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CHAPTER SIX

For some reason, the clock-radio wasn't working, and if it wasn't for my internal clock, I would've overslept. I showered (making sure to shave where necessary, since my dress was sleeveless), applied a little more makeup than usual since it was a special occasion, and dried my hair. I had no idea what to do with my hair, but tried a few quick ideas. It usually behaved, but because of the extra humidity from being near "Hot-lanta", it wasn't doing quite what I envisioned. I had originally thought to leave it down, but decided to slap the sides up away from my face, securing it with the pearl bobby pins that Diana had bought for me, which looked nice along with the matching pearl earrings and bracelet. It goes without saying that there was no way I would be wearing pantyhose; it was just too hot. The dress we had picked out was a long A-line dress in an odd green color that I determined was "Restoration Hardware Green", like the paint in their stores. It was solid green, with a chiffon overlay that had another odd color, a peachy-ish color of roses. It had a high, straight neckline and thin straps. We had miraculously found strappy sandals to match, so I also had to change my toenail polish from the obnoxious blue glitter it currently was to a more subdued pink, and I went ahead and (for once) polished my fingernails with the same color, knowing that it would be chipped by the time the wedding started. I threw what I would need into the matching green purse I bought, and was on my way.

Diana had asked me to be there by ten, so I could help coordinate getting people where they needed to be, and making sure that Taylor and Natalie didn't see each other before the two o'clock ceremony. I first stopped off where the girls were getting ready, and walked into a scene of barely-organized chaos. There were piles of makeup everywhere, hangers strewn, bobby pins on the floor, and a definite fog of hair spray in the air. Diana saw me standing in the doorway, and came over. "Aria, you look beautiful! Everyone, you remember Aria, Isaac's--" pause "--good friend?" Everyone waved, nodded, or otherwise acknowledged me. Zoe came up and hugged me around my knees. She already had spilled something that looked like allegedly harmless white cranberry juice on her dress. Diana grabbed a large, flat box off the table. "Here hon, could you take these over to the guys? Thanks," she said distractedly as she began to walk away.

"Where are they?" I asked.

"Oh, yes, that would help, wouldn't it?" she said, slapping her forehead lightly as she came back over to me. "I'm sorry...they're in the next building, 2nd door on the right. Thanks, Aria!"

She hurried back to help one of the bridesmaids. The fragrant scent of the corsages in the box led me to the building next door where the guys were getting ready. I entered the building, trying not to drop the cumbersome box, and knocked on the 2nd door on the right. "Yeah?" a voice asked.

"It's Ree, I have the corsages. Everyone decent?"

Zac opened the door for me, and I saw several men, all standing in tuxedo pants and white undershirts, putting on the button-down shirts, and fumbling with the cuff links and those weird buttons that come with the shirts. Walker could've helped, but he was busy with the photographer; I passed him on my way to the guys' building. Isaac came up to me first. He whispered in my ear, "You look amazing," and gently brushed my ear with his lips, and took the box from me.

Zac came back over to me with his shirt in one hand and a pile of button thingies in the other. "Ree, I don't know what the hell these are for," he whined impatiently. I remembered helping at a friend's wedding the winter before, and having to do the same thing.

"Zachary, language," Taylor teased, taking the place of his father if only for a couple seconds.

"Alright, Zac, put the shirt on, and I'll help you." I was getting shaky and nervous, I'm sure not as nervous as Natalie was, but still butterflies-in-my-stomach-that-made-my-hands-shake nervous. I fumbled with the buttons, but managed to get him dressed.

The second Zac turned away, Taylor grabbed me. "Me next, please?" he asked with a smile. I obliged, helping him with his cuff links and buttons, and following suit with the rest of the guys, including Mackie, who if he would stand still, would make a wonderful groomsman.

Isaac came up to me last. "Please?" he said, holding the pile of buttons and cuff links in his hands, looking as helpless as possible.

"Of course," I said, helping him, and growing more aroused each second I was next to him, brushing his chest with each button.

"How are you"? Isaac asked.

"Huh?" I replied, in a light trance from being so close to him. "That's a weird question."

"No it's not...I missed you last night," he whispered, pulling me into a corner.

I managed to grab a corsage out of the box, so it would look like I still had a purpose there. "You know we couldn't, and I wouldn't have let you anyway," I replied. He picked up something off the chair in front of him, a vest that was meant to go on over the shirt...right over the buttons I had just carefully put on him, his three brothers, and Natalie's brother. "This next?" Isaac asked. I threw my hands up in the air. "Why did I just help you guys with those buttons when you have vests?" I asked curtly. "Why didn't they send normal shirts?!" Isaac shrugged and put on his vest. I continued, "Well, just leave 'em on now...where's your jacket?"

He grabbed his jacket off the back of a chair and slipped it on. I made my first attempt at pinning his corsage on as he quietly commented, "I didn't mean that...I mean just to be together, just sleep, not do anything. I missed you," he repeated.

I had leaned in to discreetly kiss him as I finished pinning on his corsage, but Mackie interrupted us, poking at my arm, holding up his crumpled corsage in his fist, silently asking me to pin it on. Thankfully, there were a couple extra corsages in the box.

