The wedding coordinator enters the room and announces it’s time for us to line up. Since I’m the only attendant besides the flower girl, I’m up first. I turn to Rose. “I’ll see you at the altar. I’ll be the one next to your man with the big, sappy smile on my face.” As we hug, I whisper, “So happy for you.”
I mean it. I am ecstatic for her. Just because this won’t happen for me doesn’t mean I want everyone to remain alone. And Rose deserves all this happiness after everything she’s been through. I grab my bouquet of roses and lead us to the double doors.
The music changes and the sound of people turning in their chairs indicates it’s time for me to make my entrance. “See you on the other side, Miss Bloomer.”
I strut my stuff up the aisle, carrying my bouquet at hip level just like the coordinator told me to do. My nude stilettos are killer with my midcalf deep orange dress, if I do say so myself. I smile at friends I haven’t seen in a while and new ones I’ve met.
Better soak in all this happiness. It has to last me a lifetime as well.
Everything’s going great until I get up near the front. There he is. On the aisle. Of course he’s here—why did I think he’s non-appearance last night at the pre-wedding party meant I was out of the woods?
My cheeks deflate as my eyes lock onto the dark brown ones belonging to Ozzy. The ultimate bad boy rocker. One whose wild streak no longer fits into my recently re-ordered life.
He’s wearing a tux that’s molded to his broad shoulders and trim waist. Dayum. His back straightens, and he nods at me.
Stay strong, McKenna.
I force my feet to keep a steady pace forward, my smile returning in full-force once I get past the man who makes my heart race, panties drop and heart break. Emilie’s nearby, next to her fiancé, Wills. I give her a little wave and take my place at the makeshift altar, across from Cole. He looks so calm. So sure of himself.
From the doorway, Suzanne urges Emma forward. She starts up the aisle, throwing rose petals all over. Literally. I shake my head at how cute this little girl is.
The music stops. Cole strides over to a piano and begins playing ‘To Have and to Hold,’ his latest hit that he co-wrote with Rose. As we practiced, when he sings, “You’re my heart—I’ll fight for us both,” Rose appears.
All the guests stand.
Rose glows as she glides up the aisle, carrying an overflowing bouquet of multi-colored roses. She stops a few feet away from me and when Cole finishes the song, he joins her, kisses her hand and they complete the walk together. Their eyes never stray from the other.
I inhale their love.
The celebrant begins, “Dearly beloved.…”
His voice becomes background music.
Do not look past the couple. Do not look past the bride and groom. Do not glance at. Shit. Ozzy’s eyes are squarely on me. His kissable lips tick upward. Look away! Look away! His tongue swipes his lower lip. My nipples harden. Stop. Focus on Rose and Cole.