Eva stood out on the balcony of the old, limestone building, the gentle chill of the night air refreshing. Music drifted out to her as she leaned on the railing, looking over the edge at the grass and trees below. It was a beautiful night. Almost a little too perfect.
But then again, it was Dana's wedding, and to Eva, it felt like everything she did was perfect. Dana and Eva had been friends for years, and Eva couldn't be happier for her. Her new husband, Mark, was (of course) a great guy, and they'd been together for as long as Eva and Dana had known each other. To Eva, it almost felt like the whole thing – each component of Dana's perfect life – charm, beauty, talent, intelligence, wonderful husband, guaranteed success – had been handed to her, gift-wrapped as some preordained project of some god by whom Eva felt ignored. To say she was bitter…well, would be true.
It wasn't that Eva didn't like weddings, or even that she was having a bad time at this one, but she was feeling a little melancholy. While she was happy for Dana, it made her even more painfully aware of the huge gap between the two friends. While Eva would be the first to admit she was far from unlucky, she still paled in comparison to Dana, the golden girl. Dana got her fairytale wedding in the huge, limestone architectural wonder, the closest thing to a castle she could find, on a warm summer night, with requisite crescent moon and almost-orchestral cricket song. Dana swore up and down she never believed in the bullshit of those Disney-style happy endings, but to Eva, this was the real-life version of one. And standing along the railing in her deep green bridesmaid's gown, felt a little like a lady-in-waiting, only there to pleasantly support the bride whilst silently brewing in her unnecessary but instinctual jealousy. That old adage always said, "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride." And on this night especially, Eva was starting to buy into it.
But then again, at barely 20, she had plenty of time on her hands.
"Jeez, are you a hard girl to find," A voice gently teased from a little behind her.
Eva glanced over her shoulder to see Dana's older brother, Jamie, sauntering up beside her. She smiled a little, looking back out over the land below.
"God, this is a nice place," He commented, leaning on the stone railing. "Nice night too."
"Your sister's got horseshoes up her ass or something," Eva laughed, trying to sound like she hadn't been dwelling on that fact for the past half-hour.
"I knew someone had to have sucked up all the family luck," Jamie laughed too, smiling. He hadn't changed a bit since he and Eva had first met. Tousled sandy brown hair, brown eyes, and tall, like his sister. He was athletic, the kind of guy who would have been moderately popular in high school. He was good-looking, but in a way that sort of snuck up on you. He was approachable, friendly, and always oozing charisma. To top it off, a sense of humour that never wavered. Tonight, he was decked out in a sleek suit, and looked rather dapper.
"You clean up nice," Eva smirked a little, shaking free of her worries.
"I like to think so," Jamie laughed. "At least for Dana's sake."
"I'm sure she's proud," Eva agreed.
"Well don't let me eat up all the praise…you've changed since I saw you last."
"I was barely eighteen when I saw you last," Eva pointed out, rolling her eyes.
"Well, you look great, Eva. Which is a lot to be said for a bridesmaid," he grinned, nudging her jokingly. "And speaking of that…you're the only one I haven't gotten a dance from tonight, and I was hoping to get the whole collection."
"Haven't lost your way with words, have you?"
"Dana can't have all the skills…" He smiled. "Come on. I can't leave you out here alone, moping."
"Oh, I can't just enjoy the view? Now I'm moping?" Eva argued, the child in her escaping unconsciously.
"There was something a little contemplative about you," Jamie said, taking her hand and pulling her close for a dance. "And I don't need you getting all broody and stuff tonight…you're so much more fun in a good mood," he teased, gently. Though his tone was light-hearted, there was a bit of genuine concern tucked behind his light banter.
"Oh god, now I'm brooding?" Eva asked, looking at him as they started to sway. "How many steps is that from emo?"
"About three," Jamie mocked. "Don't worry. I'd never call you that in public."
"Great, I appreciate that," She laughed, a little sarcasm dripping from her soft voice.
"But what's on your mind? Bummed you didn't catch the bouquet? Worried about school? Had a few too many drinks and are one of those depressed drunks?"
"Don't worry about it, Jamie- "
"Just shut up and dance with me," Eva interrupted, resting her head on his shoulder a little, embarrassed. She didn't like being jealous of her friend, and hated admitting it.
Jamie knew better than to argue. His memory reminded him that Eva was even more stubborn than his sister had ever been, and he didn't want to open that box right now. So he held her as they swayed to the music, out on the stone balcony. She was still the same old Eva he remembered from nearly three years ago. She was unassumingly pretty, with espresso-hued hair, wavy and long, and wide eyes centered with murky hazel. She may not have been the type of girl who collected guys at bars, but she was the sort of girl who almost looked pulled from an old photo – classic. She was the girl next-door, friendly, spirited, but reserved.
"As nice as it is out here-" Jamie broke the silence, his voice quiet. "-I'm sure Dana would appreciate it if you graced the rest of the wedding with your presence."
"Well then," Eva said, after a moment of contemplation. "Shall we?"
"After you, milady," Jamie bowed a little, grinning broadly.
Eva rolled her eyes a little, poking him before walking inside, Jamie following behind her.