Double Major

By: Catherine Gayle

I turned back to Katie. “So…you and Babs. When’s this going to become a real thing?” I understood all the reasons they hadn’t become an official couple before now, but those reasons seemed to have all evaporated. Katie was old enough now and wasn’t in high school anymore. The cancer was gone. Her dad was going to be one of Babs’s coaches now, not his teammate—but Sara and Jonny had already tackled that hurdle and come out all right in the end. There didn’t seem to be anything else standing in the way of the two of them becoming the couple we all knew they were destined to be.

She turned big doe eyes on me—sad eyes—and my heart ached for both of them before she even opened her mouth.

“I don’t know if we will be a couple. I don’t want to hurt him, but I just…”

I couldn’t make heads or tails of that. Those two belonged together.

“You just what?”

She shrugged and shook her head. “It’s just that Jamie should be the first to find out.” She brushed a tear away from her eye, and then she forced whatever was breaking her heart out of the way for now. “That’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to have a good time.”

I didn’t know if that was possible for me, but I grinned for her benefit. “Okay. But if you need to talk…”

“I know. But let’s focus on you for now.”

I couldn’t stop myself. I wrapped my arm around her shoulders and drew her closer to me for a side hug. “Just don’t hurt yourself unnecessarily.” That was something I had experience with—not my fault, of course, but still. I didn’t want to see her run away from something she ought to be running toward.

I NEVER IMAGINED I’d be doing this—getting ready to walk down the aisle—at least not after my divorce. Jason and I had gotten married in front of the justice of the peace with a couple of strangers standing beside us as witnesses. Back then, I’d thought I would marry once and only once. I’d believed that Jason was it for me, and that marriages were for life no matter what. Long ago, I’d given up on the girlhood fantasy of the white dress and flowers and candles and a huge room filled with people who loved me. A big, traditional wedding was just one of many dreams Jason stole from me. We’d been teenagers having a shotgun wedding since I was pregnant, and then he’d turned into the man who molested my little girl.

Then I became a single mom with two kids, and I’d allowed the idea of finding a happy-ever-after ending for myself fall by the wayside. Forget about the idea of a wedding at all; I hadn’t thought I would find love. I hadn’t even been sure I wanted it. Of course, I wanted the real deal for my kids, Maddie and Tuck, but I had been telling myself for years that I would be happy as long as I could be certain they were happy—and I’d set out to make sure they were as happy and well-adjusted as possible. I’d really believed it, too, that giving them the life they deserved was enough for me.

But then Brenden Campbell had kind of shoved his way into my life—our lives—and he’d changed all of that. So here I was, wearing a white dress, my hands wrapped around a bouquet of flowers, getting ready to walk down the aisle to stand beside the love of my life. Maybe happy ever after didn’t have to be only a dream. Maybe it could become my reality. I bit down on the inside of my cheek just to be sure all of this was actually happening. It hurt like crazy, and I was pretty sure I tasted blood, so that must mean it was real.

Dana Campbell had been one of my best friends since I’d moved my family to Portland, and now she would soon be my sister-in-law. She looked over at me and took a deep breath. She was in a white dress, too. Hers was long and straight and simple and utterly elegant. It was sleeveless, with a sweetheart neckline and a sea-foam green sash tied beneath her breasts. The ends of the sash trailed down to the floor, further highlighting how tall she was—at least in comparison to me.

My dress had cap sleeves and some bead work on the bodice. The skirt a had lace overlay—some of it white and some in the same sea-foam green as Dana’s sash—emphasizing the way the fabric draped to highlight my curves.

She gave me a radiant, watery smile.

“Don’t you two go crying again now,” Laura said. “You’ll mess up your makeup.” Laura was another of our closest friends.

In fact, all our girlfriends were here with us right now as our bridesmaids—Laura, Katie, Sara, and Noelle. They were in the dressing room with us because they were going to be our bridesmaids. Dana’s mom and my two kids were here, too. All of them were wearing a lot more sea-foam green than the pair of us, each in a dress that suited her personal style.

Well, Tuck wasn’t in a dress. He was in a miniature version of the same tux that Brenden would be wearing, with accents of the green in his pocket square and cummerbund. He clung to the green pillow that the rings were tied onto. I’d never seen him looking so handsome and grown-up, and it was almost enough to make me start crying again. Which was exactly what we were supposed to be trying not to do.