Written: 18.o2.o9

'you grew up and you sparkled, but why don't you care?'


- X -

A Shared Bottle

By stringless-kite

- X -

When in desperation: seek any form of alcohol.

Luckily, for the maid of honour, a bottle of champagne gleamed attractively before her.

She reached out for it, emptying the last drop of champagne into her glass. When in the mood for another drink, she'd have to flitch another bottle off an unexpecting table. Stocking up on alcohol was her main priority that night - especially if she wanted to survive it. All she desired was to get back to her apartment, wrap a thick blanket around herself and hug her knees until it was all over.

But she obviously couldn't do that.

Her eager eyes darted around the venue, hunting for a new bottle. Women in cocktail dresses of almost every colour of the rainbow paraded around the function, accompanied with men in tuxes and fixed ties. Unlike most of her friends that were at the function, she was one of the few people that remained single. With her glass drained, there was nothing there for her to keep her sane. She needed a new target.

She didn't care that the venue was beautiful, dripping in wealth and ceremonial decorations. To the maid of honour, the fake-gold chandeliers were blinding and the blood-red roses twined in ivy gave her the unwanted urge to throw up. It was too bad that roses and ivy were the theme of the night, draping from the ceilings, adding a flare to the tables and scattering the varnished floors into a magical mess. It had been her idea, of course. And the thought of that disgusted her.

What mattered was the only thing that kept repeating in her mind like a broken record - she needed to get out of there.

Damn, she was hungry for another drink.

As she pressed her lips to edge of her glass, she savoured the last drop of flat champagne and ran her tongue over her glossed lips. She wanted to cry. There was no more alcohol.

"Easy on the liquor, tiger," a smooth voice spoke over the silky instrumental jazz.

She had been so distracted for the need of alcohol that it took her a while to realise that the person was actually speaking to her. The maid of honour stared at the man who had spoken, sending him a disapproving look. She sniffed, "You drink more than I do, Jonathan."

The best man had scooted his way past his seat and the groom's so that he was sitting on the bride's once vacant throne. He leaned towards the maid honour, allowing her to get a good whiff of his aftershave and spicy cologne. Automatically, the maid of honour shuffled away from him, regaining back her personal space.

One would assume to not to go any closer after she had sent the dismissing signal, but Jonathan wasn't like anybody else.

Instead, Jonathan slid an arm around the back of her seat and easily complimented, "You look good tonight."

She didn't know if he was fooling around or not.

The maid of honour had dressed up for her role, but her face was telling a different story. It looked as if she was attending a funeral, not a wedding. In other words, the maid of honour knew that she looked disgruntled and terrible - and Jonathan's satire wasn't needed.

"Behave yourself," she bristled through her pursed lips. "It's their wedding. Can't you be proper for once?"

"But I am," Jonathan insisted, straightening his tie. "I'm wearing a tux."

In some sense, she knew that he was right.

Seeing Jonathan wearing a tux was a big deal.

She had half-expected Jonathan to rock up in his favourite board shorts and flip-flops. She wouldn't have been surprised if he had sauntered into the venue topless. The groom must have pleaded or blackmailed him into wearing something decent that 'special' day.

The maid of honour glanced at the gift pile, searching for two bizarre over-sized presents to stick out. Everybody that knew Jonathan would have thought that Jonathan's ideal gift for the newlyweds would have been two matching surfboards. Fortunately, that night, there were no signs of his customary floral-patterned shorts or any surfboards in sight.

Thank God.

"If I were you, I'd lay off anymore drinks," Jonathan advised. "You drank that whole bottle on your own."

"I'm fine."

"You're tipsy," Jonathan stated, eyebrow arched.

"I am not," she emphasised the latter word.

To a certain extent, it was true. The maid of honour was not tipsy...yet.

She knew that if she were to stand up at that moment, she would be fighting a terrible head spin. Knowing that she'd be dizzy standing up, she wasn't going to stand up and stalk away from him (as much as she loved to do that). Standing up would be giving the best man the satisfaction of being correct. The maid of honour would be practically flashing the green light for him to tease her for the entire night. She didn't want Jonathan to contribute on making her night any worse.

"Don't get mad at me when I say 'I told you so' when you begin slurring your speech to the bride."

"I won't," she snapped. "And any bets you haven't even written your speech."

"Well, I don't need to," Jonathan said, confidently. "I've recited it."

"Really now?" the maid of honour said, finding it hard to believe. Jonathan writing and reciting a speech? That surely was something. Jonathan hadn't even taken his end-of-year exams back when they were in high school. Picking up a pen was one of Jonathan's weaknesses. "Would you give me sneak peek then?"

"No. You're right. I haven't recited it," Jonathan said, honestly. "That's because I'm going to wing it."

The maid of honour chortled, "Ah, I should have known..."

