My Last:Riley & ChelleBy: Melanie Shawn
People, that’s what she needed. Crowds of people. No more of this one-on-one conversation nonsense. That was too heavy. It was (obviously!) far too easy to say things that would be more prudent to keep to herself. She just needed to keep herself surrounded by the masses. That should be easy enough to do at the reception, she figured – those things were filled with people, and most of them would probably want to chat with her and Sophie, since they were the only two bridesmaids. They were like “stars for a day.”
She felt Alex beside her as she walked out to the limo that was waiting to take them to the restaurant where the reception was going to be held. He gently squeezed her hand as they all piled into the vehicle, and when she looked up at him, he gave her a half-smile and a little wink. He leaned close to her and whispered. “Screw him. He was never good enough for you anyway.”
The reception passed by in a blur of activity, which Chelle was grateful for. She felt her energy, which was so necessary for keeping up the bright facade, flagging a few times – but Alex was never far from her side when that happened, for which she was grateful.
He gracefully interrupted conversations as they started to stray down an uncomfortable path, and he kept her occupied tearing up the dance floor. She had forgotten how much fun it was to just dance.
Chelle didn’t know if he was filling the role of guard dog as a personal favor to her or if he saw the act of preventing her from having a breakdown at Katie and Jason’s wedding reception to be part of his duties as co-Best Man…but either way, she was grateful for the assist. It was so much easier to keep the train of her sanity on the tracks when she didn’t have to worry about directing the course that would keep it from derailing!
Everything was going great, Chelle had to admit, until she excused herself from Alex’s protective presence to use the restroom. That’s when the whole carefully-constructed plan to keep her on an even keel came right off the rails.
David was waiting for her when she stepped out.
“We need to talk, Chelle,” David demanded standing with his arms crossed in a defensive stance.
“No, we don’t. Not here.” She tried to step around him, but he swiftly moved to block her escape route.
“Chelle, we need to get some things worked out, logistically. Kayla wants to move in and we need to know when you’ll be out.”
Chelle’s head began spinning. Kayla wanted to move in. Move into her condo. She needed to get away. She couldn’t breathe. She needed air.
“We think five days is more than generous. In fact, not to put too fine a point on it, but we expect you to be out by then. Kayla wants to have the locks changed.”
She felt an arm wrap around her waist and heard Alex’s voice, “Come on Chellie Bellie. They need us out there. They’re gonna cut the cake.”
Alex stared directly into David’s eyes, and Chelle sensed that something primal was passing between them. A pissing contest of sorts. After several moments David stepped to the side, allowing her and Alex to pass.
Hmm, she thought, guess Alex won that round…
As she walked past David she heard him say something under his breath but she couldn’t make it out. From the look on his face she was pretty sure she wouldn’t have liked what he said, so she ignored it.
“Thank you,” she said to Alex. She wasn’t sure how she would have made it through the day without him.
She turned to give him a grateful hug and heard someone clear their throat meaningfully. She looked up and saw her big brother, Eddie, who worked with Jason and Bobby at Sloan Construction. He had also been best friends with the Sloans’ older brother Riley when they were growing up.
Chelle had been trying to avoid Eddie at the reception because Eddie was irrationally overprotective of her, and she certainly didn’t want him to cause a scene with David if he found out what had been going on. Of course, it’s not like she would be planning to tell him about it…but as her little breakdown with Alex in the hall had proved, sometimes things just pop out.
Chelle had been with David off and on since their freshman year in high school, and it had taken Eddie a good two years to warm up to him. Well…he had never really warmed up to him, per se…he tolerated David for Chelle’s sake, but he never really liked him. Needless to say, he had not been overjoyed when she and David had reconnected and then gotten engaged.