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
“Now would be a good time to go say hello to everyone,” she says to Lily, who is shoveling salad into her face.
“Mhm,” Lily replies around lettuce.
“Now?” I ask.
Lily swallows. “Yeah, it’s tradition.”
She laughs. “You can sneak over and pick at your salmon between tables.”
I don’t get any of my salmon. I don’t get any food, because people I have never seen before want to tell me the history of the city of Paris once they learn that’s where we’re going or, when I think I might have a chance to eat, one of Lily’s aunts accosts me to ask about our plans for babies.
“We just got married,” I mumble.
“Never too soon to plan,” the aunt says, and then another comes over and the process is repeated. I don’t even see Lily. For more than an hour, I make small talk with people and I try to keep an eye on my wife, but she’s been surrounded by relatives.
“This sucks,” I tell Jon, who is the only one left at the table when I finally get a chance to sit. Alana and Dave went to get something from his car and everyone else is milling. The DJ tells us he’s going to start the dancing shortly and I reach for my salmon – as someone takes it away. I hate complaining, but I just want to see Lily. How have I lost my wife within hours of being married?
“I’m never doing this,” Jon says. “Ever. If I change my mind, please remind me of this. And of my mother.” He nods to her. She’s holding open a binder and pointing to something as she talks to the photographer. She’s flustered and he just keeps nodding. I’m sure she’s verifying he has gotten the requisite images, but I feel like whatever they’re saying is going to somehow involve more things I need to do.
“Could Lily and her father join me on the dance floor?” the DJ asks. “We’ll be having the father-daughter dance to start out the remainder of the evening.”
“I better fucking get a piece of cake,” I mutter. Hunger makes me cranky.
re you happy?” my dad asks as we dance. He’s not a much better dancer than Jack, but everyone is busy talking and surrounding the bar this time. It’s less uncomfortable because it feels like only my mom, the DJ, and the photographer are watching us. I see Jack sitting alone at the head table. I don’t know where everyone else is and he’s staring at his bare place setting. I don’t think he’s eaten. I feel so bad, and I miss him in a weird way. It’s
wedding, but I haven’t talked to him all night.
“I am, but it’s overwhelming,” I admit. “I haven’t seen Jack since our dance.”
“Once people start dancing, take a moment. No one will even notice,” my dad suggests.
“I will. Thank you.” It crossed my mind, but having my dad give me the permission makes it feel a little less wrong. He’s paying for this and if he doesn’t mind, everyone else can deal with it.
“Are you all packed? What time is your flight in the morning? Do you need a ride?” he asks.
We fill the rest of the dance with logistical talk about the honeymoon and travel arrangements. I miss talking to my dad, but right now, it’s exactly what I need. It keeps me grounded and focused on something and I don’t even realize the song is nearly over until it is.
“You’ll always be my princess, you know,” my father says, kissing my cheek and hugging me, before heading off in search of my mother. I’m sure he’s on a check-in system.
“Hey,” I say to Jack, sitting next to him. “Come here often?”
“I don’t, but I seem to have misplaced my wife. Have you seen her?”
“I hate to be the one to tell you, but I think she was consumed by aunts desperate for babies.”
He looks up at me. “Holy shit. We have been married... what? Three hours? I mean, I know we’re quick, but we’re not
“Maybe we should sneak out for a bit... and maybe practice making a few?” I suggest.
He grins. “That sounds like fun.”
Alana comes over, breaking up the moment, followed by my mom, and Derek. I hadn’t been sure about inviting him, but Jack said it made sense as he’s close to the family and all of that stuff between us is ancient history.
“Do you want to dance?” Alana asks Jack as Derek asks me, “Can we talk?”
“The cake will be cut in twenty minutes,” my mom says after both questions, perpetually keeping us on schedule.
Both Jack and I say yes, and he goes with Alana to the dance floor and I follow Derek outside. My mom reminds us that we have twenty minutes as we go. I think I would have been bothered by each of us going off with an ex if Jack and I had gotten married a couple of years ago, but at this point in our relationship, I think we’ve proven to each other that there is nothing that can come between us.
