Toss the Bride

Toss the Bride by Jennifer Manske Fenske

Book: Toss the Bride by Jennifer Manske Fenske Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jennifer Manske Fenske
wrong would be an upbeat way to describe the situation. Crappy, awful, disastrous—all of these are better words. I decide to speak slowly, like I have everything under control.
    â€œMaurice would like you to meet him at a local store to select some dresses—just in case we get in a jam with, well, you know.”
    â€œAunt Gretchen will have the dresses ready,” Carolina shrieks. “I’m tired of everyone questioning my judgment on this! Why can’t I have a few people who believe in me?” A few sobs come through the line, and Maurice hears them clearly since he is standing next to me. He whips out his cell, punching buttons furiously.
    â€œHold on, Macie. I’m getting another call.” Carolina says.
    I hang up and step back. Maurice looks ticked.
    â€œCarolina, dear, Maurice on the line.” Maurice is all smoothness, although I can see the bulging vein on his forehead. It’s beastly hot today, even in the shade of Aunt Gretchen’s sad front porch. I glance back to the front room. She’s still sleeping. A third cat arrives on the scene.
    â€œDarling, you’re going to have to meet us at the O’Dell’s shop out near Perimeter Mall. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it’s going to have to be. Really. That’s right. No, I don’t believe so.” Maurice nods and shakes his head in a regretful manner that I wish Carolina could see. He is the picture of sincerity.
    I cast a tired eye around the porch, wishing for something on which to sit. My legs hurt a bit, either from cramming myself into Maurice’s sports car or from walking around tense all week with this wedding on my mind. Finally, I plop down on the low stone wall on one end of the porch. I try to imagine fixing this house up a bit. Maybe scrape off the old paint, tear off the rusted awnings, plant some flowers. Back in Cutter, my dad always took care of our brick ranch on Tupelo Street. The yard was small, but it was trimmed with a white fence covered in climbing roses.
    A man on a bicycle glides by in the street. He wears a fast-food uniform and carries a bag of groceries under one arm. He eyes Maurice’s sports car and gives me a nod as he passes.
    â€œWell, Carolina, if you must know, I think your aunt has had one too many,” Maurice says, his voice rising.
    This gets my attention. It takes a lot to get him riled up on the outside.
    â€œHow do I know? Because I’m standing on her front porch and I have an armchair view of Auntie sleeping in her armchair. From the look of things, nothing has been sewn in this house for twenty years!”
    I think that Maurice is going for bridal shock value. Instead of shielding Carolina from the worst of it, he’s embracing the debacle and trying to force the bride to act. It’s risky; I’ve never seen it work.
    Carolina must be giving it to him. Maurice closes his mouth, nods repeatedly, and brushes a piece of lint off of his pants. Finally, he stands up straight and starts walking toward the car. I follow him.
    â€œNow, get your mother and meet us at O’Dell’s. We are going to pull this thing together, darling. I mean it. I’ll see you in an hour.” Maurice’s face is tense.
    â€œWhat did you say? What did she say? She’s coming?” I ask Maurice in the car as we speed away.
    â€œIt seems that Carolina knew all along Aunt Gretchen wouldn’t be able to finish the job. In fact, everyone did except Gretchen. Her battle with the bottle has made her a bit, shall we say, overconfident. Carolina just got more and more desperate and started inventing fittings that didn’t take place, just to protect her aunt. It’s the most bizarre thing.”
    â€œI guess she really loves her,” I say.
    â€œI’d say,” Maurice nods, turning onto the expressway. “Now, are you ready to find this bride some dresses?”
    *   *   *

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