It’s official! Percy Porter’s best friend is getting married in magnificent fashion. As one of four bridesmaids, Percy must aid the bride-to-be with the tedious preparations, suffer through the bride’s roller coaster of emotions, and find a willing partner for the extravagant wedding. This latter task turns out to be the most difficult, the most nerve-wracking for Percy. Six years ago, as a junior in a nearby university, her life was unexpectedly and forever changed. However, the bride’s handsome brother, one Jason Hamilton Crusoe, makes Percy’s last task far, far easier. When it’s time to assess the status of their relationship, Percy discloses to Jason why she had not dated a man in six years, and why she was not receptive to Jason’s tender attempts of intimacy. Will Percy encounter the true nature of unconditional love with another and possibly within herself?
“Ericka, honey, that isn’t your fiancé,” uttered Tifani.
Just then, the man noticed us. At first he was shocked, then his expression changed to one of humor.
“You ladies okay?”
Ericka stood up to introduce us to the dashing man that was sharing her hotel room.
“This is my brother, Jason,” she told us, a little perturbed. “And Jason, I told you they were coming over. You did that on purpose.”
He raised his beautifully sculpted arms. We all watched as his core muscles moved with the action. It was suddenly warm in the hotel room.
“Maybe I did, sis.” He flashed Ericka a bright smile, turned, and walked over to one of the drawers. He pulled out a pair of navy blue boxer briefs. Then he turned back to us. “You want to introduce me to your bridesmaids?”
Ericka sat back down in a huff. “They can introduce themselves.”
Patricia was the first to do so. She shot out of her chair like a cannon and struck a pose. “Patricia Booker. Your sister’s maid-of-honor.”
Tifani, hardly trying to be outdone, actually walked over to Jason, and stuck out her hand. “Tifani Pattel. Single.” In reality, she wasn’t.
Jason laughed as he shook her hand. His dark blue eyes shifted to me. I found them so alluring, that I forgot why he was looking at me.
“What about you?” he quizzed, a crease forming in his forehead.
“Oh, uh, I’m Percy. Just Percy.” I managed to hold his gaze as long as he held mine.
“The quiet one,” Jason explained. “Yes, Ericka told me about you.” Patricia hissed. “And about you too, Patricia.” He grabbed Tifani’s hand and kissed the back of it. “And a great deal about you, Tif.” Tifani squealed, Patricia sneered, Ericka scoffed, and I averted my gaze. Jason dropped Tifani’s hand and returned to the bathroom. He was smiling despite himself.
“What a tool,” Patricia asserted. “What a dick.”
“That’s my brother,” Ericka testified. The emphasis was on the first word, not the last, so her tone was one of agreement, not accusation.
Tifani joined us at the table. She looked like a smitten teenager. “Do you think Gary will be suspicious if I break up with him for no reason?”
“Tifani, honey, it’s just infatuation. It’ll pass.” Ericka, I noted, was a bit disgruntled. Here are her bridesmaids swooning over her brother, when we should have all our attention focused on her. Even I lost track of our progress.
“What did you tell him about me?” I questioned softly, my fingers tapping the table nervously.
Impatiently, Ericka’s hazel eyes landed on me. “Nothing much, Percy.”
“Did you tell him about my illness?”
“No, Percy. That is not mine to tell. Now can we please get back to me?”
The three of us conceded and did our best to forget about Jason and his almost perfect abdominals. Even when he exited the bathroom some five minutes later, we ignored him.
That was until he waltzed up to our table. And since I was the closest to him, he placed his strong hands on my shoulders. Absent-mindedly, I think, he began to massage me.
“You guys want Chinese?” he quizzed, his hands still kneading my shoulders. I did not glance at my friends lest they see the pleasure in my face. Instead, I studied the amethyst stone on my class ring.
“It’s ten-forty-five in the freakin’ morning, Jason,” Ericka affirmed. “Why the hell would we want Chinese?”
“I’ll have some Chinese,” Tifani said, her voice as light as a feather.
“Tifani, no!” Ericka stood up again, her face glowing with indignation. “Jason, get your hands off Percy and leave! We are doing serious stuff here!”
Jason did not take his hands off me. Instead, he massaged harder. “The wedding is in four months, Ericka. You have time. Don’t be such a—”
Ericka stomped around the table and grabbed Jason by the arm. “Don’t you dare say it, Jason! Get out of this room now!” She pointed at the door. I could see a blood vessel in her neck pumping with heated blood.
Jason grabbed his coat and wallet from his bed. “Yes, Mother.” He even bowed. Patricia, Tifani, and I began snickering. He left the hotel room, the look on his face clearly triumphant. Once the door had closed, Ericka turned on us, her arms crossed in front of her.
“What is the matter with you all? Are you in heat?”
“Maybe,” Tifani muttered. She was twirling some of her hair around her finger.
Ericka returned to her seat and tried to regain authority over us. “Vesper wouldn’t act like this.” Vesper was the bridesmaid in Brazil.
“Vesper is married,” Patricia reminded Ericka.
Ericka waved it off and gathered her lists of everyone to whom she sent invitations. “If we get one thing done today, it’s to get the seating arranged.”
“This early?” Patricia exclaimed. “Surely not everyone has RSVP’d.”
“We put down everyone that has RSVP’d, then fill in the others.” She procured a large poster board with the tables already drawn. I was fascinated by Ericka’s ambition.
We worked hard that day, planning the seating arrangement, mulling over decorations, and deciding the theme for the wedding. When it was time to call it quits in the early evening, Ericka was grinning from ear-to-ear. The incident with her brother in the morning was nearly forgotten.