Tuesday, August 12, 2014

First look! Chapter 1!

Thirty-Three Going on Girlfriend

by Becky Monson

Chapter 1

I can’t believe I am here. 
I can’t believe I am standing here, gazing lovingly at Jared, surrounded by our friends and family on this amazing beach with this marvelous sunset, as we make these vows. These incredible sure-to-make-you-cry vows to each other. 
The colors are all muted antique tones. Pinks, yellows, golds. My bouquet is practically busting with soft pink roses. 
My makeup is not whore-ish, as my sister, Anna, would have preferred, and my hair is done in perfect long curls, pulled half up with a small antique jeweled clip. Simple. Understated. Exactly what I wanted.
And then there is my dress. My dress is spectacular. It’s timeless, really. Just slightly off-white, an off the shoulder bodice with details of stunning Chantilly lace and a sweeping train. I heart it. I heart it all. Especially Jared. In his classic suit—none of that penguin stuff for him—he looks like something out of a style magazine. His pants and jacket are perfectly tailored, and he wore the antique pink tie just because I wanted him to.
I gaze over at my bridesmaids, my baby sister Anna and my dearest friend, Betsy Brown, gazing at us with bright smiles—Anna’s with an ever-so-slight look of jealousy—and I beam at them. This is the perfect day. My perfect day with Jared. 
“Do you, Jared Nathan Moody, take Julia Warner Dorning to be your lawfully wedded wife? To have and to hold from this day forward, until death do you part?” the officiate, dressed in all white, asks Jared. 
“I do,” he says simply. 
“And do you, Julia Warner Dorning, take Jared Nathan Moody to be your lawfully wedded husband? To have and to hold from this day forward, until death do you part?” the priest asks.
“I do,” I say as I stare into Jared’s eyes, which are filling up with tears, and I begin to tear up as well. 
“Then by the power that is vested in me, I now pronounce you man and wi …”
“JULIA! What the hell? What are you doing in my dress?” Anna’s screeching pulls me out of my fantasy. “Geez, I leave you alone in here for ten minutes, and you think it’s okay to put my dress on? Mom! Tell her to take my dress off!” Anna stomps her foot in a ridiculous, child-like manner. 
My mom comes in the room just after Anna and puts her hand to her mouth. “Oh, Julia dear, what are you doing?”
“Nothing! Geez, I was just seeing how it felt, that’s all. Stop pouting like you’re ten,” I say to Anna, who is practically throwing an adult version of a temper tantrum. 
What’s the big deal? Anna and my mom left the room to go check out veils, and I was left in the room with her wedding dress, just sitting there … all alone. What woman wouldn’t want to try it on? Especially a woman who’s in her thirties … with no promises of marriage on the horizon … 
I can’t believe Anna is getting married. My baby sister. My sister—who is ten years my junior—is getting married. It was a whirlwind kind of thing too. She met Jonathon at my dad’s law firm where she is currently working. Jonathon is a junior partner at the firm. I made the mistake of calling him “Jon,” and that is apparently not acceptable to Jonathon. To say he’s stuffy and pretentious is an understatement. 
My brother, Lennon, and I both have our suspicions about Jonathon. Well, not really suspicions, just a mutual dislike for the guy. We really haven’t tried, to be honest, but there’s just only so much blather about Ivy League Schools (he went to Stanford), and amazing accomplishments (made junior partner in his first year), that we can take. Plus, the guy does nothing to help with the wedding. Not one thing. That’s weird, right?
They’ve only been together for just under six months, and now they are getting married. My boyfriend Jared (I still have a hard time calling him that) and I have been together for nine months and not a peep about marriage. We don’t even say “I love you” yet. I’ve wanted to say it, I feel like I could have said it from the beginning, actually. Call me old-fashioned, I feel like he should say it first. Okay, I mostly want him to say it first because if I say it first, I’m afraid his reply might be the dreaded “thank you.” 
That’s the insecure voice in my mind that creeps in every now and then. Okay, practically all of the time. I don’t want to be that girl, but I can’t help myself. This is my first real relationship in, well, ever. 
Anyway, this is not about Jared and me, this is about Anna and Jonathon. I should not compare. In with the good thoughts, out with the I-hate-my-sister thoughts. 
