by Anita Mae Draper
Tiny pins pressed into Emma's heart, numbing her better than any acupuncturist could. Jenny’s hesitance at becoming her maid of honor, Thad’s reluctance of driving her to the airport, it all fell into place. Emma had known he was suffering from a broken heart when she met him, but he’d never breathed a name and over the years, she’d forgotten, safe in a cocoon of his attention and growing love. And he did love her. She was sure of it. With the grace born of a long line of Southern gentility Emma forced a smile on her face. “Well, I’m glad that’s out in the open. Did you check any baggage, sis?”
During the tense drive to the Gothic Cathedral for the wedding rehearsal, Emma kept up a steady flow of conversation. She ignored Thad’s stiffness and Jenny’s reticence and chattered on about everything from Jenny’s job in China to her peaches and cream bouquet.
The rehearsal went off with perfect precision, just as Emma had expected. Jenny and Thad kept a respectful distance apart and Emma believed no one saw anything amiss.
Laughing, teasing, slaps on the back, Thad seemed to relax during the rehearsal supper. They toasted their future happiness with non-alcoholic wine. Emma blushed at the required innuendoes of married life, hung on to Thad and smiled up at his face. But when silverware clinked against the glasses, Thad fended them off saying it was only allowed during the wedding meal itself. She laughed in response, and elbowed his ribs to the delight of their guests.
Yet something was missing. Not once did Thad look her in the eye. And other than ask if everything was ready, Jenny flitted from one relative to another.
Of course everything was ready. Right down to the twenty-four little mints in each peach-colored tulle bag tied with a cream gossamer ribbon which would greet the guests as they sat down to dinner.
At nine o’clock, Thad’s groomsmen began to push him toward the door.
“Wait!” She rushed after them.
The best man turned. “He’s ours tonight, Emma. You can have what’s left of him tomorrow.”
Thad raised his arm and waved as they whisked him away amid a raucous chorus.
She was happy he had friends. Really, she was. Her lower lip trembled and she bit down hard to keep it still.
“Come on, Emma, party time.” Jenny nudged her forward.
She accompanied her bridesmaids to her bachelorette party and put on a performance worthy of an Oscar. Because no matter what had happened in the past, tomorrow was going to be the best day of her life. Nothing would mar her perfect wedding. Not even the groom himself.
* * *
Thad paced the length of the hotel room they would share on their wedding night. He stopped before the bureau mirror and stood at attention. “I do.” Why did his voice sound so girly today of all days? He cleared his throat and tried again.
The black splotch beneath his eye looked painful and felt worse. He covered it with his hand, turned to the side. His profile didn’t look too bad when he looked at it that way. Hopefully, Emma would be too excited about the big day to care about a little ol’ black eye.
Someone rapped on his door. “Thad, can I come in?”
“Jenny.” He opened the door. She winced when she saw his face but hurried past him. He shot a quick glance down the empty hall before closing the door and turning to her. “What are you doing here?”
“What did you tell Emma about us?”
He shoved his hands in the front pockets of his trousers. “I didn’t tell her anything. She knew I’d been in a relationship and it ended badly.”
“And you didn’t say it was me.”
“She never asked.”
“Now she’s going to wonder what we’re hiding.”
He jerked back as if she’d struck him. “We’re not hiding anything.” His gut wrenched as he remembered his furtive look down the hall.
“You have to tell her.” They said together.
“There’s nothing to tell,” he added. “Look, just leave it alone, all right? We both know it was over years ago when you decided to stay in that third world orphanage instead of coming back as my wife. I can't blame you for chosing God's work over me. And we have nothing to be guilty about. I didn’t even know her then. If we act like everything is fine, it will be.” He moved to the door, dropped his hand to the knob.
“I don’t know,” she said at his elbow. “You really should say something.”
“I will if she asks.” He opened the door.
She crossed the threshold and turned back. “I’m very happy for both of you.” Her sincerity didn't hide the shimmer in her eyes.
She’d once been his everything. With a groan, he pulled her into his arms for one last hug to last a lifetime.
* * *
Emma reached the fifteenth floor stairwell. Thank goodness her cardio training was paying off. She shouldn’t be sneaking in to see Thad just hours before their wedding but she needed to see him. To reassure herself everything was perfect after yesterday’s surprise.
She peered through the small window, her hand on the metal handle. About ten feet away, a door opened and Jenny stepped into the hallway, then turned back. Emma stared, open-mouthed, as Thad leaned out and embraced her.
What would you do in this situation? Run? Stride in and confront them? Sit on the floor and cry?
Come back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion to A Month of Expectation.
Yes, very nice, Anita. I'm totally the confrontational type, but I would have already laid into them at the airport, so I'm guessing Emma might not be.ReplyDelete
I don't know, one way or another, seems like a disaster waiting to happen.
I think the truth will have to come out. Like during the ceremony in front of everyone.ReplyDelete
I would confront them. Not necessarily as a conscious decision though. Just a not being able to hold my piece of think of any other course of action. Although, like Dina, I'd have probably done that at the airport.
I would confront them. I think. I've never been in a situation like this so can't say for sure, but my inclination would be to rush forward and say something.ReplyDelete
Great story! Loving this:)
I'd confront them. And ask about the airport since she found them together. I'm not so sure Emma really wants to know. She just wants to get married happily.ReplyDelete
Oh, I'd confront them, too. If not at the airport, then I'd have gone a bit shrewy at the rehearsal dinner. Thad the Cad is acting too guilty!ReplyDelete
Can't wait to tune in tomorrow to see what happens! Great job, everyone.
Anita is having difficulty getting on blogger today, but she's looking forward to stopping by as soon as she can.ReplyDelete
Emma took the other option. Fainting.ReplyDelete
Maybe she wants to believe the best about her boyfriend and sister and rise above it all. I give her credit for that. Was she studying her Love is Patient, Love is kind vows that day?
If I ever would have had a BRIDEZILLA moment it would have been then sorta like that "Shrewish" description.
Anita, great work! I'd confront both of them asap. The stakes are too high to justify running away or living in denial. Although, like one of our commenters has said, I don't know if Emma wants to learn the truth. Deb, your theory that Emma wants to rise above it all is a definite possibility. We'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out what happens :-)ReplyDelete
"Not once did Thad look her in the eye."ReplyDelete
That says a lot right there. Time for confrontation indeed.
Great job, Anita! Everyone writing this story should just keep doing it, and then make a novella out of it and sell it.:)
Not a bad idea in my humble opinion.
The truth must come out.ReplyDelete
I know I'd confront, but I'm with Debra--I'm not sure Emma would. She wants too much to believe that everything is perfect and is a little like Thad in that if they pretend something is one way, it will be.ReplyDelete
How often we are like that instead of dealing with issues. I don't hold out much hope for a happy marriage.
And where did that black eye come from?
Hey, thank you everyone for taking time out of your day to comment today. By now you know the end of the story because this is Monday, already. I finally got access back to Blogger late last night and have been playing catch-up ever since.ReplyDelete
I've thought about this situation myself and although I like to think I'd barge in there and question the two culprits, I have a funny feeling my confidence would be shattered and I'd go hole up in a corner for a few hours first and then interrogate them one-on-one where they can't back each other up.
Hey, that was all one sentence. LOL - and only 4 and's.
I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writingReplyDelete
You have really great taste on catch article titles, even when you are not interested in this topic you push to read itReplyDelete