Double Major

By: Catherine Gayle

“I think we’re all here now, so why don’t we get started?” he said once all eyes turned to him.

Katie’s hand fell away from mine almost instantly, and she shrugged her shoulders with an apologetic downturn of her lips. “Later,” she whispered. “We’ll find time to talk.”

Before I could respond, she went over to her mother’s side, looking back at me over her shoulder and giving me a wink.

I trudged over to join Keith Burns, Cam Johnson, and Webs—the other groomsmen—up near the altar so we could get things underway.

“Babs,” Webs said when I got there, and I shot my eyes up to look at him. He scowled. “She’s gotta do what’s right for her. Whether it’s what we want or not.”

That didn’t sound good at all. I definitely noticed he’d said we, though. Like we were in this together.

The wedding coordinator started talking, telling us what each of us were supposed to do and how things were going to go down, not that I was paying any attention to him at all. Had Katie made up her mind to leave? Just then, my phone started buzzing in my pocket. It had to be more text messages from Levi. And they kept coming and coming.

I wasn’t just a bad brother; I was the shittiest brother ever, hands down.

Especially because I was more worried about what the cryptic warning Webs had given me meant than I was about the half million text messages from my brother.

“HAPPY” BY PHARRELL Williams started blaring from behind us while we were in the middle of the wedding rehearsal, causing everyone to jump. Me, especially, because that was what my boyfriend, Liam, had set as the ringtone on my phone—he said it suited me—which meant I’d neglected to turn my cell off like I’d intended to before we got started with all of this.

“So sorry,” I said, rushing away from the stage to the front row of seats where I’d stashed my purse. The song continued playing loudly the whole time I dug through the depths to reach it. Before I could find the silly thing and answer it, Rachel’s son, Tuck, broke into a song-and-dance routine as the music played, and everyone started laughing. He’d been getting as antsy to be done as I had, so at least this gave him a diversion, however small.

I finally fished the phone out of the bottom of my bag, but only in time to see that I’d missed the call. It had been Chris, my brother. He and our other brother, Ethan, were back in Portland right now, trying to get all of our belongings moved from Babs’s apartment into the house Liam and I had just bought.

We weren’t supposed to be moving right now. We should have already been done with the move, honestly, but there had been problems with the closing, and it had been pushed back and pushed back, and we’d just finally sorted it all out two days ago—right before Liam and I had to fly to Providence for the wedding. We’d barely been handed the keys and been able to see the place while knowing it was ours before we’d had to leave.

If I hadn’t agreed to be one of Dana and Rachel’s bridesmaids, I would have tried to convince Liam we should just skip the wedding. I couldn’t exactly back out of it that late, though, so Chris and Ethan had stepped up and insisted they could handle the move.

Let’s let them do it, Liam had said to me when I’d voiced my concerns. They’re grown men. I’m sure they’re perfectly capable of handling this on their own.

I wouldn’t have been so worried about it if not for the fact that we were flying straight to Sweden when we left here. We wouldn’t be going back to Portland for weeks, and I’d had to leave my puppy, Puck, behind in my brothers’ care until we returned. If anything went wrong, if they ran into problems… Maybe I was too used to being the oldest sibling and taking all of the adult responsibilities onto my own shoulders. The idea of sharing the load hadn’t been easy to adjust to. I was having a hard time letting go.

That was why, once I saw who’d called, I rushed out of the little chapel and into the hallway to return Chris’s call. “What’s wrong?” I said as soon as he picked up the line.

“Why do you automatically assume something’s wrong?”

Probably because the combined stress of buying a home, being a bridesmaid, leaving my puppy behind, and preparing to meet Liam’s family in Sweden had all ganged up on me and stolen my sanity. But I didn’t want to tell him that. He’d just tell me to relax, which I was trying to do. I just wasn’t managing it very well. It was weird; I didn’t usually let things get to me. Normally, stress just rolled off my back. But not this time.

I could only attribute that to the fact that meeting Liam’s family meant a lot to me—because it meant a lot to him—and I didn’t want anything to go wrong. At the moment, it felt like everything was set to go wrong.

“I’m just…” I searched my brain for something I could use to put him off. “There’s just a lot going on here right now with the rehearsal and the dinner tonight.”

“And the bachelorette party later,” he added. “Don’t try to pretend you’re not going to have fun while you’re there. This is supposed to be a vacation for you, Noelle.”