Double Major

By: Catherine Gayle

Something had happened that made the audience laugh and ooh and aah, and for a moment, I let myself remove my gaze from Sara. Dana and her father had come down their aisle and were almost to us, but Rachel and Tuck were still nearly at the back of the chapel, barely beyond the doors. It took me a minute to figure out why, but then I saw that Tuck had handed his pillow to his mother, and she had placed it under her arm, bouquet still in hand, while he was bending over and picking up all of the flower petals that his sister had scattered on her way to the front. When he had too many in his hands, he shoved them into a pocket and went back for more. Instead of getting upset with him, Rachel was just going along with it and laughing, charming everyone here.

Eventually, they arrived at the end of their aisle, and Tuck let go of his mother’s hand for long enough to run up the steps and dump his flower petals into his sister’s basket as he emptied his pockets. That only caused Maddie’s face to turn bright red with embarrassment. Tuck spun around, leaped down the two steps he’d climbed, and took his spot next to his mother again with a big grin.

The officiant cleared his throat. “And just think. In twenty years, we’ll all be back here trying to wrangle this one into matrimony, as well.”

The audience laughed some more before he moved on to asking who was giving Dana away. Her father kissed her cheek before passing her hand over to Zee. When the minister asked who was giving Rachel away, Tuck wasn’t quite as cooperative.

“No one’s taking my mommy!” He planted his hands on his hips, and the look on his face was ridiculously comical and heartbreakingly serious all at the same time.

It took a minute to convince him he could keep his mother and still give her to Soupy in marriage, but once that was settled, Tuck bounded away from her and headed straight for Babs, completely bypassing Soupy and leaving the ring pillow behind.

Burnzie quickly crossed over to take the rings from Rachel, and Soupy took her hand. It felt as though the crowd may not ever stop laughing.

But not everyone was laughing. Sara still hadn’t stopped staring past us, out into the crowd. I decided to do the same. Maybe that way I could figure out what was going on before the reception. I’d rather head off any potential disasters if it was at all possible.

I made my way through each row in the center section, scanning face by face, to see if I recognized anyone who might upset her. I started at the front. By the time the two couples were exchanging rings, I still hadn’t discovered a face that seemed like a likely culprit.

The officiant was just saying, “You may now kiss your brides,” when I found her—a woman who was the spitting image of Sara only with a few more wrinkles. She was sitting with three kids—two boys and a girl, one of them almost a teenager—on one side, and a man I recognized but had never met on the other: Jeremy Connor, a retired NHL defenseman. These days he was scouting for some team in the league or another. I wasn’t sure which one he was with currently. The kids looked so much like both Sara and this woman that there could be no doubt: this was Sara’s mother and the man she left Scotty for, and those kids were Sara’s half siblings.

And that explained in one fell swoop why Sara was shooting daggers with her eyes. Her mother hadn’t just abandoned Scotty; she’d completely left Sara behind, as well. There hadn’t been any contact since she’d run off with Jeremy Connor. Sara didn’t know her siblings. She’d never met them. The only way she knew their names was through the hockey grapevine, the same way my sisters and mother had learned about my relationship with Sara a few months ago.

What I had no clue about was why they were here. Were they friends of the Campbell family? It was possible. Mark Campbell had been a star in the league for nearly two decades. Jeremy Connor might have been one of his teammates somewhere along the way. Half the chapel was filled with current and former NHL players, so that wasn’t outside the realm of possibility.

The Campbells must not have known, or maybe they didn’t remember, that there were family issues at play. In the hockey world, there might be a huge scandal one day but then something else comes along and pushes it from memory the next day—unless you were one of the people involved, of course, like Sara was.

There was no chance she would forget, then or now.

Before I could make up my mind what I should do, if anything, the two new couples were making their way back down the aisles. The bridesmaids and the groomsmen came together, pairing up to follow them. Webs and Laura went first, and then Noelle and Burnzie—a pairing that didn’t make much sense in my head, since Noelle was almost never separated from Kally. Granted, Kally wasn’t one of the groomsmen, so… Babs and Katie followed them, with Maddie and Tuck holding hands right in front of them. That left Sara and me.

Instead of taking her hand like all of the other couples had done, I put my arm around her waist and drew her in to my side. Just that small amount of contact was enough for me to feel her vibrating—with anger, maybe with fear. I wanted to get her away for a minute, to see if I could help her calm down. This was a wedding, not a brawl. I had every intention of keeping things that way.