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Wedding Bells, Alarm Bells
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Jennifer Green

Romantic Fiction

PG




It was the snore that gave him away. If Gareth hadn’t done it then I would never have looked up at him, never have realised that he was no longer listening to me, and had fallen asleep. We’d planned a few beers together down the pub, a couple of chasers at home then an early night – well, early for us on a Friday at least. An early night, ready for the big day.

Of course, it’s not like the “old” days, when your stag night was the night before. Stag Nights down the pub , with a visit to a dodgy club were long gone. My stag night was a stag weekend – although a week ago, I think I’d only just recovered. But it wasn’t the paintballing, go-karting, club ‘til 3am, getting trolleyed that I was getting over, it was what had happened on the Saturday night.

We’d had a great day paintballing, all my mates were there – plus a few friends of friends I didn’t know who had all paid their way and were here for a good time. Showered and changed we were ready to hit the town. Gareth had chosen this place because it was where he had grown up. His family still lived here so he knew all the best pubs and clubs. It was great for me, just what I needed. Over the previous two weeks it had all been piling up. Ange was great, everything I always wanted. Spectacularly good looking, bright, and great in bed (though you’d better not tell her mum that, she’s a bit old fashioned). But I’d had nothing but wedding this, wedding that, wedding the other and it was getting so I just wanted the whole thing over, so life could get back to normal.

And then I’d gone and put my foot in by calling it “your day”. She’d looked a bit hurt and I had no idea why.

“It’s not my day, it’s OUR day,” she said as looked at me with a hurt expression.

I answered it with a “Course it is” and switched the subject to the church music or something. But my mind was racing. The truth is I had never thought of it as our day. It was always her day. I was doing it for her. Wasn’t I? And then I started to ask myself why I was doing it all. Was it purely and simply so we could sleep together when we stayed at her mum’s? No, she really was everything I ever wanted, but what was this nagging at the back of my mind. Despite everyone saying it was normal, it was getting to me. So like I said, the Stag weekend came at just the right time. 

We started off in a pub with a live band, they weren’t that bad either, playing mostly covers, but they were pretty tight. Gareth was a really good mate, the best you could have. He really looked after me, making sure I didn’t have too much to drink. You see, Gareth knew that my dad had been an alcoholic, and knew that while I enjoyed a few beers, when you’ve seen what I’ve seen, you really have no desire to get absolutely slaughtered. So he protected me from the barrage of drinks, and as a result I was probably the most sober guy in the group, and definitely the most sober “stag” in town.

Around half ten, in our third pub, Gareth came back from the bar laden with drinks and the news that he’d found a bunch of girls on a hen weekend, and said we should go over the other side of the pub and get acquainted. As you’d expect, just like we were all shapes and sizes, so were they. But after half an hour we were all getting on famously and agreed to hit the clubs together. On the short walk to the club I looked around and smiled – everyone was starting to pair off. As was inevitable, I’d got talking with the “hen” of the group. She was so different to Ange. Ange is five nine, long legs, slim, nice boobs and long, blonde hair. Michelle was shorter, with short brown hair dusted with highlights and hazel eyes that shone like a kid’s in a toy shop. She wasn’t as slim as Ange, but more curvy. When she smiled it was like her whole body smiled, she just oozed warmth and fun. As we walked to the club she linked arms with me and asked why I wasn’t drunk like the rest of the lads.

“Long story, just not particularly fond of it.”

“Me too, I hate not being in control. I’ve been pouring drinks in plants, empty glasses other people’s drinks – everywhere - all night.”

I could tell she wasn’t exactly sober, but her voice wasn’t slurred. And she smelt wonderful as she hugged my arm as we walked.

“What would Rick say if he could see you now?” I asked. She’d already told me a bit about the bloke she was to marry next week, and I’d described Ange to her.

“Well for starters I’d be amazed if he could see anything right now. He’ll be absolutely hammered, and knowing his mates he’s probably trying to get a stripper’s thong off with his teeth.”

I made a joke about having to make sure he got the pubic hair from between his teeth, and she giggled:

“Pubic hair? Christ when was the last time you saw a stripper?” And we collapsed in fits of laughter together. It felt like I known her thirty years, not thirty minutes, we were so comfortable with each other.

