Chapter Four; Dinner Party
“Okay!” Hannah hops in place in front of three girls. Scarlett and David’s two model friends. “Let the judging begin!” Grace hands each of them the girls dresses she and Hannah stayed up searching for all night. Blush, silky and classy, sweetheart gowns with ruffles down one side. “As soon as you guys put them on let us know if they’re the ones.”
“I doubt if they’re not, these babies are gorgeous! You chose good, cuz!” Scarlett makes an “ok” hand gesture. The bridesmaids pile into changing rooms down. Grace glares after the two models.
“Just give us a halla! I really wish I could dress shop with you guys, unfortunately mines is already on its way,” Hannah says sadly. “I also wish Kat could be here too.”
“Yeah...she stays so busy studying that it’s hard taking the student out of her.”
A phone beeps, Grace checks to see if it is hers. “It’s me, I bet it’s him, I told him to not leave his good shoes in my car, before he forgets, he doesn’t listen.”
“And he’ll never learn, trust me. He’s kind of stupid.” They crack up in uncontrollable giggles. “Like for real.”
“Yeah but what guy isn’t, we’re are above them.” Hannah winks. “Ttyl!” She leaves the dressing area.
Grace scans if the coast was clear before following after her. She needed to see him. Ever since the other night she was anxious to be in David’s presence again. Even if it was long distance. In the hallway of the shop, she waits until the door snaps shut, then jets down to the entrance and peers through a rectangle window on the door. Outside, stepping from a black car with ease, is David. Tall and handsome, as he turns up his trench collar to the wind. The couple begin talking and hugging longingly. Her gaze clamp on him, her lids heavy and eyes watery. Fired with desire. Please, be mine? Grace’s heart drops. Please?
Hannah unlocks her car door and reaches in to grab the shoes from the back seat. As she does this, out of nowhere, David glances in the shop’s direction. Seeing Grace. A slow moment is shared between the two, it seems as if time freezes as they peer at one another. Unreadable eyes sparkle back at her under moonlight, but hers are like an open book...he had to notice that. Again, their moment fades, he glances away.
“Where’s Han-Han? I hollered but no one answered...” Scarlett pauses, eyeing Grace curiously. “What’s up?” The maid of honor twist around to the bridesmaid who holds up the hem of her dress; black-blue hair pushed to one side.
Grace’s expression is glum and sour, but she fixes it. Smiling. “Oh, um, I’m just watching over Hannah, her hubby left his shoes in her car and now he’s here to pick them up.” She wonders if her eyes believed the fast lie. If they were still beaming with temptation. Her eyes shift a bit, wavering between solemn and calm. “Okaaay, look at you, I sense another bride comin out!”
Scarlet blushes and waves her hand dismissively. “Oh stop it!”
“I’m for real, I bet you’ll catch the bouquet! I definitely gotta try mines on now, prepare for competition.” She jokes as her flats work up the stairs, only to halt, Grace turns. “Could you make sure she gets back in safely?”
Scarlett nods. “Sure.”
Back up stairs, Grace unconsciously grabs a dress from a rack and speeds into a dressing room. She rests her forehead on the wall. Upset. Heaving. Tearing up. A cold tingle prickles her chest. “In. Out.” Long breaths escape her mouth. “Stop. Okay?” She outstretches her hands, clutching them.
“So, is it a go for the dresses? What’d I miss?” Hannah asks.
“Yep, a total green light. They’re super cute and classy! Wait until Harry sees me in it.” Scarlett’s voice goes silky. “Things will heat up fast he loves when I wear lady clothes.”
Grace slips into the dress and steps out, putting on a fake smile, feeling lower than negative. “Do you like it?”
“OH, MY GOD YOU LOOK HOT!” Hannah dashes to her, scanning the details of an elegant purple gown. “This is...is so perfect for you. YES, I LOVE IT!” She pins some of Grace’s hair up. “Where did you get it from?!”
“I just grabbed it.”
“Hashtag random style!” She examines the dress, having no idea of what her dear friend is feeling.
Grace sets the dining-room table for guest who were just minutes away. Kat decided it was a good idea to invite the fiancés over for dinner, to congratulate them and also to convince her sister to drop whatever plan she had in progress. “HEY GIRLFRIENDS!!” Hannah yells as soon as the front door closes. “Wow, are you guys sure this isn’t my wedding hall?” She ogles at the dim room and lit candles on a white table cloth. “Because it sure looks like it.” She sits a chocolate cake down on the table then gives Kat a tight hug. “It’s been a while, Kit-Kat!”
“It has, oh my god I forgot all about that damn nickname! I haven’t heard it since senior year, stop bringing back memories.”
“It’s making her feel old...” Grace adds with a sly smirk.
