Walking into Fran’s Coffee every morning was something she would never get tired of. The city life was nothing in comparison to Fran’s Coffee, the warm, inviting atmosphere a person felt once they walked through the wooden screen door and into Fran’s.

September was the perfect time of the year for pumpkin spice and nutmeg everything. Fall seemed to last forever in Maple Glen, but Autumn wouldn’t complain. In fact, it could last year round and she would be more than fine with it. 

“Good mornin’, sunshine,” Fran called out from behind the counter. The woman never failed to greet her customers, no matter how busy she was. “You’re just in time.”

Autumn glanced in the direction Fran nodded. Their booth was packed. Emmalee, Clayton’s girlfriend, along with Cara and a face she didn’t recognize, were laughing over coffee.

Smiling back at Fran, she said, “Perfect, thank you!” 

Walking toward the booth, she tried to figure out who the new girl was in the group. She had met just about everyone in Maple Glen—small town that it was—and couldn’t recall the mention of someone joining their morning girl talk over coffee.

“Hey, Autumn,” Cara called out, waving her over quickly. “I want you to meet Rylee.”

Autumn held out her hand as Cara slid out of the way and Rylee stood from her spot. “It’s nice to finally meet you,” Autumn said, finally putting two and two together. They’d talked several times over the phone, but until now Rylee hadn’t been able to make it to a face-to-face meeting.

“Likewise,” Rylee said, her blue eyes shining in the morning sun squeezing through the blinds next to their booth. 

“Cayden and Rylee made it to town late last night,” Cara explained, and Rylee pointed to her skin underneath her eyes. “I didn’t sleep much, if you can’t tell from the bags I’m wearin’,” she said, laughing as she held up her coffee. “I’ll need plenty of this until I get used to the time zone.”

“No worries,” Autumn said, waving it off like it wasn’t uncommon. It had taken her a few days to adjust. Sure, feeling tired all the time wasn’t pleasant, but it hadn’t lasted long. “I could’ve passed as an extra in a zombie movie when I first moved here from Minnesota.”

The others laughed before sitting back down in their spots. Autumn couldn’t help but think they’d need a bigger booth before too long—especially if they invited more girls to join them for coffee. 

“Cayden swears I don’t look too bad, but I made sure he knew that it’s time for him to get his eyes checked,” Rylee said, chuckling and taking a drink from her cup. “I mean, I appreciate him being so kind and all, but come on… I could definitely pass for the bride of Frankenstein for Pete’s sake.”

Cara nearly spit her coffee out of her mouth, hurrying to put her cup down and grabbing a handful of napkins to cover up the leaks. “That’s freaking hilarious! But, seriously, you don’t look that bad.”

Rylee shook her head and silently rolled her eyes in disagreement. “Now you sound just like your brother.”

Cara shrugged and said, “Maybe it’s a Mitchell thing?”

“Definitely is,” Emmalee chimed in. “Clayton tells me a hundred times a day that I look good. No matter how crappy I think I look, it doesn’t matter.”

Autumn couldn’t help feeling a pang of envy as the girls shared their stories about the loves of their lives. She was happy for them, but at the same time, she would give anything to have that kind of happiness to brag about, too. 

“So, tell me,” Rylee said, looking across the table at Autumn with a friendly smile. “Is there anyone in Maple Glen that has caught your eye yet?”

Autumn’s eyes widened. She had only just met Rylee. Well, technically, they’d talked over the phone for the last couple of weeks, but that had been strictly business. Nothing personal except when she asked for Rylee’s dress size. 

“Sorry,” Rylee said, hiding behind her coffee before saying, “I shouldn’t have asked—”

Autumn smiled, shaking her head and said, “No, it’s fine. This is girl talk, right? That’s what we’re here to talk about, isn’t it?”

Cara reached over and gave her hand a squeeze before looking at Rylee and saying, “Autumn has her eyes on someone alright, but he’s a bit too… what would you say he is, Autumn?”

Autumn shook her head with a quick shrug. She didn’t want to discuss Cara’s brother right now. There were a million other things she could think of to talk about, and Charlie wasn’t one of them. 

