The Billionaire and the VirginBy: Jessica Clare
Marjorie Ivarsson adjusted the bow on her behind and craned her neck, trying to look in the mirror at the back of her dress. “How is this?”
“Fucking awful,” said the redhead next to her in a similar dress. “We look more like cupcakes than bridesmaids.”
“Do you guys really hate the dresses?” Brontë asked, wringing her hands as the women lined up and studied their reflections in the mirrors.
“Not at all,” said Audrey, who Marjorie knew was the extremely pregnant, nice one. Audrey elbowed the not-as-nice redhead next to her, who was her sister. “I think they’re lovely dresses. And you do too.”
“No, I don’t—”
Again, she elbowed her sister and turned to Marjorie. “What do you think of the dress, Marj?” Her eyes were and trying to convey a hint that the other woman was just not getting.
“I love it,” Marjorie lied, casting a brilliant smile at Brontë. Truth was, all that red and white made her look a bit like a barber pole with a bow, but Brontë had worked long and hard to pick out dresses and had paid for everything, so how on earth could Marjorie possibly complain? She’d seen the price tag for this thing. Apparently they’d been custom-made by a fashion designer, and the price of just one dress cost more than Marjorie would make in months. Brontë was spending a lot on her wedding, and Marjorie didn’t want to be the one to kick up a fuss.
So she adjusted the bow on her behind again and nodded. “It’s beautiful. I feel like a princess.”
Brontë smiled, relieved.
“Oh, you’re so full of shit,” Gretchen began, only to be elbowed by the pregnant one again.
“I think I need this let out a bit more on the sides,” Audrey said, waving over the dressmaker. “My hips keep spreading.”
A woman ran over with pins in her mouth, kneeling at Audrey’s side as Marjorie gazed at the lineup of Brontë’s bridesmaids. There was herself, a six-foot-one Nordic blonde. There was Gretchen, a shorter, curvier woman with screamingly red hair that almost clashed with her dress, except for the fact that she was the maid of honor, so her mermaid-cut gown was more white than red. There was Gretchen’s sister Audrey, who was a pale, freckled redhead and heavily pregnant. And sitting in a corner, beaming at them as if it were her own wedding, was a frizzy-headed blonde named Maylee who was currently being stitched into her bridesmaid’s dress. Apparently she was a last-minute addition to the wedding party, and so her dress had to be fitted on the fly.
Gretchen fussed with the swishing tulle gathered tightly at the knees by decorative red lace. “My wedding is going to be in black and white, I swear to god, because this shit is ridicu—”
“So what made you decide to have a destination wedding, Bron?” Marjorie interrupted, trying to be the peacemaker. She was a little disturbed at Gretchen’s rather vocal opinions about the dresses, and sought to change the subject.
Brontë beamed at Marj, looking a little like her old self. “This is where I met Logan, remember? We got stuck here when I won that trip from the radio and the hurricane hit.” She grabbed Maylee’s hands and helped the other woman to her feet as another tailor fussed over the hems. “Logan bought the island and decided to renovate the hotel. He pushed for them to have it done this week so we could get married here. Isn’t that sweet?”
“Sweet,” Marjorie echoed, adjusting the deep vee of her neckline. Truth be told, her brain had stopped processing once Brontë had said “bought the island.” Marj was still weirded out by the fact that Brontë—quirky, philosophy-quoting Brontë—had dated a billionaire and now they were getting married. In her eyes, she always saw Brontë as a waitress, just like herself. They’d worked together at a 50s sock-hop diner in Kansas City for the last year or two . . . at least until Brontë had moved to New York City to be with Logan. It was something out of a fairy tale—or a movie, depending on which was your drug of choice. Either way, it didn’t seem like something that happened to normal people. “You’re so lucky, Brontë. I hope I can meet a guy as wonderful as Logan someday.”
“‘Hope is a waking dream,’” Brontë said with a soft smile. “Aristotle.”
Gretchen snorted, only to be thwapped by her sister again.
“Bless your heart, Brontë, for paying for everything so we could all be here with you,” Maylee gushed, striding forward to line up with the other bridesmaids. “Look at us. We’re all so lovely, aren’t we?” She put a friendly arm around Marjorie’s waist and beamed up at her. “Like a bunch of roses getting ready for the parade.”
