All that Sparkles: The Texan Quartett

By: Claire Boston

Chapter 1




“Imogen, darling, I need you to check through the collection for fashion week.”

Imogen Fontaine suppressed a groan. She did not need this now. Not when she was already running late. The day was turning in to one big did-not-finish and Libby was meeting her to try on her wedding dress in a few short hours.

She turned, pasting a smile on her face. “Why don’t you do it, Jacques? Just this once?”

She didn’t dislike many people, but Jacques was the top of the list of those she did. He had a chip on his shoulder the size of Mount Rushmore. It wasn’t Imogen’s fault her father was determined she should take over the company one day.

Jacques shook his head, tutting. “I don’t have that kind of authority. Only a Fontaine can sign off on the line, and your father is away on business.”

It was days like this she wished her father would trust someone else enough to give them approval rights, but he didn’t think anyone knew his way of doing things like Imogen did.

He was wrong. Jacques was probably a worse stickler for quality than Imogen was, and he lived and breathed Tour de Force just as much as Remy Fontaine, whereas Imogen didn’t always agree with some of her father’s designs.

Imogen sighed. “Where is it?”

“Where it always is, darling. In the finishing hall.”

Imogen accompanied him downstairs to the big ballroom-sized space where all completed garments ended up. She walked through the door and pushed down her anger. All the outfits were enclosed in their garment bags, lined up one after the other on special hooks against the wall. It would take her ages to take everything out of the bags, check it all and put it back in – and Jacques knew it.

“How about you unzip the outfits over there?” she said.

“Oh darling, I would love to, but I must leave early today to watch my daughter’s school ballet concert. Your father has already approved it. Toodles.” With a little wave and a smirk, he left the room.

Imogen wanted to swear, but it would do no good. Instead she walked over to the first garment in the line, unzipped the bag and started her checks.

*

It was several hours before she was finished and she hurried back upstairs to her office, doing her best to avoid running into anyone else. It was almost the end of the day so most people were in go-home mode anyway, but Imogen didn’t want to take the chance. She closed the door behind her and let out a deep breath. She was tired. Tired of snide remarks from people like Jacques and tired of the haute couture outfits her father loved. She wanted to design something real, something stylish, but a little bit different, that the person on the street could afford. It was one of the reasons she’d been so thrilled when Libby had asked her to design her wedding dress.

The thought of Libby’s dress spurred Imogen into action. She had to get home to finish the beading.

She grabbed her purse, shut down her computer and headed home.

*

Imogen parked next to her cottage and got out of the car. Breathing deeply, she inhaled the fragrance of the nearby magnolia blooms and stretched to release some of her tension. She glanced down the path which led to her secret garden. She didn’t have time to go to her tree house, to remember that summer with Christian, but just the thought of it made her smile, made her relax. She headed inside.

In no time at all she found herself sewing the final bead onto the wedding dress and tying off the thread, snipping it close to the knot. She straightened out the gown and got to her feet, slipping the dress onto its hanger, and stood back to get a good look.

It was gorgeous.

The line would subtly define Libby’s small curves and float down to her ankles, turning her into a princess for the day.

She hoped Libby still liked it.

Nerves skittered over her skin. She didn’t normally design wedding dresses, had never done so in fact, but when Libby had described the type of dress she wanted, Imogen had unconsciously sketched it on the paper in front of her. Libby had been blown away by the drawing and Imogen had been so caught up in her friend’s excitement that she’d agreed to make it before she’d considered the consequences.

But really, there was no way she could have refused. When her closest friend, Piper, had introduced her to Libby a few months earlier, they’d become fast friends.

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