Authors: Sarah Daltry
Tags: #romance, #contemporary women, #sarah daltry, #series, #teen and young adult, #jack and lily, #coming of age, #marriage, #wedding, #college, #flowering, #new adult, #growing up, #contemporary romance
A Flowering Novella
By Sarah Daltry
, A Flowering Novella
Copyright 2014 Sarah Daltry
All rights reserved.
Cover image copyright Bigstockphoto.com
Wedding poem by Sara Teasdale
Songs and movies referenced are copyrighted to the individual artists and producers
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except where permitted by law. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
~ William Blake
This book is dedicated to Jack and Lily – and to everyone who is a part of them.
To my husband, Karen, and Lisa – I love you. The end.
look like a cake,” I mumble. I feel like shopping for a wedding dress is supposed to be memorable, but I’m not sure this is the right kind of memorable.
“Do you know who designed that?” my mother asks and she follows up with a name I’ve never heard. I guess it’s impressive, though, because Kristen gasps. Abby just looks at me and shrugs, because she knows how things are. And Alana stares at everyone in the dressing room as if she took a wrong turn. Meanwhile, I look like a cake.
I consider tearing off this ridiculous fiasco and heading home to beg Jack to elope somewhere in Azerbaijan. Not even Vegas, because it’s not far enough. I don’t, though. Instead, I take a deep breath and I try again.
“Does this person perhaps design dresses a little more... simple?” I ask my mother.
I sigh. “For starters, none of this.” I grab a handful of the absurd pile of fabric around my arms, which kind of looks like a lacy volleyball, and shake it.
“It’s your wedding,” she reminds me, as if that should change everything. As if that means I enjoy looking like pastry.
wedding. I wanted to wear yellow.”
Aghast. That’s the only word for it. She is absolutely aghast. However, she does help me get out of this monstrosity and into normal clothes, and then she goes in search of anything simpler, mumbling about yellow under her breath.
“I thought it was pretty,” Kristen offers. “Not necessarily your style, but it wasn’t that awful.”
“It really wasn’t the worst she could have found, you know,” Abby concedes.
Alana looks at me again and then grabs her purse. “I need a cigarette.”
As soon as she’s gone, Kristen and Abby look sheepish. “We scared her away,” Kristen says. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m telling you, Lily. We need to do a girls’ night. But like... wedding free,” Abby suggests yet again. She’s right, but we’re all in the middle of classes and it hasn’t been easy to get together even for dress shopping, never mind just to hang out.
It does feel weird, though. I guess it sucks a little that Alana is so uncomfortable with everything, but I understand. This whole thing isn’t really her deal. When she and I have spoken privately about it, she’s fine, but that doesn’t mean she’ll ever be the gung ho wedding kind of girl.
At first, I had thought it was about Jack, that she still regretted that it wasn’t her he was marrying. But it’s not that. What used to be there between them is completely gone now, tempered by time, moving on, and each of them realizing where they are good for one another – and where they are not. Alana is my best friend after Jack, even over Abby now. I need her to be in my wedding –
wedding – but I think the whole family togetherness just freaks her out. Also, Dave is only a month away from coming home for good, and she’s convinced that something horrible is going to happen before he can. I suppose it’s hard to care much about dresses when she’s scared of losing her boyfriend to war.
“Sure,” I tell Abby, trying to enjoy this day, since it’s supposed to be a big deal. “But not right now. Maybe after graduation. God, I should be writing papers today. I have two seminars to finish this semester.”
Yes, it’s entirely my own fault that I scheduled them both for the final semester, but one was on the Lost Generation and the other about Shelley, so it had to happen. However, combined with two additional lit classes and my commute, I’m surprised I’m not dead. Or at least brain damaged.
As if on cue, my mother comes back with another pile of dresses. I question the state of her brain functions when I see the first three, since they are even poofier than the one I just tried on, but then she holds up the fourth. It’s perfect.
In magazines and in movies, there is this whole big thing about how you just
you’ve found the right dress for you. I thought that was dumb, because I’d been through countless catalogs and I had never seen the perfect one. There were always things I liked and things I didn’t, but the dress she holds up is exactly what I pictured myself wearing on my wedding day. It’s strapless and simple and long and it’s even white. I don’t know why it’s perfect, but it is. It’s a lot like everything about love, I guess. You just know – and when you know, it’s all you know.
“Yes,” I say.
I expect an argument but there isn’t one. My mom just hands me the dress, I change, and when I come back out, everyone’s quiet. Alana returns from her cigarette break and freezes in the doorway.
“You’re beautiful,” she says. “Holy shit. You and Jack are getting
After almost two full years of planning and nearly four years together, Jack and I are only a couple of months away from the wedding. The reality of it has been there for all this time, yet when Alana says the words, and when I see myself in the row of mirrors, wearing this dress, it is all real in a way it hasn’t been yet.
