In On the Corner of Heartache & Love, Maren gets a promotion to cover weddings. I covered several themed weddings (super fun to write!), and unfortunately had to cut this one in order to give Maren and Zane more page time together (totally worth giving the reader what they want!). I hope you enjoy this deleted chapter. --L
Chapter Eighteen (54 days after the wedding – Thu) Wedding #3 GWTW
Even knowing ahead of time the theme of the wedding, nothing had prepared Maren for the sight before her. Leigh stood at the three-way mirror sporting a perfect replica of Scarlett O’Hara’s white and green dress she’d worn in the picnic scene from the film Gone with the Wind.
Leigh turned, flashing her pearly whites at Maren, “Don’t you just love it? Isn’t it amazing?” She turned from side to side to admire all the angles.
“There are hardly words,” Maren managed as she listened to the swish of crinoline against the hoop skirt. “How did you ever find the dress?”
“Oh, I’ve been obsessed with the book and film since I was a teenager,” Leigh said as her mother handed her the straw bonnet.
“It’s true,” her mother agreed. “Her walls were covered in Gone with the Wind posters, new articles she found on-line, pictures of the actors, quotes form the book. She even had two life size cardboard replicas of Scarlett and Rhett in the corner of her bedroom.”
“Wow.” Maren wondered why parents would allow their daughter to get so obsessed with something and then fund it.
“My prom dresses were all knockoffs of those Scarlett wore.” Leigh worked at tying the bow.
“Including hoop skirts?” Maren asked, feeling sorry for Leigh’s dates.
“Of course. My parents gave me my own hoop skirt for my sixteenth birthday.” Leigh adjusted the green bow at a jaunty angle on her chin and flashed her mom a smile.
“Where do you find those?”
“Oh, it’s easy. There are catalogs dedicated to recreations from the time period and even some specifically for Gone fans.”
“And the Internet comes in handy too,” Leigh’s mother added as she double checked the back of the skirt.
“That’s amazing,” Maren said.
“Yes, this dress isn’t too hard to find, but I had this one produced from scratch by a custom seamstress out of Atlanta who actually works on restorations of clothing from that time period for museums and films. She was a lucky find. I practically had to stalk her to get her to agree to make this recreation just for me. This dress is one of a kind, not one of the easy orders from the catalog.”
Maren couldn’t comprehend the dedication Leigh showed that drove her to such lengths, but to each their own. “What does Roger think of all this?”
“Oh, he thinks it’s a hoot.”
“He must love you an awful lot.”
“Oh, he does. He even offered to change his name to Rhett if I wanted, but I told him no. There was only one Rhett Butler in the world and to just stay his own charming self. Isn’t he sweet? That’s why I’m marrying him.”
“Very,” Maren murmured.
“He has asked me to go back to my natural color though, but I don’t want to. This deep brown is the perfect shade for Scarlett. I’ve been dying it since I was fourteen to look like her.”
“What is your natural hair color?” Maren asked.
“Blond.” Leigh turned away from the mirror long enough to look at Maren. “Quite a few shades darker than yours.” She gave a trill of a laugh. “Honestly, I’ve been dying it so long, I’m not really sure anymore.”
“Well, you certainly look the part.”
Leigh was styled to be a replica of Vivien Leigh portraying Scarlett O’Hara and could have been mistaken for her, except that she was closer to a size ten than the sixteen or whatever inches Scarlett s character professed to have as her waist size.
“I know, don’t I though?” Leigh returned to admiring herself in the mirror and making minute adjustments.
The bridesmaids came trailing in along with the maid of honor, who got stuck momentarily in the doorway when her hoop skirt caught. It was all Maren could do not to gape.
“Maren, these are my bridesmaids.” Leigh introduced them. “Caroline, Katie, and Crystal. Katrina is my maid-of-honor.”
The four women curtsied and Maren stifled a giggle. “It’s lovely to meet all of you.”
Caroline, Katie, and Crystal all wore Irish tartan patterned dresses, and clashed horrifically in their varying shades of red and green plaid with smatterings of white and brown thrown in. Katrina’s dress was a tartan of blue. Individually each pattern looked lovely, but as a group Maren though it might give the guests a headache.
“The groomsmen look so handsome in their kilts,” purred Caroline as she added another layer of lipstick in the mirror.
“You’re welcome to them, but Roger is all mine,” Leigh reminded her friends.
“How did all of you meet?” Maren asked the women.
“Through the Internet. We met online through one of the Gone fan sites,” explained Katie.
“Yes, we got into a huge debate with some other girls about the unapproved sequel Scarlett novel and consequently made-for-TV-movie.”
