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Another hand, over on the side of the group, leapt into the air.

“Yeah?” I said to the girl. She’d been one of the people trying to pluck at the blades of not-real grass.

“How many girls are you taking?”

Oh, good lord.

This was the fourth wedding I was attending dateless this summer, and not from a lack of trying, either. The rehearsal dinner last night had been a bust. Every time I tried to meet someone new, it collapsed faster than a human pyramid built out of fifth-grade girls.

Marcy had chosen slate blue dresses for her bridesmaids, and the color managed to look great on all twelve of us. The best part about the dress? It was cocktail length, which meant I didn’t have to pay a seamstress to chop a foot off the bottom.

Hashtag: short-girl problems.

The bride’s room in the church was more of a large corner closet with two sliding doors, and it felt even smaller due to Marcy’s wedding dress. She looked stunning, though. Eyes shining with unshed tears and an enormous smile, all packaged in a white, fluffy cupcake of a dress. I couldn’t wait to see her get married. She and Dave were so great together.

I scrolled through ESPN’s headlines on my phone while waiting to line up for the procession. There was nothing we needed to do to help the bride. Marcy’s mom had designated herself as head stylist and made it clear we bridesmaids needed to be hands-off.

She tugged at Marcy’s veil, and the bride swatted her mom’s hand away, drawing a frown from momzilla.

“Marcy.” Her tone was pointed. “I just want it to look perfect.”

“It does.” My friend’s voice wasn’t sharp, but I knew beneath her calm exterior she was a nervous wreck. We’d been cheerleaders together in high school, and I’d seen her look normal before competition plenty of times, right up to the moment she went running for a garbage can to upchuck her breakfast.

“How can you tell?” Her mother wouldn’t be deterred and tugged once more on the tulle. “You can’t see it. There isn’t a mirror in here, is there?”

“Kayla.” Marcy’s gaze locked on me. “Please, in the name of all that is holy, tell her it’s straight.”

“You look wonderful. Perfect.” I tucked my phone back into my purse, set it down, and picked up my bouquet. “Everyone’s going to be looking at your gorgeous dress. No one’s going to notice if your dad’s boutonniere is about to fall off.”

Marcy’s mom froze. “What?”

She scurried to the other side of the room and nearly tackled her husband, and I flashed a smile at my friend. “That should keep her busy for at least a minute.”

“Thanks.” Marcy laughed softly, then took in a deep, sobering breath.

I’d have to distract her from her nerves. I leaned in, dropped my voice low, and waggled my eyebrows. “Anxious about the wedding night?”

“Oh, yeah. Totally,” she said sarcastically.

My freshman year, the night after my first home game cheering as an Ohio State Buckeye, I’d raced back to my dorm, excited to call Marcy at Ball State and tell her all about it, only she hadn’t answered. She’d been out on her first date with Dave, and texted me the next morning she’d slept with him. I’d lovingly called her a hussy.

“Need me to give you some pointers?” I asked. “Tell you how it’s done?”

Her laugh was a little too big. “Do you remember how it’s done?”

I made a face. It hadn’t been that long.

Marcy latched a hand on my wrist, tugging me closer. “Which reminds me, I need you to do me a favor. There are a lot of eligible guys here. Dave’s friends. My cousins.”

“And?”

“None of them went to Ohio State. You need to hook up. Don’t scare the potential suitors off.”

“Potential suitors? I didn’t realize your reception was being held in the Victorian era.”

“I’m serious. No OSU football talk. Better yet, no sports talk at all.”

“Come on, I’m not that bad.”

Marcy looked at me like I’d just announced I didn’t care for cheerleading. “Hey, remind me. What happened with the guy I set you up with?”

I kind of wanted to slam my bouquet into my face at the memory. “It’s not like I knew he was going to start crying. And anyway, he said running a spread offense was the best way to—”

Her eyebrow shot up so high, it was amazing it didn’t go through her veil and knock it askew. Okay, Marcy, touché.

“In my defense, most guys like a girl who can talk sports,” I grumbled.

“Yeah,” she said, bobbing her head in a patronizing nod. “Talk. They’re less excited about being castrated by your ‘I know more about sports than you do’ attitude.”

I pretended to be utterly serious. “But, I do know more than they do.”

She laughed. “You gotta understand, men can’t handle being emasculated. They’re delicate little creatures, Kayla. So, I’m asking for one night. You can go one night without talking about sports, right?”


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