Cory proposed to me a week after Haley came out of the closet. It wasn't unexpected -- after all, I'd been with him all of high school. The next logical step should be marriage. But the timing was too convenient, like he could see into the sordid details of the last three months and wanted to take me away from all of that until it was a distant memory. I’d only heard the details of what happened to Haley from the mouths of nosy soccer moms, every bit of my attention going into the wedding details to distract myself. Between the dresses and honeymoon plans, I pretended that she no longer existed, my thoughts so wound between the lace of my veil I couldn't see through to the mess behind me.
We sat in the living room of my mother's house one afternoon a week before the wedding. My gown and his suit laid across the faded green couch, the few wrinkles of his coat a welcome distraction to the conversation that bounced around the room.
"I know you want it to be more casual, but you only get married once," my mother said.
Cory shoved me jokingly before responding, "Aw, it's alright Ms. Darren," he said, his southern drawl hanging out. I used to find it cute. But now, it served as the reminder of the picket fence life I was settling into. "As much as I would like to just wear my sneaks and a pair of jeans--."
"Which was never happening," my mother cut in.
He snaked an arm around my shoulder and pulled me close to him. "I know how important this day is to both of y'all. I promise to be the perfect gentleman." I felt myself pulling away, which made his hold tighter.
My mother stood up, shooting a smirk at him. "Famous last words, Cory Barett." She turned away, her firm footsteps heading to the kitchen. "If you or your rowdy friends show up in that damn truck your mom will kill you."
"You already got me in a suit and tie," he said. "If you think I'm leaving Maddie at home, think again."
I pulled away from him, reaching over for my water bottle. "I still can't believe you named your truck."
His face dropped at the sharpness of my tone, but he recovered with that Barett charm that initially won me over. "You know you love it."
I didn't love it. I never did. I think he knew it too. But I forced a smile through my sips of water then set the cup down, inching my body a little closer to him. His eyes focused on my face, and I found interest in the tangled ends of my knotted burgundy curls.
"Hey," he said, his arm reaching around the back of the couch. "Savannah, what's wrong?"
I shrugged, palms slipping against my spit ends. "Nothing. I'm fine."
His face dropped for a second before a sweet concern glossed through his eyes and he gave me a soft embrace. "Pre-wedding jitters?"
"Something like that."
He took my hands from my hair and held them in his, pulling me tighter against him. "It's gonna be okay," he said. "I'm nervous too. But I promise it'll all be worth it." His lips reached mine in a kiss I didn't return. He pulled away, wiping at his mouth.
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