The two break from the hug, still embraced wit their arms, smiling wide. “If I’m old that means you are too.” Kat rolls get eyes at her sister, then give Hannah a warm grin. “How have you been?”
In the doorway, someone catches Grace’s attention. A soon to-be groom stands in the hall with his hands in his pockets, he gives a quick grin. She found this odd...he is too quiet. “Oh, he’s mad that he’s missing some football game. But I persuaded him.” Hannah whispers the last bit to her girlfriends. Grave makes to say some, before she can, Kat cuts in.
“Well, the food is done, so we can go ahead and stack our plates.”
“Oh cool, come on babe. I’m starving, this diet is killing me.”
They all sit at the nicely organized table and began piling food onto their plates, spaghetti, garlic bread, chicken, and potatoes salad. Grace pours wine into tall glasses and pass them around. Quickly eyeing David, who doesn’t say a single word, who glances away from her gaze. Hmm...her mind wonders.
“Han, so how is everything going? Do you have your hall and dress together yet?”
“Yes, my mom found a hall it’s so nice I can’t wait to rehearse. My dress should be delivered tomorrow, thanks to Grace.” She places her hand to her heart.
“Good. Aww, I wish I could join as a bridesmaid, but I’m swamped with exams and chess committee.”
“No biggie, you’ll be my VIP.”
Grace peeps at David as he eats, spotting him clench his jaw. “You’re a nerd.” She directs her attention to her sister.
“I take that as a compliment, so....”
“Yeah but it sounds boring...chess committee, I thought you were working on your boutique. That would be a lot more fun.”
“No way! Are you talking about that fashion boutique you dreamed up in grammar school?” Hannah exclaims.
“Yeah...I actually still want to launch it, but it’s rough getting a newbie business up and running....” She’s sips on wine. “I found a building to rent close to downtown, though. Maybe DressMess can be my new year goal.” Kay crossed her fingers. “Wish me luck.”
“Well, that’s a start!”
David reaches into his pocket and unlocks his phone. “It’s work, I gotta take it.” Hannah squeezes his hand before letting him go. Under different circumstances, Grace would have found this adorable.
“Busy man.” Kat notes.
“A little too busy. Especially when he’s not supposed to be. How is that even possible?”
“Well like they say, a busy mind stays...” Grace taps her fingers on the clothed table, “busy.”
“Did you just make that up?”
“She so did, Han.” The girls all burst into laughter.
“Yeah, so what?.” Her phone buzzes, which lays face first on the table, she turns the screen towards her. A text shows on the screen from David...the content hidden. She types in a passcode.
“Have you chosen a bakery yet?”
“Not yet, I’m planning on doing that maybe next week although I should do it now.”
“There’s this one that’s worth the money, my chess competitions are catered by them, the cakes are so moist and rich.”
Grace reads the text:
David: You see how things are normal right now. Leave it this way, okay?
She types a reply: If things are so normal why are you hiding? 💅🏾
A banquet hall decorated in cream and white theme. Huge colored coordinated flowers center each table, splashing splendidly against the pure white dining cloths. Dark wood floors reach from the door to the altar. A gold runner is rolled out onto the floor by two guys. Candles and rose petals line the aisle. It is perfect. This feels like déjà vu. Grace couldn’t knock the feeling that this was, somehow, meant to be her wedding rehearsal. That Hannah had stolen it along her with rightful husband. She fights back tears in her elegant purple dress; running her hands down the slick texture. Everyone wears their wedding attire as well. When Hannah joins them, she’d be the only one not suited up. Grace hoped the disease called cold feet would cancel the whole deal. Please? She prayed. Please do?
“I wonder where she is, I texted like eight times.” Scarlet’s hesitancy shows on her pretty face. “Maybe I need to call.”
“I’m sure she has the texts, maybe she can’t make it.” Buzzing comes from Grace’s pocket, she answers. “Oh...Hi Han.” Her fingers correct a string of hair poking out from a high bun on her head. A frantic, loud tone emits from the phone. “No, how did that happen?!” She fakes concern as her best friend panics on the other line. “Wow, okay, will do, I hope it gets fixed soon. Okay, aww, bye-bye.” Right on schedule, her mind celebrates, stay away, bitch.
“What’s wrong?” Scarlett asks
“There’s a wardrobe malfunction.” Her eyes find David across the room. She taps over in red bottomed heels.
David stands under a flowered archway, chatting away with Harry. “Hopefully you won’t be too tied up, we do have a game date Thursday night, don’t bail on me we saved up for this, bro,” Harry says.
“It’s gonna be a wipe out anyway, don’t sleep on The Bears.”
“Fifty bucks, bet?”
“You know what, okay deal...that’s easy money.” The guys shake on it, business like.
“And don’t underestimate The Saints.” Harry adds.
