Shawna Elizabeth Bradley being of sound mind and slightly pudgy body, do
solemnly swear to marry David Bencivenne and spend the rest of my life with a man
whose last name I can barely pronounce let alone spell.” Shawna shifts her gaze
from the image of her veiled face in the mirror and laces her fingers together
to stop the trembling. Taking a cleansing breath she squeezes her eyes shut. A
wedding day is supposed to be the happiest day of a woman’s life. But not even
the beautiful Vera Wang ball gown she managed to snag right off the rack could
lift her spirits. She feels as if she’s preparing to march towards her
executioner rather than towards a bright future with the love of her life.
Reading dread in her expression Sugah,
Shawna’s assistant for the past six months and the only person she asked to
stay with her while she prepares clears his throat and with a thick Southern
drawl announces, “Girl, you are doing this thing back ass-ward.” He’s sitting
in a corner chair near the window that overlooks the front entrance filing his
nails. He looks handsome in his grey double breasted three piece suit. Usually
more accustomed to flamboyance, in his words he decided to play it straight for
her special day. He said that he didn’t want to steal the spotlight from the
bride. “I mean honestly doll, marrying a man simply because you’re the last of
your friends to tie the knot is just asinine.”
Sugah, I’ve heard it all before. This union is bigger than love. I have friends
and family that love me. This is about….” Sugah raises his hand to halt her
of all those are not the marriage vows. You’re about to get married and your
quoting the oath to join the army.” Shawna rolls her eyes. “Secondly, you are
not pudgy. Haven’t you heard? Real women have curves. And lastly, you’ve told
me about your convoluted plans a thousand times.” Sugah clears his throat and speaking
in falsetto begins to imitate Shawna. “I am the only one of my friends who
isn’t married with children. David is a viable candidate for a husband and father.
He comes from a good family, he’s a nice guy and he’s handsome enough.” Sugah
stands and places his hands on his hips. “Oh yeah and let’s not forget your
most important reason for taking vows, old eggs. What the hell does that mean?
You’re only twenty-nine are you already menopausal?” Shawna shakes her head. Her clock started
ticking when her brother’s wife Leila gave birth to the two most beautiful
babies Shawna has ever seen. Before holding those tiny babies she hadn’t given
much thought to having children. Like love and romance, having a family is
something she believed was out of the question for her. That ship sailed a long
time ago. But those twins, Shawna sighs. Her heart warms just thinking of little
Tucker William Bradley the forth and Tempest Leila Bradley. Their birth opened
something in her heart that she’d long since forgotten, the love that fills you
when holding a newborn. Holding her niece and nephew was a much more joyous occasion
than the time she first held a newborn. Nevertheless, just being near them
sends her ovaries into overdrive. Pointedly ignoring Sugah she slips on the
Jimmy Choo wedding heels her sister-in-law Leila gave her as her something new.
Nothing like crystals and suede to give a woman strength.
I’m ready to do this,” she says with resolve.
Shawna repeats gulping down air. Sugah moves to the door and waits for Shawna
to join him. When he turns to face her she hasn’t moved and she’s as white as a
sheet. Sugah sighs heavily and rushes to her side.
girl, the one thing you’re forgetting about is love. You don’t have to do this.
If you want a child why don’t you go to the bank and buy sperm like the other
rich single women?” Shawna shivers, her heart is pounding so hard that all
outside noises are blocked out.
don’t want some random man fathering my child.” She taps her legs in an attempt
to get them to move. Sugah takes her hand when she sways as if she might faint.
it. I’m going to get the girls.” He fans himself with his hand. “I am your
assistant and your friend but not your shrink honey. You need women folk to
talk you off the ledge.” He turns to leave but she takes his hand. She’s
starting to sweat even though the expansive room above the church is cool.
just give me a minute. I can do this,” she says taking a tentative step towards
the door. When she reaches the door her breathing becomes labored. Sugah holds her up when her body begins to tilt
he scolds. Her head snaps towards his. She stares at him through glazed
unfocused eyes. He removes a handkerchief from his jacket pocket and wipes her
damp forehead. Shawna takes a deep breath and then without another word she
dashes for the door. She sprints down the stairs and through the hall past the
ushers escorting her guests to their seats. She runs past her wedding party
ignoring the gasps and calls. With Sugah close on her heels she sprints through
the church door and climbs into the limo that was supposed to take her to the
airport with her new husband. Sugah climbs in just as she yells drive to the
chauffer. She buries her face in her lap and covers her ears to block out the
protests of family members banging on the windows.
a few minutes Sugah squeezes her shoulder. “So what’s the plan love bug?”
Shawna shudders feeling as if a vice is tightening around her head. “Are we
going to drive into the sunset like Thelma and Louise? Because I’ll tell you if
I’m about to go out in a blaze of glory I’d rather not be dressed in this monkey
suit. No, I’d rather make my departure from this great land in a floor length
Prada gown,” he says sweeping his arm across the limo with exaggerated
flourish. So if we’re going to end it all the very least you can do is trade
clothes with me.” Shawna laughs in spite of herself and turns to face her
poor man,” Shawna says. “I can’t believe I just left him at the altar. I should
have at least been woman enough to tell him I couldn’t go through with it. “Oh
God and my parents, they were so excited about one of their children having a
traditional wedding since Tucker and Leila eloped.” Sugah squeezes her shoulder
what about you, sugar dumpling? You can’t get married to please your parents or
to please a man that you don’t love, might I add. You have to get married
because you’re so in love that you can’t imagine your life without the other
wanted to do it this way. I don’t ever want to risk being so deeply in love
that I make emotional decisions. I’ve been there once and it was the worst
mistake of my life. No, a marriage of convenience will suit me just fine.”
scoffs, “If convenience is what you want then why are we barreling down the 101
Freeway? If you aren’t interested in lasting love let’s turn around. You can
tell them you forgot something at your house and then proceed to marry the
little weasel.” Although he’d promised to keep his opinions to himself Sugah
has made no secret of his disdain for David. He insists that any man that would
ask a woman he barely knows to marry him is up to something. Shawna assured him
that she had an airtight prenuptial agreement, but Sugah was never really
was probably planning to off you for your money. After which I would have to
kill him and I’m much too pretty to go to jail so you just saved both our lives
by running out of that church today. Thank you honey lumps,” Sugah says and
Shawna laughs again. Shawna rests her head on his shoulder.
you just marry me?”
kisses the top of her head. “Oh pumpkin, if that worked for me I’d me the
luckiest man in the world.” They drive in silence for a few minutes until the
driver speaks through the intercom.
are we headed ma’am?”
just stay on the 101 for a while,” Shawna replies.