i've never been to vermont, but writing this story made me reeeally want to go. and get married there ;) this is probably my favourite set i’ve made in a long time.

“If you play six hours of Tupac, I’m going to jump out of the car.”

Jake looked over at me, raising his eyebrows. “If you whine about music for six hours, I’m going to push you out.”

I stuck my bottom lip out, folding my arms across my chest. “You’re a dictator when it comes to this car.”

“Shut up,” he said, shaking his head. “Look, we’re driving through New England in Fall... it’s pretty. Appreciate the leaves.”

“I’ll give you leaves,” I grumbled.

In the backseat, Ash barked.

“See, look, even Ash is sick of you,” Jake grinned, reaching over to lean his hand on my thigh. 

“I’m going to marry you, and then I’m going to kill you.”

We were finally driving to Vermont for our trip to scope out wedding venues, but the drive was long and tedious. We’d already had to stop twice for Ash to get out, and we were only halfway there. Eventually I fell asleep to the sounds of east coast rap, waking up when Jake pulled into the driveway of my parents’ old house.

“Home, Daz,” he said, squeezing my leg. 

I had a sudden burst of energy as I jumped out of the car, running up the stairs to the white plantation-style house. Ash followed on my heels, pushing his way past me once I’d opened the door and running down the hall happily. Bridget was meeting us tomorrow, so we had the whole night to ourselves, which naturally meant that we got takeout and ate it on the couch, ignoring the huge wooden family dining tables and perfect dinner sets.

Bridget had been hard at work, picking out a few places for us to tour, and she’d ended up with nine reservations. Which meant we had two and a half days of hard wedding business all across the state. 

“Eat up,” I told Jake, grinning. “You’re going to need your energy tomorrow.”

“What, for cake tasting and looking at gardens?”

I rolled my eyes, finishing off my dinner. 

“Well, Miss Coppola,” Jake said, “you’re going to need your energy tonight.”

“Hmm?”

“Haven’t you ever wanted to do it on the rug in front of the fireplace?”

I looked over at the little fire that we’d only just started, and shrugged. “Yeah, but I’m not too keen on the rug burn.”

“I’ll make sure you don’t even notice it.”

----------------------------------------------------

I checked my hair one last time and ran downstairs, meeting Jake and Ash at the front door. As soon as Jake saw my outfit, he laughed.

“What?”

“You’ve gone full Vermont, Daria.”

I looked down at my jeans, riding boots, and striped shirt. “Whatever. I’m from here.”

Jake just smiled, and we made our way to the town centre to meet Bridget at a cafe for breakfast. Over poached eggs, she handed us maps and itineraries for the next few days, as well as full wedding booklets for all the places we were visiting.

“Shi.t, you don’t mess around,” Jake murmured, flipping through the stack of information.

She grinned. “I do my job. Today’s an easy day, though. We’re only going a few miles east of here to Stowe to check out three resorts. Tomorrow I’ve scheduled four appointments down south, but I think those might be your favourite places, so it won’t be too bad.”

“What do we actually have to do?” I asked.

Bridget shrugged. “Walk around, talk to the managers, meet the chefs if you need to, see the rooms. Some of the places have organised things for you because you’re potential VIP clients, and they’d do anything to get your business.”

Jake looked happy with that.

“I have something else to ask you,” she continued. “I’m starting up a wedding planning blog, and I wanted to know if it was alright to mention you guys on it. Not by name, I’ll give you a pseudonym... and I’ll never write anything negative. I just want to write about the crazy things that happen in this business, and you have the biggest budget out of all my clients, so it’ll be really interesting.”

“Sure,” I nodded. “I mean, as long as people don’t know it’s us you’re talking about...”

“I’ll call you The Vermonters. And don’t worry, I won’t give away anything personal.”

After our briefing breakfast, we headed out to Stowe, our first stop being a big mountain resort. I wasn’t impressed – I mean, it would be beautiful in winter, but not for a fall wedding – but they let us ride the ski lift up the mountain to look around the area.

“I don’t want to get married here,” I said to Jake, my arm around his waist as we stood at the top of the mountain. “It’s not right for the season. And there’s too many people around who are gonna try and get all up in our business.”

“I don’t want to, either,” he agreed. We descended the mountain and told Bridget no; she crossed it off the list, and we took a short trip to a nearby lodge, our next destination. On arrival, they presented us with glasses of local wine, and invited us to walk through the kitchen before looking outside. It was more appropriate than the large resort, but the ballroom was boring, and options were limited in terms of where to have the ceremony.

Bridget asked if she should shortlist it, and I shook my head.

“Our last one today is Topnotch,” she said as we got back in the car.

“Topnotch?” I asked, raising my eyebrows.

“Yep, it’s an award-winning place – ”

“I’m not getting married in a place called Topnotch, it’s so tacky.”

Jake looked over at me, frowning. “You haven’t even seen it.”

“Still tacky.”

I ate my words a little when we finally arrived – the place was stunning. There was a gorgeous Catholic church that I wouldn’t hesitate to say I Do in and beautiful reception areas with full mountain views. The accommodation was as good as the outside, and they even had dog beds, dog treats, and dog massages. 

“Should I shortlist it?” Bridget asked, grinning.

“Can you get them to change their name?”

She shook her head.

“Fine. I will never forgive you for making me fall in love with a place called Topnotch.”

“I’m not finished yet,” she said, smiling again. “They’ve offered you guys a carriage ride around the grounds, and you can explore on foot after that.”

“Shut up.”

She pointed out the window, where a horse-drawn carriage was waiting. I squealed as I ran outside, followed by Jake and Ash, who both got in the carriage with me – though Ash wasn’t too sure that he liked the horses. We were given champagne and taken around the grounds, the driver giving us a guided tour.

“Damn this place for being so pretty,” I sighed.

Jake grinned. “Would you say it’s... top notch?”

“I can’t believe I agreed to marry you.”

[comment with ‘topnotch’ if you read?]
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