Grace couldn't believe that Lisa and Dave had only got together eight months ago and here they were, standing at the altar, both on the verge of tears as they said their vows. Lisa looked beautiful in a simple column of white silk, and even Dave was handsome in his grey morning suit, a white Lilly in his buttonhole. Grace thanked God that she wasn't a bridesmaid and could be lost in the congregation, hiding her own sentimental self indulgent tears.
The reception was at her neighborhood bar. Neither Lisa or Dave were interested in impressing their guests. They just wanted everyone to let their hair down and have a good time. The local band was doing their best to get everyone dancing, thrashing out the usual favourites with gusto, and the food was simple bar fare such as chicken wings and nachos. It was unpretentious and fun, just like the married couple.
Grace sat with the bride watching Lisa's Dad make a fool of himself on the dancefloor. He was rather suggestively grinding against Briana who kept grimacing at Grace and Lisa and making them laugh. Greg was there. His plus one was amazingly Cindy, who had squeezed herself into pink lycra and was gazing at him as if he was the answer to all her prayers. If only she had felt the same way, Grace thought with a pang. It might have saved her a lot of grief.
Then she glanced towards the door and there stood Sam. He was dressed in a dark grey pinstripe suit and a white shirt, his top buttons undone. He had had his hair cut short and he looked so gorgeous she stopped breathing.
"What's he doing here?" Grace asked, unable to look away.
"I invited him," Lisa said.
Sam scanned the room for a moment and then his eyes settled on Grace. They stared at each other and he smiled slowly, dimple appearing. Grace suddenly forgot the last year completely and was transported back to the bar in Bakersfield and the very first time she had seen him.
He walked towards her and she watched every step of his progress, trying not to hyperventilate. Lisa seemed to have disappeared. He reached her and said softly, "You're wearing a red dress."
She looked down at herself as if she had completely forgotten what she was wearing. It was true, she was wearing a red dress. She had put it on this morning completely unaware of the significance.
He leaned towards her and whispered in her ear, "fancy a cigarette?"
And in a daze she followed him across the bar and through the fire exit door at the back.
It was a warm night, and she could still hear the thump, thump of the music coming from inside. Her hand involuntarily reached out to touch the smooth lapel of his jacket. She didn't dare look up at him. It would be so easy to sink into him and start again.
His finger trailed through a curl of her hair as she held her breath.
"Grace," he said, making goosebumps appear on her arms, and then he held her face in his hands and kissed her, gently and slowly. She felt drugged as his lips trailed over her jaw and his hand tangled in her hair.
"No," she said, managing to pull her tingling lips away from his. "It's too easy."
He looked down at her, brown eyes burning. "What's too easy?"
"This. The kissing. The sex," she said, feeling a guilty arousal in her loins just from saying the words.
He looked puzzled.
"I can't just have sex with you, Sam," she said staring at the patch of brown chest under his open collar. His hand was still in her hair. "I can't just wait until you go away, or sleep with someone else. It will kill me."
"I'm not going anywhere," he said with conviction. "And I haven't slept with anyone else since that first time with you."
She looked up at him amazed.
"I think I'm in love with you, Grace. I think I fell in love with you the first moment I saw you."
She had to grab hold of his arms to stop herself from shaking.
He laughed softly and his dimpled smile lit up his face. "I'm hoping that's good news."
The doubt in his face made her heart swell and wash away all the doubts she herself had ever had. She touched his stubbled jaw tenderly and then kissed him hard, so he fell back against the wall with her against him and she could feel his heart thumping through his clothes.
In the midst of the best kiss of Grace's life, Sam suddenly reached down to his pocket.
"What are you doing?" she asked, still pressed against him.
"I'm texting JD," he grinned.