I’d put all the photos of Steve and I into a locked folder on my phone, one I couldn’t stumble into accidentally. Now all I can do is stare at this photo again and again every time I think about seeing him. Fuck.
“May’s flat out, Heather is tucked in with Tara and the boys are settled at our place for Jayce’s last night of freedom... You good babes?”
Al looks over at me with that same look of sympathy she’s been giving me for days. I really shouldn’t be making her feel this way the night before her wedding.
Kal’s still reeling from the jet lag as she snores loudly on the bed across the room. We’d dragged Jayce’s old one into Al’s room at the Manor so we could all have one last sleepover before that boy makes an honest woman of my girl, but she’s pretty much been sleeping since she got here bless her.
“I’m fine chick, you know me, five by five.”
Al scoots me over so she can get in on her side of the bed, her hair up in the curlers I forced it into earlier this evening and the face mask dripping off onto her chest. Even in this state, he’d still bloody marry her wouldn’t he?
“No you’re not. Have you spoken to Josh? I swear I didn’t know Sonya would call you before I got the chance to say anything babe, Josh just called to say he was getting home early and did we still want him there, so I only called her to check if we could add him. I was going to ask you before I confirmed it.”
I know she would’ve. Settling down into the pillows behind my head, there’s this fucking knot in my stomach that just won’t stop pulling at me. Steve’s about five blocks away from me right now, finally here in person, and a part of me is desperately trying to claw its way towards him no matter how much I’m fighting it.
“Josh said he’s great, picked him up from the airport yesterday morning... He said he’s not going back again Al, he’s home for good now. I thought that maybe... I thought...”
“You thought he’d come see you when he got here?”
She always did know me better than I know myself. I nod at her and try not to let it show how pathetic I feel.
Of course he didn’t call. Of course he didn’t come see me. The last time we spoke I told him I couldn’t speak to him anymore and I’d let him know when I could, then I never contacted him again. He probably thinks I’ve moved the fuck on from him... I think for a while I convinced myself I had too.
“Is he coming to the whole thing? The day and the night? Has he got a plus one?”
Al smiles gently. “He didn’t ask for a plus one but he is coming to the whole thing. I can tell him no Brie, he’ll understand if you’re not ready to see him yet. He’s always been good like that.”
Yeah, he has.
It’s her day, not mine. I’ll make it work.
“No babe, I’m good. It’ll be good, I don’t want it to be awkward for Josh so I’ll just stick to keeping Heather as my date. Did her dress fit earlier?”
Al pulls up the remote and starts scanning through the movie choices. “Barely, she’s growing so fast she’ll be taller than me soon. She said she would’ve preferred a suit like her Dad though, she’s a little tomboy in the making. Not sure she’s going to be impressed with my dress.”
I chuckle as Al hovers for a moment over The Bodyguard.
“Not that one.” She immediately moves on without a word, I still haven’t watched it since Steve left and I can’t even listen to Whitney without my chest tightening.
Scrolling through, she stops and settles on the greatest movie of all time and the picture perfect face of Jonny Castle fills my screen.
The wedding is all black and white; the guests and the decorations, the bridesmaids and even the boys suits. Everything except the very special surprise Aleah has in store for her man.
“Connor didn’t like Dirty Dancing.” I comment through a mouthful of popcorn.
Al drops the spoon from her ice-cream straight onto the bed, looking at me like I’ve just told her a pterodactyl flew out of my clit in the shower this morning.
“He what?! I always knew there was something wrong with that man. Thank fuck you didn’t pick him, I would’ve preferred the Italian Mafia hitman over a guy who can’t appreciate a masterpiece like this.” I can’t stop laughing, taking her spoon and making myself a scoop of ice cream much to her displeasure. “He makes cute kids though, Hope was here this week with May causing mayhem again. Now Connors moved a street away they’re practically inseparable. May’s a bit pissed they’re not bringing the kids to the wedding, think they wanted an excuse to have a day just the two of them.”
Those two. “I’m glad those girl have each other. Every girl needs to find her soul sister.”
Al’s eyes catch mine, her smile so big even the face mask can’t hide it. I know she’s thinking the same thing I am, that we’re so fucking lucky to have each other.
“I love you Brianna Parker.”
“I love you more Aleah Thompson.”
She chuckles so loud Kallie starts to stir.