She was about to talk more to Jonathan, but someone had nudged her on the hip. She winced, rubbing her side and gazed at the person who had been sitting on her other side.

The woman was dressed in an identical satin dress that the maid of honour wore. Though the maid of honour hated to admit it, the bridesmaid that had drawn her attention was the most beautiful amongst all of them. The maid of honour saw that her golden hair was immaculately fixed up into a braided bun and had white irises intricately attached around it. Although the bridesmaid was younger than the bride, there was no denying that both of the sisters managed to carry the same package whenever it came to the looks-factor.

The bride's sister was stunning.

"Tell that idiot to go back to his seat," the bridesmaid scoffed.

Though, the only difference was that the bride's sister had a little something called 'attitude problems'.

The maid of honour rolled her eyes. The bride's sister was still sore because the bride had chosen her to be the maid of the honour.

"Hurry up now, they'll be here any minute."

"Alright, Erin," the maid of honour responded.

Since they were seated on the main table that was on a higher platform, the maid of honour could see that most of the wandering socialising guests had returned to their seats. The piano player had simmered down his notes as well, pressing on one of the pedals of the ebony grand piano.

The maid of honour turned back to Jonathan. "You'll need to go back to your seat and be the best man. Apparently, you've got your seating position mixed up since you are sitting on the bride's throne."

"That's too bad. I liked sitting next to you."

"Change your seat before Erin bites my head off," she ordered. Jonathan was the only person, other than herself, that knew that Erin was upset over the bride choosing her as the maid of honour.

"That's before you bite my head off first."

She jabbed her heel into his foot, causing him to yelp.

"Right, you are!" Jonathan gasped, returning to his allocated seat that was only a couple of seats away from her.

They waited.

The air was filled with puffs of over-perfumed excitement, but the maid of honour couldn't help but feel a dark cloud above her head, raining down tears. Her chest was beginning to tighten in excitement and dread.

God, she needed another drink.

The chandelier bulbs dimmed, making all the scented candles surrounding the function glow luminously, eliciting a series of giggles from all the girls whom had attended. It was like watching the bride march down the aisle of the church again, only this time it was darker. At least, with the candles burning and the lights not shining, no one would see her and she wouldn't have to make an effort with smiling. So she frowned.

From the speakers, a song began to play.

The melody startled her.

She recognised that song. It had been the song that she had requested the DJ to play at her year twelve formal. The same song that the DJ had coincidentally played when Lance Murphy locked lips with her best friend for the first time.

And now, ironically, it was now their wedding theme song.

The maid of honour held in a bitter laugh. It was getting better by the minute. She had thought it was worse enough that she had to attend the mournful thing and be their wedding planner at the same time, but being dubbed the maid of honour had to screw her up even more.

The doors opened.

And there their figures were, emerging from the white smoke. Together, they were linked arm in arm as they walked slowly down the aisle of rose petals leading towards the main tables.

Guests applauded as they walked past, standing up and cheering for the newly wedded couple.

The flower girl, like at the church, held the end of the bride's gown, crumbling the fabric into a bundle as she followed the queen of the night.

From where the maid of honour sat, she could see the bride attired in the same strapless cream wedding dress that she had helped choose for the special occasion. The maid of honour had been there when the bride had brooded over each dress in the couture store.

The bride's hair was down, curling at the ends. For the lengthy time her best friend had spent at the hairdressers, it had been well worth it.

The bride was gorgeous - so impressively gorgeous that the maid of honour was battling the urge to cry.

She didn't know if she wanted to cry because her best friend was finally getting married, or because the groom would never love her the way she was in love with him.

Happiness and envy.

The two overwhelming feelings fought within her and she couldn't do anything about it. She needed to control these feelings if she didn't want to implode. She wasn't going to hyperventilate, the maid of honour decided. She was going to hold her head up high and breathe - even if it was hard.

Her best friend and the love of her life were married.

They had tied the knot and slid on golden bands and were now officially married. That was the end of it. She wasn't going to intervene. She wanted both of them to be happy.

Even if it hurt...

She was meant to be happy for best friend, but she couldn't. But how could she be happy? She had been trying for years to accept it and move on...but this, this was like rubbing salt on open wound. This was like finding out her parents filed a divorce when she was fifteen. This was like-

Hell

The only thing that matched his moment was the time that Lance and her best friend had declared that they were dating. The maid of honour hadn't known how to react. All she had done was put her chin up and smile tight smiles. She believed and convinced herself that everything would be fine. But it never was fine. Nothing improved and nothing got any better.

The same bitter feelings stirred within her that night.

Why did she love him?

She continued to watch her own nightmare become a reality.

