Reluctant Bridesmaid - 09 of 10

The Reluctant Bridesmaid©

By: Annette MacGregor

This story is based on a dream I've had off and on for a LONG time. To the best of my knowledge, the characters and events depicted in this story are fictional. Any resemblance to actual people or events is purely coincidental.


Part 9

Nice of her to think about that NOW, but no, I can't muck up her wedding day. "Don't worry." Now, change the subject. "You've seen her. She has a special gown for the wedding and reception too. She hasn't even let me see it yet."

"Ohhh, I bet it's nice," said Stacy.

"Me too. She's also spent the afternoon in the hotel salon."

"Going all out."

I nodded. About then, the limos pulled to a stop, and we carefully went in the church door, where Pam was waiting for us.

"Come on in, before the wind picks up. We have plenty of time. The guys don't get here for another hour."

We went in. Before changing, I got out the pearls.

"Carol, I told you I'd brought something you could borrow." I held out the case.

She opened it: "Oh my, oh my, Stevie, they're beautiful."

"They were my grandmother's. They are for you to borrow."

"They're so beautiful." She showed the necklace and earrings to the others.

"The earrings are for pierced ears." Louise remarked.

"Yes, grandma had them converted for my wedding."

"You borrowed them as well?" she asked.

"It was a beautiful wedding, Stevie."

"Thanks, Carol." I was glad for her interruption. "And yours will be as well." I smiled.

Stacy got out a new blue garter; "Sis, with Stevie's contribution and this, you have something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue."

The other girls laughed at this. "You're just being lazy, Stace," her sister teased.

"Hey, I had something old for you too, but these are so much nicer."

More laughter.

Stacy and I helped Carol get dressed, though Stacy seemed a little put off by this initially. I didn't hear what Stacy said, but Carol's response was music to my ears. "She's as much a girl as you or me, sis."

We heard a knocking at the door, and Pam stuck her head in. "You girls ready for Alberto?"

Looking around, I could see we were all dressed. "We're ready enough, Pam."

Alberto probably heard, because he came bursting in. "Stay still, ladies. I must check for damage."

He went to each of us, and looked at things. "You have been good. There is little to fix. Get finished please."

Once Carol was dressed, and Alberto was doing finishing touches before he put the veil in, I went over to Karen and Samantha.

"Will you put the earrings in now?"

"Sure. But we'd best be careful and not mess you up, or Alberto will have us drawn and quartered," Samantha replied.

They quickly removed my posts and carefully inserted the hooks and then put the stops on the back.

Stepping back, Karen said. "You're looking really good, Stevie."

I ducked my head.

"Don't be embarrassed, you are looking good. I bet Shelly will be impressed too."

I smiled at that, though I was cringing inside. Shelly married STEVE, not Stevie. Will she still be able to see me like this?

"Thanks, you two. I'd best get back to Carol. We don't want her climbing the walls, and the artist," I indicated Alberto, "might just get her excited."

They both laughed at that.

As I crossed the room to Carol, I put the posts in the earring case and both into my purse. I was glad they locked the room during the service.

"You're looking really awesome, Carol," I said as I walked up.

"Of course she is. Alberto is an artist," the artist boasted. "The pearls are a brilliant addition. I had no idea she was to wear them."

"I borrowed them from Stevie, Alberto."

"Signora, they are wonderful. I have pulled the hair back a bit more so the ears are clearly visible. As you can see, the effect is fantastico."

I smiled, and just nodded. As far as I could tell, the previous do had looked just as nice.

"Ahh, but your hair has become messed up. You must be more careful. Come sit here and I will fix." He did so, "now, let it be, and you will be lovely."

He continued scurrying around fixing imagined things that were not perfect, or at least not to his satisfaction.

Pam stuck her head in again. "Five minutes. The mothers will be escorted in soon."

"Stevie, here's the ring for Jim," Stacy said.

I'd planned on putting it on my right finger, but found it too big. Wow, I had no idea his hands were that much bigger. I placed it on my index finger, and made sure I could remove it easily.

"Ready."

We all lined up, with Stacy and I accompanying Carol as we'd been told. Then Pam opened the door.

