Updated: Aug 11
September 7, 1990
I always dreamed of this moment, now though I was filled with uncertainty. When I fantasied about it, I’d lay in bed and think about what I’d wear, the flowers, everything that would make this the best day of my life. However, as I gazed at my reflection in the full-length white oval mirror, I knew this day would be beyond every little dream I had. Sure, I looked prettier than I ever thought I’d be. However, this wasn’t the wedding I wanted. My dress was gorgeous, and while I had picked out a simple white halter dress, my mother and Mason had other ideas. Their choice was this exquisite white strapless, lace, and pearl beaded form-fitting dress. I glanced at the huge sapphire cut diamond engagement ring and thought about how much my life was about to change and felt my stomach twist. To everyone on the outside, I should be happy as I had everything now. This should’ve been my crowning moment of all the success I’d been blessed with, but it wasn’t.
Kerri handed me a glass of champagne. “You’re actually marrying Mason Langford.” She laughed a bit.
I smiled and wondered if she was trying to make me come to my senses and back out. I took a sip, “Yeah, who would’ve believed it?”
“I always thought Wes would be the one.” She repeated her words from last night, letting her eyes meet mine before I turned away.
I put the glass of bubbly down and looked out at the ocean. I thought he was the one too. We had been through so much. I walked back over to look at my reflection again. I thought about Wes; he loved me. He always had. I saw the sadness in my eyes that I tried to hide. I thought about the pictures I looked at last night. So many images from of us hanging together at the beach or with friends, some were after his gigs. It didn’t matter, none of that did. I was marrying Mason. Everyone kept saying he was better for me; after all, he saved my mother. My mother told me numerous times how I owed him my life, really the person who owed him their life was her, but as usual, I would pay the price for her mistake.
There was a gentle wrapping on the door. I didn’t turn from the mirror as I knew Kerri would get it. I closed my eyes before I felt the slightly calloused hand on my shoulder and knew it was Wes. My heart leaped at his touch. My hand reached up to meet his as I inhaled his cedar infused cologne. It was Perry Ellis, and he knew it was one of my favorites. Opening my eyes, I saw our reflection starring back at us. I felt a deep pain in my heart as my eyes met Wes’s. There we were, standing like the happy couple on their wedding day. The white brocade woodwork around the mirror created the illusion of a wedding photo. This was how I visualized photographs of us.
“Man, he is lucky.” He said, caressing my cheek with the back of his hand. “You look beautiful.”
“Thanks,” I said, turning around to face him. “You look pretty good yourself.”
His hands held mine; they were the only thing keeping us from embracing. “I always knew you would be a beautiful bride. I always thought I’d be the one at the end of the aisle waiting for you, though.” He smiled a soft smile as he leaned in closer. “You know you could just call the whole thing off and marry me instead.” He said with a wink. “We could run away, get married, have a few kids, and live happily ever after.”
I looked at him, trying to see if he was serious. My heart was racing at the thought of being his wife. We had talked about getting married, but I had to wait. Why did he have to do this now? “You’re joking, right?”
His eyes met mine, and I knew he was only half-joking. “Of course,” he said, chuckling. “But if he doesn’t show, I’d step in gladly.”
I looked at him, torn. I loved him but knew if I ran, Mason would destroy both of us. I looked around the room and saw that Kerri was talking with the photographer. I felt my eyes moisten as I squeezed his hands. A slight smile formed on my face as I leaned in closer. “I love you, always and forever.” I laid my hand on his chest where I knew the tattoo was, so he could see the ring he gave me.
I could see the tears he was holding back as he laid his hand on top of mine, “Always and forever.”
The door flew open as soon as he leaned in to kiss my hand. My mother walked in, “It’s almost time,” Taylor said as she came over to us. I stepped back from Wes before she placed her hand on Wes’s chest, “Don’t get any ideas, things are in place that if she runs away, it will ruin her. So don’t be a selfish prick.”
“Shouldn’t you be downstairs waiting to be ushered to your seat or something?” I asked.
“Since Wes, was missing I figured I should make sure he wouldn’t cause any problems,” she said, touching his face.
“I’m not; I just came to…”
“Damn it,” Kerri exclaimed.
I turned and saw her wiping up spilled liquid on the counter. Taylor noticed and walked away. I knew she would have a drink. Another rehab attempt down the drain, I thought. I watched as the two of them were wiping things up before focusing back on Wes. Our eyes were searching the others before he pulled me toward him. My hands were in his, as our lips were inches away. His cheek brushed mine as he leaned in and whispered. “Five years isn’t that long.” I felt the warmth of his breath on my cheek as he pulled back. His eyes met mine as he continued in hushed tones. “I love you, and you’re my best friend. I’ll always be here for you, no matter what.”
“I know, and the same is true for you.” My hands squeezed his before he pulled away. I saw the pools in his eyes and felt my tears rising.
He looked down at the ground and exhaled before he spoke. “I better get down there. I wouldn’t want to miss your grand entrance.” He leaned in and kissed my cheek.
I grabbed his arm before I kissed his cheek. “I know this must be hard, but thank you for being here.”
“I told you last night; I wouldn’t be anywhere else.” He said with a smile before he turned away.
I watched as he walked to the door and glanced back at me. The urge I felt to run toward him was squelched when my mother’s laughter filled the room. I glanced over as my mom as she pointed toward the door. I looked toward where Wes was, but he was gone.
Kerri and I exchanged glances before I walked back toward the mirror. I saw my reflection, but Wes’s image was ingrained in my mind. What was I doing? Maybe Kerri was right. Perhaps I should fuck the lot of them and run. I was about to take the veil out of my hair when my mother grabbed my wrist.
She was standing next to me, “Don’t be stupid. Love can’t buy you security; you don’t want to end up like me. Mason will give you a bright future. Wes is just some flunky musician that will never amount to anything.”
“That’s not true. He has a contract and…”
“Just because he has a contract doesn’t mean he has what it takes. Look at me,” my mother said, raising her glass.
I ignored the comment about her past. “Maybe not, but I know I could be happy with Wes.”
“Wait until you can’t afford your rent or the electric bill? Worse yet, what happens when you pop out two kids, and he is still gigging at some bar hooking up with some random groupie while your home alone. Don’t blow this. Mason adores you, and he’s put you on the map. Once this merger is complete, your only going to get bigger roles.”
“I don’t care about roles,” I said, looking at her like she was insane.
“You should because when he dumps you for someone younger and he will, you’ll be set for the rest of your life.”
“Don’t you mean you? I mean isn’t that part of this contract that you’re taken care of too.”
“I’m thinking about your future, Jennifer Marie,” she said, squeezing my hand. “Don’t throw it away for an illusion.” She let go of my hand, “Now, grab your bouquet and let’s go, I’m walking you down the aisle since your dad didn’t make it.
I glanced at Kerri, “I guess, it’s showtime.”
She looked at me quizzically, before shooting me a weak look.