written by: Elizabeth Hoyle
The blue organza bunting on the porch staircase was already drooping and the day’s events hadn’t started yet. Daisy pulled in beside the shiny stretch limo Jason would be chauffeuring the bridal party around in for the rest of the afternoon. He leaned against the driver’s door, lighting a cigarette. He slipped his lighter into his tux coat pocket and waved. She cut the car’s ignition, double-checked that her shoes for the ceremony were in her tote bag, then got out of the car, careful not to step on the hem of her ankle-length dress.
“At last the maid of honor honors us with her presence!” He bowed. “Maggie’s been worried you got cold feet.”
“I would have walked if that would have gotten me here any faster. Thankfully my flight didn’t get delayed again otherwise the car rental would have been cancelled, too.”
“You’re here now and that’s what matters.” He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and squeezed, offering her his cigarette. She took a deep drag, the smoke burning so bad she started coughing. Jason laughed, his breath reeking of alcohol.
“It’s a little early to be double-dipping, isn’t it?”
“It’s five somewhere, right? Plus it’s my sister’s wedding. No one is going to be paying any attention to me. And yes,” he continued with a sigh, “I’ll make sure I can get you all around safely.”
Daisy thumped him on the back and stepped out of his embrace, desperate to get away from the smoke. “How is she?”
“Besides stressed out? Fine, I think. She’s been talking about you way more than she’s talked about Blake or their honeymoon. She was pissed yesterday when she heard your flight was cancelled. She kept trying to make me go get you or to find you a different airline.”
“It wouldn’t have done any good.”
“That’s what Mom, Blake, Suzanna, and everyone else said. She was still freaking out about it. I swear she loves you more than Blake.”
“I better go in and calm her down, then.” Her face felt too hot and Jason felt too close. She lifted the skirt of her dress, raced up the porch stairs, and let herself into the house. She automatically took the stairs on the right to the second door on the left side of the landing. She knocked, not trusting her voice.
“For the last time I’m not sending Blake pictures of me getting ready, Jason!”
“That’s good because I wouldn’t send him any⸺” The door opened and Daisy could barely bring her arms up for a hug before Maggie was crushing her.
“Thank god you’re here! I’ve barely been keeping it together.”
“Why are you crying?” Daisy wiped under Maggie’s eyes, careful not to smudge her already streaky eyeliner. “What’s the matter?”
“Where to start?” Maggie took her hand, pulled her into the bedroom, and closed the door behind them. “First Mom broke our no hovering agreement by waking me up an hour and a half early to tell me that the picture frames we’re using as table settings broke because Suzanna hit a bad pothole. She wanted me to somehow take care of that, do her makeup, and listen to her crying that her baby girl is getting married. Meanwhile Jason’s already been drinking and has been trying to take pictures of me for Blake. Which is so hypocritical because he was the one who bought into the whole let’s-not-see-each-other-before-the-ceremony thing. And I keep getting calls for directions to the venue even though everything was printed on the invitations⸺” Maggie took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “If you think this is bad now, it was even worse yesterday at the rehearsal.”
“Sounds difficult. Is that why no one else is around?”
“They’re all meeting us at the garden an hour and a half before the ceremony for pictures. I couldn’t deal with everyone hovering and talking so much.”
“I’ll try not to hover too much.”
“I’ve never minded your brand of hovering and I never will. I’m so glad you’re here.” Maggie squeezed her hand. Daisy squeezed back, let go, and fished her curling iron out of her bag.
Silence settled between them as Daisy pinned back and curled Maggie’s brown hair. Text alerts frequently interrupted the music that played from Maggie’s phone but she hardly checked them. She closed her eyes and hummed along to the music, leaning back against Daisy. Daisy curled as much of her hair as she could reach so her friend could rest, waiting until the last possible moment to shake her awake.
“It’s time to get your dress on. Do you want to eat something first?”
“Since all I want to eat is ribs right now that’s probably not a good idea.”
“I’ll treat you to the all-you-can-eat at Pete’s when you get back from the honeymoon.”
“You better keep that promise! I should have hired him to cater instead of that bar Blake likes.”
“I don’t think your mom would like a repeat of senior prom,” Daisy replied. Maggie took off her robe and hooked on her bustier. Daisy felt her face flush and her heart flutter. She looked away.
“My dress was red so you could hardly see the stains. No one noticed, not even Blake.” Maggie’s voice was heavy with memory.
