up the ladder again and slid it along the right side of the nearly empty cargo space.
Thinking it was probably about time to move the van since they were done unloading it, she closed the doors and went inside to ask Bonnie if that was all right. Bonnie thought it was a fine idea, and told Taylor where she could find the keys. Taylor crossed to the chair Bonnie indicated, retrieved the keys and put them into the pocket of her black pants.
"You want me to take that other ladder?" Taylor asked, knowing they were done with it.
Bonnie looked around again. "I guess you can go ahead," she said. Taylor went through the whole process of this descending the stairs, opening the van door, and sliding the ladder into the back next to the other one. She got into the van, having to adjust the seat by about a mile since one of the guys, a tall one, had driven it last.
She exited the circular driveway to a completely different entrance that led to the back of the restaurant. As she pulled up, she noticed Sam, one of the guys with food prep, watching her. He came toward the van with an extremely worried look on his face. He was talking to her before she even opened the van door.
"Warming trays," he said. He repeated the phrase because Taylor had a clueless expression on her face, and he thought she hadn't heard him the first time. "Warming trays," he said.
"I heard you, but what are you asking me? We brought them inside with all the other stuff."
"Are there any more back there?" He gestured to the van she'd just parked.
"How do you know? Are you sure?" He started to walk around the van and Taylor followed him.
looked back there when I put the ladders up. There were only two other things in there—a box with some extra linens and a bolt of tulle."
"Are you sure?" he asked, as he opened the door, letting it fling open in front of them. He breathed a defeated sigh. The contents were exactly as Taylor had described—no warming trays.
"Sam, they're inside. We brought them in with everything else."
He sighed again and ran a hand over his forehead in a frustrated gesture. "We don't have enough. We have enough trays, but not warmers," he said. "I thought the tempeh dish was served cold, but apparently it's not."
Taylor was a problem solver and instantly began to go over their options. "Couldn't we just shift things around? You know, not put so much of each thing out at one time?"
Sam thought about it, but shook his head letting her know the idea wouldn't work. "Bonnie's gonna kill me."
"There's no way for one of us make it to Nashville and back in time, and that's really our only option, so you're gonna have to figure something else out."
Sam closed his eyes, looking like he wanted to crawl into a hole.
"You know what?" Taylor asked. Her voice had an excited edge to it, and Sam's eyes popped open as he waited expectantly for her to continue. "I think the restaurant might have some. I helped the kitchen staff carry some supplies in from the shed one time when the restaurant was catering, and I know they had that stuff in there."
"Can we get in it?" Sam asked.
She could tell he was terrified at the prospect of having to own up to the mistake to Bonnie, and Taylor felt for him. It was a bonehead thing to do, and Bonnie was likely to be upset.
"Let me figure it out," Taylor said.
The owners wouldn't mind loaning them the warmers, but it was a long shot that she'd be able to get in touch with someone who could tell her where to find the key to the storage shed.
"You sure?' Sam asked. "It would be so awesome if you found some."
"I'm on it. Give me ten minutes, and if we need to figure something else out at that point, we can."
Sam cringed at the thought of
figuring something else out
. "I really need to get back in there," he said, gesturing to the kitchen.
"Go. I'll see what I can do."
He looked over his shoulder with a sincere smile and thanked Taylor on his way inside. She glanced in the van one more time before she closed the doors, just in case some magical tray-warmers had appeared.
Taylor decided to go inside and look in a few obvious places before resorting to trying to get in touch with the manager or getting Bonnie involved. She followed Sam into the kitchen entrance and turned as she crossed the threshold to check out the area near the back door.
Sure enough, there were two nails sticking out of the molding. From each of them hung a key and a small, round, paper keychain. The first one she looked at was labeled
. She turned over the second one, hopeful she'd find what she was looking for. The word
was printed on the little tag, and Taylor smiled as she let the key fall into her palm.
Of course, she had to tell Bonnie what she was doing, so she made her way through the kitchen and into the main dining room where she knew she'd find her boss. She passed Sam on her way, and gave him a reassuring smile in exchange for his worried one.
"We're short a few tray warmers and I was hoping we could use a few of the ones they have here," Taylor said as she approached Bonnie, who was standing under the lights in the main dining area. She held up the key, but Bonnie just stared at her with a confused expression.
"Why are we short?"
"I think they thought the tempeh dish was supposed to go out cold."
Bonnie sighed. "Are you serious?" she asked. She looked at Taylor, honestly hoping she would say she was kidding around.
"Yeah, but I know the restaurant has some in storage. I saw them in there." Again, she held up the key as if all their problems had been solved.
Bonnie considered their options for a minute, and realized Taylor presented the only logical choice. The tempeh dish was one of the main things they were serving, and they would really be up a creek without warming trays.
"Go ahead and get 'em, I guess," she said with a shrug. "I'll call Val to let him know we're borrowing them, but I'm sure he won't answer."
"He won't mind," Taylor assured her. She'd worked with the manager before, and liked him very much. She knew he'd be fine with the loan as long as everything was back in its place when they were done.
"Did you get the van moved?"
"Yeah, and there's a whole spool of white tulle back there if you need it."
"I think we're good, but thanks."
"Okay, I'm gonna go get the trays out of the shed and bring them to the kitchen. I'll be back in a few."
"Thanks." Bonnie gave her a genuinely thankful smile for being such a big help, but then turned back to the job of arranging the place settings.
"Cross your fingers that they're in there," Taylor said as she went through the kitchen again. Sam was chopping tomatoes, but stopped long enough to literally cross his fingers and offer a little wishful prayer. She smiled but kept walking through the kitchen to the back door.
The shed was a little ways from the restaurant near a small cluster of trees. It was a cute, little miniature version of the restaurant itself. She caught herself smiling as she walked up to it, thinking it was almost a shame that something so cute was only used for storage.