“Well, hopefully you didn’t stretch my dress out with your butt. It’s bigger than mine, you know.” And there the I-hate-my-sister thoughts are, again. They come and go these days. To say that Anna has been acting like a diva is an understatement. 
“Yes, you’ve said that more than once. Thank you for the reminder that my butt is bigger than yours.” She helps me get out of the dress and then holds it in her arms like it’s a darling baby, stroking the lace with her fingers. I expect her to start cooing at it, Don’t worry my little sweetie-pie, I won’t let that mean big-butted lady touch you again. Never, never again. She tenderly hangs it up. I roll my eyes at her as I find my clothes on the floor in the corner and quickly start putting them back on. 
I'm actually surprised I could get the dress on, to be honest. I’ve packed on about ten pounds in the last nine months. I work at a bakery. The fact that I haven’t put on more is actually a bit of a miracle. Brown says it’s my “I’m in a relationship weight.” Apparently when you are happy in a relationship, you tend to get comfortable and start putting on a few. She claims to have done the same when she first started dating her now fiancé, Matt. I didn’t know her then, and all I see is the perfectly put together pageant queen that she is now. I’m inclined not to believe her at all. 
I did buy one of those ten-minute workout videos. I figured I should be able to fit at least that into my day. If only I could muster up enough energy to put the darn thing in my DVD player. 
“Did you at least check out the options I picked out for your maid of honor dress?” Anna points over to the corner where a bunch of boring different-colored dresses hang. 
Since I am the maid of honor, I get to pick out my dress. Everyone else is wearing the same black dress, and I get to wear the same dress style, but in a color, and she is letting me pick out the color. But not really because I know she has one in mind that she wants me to wear, but for some reason she wants me to pick it out. That way, it looks as if she gave me the option, but under her control. 
“I did look at them, I like the purple one,” I say, knowing full well that purple is not the color she will want. Why did she even give it to me as an option in the first place?
She scrunches her face at me. “Well, but don’t you think purple will sort of clash?” 
“Anna, why don’t you just pick the color you want for me? I really don’t mind.” I really freaking don’t mind, is what I want to say. 
“No! You have to pick. Just not the purple. Anything but the purple.” 
“Fine,” I point over to the rack of dresses, “I’ll wear the olive one.” 
“Yes! Perfect. The olive green one will work.” She goes over to the rack, picks it out, and holds it up, contemplating. “Yes, yes …” she trails off, probably picturing the line-up in her mind.
I should just start counting down in my head, five, four, three, two …
“Well … maybe not the olive one.” Yes, I saw that coming. She hangs the dress back on the rack. “Why not the dusty rose one?” She pulls it out and shows it to me. Aha! That’s the one she wanted all along. I should have known. 
“Sure, whatever,” I say and sit down on the couch in the all-white dressing room that looks as if it were made for a queen. And for the money we are spending in this place, it might as well be.
“If you don’t want to be in my wedding, you don’t have to,” Anna says, as she hangs the pink dress back on the rack, an air of frustration in her voice
“What did I say?” I regard her with confusion. 
“It’s just your attitude, that’s all.” She folds her arms.
“My attitude?” I stand up and confront her, ready to spar. 
“Now girls,” my mother chides. “Stop arguing. Julia, you’ll wear the pink. It will look lovely with your skin.” 
“Fine,” I say and sit back down on the couch.
My mother and Anna go over to her dress and start talking about something wedding-y, and I tune them out. All these wedding plans are so boring. Okay, they wouldn’t be boring if they were my wedding plans. But they are not, and I am totally okay with that. Totally okay. 
Only, I’m not. I want to be okay. Anna and I have really bonded over this past year or so, and I love her to death, but I can’t help but feel jealous. Who wouldn’t? I am the first born in the Dorning family, and I’m already not the first to have children. Lennon and his wife Jenny now have baby Liam (whom I adore and I’m pretty sure I’m his favorite aunt), and now I will be the last to get married, that is, if I ever do get married. I shouldn’t dwell on it; I should just get over it. And I try. I really do. 
