“Moron.” Kevin cursed. “Howie’s going to kill him and us if his wedding pictures get ruined.”
“Why us?” Brian asked. “We didn’t do anything.”
“We’re not doing a real good job at stopping him!” Kevin said loudly causing Howie to look over. “He needs to cool it and give Emma a break. She’s got to be pissed by now.”
“She probably is.” AJ agreed. “But she’s too nice of a person to let it show. No matter what dimwit move he makes, she'll smile through every picture because she wants Addie’s day to be special.”
By the time the photographer announced they were finished, Emma was at the end of her rope with him. She ditched her heels and practically raced up to the function hall. Making her way through the crowd to the bridal room, she stood in front of the mirror and tried to fix the strands of hair that were popping out everywhere. After a few minutes, she heard them calling for the bridal party to line up for introductions. Ducking out of the bathroom, she smiled when she saw that Nick was flanked by the other guys and took her place at the back of the line. Thinking she’d been granted a reprieve, she let out a sigh of release; her luck didn’t last for very long though. As the first usher and bridesmaid walked out, John scooted out of the line and swapped places with Nick. It all happened so fast that she couldn’t react.
“Why are you doing this?” she muttered as they made their way out to the reception area.
“Because you refuse to talk to me.”
“Geez, I wonder why that is.” Emma snapped. “Why can’t you take a hint?”
“Because I’m stubborn and thickheaded.”
Nick started to say something else but they had asked the partners to split up and make an aisle for the bride and groom to walk in.
“Please help me welcome the newlyweds, Mr. and Mrs. Dorough!”
Everybody clapped and cheered as Addie and Howie entered. They began their first dance to 98°’s “I Do” and everyone made a circle to close them in. Anyone could see how happy the couple was and it made the day even more special since they could share it. The bridal party knew their dance would begin next and Emma began her walk over to John. They hadn’t been told what song the couple had chosen and Emma prayed that it wouldn’t be a sappy love song.
The music came to stop and the bridal party matched up with their partners. Emma was so grateful for the initial respite from Nick but cursed John when he spun her over to him. Still being photographed, Emma put a big smile on her face and tried to keep from glaring at him. He pulled her close and she was so distracted by his cologne that she didn’t recognize the song until she heard Nick start singing softly.
Lying beside you
Here in the dark
Feeling your heartbeat with mine
Softly you whisper
You're so sincere
How could our love be so blind
We sailed on together
We drifted apart
And here you are
By my side
So now I come to you
With open arms
Nothing to hide
Believe what I say
So here I am
With open arms
Hoping you'll see
What your love means to me
The song sent Emma back in time to their first dance at the Halloween party the girls had taken the guys to. Her eyes filled with tears and she just couldn’t take it anymore. Thankfully, AJ saw her start to crack and cut in. He pushed Nick away with a serious look and wrapped his arm around her waist.
“I’m sorry.” he whispered. “We should have stopped him.”
Emma shook her head and wiped the tears away with one hand. As soon as the song was over, she bolted for the ladies room. AJ watched her walk away and then stalked back to his table. He leaned in towards Nick and the guys and told them they needed to talk. Everyone was so distracted by dinner that no one noticed the four of them slip out.
“Enough.” AJ bellowed and the other men looked at him. “Emma can’t take anymore.”
“But…” Nick started to say.
“No more!” AJ demanded. “I know I told you to talk to her but enough is enough Nick. You’re driving her nuts.”
Kevin looked over at Nick with a stern look. “I agree, you need to stop. I know you want her to talk to you but the only thing you’re succeeding in is pushing her farther away.”
“And Howie’s going to kill you.” Brian added. “If Addie finds out that Emma’s upset because you’re being an idiot, she’s gonna go to Howie and he’s gonna be furious.”
Nick started to say something but was silenced by the look on AJ’s face; he hadn’t seen him this angry in a while.
“She cannot take anymore Nick. Leave her alone.”
AJ gave him that final warning and headed back inside.
“Stop Nick!” Kevin said, getting louder. “AJ’s right. She’s eventually going to get angry and say something. Do you want to ruin Howie’s night?”
Nick shook his head no and watched as Kevin left. He turned around to face the beach and felt Brian put his hand on his shoulder.
“Just relax Nick. You’ll get to talk to her.”
“What if I don’t? What if I don’t get another chance?”
Emma was so grateful that Addie was in the middle of eating and darted to the bathroom so she could take a moment, pull herself together and get back out there. Praying no one would be in there, Emma was disappointed to find it occupied. As she waited, she ran through the dance with Nick again. The feeling of being in his arms completely frazzled her and she didn’t know how she was feeling right now. Anger was there at the top but so was love; she couldn’t help but still care about him.
The bathroom was finally vacated and Emma scooted in to wipe her eyes and clean her face. She only stayed a few seconds and then rejoined the couple at the head table. Addie and Howie had decided just to have the best man and the maid of honor sit with them. This was a strategic move that Addie hoped would keep Nick and Emma’s interactions to a bare minimum.
The appetizers had been served and the DJ announced that it was time for the speeches. John had agreed to go first and he told stories of how he and Howie had grown up and were not just brothers, but best friends. He told Addie how thankful the family was that she would be joining them and how eager he was for nieces and nephews. He finished by asking everyone to support the new union and keep them strong.
Emma knew she was next and stood up with shaking hands. She’d spent hours trying to figure out what to say and was having trouble keeping it under five minutes. But she remembered how much Addie loved Shakespeare and she decided to steal her cue from him.
“Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments. Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove; o’ no! It is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken; it is the star to every wandering bark, whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken. Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle’s compass come: love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”****
Emma knew everyone would be wondering what she just said. Shakespeare was not something everyone understood so she tried to explain what he meant.
“Shakespeare definitely had you two in mind when he wrote this. Love has such amazing qualities and one of those is to stay strong no matter what comes your way.”
Without even realizing she was doing it, she turned to the crowd and searched for Nick’s eyes. She found them staring back at her and she continued.
“When circumstances change or things happen, love stays firm and is a pillar for both people to cling to. It doesn’t change depending on the situation, it stays strong. It steers two people together and helps keep them anchored to each other. It stands the test of time and lasts past death.”
She turned her attention back to Howie and Addie.
“Love is definitely what you two share. I hope that it continues to guide you and keep you strong. I love you both.”
Emma leaned down to hug her best friend and Howie. Tears filled her eyes and she was truly happy to be here to share their day.
***Lyrics by Journey - “Open Arms”
**** Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116