Before the rehearsal, Heather was to meet Carrie and her sister Angela for manicures and pedicures and girl talk. Heather couldn’t wait to give Carrie her news. Even though this weekend was all about Carrie, Heather hoped Carrie would be excited for her.
She parked in front of the stylish little salon in the Fan that had a separate spa room that would allow them to talk and drink smoothies while their hands and feet were preened and pampered – an ultra-girly experience that had to have a wedding or something equally as frou-frou attached to it, at least as far as Heather was concerned. But that wouldn’t stop it from being fun.
She met Carrie and Angela in the spa room. They were picking out polish colors from a wall of bottles of every color found in nature to some that defied it. The bridesmaids’ gowns were deep claret velvet. Heather was certain to find a match on the wall.
Carrie looked only a little annoyed as Angela pulled bottles of pink off the wall.
“No pink. No pink anywhere at my wedding. Not in the flowers, not in the decorations, not on my nails. We have been over this.”
Angela shook her head. “A French manicure would be perfect, Carrie.”
“Not for me.” Carrie selected a light purple color.
“Purple.” Angela rolled her eyes.
“Talk some sense into her, Heather.” Carrie looked at Heather for help.
“I am going for this.” Heather held up a bottle that would match the dress.
Now Carrie rolled her eyes. “You are a lot of help.”
Heather shrugged her shoulders. “This is your fight. And also your day. Let her have purple, Angela, if it makes her happy.”
Angela reluctantly backed down. Angela had always been the type of girl whose nail polish matched her outfit; her hair was always perfectly highlighted. She read fashion magazines and thought riding bicycles was something for little girls with ponytails. Carrie wasn’t afraid to get dirty. Sometimes it was difficult to believe that she and Carrie shared the same DNA.
With their polish colors selected, they took their seats in the large pedicure chairs, took off their shoes and placed their feet in the warm water of the footbath.
“You look very relaxed for someone getting married tomorrow.” Heather teased.
“I am.” Carrie answered, turning on the massage feature of the chair. “No need to be nervous. I am marrying the right man.”
“Said with such confidence.” Heather smiled. “I am so happy for you.” She meant it.
“I want the same for you, Heather.” Carrie’s hazel eyes were earnest.
“Me too.” Heather laughed. “I have news,” she said a little shyly.
“Did you and Kellan break up?” Carrie said, a little too eagerly.
Heather looked confused for a second. “No. I am moving to Richmond. I got a job offer based here and I am taking it.”
“If my feet weren’t in water, I would hug you!” Carrie exclaimed. “I am so excited. I have missed you and wanted you here for so long! You can get an apartment near me and there are so many people I want you to meet. We will find that right man for you yet.”
“Hold on.” Heather stopped her. “I don’t need an apartment and I have already found the right man. I am moving to Richmond to be with Kellan.”
Angela’s pretty face clouded. “You are moving up here to be with the crippled guy?”
Heather’s temperature started to rise. “Yes, I am moving up here to be with the crippled guy.” Heather knew she had two choices. She could make this into a huge deal and be defensive, which she thought Angela probably wanted, or she could take it in stride. She would try to take it in stride.
“You are in love.” Carrie said with that same earnest look.
“Well, duh!” Heather answered, smiling. “You have known that since I met him.”
“I guess sort of me hoped it would wear off.”
The words cut Heather to the core and the smile slid off her face. “What?”
“I hoped it would wear off.” Carrie repeated. “And I think the infatuation has. You are really in love with him.”
“Yes.” Heather answered now more confused than angry.
“You can’t be happy for me?” Heather felt the tears coming. Carrie was her best friend. She wanted Carrie to be happy for her. She needed Carrie to be happy for her.
“I am happy that you are really in love. You needed that. I just wish it were with someone else.”
“Why? Because he is a paraplegic?”
Carrie nodded slowly, a little embarrassed. “I like Kellan, Heather. He is good to you. I like the idea of him as your boyfriend. I am not as thrilled with the idea of him being the ‘right one’. I just think spending your life with him will be hard. You deserve a little more.”
Heather looked at the nail technician who was trying very hard to ignore their conversation, but wasn’t succeeding.
“I deserve more what? More than a man who loves me and makes me happy? I have never felt this way about anyone, Carrie. And I have fallen in love before. It wasn’t like this.”
“No, it probably wasn’t. Kellan isn’t like any other guy you have ever dated, disability aside. He is smart, professional, active, and doing something with his life. You fall in love so easily and each one is the ‘right one’ for who you are at that time. I don’t know how many times I have heard you say that exact phrase over the years. I know it is different with Kellan. You are different with Kellan. I know that this is the real thing for you and I am glad you have found it. I want to be happy for you, Heather, but when I think about what you won’t be able to have with him, it makes me sad for you.”
Heather and Carrie had fought many times about Heather’s boyfriends, but it had never hurt so much as it did now. “What I won’t be able to have? What are you talking about?”
