Janine found the whole wedding planning process to be fascinating. That was a good thing, since she could hardly escape it, as she was the maid of honor’s sister and the best man’s girlfriend.
She found herself refereeing debates over colors (cornflower blue or seafoam green?) and flowers (lilies or roses?). Janine would never forget the great Chicken Kiev versus Prime Rib debate, which had almost resulted in a change of caterers. She had read enough etiquette books to write a research paper. She had offered an opinion on at least twenty-five dresses or outfits for different members of the wedding party.
Janine also estimated that she and Charlie had fielded approximately thirty inquiries on their own marital plans. There had been numerous jokes about Charlie following in his little brother’s footsteps, and remarks about weddings being contagious. She had to admit the planning process seemed fun – especially the day they had spent an afternoon tasting wedding cakes – but she had no idea if they were ready. She and Charlie had talked about marriage, but it always seemed like a far-off sort of thing.
Until now. Now, it seemed much more real.
Her closeness to the wedding party, without actually being a part of the wedding party, had resulted in Janine being enlisted as a messenger. She was entertained at the pains being taken to prevent the bride and groom, who had known each other for more than ten years, from seeing each other before it was time.
She couldn’t complain, as it afforded her the opportunity to help Charlie with his bow tie and sneak in a kiss, but Janine was relieved when it was time for the ceremony. The heels she wore were not the most comfortable of shoes.
Once he’d escorted Claudia up the aisle and taken his assigned place, he caught her eye. The crowd around them almost vanished as Janine watched his lips form the words I love you, as if they were the only two people in the room.
They were alone at last, enjoying the warm summer night in the garden of the mansion the reception was being held in. Janine held the bouquet of roses that Stacey had tossed – somehow she had been the only one on the bouquet’s trajectory – inhaling the sweet fragrance. The bow tie hung loose, untied, around Charlie’s neck – a look she found quite appealing.
“Our group’s first successful wedding,” she said after a moment. “It’s been a beautiful day.”
“We’ve all survived it,” he said with a laugh. “Sam almost forgot the ring. And his shoes.”
“That sounds like Sam,” she teased back. “Good thing he had you there for him.”
“I see you caught the bouquet,” Charlie continued.
“I’m still not sure how,” Janine confessed. “There were plenty of women trying to catch it.”
“You know what they say about catching the bouquet?” Charlie reflected that it had taken enough bribery and suggestion to ensure she did catch it. He owed Kristy big time.
“I am aware of the superstition surrounding it, yes.”
Then she watched in amazement as Charlie reached inside his jacket and dropped to one knee. In the center of his hand rested a ring, a simple band with a diamond flanked by two sapphires.
“Marry me, Janine?”
She couldn’t breathe for a moment, couldn’t believe this was happening. It was a perfect moment, and somehow all she could do was look into his eyes.
“Yes,” she whispered finally. She tugged at his hand, pulling him to his feet. “Yes!”
She felt his hands warm around hers, as he slid the ring on her finger. Then he was kissing her, as if he never intended to stop.
When they finally broke apart, Janine rested her cheek against his as they held each other close.
“Let’s tell everyone tomorrow,” she suggested after a few moments. “I don’t want to intrude on Stacey and Sam’s day.”
“We could sneak away now,” he suggested with a slow smile.
“That sounds like a plan,” Janine said, wrapping her arms around his neck. “A very good plan.”