Daisy hefted the dress out of its garment bag, pooling the beaded tulle on the carpet so Maggie could step into it. Maggie hiked up the dress and held it in place while Daisy laced up the back. She retrieved the veil from its bag and secured it. Maggie turned around. Daisy applauded while tears burned at the corners of her eyes.
“You’re so beautiful!”
Maggie turned to look at herself in the mirror mounted on the back of the door. “The color doesn’t wash me out too much, does it?”
“No, it looks great!”
“Blake said an ivory dress would make me look paler than I already am. Wearing white makes me look like a ghost, though.” She paused, turning and considering. “Maybe that’s one of the reasons I liked this one. It looks great and it’ll help me show him how wrong he was.”
“If he doesn’t appreciate you today of all days then he doesn’t deserve you.”
“Hopefully he will.”
“There should be no ‘hopefully’ about it. Not today and not ever.” The words were out before Daisy could check her tone.
“You’re right,” Maggie answered. She crossed the room and lifted something off her desk. “I know I’ve already given you your maid of honor gift but I wanted to do something special in honor of our friendship and of your promotion to development officer.” She offered Daisy an envelope. She opened it.
It was a check, made out to the non-profit housing foundation she worked for. It was hard to swallow past the sudden lump in her throat, especially when she saw the amount.
“I was planning to give that to you at a surprise party after the honeymoon but I didn’t want to wait⸺”
Daisy threw her arms around Maggie, kissing her cheek. “Thank you! Thank you so much!”
“And thank you so much, for today and everything before and everything that’s ahead of us.”
Daisy impulsively kissed her cheek again before pulling away.
“Is it okay if I kiss you, too?” Maggie asked softly.
Daisy tilted her cheek forward. Maggie’s lips were warm for a moment against her skin before they were gone.
Her words were whispered just as quickly. “You blush so prettily.”
Daisy searched her friend’s eyes to see if she was teasing. She expected her to say something sarcastic and change the subject or lead her downstairs to Jason and the waiting limo. But she didn’t say anything. She just looked at Daisy, her face full of the same uncertain vulnerability that Daisy felt with every thud of her racing heart. Daisy wasn’t good at reading people, even those closest to her. She had longed for a moment like this with Maggie for years. She felt full, full of fear, hope, and Maggie’s sweet perfume.
“Can I kiss you again? On the lips?” Maggie whispered. Daisy answered by closing the gap between them and placing her lips on Maggie’s. The softness of their kiss was everything Daisy had always imagined yet never dreamed she’d know. Maggie opened her mouth under hers with a small gasp. Daisy did the same, wrapping her arms around her friend’s waist, tentatively threading her fingers through the laces she’d just tightened. She sighed as Maggie’s hand trailed from cupping her cheek down to between her breasts, fingering the beadwork there. Maggie broke the kiss, smiling at her.
“Yesterday Jason kept teasing me, saying that I love you more than I love Blake.”
Daisy chuckled giddily. “He told me the same thing when I got here.”
“I think he was right.” Daisy looked away as her tears reappeared. Maggie cupped her chin and turned Daisy’s face to hers so she could wipe them away.
“I’m pretty sure he’s always guessed my feelings for you,” Daisy admitted, her heart pounding. Maggie went to the dresser and picked up her phone.
“What are you doing?”
“Cancelling a wedding I was never entirely sure I wanted.” She tapped out a few messages then set it back down.
“What are we going to do now?”
Maggie grinned. “Let’s go for a drive.”
Jason had come inside while they had been getting ready. He was sitting on the sofa, his head tilted back, snoring. The limo keys were on the coffee table in front of him. They grabbed them and tiptoed out of the house. Maggie opened the back door for Daisy before getting behind the wheel. She started the car and lowered the partition between the passenger and the driver sides.
“I’ve never driven anything this long so you might want to buckle up.”
“Where are we going?” Daisy asked, the seatbelt catching on the blue silk of her dress.
“Wherever you want. I was thinking we could go to the honeymoon suite.”
Daisy’s heart skipped a beat as she met Maggie’s shy yet bold gaze. “You know what, Maggie?”
“You blush prettily, too.”
Maggie winked at her. “Can we pick up something from Pete’s along the way?”
Daisy grinned and nodded. “Will it matter that I’m not the guest the hotel is expecting?”
“Who cares? Blake already paid for the suite for the weekend.”
“Then let’s see how fast this limo can go!”
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