Ch. 21

The next morning went by fast. We had to dress before we got to Nel Giardino and get everyone's hair and face ready. Melina helped us all. After fixing Mom's hair, she set up mine. It took a lot of time for each of us. About thirty minutes each. Then Melina painted hers and my toenails. She tried them with a blow dryer. After that we still had to find something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.
"Here, Mom," Melina slipped a ring on Mom's pinkie. "This is something borrowed, blue and new. Your cross can be something old."
When we arrived at Nel Giardino, Melina painted my face. I had asked her to help me with my make-up. It was a very special occasion and a once in a lifetime happening.
"There," She said when she was done.
"Thanks, I looked in the mirror. "Good job."
She shrugged," Wine's a good color on you."
I slipped my feet into the wine colored shoes. Melina set all her make-up into its bag.
"I'm sorry about what happened between you and Josh." She said.
"Don't feel too." Hello, I'm tall, I thought when I stood up.
"I just don't know what went wrong. When you were talking about him last month, you sounded so in love. You guys even looked it. A lot of people told me that you just dropped him with no warning."
"Mel, he cheated on me, okay? With my best friend. My former best friend," I corrected.
"No he didn't'."
"Just drop it, okay?"
"How could you think that?" Nell stood at the door of the bathroom. I wasn't the only person who looked good in wine. "I would never go out with your boyfriend."

I was to shocked to say anything.
"And Josh would certainly never go out with me. He's too in love with you!"
"Christina . . ."
"Screw Christina, she was just jealous of you and Josh, like many other girls. She just did something about it. Apparently, it worked. She got you pissed at both of us."
"I didn't know she had anything against me."
"She had plenty against you, Jo. You're best friends with me, and you were going out with the most popular guy. You are best friends with the Prom Queen and you were dating the Prom King! You're probably the second most popular girl in school!"
My worst fear. Me being popular.
"I'm going to kill Christina for telling you that! I can't believe you, of all people listened to her!" Nell continued her rant.
When she was through, I hugged her and apologized. "I'm so sorry. I didn't think Christina had anything against me and my imagination went away with me. I just though it was the perfect chance for . . .Oh, god! Josh must hate me!"
"He doesn't hate you. He's just hurt. Nothing's made him happy since you broke it off."
I had a flashback of the day I was sick. Josh had told me that he needed help on an English paper. I asked Nell if she knew anything about that.
"You're going to have to ask Josh about that."
Mom rushed into the room, her veil in disarray.
"There you all are. Melina," I had forgotten she was in there. "Nell, could you go check and make sure everyone's here."
"Gladly," Melina made a beeline for the door.
"I'll see you out there," Nell said as she left.
"Could you?" Mom handed me the veil. I took it and smoothed it out. When I had found the crown and made sure it was perfect, I set it on Mom's head.
"You look beautiful." I told her.
She smiled," So do you."
I turned and handed her her bouquet. Red roses surrounding a single white one. All the bridesmaids would be carrying a single white long stemmed rose. My idea.
"Come on Mrs. Nesbith."
"Don't jinx it," She took the bouquet.
"He's a lucky man."
She smiled.
"Mom," Melina's head popped in. "It's time."
"Oh, okay." She turned back to me. "Walk me down the aisle?"
I shook my head, "Today is your day."
She took a deep breath and nodded. "Okay."