Grace waves to get David’s attention. It takes awhile before he sees her. “Maybe thirty bucks.” Harry laughs as David strolls off to the maid of honor, in a fancy black and white tux.
“Hannah’s not going to make it she’s having a dress crisis right now.”
“Woah, what, how upset was she?” His voice floods with worry. “I hope that isn’t a bad sign.”
“It’s the wrong size, so she’s pissed...” Grace strongly resist the urge to kiss him. “I’ll have to fill in for her... she asked me to.” She adds, cleverly.
“OKAY!” David announces. “Hey, guys, let’s get started!” A flower girl skips to David, cute in a blush, tutu dress. He bends down to her. This is his little sister Kaylie, a pretty six year old girl. “Are you ready?” He asks his little sister, who nods cutely and kisses his cheek.
“Yeah I am, but where is Hannah?” Her small voice says in confusion.
“She’s busy right now but her friend, Grace is helping us out.”
“Oh.” Kaylie peers up at the maid of honor. “Hi, I like your dress.” She cheeses at her.
“Thank you,” Grace says warmly.
Ellie Goulding’s How Long Will I Love You plays beautifully through the spacious and glamorous room. Slow piano. Everyone lines up, and exit the room. Grace and David are last the last to leave. Once everyone is out in a grand hall, they all post into positions. An older woman lines five flower girls up by shortest to tallest, moving them around by their shoulders, and hands them baskets. “188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.9.10. Go!” The woman directs the girls into the room. They stroll down a gold runner, tossing white roses from their baskets. Grace watches Kaylie turn the corner; her fluffy dress swaying.
“220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.21.22. Go!” The bridemaids and groomsmen wrap their arms together and stroll into the banquet room, following the cues of the woman; stepping to the music. Scarlett blushes at Harry as they stroll in. The three couples slowly pace their steps to the altar. Grace’s arm wraps into David’s, a low gasp escapes her.
A strong feeling hits Grace when David takes her arm in his. For a second she feels nostalgia. “This is a nice song,” she says as they wait to be signaled inside.
“When Hannah found this instrumental she went crazy over it.”
“Hmm.” The perfect mood is ruined at the mention of her name. “Don’t let that fool you, she has bad taste in music.”
“Yeah, tell me about it.” He laughs adorably, in a way that seemed to jolt her heart. “She listens to opera, I didn’t believe it when I heard it!”
“I bet that’s a strike.”
“SHH!” The woman, who directs everyone inside, hisses at them and frowns, while she paces the flow.
“I mean, that must be a turnoff.” Grace whispers.
He smirks. “Ahh. It isn’t that bad,” he says, “nothing some earplugs can’t fix.”
Grace gazed up at him, curiously, while he gazes down at her “Hey, isn’t the groom suppose to wait at the altar?”
“Hannah changed things to a non-traditional theme.”
He gives a quick grin. “Who’s your partner? Everyone else has someone to walk in with.”
Grace tangles her fingers tightly into his; her mouth parting. “You.” God, just say the same!
David’s forehead wrinkles, and he jiggles his fingers loose. “Stop it, okay?”
“Why...why do I have to stop?”
“BECAUSE!...” His voice goes too loud so he tones it down. “Because I know what you’re doing, Grace, and it’s not going to work. I’m not changing my mind, so let’s just do this rehearsal as what we are; a groom and a maid of honor. That’s all we are.”
She fights herself from saying ”I love you and I can’t do that” but she doesn’t want to cause him to blow up at her again. Because the words he’s just spoken shook her soul. Muscles tighten in his perfect jaws again, his posture stiffens, I love you, her sad brown eyes stay fixed on him as he ignores her.
The woman waves them forward; their cue to enter arrives. Their arms intertwine. Grace lowers her eyes and walks forward, lifting her dress before pointy heels rip a hole. She is speechless and totally defeated by his response. What else can I do? Candles and rose petals line the aisle. Her ears buzz loudly, blocking out most of the music. Her sight is blinded by tears, viewing the wedding arc ahead, lit with white lights. It isn’t mine. They near the decorative piece in unison. Grace’s breathing intensifies and her heart hammers. Their feet STEP closer to the arc, which is surrounded by bride maids in blush dresses, groomsmen in black tuxedos, and flowers girls in half tutu and half white dresses. The feeling of déjà vu vanishes, like the moments they shared together in the past.
Grace and David meet the threshold as the song ends. David slides his arm away, NO!, her mind screams, as her eyes watch him move to the groomsmen side. She had no choice but to go to the bridesmaid side. Her eyes drop to the floor; tears sting at her lashes. NOOO! A pain stabs her heart: so deep that shivering goosebumps take over. Her body vibrates a bit. David stands beside the altar, ignoring her breakdown, leaving her with empty hands that seem colder, and a heart as twice as broken.