Wedding Bell Blues

By: Meg Benjamin

Too bad the parked car wasn’t Peter Toleffson. She could have happily bounced gravel off his butt.

Docia was Janie’s best friend, and Janie didn’t envy her for much—she knew just how hard Docia had worked to get where she was. But she did envy Docia’s relationship with Cal Toleffson. Cal was the sweetest guy in the world. Was it too much to hope that there might be another Toleffson at home just like him?

Clearly, there wasn’t.

Pete Toleffson apparently didn’t understand how important The Wedding was. He wouldn’t be any help. She just hoped he wouldn’t be as big a pain in the ass as he was being currently.

Shaking her head, Janie turned up Bass Street, heading for her own front door. Lights burned in the windows, glowing soft against the gathering violet shadows. Twilight in Konigsburg. Always her favorite time of day. Janie paused to drink it in—the shadows, the doves calling their evening songs, the sound of children shouting a few blocks away.

A figure moved across the window, then turned to pull the curtain back and stare out. Mom. Checking to see if Janie was headed up the drive. Janie began walking again, more quickly now, telling herself at the same time she wasn’t that late.

Her mother opened the door as Janie climbed onto the front porch. “Just in time. I was afraid the tuna casserole would dry out, but I think I saved it.”

Janie stepped inside, then walked to the kitchen where her mother fussed around the table. Tuna noodle casserole, green peas poking through the buttery crumbs sprinkled across the top. Red Jell-O salad with bananas. A bowl of creamed corn.

If she started eating at home every night, her mother could just roll her down the street to the shop in the morning.

Her mother picked up a jug of milk—whole, of course—and reached for Janie’s glass. “That’s okay, Mom.” She grabbed her glass back and headed for the refrigerator. “I’ll have tea.” She lifted her pitcher of unsweetened from the refrigerator door.

Her mother sniffed. “Janie, you need your calcium.”

“I know.” Janie forced her lips into a bland smile. “I have my yogurt at breakfast and I eat a lot of cheese.”

She sank into her chair at the table, bowing her head briefly as her mother muttered grace, then spread her napkin across her knees.

“How’s the wedding coming?” her mother asked.

“Oh fine—everything’s working out.” Except the best man, of course. Janie chomped on a bit of tuna, ignoring the tension in her jaw.

“Are you still doing all that extra work for Docia’s mother?” Her mom’s eyes narrowed slightly.

“It’s not that much work, Mom, really. I enjoy it. Reba says I’m her ‘Konigsburg liaison’.”

In fact Janie wasn’t sure whose liaison she was—Reba’s or Docia’s. If Docia had to work directly with her mother, the wedding would probably become an alley fight. Janie functioned as a go-between to keep the two from scalping each other, plus finding cake toppers and matchbooks—duties that would drive Docia to distraction.

“I still think you should get paid for all the things you’re doing.” Her mother’s jaw grew square. “Wedding consultants make good money, Janie.”

Janie sighed. “I’m not a wedding consultant, Mom. I’m just helping out. And I wouldn’t think of letting them pay me for this. Docia’s my best friend.” And her boss. And the first person who had ever thought Janie had the potential to be something more than a small town Texas girl who waited on tables at the Hofbrau Haus.

As far as she was concerned, Docia deserved the wedding of the century. And she’d get it, if Janie had anything to say about it.

Her mother plopped another spoonful of creamed corn onto her plate. “I don’t know why they didn’t just hire someone. Lord knows the Kents could afford it!”

“Reba has all kinds of experience planning events for her foundation. She wanted to do Docia’s wedding herself.”

“Is Otto coming to the wedding?” Her mother kept her gaze locked on her forkful of tuna casserole, carefully avoiding Janie’s glance.

“I don’t know. We haven’t discussed it.” Janie speared a pea.

“Well.” Her mother shrugged. “It would be nice for you to have someone to dance with at the reception, wouldn’t it? He has been invited, hasn’t he?”

“Yes, he’s been invited.” Docia had asked Janie specifically if she wanted Otto to come, and Janie couldn’t think of any reason why not. Because she did want him there, didn’t she? She did need someone to dance with. So what if Otto wasn’t exactly Mr. Perfect. Janie sighed. “I’ll ask him if he’s coming. I don’t know what his plans are.”

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