“Children!” Carrie’s response was pointed and anger colored her cheeks. “A normal sex life. Someone standing beside you at the altar. Walking down the aisle hand in hand as Mr. and Mrs. Kellan Tierney. Your wedding dance. You watch tomorrow night, Heather. Watch me get married and see how many things will have to be different for you.”
Heather took a deep ragged breath. “You are right, Carrie, as always. Kellan and I won’t have kids of our own. He can’t fuck me, but sex with him is still incredible, because his touch is the right touch for me. I hope you have that with Reid. And you are absolutely right about all of the wedding mechanics we will have to do differently. But a wedding is over in one night. A marriage lasts for a lifetime if you do it right. I would much rather have the perfect marriage than the perfect wedding.”
“He can’t fuck you?” Angela finally latched onto something that piqued her interest. “How can you have a sex life if he can’t do you?”
“Use your imagination.” Heather snapped, turning around to see Angela’s smug face. Disgusted, she turned back to Carrie. “We are going to have to agree to disagree on this one, Carrie. You have never liked anyone I dated, so I guess I am making progress in that you at least like Kellan. I want you to be happy for me, too, but I will be okay if you aren’t. I don’t need your approval, as much as I want it. I love him, Carrie, for all that he is and isn’t. Would you have done anything differently with Reid if I hadn’t liked him?”
Carrie bit her lip. “No. I love Reid. Just like you just said, I want your approval but I don’t need it.”
Heather nodded. “And do you know what I like best about Reid?”
“His perfect ass?” Angela tried to lighten the mood.
Heather shot her a look. “No. He adores, you, Carrie. He loves you so much and it shows in everything he does. You two are right for each other.”
Carrie looked down at her feet, which were being pulled out of the water by the nail technician. “We are.”
“With me living here, with Kellan, I hope you will be able to see the same thing in us. I feel it. He feels it. If you don’t have any better reason than Kellan’s disability to not want us to be together, you don’t have any ground to stand on.”
Carrie remained quiet for a second as the nail tech dried her feet, rubbed them with an exfoliant and put them back in the water. “You have never stood up to me like that before.” She finally said, looking at Heather with a proud smile. “You have gotten angry and defensive with me, but you have never calmly and rationally told me to go fuck myself. Any guy that can make you do that is worth giving a chance.”
“Good.” Heather said as the nail tech moved over to her. It wasn’t exactly what she wanted from Carrie, but it was a start.
“So how do you have sex?” Angela asked now that the storm seemed to have passed. “What is it like to be with him?”
Heather didn’t want to go into lots of detail there in the salon and she wasn’t sure she wanted Angela to know anyway. “I am on top.” She answered simply.
“Oh.” Angela raised perfectly arched eyebrows as if to say: Why didn’t I think of that? “So you always get what you need? That could have its advantages.”
“Glad you approve.” Sarcasm infused Heather’s words. Angela missed it, though, taking the words at face value with another smug smile.
Heather chose to focus on what was being done to her feet. The nail tech couldn’t meet Heather’s eyes. So Heather closed hers and enjoyed the pampering. She knew her days of defending her choice to people who didn’t understand were far from over.
They were all considerably more relaxed after the pedicure and manicure session. The talk focused on Carrie and the wedding. Little else was mentioned about Heather’s move or choice in living partner. Heather followed Carrie and Angela to the rehearsal, glad for the time by herself in the car.
Carrie was getting married at an historical home that had been moved stone by stone from Europe and rebuilt in Richmond. The house boasted wide stairways and stained glass windows. It was beautiful and used only for parties and weddings at this time in its life. The wedding would be held out in the back courtyard, which was terraced and had a view of the James River.
Heather walked through the home to the courtyard. Reid and his groomsmen were already there. Carrie and Reid kissed hello and stood holding hands while everyone gathered around them.
Carrie and Reid each had three attendants. Angela was Carrie’s maid of honor. Heather and Reid’s sister, Stacie, were the bridesmaids. Reid’s two brothers, Owen and Paul, were his co-best men. His lifetime best friend, Allen Parker, was the third groomsman. Heather would be paired with Owen. He was cute, like Reid, and very quiet.
“He is single.” Carrie whispered into Heather’s ear. “And your type.”
“I don’t care.” Heather whispered back. “I’m not single.”
“It doesn’t hurt to keep your options open.” Carrie gave her a wicked grin.
“Coming from you, that doesn’t mean a whole lot right now. We are at your wedding rehearsal, remember?” Heather smiled sweetly.
Carrie beamed. “I know!”
The minister joined them then and the rehearsal got underway. It was over very quickly. Heather couldn’t believe how happy Carrie and Reid looked. There was no fear for either one of them. But this was just the rehearsal.
“Okay, everyone!” Carrie called out as the crow broke up. “Bottoms Up Pizza at 7:00 for the rehearsal dinner. I want to see everyone and their guests there and having a good time!”
Everyone agreed and began walking out. Carrie and Reid and their parents stayed behind to talk about more wedding stuff. Heather got back in her car and drove back to Kellan’s apartment to get him and changed clothes. She knew he would ask how Carrie had taken her news. She knew she would be honest with him. And she knew it wouldn’t sit any better with him than it had with her.
To be continued...