"Have fun, girls."

I nodded as we got to her, and then she locked the door behind us. Stacy and I held Carol's train up. We each had one of the burgundy sashes. I loved the way Carol had tied our dresses to hers. Little details. She's a master at that.

We arrived at the carpeted area, and there was the room divider and her father.

"Dad. What do you think?"

"You're all beautiful, honey."

"It's going to be all right, isn't it?"

"Of course it will."

She turned to Stacy and me then. "I'm scared. What if he's not there?"

I smiled, and reached out to her. "Carol, Jim is there, and waiting for you. I can assure you that he's probably MUCH more nervous than you are. Remember, he's standing there, all alone–except for Reverend Willie–and he's wondering if you'll actually come through the door. Just ask your dad. I'm sure he felt much the same when he was married."

"Young lady, I don't know how you knew that, but you're absolutely right. That was the longest few minutes of my life, waiting for your mother to come through the door on her father's arm. Be brave pumpkin and you will soon give me a son."

A little while later, Pam had Stacy and me come over. Stacy stood in the door, and Frank offered his arm, and escorted her down. I looked over my shoulder, and winked at Carol, before stepping into the doorway myself, to wait for Franks return.

I stood there in the open door, suddenly feeling very alone. I had just left Carol and her dad. She was nervous, but I assured her I'd be right where I'd been during the rehearsal the day before. When that didn't seem to calm her, I reminded her that while she wore the pearls, I was with her. This produced a smiling and more relaxed Carol. I could understand her father's smile of thanks.

Ahh, Frank's on his way back. The ring, yes, it's on my index finger. I can't get over how much bigger Jim's fingers are than mine.

"Ready?"

"As I'll ever be. Thanks, Frank."

"My pleasure. Let's get Jim married, shall we?"

I nodded my agreement as I smiled at him.

"Okay, go," said Frank, and we were off.

To say I was nervous, would be putting it mildly. It would be so easy for me to ruin things. I tried to look for Shelly, without being too obvious, but didn't see her. Frank was great, and as we reached the front, I whispered, "Thanks."

I took my position and he went to stand with Jim.

We all watched Reverend Willie, and when he nodded, we turned to face the door. I tried to find Shelly, while keeping my face toward the door. Then, just as I found her, I saw the doors begin to open and I had to turn my attention to Carol. The doors were swung fully open. There was Carol, with her father beside her, looking very proud.

The gown was beautiful. It was a satin a-line halter, with a split front and modesty panel. The panel, rather than hide things, seemed to enhance her small breasts. The beaded lace wasn't apparent from here, but it both stiffened the fabric, and provided a lovely texture. I also thought the lace-up back was an interesting touch. As opposed to our empire waists, hers sloped from the front, and the burgundy sash that met our bodices accented her hips. The dress had a short train, and the sash crossed in the back, and flowed out to end near the bottom of the train. The veil started from a small comb in the center of her head. I'd seen Alberto put it in, but I still found it hard to believe it didn't fall out. The veil was actually more of hair decoration, since it just went down her back and dropping to her waist. I still remember Carol's comment from the fitting. "There's no way I'm not going to be able to see Jim clearly when they finally open the door." We'd laughed, but in retrospect, I think it probably did her nerves good to be able to see his smile.

I watched them as they came down the aisle. I finally located Shelly, as they passed her seat, and saw her smiling. Glad that I had found her, I was able to keep my mind on the service thereafter.

The rest of the wedding went just as we'd rehearsed. I stepped forward to hand Carol the ring right on cue and managed to get back to my position without tripping.

I was crying a little, as Carol and Jim walked up the aisle as husband and wife. I prayed that they would have a wonderful life together.

Frank stepped up, and I stepped out to join him. He whispered "Why do you girls always cry at weddings?"

I whispered back, "Because we're happy."

I heard him snort quietly. As we got back near Shelly, I looked at her, with a smile, and saw she was smiling back. What I could see of her dress was stunning. She had a shawl over her bare shoulders, and the bodice crossed in front. I was sure the color was a perfect match for the darker shade in my gown. I couldn't wait to get a closer view.

