XIII. Guilty as Charged
The love of a marriage is simple.
Well, it should be.
I stared at John Legend.
Although, this marriage is far from simple.
“Mommy!” My eyes flicker towards the sound of the young girl who had chocolate all over her hands. “We have a dilemma!” Crystal threw her hands towards me.
I look at the man behind her, who cleared his throat profoundly.
Guilty as charged.
“Why didn’t you take her to go wash her hands?” I ask.
Everyone scurried around to get into position. It’s almost time for the main show.
“She said she wanted you,” Emerson responded.
I groaned lightly before I grabbed Crystal’s wrist, “Let’s go.” Crystal is one of the three flower girls. She can’t go down the aisle and throw flowers with chocolate hands.
Emerson followed us.
“Stay here and tell anyone that’s looking for us we will be back,” I said. We rushed into the building and towards the restroom.
When we entered the restroom, I could hear a voice from the stall.
“The wedding is incredible! I’m going to get so much-”
“Mommy! Hands!” Crystal reached for the faucet. With all my effort, I carried Crystal onto the counter and washed her hands.
She’s sugar high.
The bathroom stall opened to show a woman in a waitress suit. She cleared her throat and made her way towards the sink.
She glanced at me and smiled, “Nice wedding.”
I didn’t have time to have a friendly chat with her. “Yeah.” I took Crystal off the counter and dried her hands. “Alright. Let me see your teeth.”
I grabbed her hands, and together, we ran out.
Down the hallway, I noticed a few security guards.
They opened the door for me. “Thank you,” I said. I dragged Crystal down the steps and towards the back. My eyes flicker towards the waitress who was behind me. She smiled before she made her way towards the concession stand.
“Where did you go?” Amanda said. “Wait. No time for an explanation. Crystal, you’re up.” Amanda pushed Crystal to the front and had her stood beside another child. I think he’s one of Matt’s friend’s children.
What’s his name?
When the music started, the children locked arms. One by one, they walked down the aisle. Some instructors had been training them for weeks for this moment.
Then, one by one, the grooms and bridesmaids walk down the aisles.
I look back to see Jackson by himself.
Alice was supposed to be here.
I looked at Emerson, who smiled and tilted his head towards Jackson.
I kissed his cheek and went back.
“Hey,” I said.
Jackson smiled, “Hey.”
“Are you alright with-”
“I’m fine back here. I mean, it’s Nina’s wedding, and she wants her best friend to be the maid of honor, so I can’t deny her that.” He shrugged casually, “I may not know the girl well, but Nina seemed to treasure her alot.”
I exhaled a soft breath, “Thank you.” I hugged Jackson. “Thank you so much.”
Jackson doesn’t know how much it meant to Nina - this moment. She wouldn’t say it, but I know there isn’t a day where she wouldn’t think of Alice Lee.
Steadily, he wrapped his arms around me. “Anytime.”
When I backed away, I could see the look in his eyes - it’s warm.
“It’s almost time for me to go.”
Jackson nodded, “I’ll meet you at the end of the aisle.”
I went back towards the front and into Emerson’s arms.
And when the doors spread open once more, the music intensified. One by one, the couples walk down the aisle. And then, it was our turn.
One step after another, I could feel the warmth spread inside of me. All eyes were on us. The sweats drifted down my body, but it was a good kind of feeling.
“Thank you,” I told Emerson.
He looks down and smiles, “No. Thank you.”
I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t look away from him. When we reached the end of the aisle, I went on my toes and kissed his cheek. Emerson smiled before we separated.
When I looked forward, I saw Jackson.
He walked down the aisle by himself.
With each step he took, the discomfort only grew. Inside, a small voice emerged, and it told me that one day, he wouldn’t be alone. One day, a woman will be beside him and make him the ‘happiest man that ever lived.’
That’s what I like to tell myself.
When Jackson reached the front, we all turned.
My eyes met with Emerson, but when I noticed someone else, it flickered.
I tightened my hands around the bouquet as my eyes went from left to right - back and forth between the two men.
But, this time, it wasn’t the good kind of feeling.
They’re both staring at me with so much intensity that I feel like I could vomit.
I wish they would look elsewhere.
Then, the music played again.
I tilt my body towards the front, but nausea still rests inside. I hope I don’t vomit. I haven’t vomited for months, and I sure as hell won’t start now.
Then, it’s time for the next round.
The flower girl and ring bearer.
I smiled as Josh and Hailey walked down the lane with their hands tangled. It’s absolutely adorable.
“HayBug, this way.” Josh tugged her towards the front.
Her eyes flickered around, and she grabbed a few pieces of flower then threw them. The song is longer than usual because of the young couple.
Halfway through the walk, Hailey ran out of flowers. Josh stopped and changed the basket with a new one.
They thoroughly prepared everything.
Hailey smiled softly and threw more flowers.
This is an improvement compared to what she did before. She used to look at the ground and throw flowers at her feet.
We all broke out into smiles when Josh kissed Hailey. Ah, young love.
Then, the other main character arrived. Her wedding dress was made for royalty. It’s different from the one I saw inside her dressing room - much more elegant.
She must have changed her mind.
I looked at Matt, who had a large grin on his face. He should. He had been waiting for this day for years. He swallowed harshly and pulled at his collar.
My eyes flicker to see another shade of blue.
Jackson is still staring.
One would think standing around is easy. It’s far from easy. My feet hurt. The pope - yes, pope - continued his speech of love, soulmates, and whatever it is the pope preached about at weddings.
When my eyes met Emerson, I smiled.
