Just breathe, Audrey.
No matter how hard she tried to suck in air, all Audrey was capable of was short gasps as she began hyperventilating, watching a sea of peach, silk, chiffon dresses walking down the aisle before her.
God, those dresses are hideous.
She tried sucking in more air with no luck. Maybe she couldn't breathe because this wedding dress was too inhumanly tight.
Audrey glanced down smiling at Mr. Darcy's wagging tail as he made his way down the aisle. The only one demand she made among the sea of her father's, mother's, and Mike's demands was that her dog be the ring bearer. If she had to go through with this charade and be eternal enslaved, then her dog was going to be close by. As he walked down the aisle, surrounded by two hundred of their "closest friends," her nervous dog began farting loudly. Guests were politely trying to fan their noses.
Audrey stood at the end of the red carpeted aisle listening to "Bridal Chorus" from Wagner's Lohengrin, but the song somehow distorted in her mind and the song she heard being played was Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, a popular song played at Hoffinger family funerals. The priest, standing in the middle of the altar to marry her, she was sure was there to perform her Last Rites. Michael, standing tall in his Marine Dress Blues, complete with sword at his hip, was staring at her, ready to slay her. His best man, John, was there to assist him with the body afterwards. Audrey began hyperventilating, knowing that this wasn't her wedding- rather her execution and funeral.
Audrey glanced down at the flowers in her hand, a bouquet of white roses. She frowned; she would have never picked these flowers for a bouquet if she had chosen them. It hit her hard then, just how much she was living someone else's life. Audrey was going through the motions of another woman's dream life.
"No, I don't care what the stockholders say. They'll thank me next week when they're richer. Buy it up now." Her father said, ending the call, sliding his cell phone into the inside of his jacket pocket.
"Ready to go?" he said, placing his hand out for Audrey to take. She wrapped her arm around his, everyone standing for the bride.
"Can we walk slowly?" she whispered. "I want to enjoy my last few moments of freedom."
"Your mother said the same thing to her father on our wedding day," he said, patting her arm.
Lovely. Her parents, Max and Carol Hoffinger, an ideal image of a happy, healthy, functional marriage. I'm doomed.
Audrey glanced up at Michael and despite the distance between them; she could tell he was watching her intently. He stood there in some ridiculous military pose, and she was sure the nearby parade was coming by to pick up its missing member.
Audrey began marching down the aisle. Left. Right. Together. She glanced back quickly at the estate's gates. She could make a run for it, wind up in California, start over. She liked California. It had always been good to her.
Run, Audrey, run.
"Don't even think about it," her father whispered in her ear, seemingly knowing her thoughts. "We made a deal. You will honor it."
Audrey swallowed hard, fighting back the wave of tears. She was a Hoffinger; she sacrificed until there was nothing left to give for the sake of appearances.
Left. Right. Together.
She somehow made it down the aisle without tripping over her ridiculously long train. Her father took her hand, holding it out for Michael to take.
"Good luck. She's your headache now," her father muttered to Mike before turning and taking his seat.
Mike helped her walk up the four steps of the altar. Pulling back her veil, he smiled. "You look so beautiful," he murmured to her.
She was still fighting against her tears and in her mind; she was screaming loudly, her hands flailing through air as she ran around in circles. Instead, she bowed, forcing a smile.
His smile quickly evaporated. "Audrey, what's wrong?" he asked.
"Nothing," she responded automatically. "Everything is perfect."
He frowned. "Audrey if you give me that response one more time, I'm going to lose it. That's all you've said to me for last couple of months."
Her façade evaporated, as her lower lip trembled. "I was just thinking about how long it would take to run to my car," she admitted.
A flash of pain ran across his face. He looked around. "This really isn't you," he admitted. "It's not nearly ridiculous enough."
She laughed, the tears rolling down her cheeks. "I don't see a disco ball anywhere."
He sighed, his white gloved finger coming up to her cheek and suddenly she could breathe normally again. "So, what do we do?" he asked.
To hell with the wedding. All she cared about was the man in front of her. "Don't worry. I've got a plan."
A/N: Thanks guys! I hope you enjoy the sequel. Let me know what you think!