Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chapter 20: Torn Between Two Weddings

by Jespy

“It’s all yours, Tor,” Jimmy said, handing over the keys to his rented Cadillac Escalade.
“Be gentle.”

Tori took the keys with barely disguised anger. “Why am I the one stuck babysitting the boys, while you all get to go shopping? I’m the bride,” she said, almost stomping her foot in frustration.

Having been stuck babysitting the Spawns of Satan many times in the past few days, Kris found himself sympathizing with Tori, especially when he saw what the Spawns were doing to that larger-than-life Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakual display.

Tori (who Kris had always called “Gityd” in his mind—which stood for “Girl in the yellow dress”—because he hadn’t known her real name) was the girl who Kris believed himself to be in love with until a few days ago, when he realized that he was actually in love with her younger sister, MJ. Tori had turn out to be rather self-centered and silly once he had gotten to know her, not to mention she was engaged to his British A-hole manager, Simon. But by the time Kris realized all this, he had really screwed things up with MJ—kissing her and then participating in an all-night texting fest with Tori on the very same night, to give an example. He’d been confused! But he wasn’t anymore, he knew which sister he wanted, and he was willing to do whatever it took to win MJ. That’s when this Jimmy fellow came into the picture, a Rhett Butler-type but without the mustache. Kris had yet to figure out why Jimmy had suddenly and unexpectedly arrived, and why his presence seemed to annoy Tori, while at the same time, make MJ so happy. Kris just hoped there were no romantic feelings between Jimmy and MJ, because he defiantly couldn’t compete with a mustache-less Rhett Butler.

“Tori, honey,” AV said, bringing all readers back to the present time, “we’re shopping for your wedding gift. You can’t come along.”

“I don’t think I should be brushed off like this and made to babysit,” she said, disregarding her mom’s perfectly reasonable explanation. “What sense does it make to have the bride suffer before her wedding day? I shouldn’t feel this unhappy. Can’t MJ watch the boys?” she said sullenly.

MJ rolled her eyes. “Fine, I’ll take them.”

But Jimmy slung his arm over MJ’s shoulders and pulled her back. “She’s not your lap dog, Tor, she’s your sister.”

Tori glared at Jimmy. An intense glare that carried more anger and resentment than the situation called for. MJ and AV seemed to understand where this anger was coming from, and looked even more uncomfortable for knowing. But Jimmy was taking it all in stride. He even smiled at her.

Kris couldn’t stand the awkwardness, so he jumped in, although it pained him to make the offer he was about to make. “Hey, I’ll go with you, Tori,” he said, despite wanting desperately to spend the day with MJ. “So you won’t be alone with the Spawns… er… I mean, with your brothers,” he said, which was like volunteering to shove bamboo shoots under his fingernails. He was a fricken saint. “Maybe we could drop them off at Adam’s house and then I’ll take you out to lunch or something?” he suggested, wishing he could take MJ out to lunch instead, who, incidentally, hadn’t spared him a glance since they’d left the theater.

Kris’s goal was to move this day along in the hopes that he’d have MJ to himself when the day’s wedding errands were finished up. AV was sure to have more to do tomorrow, but there would be some down time tonight.

Kris watched MJ chip away at her nail polish, and willed her to look up at him. But she didn’t.

AV heaved a sigh of relief. “Thank you Kris. Tori’s right, she shouldn’t feel left out before her wedding.”

“That will be fine,” Tori said, her chin raising a notch as he held out Jimmy’s car keys. “More than fine, actually. Kris is exactly the person I’d want to spend the day with.” Her eyes flickered briefly toward her sister, who was still the bearer of Jimmy’s arm, and then she looped her arm through Kris’s. She jingled the keys. “Take them. I don’t need your car. I have Kris,” she said suggestively, snuggling in closer to him.

Kris tried to put some distance between he and Tori, despite their linked arms, as he had no desire to send MJ any more mixed signals. All he wanted was her, and he would gladly convey that to MJ with a meaningful stare if she would just look at him, fhs!

Jimmy finally disengaged his arm from around MJ’s shoulders and took Tori’s outstretched hand, gently removed his keys, and then closed her fingers. “She’s all yours, Kris,” he said, matching Tori’s harsh gaze.

#

The Spawns were driving him crazy, so it was a good thing they were almost to Adam’s house. Tori had been staring out the passenger side window the whole drive, apparently too lost in her thoughts to carry on a conversation, which was just fine with him, but he wished she would snap out of it long enough to get her brothers under control.

“Boys!” she suddenly screamed, and Kris about hit a mailbox. “Shutty!”

Silence from the backseat.

“It’s as if you were reading my mind. Impressive,” Kris said. He glanced over at her and she gave him a half-hearted smile then looked away. Her eyes had been suspiciously shiny, as if she was tearing up, and Kris quickly faced forward, pretending he didn’t just see what he just saw.

When they pulled into Adam’s driveway, the Spawns of Satan burst forth from his faux-SUV like dough from a Pillsbury crescent roll can, and raced toward the front door. Kris got out and walked around the car, and then thought better of going inside. “I’ll just wait out here while you get them settled, if you don’t mind,” Kris called.