“Ahh, the suspense is killing me,” Rylee said. She glanced at Emmalee and asked, “Do you know who it is? Am I the only one who doesn’t know?”

For just arriving in Maple Glen, and this being her first girl talk over coffee with them, Rylee was fitting right in. Maybe just a bit too well. “Shh,” Autumn said, pressing a finger to her lips. “Don’t let Fran hear—”

“Hear what?” Fran said, moseying her way toward the booth. 

Autumn eyed Cara and the other two, silently begging them to keep their mouths shut. “Nothing,” she said, a bit too quickly, which made it obvious she was hiding something from the Matchmaking Queen of Maple Glen. She’d heard stories about Fran, and she knew better than to put the woman’s abilities to the test. “We were just talking about Rylee and Cayden’s wedding.”

Fran slowly nodded, giving her a knowing look. Busted. “I see,” she said. Then turning her attention to Rylee, she asked, “When’s the big day?”

“October tenth,” Rylee said, an ear-to-ear smile on her face. “It’s actually the anniversary of when we first met.”

“Isn’t that just the sweetest,” Fran said, making room to sit next to Emmalee before sliding in. “To be honest, I didn’t know Cayden had it in him.”
Cara laughed, and Autumn couldn’t help but think about another Mitchell and wonder if he had it in him, too, or if he just couldn’t care less about the whole L word. “You girls better get busy plannin’, then,” Fran said, interrupting Autumn’s thoughts. “Time flies when you’re havin’ fun, ya know?”

Rylee smiled at Fran and said, “We’re on it.”

Another round of shared laughter, a few more drinks of coffee, and they were on to the next topic. “How are you likin’ the bed and breakfast?” Fran asked, scooting out of her spot and stretching beside the booth. 

“Actually, we like it,” Rylee said, a dreamy look on her face as her thoughts trailed. “A lot.”

“That’s good to hear,” Fran said. Turning to look at Cara, she said,  “Last I heard, Catie was plannin’ to fix it up here soon?”

Autumn sat silent as Fran and Cara discussed Catie’s plans with the bed and breakfast. She hadn’t been here long enough to know much about the happenings and goings-on around town. Which was mostly because she liked to stay to herself and focus on her business. She’d never been one to follow along with the latest gossip or the town’s events, especially since she had spent the majority of her life living in the city. In the city, no one had time to talk about anything other than the weather and how jammed the traffic had been on the way to work. 

She sure didn’t miss living in Minneapolis. 

“Anyway, I better get back to work,” Fran said, rapping her knuckles on the table before turning to leave them to their own conversation. “I’ve got a newbie comin’ in here soon, and he’ll be learnin’ the ropes around here. I wouldn’t want him to catch me slackin’.”

The girls laughed as they watched Fran make her way back to the counter. She grabbed the coffee pot and headed back to their table. “I figured I’d give y’all a refill. I wouldn’t want you to continue coffee talk without the coffee.”

“Thanks, Fran,” they said in unison. 

Emmalee’s phone vibrated against the tabletop, causing it to do a little jig before she grabbed it. Swiping the screen, she answered the call and waved as she headed out the door. 

“Must be Clayton,” Cara said, watching as Emmalee walked past the wide-open window in front of the coffee shop. “He must be missing her. He’s such a big baby.”

Autumn had met Clayton not long after moving to town with Cara. They’d made it a point to eat lunch at the deli so she could get a taste of Maple Glen and all that it offered. The smoked ham sandwich she’d eaten had become her favorite aside from tacos. 

“When do you think he’ll pop the question?” Rylee asked, once again fitting right in with the rest of them and wondering who’d be next. Autumn couldn’t wait for her turn, but then again, she didn’t want a turn if she couldn’t have who she wanted. “We should place bets on it.”

Cara laughed as she reached for her coffee, and Autumn nodded along. It sounded fun. Heck, at the rate things were going, Clayton could pop the question anytime—maybe even tomorrow. 

“Grab a piece of paper,” Rylee said, excitedly pointing at Autumn’s planner. “Let’s do this.”

