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I gave him a wry look. “Well, so do you.” I took a step closer to him, starting to seriously ponder the whole s.e.x in the bathroom thing and would that really be a big no-no before the ceremony?
“b.o.l.l.o.c.ks!” Rebecca’s voice came shattering through us. “What the h.e.l.l are you guys doing?”
We both turned to see Rebecca marching toward us with an uneasy Dean and Seb in tow. Dean looked very handsome in his suit. Seb, with his long hair and stoner expression, looked like Pauly Sh.o.r.e going to a business meeting. Oh well, can’t win them all.
“It’s my fault,” Dex said quickly before Rebecca could get close enough to hit him. “I was wandering around and saw her.”
“Why the b.l.o.o.d.y h.e.l.l are you wandering around?” she asked him before looking to me for an explanation. I shrugged. Even though she was six months pregnant, you could barely tell, and she’d become more intimidating as the baby grew.
“Well what the b.l.o.o.d.y h.e.l.l is taking you guys so long?” Dex asked, imitating her accent. “The ceremony dude is standing at the front doing nothing and everyone else is just sitting there. I don’t want to go stand in front of everyone for an hour, looking like a total douchenugget with him.”
She was unimpressed. “That’s what happens in a wedding.” She grabbed his shoulders and spun him around and away from me. “Now go back and forget the fact that you ever saw Perry beforehand.”
“Just look at her, babe. That will be impossible,” he said over his shoulder, moving with swagger. He gave the thumbs up to Dean and Seb as he walked past them and disappeared around the corner.
She shook her head angrily, the angles of her dark bob swinging against her face and took me by the arm. “I can’t believe him. What an idiot.”
I nodded my head in agreement but the fact was, even though it was against “the rules” to see him beforehand, our brief encounter had given me strength. My anxiety about everything had pretty much vanished.
I took in a deep breath and let her lead me back into the waiting room where Ada was dumping out the rest of the chips in her mouth. I wondered when her bad eating habits would catch up with her, then pushed the envy out of my head. We were different people and though I worked out steadily and went all “paleo’ for a few months to fit in my dress, I would always be a curvy girl and finally I was proud of it.
The reaction I got from Dex only cemented that.
“Now are we ready?” Ada asked as Dean closed the door behind us, lest Dex wander past again.
“I think so,” I said. I looked at the four of them, red dresses, black suits, all looking the best I had ever seen them (even Seb, though that wasn’t saying much). Here we were, my sister, my best friend, Dex’s best friends, and one unborn baby, all together in one room, celebrating the journey of Dex and me.
“Oh no, she’s going to cry,” Rebecca said, and suddenly a tissue was whipped out from her clutch and shoved in my fingers.
I gave her a mock glare but still dabbed underneath my eyes like a pre-emptive strike. “I’m not going to cry,” I told her. I took in a deep breath and looked at all of them. “I just wanted to thank you guys so much for being here on this day. It means a lot to me and it means a lot to Dex. He doesn’t have any family now, except for his dad and it’s doubtful he’ll show up, so I know you mean the world to him.”
“Oh f**k,” Seb muttered in a half-sob, quickly wiping at his eyes. “Don’t worry, it’s my allergies.”
I couldn’t help but smile. Even Seb was feeling emotional. “Anyway, thank you all so very much.”
“I’d cheers to that,” Ada said. “But we won’t be allowed to eat or drink anything until you get this circus rolling.” She gave me a pointed look.
“Okay, okay,” I said, crumbling up the tissue and tossing it away. “Let’s go get me f**king married then!”
“Huzzah!” Dean cheered.
“All right, everyone pair with your partner,” I told them as if were in kindergarten.
Though Dean was Rebecca’s baby daddy and the two had grown extremely close – albeit not in a romantic way – Dean was Dex’s best man, which meant he’d be walking down the aisle with my maid of honor, Ada. Seb and Rebecca would go next. Then it would be me and my dad.
Just as I started to wonder where he was, there was a knock at the door.
Rebecca answered it and my dad stepped in.
His normally strained face immediately crumpled at the sight of me.
“Oh, my little girl,” he said, his voice started to choke up as he came toward me with open arms.
“Aw, c.r.a.p,” Seb mumbled behind us, fighting back tears again.
“Hi dad,” I said softly as he enveloped me into his arms while being careful not to smudge my hair and face.
He pulled back and brushed my hair off my face, staring at me admiringly, eyes shiny with pride. “You look like a woman, Perry. A beautiful, striking, radiant woman.”
“Thank you,” I said, always a bit shy when my father paid me compliments. He didn’t do it very often, so it was always a shock.
“Your mother would have been so proud of you,” he whispered and now I heard someone else sniffling in the group. We were all going to leave here as sobbing wrecks if this continued.
Somehow I kept it together and gave him a melancholy smile. “I think wherever she is, she knows.”
“You’re right,” he said, his voice shaking slightly. “She does. Your grandmother, too.”
My heart pinched but I refused to push the sadness away. It was okay to be sad. And it was okay to be happy too. Because my mother and my grandmother, whether they were in the Thin Veil or had moved on, I could feel them watching me, I could sense their joy. There was some comfort in that, some peace, and some acceptance that it would make them happy if I was.
He grabbed my hand and squeezed it. “Are you ready to become Mrs. Dex Foray?”
I nodded. “I always have been.”
I linked my arm through his and we stepped out into the hallway and waited for Dean and Ada to go ahead, followed by Seb and Rebecca. We walked down the stairs to the doors which opened out into the yard and waited for the cue. My father and I stayed out of sight of the guests, tucked around the corner.
As soon as the first notes of the music started – a pretty piano piece – Rebecca and Seb went out, walking down the aisle. Then Dean and Ada, Ada giving my dad and I and exaggerated smile before they walked off.