When Frank and I got to the back, he released me, and headed back for Stacy. I stepped over to the room partition, and was promptly jumped by Carol.

"Stevie, I'm married!"

"Really, I'd never have guessed." At her look of surprised, "Of course you are." I was smiling broadly now, "To a wonderful man."

"And I have you to thank for..."

I interrupted her. "You have HIM to thank for it, Carol. Don't you think he deserves a hug?"

"Oh, YES." She bounced back to a grinning Jim, and gave him another big hug. He mouthed at thank you to me, which felt good. Maybe he could accept me, and if he could maybe others as well.

Stacy and Frank joined us, and pair by pair, the rest came out. Pam came over.

"Okay, if you'll all follow the corridor to the opened room, you can rest and chat a bit, as your guests leave. The two that are escorting the mothers and the groomsmen that are directing the guests out should remain."

We went back to the room indicated, and all congratulated Jim and Carol. They both had some of the biggest grins I'd ever seen. A little while later Frank and Mark joined us.

"Stevie, you might want to fix your eyes. I think you've been crying more than the rest of us. I bet you never thought you'd see this day."

"Not exactly, Stacy, I was convinced that she'd get married eventually. I just didn't expect to be in the wedding party. I'm doubly happy I guess."

At that point, Alberto came bustling in. "You girls, why do you HAVE to cry? Come, stop, stop. I must fix things before the pictures."

He fixed those of us needing repair. I was glad to discover that I was not the only one.

Eventually the guests had all left, except for the families and we were lead back into the sanctuary for the staged shots the photographer wanted. He indicated that more would be taken at the reception.

We all headed out to the limos. There were three this time. Stacy and I were in the first one with Carol, Jim and Frank. The others were spread across the other two cars.

"Stevie, I'm looking forward to meeting your husband tonight."

I almost choked. "My spouse will be there, Frank. If we're not next to each other in the line, I'll introduce you later." I hoped that nothing would happen. I looked over at Jim and Carol. I wonder if they heard.

We arrived for the reception, and went in through a side door. Many of the guests had already arrived, but were waiting in the lobby.

As we arrived in the ball room, we were lined up in the receiving line. As it turned out, the last five of us in line were Stacy then Frank, then me, then Jim, and finally Carol. I guess Frank would get to meet Shelly soon. I could feel myself tensing up again, but looking over at Carol with Jim, I knew it was worth it to see my friend happy. Then, unexpectedly, Jim leaned over.

"Frank won't make a scene here. Don't worry." I guess he HAD heard Frank's comment.

Things went on, Frank introduced people to me, and I in turn introduced them to Jim. I'd just introduced an older couple to Jim, which turned out to be his grandparents, when I turned back, and there was Shelly.

"Stevie, this is Mrs.-" he started, but was interrupted by Shelly.

"Hi Stevie."

"I take it you've met?" said Frank. "She's the first one tonight."

"We've known each other almost as long as I've known Carol. How are you, honey?"

"Okay, the wedding was beautiful; we can talk more later." She reached out and gave my hand a squeeze.

This brought my attention back to my duty, I turned with her to Jim, "Jim, you've met my spouse, Shelly." I heard a sharp breath intake from behind, but nobody said anything.

"Shelly, I'm so glad you could come. I'd like to introduce you to my wife..."

The rest of the line went on much like the first part, but I could almost feel the looks Frank gave me with almost every introduction. I almost wished I'd not introduced Shelly that way, but I wasn't ashamed to be married to her. As far as I was concerned, she was the prettiest person there. I hoped that Jim was right about Frank.

Once the last of the guests had passed the receiving line, we separated to our tables. I found myself at the table with Jim, Carol, Stacy and Frank. Shelly and I were to Carol's right, while Frank and Stacy were to Jim's left. I was happy to see that Shelly had been seated with us. The other bridesmaids and groomsmen were spread across two other tables with some others, which I took to be their spouses or dates.

The meal was served, toasts were offered, the cake was served. It all brought back so many memories for both Shelly and me. We both laughed at the number of times people would ding their forks to their wine glasses. Poor Jim and Carol didn't really get to enjoy their meal.

I leaned over. "Don't worry, Carol. You might get to snack a bit once the dancing starts."

