It’s the day I never thought I’d have – my wedding day.
Before I met Jocelyn, I really never thought I’d get married. But as soon as I laid eyes on her, I just knew everything had changed. And now I couldn’t be any happier if I tried.
I just had to ask her to marry me right away, because I wanted to make sure that she knew there was stability for her and Maxim. I’m not sure how long I’ll be in Pittsburgh but I want to be with her no matter what, and take her and Maxim back and forth to California when I go.
“You sure you’re ready for this, bud?” Brian asks, as he adjusts my boutonniere for me.
He and Tammy flew in from Idaho for the wedding.
“Oh, man, you haven’t been around to see how lovesick he is for her, or you wouldn’t ask that,” my friend Chris says.
He works on the steel company app with me in Pittsburgh. All of our other co-workers and friends that are here – which is everyone except for Karen, who wasn’t invited, of course – laughs and nods their heads.
“Yep, he’s got it bad,” they all affirm.
“Hey, when you know, you just know,” I say.
We get ready to head to the front of the outdoor ceremony area when I see someone storm in, her face looking red and mad.
“Karen!” I say, rushing up to reach her before she can wreck havoc on everyone and everything.
“I knew you guys were up to something,” she says. “You are getting married and you invited everyone but me? You guys always hang out without me, don’t you?”
She stomps her foot, demanding answers, and I just shake my head ruefully.
“Look, Karen, sorry I didn’t invite you but you were really coming onto me strong, and no offense, but, like I said, I needed to put some distance between you and me…”
“Because you had a fiancé,” she says, smirking, with a knowing look on her face. “No wonder you didn’t want to be with me. All you had to do was say so. Or were you hoping for a secret affair?”
She narrows her eyes and lowers her voice, bringing her face closer to mine.
“Because if so, I can make that happen, you know. I don’t mind. I’ll be anything you want.”
“Karen!” I tell her, exasperated beyond belief. “That’s not what I was hoping for. In fact, I was hoping to avoid this type of badgering, which is why, unfortunately, I couldn’t invite you, and I’m going to have to ask you to leave…”
“Badgering you?” she asks, immediately starting to fake-cry, for dramatic effect. “Is that what you think of me?”
“Everything okay here?” Brian asks, approaching us.
He’s a big, strong guy with a menacing presence. One would think that Karen would be afraid of him but instead her eyebrows perked up in interest.
“And who are you?” she says. “Everything is fine here, except that Derek and I were just breaking up. I’m a free woman now, if you’re interested.”
“I’m taken,” Brian immediately say. “No thanks. But if you’ll be on your way, we’d appreciate it. The ceremony is about to start and it’s for invited guests only.”
“So, I’m just excluded from everything, aren’t I?” Karen says.
I can barely resist rolling my eyes, but Brian handles the situation well, saying, “Ma’am, do we need to call the police?”
“No, that won’t be necessary,” she says. “I’ll see myself out.”
Pouting one more time for good measure, she turns around to leave. And I’m finally free to go wait for my bride under the alter, which is the only place I want to be.
I’m a bit nervous as I’m getting ready, but I’m also excited. Today is definitely the happiest day of my life.
“You look beautiful,” Aunt Barbara says, as she kisses me on the cheek. “I don’t blame Derek for jumping the gun and marrying you. I’m glad you’ll be living together now, but don’t go too far away, because I’ll really miss you, and Maxim.”
“Don’t worry,” I tell her. “I won’t. We might fly back and forth to and from San Fran, but I’ll always live here at least part time, because the bakery has really taken off.”
Thanks to the injection of capital from the auction money, and Derek’s further investments, I think, but I don’t say it out loud, because she only knows about – or assumes, at least – the latter, while still never knowing about the former. I think that’ll go down as Derek’s and my little secret.
“Good. I’ll always babysit whenever you need me to, of course,” she says. “And now, I’m going to go usher Uncle Bob to his seat, but I’ll be right back.”
“Thanks, Auntie,” I tell her, with a smile.
Uncle Bob and I have made up, to some extent. Paying him back certainly helped things. But I’ve been trying to understand that he has been hurt in the past, too, and everyone is just trying to get by. At least he didn’t completely abandon me, like my parents did.