I remember when she came to my condo to tell me she was getting married. 
“I have news!” she had said, giddily, as she used her key and waltzed right in without knocking, which I told her she could do, but somehow it still got on my nerves when she did. 
I remember she was wearing this big, ridiculously puffy white coat because it had been snowing that day in March. While other parts of the world were starting their spring break celebrations, we still had open ski resorts and sub-zero temperatures. 
I was sitting on the couch, exhausted from my day at the bakery, and trying to unwind. I was glad to see her, though. Since she had started dating Jonathon, we hadn’t spent as much time together, and I missed my Anna and me time. 
“What news?” I looked over at her to see a giddy smile on her face. “What’s with the goofy grin?” 
“I’m getting married!” she spurted out and held up her left hand, which had a giant—and I mean giant—diamond ring on her ring finger.
“What?” was all I could say, while my eyes bugged out of my head. 
“I’m getting married!” She started jumping up and down like a child on her birthday. 
“But … but … you don’t know Jonathon that well! I mean, you’ve only been dating for, what, like three months?” 
“Three and a half months,” she snapped back quickly, the giddy-jumping ended. “Not you too. Mom and Dad said the same thing. Why does everyone want to crap on my parade?” She sulked over to the couch and slouched down at the other end from where I was sitting. Her puffy coat made exhaling sounds as she leaned back on it. 
“Well, how did you expect us to react?” I glanced over at her and saw a tear escape down her cheek. Anna doesn’t cry often, so I immediately felt bad. 
“Look, I’m sorry, Anna. Don’t cry,” I said, and I scooted closer to her on the couch. 
“It’s just supposed to be exciting news, and everyone should be excited, but it feels like all I’ve been doing is convincing everyone that this is what I want. It really is, Julia … what I want.” As even more tears poured from her eyes, I knew I had to get excited, even if it was my best acting job ever. 
“You’re engaged!” I said brightly, jumping my butt around on the couch in excitement (I was too tired to stand up and do it). 
“Oh, shut up,” she said, pushing me away from her. 
“No, really. I’m excited. Well … okay … I will be excited. Now tell me, how did he do it?” 
“Well we were at that fancy steakhouse—the new one I was a telling you about the other day?” Her eyes brightened up as she told me. “And when they brought the dessert out, it was cheesecake, which is not my favorite, but Jonathon didn’t know that.” She glanced over at me to get my reaction, I’m sure she was hoping that I was not giving her an I-told-you-so smirk, since he didn’t even know her favorite dessert. But I played along. 
“Anyway, so there, on the top of the cheesecake was my ring. And he got down on one knee and proposed!” Her smile broadened at the memory. 
“Oh my gosh! That is so romantic!” I grabbed her and hugged her. Anna and I are not huggers, but I wanted her to think that I was extra excited and that I thought it was so incredibly romantic, but the truth was I was still in shock. Plus, the old ring-in-the-dessert wedding proposal is so overdone. I really didn’t want her to get that out of my expression. So hugging it out was my best option. 
“Julia,” she said as she pulled away from my overbearing hug, “I want you to be my maid of honor.” She smiled slightly at me, almost in a bashful way, like she was embarrassed to even say it. 
“Really?” I beamed brightly at her because I was actually really flattered that she asked me. 
“Yes. I must have you there by my side on what will probably be the most important day of my life.” She bit her bottom lip and stared down at her ring. 
“Of course I will be.” I grabbed her hand and held it briefly, letting her know how much that meant to me. 
For the past two months, I have put on a brave face during this torture. But today, here in this stuffy dressing room—well, it’s not really stuffy because it’s ridiculously huge, but it has a stuffy feel to it—I’m just not feeling it.
“Julia?” my mom says, a little louder than her normal tone. I look over at her and Anna, both staring at me.
“Yeah?” I say, realizing I have not been paying attention to them at all.
“You ready to go?” She comes over to me and stands next to the place where I am sitting. 
Oh yes, I am definitely ready to go. 

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