Crashing the Congressman’s Wedding

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          Ten minutes remained, and Alice still had no idea where to find her keys. For all she knew, Mouse stole them again so he could chew on her lucky rabbit’s foot. When she rolled her eyes, she noticed her brother’s keys hanging on the hook by the door where he’d left them when he rode off with a group of deadbeat friends. Her nose crinkled. Charlie’s car smelled like cigarettes and was littered with trash, but it would get her to the church faster than walking.

          Snagging the metal off the hook, Alice tiptoed through the grass (careful not to step in anything questionable) and scooped her purse from the front yard before plopping into the driver’s seat of Charlie’s car.

          “Ouch!” She dug a hand underneath yards of scratchy skirt and pulled out a tiara. The glistening crown was pretty. A bit odd, too. And it definitely wasn’t hers. She tossed the headpiece into the backseat and shook her head. How Charlie managed to get any woman into this car willingly was beyond Alice. She kicked aside empty paper cups, shut the ashtray, rolled down the windows and pressed pedal to the floor all the way to church.

          Making it with a few minutes to spare, Alice paused at the back of the sanctuary, smiling down the lily-lined aisle at the smoking hot man standing before the altar. His tuxedo was tailored, his shoulders were back and his hair was impeccably groomed. He’d worn the same lift to his blond bangs since high school. Back then, the fashionable hair blended with city-bought clothes to make him look even more privileged than he was.

          Now, almost fifteen years and two professional titles later, the flip of his bangs made her smile, because she recognized it for what it was—who he was—a predictable, responsible, creature of habit.

          Alice sighed, smoothed a hand over the snug bodice of her dress and tried to remember a time when she didn’t love Justin Mitchell.

          He saw her then, and she dug deep into her theatrical bag of tricks to smile with a sincerity that would charm sight-challenged ladies in a theatre’s back row. He bought it, smiled back, and Alice imagined the fine lines crinkling around his green eyes. The breath she tried to take stuck in her too-small throat, and she remembered she needed to walk, needed to move, needed to take her place. This wasn’t the time for longing or regrets. This was a wedding.

          The man she loved was getting married.

          But he wasn’t marrying her.