Michele swore she’d scream if she had to look into one more smiling face or listen to the words, ‘you make such a perfect couple’, one more time. And her feet hurt. She shifted her weight from one foot to the other. To make matters worse, the warmth of Brad’s hand on her back sent heat coursing through her body. How had she let them talk her into this?
The exquisitely decorated hall looked like a fairyland. Mother sure went all out this time. Twinkle lights sparkled through gauzy material that draped from the center of the ceiling and cast a glow on Brad’s face. He was so handsome in his tux. She could almost love him. That is, if she were inclined to love anyone.
The guests sat at round tables adorned with a single red rose in three-foot tall vases. Sure looked like they were having a good time while they awaited the announcement of the newlyweds. Michelle inhaled the scent of roses from her bouquet. The red roses that cascaded through the center of the bridal table looked beautiful, one of the few things Brad had insisted on.
Her mother had sure loved that. “Such a romantic gesture,” she had said. Little did her mother know the pact Michele and Brad had made. “Red roses,” he had told her, “not only mean love, they also mean respect. And though we don’t share love we promise mutual respect.” A sweet and surprising comment.
Now their seats awaited them, their places of honor, the happy newlyweds. Ha, happy, Michele felt anything but happy. What she felt was tired, irritable, and just plain sick of this whole charade. If she had the nerve, she’d kick off her shoes and run out of here. But she didn’t and she wouldn’t - couldn’t - embarrass herself or her parents that way. She’d agreed to this charade. So she’d stay here, smile and play the happy bride.
“Almost time to make our grand entrance,” Brad whispered. “Smile.”
Michele pasted a smile on her face and looked up into her new husband’s smoky blue eyes. He caressed her back, making circular motions with his fingers. The tingling sensation burned through her dress. She moved away, but part of her wanted to move closer. Wanted to feel his arms around her. Wanted his lips on hers again even if for only a brief moment, like when he kissed her at the altar after Pastor Bob pronounced them man and wife. Of course, that kiss had been expected. Everyone would have thought it strange if they hadn’t kissed. Something about that brief kiss, though, the way Brad barely touched her lips, sent a ripple of excitement through her even now. One she’d never experienced before.
Previously published as Satin Sheets.