Our little spat aside, the salon experience got better. Lacey took what I laid down for her like a champ and didn’t fight back. Hell, she really couldn’t because I knew things that could stop this wedding before I finished a sentence. Either way, though she quit the conniving for the moment and as we all piled into the limo the atmosphere was better, lighter. We toasted to her and JJ and after a glass of champagne, I felt way calmer. My phone chirped a few times as we were getting in and toasting and as I searched for it I couldn’t help but think that tonight might end up being fun.
Oliver: All dolled up? 🙂
Don’t you know it! Maybe a little liquid courage too…
Oliver: Save some of that courage for me! I’d like to see you a little less frazzled tonight…j/k See you soon.
I couldn’t hide the excitement I guess, “Who are you talking to Lucy??” Elaine asks.
“My date!” I exclaim to a few confused and a few happy expressions.
“But I thought… what about Jack?” someone says from the back.
“Yeah, we saw you two today, we thought you guys may be getting back together,” Elaine blurts out.
“Listen I don’t know what the future holds but I know my immediate future holds a six foot something tanned guy named Oliver…” I cheese.
The champagne, lack of sleep and food are really making me bold but that’s okay because my mood is better than it’s been for days and with the situation, I’ll be dealing with this afternoon I need something. Lacey’s gone quiet for a few minutes when it dawns on me that her plan all along has been putting us together. It’s like someone lit a match in a dark room when I finally realize this. I’m watching her now, the music blaring all around us and I can see the sadness on her face. I tipsily climb across three laps to squeeze myself in next to her before she even looks at me.
“Hey, you okay?” I ask.
“Peachy, did you come over to yell at me again?” she turns her sadness to anger quickly.
“No, I’m not going to yell at you… I know what this is now. I finally see what you’ve been doing all along Lace. I can’t believe I didn’t see it till now. You know that I may never forgive him right? Even though I know now that he didn’t do what I thought he did, the fact that he knew the only way to get me and he used it against me is a hard thing to forgive. All this time I thought you were just pitting us together to torment us, but really you’ve been secretly trying to bring us together?” I laugh.
“I’m… I didn’t…” she tries but the look on her face is back to sadness as if she may even cry.
“You did and you have been. Is JJ in on this?” I ask.
“You have been Jack and Lucy forever, how could you give up on that? I don’t remember a time without him Luce, I know he hurt you, he lied, JJ lied but really is it so unforgivable? Do you even know why he did it? And you aren’t so innocent yourself Luce, you kept the baby and losing the baby from him, you lied too…” she spits out, pools forming in her eyes.
“You’ll ruin your makeup if you cry now Lace, just quit trying to force it okay? Let things happen like they’re supposed too, you can not control everything,” I say before handing her a tissue.
“JJ is Jack’s friend Lacey, please don’t screw this up,” I chastise when she calls to tell me she’s going on a date with Jack’s best friend.
“I won’t…” she says, famous last words.
It didn’t take us long to realize that they fit, even after Jack gave him the riot act about hurting my little sister who was five years his junior. Even when they fought it just made sense. Then just like that, they were JJ and Lacey, like it had always been that way. Part of me was glad we didn’t’ have to go on any more double dates with JJ and his string of one-nighters but another part of me couldn’t understand what it was that he saw in my prissy little sister.
“Listen Luce, I don’t think this is coming to an end anytime soon, maybe we just let it happen?” Jack whispered after another one of my ‘what does he see in her’ rants.
“Do I have to?” I playfully whisper back.
“Yes,” he answered the sleep already taking over his voice.
Understanding her need to control things comes easy to me even if I don’t want to admit it, after all, we are our mother’s children. The only one who doesn’t really feel the need to be in control is Logan, he’s more like our dad, a go with the flow kind of guy. This is a little too much though, I know she means well somewhere in that strange mind of hers, but this can’t be messed with. I don’t know what the future holds for Jack and I and right now I don’t want to think about that, I want to dance with Oliver, drink the night away and enjoy something new.
