My heart pounded against my ribs as he got closer. Each step made it harder to breathe as Ford held out his arm for me. He’d missed the dress rehearsal the night before, so this would be the first time. His warm smile and softness in his eyes made it hard to think about anything other than him when he was so close.
I wrapped my arm around his. His muscled body dwarfed mine, but I stared up at him and felt six feet tall. Well, the heels helped.
“You look beautiful,” he said, and the corners of his lips turned down, kind of like he wished he could take it back. But no, he couldn’t. No take backs.
“Thank you.” I grinned so wide my cheeks hurt. There was no use playing it cool, it just wasn’t going to happen. “You look really good in a suit. You should wear one more often.”
“I leave this GQ stuff to your brother.” He nodded his head toward Colm standing behind us. Being a Frost meant country club dinners, banquets and every other charitable function imaginable growing up. Most of that had ended when our parents died, but Colm carried on the Frost tradition with getting dressed up every once in a while for events in our parents honor. He didn’t look at all uncomfortable unlike the other guys.
The veil was pulled over Mak’s face, and she was a glowing bride in her gorgeous dress.
The processional music started and that was our cue. A set of wedding planners opened the massive wooden doors in front of us, and we all froze for a second at the friends and family looking back at us. My heart sped up as Ford took a step. He glanced down at me, and I found my feet again, moving beside him.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the place between Declan and Mak’svows and the little jokes they shot back and forth. Mak’s dad sat beside her mom in the pew, and I tried not to look at them. It was times like these that stole my breath away. Where I was back as a twelve-year-old kid trying to figure out what the hell just happened to my life. That empty, numb feelings came rushing back, and I welcomed it because it covered the pain.
Declan’s mom sat on their side dabbing at the corners of her eyes, and my throat tightened. I glanced over at the groomsman all lined up, and Ford was staring back at me. His furrowed brow and look of concern made me slap a smile back on my face. Today wasn’t about me or my old wounds. It was about celebrating the happy life these two were making together.
Declan wrapped his arms around Mak and dipped her, giving everyone a show for their first kiss as man and wife. There was a huge round of applause, and the happy couple held their joined hands up in the air with smiles so wide mine became real. Anyone who looked at them could tell they were ridiculously in love. I hoped I’d be able to have a tenth of that happiness one day.
Ford slid my arm up onto his as we processed out. “Are you okay?” He ducked his head as we past the waving guests.
I smiled up at him. I wasn’t going to be the wounded baby bird for him to coddle.
“I’m good. Ready for the reception. Maybe a few cocktails.” I stage-whispered to him.
He grinned back at me. Colm’s head popped up to my side. “Not on my watch.”
I rolled my eyes and held on tighter to Ford’s arms as we went to a holding area while everyone else went to the reception ballroom. The rest of the night went off without a hitch. The waiters came into our bridal pen with a few blackberry cocktails,and I snagged a few sips when Colm wasn’t looking.
We all walked into the ballroom creating a little archway for Mak and Declan and grabbed our seats. The bubbly on our table kept disappearing as I had a glass or two. People clinked their glasses to get Declan and Mak to kiss, which he seemed more than willing to go for. Everything was perfect for them, and it was a night filled with laughter and fun. I snagged an appetizer off one of the trays as the band leader called Mak and her father out onto the dance floor. The father daughter dance.
Mak’s Dad twirled her on the dance floor. They were pressed cheek to cheek. His movements were stilted, but the look on both their faces left no doubt about how happy they were. Declan and his mom joined them. Maybe it was the drinks or just the fact that I’d been pushing away the feelings that kept trying to creep up throughout the day, but seeing Declan out there with his mom laughing and spinning her around and Makstaring into her dad’s eyes, my throat tightened. The walls of the flower-covered and fabric-draped room closed in on me.
They’d put the wedding together quickly so he could be there to walk her down the aisle. I brushed away a tear out of the corner of my eye. Pull it together, Liv, this isn’t about you.
My heart raced, and my palms were sweaty. This is why I didn’t do things like weddings. My chest was so tight it was hard to breathe. I jumped up from the table and dashed out of the ballroom as quickly as I could without drawing attention to myself. I just needed a little bit of time to pull myself together.