With the guys gone and no audience to appreciate their vocal prowess, the girls retired to the expansive bridal suite to gossip the night away as they tried on their dresses yet again, touched up their nails, made snide comments about what Rila would be hard at by that time the next day and tried dance steps for the party.
The day is finally here. It still feels surreal to Rila and she’s almost afraid to stretch her stiff, alcohol drenched muscles from the pre-wedding mixer the night before. The most anticipated day of her life dawns near, and it might just be a dream. Even as she uncurls into her first stretch, her hands reach for her phone and she speed dials Lily, her wedding planner. She hesitates for a brief moment as her finger hovers over the red button and she wonders if 5am is too early to call. She shrugs mentally and thinks, “she said the team would be up all night designing the reception venue anyway so she is probably up.”
Lily is indeed up and very cheery—almost too cheery for 5am. Rila thanks her stars again that she found the wedding planner.
“Oh the flowers are divine,” Lily is gushing. “And yes, we added on the extra 10 guests your dad wanted to the VIP list but we don’t have any more parking tags, so some members of your bridal party will still have to park outside the venue. You know there isn’t a lot of parking inside the venue…’’
She’s still speaking but Rila has drifted off. She really isn’t concerned about the wedding details; she knows Lily has got it under control. She just wanted someone to talk to and she couldn’t call her husband-to-be. It is bad luck to speak with the groom on the morning of the wedding. She also couldn’t call her girls. The greatest test of Lily’s ability to bring it would be getting her never-rise-before-8am bridesmaids up and dressed in time for the ceremony.
She smiles as she thinks about her best girls and how much fun they all had the night before. She remembers Alexia and asks “Hey, Lily, sorry to cut in but remember the last groomsman that came in toward the end of the mixer?’’
‘’Oh! Ralph? That missed his flight?’’
“Well, one of my girls might like him but he is one of the ones I’m least familiar with.”
Lily pauses for a moment. ‘’Hmm. There might be a problem’’
“Oh no. Is he married?’’
“No. It’s just that he kind of asked me about one of your friends already.”
“Alexia,’’ Lily answered.
Rila squealed with delight and sprang out of bed. “Lily, you wouldn’t believe it if I told you. That’s the one that likes him.”
It’s gonna be a great day after all. Let the games begin.
Rila would have been shocked to know that at least one of her friends had been up all night. Alexia couldn’t sleep. She saw him for a few agonising minutes, but that’s all it took. She had been messing around with the girls in the Karaoke corner at the pre-wedding mixer, buying a karaoke system is something she has always wanted to do, which was at the bar of the hotel the bridal party was staying. They bleated the worst versions of their best songs while the guys blocked their ears and screamed for them to stop, with Chima the groom laughing and saying diplomatically that the girls did not sound as bad as the guys made them out to be. But then, it couldn’t have been their fault entirely. The champagne could have further worsened the screechy, scratchy sounds coming from their crooked vocal cords. Alexia had been having fun till he showed up.
She heard the guys call him Ralph. Ralph? That doesn’t even sound like a real name. He walked in and headed straight toward them as he gave Rila a hug and apologised for coming in late. His flight got pushed forward and he got into traffic on the Third Mainland Bridge on his way to the island. Rila said it was okay and introduced him to the girls: Teni, Amaka, Christianah, Raimah, Alexia. She could have sworn he held her hand a bit longer as he shook each of them. He looked straight at her and she shivered as she looked back. Damn. This guy is fine. She’s almost sure he said “very nice to meet you” where he had simply said “nice to meet you” to everyone else. And he was even about to say something else to her, but she would never know what it was because the guys came rushing at him before Rila could finish the introductions.
Shouts of Ralphy, bad guy, dude, long time, let’s move man, these girls are killing us, etc. filled the air. They had been waiting for him so they could drive out to another bar as most of the guys could not make the destination stag night so this would be a great time for them to hang out as they would all fly out back to their bases almost immediately after the wedding. But not before Chima pulled Rila aside and gave her a don’t-worry-its-just-drinks long, sensual kiss to hoots from the guys and squeals from the girls. Rila blushed demurely and Chima gave her a reassuring hug. And they left.
With the guys gone and no audience to appreciate their vocal prowess, the girls retired to the expansive bridal suite to gossip the night away as they tried on their dresses yet again, touched up their nails, made snide comments about what Rila would be hard at by that time the next day and tried dance steps for the party. With all of these going on, Rila noticed Alexia was unusually quiet. In fact, she had been since she met Ralph. Rila mused and smiled. She waited till some of the girls were ready to retire to their rooms and Lily had to playfully, forcibly remove the rest of them before she called Alexia on the hotel phone and asked her what the problem was. It took some prodding but she finally pumped the truth out of her, with the promise of never breathing it to another soul. Oh Please. Are we in friggin’ high school? She thought as she made a mental note to mention it to Lily.
The day of the wedding dawned nice and bright as Rila whispered a prayer of thanks and totally forgot about anything else but her special day. Make up done, dress freshly steamed and ready to don, second dress being huffed and puffed over as Lily’s staff tried to hang it in its bag. She glanced at the beautiful, exquisite diamond necklace newly delivered from her beau—a pleasant unexpected surprise sparkling on the antique hotel dresser by the window. She swayed over to admire it for the eleventh time since it arrived that morning and was fingering it gently when a movement by the trees caught her eye. She would have dismissed it if she did not recognise the outfit as belonging to one of her bridesmaids and weren’t the groomsmen wearing grey suits with pink accents? What was going on down there? She stretched her neck as much as the intricate window bar would allow and she covered her mouth as it formed a big O at what she did not want to believe she was looking at.
To be continued….