Chapter One

"Here, let's try it this way." Louise tucked the icing bag into the base of the cake and gave it a squeeze. She selected a silk flower and carefully positioned it into the new icing well. "There, now it looks more balanced."

"Niña is not going to like it that you are messing with her cake after she's already given it her approval," Julia said, as she took away the remaining flowers and stored them away in a cupboard. "It's all very exact, you know. The flowers, the music, the colors, the cake…"

"Niña is not going to know unless someone tells her now, is she?" Louise said as she disassembled the icing bag. She put her arm around Julia's shoulder conspiratorially. "Well, is she?"

"Is who going to know what? I know nothing," Julia said, turning her head away and holding her hands up in guarded fashion, à la Sergeant Schultz. The thick Ecuadorian accent of her homeland masked the intended German accent she tried to mimic, however, creating a comic effect that made Louise laugh.

Ellie joined them in the kitchen of Julia's home. "What don't you know?"

"Well, there may be one or two things I don't know," laughed Julia. "But to answer your question, so that I'm not the only co-conspirator, our sister-in-law here added a row of flowers to Niña's cake."

"Ummmm," Ellie sang. "You could be in big trouble. But then, of course, there would have to be witnesses, polygraph tests..." The attorney winked at Julia and Louise and sat on the breakfast barstool.

"…maybe a blood test or two, DNA. Besides, who will know the difference? I doubt that even Niña will notice." Louise carefully slid the cake tier into place in the refrigerator, with the other three tiers that would make up the centerpiece of the wedding celebration table.

"Boy, what started out to be such a simple wedding cake is now this complicated creation of flowers and crystals and pearls," Louise said as she assessed the cluster of cake layers in the refrigerator, as well as the boxes and associated paraphernalia on the dining room table. "I mean, it's beautiful, Julia, for sure. But for all the time and artistry you put into it, it should be preserved and exhibited at a gallery downtown, for pity's sake."

"Nothing about this wedding is simple," Ellie said. "Tonight's rehearsal is even complicated. Did you read your instructions?"

Ellie reached over for the intricately folded paper on the breakfast bar. "Look at this, 'Maria Marta & Jacob'. Niña even has fancy instructions for the wedding party," she laughed.

The ease with which they worked and talked came from the fact that the three women were members of the Sisters-in-Law Club - or what they surreptitiously referred to as SILK. Married to three of the four brothers of the Martinez clan, these were unique women: they looked different, they had different careers, they came from different childhoods. But through the machinations of Cupid, they had one bond: they were members of a large extended family whose name was as common in northern New Mexico as Jones or Smith would be in Texas. For weddings like this one, the Martinez and Chavez families converged to reveal the even more intricate tapestry of the region's multi-generational families.

The SILK bond was a strong bond, a bond that provided each with the sanity to see a Martinez family gathering through to the end. It was a bond that allowed them to laugh or commiserate on their own when they were ignored or relegated to a hidden corner as the rest of the family shared childhood stories. It was a bond that brought them together at every Martinez family gathering, and for SILK meetings every month.
"So are you ready for the wedding, Ms. Madrina?" Ellie asked Louise, whom Niña selected to be her Matron of Honor.
"Oh, yeah," Louise replied. "I haven't had to do anything. Niña took care of all the details. I just have to show up…"
"And follow the rules," Julia interrupted, waving the sheet of instructions.