I don’t really see it till I’m walking down the aisle but when I do he takes my breath away. I blink back the tears that immediately pool in my eyes at the sight of him. Tall. Steady. Handsome. It is almost too much to bear. His eyes catch me staring and I stop. I know I shouldn’t I need to keep moving or else Lacey will be pissed but I can’t help it. My husband is a picture in linen that I’m afraid will disappear if I move even an inch. The tears are flowing freely as I stand there stone still until a voice calls my name. He’s still watching my every step as I take my place, waiting for my little sister to emerge. His hat is a little lower than the other guys next to him and his pants look a little too long, his broad shoulders look wider than ever and when I finally come to a stop he raises the corner of his mouth into a smile that nearly knocks me over. Even if he was seated he would have gotten the same response because really that never mattered like you think it would have. The look in his eyes, the energy he’s exuding is more like the man I married over seven years ago, the boy I fell in love with. He’s back. Lacey could be tripping and rolling down the aisle and neither one of us would ever know because we are locked in this moment, just him and I. The man staring back into my eyes is Jack. The Jack I’ve been waiting for over two years and such a large part of me wants to let him hold me in his arms like nothing happened. There’s this twinge though in my heart that reminds me just why everything happened and for some reason I choose not to ignore it.
“I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss the bride!” the pastor proclaims and I realize I’ve missed the ceremony in my distracted state.
Claps and cheers surround me and assault my ears and we watch them travel the aisle while we wait to follow. I know there’s something big about to happen and my stomach is threatening to make that champagne reappear as i head to the center to start our train to the main club. His shoulder brushes mine and before I can even utter a word he’s giving me instructions.
“Just stay close Luce, and please don’t run…” he nods at me with a shit eating grin.
I do as I’m told and we make it up to the club without incident. He’s obviously a little tired but his grin never leaves his face, this is the man I fell in love with, not the imposter who’d been taking over our lives.
“Dude I can’t believe you made it all the way up here!” Logan exclaims as he pulls a chair out for Jack.
“I may or may not have leaned on Luce a few times but we made it. Did you see your mother’s face?” he asks Logan before shooting me a look.
“She was shocked that’s for sure,” Lacey said with a smile, hanging on JJ.
I quietly back away from all the hub bub and watch him. I watch as he gently lays the forearm crutches down beside him, as he hugs Lacey when she comes over to him, as he makes a point to find my eyes in the crowded room and as the spasm hits I watch the nervousness take over his face but only briefly before it fades with the unwanted movements. He knows I’m watching, taking in every reaction, both his and others. He knows I’m waiting for him to disappear and he winks at me, as if to say, yeah Luce, I’m back and I’m not going anywhere.
“Okay everyone, we have about an hour and a half during cocktail hour for pictures, lets head out and get the offsite ones done before superman loses his strength…” Lacey says with a laugh.
“I’m good Kiddo,” he says with a shy smile as he pulls himself up and looks to me, “Shall we?”
I let him pass me but follow a little behind him out to the superbee where he stops to open the door for me and I climb in shaking a little. When he gets in he holds out a shiny silver flask to me, “You look like you need some of this.”
I silently take the flask and tip it back, sure enough, it’s Logan’s Hooch, the good apple stuff I love and I savor the warmth it trails down my throat before I close it and hand it back.
He hates the stuff so I know without a doubt he’s filled his flask for me. Whether it was for him to soften me up with alcohol or to calm me down I don’t know but I’m glad he did. I’m trying hard not to keep staring but the warmer I’m feeling the harder it’s getting and before I know what happens my hand is on his leg. His head jerks to find it there and for a brief second I’m going to pull away, “Don’t.” he says.
“You never shied away from me before Luce, don’t start now,” he continues as he shifts into a higher gear.
The car jolts forward a little, I can tell he’s still getting used to this particular set of hand controls by the way it’s not a smooth transition. His eyes stay on the road ahead as we breeze past some of the other cars until we are at our destination and I see something I haven’t in a long time. Pair Orlo Park, where he played baseball as a kid and home to the place he took my virginity. Lacey probably had no idea, or who knows maybe she did. My breath catches in my throat as the thoughts invade my mind.
“Why do we have to go to PO?” I ask.
“I want to show you something Luce,” he says with a cheesy smile.
“I’m going to get like seven thousand mosquito bites,” I whine.
“It will be worth it, I promise,” he says turning down the long winding park road.
We wove through past all the ballfields, past the playground and just before the exit road he turns down a road, well more of a path and after a few minutes I think to myself is he going to kill me out here.
“Close your eyes,” he says softly slowing the car down.
Twenty seconds into my panic he tells me to open my eyes and when I do I’m in awe. A big open field sits in front of us with this massive tree, it’s limbs so large and old that some are only feet from the ground. The night sky is massive behind the old tree and I can’t imagine a better surprise. He puts the car in park and goes and grabs some blankets and a little cooler that I didn’t know he had and opens my door, silently nodding to me to follow. I traipse behind him and watch as he stops and spreads the blankets out. For what seems like hours we simply watch the stars until finally, we make some of our own.
“We’re here Luce,” he startles me with his hand over mine.