Ch. 10: Jason

After half an eternity, the patio door slides open and all eyes turn in that direction. Sera and Rocky stand in the doorway.

Her hair’s a mess and the smudged makeup around her eyes isn’t some new fashion trend. She’s been crying.

Violent feelings surge beneath my ribcage. My eyes land on the smug bastard beside her and that’s when I know I’m going to end this night with blood under my fingernails. Because if he hurt her, there’s no telling what I’ll do.

She puts her hand in his and together, they take a few steps across the patio.

“The past few weeks have been crazy overwhelming, trying to plan a wedding before the start of the football season,” Rocky begins.

Sera steps forward and nods. “It’s really important to us that Rocky can commit his undivided focus to football when the season starts.”

“That’s non-negotiable,” Rocky says.

Sera’s head bobs mechanically. “His career is our number one focus.”

I feel my fingers tightening around my bottle as she speaks, her carefully chosen words sounding robotic to my ears. I just want to storm over there and pull her into my fucking arms. Because she deserves to have the wedding of her dreams—the life of her dreams—and if it takes her half a decade to plan the wedding, then fine. I don’t get why the hell Rocky is rushing her and putting her through this turmoil.

Rocky smiles ruefully. He takes her wrist and plants a kiss on her knuckles.

My chest is so tight, I don’t even bother trying to breathe. I can hardly keep from yelling at them to just spit it out. The wedding is off. Everybody around the table knows that’s what Sera and Rocky are trying to say in the most roundabout way ever.

Do I want my best friend out of this situation that obviously has her unhappy? Yes, resoundingly yes. But if that asshole broke her heart…I swear to god, if he breaks her heart…

Sera speaks again. “We don’t want to disappoint anyone and I know that you were all looking forward to a big wedding with all the bells and whistles,” she pushes out a big breath. “but I’m sorry. We just can’t pull it off.”

A tear swells in her eye before streaking down her reddened cheek. Her expression is a mix of exhaustion, disappointment and humiliation.

She pins me in particular with a look. “And before anybody goes getting angry with Rocky, just know that this was as much my idea as it was his, okay?”

Rocky jams a thumb in Sera’s direction and mouths, It was all her idea. Anxious laughter rises up around the table at his awkward joke.

Fucking comedian. He won’t be laughing when I shove a fist through his windpipe.

Before I even realize what I’m doing, I feel my chair bumping along the uneven surface of the lawn beneath me as I push to my feet.

Sera doesn’t notice me. Her eyes are locked on Rocky’s face. The smile that breaks out across her lips is resigned as she breathes, “We’re going to elope.”

My limbs lock in place. Slowly, I blink.

Beside her, Rocky slips an arm around her shoulder and grins like he just hit it big on a slot machine. “Fasten your seatbelts ladies and gentlemen. We’re getting married…in Vegas.”

And because I’m already standing on my feet, because a dozen pairs of eyes are volleying from the happy couple to me like they’re looking for guidance on how to react to the sudden change of plans, because I’m so shocked that I can’t get a word past the lump in my chest, I do the one thing that makes sense. I bring my hands together—once, twice, three fucking times—the heavy, percussive sound of my slow-clap filling the air.

It takes a second to catch on but soon enough, a wave of relief sweeps the crowd and the entire backyard explodes into a riotous round of applause.

People rush the couple to express their relief. The mothers of the bride and groom don’t look ecstatic about the change of venue, but at least the wedding is still on.

Rocky and Sera are getting married. In Vegas.

And I’ve missed my last shot to keep this wedding from happening.

To be continued…

Now, if you want to read the Happily-Ever-After ending to Before that Night, click here.

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