Then, when I saw Jackson, I smiled again.
I have an idea.
That’s all I need to do.
Maintain the smile on my face and stare in between them.
Tyler’s smile dropped when he realized I was staring at him. His eyes went towards Sarah; then it went back towards me. I know what he will do later. He's going to want to talk. Know the reason why I kept staring at him during the vows.
The loud burst from the audience brought me back to reality.
I clapped along.
Then, one by one, we walked towards the aisle.
After the vows would be the party.
Unlike an ordinary wedding, everything here had already been determined. Every role had already been filled by a professional. Everyone else had a role, and our role is to have fun.
The bar is entirely open.
I mentally scorn myself for being pregnant.
Everything passed by in a blur, and I found myself next to the concession stand. I rubbed my stomach as my eyes flickered around the different food. I can’t decide what to eat.
The man stood there patiently with the plate.
“Chicken,” I said.
He reached for the knife.
He retracted his hand.
He reached for the knife.
He retracted again.
I’m surprised the smile is still on his face.
“The steak is good.” I turned my head to see Jackson. “It’s a good source of iron and protein. You just need to make sure it’s fully cooked.”
I ran my fingers across my chin, “Steak. Alright. I’ll get that.”
I watch as the man cooks the raw steak. They would bring them from inside the building and cook them in front of us.
“How do you like the wedding so far?” Jackson asked.
My sight went from the screaming children to photogenic teenagers and finally, the adults.
The children would play tag or some sort of game set out in the corner. Of course, guards are watching every single one of them. One of the balls rolled towards the beach, and Stacey rushed to it. Immediately, a guard followed the ball and handed it back.
The teenagers would claim every beautiful location with the professional photographer. Some were at the photo booths.
Finally, the adults. Anyone can clearly tell which guest is from the groom and which is from the bride. However, they manage to merge well. Everyone was overall kind. Then again, it’s a small gathering. You don’t want to step on any toes.
“It’s a nice wedding. I mean, I’ve never been to Europe, so that’s cool. How about you?”
Jackson smiled, “Yeah, it’s a nice wedding.” He took a drink from his cup.
Then, I saw it.
“Crystal!” Crystal retracted her hands from the plate of cake. “Come here!” I cannot believe she tried to get some cake behind my back. I watched her ate two pieces earlier.
Crystal smiled deviously before she skipped towards me. She has a plan. Crystal hugged my leg, “Mommy. Please one more.”
I rested my fists against my waist.
Crystal took a few blinks before she looked at Jackson.
“How about just one more piece Piper.”
“Come on. It’s a wedding. Let the kid have fun.”
Crystal nods vigorously, “Yes! Yes! Uncle is right!” She hugged Jackson’s leg. “I agree! I agree!” She smiled widely at him. “I agree!”
Jackson took a few blinks before he smiled at Crystal. “Come on,” Jackson said. “One more piece wouldn’t hurt.”
“And when she jumps on the table?”
“Jackson will catch me!” Crystal said. She is working him. Crystal took a few blinks, “You will catch me, right?”
Jackson chuckled, “Of course!”
Crystal leaps on her toes while she claps. I cannot let her have another piece when she’s already this hyperactive. “You’re so awesome! You will catch me like superman!”
Jackson only chuckled in return.
Emerson wrapped his arms around my waist, and I kissed his cheek.
“If Jackson is your superman, then what am I?” Emerson said in a sad tone.
“My superdaddy!” Crystal rushed towards Emerson, and he carried her. “Superdaddy, may I have some cake?”
“Well-” Emerson stops talking when he sees my face. “Maybe, later?”
My wild eyes only widen.
“Your steak, ma’am?”
I grabbed the plate, “Thank you.” I turned towards the trio. “No. No. And no.” I point at Crystal, “Don’t you think you can turn these men against mommy.”
Crystal puffed her cheeks and rested her head against Emerson’s shoulder. Steadily, she grabbed Jackson’s shirt and pulled him inward.
Emerson and Jackson looked at me.
I’m going to do it.
I’m going to kill them both later.
“Okay. No,” Emerson said. He clearly got my message.
I glared at Jackson.
“Your mom is right. Maybe, another day.” Jackson looked away from her large beady eyes.
Crystal poured her lower lips, “Okay.” I know what she is thinking. She will back down for now, but who knows what will happen later.
When I saw a bright light, my eyes flicker in its direction.
Then, it was gone.
“What wrong?” Emerson asked.
I shook my head, “Nothing. Let’s sit down so I can eat.” I look at Jackson, “Talk later, okay?”
He nods, “I’ll bring Abby.”
“She’s not here?”
He shook his head, “Slight delay. But she will be here soon.”
I nodded, “Can’t wait.” I look at Emerson and Crystal, “Come on. I’ll share my steak with you.”
“Bleck!” Crystal replied with her tongue sticking out.
I pinched her cheek, and she grinned widely. Together, the three of us walked towards our table.
“Seriously, what’s wrong?” Emerson asked.
“I swore I saw a bright light from over there.”
“To my left from earlier.”
Emerson’s eyes flicker towards the direction I said. “Might be one of the professional cameras. Want me to go check?”
I shook my head, “No, it’s fine. Just sit down and cut my steak for me.”
Emerson chuckled, “Okay.” Anyone can tell he’s used to my spoiled attitude. He placed Crystal down and pulled out my chair. Steadily, I sat down.
The wedding - as predicted - was one of the best weddings I’ve ever attended.
The flowers were gorgeous.
The food was delicious.
The music was fantastic.
And it was even more perfect...on the front cover.