“They all thought it was divine,” Crystal said with a shudder.
“We all thought it was ghastly,” added Katrina. “Mint?” She held a small wrapped green and white mint out to Maren.
“Oh, thanks.” She unwrapped it and popped it into her mouth.
“We all met a year later in Atlanta for a Gone convention and have been friends ever since,” Leigh said stepping away from the mirror.
Leigh’s mother said, “It’s time ladies.”
From the counters, each woman retrieved white lace parasols complete with matching tartan ribbons and small bouquets of red roses.
“Katrina, do you have the rings?” Leigh asked giving her bonnet ribbon one more tug to be sure it wouldn’t slip.
“Well, then, let’s go!”
The ladies hustled out the door, one at a time, due to the hoop skirts, and headed toward the porch that emptied out to the garden. Leigh’s mother and Maren brought up the rear.
“Your daughter doesn’t seem to have any reservations about Roger. She looks excited. Most brides I encounter are nervous,” Maren remarked.
“Oh, no. She’s ready. She loves him. She would’ve gotten married sooner if the gardens had been available.”
“How long was their engagement?”
“Yes, well the courting was even shorter, three weeks. But I knew the moment she introduced us to Roger he was the right one for her, so we were happy to put everything together. He loves everything about her, even her obsession with Gone, and is agreeable to letting her keep her collection with the exception of the life size cutouts. He’s already booked their places at the Gone convention next year.”
“He’s quite the man.”
“Yes, he is. We better take our seats. It looks like they’re about to start.”
Maren followed Leigh’s mother to the front row and took her seat at the end. She didn’t see how the girls were going to bear the August heat in their long dresses, parasol shade aside. Then again, over two hundred years ago women didn’t have the luxury of a swimming in a pool or wearing a light cotton sundress. She guessed the attendants could stand it for a few hours.
The roses were in full bloom on the erected arbor, under which the happy couple would be wed. The roses were a stunning mix of red, yellow, and white in various sizes. The guests were properly shaded under a red canopy tent, but the wedding party would be exposed to the afternoon sun. They would all be squinty-eyed in the wedding party pictures. Maren wished for a bank of clouds to roll in, but the sky was nothing but a vast expanse of blue.
The Irish band started the music, and the attendants walked down the aisle to stand opposite their counterparts in matching kilts.
Maren had followed Leigh all morning, so she hadn’t had a chance to see the groom yet. She took a moment to study him. Not at all what she’d pictured for Leigh. She’d thought he’d look something like Clark Gable or a cowboy, with a name like Roger. The groom was a short man with a small pot belly. His thinning blond hair stood up in a spiky version of a crew cut, perhaps to give the illusion of an additional inch of height. He looked to be ten years Leigh’s senior as well. What an odd match. Still, as Leigh proceeded down the aisle there was no mistaking the sincerity of his blissful smile.
As had become her custom, Maren half held her breath until the I do’s were exchanged without anyone bolting down the aisle screaming that they’d made a mistake. Roger kissed Leigh and the ceremony was complete.
The reception featured picnic fare straight from the novel and film, and though she shouldn’t have been, Maren was even more surprised to find the dancing music was all from the Gone time period too, complete with the dances Scarlett and her contemporaries would’ve known by heart but were altogether foreign to the modern day person. Yet, up and down the dance in floor, in a near seamless flow, went the bridal party and guests. Had there been a dance class included in the acceptance of the wedding invitation?
As she sipped her water, a handsome man with dark wavy hair approached her. “May I have this dance?”
She set the glass down. “Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t know this one.” She waved a hand toward the dance floor. “Or, any of them, actually.”
“No worries. This is the Virginia Reel, pretty easy as these things go. I’ll coach you through it.”
“Oh, um, that’s very kind, but—”
“I won’t take no for an answer.” He held out his hand.
She relented. “Okay, but if I trip and fall on my face, it’ll be on your head.”
“Fair enough.” He took her by the elbow and led her to the makeshift dance floor. “But, I won’t let you fall.”
Before joining the dancers, he walked her through the steps once, then they joined the end of the line. By the third time through the steps, Maren started to catch on, so that by the time they became the couple at the head of the line, she knew what to do as they skipped between the two lines of couples. One more couple came after them, and then the set concluded. She clapped her applause for the Irish band before they started up a reel.
“No, I need some water.” He walked with her to the bar. “I didn’t catch your name.”
“Maren. I know.”
She cocked her head. “Have we met before?”
“No. I work for The Metro City News. Harrison said to watch out for you.”
“Oh, so you’re my new competition.”