“What’s up?” I ask Derek, sitting beside him on a broken piece of stone looking out over the beach.
“I just wanted to talk. First, you look really pretty.”
“I know it’s not the same. I know that we’ll never be friends again, but I’ll always care for you, Lily. Wait,” he cuts me off as I try to speak, to argue. “I think Jack is good for you. I spent a while pissed off, yes, and I hated him. I hated that I wasn’t the guy. But you deserve this and you belong here and I don’t think this is what I want in the end. I like working and I like being independent and I think we would have ended up resenting each other. But I still can’t help but remember you, like you used to be.”
“I’m just not her anymore,” I tell him.
“Yes, you are. You’re still smart and kind and thoughtful and you still tolerate your mom’s ridiculousness even though it annoys you and you’re still the girl who sat with me in the woods on camping trips and talked to me about anything that came to mind. I hope someday, maybe, we will be on better terms again, but I know I fucked up.”
He shakes his head. “No, it’s not, but I didn’t come to your wedding to apologize for being an idiot. I wanted you to know that I’m happy for you, that I think this is right. And also, to tell you I’m moving.”
“Where to?” I ask.
“A buddy from school is setting up a startup there and he asked me to help him. I don’t have anything here. Your brother and I are going to be friends regardless, but really, I’m not looking for what you have. I just want to go knowing we’re okay.”
I hug him. “We’ve been okay since you checked on him at the hospital.”
We catch up for a while, but I have to go cut the cake and Jack is probably starving, and as much as Derek is a part of my past, today is about the future. And that’s inside.
an you do me a favor?” Alana asks, as we dance. It’s not a slow song, which is just as well, because the dance with Lily clearly indicated that dancing is not my forte.
“Can you take a picture of some of Renoir’s paintings when you’re in Paris?”
“Someday, you’ll see Paris, but yes, I will.”
“I probably won’t,” she argues.
“You never know.”
“Jack, we all have things in our lives – and I know what to wish for and what to let go of now. But I’d be happy to know you saw them – and that you thought of me when you did.”
“I’ll take pictures, but I promise, you
see them someday.”
We dance for a while, but Dave comes and steals her from me and I see Lily in the entranceway, scanning the crowd. I join her and she grabs me, kissing me.
“What was that for?” I ask.
“Nothing. But who knows when I’ll see you again tonight.”
“After we cut the cake, do you actually want to sneak out? Even for a few minutes?” I offer. “I believe I promised you a hot dog.”
“God, yes. Please. That would be the highlight of the evening. You know, other than marrying you.”
“Of course. Me, and then processed meat.”
“Exactly. Shit, here comes my mom,” she says and we’re dragged off to the cake before we can talk again.
The DJ announces the cutting and we do the whole thing of feeding each other. Everyone yells at me to smash cake in Lily’s face, but why the fuck would I do that? She looks gorgeous; I’m not covering her in cake. I dust her nose with frosting and then feed her a bit. She gives me a small square and I realize I am starving as I bite into it, but as soon as she wipes my chin, the caterers take the cake away and start serving it. This is most expensive and most invisible meal in history.
As soon as Lily’s mom is occupied, her father runs interference and I get the keys from Dave. We head out, running across the parking lot and hopping into the car. It feels illicit and scandalous, but I desperately want to eat and I would also like to
my wife tonight.
“Have I told you I’ve been having outrageously inappropriate thoughts about you all night?” I ask Lily as we drive. Almost everything is closed, but something has to be open down by the main beach area.
“Have you? Well, I’m sorry to say that I’m already exhausted. I think it’s going to have to wait.”
I nearly pull the car off the road. “I don’t think so, princess. I’m going to ravage you all night long. You can opt to sleep through it if you like, but it’s happening. You look too fucking delicious.”
Lily laughs. “That’s because you haven’t eaten in a day. You’d probably be willing to have sex with a donut at this point.”
“You may have a point,” I agree.
