Gen looked out her childhood bedroom window, and gazed longingly at the gazebo in the distance. Admiring the way the simple and elegant and sturdy wooden structure was complimented by the intricate and fragile grapevines decorating the fields behind it. As she watched people filling into the white wooden chairs lining the lawn, Gen felt a hint of nostalgia well up within her remembering the handful of weddings her parents had hosted in the years past.
The gazebo had been there as long as she could remember, a place her father had built for her mother to entertain the kids, while still being close to him as he worked the fields, a shaded place he could join the family for fifteen minute breaks on hot summer days. Genevieve and her little sister Anastasia had spent many a nights sitting out there dreaming about their futures, planning their lives. Willing time to go faster.
The first wedding Gen remembered was her cousins Steve’s weddings weren’t anything more than a fairytale then. But childhood dreams of having their own weddings here quickly took root in the girls hearts. After watching Steve’s fiancée Diane in her beautiful gown walk down a tea light lit path at dusk, both girls knew it was their destiny to be married here, in their very own back yard.
After Steve’s wedding word of mouth got around and a smattering of others had their weddings on the property. The girls were usually paid well to help with the details and serve at the receptions. After each wedding the girls snuck out late into the night and would lie in the gazebo, comparing notes from the day. Laughing about the feax paux’s, stealing ideas they liked, and bashing those they did not.
“Gen,” Stasia started as she walked up behind her sister and rested her hand on her shoulder “we need to finish your makeup.”
Gen smiled “It looks as beautiful as ever.” Gen whispered.
“You look as beautiful as ever. I can’t wait to see you walk down that aisle.” Stasia squealed after she spoke, and brushed the length of Gen’s dress as if she just needed an excuse to touch it again. “It’s perfect you know.”
“You think so?” Gen asked, knowingly.
“Does my hair still look ok, or did the curls start to fall?”
“You look perfect” Stasia said again. “I can’t wait to see Paul’s face when you walk down the aisle.”
Gen glanced out the window again, craning her neck slightly to see if she could see Paul walking the grounds anywhere with his brother or his best friend.
“Do you remember the Jennings wedding?” Anastasia asked.
“The one where the groom insisted on having a disco ball hanging from the gazebo?” Gen asked, her disdain evident by the scowl on her face.
“Yeah, that’s the one!”
“What about it? Please tell me, you aren’t comparing my wedding to that travesty?”
“No, no nothing like that!” Stasia laughed, then turned around to see what the other bridesmaids were doing, only momentarily distracted. “Remember how you ditched me?”
“What?!?” Gen asked, clearly struggling to remember this.
“After the reception, I had looked everywhere for you and couldn’t find you anywhere. Later when I asked you about it you said you’d gone for a walk through the orchard, nothing more.”
Gen smiled, “ooooo that!”
“The next day you suddenly didn’t ‘hate’ Paul anymore.”
“I never hated Paul!” Gen protested profusely, “I loved Paul, I’d always loved him, I hated the idea of him. The fact that our mom’s married us off before we were even born, how much history we had, the fact that it felt like I never had a choice.”
“Maybe, but that’s what I love about you guys.” Stasia finally managed to pull Gen away from the window and was starting her eye makeup. “I never told you this, but I saw you two together that night”
“You did?” Gen blushed, “I never knew?”
“You didn’t tell me about it, so I didn’t want to bring it up”
“He was going back to school the next day, I was so afraid it would only ever be that one kiss.” Gen checked her lipstick in the mirror as she continued, “I was so afraid you’d blab to mom, and then I’d never hear the end of it!” Gen laughed.
“Which I eventually did” Stasia smiled and dodged Gen’s light punch.
“Ahh the Jennings wedding.” Gen said thinking back to that fateful night when she’d finally allowed herself to feel attraction for Paul. “I guess you could say that was the beginning of the end for us.”
“I love that God planned it between the two of you, before we were even born, by connecting our families and our history. And now you’re getting married in the very spot you had your first kiss, it’s all so romantic.” Stasia crooned.
Gen looked up at her sister “I do too. Now but it loomed over me for years. I had to make the decision for myself. You know?”
Yeah I do, Stasia thought though unwilling to admit it out loud.
“There they are!”
The girls looked up as their mother and her long time best friend, Paul’s mother, entered the room.
“Don’t you both look stunning” Mrs. Smith gushed giving each of them a hug. “I just know the boy’s will both be speechless as you make your way down the aisle.”
Gen heard the insinuation, and felt bad for her sister, but not so bad she wasn’t tempted to join in, just a little. “If you aren’t careful little sis, you might be ditching me tonight, and it will be the Jennings’s wedding all over again.”
“Ha ha, let’s not start this again!” Anastasia protested. Their mother finished Gen’s makeup, and Stasia made her way back to the window.
“Oh come on! You should totally marry John, then we can be sister-in-laws!”
“Being related to you once is quite enough, thank you.” But even as she protested her eyes found John walking toward the house dressed to the nines, his shaggy hair moving in the wind, and her heart betrayed her.
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