***

I could tell that Zac had been sneaking way too much free champagne, so I took him away from the reception before he puked, or otherwise made an ass of himself, in front of his family. We went for a short walk, and sat on the first bench we found. As I sat next to him, Zac put his head on my shoulder. I instinctively put my arm around him and stroked his short dark blond hair.

"You feeling okay?" I asked.

"Uhh...I'm never drinking again," he muttered.

"Sure, Zac. You'll be fine. I just wanted to get you away from your family before you did anything stupid."

"Thanks," he muttered. "Hey Ree?"

"What?"

"Ya ever liked someone that you know you couldn't have?" he asked, still looking down at the ground.

"More times than I care to think about. Why?"

He sat up. "See, there's this girl--"

"At least it's a girl," I joked.

"Yeah, thanks," he said sarcastically, his speech slightly slurred. "I'm tryin' to be serious here. There's this girl, and I haven't seen her for a while, and she's kinda with someone now, I think, but I've had a crush on her for some time, and I don't know what to do."

I turned to face him. "How drunk are you right now, Zac?"

"Why?"

"Because you've never poured your heart out to me."

"But what should I do?" he whined.

"I think you should let her know how you feel. Who knows, maybe this guy she's 'kinda' with right now is a jerk and she'd be better off with you," I said encouragingly. "Do you know how she feels about you?"

"I know she likes me as a friend, but I doubt it would be anything more, and besides, she's way older than me."

"Zac, listen to me. How will you ever know unless you do anything about it? There's been a couple guys in my life that I regret not telling how I feel. Who knows how it would've turned out, but at least I would've known. Is she here today?"

He nodded. "Yes, and she looks beautiful."

"Well, I think you know what you need to do, then. Just wait 'til you sober up," I warned. And before I knew what was happening, he leaned in and kissed me on the lips. I pushed him away immediately. "Zac! What the hell?!"

I saw the look of hurt, sadness, and drunkenness on his face, in his now-glazed brown eyes. "Well...I..." He didn't quite know what to say. "I'm sorry...I'm...I think I..." he said as he leaned over the bench and threw up. My babysitter instincts took over in a whole new light, pulling his jacket off, making sure he didn't throw up on either one of us, and gave him the glass of water I'd taken with me, just in case something like that happened.

"Feel better?" I asked.

"I think," he replied, looking in the water glass. "By the way, don't wear that peppermint lip goo, that's what did it."

"I'll keep that in mind next time an underage boy gets drunk and kisses me."

"Shut up," he moaned, his head in his hands.

"Why me?"

"Why you..." he whispered, still not looking up. He took a drink of water and continued, "I'm sorry, Ree. I don't know what came over me. I used to have a crush on you when you babysat us, and I guess it kinda stayed with me a bit."

"I know, Zac," I replied, putting my arm around him.

"You do? Since when?"

"Since you were three and a half, and you scraped your knee on the driveway, and I bandaged you up, and you asked me to marry you," I recalled. "Don't you remember that?"

Zac blushed. "Yeah. The offer still stands, you know," he joked. "Listen, can we go back? I'm feeling a bit better."

"Sure," I said, as he took my arm and we walked back to the reception. "Isaac'll be wondering where we ran off to."

"Why don't you call him 'Ike' anymore?"

"You never heard that story?" I asked.

"Ooh, there's a story?" he asked, his speech still slurring a bit.

"Yeah, but it's not really exciting...my college friend Tamara, her boyfriend had this crazy hyper mutt of a dog that would pee on you when he was happy to see you, and his name was Ike...I kinda lost the taste for the name after that," I laughed as we came back to the reception, sliding Zac hopefully unnoticed into the nearest chair, and refilling his water glass from the pitcher on the table.

***

I tried to hide it, but Isaac still noticed. "What's on your mind?" he asked as we danced to a slow song that David Garza was playing.

"Huh?"

"You seem preoccupied."

"It's nothing."

"You sure?" he asked, looking into my eyes.

I couldn't resist those small, brown, puppy-dog eyes. "Alright, you caught me. But promise you won't get mad."

"I can't promise that--"

"Fine, then I'm not telling," teasingly looking away from him.

He took my chin into his hand and turned my face towards him and gave me a little kiss. "What is it?" he asked again. "Is it something about us?"

"No...it's just that..." I thought, should I tell him? I'd better. "I took Zac away for a bit a few minutes ago, since he'd had too much to drink--"

"Yeah, I knew that."

"He kissed me."

Isaac laughed. "No really, what happened?"

I responded, "No, really, he kissed me. We were sitting on a bench, and he started asking me what he should do about this crush he had on this girl, and I told him he should tell her how he felt, and he kissed me."

Isaac chuckled. "My little brother, the smooth operator."

"Oh, you don't know how wrong you are...he threw up right after that."

Isaac threw his head back and laughed loudly, wrinkling up his whole face. "Now that's funny...oh, that's beyond funny, that's fodder for blackmail!"

After a minute, I joked, "I assume you know he's not a threat."

"I know," he replied, still smiling, and pulled me tightly against him.


On to Chapter Seven
Back to Chapter Five


Copyright ©1999-2006 Winona Patterson.