Chapter 37 – Surprise! (Las Vegas)
Andie is in front of the mirror, looking at her reflection with a critical and, by the way, unconvinced gesture. Or is it nerves? I smile unwittingly as I recall the day I went to rescue her from that ‘fashion victim’s joint’ to come dance in Las Vegas with Sean and the rest of the band. I doubt she’ll regret that decision but, at the same time, I’m not sure how much time she’d have to learn about fashion in those months. Anyway, for me, she will always be the street dancer who bet on getting me out of the shadows and showing me that she could do something more.
“I still think you’re better off in a cap and trainers”, I open then.
Since she didn’t hear me coming―I made sure I didn’t make any noise when I entered, more out of habit than anything else―she jumped up and down and turned around while trying not to step on one of the folds of the huge white dress in which she is now clad. I see how, after recovering and smiling half-heartedly, her gesture becomes a mask of nerves. She bites her lower lip, bends her chin, snorts, and shifts her weight from one foot to the other while casting discreet glances at herself in the mirror. I have to admit it: she looks beautiful, but it’s not for nothing.
Today it’s her turn to say ‘I do’.
“What do you think?” She asks me, without conviction.
And I admit that her question surprises me because let’s see who you think had to accompany her to choose the dress.
“Maybe…” I’m pursing my lips as if I’m meditating on it. I seem to remember that after three hours in the fitting room and about twenty different models, this was the one we agreed on… I see her head bowed again, blushing, and I can’t help laughing as I take a theatrical turn to look at my aspect. “What about you? What do you think?”
In my case, the choice was Camille’s, but I know I’ll never in my life be comfortable in a suit like that―I look like a penguin.
“Maybe…” Andie mimics me before she comes over to adjust my bow tie. “You look like you’re fresh out of the North Pole…”
Now it’s my turn to get all tomatoey, but when we’re both past the laughing spell, a comfortable silence settles in between us for a few seconds.
“Nervous?” I ask.
Andie shakes her head as she bites her lip nervously again.
“Well…I don’t know if I ever imagined it like that”, suddenly she shows half a sarcastic smile. “Although I don’t think that’s news to you.”
I smile at the same time. Andie’s right: it’s been six months since I went through this same trance with Camille, but I don’t think I’d have ever imagined it like this. Or at least as wonderful as it was. The feelings that come over you during the minutes and seconds of that day you don’t expect, but you never forget them either.
“Everything will be fine, I assure you. I just hope Eddy hasn’t forgotten the rings…”
Andie laughs heartily, and I second that. It’s amazing how, despite the years and distance, we can laugh at the same jokes and understand each other almost without words.
“By the way, how’s Camille?” She asks me then. “I hope she’s over indigestion she’s had these days…”
I make a gesture with my hand, trying to play down the importance, although it’s true that I’ve been worried about the strong attack of gastroenteritis that Camille has suffered during this last week. But yesterday morning she went to the hospital and there is nothing abnormal, just a passing virus which, thank heaven, has not prevented her from coming to the ceremony today.
At that moment, as if I had summoned her, she also appears through the door of the little room they gave Andie at the hotel to change. And my breath is cut off again as I contemplate how beautiful she is. To avoid repeating the colors of the bridesmaids at our wedding, Cam had suggested changing to a pinkish violet shade that Andie had readily accepted. Short, single-strap, layered dress, tight at the waist. For any man with two fingers in front, that outfit would take the edge off. Either that or I’m more than a little in love with her.
“It’s all set, boys”, she so let us know with a smile.
I cross a complicity gaze with Andie before approaching my wife, giving her a soft kiss on the lips and going out with her into the hallway. Eddy is there too, ready to walk Andie down the aisle, where Sean should be waiting for her. But we were all petrified at the site, especially me and the bride-to-be…
When we see Sophie and Chase appear in the hall holding hands.
Time stands still. We look at each other. Chase goes over Andie in a way that makes me want to punch him in the nose, despite how friendly we once were. And Sophie…
I haven’t seen her almost since she left the MSA, but my throat closes when I see her looking at Camille and me alternately. My arm, of course, goes around her waist. And, without knowing why, I raise my opposite hand, where I have my wedding ring so that it is perfectly visible. It’s just a reflex, but Sophie’s eyes open for a hundredth of a second because of the understanding.
However, her reaction immediately disconcerts me. She smiles as if she knows that this could happen and they both slowly approach. And those of us who are standing still like statues until Chase is the first to open his mouth when he reaches our height.
“Hello, Andie. It’s been a long time.”