Even then, Lance was striking. His black hair was gelled back as he suavely led his new bride forward on the trail of rose petals. He grinned at everybody, the proudest grin that the she had ever seen painted on him, while the bride stared up at him, lovingly.

It would have been easier if he had chosen someone else - but he had chosen her best friend.

If Lance hadn't, she would have never been the stupid maid of honour and wouldn't be glaring at her best friend as if she was the devil's spawn. But the bride wasn't the devil's spawn...she was anything but.

As soon as the couple of the night was seated, velvety instrumental jazz swept over the venue for the second time and the entrées were served.

The maid of honour stabbed hatefully into her ravioli. Perhaps stabbing things would make her feel better. The maid of honour stuffed the piece of pasta into her mouth, trying to stop herself from sneaking looks at the constantly flirting going on between the newlyweds. When she did avoid staring at them, she couldn't help but be distracted by her best friend's giggles. Avoiding the newlyweds altogether was impossible, especially when she was sitting next to them. She stabbed another piece.

"What are you doing?" the bride's sister whispered. "You're going to squirt that red bolognaise sauce onto her wedding gown!"

"I won't," the maid of honour answered, through her mouth full of pasta.

"You're disgusting. Keep your mouth shut."

"When you keep yours."

The maid of honour had already had enough from putting an effort on actually making an appearance at the wedding. Being there was driving her crazy and her lady-like table manners had been thrown out the window. Who cared how she ate? Who cared how she looked? No one was there for her. She would be all alone thanks to the match made in heaven.

"They make a happy couple. It's strange," Erin said, thoughtfully, playing around with a different tactic to get under the maid of honour's skin. The bridesmaid edged closer towards her, "I always thought that Lance had always liked you."

It had caught her off guard, but the maid of honour gave a stiff smile. "He didn't. If Lance had, it would be us getting married, don't you think?"

"Are you meant to be joking or are you serious?" Erin questioned, thin eyebrows furrowed.

The maid of honour bit her bottom lip before she said anything too cruel. "Just sarcasm, Erin. Only sarcasm."

"So, what are you pretty ladies talking about?" the bride tilted her head towards us, beaming a pearly-white smile.

The bride and groom had finally stopped indulging with each other.

"If it's about men, I suggest you go find yourself a guy here tonight. Both of you single ladies should flirt with Jonathan's cousins. They're fine looking, if I do say so myself."

"Not healthy for you to say since you're now married."

Erin wrinkled her nose, adding, "No thanks."

The maid of honour had to agree with the bride's sister on that one. The bride had attempted many times to set her up with Timothy Murphy countless of times, but she had always made lame excuses to avoid him - partly because Timothy wasn't the guy that she liked. She stared past her best friend to the groom, who currently was chatting with Jonathan.

"Congratulations, Ivy," the maid of honour said. She enveloped her best friend into a tight hug, also getting out of the way not to smudge the bride's makeup.

"I'm just so glad that you're my maid of honour-"

Erin chose the right time to exchange words with another bridesmaid. Yes, the maid of honour had been right - Erin was still sore.

"If you hadn't been here, I didn't know what I'd do!"

"You'd still marry Lance," the maid of honour instantly quipped back, continuing to smile stiffly. If she kept smiling stiffly the whole night, the maid of honour's lips would be permanently stuck in such a fake fashion.

"Of course!" the bride laughed, fanning herself. "But you helped organise the wedding and this...this place is fantastic! The ivies and the roses. You're so creative."

"I try," the maid of honour replied, shrugging. The empty champagne bottle was sitting there and mocking her now.

"You know I love you. You're my best friend in the whole entire world," Ivy said. "Though, I have to say...you seem a bit off colour, or is that your foundation? What's wrong?"

"Fine. I'm fine," the maid of honour said through gritted teeth. "It's nothing."

Of course she was lying.

How could she be okay with this?

"You don't look fine-"

"Ivy, trust me. I'm fine," she assured.

"But-"

"IVY!" the maid of honour glared, but immediately her face changed. Oh, how she mentally wanted to slap herself for that. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean for that to happen. You know how my temper gets..."

"It's okay. I'm sorta used to it since you always keep to yourself and snap whenever people try to ask you how you're feeling," Ivy beamed, kindly. The maid of honour was relieved that she wasn't offended. "That's just how you are."

"Yes," the maid of honour sighed, "That's just how I am."

The maid of honour couldn't blame her best friend for how melancholy she felt. Ever since Ivy and Lance became an item, the maid of honour had never told her best friend how she really felt about her boyfriend - and now wasn't the right time to reveal it either. Then again, the maid of honour doubted she ever would.

"Sorry Ivy, I've just been really tired from all this planning. You're my best friend so I wanted everything to run perfectly," she said. "I'm happy for you. I really am."

"Thanks."

There suddenly was a loud tinkling of glasses. The sound had started from the other side of the main table.