Autumn flipped to the back of her planner and grabbed a pen from her bag. “Okay,” she said, scribbling their names down. “Rylee, what’s your guess?”

Autumn glanced up at her, waiting for her to come up with an answer as she tapped a finger against her chin. “Hmm… they’ve been together for… what?” She looked to Cara for the answer, but quickly shrugged it off and said, “Oh, it doesn’t matter. My guess is two weeks and a day from today.”

Autumn couldn’t help quirking a brow in her direction. “What?” Rylee asked, looking between Cara and Autumn. “I don’t think that’s too soon, do you?”

Cara shrugged and shook her head. Taking a quick drink of coffee, she set the cup back down in front of her and said, “I’ll say…”

Autumn tapped the pen against the paper and studied Cara. Of course her best friend had to think about it forever before coming up with something. “Any day now, Care.”

“Sorry, I just know my brother, and I think it’ll happen at Cayden and Ry’s wedding,” she said, almost too matter-of-fact with a wide smile on her face. 

Rylee’s jaw dropped. “You really think he’d do that?”

Cara offered another shrug, and Autumn knew what she was thinking. There was no way to know for sure, but the chances were high, and it was a definite possibility. Autumn immediately started thinking of the perfect proposal. 

She wouldn’t want it to happen at another couple’s wedding, that’s for sure, but to each their own. 

“Okay, so October tenth,” Autumn said, scribbling the date next to Cara’s name. 

“Now you,” Rylee said, grabbing the pen and paper, preparing to write down Autumn’s guess. The trouble was, Autumn didn’t know Clayton that well. She would more than likely lose the bet on that fact alone. But, not wanting to spoil the fun, she said, “I say by the end of this weekend.”

“This weekend?” Rylee asked. Once again her jaw dropped open, and she looked at Cara like Autumn was crazy for saying it out loud. “Are you thinking, like, Saturday or Sunday?”

Autumn thought about it for a minute before saying, “Saturday night.”

“How much are we allowed to bet?” Rylee asked, handing the paper and pen back to Autumn. 

“Let’s keep it simple,” Cara said, reaching into her pocket and tossing a five-dollar bill in the center of the table. “Deal?”

“Deal,” Rylee said, matching Cara’s money with her own. Autumn followed suit and laughed. Fifteen dollars wasn’t a lot of money, but then again, anything was better than nothing. That money could buy her a lot of coffee or a few ham sandwiches. 

Cara smiled and nodded, snapping her fingers. “That’s it.”

“What?” Rylee and Autumn asked in unison. 

“Autumn’s going to win,” Cara said matter-of-factly. 

“Why’s that?” Rylee asked, raising a brow in Autumn’s direction, who offered a subtle shrug. Aside from just taking a wild guess, Autumn had no idea when it would happen. 

“This weekend is the town’s fall festival.”

“Wait, what? Why haven’t I heard anything about it?” Rylee asked, looking to Cara for answers. 

Cara shrugged. “Maybe because you’ve got your mind on other things instead?”

“True, but still,” Rylee said, tipping back her coffee and finishing it off before heading to the counter for a refill. 

Autumn leaned forward onto her elbows and asked, “Do you really think Clayton will ask Emmalee this weekend?”

Cara offered a subtle shrug with a hint of a smile. “I don’t know, but I’ll make sure to keep my camera close by just in case. I’m all about catching the Kodak moments.”

“Perfect!” Autumn said, wondering what she had planned for the weekend and coming up short after glancing down at her planner. Aside from weddings, her life was a snooze fest. Thanks to Cara, every once in awhile when she wasn’t busy with Vince, they would go shopping and spend the day together, eating ice cream cones and talking about how great life was. 

Rylee came back to the table, sliding in across from Autumn and Cara. Autumn opened her planner and grabbed a pen, preparing to jot down some much-needed information regarding Rylee’s wedding plans. 

“Okay, so before we run out of time,” Autumn said, clearing her throat. “Have you thought about what colors you would like to have in your wedding?”

Rylee looked from Autumn to Cara and back to Autumn. Autumn had seen the same look more times than she cared to admit. Most brides-to-be were clueless when it came to actually getting things ready for their wedding and choosing things, like wedding colors, for instance. 

