The Masen Sisters’ Guide to Marrying a Player
In Two Dates, One Morning After,
Four Months of Horribly Awkward Gross Anatomy Labs,
Countless Nights Alone Together Caused by
an Unexpected-Though-Bizarrely-Advantageous Cohabitation,
One Foray Outside of Philadelphia Due to a Family Emergency,
and a Shockingly Sudden Proposal Followed
by a Lovely Ceremony at William Penn’s Feet
Don’t Be Afraid to Call His Bluff
“Let me get this straight…” Maggie stretched herself out on her bed and propped her head up with one of her hands. “Last night, he asked you to marry him…”
“Yes,” I said, frantically perusing the contents of her closet.
I was starting to lose my patience. She and I had been through this at least a dozen times already—the events of the past twenty-four hours weren’t going to become any less crazy with repetition.
“And you accepted because you thought he was full of shit?”
“And he made all these promises, apologized for not having a ring, then moved Nana’s ring from your right hand to your left one?”
I held up my left hand, flashing the ring that once belonged to my grandmother. “I told you all this already–”
“Then you wake up this morning to a note telling you to meet him at City Hall at sundown and not to forget your driver’s license.”
“City Hall, Esme. City-fucking Hall. You know—where legally binding shit goes down?”
“Yes!” I yelled, exasperated. “What’s your point?”
“You’re so getting married today.”
“Uh, highly doubtful. Now, are you going to help me find something to wear or not?”
“No. Not until you acknowledge there’s a possibility—albeit a small one—that this is for real.”
“It can’t be. There’s no way he could get a marriage license this quickly.”
“You can get anything if you have friends in high places.”
I looked over my shoulder at her, rolling my eyes. “If Cullen had friends like that, do you really think he’d live here?”
“I don’t know, Esme. He drives a brand-new Porsche–”
“I don’t think that was his. I mean, his dad’s a construction worker and his mom is a homemaker.”
“He never said his father was a construction worker—he said his father works in construction. That could mean anything.”
“Well, unless his dad’s a judge, he’s shit out of luck when it comes to marriage licenses.” I was reaching the very back of Maggie’s closet. The possibility she’d have something suitable for me to wear tonight was becoming about as slim as the likelihood I’d leave City Hall a married woman. I was about to give up when I saw a very familiar garment bag tucked away behind a fake leopard-fur coat. “Why do you have Mom’s prom dress?”
“I borrowed it for the ‘Make My Video’ contest. You remember that, right?”
“I remember you filmed it on a porno set and Cullen had to go be your bodyguard, but I don’t see how Mom’s dress enters into the equation.”
“Oh,” she said. “Well, that was what I was wearing. It’s off-white and lace.” She shrugged. “I thought it looked kind of bridal. It went with the whole ‘Like a Virgin’ thing.”
I moved the garment back to the hook on her closet door and unzipped it. “Does it fit you?”
“Perfectly. I mean, I’m taller than Mom so it was tea-length on me, but it worked.”
Nodding, I brushed the bodice of the dress with my fingertips. “I always loved this dress.”
And I had. It was everything a party dress should be—a fitted bodice with chiffon accordion pleats accenting a sweetheart neckline fell into a full skirt with a built-in crinoline.
“Don’t you wish we could wear fifties’ clothes all the time?” she asked. “I mean, they’re so much more flattering than slouch socks and stirrup pants.”
“This dress is from 1960,” I corrected. “And you do wear fifties’ clothing—it’s just that back then, what you wear to clubs was called underwear.”
“Oh, you’re so funny,” she said, smacking her lips. “Though you know, now that I think about it, not only would Mom’s dress fit you, it’s both old and borrowed. You’re aren’t going to do any better than that.”
“This isn’t a real wedding, Maggie.”
“We shall see. You have to admit, I’m usually right about things.”
I snorted. “Sure. Remember the time when we were kids you came to me all hysterical thinking you were born without a clitoris? How right were you then?”
“I didn’t know where to look! I found it later. So maybe I’d flunk anatomy, who cares? I’m good with clothes, and you should wear that dress.”
Maggie might be full of shit most of the time, but this was something she’d gotten right.
The dress was perfect.
When I arrived at City Hall, Cullen was waiting for at the entrance…in tails. Had he left his stubble in tact, I would have jumped him right then and there.
“I knew you’d look beautiful, but…” He shook his head, smiling. “I have no words.”
Unfortunately for him, I did. “Why the hell did you shave?”
“This,” I said, touching his chin.
He laughed. “It is our wedding day. The least I could do was shave.”
With his arm around my waist, he led me down the corridor to the elevators.
“Nice tux. Let me guess—you had enough foresight last night to steal a Porsche from someone who’d recently picked up his dry cleaning?”
“The tails and the Porsche are both mine,” he said.
“Right. I suppose that’s why you live the ghetto.”
“My father and I are somewhat estranged at the moment, and he’s frozen my assets to ‘teach me a lesson’.” He shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. I gain control of my trust fund when I marry, and that will happen in about twenty minutes.”
I couldn’t contain my laughter. “That’s the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever heard.”
“Perhaps. It’s true, though.”
I followed him into the elevator, watching as he pushed the button for the top floor. “Where are we going?”
After the doors opened, we walked through another deserted hallway and into another elevator. Strangely enough, it was made of glass.
“Have you ever been to the top of the clock tower?” he asked.
“You mean the observation deck?”
“No,” I said. “Is that where we’re going?”
He nodded, smiling. “I wanted you to know how it feels to have the world at your feet.”
It would be sweet if he weren’t so full of himself.
“And this is an emotion with which you’re familiar?”
“Not exactly…or at least, not yet. I suspect I will be in about twenty minutes.”
A man in a black robe greeted us at the elevator.
“Hello, Esme,” he said. “It’s nice to meet you. My nephew was so excited you said yes, he wouldn’t hear of waiting three days.” He turned to Cullen. “The witnesses are here. Once we take care of the paperwork, we can begin.”
I turned to Cullen and whispered through my Saccharin smile. “This is real?”
“It always has been.”
When his eyes met mine, I felt something I’d never felt before. And though I didn’t know what it was, I knew it was wonderful and it was because of him. It didn’t matter how crazy this was, that I barely knew him, or that he might be a two-pump chump capable of grand-theft auto. It didn’t matter if he’d been a player or if he’d once played me. This was right. We were right.
Fifteen minutes later, with the lights of the city shining beneath me, I lost the player. It wasn’t a huge surprise—all along, I knew it was only a matter of time.
I never expected I’d gain a husband.