“No, we built a dream.”

My second experience wedding dress shopping was a complete one eighty of my first shopping trip. My mother and I flew to Dallas, just the two of us. We spent two nights and three days shopping, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. The first wedding boutique we stopped at was amazing and ended up being the place I found my dress. When they offered me a glass of champagne, I politely declined. With a raised brow, my mother looked at me, the glass, and then down to my stomach. Then she smiled.

Grammy knew I was pregnant, too. They’d called it from that first day in the kitchen when the cookies nearly sent me over the edge. I loved that they both respected the fact that Rip and I wanted this to ourselves. It felt like so much of our relationship, even before it existed, was on everyone’s radar. These two secrets were ours to cherish. The baby and the marriage.

After I tried on five dresses, the one appeared in front of me. I didn’t even have to try it on; I knew this was it. The bridal consultant, Virginia, held the dress up and I was stunned into silence. My mother grabbed my hand. She felt it, too.

Two thin straps held up the gown. The bodice was all lace with peek-a-boo lace on the sides. The neckline plunged low and I smiled thinking about how my already growing breasts would fill it nicely.

“How about this one?” Virginia asked.

“Yes!” my mother and I both said at the same time.

Virginia chuckled and motioned for me to back into the small suite. After I shimmied out of one dress and into the other, I had my back to the mirror. There was only one in the room, and as tempted as I was to look, I waited.

When I walked into the large room, my mother kept her back toward me.

“Mom? What are you doing?”

“Have you seen it yet?” she asked.

“No,” I replied with a giggle.

“Let’s look at the same time.”

Virginia shrugged, and we walked up onto the platform, my back facing the mirrors. “On three, ladies. One. Two. Three.”

While Virginia held the dress, I turned. Mom and I gasped at the same time.

It. Was. Perfect. The lace on the bodice trickled down into a white tulle fabric over satin. Beautiful lace designs edged the bottom of the tulle skirt. It wasn’t too tight, yet was tight enough to hug my shape.

Tears pricked at the back of my eyes and I blinked. Virginia leaned in and said, “Stop fighting them.”

I did, and tears quickly rolled down my face. My eyes caught my mother’s, and she was fighting back her own tears.

“Oh, Chloe Cat.” Her voice cracked. “You look beautiful.”

Pressing my lips together, I tried to calm my rapid heart. The baby was probably wondering what in the heck I was doing. I placed my hand over my lower stomach and a sob slipped free.

Full. On. Pregnancy. Crying.

After I cried my heart out, I stood in front of the mirrors and beamed with happiness. “I love it.”

“I do too, sweetheart. It was made for you.”

“When would you need it by?”

“Today,” I said, watching Virginia smile. “Well, it fits you like a glove. You might need to take the waist in a bit. When is the wedding?”

“Two weeks, and I’m pretty positive I won’t need to take it in.”

My gaze caught my mother’s. She quickly dabbed at the corners of her eyes.

“Oh well, then. Let’s get this off and get it run under the steamer and then you, my dear, have your dress.”

Three hours later, Mom and I were sitting in my hotel room eating room service ice cream. Mom hadn’t mentioned the baby, and truth be told, I was dying to talk to her about it.

“Mom?”

“Yes?” she asked, looking over at me while spooning vanilla ice cream into her mouth. She wanted chocolate, but I had been having a good two days of no morning sickness, so she opted for vanilla.

“What was it like being pregnant?”

She stared at me for the briefest moment, then smiled. It was as if a memory flashed by and something about it hurt her. “It was amazing. Beautiful. I loved being pregnant with Gage. He gave me a bit of hell in the beginning, like what you’re going through, but not nearly as bad.”

I smiled. “How did you and Grammy know?”

She shrugged. “Call it mother’s intuition.”

I chewed on my lip. “Were you afraid?”

Drawing in a deep breath, she exhaled and set her ice cream down.

“Very much so, at first. Chloe, your daddy and I never told you something. We were pregnant before you.”

My mouth dropped open and I stared. Even though my mom, the one sitting across from me, wasn’t my biological mother, I had no idea she and my father had a baby before me. I knew they had dated in high school. They reminded me a lot of Rip and myself. Maybe they had a great love at one point, and something had driven them apart, only for fate to bring them back together.

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