"Don't tease her, Stevie. You know good and well folks will keep both of them out there on the floor all night."

"Thanks for the warning, but, I'm not hungry. You'll get your share of dancing too, I'm sure."

At my–I'm sure stricken–look, she laughed. "You have the second dance with Jim, you know, and you'll have one with Frank, and..."

"Stop," I interrupted. I realized then, that I had something to worry about. I don't know why, but I'd assumed I could sit and watch the dancing.

Shelly gave me a quick hug. "Don't worry, dear. Most of it's not formal dancing, and you just sorta move around."

"Thanks."

The dancing went pretty much as expected, well, at the beginning. Jim and Carol had the first dance. Then Carol and her father danced, while Jim danced with me, then Jim's dad had a dance with Carol and Jim was with Stacy. I think Frank was supposed to dance with me then, but we stood on the side and watched.

"You could have warned me in the car."

"Warned?"

"Yeah, that you were a lezzy."

I guess that's better than something he could have said. "Would it have made that much difference?"

"I guess not, I wouldn't have wanted to muck up Jim's ride. I am surprised that he didn't seem startled though."

"He's known for a while."

"The bast..." Frank started.

"Please don't make a scene."

"No, but we will have words when he gets back, I assure you. Making a fool of me like that."

"Frank, you've been a gentleman. Nobody thinks you're a fool."

At that point Carol's cousin came up, and asked me to dance, and I saw Frank go and ask Shelly for a dance. Other couples came out and joined us on the dance floor. After a few dances, I decided to have my dance with Carol, and cut in. Her current partner looked at me a little funny, but gave way.

"Oh, thank you, Stevie. You've made this the happiest day of my life."

"You and Jim did that."

"Yes, but I'd never have made it without you."

"I don't want you saying that now. You're married to a wonderful guy." Only then, did we notice that many of the other couples had stopped dancing, though things picked up again when Karen and Samantha took to the floor, too.

"I hope I didn't embarrass you by dancing with you."

"You couldn't embarrass me, Stevie."

We hugged at the end of the dance, and most of the other bridesmaids lined up to dance with Carol too. Louise even said, "Good idea, Stevie. Shocking some of these stiffs doesn't hurt. I never thought I'd get a chance to dance with a bride."

"Thanks Louise. I just didn't think about it, to be honest."

Shelly came and, joined, we danced.

"Jim's brother is a bore. He couldn't stop hitting on me."

"I don't blame him, you know. You're by far the most beautiful person here."

"Stevie, don't be silly. If for no other reason, by definition, Carol is."

I laughed with her.

"Shelly, I'm sorry I put you through all of this."

"Don't be. And we'll talk about it more later. Meanwhile, I'm leading the next dance."

"Fine by me. I never was much good at it."

She laughed. "Then, why were you the one everyone wanted to dance with?"

"I missed their toes?"

"It was more than that, honey. Oh, when I danced with Jim, he said how amazed he was at you."

"I'm not sure I understand."

"He said that if you'd not told him, he'd never have suspected you might have been a guy." She must have felt me lurch a little. "I know, honey. I've had a little longer to get used to the idea, but even so, I make mistakes. I'm sure none of us really understand what you're going through, deep down."

I hugged her a little tighter then, "Can we save this for later too, honey?" I wasn't sure I could go through this conversation again, and not lose it right here.

"Sorry, yes. I was just trying to pass on Jim's complement."

"I know, and I appreciate it."

Just then, we were interrupted by Frank, cutting in. "I think I'll dance with the lovely lady."

"No thank you, Frank. We've danced."

"Come on, you ladies shouldn't be dancing together." I saw him weave a little then.

"Let's go talk," I said, trying to lead Shelly toward the side of the dance floor. Frank followed us. He wasn't that steady on his feet.

Shelly said, "Frank, I really don't want to dance with you right now. I'd rather spend time with Stevie."

--- Continued


Author's Note: I want to thank all my alpha and beta readers for their thoughts and encouragement. I espacially want to thank my three editors/proofers whithout who's help, this would be a much worse story. Any problems remaining are mine. The story is complete. The last (and largest) segment will be posted tomorrow.



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