I’d say that my mother would have turned over in her grave, but the truth is, she would honestly want my father to be happy. It’s just the kind of person she was.
Caulter and I are supposed to be on the way to the wedding, with the rest of the wedding party. It's being held at this bed and breakfast, this huge place that used to be a hotel in the 1800's. We're not with the rest of the wedding party, though -- I lied to Ella and told her that I needed Caulter’s help with a surprise for my father.
“Are you okay?” he asks, when the limo comes to a stop.
“I’ll just be a minute. Thank you for coming here with me.”
He nods. “I can go out with you, if you want.”
“No,” I tell him. “I won’t be long.” I take the flowers and walk across the grass, my heels sinking into the dirt. Ella is going to freak when she sees the way my stilettos are going to leave little clumps of dirt behind as I walk down the aisle, but I don't care. The hem of my dress drags in the grass, but I can’t quite bring myself to give that much of a shit about that either.
I set the flowers on my mother's grave, replacing the ones from a few days ago that are only just starting to wilt, and put the other ones on the stone a few feet away. It’s a kid’s grave, and no one brings flowers, which always makes me sad.
It seems weird, slightly inappropriate, to be doing this in a bridesmaid dress right before my father marries someone else. But I couldn’t quite bring myself to participate in this day without talking to her first. I swallow hard.
“I miss you,” I say. “I think you wouldn’t think Ella’s so bad, though. Caulter hates her, I think. Or, maybe not hates, exactly. I think he feels the same way about her that I do about dad. You wouldn’t like that, actually, the way I feel about dad.” I always come out here and talk to her, but I haven’t quite been able to bring myself to talk to her about Caulter.
“So the wedding is today. I’m on my way, with Caulter,” I say. “I hope you would be okay with it.” It sounds like I’m talking about the wedding, but it’s Caulter I really mean. This wedding has to be the end of what's been brewing between us; it would be terrible for my father's campaign, a media shitstorm if it came out. That's the last thing my father needs. "I love you, mom."
I feel somber on the walk back to the car, a weird sadness is settling over me. It’s like I’m letting go -- not letting go of my mother, but of Caulter.
There's a small nagging part of me that thinks that my father's political aspirations shouldn't dictate my whole life. The part of me that keeps the admission letter from UCLA in my desk. The part of me that emailed the director of the art department there last week to see if I could set up a visit while my father and Ella were away on their honeymoon. The part of me that thinks I should tell my father to go fuck himself, because I’m going to do what I want.
It's just too bad that part isn't stronger.
Back in the car, Caulter looks at me with concern. “Are you ready?”
This whole fucking day sucks. I mean, the wedding itself is enough to make me want to vomit. I figured Ella would have been over the Senator by now, but I guess the prospect of eventually being First Lady is good enough for her. Sell-out. Of course, I can’t blame her too much for that part, considering with the fact that I agreed to play along with all of this to make sure nothing happens with my trust fund.
The minister is talking, and I’m looking at Kate the entire time. Earlier, she told me she had to stop by her mother’s grave before the ceremony, and that she wanted me to go with her. I thought I couldn't possibly feel more protective of her than that night at the party, but it took everything I had not to go out there and hold her hand as she stood at the grave.
But I didn't want to intrude if she needed to do it alone. When she got back in the limo, there was a heaviness that seemed to weigh on her, and she was silent during the ride here, looking out the window the entire time.
It's impossible to take my eyes off her, where she stands across from me, sandwiched between the other bridesmaids. The other women are Ella’s vapid Hollywood friends; those girls have nothing on her. Kate makes them look like hags.
Even with the smile plastered on her face that does nothing to hide the sadness behind her eyes, she’s fucking gorgeous. Her hair is pulled up, these little pieces falling down around her face, and the strapless dress she wears exposes her collarbone and makes her look regal. Bridesmaid dresses are supposed to be ugly, aren’t they? Not on Kate.