We got on like a house on fire, spent all our time laughing and making silly jokes. We danced together in the club. She could really move and my eyes seemed locked to hers and that permanent, confident smile she had. Then in the slow dances she hung onto me and rested her head against shoulder as I stroked her back and arms. She looked up at me and grinned:

“Come on, I need some air.”

As we made for the exit we passed some of our friends who made suitably lewd comments. Michelle just squeezed my hand and we ignored them. When we were outside in the warm evening air she pushed me against the wall, then turned round and leaned her back into me. She grabbed my arms and pulled them around her, hugging them tightly with her arms. She looked back over her shoulder at me, those eyes flashed and asked:

“So are you looking forward to being married?”

“Dunno, don’t think it will be much different really.”

“I know. That’s why I said ‘Yes’ when Rick asked. Didn’t seem like such a big deal. We’d been living together for a while and it just seemed natural. But it’s weird, as it’s got nearer it’s seemed to get really important. And now …” she let it trail off.

“Tell me about it. Everybody I’ve asked says that everybody gets the jitters and has doubts, but … oh hell, I don’t know …”

We were silent for a while, each in our own thoughts. Then, just like that, as if she’d come to a decision, she spun round, kissed me on the cheek and said:

“Come on!”

“Back to the dancefloor, eh?”

“No, your hotel, my hotel – don’t care. Let’s go!”

We settled on hers, grabbed a cab and as we rode along in silence, I just held her tight and stroked her arm. My thoughts were all over everywhere. Did I really want to do this? Did she? I made a decision as we got out of the taxi.

“Listen, I’m not coming in unless you are really sure you won’t regret this in the morning.”

“The only thing I’ll regret is if I let you go home now.”

It took us ten minutes to get to her room. We stopped and kissed in the lift, in the corridor, outside the room. The more we kissed, the more natural it felt to hold her. Her body seemed to fit mine like a hand in a glove. Whenever we paused from kissing, she would plant soft, gentle kisses on my neck. We got into her room, and before the door was even closed she was in my arms again. Then she broke away, and told me to wait a minute.

There were two beds and I realised she was obviously sharing – just as I was with Gareth.

“It’s okay. I’m sharing with Chloe. She said if she brought someone back she’d let me know by sticking a note on the door. Funny, we never thought that it would be me that would need a note.”

She scribbled “Busy. Sod off” on a piece of paper and stuck it firmly under the door number. Then for good measure she put the “Do not disturb” sign on the handle. Her smiling eyes flashed at me as she reached round the back of her neck, and untied the halter top.

“Now, where were we?”

When I woke up, she was lying with her leg draped over my body, and my arm round her shoulders. I kissed her head gently, and she murmured a hoarse “Good morning,”

By way of acknowledgement, I kissed her forehead. As she started to kiss me back, there was a banging on the door.

“Hey you two, come on, wake up. Michelle, come on. We’ve got to go.”

Michelle jerked awake and looked at the clock.

“Oh Christ. Sorry babe, I’ve gotta go. We’re all due at a big bash this afternoon. We’ve got a train to catch.”

I started to talk and she put her fingers on my lips. The eyes were still shining and bright, but maybe not quite as smiling. Just a hint of sadness.

“No. I know what you’re going to say and what you’re going to ask. No.” She shook her head slowly, her eyes still riveted to mine.

“No telephone numbers. No e-mail addresses. Nothing. I’m not even going to tell you where I live.”

I could see small tears starting to form in the corners of those eyes. She still held her finger on my lips. As she continued I reached up and softly brushed the baby tears away.

“We’ve had a brilliant few hours together. Time I will remember until I die, and if you are anything like I think you are, then so will you. But this time next week we’ll both be waking up as married people. You’ll make Ange the happiest woman in the world, and I’ll be happy with Rick.”

The tears were flowing faster now, and my thumb was working overtime wiping them away.

“Now, hold me tight and kiss me one last time, because I’m going to have a shower and I think it will be easier for us both if you’re gone when I come out.”