The maid of honour looked down at the men's side, already guessing that it had been Jonathan's idea. Her guess was confirmed when she watched Jonathan stand up on his chair, making a show as he tapped his knife against his glass, encouraging the rest of the guests to clink their silverware against their own glasses. In seconds, the venue was filled with rowdy whooping, cheering and tinkling of glasses. It was like Jonathan was instructing an orchestra of hooligans.

Jonathan yelled, "Kiss her, you son of a -!"

And Lance did.

More whooping and applauses erupted from their guests.

Maybe it was because Lance wanted to shut up the annoying clinking of glasses or the fact that the next word Jonathan would have uttered wouldn't have been appropriate for the younger children whom had attended the wedding.

The kiss was nothing too R-rated, which the maid of honour was thankful for, but she could still see the passion and love he had given the bride in that small kiss. It was apparent that the bride knew this as well considering her eyes were glassy as she stared at her new husband. The maid of honour looked away from the couple. She didn't want her heart to break even more.

Since Jonathan was still standing, he whistled for one of the workers to pass him a microphone. He rejected the MC's schedule for the night because Jonathan simply didn't care.

What mattered was that Jonathan wanted to begin his speech ahead of the plan: so he did.

That's how Jonathan was.

Whatever he wanted - he got.

After a few taps on the mic, Jonathan's mischievous voice spoke into it, "Hey bud. How's it goin'?"

It was as if the two men were having a personal conversation amongst themselves and there was no one else there.

Lance chuckled, holding a glass at him and teasing a salute.

"Well, I've known this asshol-I mean, assistant manager ever since elementary, so I was bound to be his bridesmaid - I mean his best man, you see."

Clearly, the maid of honour hadn't been the only one drinking. Jonathan tended to curse excessively when he had a bit too much liquor in his system - the damn hypocrite.

"I remember the first time he looked up a girl's skirt and the first time he got laid-"

Yes, Jonathan had also been drinking.

Erin coughed loudly, causing the maid of honour to roll her eyes. At least Jonathan was making an effort making the ceremony endurable.

"So, what I mean to say is that Lance is a great guy. He really is!" Jonathan said, as if he wee trying to tell himself that. Maybe the maid of honour was misreading him because she actually heard a bit of doubt in his tone. "And now he's settling down...with such a lovely girl. Come to think of it, I used to hate Ivy-Rose, you know? Don't take it personally Ivy-Rose. You're a fantastic person, but at that time I hated you because you stole my best friend. But eventually, I got around it. The more I got to know her...I fell in love with her too. No hard feelings, man?"

Everyone laughed.

It was clear that Jonathan wasn't really in love with Ivy. Jonathan was only creating an entertaining and light atmosphere because that's what he did best. When Jonathan had been elected by his peers to become the football captain, he stepped down from the role because he admitted that he couldn't handle being a leader. He preferred being the clown, so he had dished out the football captain position to Lance. In some sense, Jonathan was like her. Jonathan was good at hiding his feelings and the maid of honour had always secretly known that Jonathan had wanted to be the football captain but didn't want to ruin his goofing-around reputation. She knew this because Jonathan had told her.

"Ivy-Rose. Ivy-Rose," Jonathan repeated. "With a name like that, how could anyone not love her? She's like a poison that draws everyone in. You either love her or...love her. Ivy, you look after my mate, will you? Lance likes his steak well done, okay?"

The bride nodded. "Sure."

"Guh, I swore to myself that I wouldn't get all sappy, but I couldn't help myself," Jonathan scratched his head. A few strands of hair separated from the rest of his gelled back hair. "From the time Lance told me he met such a beautiful girl and from the time Lance told me that she was the one - I knew that I was no competition against Miss Ivy-Rose. If I were gay, I'd turn gay for Lance because he's the best man. Well, technically I'm the best man...but he'll be my best man for my wedding one day. I'm not making sense, am I?"

"No," Lance mouthed.

I wasn't the only one who knew that Jonathan had liquor in his system. Lance could see it too.

"With that being said, may I introduce the lovely maid of honour to do her speech," Jonathan spoke into the microphone, ending his talk as he jumped back onto the ground and took his seat in a fluid-like motion.

There was another round of applause.

The maid of honour groaned. She wasn't prepared to do her speech yet. She was meant to do it in an hour's time, but Jonathan had intentionally screwed up the schedule. If he wanted to play like this, so be it.

She stood up, smoothing her dress before tapping onto the mic.

"Thanks for introducing me, Jonathan Butt-ler Cruise."

She smirked when she heard him groan.

The maid of honour took the queue cards from the table. Her fingers tried to grasp on the cards, but they were fumbling all over the place with her quivering hands. Her hands were shaking so much that she couldn't properly hold onto the darn cards. Giving up, she hastily dropped them onto the table. If Jonathan could wing it, perhaps she could.

