Double Major

By: Catherine Gayle

“Right,” Dana said, smoothing her hands over the perfection that was her dress. “No more crying. I just can’t believe it’s happening.”

“Well, believe it,” Sara said. Her grin was miles wide. “You guys have all been disgustingly sweet for too long to not get married sooner rather than later. Makes me want to gag.”

I wasn’t sure how the six months or so that Brenden and I had been together could be considered too long, but whatever. She’d been disgustingly sweet with her boyfriend, Cam Johnson, for a little while now, too, but this didn’t seem like the best time to point that out to her. I had too many other things on my mind to tease her.

“Come on,” Mrs. Campbell—no, she’d asked me dozens of times to call her Abby if I couldn’t bring myself to call her Mom—said. “They’re all waiting for you.”

All of our bridesmaids filed out of the dressing room to get into position. I bent down so I could be eye level with my kids. Maddie had her basket of soft pink rose petals in one hand, and Tuck was still awkwardly holding onto the pillow.

“Now don’t be nervous,” I reminded them. I was nervous enough for all of us. “Just walk down the aisle, and Maddie, you can scatter your flower petals—”

“And stand next to Katie.” Maddie patted my cheek after interrupting me, just like I would sometimes do to reassure her. “We know, Mommy. We won’t mess up.”

“And I’ll stand where Mr. Soupy and Mr. Zee tell me to when we get to the front,” Tuck added. “You told us a bajillion gazillion times already.”

I couldn’t help but laugh because otherwise, I might burst into tears. “I know I have. I just want to be sure you remember.”

“Can I help with the flowers, though?” Tuck asked.

Abby took Tuck’s hand and started to guide him gently toward the door, winking at Maddie so she’d come along with them, as well. “I don’t think you’ll have a hand free for that,” she said kindly. “Maybe if Maddie has some left over after the ceremony. I bet she’d let you help her then.”

She was already becoming an amazing grandmother to my children. It was going to be the real deal soon, too. Not just because of the wedding. Brenden wasn’t going to be their stepdad. He’d asked if he could officially adopt my children. Then his parents would be their real grandparents, Dana would be their real aunt… They were going to have all the family I didn’t think I’d ever be able to give them.

If I wasn’t careful, I was going to lose it before we even got to the aisle.

Once everyone went out into the hall, it was just Dana and me in the dressing room.

“You ready for this?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I said, but I shook my head as though to say no. It was like I couldn’t make up my mind. And really, she ought to be far more nervous than I was. This was her first wedding, her first marriage. I’d at least done it all before, even though it hadn’t been anywhere close to this scale.

“My sentiments exactly,” she said, mimicking the crazy way my head was moving. Then she took my hand and squeezed. “We’ll get through this. It’ll be fine.”

“It’ll be better than fine.”

“Right. Because we’re going to be sisters.”

She steeled her spine and started tugging me toward the door. Her father, Mark, was going to walk her down the aisle. At first, he’d suggested the idea of giving me away. He could walk between me and Dana, one of us on either side of him. But seeing as he would be giving me to his own son, that seemed a little awkward to me.

But there really wasn’t anyone else to do it, and so he’d made the offer. My own father—a minister—had disowned me when I had come home as a pregnant teenager. I hadn’t seen or heard from him in almost a decade now. My initial thought was to have my boss, Jim, do the honors. He was willing, too, but the timing hadn’t worked out. Today was the first day of the NHL Entry Draft, and as the general manager of the Storm, he was probably making his way to the draft floor now, actually. I was still amazed that he hadn’t gotten upset about me asking for this time off for the wedding and honeymoon, because almost as soon as the draft was completed, the free agency period was set to begin. Since I was his assistant, there were all sorts of things I ought to be helping him with. Instead, I was here, wishing he were, too.

I’d promised to return to Portland in time for free agency. Brenden and I were taking the kids to Disney World, and a week there was probably going to be more than enough to do us all in for a while. I expected I’d be glad to get back to work by the time we got home.

Anyway, that still left me without someone to walk me down the aisle—until Jamie Babcock had suggested I let Tuck take over that responsibility. That was, of course, the perfect solution. Yes, Tuck was already going to be our ring bearer. But he was also going to walk me down the aisle toward the man who would soon be his father.

I couldn’t imagine anything more perfect.

Mark reached for Dana’s hand once we were out in the hall with everyone else. He had tears in his eyes, which only made hers start up again. We were all going to be a blubbery, sobbing messes before this was done.