I did. The kiss had everything – softness, sadness, intensity. It lasted half a lifetime, and when we broke she lifted her head. The tears now fell softly onto my cheek, where they mingled with my own. She gave me a half smile:

“Have a brilliant life. Bad timing.” And she was gone.

I dressed in a daze. I wanted to stay and talk, but I knew she was right. I decided to leave her a note, but just held the pen and couldn’t think what to say. In the end, nothing seemed to sum up the ache in my chest, the lump in my throat, and the tears in my eyes. So I just left.

And so there I was a few days later. Gareth’s snoring beside me. In a few hours I’ll be married to a gorgeous woman. But not to the woman who had been in my thoughts all week. I woke Gareth and we headed off to our bedrooms, I knew that it would take me ages to get to sleep, simply because it had been like that all week.

The summer sun was shining when we got up. It was going to be the perfect day for a wedding. Like most grooms I guess, I felt sick with anxiety and the ache in my chest felt like a small elephant was sitting on it, constricting my breathing. I forced down some toast and orange juice. Gareth went to shower first, as ever he was bright and breezy, and telling me I’d be in real trouble when he made his speech. I could hear him in the shower, doing his best impression of Axel Rose and I forced myself to think of Ange and what she’d be doing now. But the image that kept coming into my head was of Michelle, her naked body lying on mine, her fingers on my lips and tears forming in her eyes.

By the time I’d showered Gareth was dressed, and looked pretty smart in his morning suit. I jokingly asked if he was sure he had the ring. There was a pause.

“Oh fuck!

I smiled and shook my head. “Yeah, yeah – very funny!”

Then I saw his face, it was wild with panic. He was either a very good actor or there was a problem. He was swallowing fast, thinking hard.

“Look, it’s no problem!” he blurted out, “I’ll whiz home in the car and you get the official car to the church, and I’ll see you there. We’ve loads of time!” And in a flash, he was gone.

I was alone now. There was no-one to make sure I got to the church. I could do a runner. Just get away, and sort things out in my head. But I knew I’d go through with it, and before I had the chance to change my mind, the doorbell rang and the car was there. I lived almost twenty miles from the church, though it wouldn’t take long – a short trip down the motorway – just one junction. I wasn’t really paying much attention on the journey, Michelle and Ange were competing in a battle for my thoughts. Michelle was winning. How long would this go on for?

I felt the car speed down the sliproad onto the motorway and smoothly cruise along. Then I heard an expletive from the driver as he hit the brakes. There was a wall of cars ahead - all stationary. Clearly there was a big accident ahead. Nothing was going to be going anywhere for a while, and people were getting out of their cars and wanderting around trying to see the problem. I started to think about how I was going to get to the church – run  down the hard shoulder? Hardly, it was 10 miles to the church – minimum. I rang Gareth and told him. He said he’d think of something and get back to me. Now I really was in a panic.

The driver looked at me in the mirror.

“Sorry mate.” Though I knew it wasn’t his fault. “Hey look, at least you aren’t the only one in a jam.” He nodded to the side. I looked round, and just behind there was another Bentley, with wedding ribbons attached.

I looked round to smile at my fellow sufferer, and my heart stopped. The smile that had haunted me for week wasn’t there – just a dark “O” with huge eyes and an expression that was probably matched by mine. I scrambled for the door handle, got out and grabbed the handle of her car. I could see a middle aged bloke, presumably her dad saying something but I couldn’t hear, my head was buzzing. I swung the door open, not knowing what to expect, not knowing what I was going to say to her. But I didn’t say anything, I didn’t have the chance. She was out of the car, her lips locked onto mine and her arms were flung round my neck before a word could escape.

The kiss lasted several hours in my head, but probably just a few seconds in reality. Our lips parted and I looked into those eyes, and familiar baby tears were beginning to appear. But these were different. My head was still buzzing, but through it I could hear applause from our fellow stranded motorists, who obviously thought we were marrying each other today, and her father’s voice asking her who the hell this boy was.

Without taking her eyes off me, she said:

“Dad, I need to borrow your ‘phone.”

I nodded and took out my ‘phone as well.





© Jennifer Green, 2008



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