My friend Anna made a playlist for this chapter, and I loved it too much to keep it to myself, so here you go!
Of all of my siblings, Flare got married first. It was ironic, really; he was the biggest player of any of us. No one expected it. Yet, there we were, sitting at his wedding reception.
There was a glow to his face that I’d never seen before. As we sat there eating cake and laughing, he wouldn’t take his eyes off of his new bride. Maisy was a gem; in a way, she reminded me of Persia. I don’t know what it was, there was just something about her contagious happiness that made me think of my old best friend.
Slow music suddenly started playing. Maisy giddily took her father’s hand, leading him out onto the dance floor. The room erupted in applause. Flare laughed, sitting back in his chair. Normally he would have danced with Mom here, but that wasn’t exactly an option. Still, the smile on his face didn’t falter. Pansy tapped my shoulder from the table behind us and I turned around, grinning.
“Dance with your brother,” Pansy suggested, nodding at Flare. I looked at him, then back.
“Naw man, that’s your thing!”
“I want you to,” she smiled. I glanced back at my brother and then Pansy, and shook my head, grinning.
“If you insist. Yo, Flare.” I stood up, shoving my chair in, and offered Flare my hand. He smiled even wider. “May I have this dance?”
“Most certainly,” he laughed, leading me to the dance floor. People who noticed started laughing. Flare brought my hand up and stepped closer to me. He stood up straight, smirking smugly. “Quite an honor to dance with you today.”
“How’s it feel to be a married man?”
“I honestly thought you would be the first,” Flare laughed. “But she makes me so happy. She’s a great person, you know? I can see myself spending my life with her, as cheesy at that sounds.”
I just smiled at him, shaking my head. Flare was the last person any of us expected to find someone to settle down with, yet here he was. His wife spun right by us, giving him googly eyes. We abruptly spun around on the dance floor and Flare laughed heartily again. “So how’s it going with Malibu?”
“I don’t have anything with Malibu,” I retorted. Flare scoffed.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“You two act like a freaking married couple!”
“You’re the only married one here,” I scoffed, rolling my eyes. We both laughed. There was excited conversation all around us and the overall atmosphere was just happy. Malibu’d been acting off lately, but that was probably just attributed to her recent sickness. Well, not sickness, but she hadn’t been feeling well and she’d been avoiding me. Still, it was worrisome.
Carmine was still not dating, but he was never really the type to. Flare had tried to set him up, but he had politely declined. He was in law school now, studying to become a police detective. It was kind of hard to believe they were old enough to even be getting married and be in college; it made me feel even older.
Xanthi was there with her best friend Narcis. She hadn’t patched things up with Papaya, but they had decided not to do anything about what happened. It didn’t bother me that she wasn’t into boys; why should it? She was chattering animatedly toward Narcis, and behind her were Dad and Pansy. She was laughing and poking flowers into his wheelchair.
Today was just a great day.
The song ended and Flare pulled away, adjusting his collar. I patted his shoulder.
I left his side to go and recite a cheesy pick up line to Malibu and possible convince her to dance, but right as I stepped up, Lakian appeared out of nowhere. He stepped right in front of Malibu.
“Nope!” he said, swinging me away. I laughed, shaking my head.
“What can I say? I was getting jealous of Flare.” Lakian snickered, spinning me around. I spun him back around, pulling him into my chest. A smile broke out on his face and Sandwisp snickered from afar.
“Don’t steal my husband!”
She was about eight months pregnant now, and it looked like she would burst at any given moment. I couldn’t imagine how heavy her belly must have been. If I were her, I wouldn’t even be at this wedding. I’d have been back at home in bed complaining about everything.
Lakian and I danced for a couple of minutes until it got awkward and he went back to his wife. Malibu and Xanthi were caught up in a conversation, so I smiled and went back to my seat. People-watching was just as fun as dancing or conversing, to be honest. I loved just being around people, noticing the little things they did. Especially Malibu. She had this little quirk where she would stick out her tongue just a little when she was working on a tattoo or a drawing; she would always talk with her expressions instead of her hands.
Overall, the entire wedding was fun. Everyone there was entertained by Flare teasing Maisy, Maisy smearing cake on Flare’s face, or other people getting drunk. I think I danced with everyone in the building; Maisy was especially fun. She was perfect for my brother. Our family was there, too. Uncle Kobi, Aunt Sahara and their kids made an appearance, as well as Mom’s sisters Rosemary and Ruby. It was almost like a small family reunion.
I was so happy for Flare.
“I never would have ever thought you to be the dancing type,” Malibu laughed, smiling at me. I shrugged and shut the door.
“Just something my mom taught me..” I trailed off, my hands in my pockets, smiling at nothing. Mom always thought dancing would be necessary later in life, so she taught me how to slow dance when I was, like, six. I shook my head and looked up.
Malibu threw her shoes toward the door, stretching her feet. I smiled back up at her. “Sure is a shame we didn’t get to dance as much.”
“Yeah, sorry,” she muttered, looking away. Furrowing my eyebrows, I flipped the radio o n. “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” by Iron & Wine was playing. Sauntering over, I rested my hands on her hips, pulling her closer.
“How about now?”
“You’re insane,” Malibu giggled, shaking her head. I just smiled and leaned in closer, and she brought her arms up around my neck. She tightened them, like a hug; I buried my face in her shoulder, swaying us from side to side.
It was so nice to just be in her arms. She made me feel secure, like nothing bad could happen. Malibu was such a happy person, with a smile that could make even the darkest day bright. Every time we even touched it was like these weird tingles shot through my skin, giving me this warm fuzzy feeling. I felt like every single sappy love song out there, every long poem, every happy photograph. It was as if I knew this was where I belonged, and if she would let me, I would stay there for a lifetime.
Yeah.. a lifetime sounded nice.
I slowly raised my lips to Malibu’s neck, planting gentle kisses along her collarbone. Goosebumps rose on her soft skin and I smiled.
“You would be gorgeous in a wedding dress, you know,” I found myself saying, laughing slightly. She had a slight look of uneasiness to her as she nodded. Was she okay? Was that too far? I shook my head, grinning, my cheeks warm. “I.. have something to tell you.”
Malibu pulled away slightly, staring into my eyes with a hard gaze. “I have something too.”
Wait.. what did she want to talk about? Pulling away, I started wringing my hands. “You first.”
She took a deep breath, nodding. A lock of hair fell out of place and I smiled, tucking it back behind her ear. She just smiled with that same uneasy look. I nodded. At the same time, we said:
“I think I’m pregnant.”
“I wouldn’t mind marrying you.”
Malibu looked taken aback and she stared at me for a couple of seconds, as if she was trying to figure something out. I felt like my heart completely stopped beating.
“You want to marry me?”