Tori nodded, and Kris acted as if she hadn’t nodded in such an obviously morose way. He didn’t want to know what was upsetting her, and he had no desire to get involved in another one of her problems. Hadn’t he done enough? Hadn’t he his own problems to figure out? Besides, Tori always recovered quickly. She’d probably be her usual bubbly yellow self by the time she came back out.

Kris put Tori out of his mind, leaned against the passenger side of his pearl toned XL7, and pulled out his iPhone. Before Tori and her watery eyes had distracted him, MJ had been on his mind. He was making himself crazy, thinking about her, but he didn’t care. He was craving her like a housewife craved an afternoon Diet Coke slash Diet Dr. Pepper cocktail, but without the accompanying headache. Every nerve in his body itched to have some contact with her, however slight.

He sent her a fishing text…

Kris: So, awkward question for you…

And then he waited. Her response came quick, to his utter satisfaction.

Doodledoot.

MJ: Awkward questions are best delivered thru text. Ask away.

Kris typed: What would’ve happened if I had tried to hold your hand during Paul Blart Mall Cop?

He was openly flirting with her. And it made his pulse race. Send.

Doodledoot.

MJ: If you had held my hand, how would you have managed to text Tori?

Kris smiled. He had sent Tori a few texts before the movie started, only because she had looked so sad, and apparently MJ had taken note. Had she been jealous?

Kris: Ah! Didn’t even consider that problem. I guess I must first choose between your hand, and Tori’s nonsensical tests. Send.

Doodledoot.

MJ: You probably think you can have both.

Yes, she was for sure jealous. Brilliant! He decided to tease her a little.

Kris: I do have excellent testing skillz. Can text one-handed if necessary... Send.

Doodledoot.

MJ: Not interested in seeing that demonstrated, thanks.

Kris: K, can I show you how I can put my iPhone in my pocket and just hold your hand?

She made him wait long enough for her reply that he started to doubt his approach. Had he sounded insincere? Should he have been more contrite? More understanding of her feelings?

Doodledoot.

MJ: Yes, if you want to.

Kris smiled down at her text, feeling the triumph explode inside him like a Mentos in a soda bottle. He was so happy that he typed out exactly what he was feeling, without editing himself: MJ, I desperately want to hold your hand. I ache to hold your hand. I can barely think straight when I’m around you and your hand is within my reach—

Before Kris could finish his thought or send his reply, he heard the front door open, and looked up to see Tori coming down the porch steps. He started to turn his attention back to his iPhone, but did a double take at Tori. Her eyes were swimming with tears.

Oh boy, thought Kris, quickly shoving his iPhone into his back pocket. Not again.

She blinked and the tears spilled down her cheeks. By the time she reached Kris, her face had completely crumbled, and she threw herself into his reluctant arms, squeezing the breath out of him.

Umph.

“I can’t marry Simon!” she wailed in his ear.

“Shhh, it’s all right… Wait, what?!” Kris said, pushing her away and holding her at arm’s length. “What do you mean you can’t marry Simon? The wedding is right around the corner. Every arrangement has been made. You bought a yellow wedding dress!” And all that was exactly the wrong thing to say, because Tori’s wails turned to gut-wrenching sobs and Kris had no choice but to collect her back into his embrace. “Forget what I said. It’ll be OK,” he murmured, even though he knew it wouldn’t be OK.

As Kris soothed Tori, holding her delicate figure in his arms, he couldn’t help but think that up until a few days ago, this is exactly the outcome he would have hoped for. Staring up at the stars glued to his bedroom ceiling, he had dreamed that girl in the yellow dress would be in his arms, refusing to marry that A-hole Simon. What a selfish dream. Now it felt more like a nightmare. AV had spent a small fortune on this rushed wedding, and to call it off this soon before the wedding would probably cause her a great deal of embarrassment too. On the other hand, he couldn’t encourage Tori to marry a man if she was having doubts about it. He wouldn’t try to convince her one way or the other. She had to decide, and then take responsibility for it.

“Do you love him?” he asked gently.

She hiccupped. “Maybe, but not enough to marry him.”

Kris sighed. “Do you think you’re just having cold feet about getting married?”

She pulled away and looked up at him in confusion, and even with tear-streaked mascara, she was stunning. “It’s not about getting married, it’s about getting married to Simon. I want to marry someone else.”

Oh boy.

Kris said, “I think maybe you should talk to your mom about this, or MJ.”

Tori was shaking her head before Kris even finished his sentence, her eyes filling with fresh tears. “I can’t! I can’t break off another wedding. My family will hate me even more.”

Tori collapsed against him, sobbing, and Kris could feel the dread blooming inside him as her tears soaked through his shirt. “What do you mean ‘another wedding’?”

She sniffed, and spoke into his chest, but he could hear every muffled word. “I was engaged before. Days before the wedding, I called it off.” She wailed. “And everybody hated me for it!”