“Is it horrible to admit that I have no idea?” Rylee asked, panic crossing her face as she waited for them to answer her. “I guess I’ve put it off for so long, thinkin’ I still had time to figure it all out, but now—”

“I told you,” Cara said, letting Rylee know just how she felt but patting her hand to lessen the sting. “But it’s okay. You have us now.”

“Thankfully,” Rylee mumbled, breathing a sigh of relief as she glanced over at Autumn. “Have you done a lot of weddings at the last minute before?”

Autumn couldn’t help but laugh. Cayden and Rylee’s wedding was far from being at the last minute. Sure, it probably felt that way to Rylee at the moment, what with everything piling up and her realizing there was still so much to figure out and to get done… but as far as last minute? Not even close. 

“I’ve planned quite a few, actually,” Autumn said, offering a smile before taking a drink of her coffee. If she was going to get anywhere with this wedding, she would need a constant flow of coffee. Rylee, thankfully, was nicer than the last bride she worked with on such short notice, so at least that was on her side, along with some extra time. “And we have plenty of time to plan yours. We just need to get busy with the tiny details so I can focus on the larger, more time-sensitive ones.”

Rylee nodded and grabbed her phone, typing something on her keypad. “Okay, got it.”

Rylee flipped her phone in their direction, showing them that she made a note to choose the colors. “I’ll search through some images later with Cayden and see if he’ll help me pick some out. I’m sure together we can narrow it down to a few and get back to you guys tomorrow?”

“Sounds good,” Autumn said, jotting a note in her planner to meet Rylee again tomorrow. “What time?”

Rylee glanced between Cara and Autumn and shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m fine with whatever you guys decide.”

“How about—” 

“Actually, can we meet at the same time we did this morning?” Rylee asked, taking a drink of her coffee and holding it up. “I kind of like this whole coffee time with the girls thing you guys have goin’ on here.”

“Perfect,” Autumn said, marking down eight a.m. in the planner next to the little note she’d jotted down just a minute ago. “Gotcha down.”

Rylee looked down at her phone, sent a message to someone, and slid out from her side of the booth. “Well, it’s been fun, girls, but I’ve gotta run. See you tomorrow, then?”

Autumn and Cara nodded, then held up their coffee cups and said, “Yep,” at the same time.

Rylee smiled and said goodbye, making sure to wave to Fran on her way out the door. Autumn was more than happy that Rylee was friendly and easy to get along with. It would make planning her wedding that much easier. 

She didn’t have time or the patience for bridezillas. And hopefully, since moving to Maple Glen, they were a thing of the past. So far, so good. Things were finally falling into place for their business, and planning a Mitchell wedding would be twice the fun. She just couldn’t wait to plan Cara’s. 

The thought of planning her best friend’s wedding had crossed her mind several times throughout the years of their friendship. And once Cara met Vince, there was no doubt she would have a future wedding to plan. 

She couldn’t help wondering if Cara thought the same about her. If Cara wondered if Autumn would ever find the one and fall head over heels in love. 

Autumn silently chuckled at the thought of finding a love like those in the Hallmark movies, knowing the chances of its existence were slim to none. Especially here in a small town. 

“Do you want to grab lunch after a bit?” Cara asked, pulling Autumn out of her distracting thoughts. “I’m going to help Fran clean up and head to my next photog appointment, but if you want, I’m all about grabbing some food afterward.”

“Sure, that sounds great.”

Autumn gathered her things, stacking them in a neat pile before shoving them inside her bag. She would head back to her place and look over her notes from the previous weddings in order to get an idea for what she wanted to do for Cayden and Rylee’s. She also had a list of venues and catering services to look into before tomorrow morning. 

Waving goodbye to Cara and Fran, she walked out the door and headed in the direction of her apartment. The same apartment that she had once shared with Cara. But it had become hers shortly after moving to town because Vince asked Cara to move in with him—a question they hadn’t thought he would’ve asked in place of another, more expected question for two lovebirds wanting to spend the rest of their lives together. 

©2019 by Author Christina Butrum.