“Don’t call me that yet, I might still do a runner or something. Especially now you gave in on the shoes thing, I won’t be tripping over my heels.”
Oh god don’t remind me. Converses, fucking Converses under her dress. Why doesn’t she just kill me now and get it over with. I spent bloody hours making that dress perfect and she’s going to wear bloody sneakers underneath. She may have grown, she may be the gorgeous future Mrs Thompson with a bad ass job, beautiful little girl and fuckable almost future stepbrother; but to me she will always just be Al. The girl with the hoodie down to her knees, eyes bluer than the sky and a heart bigger than her gorgeous perky ass.
Me and her, we’re the real love story here.
I know we won’t get many more nights like this, so I sit back, forget all about lost loves, lock hands with my girl and let hungry eyes pull us into a world where all I’d have to worry about is remembering the steps.
Don’t step on the one Brie, you step on the two, find the two.
Thank god I can drink again because I definitely needed a glass of champagne to get through this morning.
Al was being so calm, but now the time has come to get ready she’s freaking the fuck out.
“I can’t find my panties! Did you take them?”
She’s wearing her panties but I ain’t gonna tell her, this is hilarious.
“Yeah hun, I threw them out. I figured easy access was the way to go for the wedding night so you didn’t need them.”
There’s a scowl on her face right now like she’s ready to kill me but as she catches herself in the mirror and realises her lace thong is poking out of her peachy behind she lets out the breath she’s been holding for the last ten fucking minutes.
“Al, you have to chill babe. Sit down and put your dressing gown on so we can finish your make up. The photographer will be here in twenty minutes and you haven’t even got your dress on yet. Sit the fuck down.”
I know she’s worried, she wants this day to be perfect for Jayce but she needs to relax before she gives herself a brain aneurysm.
My hands aren’t having a great day today, sometimes the tremors are worse than others and unfortunately that time is now. I’m mostly healed from that night at the mansion, this nerve damage and the scars are all that remain. I try not to let it effect me day to day but I’m not going to risk fucking up my girls eyeliner, so I let Kal do it before she does mine.
We decide to give Al a minute to breathe before putting her dress on. Heather comes running into the hotel room in her little white flower girl dress, looking like the ethereal angel she was born to be, and allowing me and Kal to sneak off to put our dresses on. Although I couldn’t stop myself giving my favourite little pudding a squeeze first.
“You look so pretty pudding. Your shoes are better than Mummy’s.”
Al stuck her tongue out at me but Heather just giggles before wrapping her arms around my neck. I can’t remember what life was like before this little one.
“I ‘uve ‘ew Aunt-wee Beebee.”
If all kids were like this one, I might actually consider having one.
“I love you more.”
Kallie grabs our dress bags and I follow her into the bathroom. I hadn’t been to this hotel in a while but it was still as gorgeous as last time, it was the same place Tara and Cole had their engagement party. What a bloody night that was...
That evening made Al and Jayce, it was the night I think every single one of us look back on now and realise it was the true beginning of that pair. Even the photograph sitting on the table with the guest book is the one taken in the booth that night. A photo that means more than most people will ever realise.
“This thing has shrunk, I swear.”
I’d obviously picked a skin tight bridesmaids dress, but this was snug even for me. It was really beautiful though. A floor length fish tail gown in pure black satin, with a layer of tulle at the bottom I’d added myself because I’m a drama loving bitch. I’d decided to go full Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, so found some elbow length black gloves and the chunkiest fake diamond bracelet, with matching choker necklace, you’ve ever seen.
My heels were going to kill me by the end of the night but I didn’t give a fuck, I looked like black Barbie and I was living for it.
Kallie was much more demure, her calf length dress had a cute corset top with a full tulle skirt in the same shade of ruthless black. I’d always said I’d kill for her boobs and right now they looked like somewhere I’d happily spend the night shoving my face into.
I’d managed to get her a chunky chocker necklace too so we had a bit of coordination going on but Al was never that bothered about everything being matching, she just wanted us all comfortable in our own skin. I just happen to be most comfortable when my skin is suffocated by a tight dress, I’m honestly not sure I can sit in this thing but my ass looks unbelievable.
Checking my curls are still perfect after the dress shimmy, we both step out of the bathroom into the main room to be greeted by Al still cuddling Heather, along with Tara, May and Cole.
