I turned my head to look at Chloe, who’d been silent except for her initial outburst.
She was watching me, hurt still shining in her eyes, but I could also see understanding.
“Mad at me?” I asked, quietly.
She shook her head. “No. I understand. I just can’t believe you were gonna do it like my brother did, and cut everybody out of it.”
“No, no, no…it wasn’t like that, we weren’t trying to cut everybody out of it, we just, I guess we just didn’t want to make a big deal of it. I’m sorry,” I told her, reaching out across the space between our chairs to grab for her hand.
She let me take her hand, squeezing my fingers briefly before letting them go. “You’re just lucky that we were already coming home on Friday from the honeymoon. Now, instead, we’ll just take a detour and be at your wedding, along with everyone else.” She winked and grinned.
I groaned again. Yep. I was totally dead.
Finally, the conversation turned away from the topic of my wedding, and as soon as it did, I palmed my phone and texted my mom on the sly.
Me: Remember how I told you not to tell anyone about the wedding?
Mom: I didn’t tell anyone, I swear!
Me: I know. But I sure as hell blabbed by mistake.
Mom: Yay! Now I can tell everyone!
Me: No! Mom, no, not yet. I haven’t even told Ian that I let it out yet…
I jerked, sliding my phone back into my pocket as I looked up to see who’d been addressing me. “Hmm? What?”
Chloe gave me a weird look and repeated what she said. “I’m staying with you tonight, because Brandon and I aren’t supposed to see each other. Right?”
“Yeah,” I confirmed, nodding.
“You okay?” she asked me, still looking at me like I was crazy.
I waved her off with another nod and changed the subject. “So, Emma. You heard who our brother dearest is bringing to the wedding as his date?”
Emma snapped her head around, eyes wide. “No, who? Tell me, tell me tell me!”
I sighed, letting my shoulders sag with disappointment. “Damnit! I thought you knew, that’s why I was asking.”
“No, the rat bastard won’t tell me,” she replied, glaring at even the thought of our brother keeping a secret from us.
Chloe giggled beside me and shot me a knowing smirk.
I narrowed my eyes at her, growling out, “You know, don’t you.”
It wasn’t a question.
She only grinned.
Once all of our fingers and toes were all prettied up for tomorrow, we headed out to the church, still trying to get Chloe to rat out Calland. For the rest of the night, no matter what we did to cajole her, she refused to tell us who Calland was bringing as a date.
The rehearsal went smoothly, though Sarah had to smack a couple of serial gigglers throughout the process. And no, one of them wasn’t me.
Okay, so she smacked me once…but she was laughing right along with me!
The rehearsal dinner was being held at Manny’s in the back party room, and the wine and beer was freely flowing. We toasted the happy couple so many times that Brandon finally held up his hand and stopped Luke’s next one.
“Dude! You guys aren’t gonna have any toasts left for tomorrow!” he cried, laughing.
Luke winked at him. “Trust me. I have plenty of material left over for tomorrow, brother.”
For a brief second, Brandon almost looked scared, but then ended up laughing and clutching his brother’s shoulder as Luke continued wishing the couple well.
I settled back in my seat, nestling into the arm Ian had draped over my shoulders. He was grinning at me, so I just went with it, figuring it’d be a good time to tell him that I let the cat out of the bag. I picked now for two reasons; One, because there was a crowd of witnesses, and two, because he was in a good mood and there was a crowd of witnesses.
“So…you love me, right?”
He nodded, still grinning. “Of course.”
“Good. Cause I let it slip about the wedding to the girls today.”
His grin stayed, but I did see his eye twitch just a little bit in surprise.
“Are you mad?”
That’s when his grin slipped away. “Mad? How the hell could I be mad? Baby, I would never get mad for you wanting your friends and family to be a part of this. I know we said we wanted to just keep it quiet and not make a big deal of it, but I think it’s gonna work out the way it should. You know?”
I bit my lip. “But what about your parents? I know mine were already coming, but I’ve been feeling horrible about you not having anyone there for you.”
He leaned down and kissed my forehead. “I was already gonna tell them, give them the option of showing up. But don’t get your hopes up. Besides, now I have friends coming.” He gave me a wink and another grin, kissing me briefly on the lips before turning back to the party.
Chloe caught my eye and raised a brow in question. I smiled in response and settled back against my fiancé once more, enjoying the rest of the night with my friends and family.
Music swelled through the speakers, letting us know that it was time to get into place.
I dabbed at my eyes once more as I took in the sight of my best friend, standing there in her wedding gown, so beautiful it was breath taking.
“No crying,” she scolded, dabbing at her own eyes as tears began to well.
“No! No crying!” Emma called frantically, flapping her hands in both of our faces as if to dry our eyes that way. “That’s our cue to go stand in line, so pull yourselves together this instant!”
“Okay, Mom,” I told her dryly, dodging her hand when it darted out to slap me, jokingly.
“You ready?” I asked Chloe, who nodded, and then turned to Sarah, Chloe’s mom. “Are you?”
She nodded, flapping her own hands in front of her face to ward off the waterworks that were threatening. She blew Chloe a kiss and strode from the room to get into place and to collect herself a bit.
As soon as she did, I glanced around the room, feeling my heart swell as Jackson stepped forward, handsome as ever in his tux, and reached for his sister’s hand. He didn’t say anything, just smiled softly and kissed her forehead before motioning for us to precede them out of the room, holding tightly to her hand as he prepared to give her away.
It was a gorgeous ceremony; everything went smoothly and it couldn’t have been more picture perfect for them, and they didn’t deserve anything less.
We moved through the pictures and all the normal post-wedding/pre-reception requirements as quickly as possible so we could all get to celebrating. Chloe finally told me and Emma that Calland wasn’t bringing anyone to the wedding with him, but half an hour later while I was sitting at the head table eating my dinner, I realized she’d been lying when I noticed the blond girl sitting next to my brother.
I nudged Emma, who was seated to my right, jerking my chin at Calland when she looked my way. Her eyes widened and we both glared at Chloe, who wasn’t paying any attention until I elbowed her.
When she followed the direction of my gaze, she laughed out loud, shaking her head at us and shrugging unapologetically before she turned back to her new husband.
We didn’t get a chance to corner him until later, once we’d gotten the requisite wedding party dances out of the way, and Chloe and Brandon had cut the cake.