Bunny reached for Bootsy, "Y'all go ahead. I'll put her up and see y'all at the walkway."
Jeb stepped toward Bunny and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Bunny, this is more beautiful than we could have ever imagined. It is exactly what we wanted. Thank you so much."
"Honey, you are more than welcome. Y'all are so special. And, I love to throw a party. Besides, if I couldn't have you, I can't imagine anyone better for you than Kathleen." Bunny laughed. "Now go on before your guests think you are being rude."
With that Kathleen and Jeb turned and walked hand and hand toward the trellis. Guests were starting to wander in. The band had started playing a selection of nice background music. Ike was busy making drinks for guests at the bar. He had sent his assistant out onto the lawn with a large tray of champagne flutes to serve the guests as they arrived.
It took Bunny a while to make it back to the house. Seemed everyone wanted to stop and compliment her on the way everything looked. Finally she got to the house. She did not want to take a chance on her pup getting into any more trouble. Not taking any chances, she took Bootsy upstairs, put her in the master bedroom, and closed the door.
Back out on the lawn, guests were starting to gather in small groups talking and laughing, enjoying the music, the food and drink, and the lovely atmosphere. Wade walked over. "Bunny, I know you are busy being a hostess, but I wanted to tell you that this is one fantastic party."
"I wish I could take credit, but everyone else really did it. I just wanted it to be what Kathleen wanted."
"Well, let me tell you, this reminds me of one of the Butler's grand lawn parties. And, in case you didn't know, that is a compliment."
"Thanks Wade. Yes, they do throw wonderful parties. One of my first dates with Harrison was to a party at the Butlers."
"Can I get you a drink?"
"No, I'm good, but thank you." With that Wade made his way in the direction of the bar.
"Wade," Bunny stopped him. He turned around. "Thank you so much for this morning. That was awfully sweet of you."
"Bunny, I was happy to do it." Wade smiled and turned toward the bar.
"No, no dear. There hasn't been." Lou Ellen laughed. "I did figure out how Bootsy got to the cake."
"Someone left a chair next to the table. It was was just 2 quick hops." She paused. "Oh, honey don't fret over that. I just moved the table so it backs up to the Lady Bankshire Rose that grows along that brick wall. No one can walk behind it now. Then I pulled the cake toward the back of the table."
"I hope that works."
"Oh dear, it will. I've got a plan. After Kathleen and Jeb cut the first piece, I'll take it from there and start cutting more pieces for the guests. It will not be long before it will look like I just cut the pieces from the back of the cake."
Bunny thanked Lou Ellen and moved on, trying to make sure there was no other disaster going on. Mike showed up with a large glass of pink rose wine - her favorite. "You need at least one of these." She took a long sip and thanked him.
"Can you please just relax and enjoy this? If it hasn't been done by now, it's not going to be done. It all looks great to me. Everyone keeps complimenting me. I am quick to tell them I had nothing to do with this."
"I know, only because you were planning our wonderful wedding." Bunny said as she took her third sip of wine. "Look, there is Mama and Pops." Bunny pointed toward Anna Belle and Walter as they walked down the pathway.
"So it is . . . so it is",Mike said slowly as he watched the 2 of them walk toward them in deep conversation. "Well who would have guessed?"
Bunny giggled, "Maybe that's why she has been so nice to me today."
"Bunny, I don't think that's the case at all. She was so excited and sweet. . . , "Mike paused still staring at the pair, "and helpful when I was planning the wedding."
"Of course she was."
Knowing what was going through Bunny's head, Mike said, "She didn't meet Pops until yesterday when I asked her to ride over to the Chateau and see if she thought there was anything else I needed to do."
"Yes, really." Mike laughed. "Of, course once I introduced Pops to her, he did not leave her side. But, seriously, she has been genuinely excited about the wedding."
By this time Pops and Anna Belle had reached Mike and Bunny. Pops gave Bunny a hug. "Bunny, this place is gorgeous. It's been a long time since I've been some place like this." He looked around. Meanwhile, Mike had given Anna Belle a kiss on the cheek and told her how good she looked. "Your mama told me the sad story of how you ended up with Ivy Lane."
"Yes, I had no idea Harrison was going to leave it to me. Neither did his family. His 2 daughters despise me, think I am a redneck gold digger. Heck, the first time he asked me out, I accused Mama of feeling sorry for me and begging Harrison to take me to the Jaycees Auction."
Anna Belle laughed. "And, I had nothing to do with it."
"I was lucky to know Harrison for the few months I did." Bunny put her arm in Mike's, "But, nothing like this guy. I was lucky when I got this sweetie."
Pops laughed,"Well I think it is mutual."
Anna Belle shook her head,"Enough of this. I do have one question, that cake. I have never seen such. Where did it come from?"
"Dixie had it made. Came from some fancy French cake place in New Orleans. Bernard baked it."
Pops laughed, "You mean Beŕnerd at La Petit Maison de Délice."
Anna Belle added, "I've only seen one of his cakes. It was several years ago at the Bonapartes' daughter's wedding. That cake was as fancy but not as big as this one."
Anna Belle looked back at Bunny, "Please tell me Dixie is not here tonight. She was in pretty bad shape this afternoon."
Bunny smiled, "No, 'Mr.' Harrell took her home and put her to bed. Seems she had a hissy fit when she learned that Kathleen planned her own wedding and reception."
"Can you blame her?" Anna Belle said and looked at Pops who had a very inquisitive look on his face. "Trust me, there is a story there. I'll share it later."
"I wait with bated breath." Everyone laughed. "OK, while I wait, I'm going to get a drink, anyone else need one?"
Mike said yes and he would go with Pops to get a beer and another glass of wine for Bunny. Pops was getting champagne for Anna Belle a Scotch and soda for himself. That left Bunny with Anna Belle.
"Sweetheart, I know I have not always been the easiest mother. And no doubt you married Buck just to get away from me."
"Yes - twice."
"And, I've always had great plans for you."
"But, Mama, you had l great plans and low expectations."
"Can we just put all that behind us?"
"Of course we can. I just wish I was as pretty and __ as you are."
"Oh, honey you don't want to be like me."
Bunny laughed,"Well, not exactly like you."
"I guess I have been an embarrassment."
"Not really." Having had just enough to drink, Bunny added, "After all, you are just carrying on the family tradition." Referring to their ancestor's infamous Idella Arnell's House of Pleasures for the Lonely Man. Both ladies were laughing when the men returned.
Pops handed Anna Belle her glass of champagne. "I'm wise enough to know better to ask what you 2 were talking about."
Bunny, taking a heavy sip of her second glass of wine, laughed, "Just family traditions."
Mike shook his head. Changing the subject, Mike looked at Pops and Anna Belle, "I just want to thank both of you again for helping with the wedding."
"Mike, you know I would do anything for you." Looking at Bunny, "And, I am just smitten with the new Mrs. Pace."
Pops looked at Anna Belle, "Besides, I had no idea that there would be another dividend," Walter said with a big smile looking at Anna Belle.
The tender moment was interrupted with a loud scream that sounded like "the cake". But Bunny knew that was both her imagination and her continuing nightmare. Everyone turned in the direction of the scream