Cole stares at me with a beaming smile of pride, I know that man loves me like a daughter but that look on his face never seems to stop making me fill with the warmth of his affection.
“You look wonderful girls.” He states before looking around at all the beautiful women in his life. He’s always been at our mercy, yet he’s never complained. Tara’s got a good one there.
May jumps up from the seat next to Tara and gives me a twirl in her stunning white bridesmaids dress. Her curls tamed into a plait over her shoulder, Tara’s really getting good at them.
Fuck, when did my little firecracker get so big? Couple years and she’s going to be a teenager... It’s terrifying.
“May... You look so beautiful.” She smirks, her curls growing so dangerously long now, she’s actually looking more and more like me every day.
“I know I do, I’m gorgeous. Can I borrow your lipstick? Oh Leah, is Milo’s friend Elijah coming?”
Yep. Definitely like me.
Checking the pins in Al’s hair for a final time before we secure her crown, we’re interrupted by knocking, Drew and Josh stepping into the room with their hands over their eyes.
“Is it safe? We don’t want to see the bride before the aisle and cause any bad luck or anything.”
He’s such a dick sometimes.
“That’s the groom you idiots. She’s good, we’re about to put her in her dress though so hurry up.”
They drop their hands with a smile. Josh’s eyes falling on me but Drew’s immediately landing on Kallie.
“Damn, is that my wife?”
The red on her cheeks tells me she’s still not used to being called that but it doesn’t stop her falling into his arms the instant he pulls her close.
Josh stuck with convention, picking a simple black suit with a crisp white shirt, but Drew went for black suit trousers, black braces, white shirt and a black fedora. It’s a serious gentleman look, he was always a bit more edgy than the other guys.
Walking around the love birds, Josh places a kiss on Al’s cheek before coming over and giving me one too. I know he’s leaving in a few days but I can’t even think about it right now, I’m going to miss this little bastard so much it hurts to even consider.
“You look good boy, who knew you could scrub up so well?”
He smirks, he knows he’s fine as all hell. “Not so bad yourself. I thought bridesmaids were supposed to wear bad dresses to make the bride look better or something?”
Al chuckles. “Please, you could dress Brie in a black bag and she’d still rock it... How’s umm...”
It’s almost like they all forgot I was in the room until she almost said the word. Steve.
“He’s um, yeah he’s good. He’s downstairs, jet lag wasn’t too bad.”
Steve. Downstairs. Steve is downstairs right now.
I’m not freaking out, you’re freaking out! I’m fine... I’m cool... I’m Coolio, I’m kool and the gang. I’m so cool it’s like Jack Frost fucked Elsa and the end result was my icy black ass!
Okay... I’m freaking out a bit.
“Dress!” Everybody snaps their head to me and I realise that was a slightly unnecessary outburst but at least it changed the subject. “I mean, we need to get you in your dress. Do you want everyone here to see or just your dad beaut?”
Al looks over at the bag holding her dress, still hanging from the curtain pole I’d hooked it on when we got here this morning.
“Um actually, Tara could you stay too? I have something to ask you.” Tara nods but looks slightly confused, before Al turns to Josh and hands him Heather. “Can you watch her until Jayce gets here? He shouldn’t be long, Lisa text to say they’ve left the house.”
Heather wraps her arms around Josh’s neck before they do that cute little nose kisses they always do. “Come on beautiful, let’s go find Milo so you can tell him how I’m your favourite Uncle. Again.” Oh god, he lives to wind that kid up I swear.
Kallie and Drew help May with her giant skirt before walking out towards the hall with her hands in each of theirs. A perfect little family. I know things are difficult with her brother but those two are going to be amazing parents one day.
Cole helps me carry the very heavy dress bag over to the bedroom of the honeymoon suite before I close the door so Al can have her big reveal.
Taking the dress out of the bag and laying it down in the bed I can’t stop the tears that fill my eyes. She’s going to look so incredible.
“It’s perfect babe.”
Al’s arm comes around my waist as she leans her head against my shoulder and we both take a second just to appreciate the beauty of this gown.
It took us a long time to find the perfect dress. We went to endless stores but nothing seemed to fit, then we saw this one at a vintage place off the High Street and it was like all the stars had aligned. Finally it made sense why nothing else worked.
Al may like tradition but she was never one for white. There was only one colour Aleah Davies could marry Jayce Thompson in.
He always said red was her colour.