The ceremony was beautiful. If not one person teared up I would be surprised. When I heard Jonathon say his vows to Mom, I knew he really loved her. And I noticed the way they looked at each other. Their eyes were full of love. It was as though there wasn't enough room in their hearts, so their love shone in their eyes. Tears had fallen from my own eyes. After they're first kiss as husband and wife, everyone progressed into the restaurant. Except for me.
Instead, I went farther into the garden. Flowers of all kinds were to my left and to my right. I stopped in the middle of the opening. The opening was in the center of the entire garden. Tall hedges stood with stone benches in front of them. There were four openings into different parts of the garden. My gaze flew up to the cloudless sky. It was as though the world was made of blues and greens.
As a breeze flew, I thought about everything that had happened in the last few months. Mom and Jonathon. Miss Greenway and her beau. Sam and Rachel. Nell and Jim. Everyone around me had fallen in love. Mom, Miss Greenway and Sam were all getting ready for marriage because they felt so strong about it.
I read that article in Nell's CosmoGirl. The one that had been about Love. In one paragraph, it said that Love came when you least expected it to. It came when you were busy with your life. It didn't care about your schedule because it would always find a way to slip in. Another one said that Love could see who you really were and fall for you. The third paragraph said that Love doesn't look quite the way you expected. That your first impression of it my not be a good one. But soon you'll find your impression of it change. And the last paragraph said that taking Love at your own pace and doing what's right for you is much braver than just falling in love at first sight. That even if you go slow, you're making a big leap of faith that he'll stick around.
I knew why it had hurt so much when Christina told me Josh cheated on me with Nell. It was because I had fallen in love with him. I hadn't consciously known it at the time but Ann did. I think I believed Christina because I didn't want that to happen. I didn't want to be in love with anyone much less Josh. But I was wrong.
I turned my gaze from the sky at the sound of footsteps. It was Josh. He was wearing a tux. I wondered if it was the same tuxedo he was going to wear at the prom. He mouthed the word "Whoa". We stood there for about an eternity, just staring at each other.
"You look incredible," He finally said.
I gave a slight shrug and kept my eyes on him. His didn't leave me either.
"I've been trying to get a hold of you."
"I know."
"You've been busy."
I nodded. My heartbeat had gotten a bit faster when he didn't say anything for a moment.
"Nell told me what had happened." He said.
I entwined my fingers together," I'm an idiot," I admitted.
"Yeah, a little.
One side of my mouth rose. "When Christina told me what she did, I chose to believe her. I didn't want to hear your side. My imagination did all the thinking for me."
"It didn't think in my favor."
I shook my head. "I think I was scared."
"Of what?"
"That I was falling for you," I answered.
He ran his hand over a hedge, "I think this is where I started falling for you." He said. "When we stopped fighting so much and started talking. Learning about each other."
I nodded. "It was either here or the carnival for me."
His hand fell and I could hear him sigh.
"What were you doing? That day I was sick and you said that you needed help in English?" I asked.
He looked at me. "I did ask Nell something that day in front of Christina. I asked her if she would come shopping with me."
"For you," He slipped his hand into his pocket. "I was going to give it to you at the Prom . . . and tell you . . . well, it doesn't matter now." He pulled out a velvet box the color of my dress.
"And I was told you asked her to a party."
He shook his head, "I told you I don't like liars. I meant it." He walked up and handed me the box. "Open it."
I stared at him and he nodded. I slowly lifted the lid. Lying on black silk were two J's connected by a gold chain.
I covered my mouth and gasped.
"I earned with savings from that job I took." He lifted the necklace out of its box. "And they're real. I was going to give them to you at Prom and tell you how much I love you."
The color must have drained from my face.
"I want to tell you that I dated a bit before I met you. The problem with those girls is they were all the same. They pretty much agreed with all I said and we would have nothing in common. Heather or Andy wouldn't like them for some reason or another. When I first met you in English, our first fight, I knew you were different. I just didn't know how different. I knew I loved you as I bought this necklace and, despite you idiotic actions, I still do. Whether you feel the same, is up to you." He held out the necklace.
I slowly turned. The two J's were cold as they touched my skin. When he clasped the necklace I faced him.
"I'm sorry for overreacting."
"You should have just confronted me," He said. "Besides, what would I want with Nell? To tell you the truth, she's a bit of a dumb brunette."
I smiled and tilted my head and kissed him. This kiss was longer than the others we had shared. When I pulled back, he stared into my eyes with the same look he had used before. Only this time I knew what it was full of. It was the same thing that was in Jonathon's and everyone else eyes that had found someone. Love.