Authors: Giselle Renarde
Wedding Heat: One in the Hand
2012 by Giselle Renarde
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Wedding Heat: One in the Hand
By Giselle Renarde
Cora glanced into the back seat to see what the kids were up to. Nobody had said anything in a while, and she always found silences unsettling. “Hard to believe little Maggie’s getting married.”
Joey didn’t even look up from his
game thingamajig. “Yeah Mom, you’ve only said that forty times.”
“Don’t speak that way to your mother,” Dan shot back.
All these years married and Dan was still Cora’s white knight. Her heart always felt full of affection when he came to her
. She reached across the bench seat to stroke her husband’s thigh.
“We all know Mom has a mind like a sieve,” Dan went
on with a sly smirk
. “No need to remind her.”
Cora smacked Dan’s leg, then pulled her hand away, folding it in her lap.
What a nerve
“But if we didn’t remind her, how would she remember?” Joey laughed in that snotty way of his. Cora had hoped he’d grow out of it by the time he hit adulthood, but no such luck. Her son had always been a pest, and age only strengthened his snark.
“Fine.” She tried to think up some comeback that would really impress them, but she didn’t have it in her. “Just… fine.”
The boys were still laughing when Vanessa piped up from beside her brother. “Maggie’s not that little, Mom. She’s
two years older than me
“I know,” Cora said, even though she’d forgotten that as well. Off the top of her head, she couldn’t even recall precisely how old Vanessa was. Twenty-four? No, twenty-six. God, the kids were getting up there in age. When the heck did that happen?
“What was the deal between you
?” Dan asked, glancing at their daughter in the
rear view mirror. “You were like
two peas in a pod when you were little.”
“No we weren’t,” Vanessa snapped.
“Sure you were.” Dan wouldn’t let up once he got his hooks in, but Cora was glad she wasn’t the target of his mockery this time. “Come to think of it, you had a bit of a crush on that cousin of yours growing up.”
“Shut up, Dad!” Vanessa was a toddler all over again, shouting in that pouty tantrum voice she brought out for just such occasions. “No I didn’t. Jesus, can’t you just… ugh, you are so annoying.”
“Vanessa had a crush on our cousin?” Joey cackled, still without looking up from his video game.
Dan turned his head and nodded. “Huge crush.”
“Keep your eyes on the road!” Cora reached for the steering wheel just in case. “And leave Vanessa alone. You know she’s sensitive.”
“I’m not sensitive.” Vanessa’s voice was steeled, but the echo of a pout remained. “I just don’t like being accused of something that isn’t true, okay? What’s so wrong with that?”
“Dad, did Vanessa really have a crush on Maggie?” Joey asked again, as though his sister wasn’t within earshot. He was such a little instigator.
And his father was no help.
“Oh boy, yeah,” Dan chuckled. “Remember, Ness, you used to dress up like little brides and say you were going to marry each other when you grew up?”
“That never happened.” Vanessa wore a scowl, but Cora could see the embarrassment underneath. Nobody liked to be reminded of childhood follies.
“I’ve got pictures somewhere in the basement,” Dan teased. “I’ll dig them out after we get home from the wedding.”
“That’s enough, now,” Cora hissed, but nobody in this family ever listened to her. How could she change the subject? Anything to protect her daughter from yet more humiliation. “Hey kids, this wedding will be the first time you meet your new Aunt Farrah. Remember not to call him Uncle Ralph anymore—I mean, not to call
“Who’d have thought good old Uncle Ralph was a tranny, huh?” Joey clacked away at his video game.
“Umm, how about
?” Dan said.
“Don’t use that word,” Cora scolded her son. Sometimes she felt like that was all she ever did, scold and chide, but she’d always been the first to rise up in her brother’s defen
e. “Your Aunt Farrah is a male-to-female transsexual, and she doesn’t want to be known as Ralph anymore, so we’re not going to call him Ralph anymore. Capisce, kids?”
Joey couldn’t seem to unglue his gaze from that damn machine for even two seconds. “Hey, you saw him at Great-Aunt Geraldine’s funeral, didn’t you Dad? What did he look like as a chick?”
look like?” Cora corrected. And then, almost as an afterthought, she added, “As a
Cora braced herself.
But Dan said, “Good. Really good.”
se, just when Cora was about to lean in and kiss her husband on the cheek, he had to go one step further and say, “I’d trade him for your mother in a heartbeat.”
Cora slapped his thigh again, but smiled. “You’d trade
“Not really.” Dan turned his gaze to her, a soppy grin plastered across his lips. “I wouldn’t trade you for the world.”
Though her heart skipped and her belly flopped, Cora bit her lip and shook her head. “Keep your eyes on the road.”
“You’re just too good to be true,” he sang at her. “Can’t take my eyes off of you.”
“Gross,” Vanessa moaned.
For once in his life, Joey agreed with his sister. “Yeah, seriously! Get a room.”
“We have a room,” Cora shot back. She finally had a zinger. “Unfortunately we have to share it with our two ungrateful children.”
In the backseat, Vanessa slipped off her hoodie and curled it into a pillow, resting it between her head and the car window. “Why couldn’t we get a suite? There’s no way I’m sharing a bed with Jerkasaurus Rex over here.”
Cora shuffled through the glove compartment, searching for the hotel booklet. “Joey will be sleeping on the pull-out couch. Your father and I will have one Queen-size bed, and you will have the other, Ness.”
“Why can’t Vanessa sleep on the couch?” Joey asked, though he seemed to say the words by rote, like they were expected of him.
“You fall asleep on the couch at home five nights a week, Joe.” Dan yielded for the first spot of traffic they’d seen in almost an hour. “You can take the pull-out.”
“Anyway, it’s just sleeping arrangements.” Cora
flipped through the pamphlet f
Maggie’s wedding resort. She turned to show the kids all the glossy pictures, as though they were little again and it was a storybook. “Look at everything we can do at this resort. There’s a spa for the women, golfing for the men…”
“Why?” Vanessa bellowed. Her absent voice was so suddenly huge it made Cora cringe. “Why spa for women, golf for men? What if I don’t want to go to a goddamn spa? What if dad doesn’t want to waste his day dicking around a stupid golf course? It’s all so fucking arbitrary. You’ve got a cock you do this, you’ve got a pussy you do that. I’m so sick of this world.”
Joey muttered something about lesbian feminists, and Cora didn’t want to agree with him, but she couldn’t help herself, internally. The most she could say out loud was, “Honey, watch your language.”
That moment of searing emotional intensity expanded into eternity, and Cora would have given anything to just open the door and roll out of the vehicle while it was still in motion. She could scarcely breathe in the midst of her daughter’s seething.
As much as she loved her kids, she always felt at odds with them. Always. But Dan had this incredible capacity to bridge any gap. He said, “I agree with you, Vanessa. Hell, I’d rather get a pedicure than go golfing.”
Vanessa smiled like the cat that got the canary
Joey mumbled, “Gay,
Vanessa punched him in the arm.