“Something like that.” He sipped his coke. “Harrison didn’t mention you were pretty.”
Maren felt herself blush. “Probably because Harrison doesn’t think so.”
“On the contrary, I think he didn’t tell me so he could keep you all to himself. Poor guy. Now the secret is out.”
Maren shook her head. “How did you know that dance?”
“My parents were heavy into square dancing, and cotillion was forced upon me at an early age. Sadly, I know all the old traditional dances. It’s rare that it comes in handy for meeting a lovely lady like yourself.”
“You are a shameless flirt.”
He leaned closer. “Is that a good or a bad thing?”
She inched back. “The jury is still out, Dave. I’ll let you know when they have a ruling.”
“Fair enough.” He leaned back against the bar.
She followed his eyes toward the dancers. “Pretty unreal. I had no idea there was such a market for Gone with the Wind fans.”
“There’s a market for every fan.”
“True enough.” She watched as the dancers, clapped, slapped, and crossed the floor. “I never thought I’d be here.”
“What? Working weddings?”
“Well, no, I was trying to get there, but I didn’t think I’d ever be at a Gone with the Wind wedding.”
“Don’t worry, there’ll be others.”
“You can’t be serious.”
He turned his gray-blue eyes on her. “I’m always serious about weddings.” His dead pan expression gave away his opposing true feelings.
“How many Gone weddings have you been to?”
“This would be my fifth.”
“Yep. It was a thing where I grew up. Southerners.”
“Georgia. Lots of pride there in Georgia.”
She watched the dancers in fascination. “Are they all like this?”
“Pretty much. Though Leigh has gone overboard with her recreation of the Plantation at Tara.”
“I’m surprised she didn’t have it on location where they shot the film.”
“Oh, she wanted to, but her father was diagnosed with cancer six months ago and can’t travel that far right now with his treatment schedule.”
She looked at him. “How did you come across that tidbit of info. The ladies didn’t spill that to me.”
“Maybe you didn’t ask.” He sipped his coke.
“Her dad had to lay down for a few minutes just before the ceremony, that’s when her brother filled me in.”
“What kind and what stage?” she asked quietly.
“Liver, stage three,” he whispered. His breath tickled her ear.
“Poor guy.” She looked over to where the father of the bride sat with a smile on his face, watching his daughter have the time of her life in her new husband’s arms. “Is that why the wedding was so quick?”
“No. His prognosis looks good. They’re optimistic that they got it all and he should live a good long time.”
“So, they’re really just that in love?”
“Why not? Some people just know and don’t want to wait.”
“Hmm. I guess.”
“I don’t have a lot of faith in the wedding thing right now.”
“No. I have faith in marriage. I’ve had plenty of good examples to study. My own parents have been married for thirty-five years and they’re happy. Just not quite so convinced about the big white wedding.”
“How about the small quiet wedding?”
“I think elopements are for cowards or those who have something to hide.”
He shook his head. “I’d love to hear your story.”
“You’re implying there is one.”
He pointed at her left hand. “Your finger tells me there is one.”
“Tan line. You wore a ring on it long enough for there to be one, but you aren’t wearing one now. That means a story.”
“Well, you’re not getting it tonight. We haven’t been to enough weddings yet for me to spill my guts to you. Besides you’d probably print it in your paper.”
He raised his drink. “Fair enough.”
“I take it you’re not married.”
“No. I go to enough weddings as it is. I don’t want one of my own.” He set his empty glass on the bar behind him. “Plus, there’s a small matter of not having met the right girl yet.”
“Yes, that would be a problem.” Maren stepped away from the bar. “Well, Dave, it was nice to meet you. Thanks for the dance. I’ve got all I need for the article, so I’m going to call it a night.”
He raised his eyebrows. “You’re not going to stay for the bouquet toss? I thought it was every girl’s dream to catch the bouquet.”
“Your story gets more intriguing by the minute.”
“Then I guess it’s time to leave you hanging.”
“And wanting more?”
She shook her head. “Something like that.”
“You could tell me on the way back to the city, if you want company for the trip.”
“No thanks. I know my way home.” She sauntered away, fully conscious of Dave’s eyes on her back. He was a shameless flirt that had made her feel a little embarrassed by the attention and simultaneously flattered by being desired. When was the last time Kevin made her feel that way? She gave herself a mental slap. She’d never move on if she kept rehashing her failed relationship with him. It’d been two months. He was married. The initial pain and shock at being left at the altar had wound down to mere nothingness, though her fury at her sister’s elopement still raged strong. Perhaps it was time to give Harrison a call.