She lifts her eyes to meet mine and shakes her head. “I’ll have to leave the reception early to catch my flight.”
I stare at her. “It’s my wedding day,” I whisper helplessly. How could she have plans to leave in the middle of everything and not even tell me?
“Why aren’t you driving if you’re moving there?” Kate asks. “Don’t you need your car?”
Raina snorts. “You think that pile of junk would make it to Michigan? Anyway, they’re giving her a car at that fancy new job.”
I scowl at my bridesmaids. I don’t care how she’s getting there. I care that she’s leaving in the middle of my wedding day.
“I’m sorry.” Veronica covers her mouth, closes her eyes, and lets out a long, slow stream of air.
“She’s already anxious, Nicole,” Martha says. She always did like my twin more than me—her and everyone else. “Don’t make her feel worse.”
“Do you need to lie down?” I ask Veronica. We might not have that psychic twin link, but I’m not some bridezilla who’s going to make a sick girl walk down the aisle. Even if said sick girl is my twin and should be by my side on the most important day of my life.
Martha pulls a handkerchief from her purse, pours water onto it, and blots the back of Veronica’s neck. “You’ll feel better once we get out there. Just need fresh air, is all.”
Veronica steps away from Martha’s blotting. “I’m fine. It’s fine.” She looks at me. “I’m so sorry.”
I shake my head. “It’s not your fault.”
The music changes.
“That’s my cue,” Martha says. She kisses me on the cheek. “You look beautiful.”
“Thanks,” I say. But I don’t feel beautiful. I feel like every doubt and insecurity is written on my face. Like I’m going to walk down the aisle and everyone’s going to see Marcus’s “I can’t stop thinking about you” scrolling across my forehead like a teleprompter.
His mother slips through the front of the tent and starts her graceful trek down the aisle to take her seat in the front row. The bridesmaids follow, one by one, and I peek through the flaps and spot Marcus at the altar, handsome as ever. He’s tall and slim, with rough hands and a secret romantic side. His best friend whispers something to him, and his dimple makes an appearance as his chest shakes with a repressed chuckle. His brown eyes crinkle in the corners. Sweet Lord, he’s gorgeous.
And maybe a cheater. Possibly. Probably.
The flower girls take their turn down the aisle to a chorus of “aww,” and then it’s my turn, and Marcus’s father, Dean, appears to escort me down the aisle. I take his arm and meet Marcus’s eyes. His chest rises and falls, and he shakes his head in awe.
Now I feel beautiful.
Was I really worried? Did I really believe that Marcus, my Marcus, could do something so terrible?
I pull my shoulders back and smile at him—my strong, capable fiancé, my soon-to-be-husband, the father of my future children. The anxiety in my gut fizzles away. Later, I’ll tell him what I thought I heard, and we’ll laugh together over how my shit luck with men has made me think the worst.
Everything is going to be fine.
Dean squeezes my arm when we reach the end of the aisle.
“Who gives this woman to this man?” Pastor Rickman asks.
“In honor of her mother, I do,” Dean says, and my eyes well with tears, but I don’t know if it’s because of the reminder that my mom isn’t here or because I’m so grateful for Marcus’s family, and I’m literally minutes away from being one of them.
“Thank you,” the pastor says.
Dean takes his seat, and I turn to Veronica and hand off my bouquet, just like we practiced.
Veronica looks at me, her eyes pleading and desperate. She grimaces, and in the next breath, she vomits all over my flowers and down the front of her dress.
The flower girls screech.
“Oh my God,” Veronica says, staring at the watery flowers. “I’m sorry.”
“That’s some mighty bad catfish,” Kate says.
“Is that what they’re calling it these days?” Raina says, too loud. “That girl is knocked up.”
The guests gasp, and I step back. Away from the smell of stomach acid. Away from my sister with the worry and helpless grief all over her face.
Knocked up? Have we drifted so far apart that she wouldn’t even tell me something that important?
She nods in answer to my unspoken question.
This is good news, right? A baby is always good news.
So why do I feel like the earth is falling away beneath my feet?
“I’m sorry,” Veronica repeats, still looking at me. “I’m so sorry.”
“Veronica?” Marcus pales. My gaze ping-pongs between him and my sister. His eyes are fixed on my twin and hers on him as she slowly nods again. “Why didn’t you tell me?”