"I've been stressing all week," the maid of honour said. "I know this is a strange way to start my speech, but it's true. I've been stressing all week trying to get this wedding perfect. And I wondered, what's the point? Why am I bothering to do this-"

especially when I was organising a wedding for the guy that I loved and my best friend!

She gulped. The maid of honour didn't dare say those words. She wasn't that harsh.

"What I mean to say is that...well, there's no point. There's no point organising something so extreme when I already know how much my best friend, Ivy-Rose Curtis, and Lance Murphy were a match made in heaven. The theme, organising and planning is nothing compared to the love that they share for each other," the maid of honour said. Her throat was getting dryer by the second. "When Ivy and I were younger, we'd watch Cinderella. Cinderella was her favourite movie because she had told me that she wanted to have her very own Prince Charming. And now her dream's come true!"

Standing up was making her slightly dizzy, but she held it together. The maid of honour wasn't going to slur. She had always been a good drunk.

"I remember when they first met. I was the one who had introduced them to each other. It was the last year of high school and Mr. Garland assigned Lance to be my Biology partner. Before crashing his house to do our project, we stopped at McDonalds for our junk-food fill. I chose that junk-food hangout because, at that time, Ivy worked there and never failed to shout us free meals. And that's where they met, eyes gazing at each other over the pair of Oreo McFlurrys. It should have been a McLovin' burger, if you ask me," the maid of honour smiled wryly.

It was then that realisation had struck her - she had been their matchmaker. How ironic.

"Ivy's so kind, nice, strong, friendly and talented. And, most of all, she's my best friend. She's the best person I know and I am absolutely thrilled to say that her dream's come true. She's found her Prince Charming in Lance Murphy."

"To the new Mr. and Mrs. Murphy," the maid of honour held her empty glass, as everyone in the room lifted their drinks to toast the newly-weds.

Everything blurred from there on.

The maid of honour remembered her speech ending and taking a few bites of chicken and vegetables from her main course. Other than that, she couldn't really remember anything else. She was pleased with herself that she was doing a good job by not tearing up, but she wondered how long it would last until the waterworks would start. The maid of honour snapped back to reality when the live band came onto the stage and began singing a love song.

The MC announced, "Would Ivy-Rose and Lance Murphy please come down and dance for the first time as a married couple."

And now the maid of honour's tears sparked. She bit her bottom lip down, a habit she had gotten into for only that evening, and tasted blood.

The maid of honour leered at how gallantly Lance offered his hand and took Ivy-Rose down the steps that led to the dance floor. As they danced, the maid of honour couldn't help but notice how perfectly well they danced together. She couldn't stand that-

Enough!

If she was going to continue dwelling the whole night, thinking of regrets, what-ifs and falling into a hole of self-pity...she'd rather do it in the toilets.

So she fled.

"Where are you goin-"

The maid of honour ignored Erin, running as fast as she could on her high heels while trying to maintain her uncoordinated balance. She passed Jonathan who gave her a concerned glance, but the maid of honour mimicked the action that she was going to vomit. Jonathan seemed to not be pleased about her excuse, calling after her as she stumbled down the steps.

She could hear him following.

The maid of honour's heart raced when she was the female sign. At least then she knew that Jonathan wouldn't follow her into the lady's toilets. It would kill his damn ego.

Just to be safe, the maid of honour locked herself into one of the cubicles. She slumped onto the ground and choked on sobs and tears. She wished she could cry beautifully, but she couldn't. The maid of honour couldn't fake how low she felt. She couldn't wait to see how she looked in the mirror. Her mascara was probably all runny.

"Tiger?"

"She's not here," the maid of honour responded. "And it couldn't hurt to use her real name too."

"What's up?"

"I'm sick."

"You so aren't," he laughed, coldly.

"Why are you even in here, Jonathan? You'd go to all extremes to see me look stupid?"

"Hey, I'm the one inside the female toilets."

"You must think I'm a joke. Laugh it up because I know you think I look funny-"

"I was telling the truth. If you're talking about earlier," he paused, "you do look good."

"Could you just leave me alone?" the maid of honour pleaded. She brushed the tears from her cheeks with the bottom of her dress. "I really need my alone time. Jonathan...please?"

"Then it wouldn't be fun."

"Jonathan."

"You aren't sick, tiger. I've known you for so long to know when you're not telling me the truth."

"But I am," the maid of honour glared at the polished leather shoes that pointed at her from under the cubicle door.

"You aren't," Jonathan stated. "Because then you'd be belching over the toilet bowl and not bothering to answer back. Heck, you'd even be letting me help by holding your hair up or something-"

"I am sick-"

"Save the act," he chuckled. From under the gap between the door and ground, the maid of honour saw Jonathan hand her a handkerchief. "Here."