We finally find a little hole in the wall ice cream stand, but they also have food and are still serving it.
. I was about to make a banana split my dinner. Lily looks absurd in her wedding gown on the beach at this shitty shack with strings of Christmas lights hung over the top and its giant bug zappers, but somehow, this seems more like our wedding than the actual reception.
After we get our food and Lily smothers hers in relish, mustard, and ketchup, we head to one of the picnic benches and sit down. She devours her hot dog and I’m famished. I ordered two hot dogs, as well as fries, and they’re all gone before I can even offer to share.
Lily’s hair is starting to fall out of her tiara and the little plant things hit the picnic table as she leans over to pick up her trash. She throws it away, dragging her dress along the sand, and sits back down, tucking the loose strands of her hair back. “Can we just stay here for a while?” she asks.
“Sounds good to me.”
“We can’t, though, can we?”
I sigh. “I think we have to enjoy this little stolen moment for what it is and then go back and answer more questions about our reproductive plans.”
We agree to sneak another fifteen minutes, and we walk on the beach, holding hands. It’s still loud, because it’s one of the first weekends of summer and everyone’s reveling in it. Even though it’s late, there are people everywhere and there’s no more privacy here than at the wedding, but then again, none of these people know us and we can just enjoy each other.
“I’d very much like to take you behind that rock over there and have my way with you,” I tell her, as we pass a giant boulder.
She smiles. “Would you? My dress would get all sandy, though.”
“I can deal,” I tease.
“Of course you can. Does this make you wish we had just eloped?” Lily asks.
“Nope. Even if I could avoid an entire lifetime of conversations about babies with your aunts, there is nothing that would make me give up the moment I saw you walk down the aisle.”
or fifteen minutes, Jack and I enjoy a quiet moment in a secluded area of the beach. There are some old... something... out here and we sit on them. It looks like it could be what was left over from some kind of fort or something, but I’m not sure. Either way, it’s far enough away from everything open and it’s too dark for anyone to be out here.
He holds me, with my back to him, between his legs, and I can feel him breathing behind me. The waves lap up against the sand and the only sounds now are the faint noise from the people in the distance and the crashing waves. The sky is clear and I can see the stars that surround us.
“Do you think my mom has noticed yet?” I ask.
“It depends. What’s left on the checklist?”
“Nothing, really. We have to formally leave before everyone else and head to the hotel. Otherwise, it’s just dancing for a few hours.”
“What time’s the flight?” he asks.
“Not until late, and we have a late checkout. Special bridal suite privilege.”
“So you’re saying I can keep you up all night?”
“If I don’t pass out,” I tell him.
He leans against me, bringing one of his hands wrapped around my waist upward, and he brushes against my breasts as he kisses my neck and shoulders. “I can be fast right now, Lily.”
“What about the sand?”
“What about it?” he asks, pushing me up and bringing me against him, turning me so I’m facing him. “You don’t have to do anything. I’ll take care of you,” he promises.
I let him lie me down on the sand and I want to protest, because we need to get back, but he’s quick and he’s got his pants unzipped and he pushes the heavy folds of fabric of my dress up.
“Are you sure you want our first time as a married couple to be a quickie?” I joke.
“On the beach under the stars? In a secret, quiet moment away from everyone? God, yes.”
He isn’t kidding – it’s pretty fast. He enters me and we’re both wound so tight that we almost immediately give in to the physical sensations. Plus, there is the added intensity of this being against the rules, of it being unplanned and unscheduled and entirely our choice. And of course, I realize as he moves that it’s the first time my husband has made love to me.
I clutch at his hair. “Jack,” I whisper into his chest and he pushes a few times until I come quickly, and then he’s done. It’s not necessarily satisfying, but it’s like the meal we had just twenty minutes ago – something to fill the void until it’s later and it’s all about us.
“We really do need to head back now,” I tell him, as we try to put ourselves together. We are disheveled and we’ve been gone too long. It’s our night, though, and I’m happy.
We run to the car, where I notice my mom texted three times.