Mia picked a sprig of baby’s breath from Tess’s hair and made sure that it was still perfect. It was. Looking at this week’s bride, she wanted to hug her friend but resisted because she would then have to straighten her dress back out. Tess had opted for an off-white dress that wasn’t nearly as tight as Natalie’s dress had been last week, but it was gorgeous just the same.
Also in the room was Mandy and Tess’s niece, Natasha, who were the bridesmaids this week. Mia was glad Mandy had chosen mid-June as her wedding date since it was getting old to have one every week.
Mia asked the same question she asked at every wedding she was the personal attendant at—which was all of them as of late. “Are you going out the window, Tess?”
Mandy laughed beside her, and Natasha looked at her niece in question.
“No, Mia. Thank you for asking,” Tess said with none of the nervousness of the previous brides. Maybe it was because she was older or because she had already had a reception with her family in Minnesota, but she was calm.
“Just checking. You never know.” Mia sat on the same table she always sat on.
It was at that point that something happened that had yet to happen at any of the previous wedding she had attended: the bride and her bridesmaid started to speak in a different language than they had ever spoken. Mia’s eyes were wide as she listened to the exchange. Her usual slow-talking friend was talking at a speed Mia was sure she couldn’t have kept up with if they had been speaking English.
Though Mia knew Tess’s native language was Russian, she had rarely heard her speak it, and never in actual sentences. But with her best friend there, she was able to converse with someone in it. It was amazing.
When they stopped, Mia asked, “What did you say?”
“I told her about Natalie and her first wedding,” Tess stated about their friend who went out the window last summer.
“I want you to talk like that always,” Mia said as the door opened, and Natalie and Hazel came into the room.
“You sound like Mathias,” Tess said with a smile to her.
“Ick. Now talk for these two,” she demanded.
“No,” Tess said with a wink.
Natalie looked around the room and said, “We’re short one Where is Ruth?”
“You two were the ones who have been outside this room in the last half an hour.” Mia was glad her former friend wasn’t there yet.
Over the last few weeks, they had managed mostly to avoid one another. Not that it had been hard since Ruth didn’t come into the café, and Mia didn’t go to her rental office. It was only at events like this that they saw each other, and neither spoke to the other if possible.
“Fine, I’ll go get her,” Hazel groaned, squeezing back out the door.
“How’s married life, Natalie? Any advice for Tess?” Mia asked last week’s bride, who was still glowing with happiness.
This time, Natalie had married the correct man, and it showed. Mia was more than a little jealous that all her friends had found the right man for them. Or maybe it was that the correct man wanted her friends. Her own correct man wasn’t the forever kind of guy like her friends had found.
“Married life is the greatest. My advice would be to wait until it’s warmer to honeymoon by a Minnesota lake. The water is cold right now.” Natalie laughed at her own private joke that nobody understood, and nobody asked any more questions about it.
Tess turned to Mia and asked, “So Mia, how’s Rafferty?”
Mia froze. She had told nobody about them. Had someone seen her? Sure, this week she had been to his place nearly every day again, but she had been very careful.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Mia squeaked.
“I heard a rumor you two have been chummy lately.” Natalie jumped into the conversation.
“And after what you said at book club, it seems like the rumors are true.” Tess looked at her and straightened a lock of her still brown hair. She had only colored it once, and that was to better match her natural color.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she repeated, because she had no idea what else to say.
Knowing she should just admit that they were seeing each other and doing it were two different things. Biting her lip, she wondered if she could swear all of them to secrecy. But she worried that everyone would know within an hour if she told.
“Ruth said something was up,” Mandy said from beside her.
“I wouldn’t believe what Ruth says.” Mia’s back was up with Ruth’s name. That must be how she deflected on book club night. Since they had just had a bachelorette party the week before, and Tess’s family was in town, they didn’t repeat it last night. The week before, Mia had stayed for a few hours and had left early, complaining of a headache, which was actually Ruth and her angry glares.
Just then, the woman in question walked in with Hazel, and the group was all there in the little room with one extra person and a ton of tension. Natalie handed out the shots to all, including Natasha, and once again it was vodka, since it was Tess’s beverage of choice. There was also some sort of clear juice for those not drinking the hard stuff. Mia had no idea of that flavor since she needed the vodka.
After a toast and hugs all around, the three not in the wedding went back to sit down. Mia once again made sure that the bride was perfect, then checked the bridesmaids. Then it was time to get them upstairs. Mia walked with Mandy and Natasha while Tess walked behind them.
Mandy took her hand. “You can talk to me if you need to. I love to talk to you.”
“I know, but there’s nothing to talk about,” Mia whispered.
“I like him; I always have,” Mandy assured her with a squeeze to her hand, then let it go.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Mia looked into her blue eyes and then made sure the teal dress was perfect before nodding to her cousin to head for the front of the church.
Next, she checked over the next bridesmaid and sent her going at the proper time. Turning to the bride, she whispered, “I want to hug you, but I won’t.”
“Thank you for being here for me today, Mia. I can’t imagine anyone else helping me through this day than you.” Tess then hugged her tightly.
“Now you wrecked your dress,” Mia said, making sure she didn’t actually mess up her dress.
“It was worth it. I want to be the Mia at your wedding,” Tess said as Mia made sure the back was perfect.
“You don’t have to worry about that. I won’t get married,” Mia assured her.
“Maybe Rafferty?” Tess asked hopefully.
“That ship has sailed.” Mia pushed her friend to the front of the church.
Watching her walk toward Math, Mia smiled at the look on his face when he saw her for the first time. That was the look she wanted to see on her husband’s face. That was why she knew there would never be a husband. Not a real one. Rafferty would never look at her that way, and he was the only husband she would ever have. For as long as it lasted.