"Who said that I was crying?"

"Your sniffly voice, that's what."

The maid of honour didn't acknowledge that he was right. Instead, she took the handkerchief from his hand, wiped her eyes and then blew her nose. "I've got the flu, that's what."

"Keep lying to me then," Jonathan let out a strangled sigh.

The maid of honour held onto the handkerchief, staring up at the fancy patterned tiles. Even they were golden. The silence was comforting. No instrumental jazz, no pointless gossiping and not a sound of people hugging or kissing. The maid of honour gazed back and saw that Jonathan was no longer standing there. Replacing his shoes was the back of his body, facing the other direction.

"Why aren't you leaving?"

"I'm helping out a friend in need."

"She's fine."

"You're insulting our friendship," Jonathan said. "Don't you remember those days?"

"What days? I've lived many days, unfortunately."

Jonathan tapped his foot impatiently, not pleased by her answer. "When we graduated from high school. It was summer break and we went on that road trip. You were my partner in crime."

"I was your partner in crime because Lance and Ivy were too occupied making out on the backseat."

"Hey, I wasn't complaining - I was the one driving, you remember? You were always sitting shotgun, wearing that sunflower dress and hanging your legs out the window despite how many times I told you off. It seemed you didn't care if you had your limbs chopped off."

"Maybe I was too drunk to realise?" the maid of honour offered.

"Maybe," Jonathan replied. "You're always drinking a lot."

"I'm a selective alcoholic," she corrected.

"That's because you never could stand them being together."

The maid of honour's blue eyes glared, "I beg your pardon? And what do you mean by that?"

"Come on, tiger. I always knew that you had it for Lance."

"What are you talking about? You've lost me."

Jonathan continued, "It was when they started dating that you went crazy over booze."

"Now you're being ridiculous," she tried to snap, but now her eyes were overflowing with new tears. Damn, Jonathan knew to get under her skin. The thought of him knowing all along was humiliating.

She was prepared to retaliate if he interrogated her any more, but he didn't.

Jonathan had somehow unlatched the cubicle door, almost hitting the maid of honour on the back of the head. She didn't have time to scowl because the next thing she knew, Jonathan was kneeling down and embracing her. From that single embrace, she wept onto his shoulder.

"Does it make me selfish that I like him?"

"No."

"A-am I a bad person?"

"No," Jonathan sighed. "You're anything but."

He lifted the maid of honour besides the basin, resting her onto the cold surface of the marble wash table.

"I'll be right back. Stay put."

"Where are you goin-?"

But she was too late. She breathed out. Jonathan had already left.

Since the maid of honour wasn't ready to get out of the toilets, she chose to stay there. She turned around, observing her reflection from the gem-framed mirror. Her mascara wasn't as bad as she had presumed it to be, but her cheeks glistened in tears and were pinker than usual. Her black hair had been tied into a fancy bun, but now looked like a messy bird's nest. The maid of honour pulled out the red satin ribbons and let her hair flow down in waves.

"Back," Jonathan said, hands holding onto something behind him.

The maid of honour sat taller, trying to see what he was hiding behind his back. "What's-"

Before she ended her question, Jonathan revealed two glasses and a bottle of red wine.

"Shiraz," he smirked. "I had to hassle it from the bartender to get me a whole bottle of this lousy cheap wine."

"Seems like I'm not the only selective alcoholic," she smiled, taking her glass as he poured her the beverage.

"Seems like it," Jonathan muttered, swigging his glass down.

It was nice that Jonathan had been there. Come to think of it, Jonathan had always been there for her. The maid of honour knew this because when both of their best friends were a couple, they would drag either Jonathan or her to come along. The reason behind this was because they didn't want either of them to feel like a third wheel. In other words, they were a four-wheel. By then, the best man and the maid of honour were used to each other's company - especially whenever it came to long road trips that required them to stay in the front seats.

"You can't keep saving me," the maid of honour said. She could feel her cheeks warming up, but she welcomed the feeling with open arms.

"What if I want to?" he asked, voice different.

She had almost taken him seriously. The maid of honour laughed, "You're a great actor."

"Really now?" he said, but his tone was still different. Jonathan looked away from her for a minute, before staring back with a cheeky grin. "You're a good actress, yourself. No one ever knew. I did, of course."

"Can you not bring this up? I already admitted that I liked your best friend and now you're just making it worse."

"I'm not teasing you. I think you're strong. It's admirable."

"What type of strong? Because it's a manly strong, I'm not going to hold back a slap."

"Holding it in for all this time and not saying anything so you wouldn't sabotage your best friend's relationship. To me, that's definition of strong. You're a good friend."

"Like how I look good and not as stunning as Ivy looks. No wonder I didn't stand a chance against her."