Kris hugged her and whispered encouraging words, even though he felt stunned and appalled. Two weddings, completely arranged and paid for, and then called off on a whim? He didn’t know if he was being fair about the whim part, but he couldn’t help but feel some anger on behalf of Tori’s family, and on behalf of the poor sap she’d left at the alter, so to speak.

“Wait a minute,” Kris said, pulling away to look down at her. “Who was the other guy you were engaged to?”

She nodded, seeing the guess in his expression. “Jimmy.”

Kris hugged Tori back to his chest, as he felt an inappropriate, yet unstoppable, grin coming on. Jimmy was the poor sap! What luck! Because there was no way MJ could have romantic feelings for one of Tori’s exes. Of that, he was sure—and grateful that he would never become one of her exes.

Kris tried to imagine Jimmy being jilted, and a fresh grin blossomed on his face. He looked at Jimmy’s arrival in a whole new light. Tori was right about one thing: Jimmy had some nerve showing up for her “welding” (ßas she had texted). But things must have ended somewhat amicably for him to do so. Or maybe not, Kris thought, remembering the last look Tori had given Jimmy. Either way, he had to admit, he would never have the nerve to show up if he was in Jimmy’s position, or the confidence to pull it off.

“Tori, try to calm down. It isn’t the end of the world. You have to decide what’s best for you—”

“Kay,” she said, sniffing and looking up at Kris. “I have decided what’s best for me. I need to make Simon call off the wedding so I can marry Jimmy.”

“How can you make Simon—Whoa, did you say ‘marry Jimmy’? I thought you didn’t want to marry him, either?”

“That’s right. I didn’t want to marry Jimmy, but now I do. I was wrong, I guess. I mean, I was right to call off my wedding to Jimmy back then, but wrong to agree to marry Simon now. Because I love Jimmy. I love him.”

Kris had never heard her speak with such unaffected honesty. Still, he had to ask, “Really? Cuz it seems more like you hate him.”

She nodded. “I hate him a very small amount. Mostly, I love him. Madly. Deeply.”

This was srs. And way beyond his understanding. “You need to talk to your mom about this.”

“No. You have to promise me you won’t tell her! I’m confiding in you, Kris.”

And that’s what he was worried about. “I’m the wrong person to confide in.”

“No you’re not. You’re perfect, don’t you see? I can’t bear to disappoint my family again.”

“Your family won’t be disappointed in you,” he said, boldface lying. “They’ll understand if you explain that your feelings have changed—”

“I have a plan,” she interrupted. “But I can’t do it without your help.”

“Uh, I dunno, Tori. This is kind of a conflict of interest for me.”

“I can’t do this by myself, Kris!” Tori wailed. “I have to get Simon to call off the wedding, and at the same time, get Jimmy to take me back.”

Kris didn’t like where this was going.

Tori continued, “Simon is so jealous, if he caught you and I—”

Kris jumped away from her. “No. No. I will not do what you are suggesting.”

Oh Sword. Simon is gonna kill me. Litrly. Kill me.

“Kris, please listen to me. It’ll be one innocent brotherly kiss.”

Kris walked to his side of the car and got in. Tori was buckled in the passenger side and wiping the last remnants of tears from her eyes with a tissue from her purse before he even had the key in the ignition. “You don’t get it, Tori. I object to so much more than a brotherly kiss from you. This isn’t right, and it’s not going to work, and it’s going to hurt a lot of people in the process. Honesty is the best policy in this case, believe me.” He looked over his shoulder and backed out of the driveway.

“Oh barf, Kris. How boring can you be?”

“I have no problem with boring.”

“MJ hates boring.”

Kris clinched his jaw. Then he said incredulously, “And MJ would find me more appealing if I kissed her sister? She can’t even stand it when I text you.”

Tori looked at him in surprise and Kris immediately wished he hadn’t said that. Tori’s reaction made him feel like he had divulged some sort of secret about MJ, and he would never do that intentionally. He wished again that he was with MJ right now, instead of with Tori. He replayed their last text exchange in his mind, torturing himself with his building desire to see her.

They were silent the rest of the way to the lunch, which was Café Rio. Tori started crying again at one point on the way there, which made Kris feel horrible, but she managed to reign in the tears after much effort. He felt sorry for her, and he wanted to help her do things the right way, although he had no intention of aiding and abetting her in any scheme.

Walking into Café Rio, Tori inhaled the tell-tale shaky breath of someone who has been crying, and looped her arm through Kris’s. He patted her arm comfortingly, looking down at her with concern. Tori had her iPhone in her other hand.

“Who are you texting?” he asked, watching her thumb skip across the keyboard. A one-handed text, while her other arm was linked in his.

“Simon. Just telling him that you’re taking me out to lunch, which is the honest truth. He seems mad about it, tho,” she said innocently. “He’s going to meet us.”

And that’s when Kris realized that Tori would find a way to drag him into this mess whether he liked it or not.

1 comment:

Memzy said...

Wait. But. Wait.