I am finally going to marry the boy who has changed my life in so many ways.
ow was shopping?” I ask.
Lily tosses her stuff on the counter and collapses in the armchair. I’m in the middle of beta testing a game that helps kids learn geography through a scavenger hunt, which is basically just a remake of
. “Are you working?”
“Of course.” I feel like I don’t do much else these days when I’m not helping Lily with wedding stuff, but I still love my job. It’s been almost two years, but Rich and really, everyone at the office is great. It’s nice to be contributing something to the world, feeling like there is a point in my continued existence, but I do spend a lot of time at work. Lily is insanely busy, too, though, especially this year since she’s almost done with school. We do our best, but life just moves a lot faster than I really ever anticipated it would.
“I can wait,” she tells me. “Finish what you’re doing.”
“It’s fine. Estonia is just being impossible for some reason. The game glitches every single time you reach Tallinn.”
“Sounds like a serious problem.” She laughs and I turn off the game. I can fix it later. Estonia will still be there tomorrow.
“Well, shopping was... okay,” Lily says once I focus my attention on her. “The good news is that I found my dress, and I can’t wait for you to see it. But... well, you do realize that I just spent an entire day with my mom, and perhaps the most complicated wedding party of all time?”
“My wedding party is my only guy friend from high school, your brother, and Alana’s new stepdad,” I remind her.
“You want dinner?” I ask, getting up as she steals my spot on the couch. “Or a nap?”
“Come here,” she replies, and I squeeze back onto the couch with her, which mostly means lying on top of her. After all this time, it only takes a few seconds before I’m excited. I can’t control it. Even now, being close to her just does something to me. She raises an eyebrow and shakes her head. “You have an issue,” she tells me.
is not an issue.”
Our sex life is still plenty healthy, but this past year has been so busy that it has certainly been on the down swing. I try not to get too worked up right now, because I feel like we have barely talked for weeks, never mind slept together, but I can’t stop thinking about how much I miss her body under mine.
“Are you sure you want a big wedding?” she asks, distracted, her mind racing. “Like, for real? This is all starting to feel silly. I mean, I’m grateful to my parents for handling it financially, but that also means letting my mother storm in and control a lot more than I would like. It’s just that... I don’t need any of this. I would be happy to get married right here, in my pajamas, and have our honeymoon in the guest room.”
I push her hair away from her face and kiss her forehead. “I don’t want some little thing. Not for you. I want the biggest, most elaborate deal, because I want everyone to see how lucky I am. I want the entire world to know how much I love you.”
She smiles and then sits up a little. “Mom was also on me again about picking a honeymoon destination,” she says.
“I just feel weird about it, you know?” I ask. “I guess the wedding should bug me, too, but it’s tradition. I get it. But paying for a honeymoon, too... I don’t know. I feel like I should pay for it. I work. There’s no excuse.”
She shrugs. “I don’t care. We don’t even need to do anything big. I’m mostly looking forward to time together without work or school or wedding plans or anything but you to keep me busy.”
“Mmm.” I lean in closer and start unbuttoning her shirt. “I love keeping you busy.”
I can tell she’s about to protest, so I reach down, under her skirt, and begin to touch her. Her arguments all fall away before she can speak them, and she slides back down onto the couch so I can be on top of her. I get undressed quickly before one of us suddenly thinks of ten other things that we need to be doing instead.
I’m between her legs, ready to enter her, when she whispers against my chest, “Stop.”
I hate that word. I swear, it is the worst word in the English language, but I do stop. I close my eyes, count to five, and then look down at her. She has a huge grin on her face. “You’re killing me,” I groan.
“I just thought we should move somewhere else.”
“Where?” I don’t know if I can even walk.
She crawls over the back of the couch after I sit up, undressing as she goes, and jumps up on the kitchen counter once she’s naked. She bites her lip and meets my stare. “Hurry, Jack. It’s been way too long.”
I’m not counting, but it’s been nine days, six hours, 43 minutes, and probably around 11 seconds. However, it doesn’t matter at all, because once I make it to the kitchen, she opens herself up to me and I am back where I belong.
fter driving for two hours, followed by a three-hour seminar session, I am exhausted. I take out my cell to text Jack to ask if he wants to order dinner tonight. There is no way I even have the energy to go through a drive-thru.
I notice, as I look at my phone, that I have twenty-six texts. That’s right – twenty-six. All sent between nine this morning and noon. All from my mother. They grow increasingly frantic, as if texts just shoot directly into my brain and notify me that she has something “very important” to ask me. I wish I had never given her my number. More, I wish I had never taught her how to text, because she seems to think it’s the same thing as actually speaking, and then she gets agitated when I don’t reply.