"Hey, you know Ivy. Don't get all lemony sour on me. You know that isn't true. There's much more to Ivy than how she looks, like how there's much more to me than your snappy personality."

"How pleasant."

"But of course, you're great too."

The maid of honour didn't reply to this, keeping quiet as she took a few more sips of her wine. Jonathan was only saying this because she felt like crap. As goofy as he was, Jonathan always was refined and chivalrous when he wanted to be - even if it would take a sledgehammer for him to admit it.

When the wine bottle was empty, "I'll get us some more."

Jonathan disappeared again.

Her head felt high up in the clouds now. The maid of honour could hold herself together, but she knew that she wouldn't be able to balance in her high heels. She was starting to get sleepy. The thought of being found in the women's toilets with her head lolling over the basin wasn't picturesque. She winced at the thought, pushing herself off the edge of the table and landing onto her wobbly feet. She wasn't going to drink anymore. She wasn't going to ruin her best friend's night on her own accord. There was enough alcohol in her system and she knew that she had reached her limit.

As she stumbled out of the toilets, she fell onto another body.

At first, she had thought it was Lance but inwardly groaned when she saw that it was Lance's cousin who helped her up onto her feet.

"Timothy."

"You're Ivy's friend, aren't you? That girl that would never would come to those arranged blind dates."

"That's the girl," the maid of honour said, quietly. She could see that his green eyes were lingering at her chest.

"You're hot."

"Thanks," the maid of honour said, dryly. "Anyway, I'm going to-"

"Have a dance with me."

"It's okay."

"I insist. It's on me," Timothy flashed a toothy smile, holding her arm tighter than necessary. "Or do you wanna go and get another drink since I can smell that strong wine on you? You're a good drinker, aren't you?"

"No. It's okay."

"I'm single, you're single. So what do you say?"

"And perhaps hop in bed after that? No. The answer's no. Didn't you hear her the first time?"

The maid of honour turned around to find Jonathan standing behind her, hands crossed as he glared angrily at Lance's cousin.

"Hey Timpy. Nothing's changed with you, huh? Still the typical sleaze. No wonder you're single."

"And how about you? You obviously can't get yourself to get the girl you like to go on one date. Pretty pathetic, if you ask me."

"Now, why would I be asking you?"

"Who do you like, Jonathan?" the maid of honour asked, hurt. Jonathan told her almost everything and not knowing his latest crush was strange. She tugged the sleeve of his blazer, waiting for an answer.

"Oh, he's been pining for years over you," Timothy snickered. "He's just too much of a damn pussy to admit it."

Jonathan opened his mouth to say something, but immediately shut it as he watched Timothy walk away like a free man.

"What was that?" it was her turn to question him. The maid of honour watched as Jonathan close his eyes, massaging his temple.

"What?"

"You know what I'm talking about," the maid of honour said, jabbing him with her finger. "That."

"Damn it, tiger. Do you want to know?" Jonathan asked, but didn't wait for an answer. "It's you-"

"What?"

"-it's always been you!"

"But that can't be right!" she gasped. "You're wrong. You've got to be wrong!"

"You tell me what's wrong! Watching the girl you've liked for so many years staring at your best friend adoringly or you trying to comfort her all those times when you knew that she's in love with someone else?"

It was a lucky thing that they had been talking next to the staff area, for the guests would have heard their conversation. It would have been the hit of the night: best friend loves best friend's husband.

God, how the maid of honour wanted to get out of the place.

"Why do you think I was always there for you? It's not always about you! I've been hurting too."

She hissed, "You don't know how it feels-"

"Are you blind? It's not always about you! I've been hurting too!"

"I don't believe you...how can you like me? Hey! Where are you going?"

"Away," he said tersely. "I knew this wouldn't have ended well-"

"No!" she demanded, "Talk to me!"

"Bye," Jonathan said, storming off.

The maid of honour couldn't believe it.

Jonathan had liked her all along?

The idea of that baffled her. The best man had been her substitute-of-a-best-friend ever since Ivy had sold her soul over to Lance. They'd talk for hours at night, complaining about how the world should work to debating whether rock songs were better than hip hop. From how they had celebrated over beer when she had got accepted at the accounting firm, to how she had spotted Jonathan being checked out by two lifeguards while he was surfing. Jonathan said that he would have been fine if they were girls, but unfortunately for him, they weren't. And by their sudden and first fight, how was she going to get Jonathan to teach her how to swim?

All of that would be gone...now that he had wrecked what was between them.

Why did he have to tell her that? Out of all things Jonathan had kept from her – it had to be that he liked her?

And, on top of that, Jonathan had known about her gigantic crush on Lance.

The maid of honour shook her head. Yes, she was being selfish.

