Rebecca tossed her bridal bouquet straight at Suzanne, but Suzanne jumped aside so she wouldn’t catch it. So, how did it land in her hands anyway?
And why did she have this odd pang in her chest? This twinge of sadness. Of envy. A feeling of desperation, as if she would never find a man who would look at her with adoration and unbridled passion in his eyes the way Thomas did Rebecca. Or the way her other cousins’ husbands looked at them.
Maybe because your latest boyfriend just dumped you like the rest of the guys you dated.
Why did all those men keep dumping her? Did she have some big sign emblazoned on her forehead that said, Can’t Love This One?
Sure, she knew how to attract a man, to cast the line and throw out the bait. A little flirting here. A smile there. Throw in some hip movement, and voilà, they chased her like flies after honey. But once they sampled a taste of the nectar, she never could quite keep them for more than a few quick bites.
The wedding drowned out her thoughts as everyone rushed past the white folding chairs, food-laden
tables and the gazebo to see the bride and groom off on their honeymoon. The scent of freshly cut grass and wildflowers seemed to warm the cool air, the first signs of spring evident in the tulip bulbs sprouting along themountaintop. Fading sunshine dappled golden rays over the happy couple as they stopped to laugh at the words Just Married painted on the back of Thomas’s Porsche. Then Thomas folded Rebecca into his arms and kissed her, stirring a round of cheers and applause, and another bout of heart-sickness rippled through Suzanne.
Drat. She did not need a man to be happy. She was managing fine on her own. Right?
“Have fun on your honeymoon!” Mimi shouted.
“Take lots of pictures,” Alison yelled.
“Be happy,” Grammy Rose hollered.
“Drive safely!” Hannah called.
Laughing and waving, Rebecca and Thomas climbed in his Porsche convertible, streamers and tin cans trailing behind the car compliments of her uncle Wiley.
Suzanne’s father, Bert, strode up beside her, his ruddy face even pinker from emotions. A rarity for her father since his life normally revolved around work and making money. “That boy better take good care of Rebecca,” her father said.
Suzanne tucked her hand in her father’s bent arm. “I’m sure he will, Dad. They look totally in love.”
Her father angled his head to study her. “What about you, baby? Are you happy?”
Suzanne frowned, surprised by her father’s question. He usually didn’t venture anywhere near such personal territory. “Of course,” Suzanne replied automatically. She had a great job, a great condo, everything she wanted. Didn’t she?
She stroked the delicate gold cross tucked between her breasts, the one her mother had given her before she’d died. “Always wear this and feel my love,” her mother had whispered.
Suzanne had felt her love then, but she’d been angry that her mother was leaving her. Had she felt loved by anyone since? Sure, Rebecca loved her, and so did her father, but a man?
“Anyone special in your life?” her father asked, glancing at the bouquet. “A boyfriend I don’t know about?”
“Dad, well … no, not now.” Suzanne coughed nervously.
His graying eyebrow rose a fraction. “How about your boss?”
“Yes, you and Horton seem to get along pretty well.”
Suzanne frowned. “We work well together, but that’s all there is to our relationship.”
Her father’s newest wife, Eleanor, coasted toward them, pearls dripping from her earlobes and neck, her pale-blue silk dress shimmering in the orange glow of the sunset. “Not everyone finds the romantic kind of love, Suzanne. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good partnership.” He sipped his champagne. “You’re a smart girl. You’re going places in this world. Just keep that in mind and find someone who’ll help you achieve your goals.”
Her father kissed her goodbye, then curled his arm around Eleanor and headed toward her grandmother. Suzanne watched carefully, just in case he crossed paths with her uncle Wiley and the two of them got into one of their brotherly arguments. Although her father had promised to behave himself and not spoil Rebecca’s wedding, Suzanne had become his self-appointed guard dog.
Her mission was accomplished when she saw him veer toward his Mercedes. Suzanne’s gaze dropped to the bouquet in her hands, one finger tracing the edge of a delicate rose petal as she sniffed the heavenly fragrance. Maybe her father was right. Maybe she should consider the fact that she might not have a soul mate.
A few minutes later, when the crowd had dispersed, Suzanne found her grandmother in the homey kitchen. “I’m leaving now, Gram.”
“Come into the parlor first, dear,” Grammy Rose said.
Suzanne’s stomach flip flopped. “Is this about the hope chest?” Rebecca and her cousins had already warned her.
“Yes, I want you to take yours home today.”
“But, Grammy, there’s really no need. I’m not even dating anyone.” Suzanne followed her grandmother into the nostalgic parlor filled with antiques, silver-framed photos of family members and scrap-books overflowing with memorabilia marking the special days in her grandchildren’s lives. For some reason this room always brought a surge of emotions – feelings both happy and sad at the same time. Maybe it was the reason she’d opted for such modern decor in her own apartment. No frou-frou or sentiment …
“Your love life will change soon,” Grammy said with a wink. “Now, I’m going to clean up in the kitchen if you want to look through the hope chest before you go.”