“I believe they are floats in a parade, Maylee,” Gretchen said dryly. “Which, now that you mention it—”
Marjorie giggled, unable to stifle the sound behind her hand.
“So who are we missing?” Audrey asked, counting heads. “I know Jonathan and Cade are also groomsmen, right? That’s five groomsmen and I only count four bridesmaids here. What about Jonathan’s ladylove? What’s her name?”
“Violet,” Brontë added. “And I offered for her to be in the wedding, but she declined since we’re not familiar with each other, truly. Logan wanted me to add her to the bridesmaid lineup to make Jonathan happy, but Violet insisted on simply attending.” She strode forward and adjusted the lace band under Marjorie’s bust. “Does this look crooked to you? Anyhow. Angie’s flying in but her kid was having dental surgery today, so she’s not coming in until tomorrow.”
Marjorie smiled at Brontë meekly. She’d feel a lot better when Angie was here. She, Brontë, and Angie had all waited tables together (along with Sharon, but no one liked Sharon) at the diner. Angie was in her forties, motherly, and wonderful to be around. They often went to bingo together.
Gretchen nudged Marjorie. “So do you have a date for the wedding? Bringing yourself a man in the hopes he’ll catch the garter?”
“I do have a date,” Marjorie said. “His name’s Dewey. I met him playing shuffleboard.”
“Dewey? He sounds ancient.”
“I believe he’s in his eighties,” Marjorie said with a grin. “Very sweet man.”
“Ah. I getcha.” Gretchen gave Marjorie an exaggerated wink. “Sugar daddy, right?”
“What? No! Dewey’s just nice. He’s on vacation because his wife recently died and he needs a distraction. He seemed so lonely that I invited him to be my date at the wedding. Nothing more than that. He’s a sweet man.”
“Leave her alone, Gretchen,” Brontë said, butting in. “Marjorie always finds herself a sweet old guy to dote on.” Brontë gave her a speculative look. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen her out with anyone under the age of seventy.”
Brontë knew her well. Marjorie smiled at that. “I guess I’m pretty obvious. I just . . . you know. Have a lot more in common with guys like Dewey than most people.”
It was true. She didn’t really date older men. She just spent her time playing bingo with friends, and shuffleboard, and going to knitting circles and volunteering at the nursing home when she could. Her parents had died long before Marjorie could remember their faces, and so she’d been raised by Grandma and Grandpa. Marjorie had grown up quilting, canning, watching The Price is Right, and basically surrounded by people four times her age. It was something she never grew out of, either. Even at the age of twenty-four, she felt more comfortable with people in their eighties than people in their twenties. People her age never sat and relaxed on a Saturday morning with a cup of coffee and a crossword. They never just sat around and talked. They took selfies and got rip-roaring drunk and partied all night long.
And that just wasn’t Marjorie. She was old fashioned. Body of a (really lanky) twenty-four-year-old, soul of a geriatric.
That was another thing that the elderly never made her feel weird about—Marjorie was tall. At six-foot-one, she was taller than every woman and most men. No one wanted to date someone that tall, and most women looked at her like she was some sort of freak of nature. Not her Grandma and Grandpa. They’d always made her feel beautiful despite her height.
So, yeah. With the exception of Brontë, all of Marjorie’s friends were living in retirement homes.
“Well, I think we’re good on the fitting for now,” Brontë said as the tailors finished their measurements. “Everyone out of their gowns. Go enjoy the day, and I’ll see you ladies tonight for the pre-bachelorette party!”
Maylee giggled and Gretchen high-fived everyone. Audrey only patted her rounded belly. “Guess I’m the designated driver.”
They shimmied carefully out of the fitted gowns and changed back into their clothing. Marjorie had brought her beachwear with her just in case, and changed into her red and white polka-dotted one-piece swimsuit, then wrapped a sarong around her hips, stuffing her clothing into a bag.
It was a lovely day for a walk on the beach, and she had a few hours before afternoon shuffleboard started up, anyhow.