If she knew how bad it felt how Ivy was going out with Lance, she couldn't help but realise how hurt she had made Jonathan feel. The maid of honour has just not expected it. She hadn't expected a lot of things in life, but that definitely was not the first one on her list. It had come out of nowhere. And, not to mention, she had been an idiot for not reacting properly when Jonathan had admitted his feelings. Like always, she had been bad with reactions.

"And we'd like to invite the parents of Ivy-Rose and Lance Murphy to go to the dance floor. We'd also like to invite the best man and the bride of honour."

The maid of honour cringed, but somehow her feet were able to find the dance floor.

Jonathan was already with Ivy while both of the newlyweds' fathers had exchanged wives which left...

Calming her fluttering heart, she held her breath in as she advanced towards Lance. The groom handsomely smiled broadly at her.

The maid of honour put her hand on his shoulder, while Lance placed his hand on her hip.

"Hey there, tiger," Lance said, playing around with the nickname that Jonathan had dubbed her with. She frowned at that. "Enjoying your night?"

"Of course I am. You're finally married."

"Married to your best friend," Lance said, proudly.

The maid of honour smiled and, for the first time that night, it was a true smile.

And then she felt a new feeling…

Acceptance.

She knew that Lance would never be hers and that in that short period of time - she had moved on. Sure, she was still sore from it. But she knew that she would get over her romantic feelings for the groom. There were many guys out there and this man…was clearly out of the sea of fish.

"Talking about best friends, I notice that both my best friend and you have been slipping into the women's room quite a lot tonight," his lips quirked, "Should I be concerned?"

"No," she giggled. But when Lance had mentioned Jonathan, the maid of honour snuck a glance at the best man.

Thinking that she would see someone different, she was stunned when she only saw Jonathan.

He was alluring and engagingly chivalrous to the bride. He was cradling Ivy in his hands, holding his head back as he laughed to one of his stupid jokes.

The maid of honour sighed. She didn't see him as the guy who had confessed his feelings to her.

He was only Jonathan, just Jonathan; and that thought on its own made her happy. She didn't know why…it just did.

After changing partners, the maid of honour was finally partnered up with him.

They were dancing strangely to the music. During rehearsals, the dance instructor had commended them as the best couple. But, as they presently danced together, it was weird - it was different. For the first time ever, Jonathan stood rigidly. The best man's eyes darted everywhere except for her. His touch on her skin felt electric.

Still, the maid of honour wasn't content about the awkwardness and tension between them. She chose to confront him.

The maid of honour caught onto his chin and dragged his face downwards so that he could look into her eyes.

"Talk to me."

"So, I was wrong. You don't look. You don't look great. You look sensational," Jonathan muttered, mastering one of the maid of honour's tight smiles.

"You can't expect to get away from me that easily after you left me completely bewildered."

"You weren't supposed to know," Jonathan said. "I was meant to wait until you got over him."

"You could have told me earlier."

"No. You weren't meant to know."

"What's wrong if I do?"

"You still like him, tiger. I know that."

"Feelings can change."

Jonathan stared at her, captivated in the moment. "Are you serious? You're actually thinking about this?" he chuckled. "Wow. The Gods must really love me."

"Don't get ahead of the-"

And then he took by her surprise. Her eyes widened when Jonathan suddenly held her closer, pressing her body into his. His head bent down and met her lips, tenderly kissing her.

"-game."

"Do you realise how long I've been wanting to do that?" Jonathan laughed, but his laughter vanished by the applauds from all the guests.

"Finally," the maid of honour had caught Ivy utter.

Her face flushed red. "You didn't have to do that."

"But I did."

"This is embarrassing," the maid of honour said, placing her head on his shoulder. It was still damp from the tears she had cried on earlier and she could smell his spicy cologne.

"I'm taking it that you want to give it a try?"

"What?"

"Us, tiger. Us," Jonathan winked.

The maid of honour stood on her tiptoes and kissed him on the cheek. "Sure."

As the music continued to play, they didn't leave the dance floor. They kept dancing.

The maid of honour gazed at the newlyweds and knew it was inevitable.

Her best friend and Lance belonged together and, one day, perhaps the maid of honour and best man would too.

Only time would tell...

- X -


(a/n) Draggish, boring, longer than how I had assumed it would be and somewhat sappy – but it needed to be written to get out of my head. It's not as complicated as any of my other stories, so it was a good break to write this piece. I think it's because I was at a wedding and imagined myself if I were in that position. I think I'd be aiming for the champagne too.

I would have loved to make the ending super sappy, but I don't think I'm capable of that much sap because I want something realistic too. The protagonist just found out that her confidant likes her…you can't expect her to fall head over heels for him straight away.

Not sure if this will be liked, but I don't really mind. It was fun to write. Thanks to those who have read my second one-shot!

stringless-kite