Paul took another anxious glance at his watch. "Are you almost ready?" he called from the living room.
Kim's voice calmly reached him from the bathroom: "Normally I always look great without trying, but today I'm operating under special circumstances."
He nodded even though she couldn't see him.
Today was Candace's wedding. Five years ago he never would've even considered attending her wedding if he wasn't the groom. She was his only serious relationship in college, and when she'd ended things with him he was crushed. It didn't make sense to him because they fit so well together that he couldn't imagine being with any other girl. Even on their first "official" date nerves hadn't been an issue.
It wasn't in his nature to beat a dead horse, but (pathetic as it was) he tried to pursuing Candace even after she told him about the reconciliation with her old high school sweetheart, Will. After they'd graduated college she went back to her hometown and Paul to his. She'd rekindled her friendship (and eventually romance) with Will and there was no going back. Later she explained that he was the reason why she was never interested in pursuing anything serious when she met Paul. She still had Will.
To her everlasting credit, it did look like it pained Candace to say goodbye to Paul. When they'd embraced for the last time he didn't want to let her go.
And now he was going to her wedding. He didn't think he'd ever get over Candace. Reconnecting with Kim had significantly changed that.
Kim called from the bathroom: "Remind me why we're going again?"
"Because I think it'd be nice to see her again," answered Paul.
"And?" she pushed.
"And I want to show you off," he added.
He smiled this time. "And I want to make her jealous by showing her that I traded up."
She finally emerged from the bathroom and her heels clicked with authority on the hardwood floor. "That's all I needed to hear."
Paul thought she looked radiant. The dress was flattering in every way. It was sexy in a tasteful way and the colors were a nice complement to her eyes and hair.
She extended her wrist. "Make yourself useful and help me with the clasp."
It was the silver bracelet he'd given her years ago with the Green Lantern charm.
After he securely fastened it around her slim wrist he moved forward for a kiss but she leaned backward. "I just spent the last half hour applying my makeup flawlessly. I'm not about to let you mess it up less than five minutes later. At least not before I've gotten the opportunity to turn a few heads," she added.
"You turned my head." He tried to sneak in a kiss but she moved away like before.
"Nice try," she said. "You don't count."
Paul's old Volkswagen was still in the garage going through the process of being restored. It was slow going and expensive but Kim kept insisting he get rid of "that hunk of junk" car. Now he drove around the latest VW Beetle model instead. Kim had rolled her eyes when he drove it home two months ago.
"You do realize other cars exist, don't you?"
He had played dense. "Other cars?"
Even for July, it was hot as hell outside. It was only, oh, 102 degrees outside. No big deal.
Paul had no idea what possessed people to get married in the middle of the summer. He just hoped the ceremony was short and sweet.
Kim laced her fingers through his. "Come on," she pulled on his hand. "I see two empty chairs near the front."
He had never seen Will – the guy he had secretly hated for so long – until he saw him take his place at the altar to wait for his bride. Nervous was the only word to describe him. When Candace took her walk to join Will, Paul realized that she had never quite looked at him the same way she was looking at Will now.
The wedding reception was loud and mirthful. Paul had to lean over to make sure she could make out his words over the noise. "Want to dance?"
Kim arched a brow in reply.
"C'mon…" he pleaded before he placed a few playful kisses along her jaw. "Please."
She squirmed and (thankfully) suppressed a giggle. "Alright, just cut it out."
He had just pulled her into his arms for a dance when he heard that unmistakable voice.
Among all the other couples that surrounded them mid-dance, the bride and groom had made their way over. He broke away from Kim and Candace immediately launched herself at him.
"I'm so glad you came!" she beamed.
Her enthusiasm was contagious and he found himself smiling back.
Candace turned her attention to Kim while angling her head at Paul. "Mind if I steal him away for a dance?"
Kim nodded towards Will. "As long as he doesn't mind keeping me company while you two are away."
The couples switched dance partners and their moving feet eventually separated the swaying pairs. Kim chatted mindlessly with Will for a few minutes until she realized that one song had somehow ballooned to three. She craned her neck to search for Paul in the crowd of dancing couples.
"They sure had a lot of catching up to do," Will observed.
Kim turned her head to follow his gaze and saw Paul and Candace laughing as he clumsily twirled her around the dance floor.
Candace stopped Paul before he could return her to Will. "Not to sound like the worst pickup line in the world, but is that a roll of quarters in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" she teased.
"It's for Kim."
When Candace started laughing he flushed and cleared his throat.
"It's a present for Kim." When her amused expression didn't change he explained: "It's a ring."
"Whoa. You two are serious. So when is the wedding? And more importantly, will I be invited?"
"Only if you and I have a steamy affair every six months," Paul said.
"Typically I'd play along but Will has been staring at us for the past five minutes. Your girlfriend doesn't look too happy either."
"Kim isn't the jealous type."
"There's a first time for everything," she smiled and kissed Paul on the cheek. "Thank you for coming." She squeezed his hands. "Really."
"It was good to see you." He squeezed back. "Really."
Candace laughed and walked off to reclaim Will.
Paul held his hand out when he came closer to Kim. "C'mon. I want to dance with you."
The band had slowed down the music again so he pulled her close against him.
Kim tilted her head back to give him a challenging look. "I know I'm particularly breathtaking today, but do you really think this is the most appropriate place for you to be getting an erection?"
He was stunned. "What?"
She wiggled her hips so that her pelvis slid directly against him.
Oh. The ring.
"It's not what you think." He leaned down to whisper into her ear. "Although if you do that again I'll definitely be sporting the real thing."
She chuckled and pulled back. "Then what is that?"
Paul shrugged ambiguously. "I bought a present for you."
"A present? But my birthday already passed."
"It's something I've wanted to give you for awhile now. You'll see. And I hope you'll accept," he grinned.
A/N – After nearly two years it's time for me to say goodbye to these crazy kids. I've enjoyed writing this story and I thank you guys for sticking around to read it. =D