“I fucking hate taffeta.” My assertion was met by stares and silence from the other three bridesmaids who crowded into the country club powder room with me. I don’t know what I was expecting. These girls were career bridesmaids while I was just the token dyke in the wedding party. My new sister-in-law Ginny was a wonderful girl, but it was an hour into this little shindig and I was ready to kick her ass for forcing me into a pink taffeta gown and matching underwear (a gift from the giddy bride). Then again, what did I know? If it wasn’t jeans and a T-shirt, I hated it. And I hated the fucking pink taffeta dress so much, I was getting hives.
“But you look so pretty,” cooed Melanie, one of the Stepford bridesmaids. She was dolled up in the exact same dress I was, but she somehow managed to look like she belonged in taffeta.
“I don’t want to look pretty,” I snarled, tugging at the neckline of the dress that barely covered the peekaboo lace of the matching pink bra I was wearing. “I want to get the hell out of this dress and into something that will let me breathe.”
A collective gasp went up from the bridesmaids.
“Oh no, the reception has just started. You have to wear the dress for the reception pictures,” scolded Victoria, the militant maid-of-honor. “And stop messing with your hair, you’ll pull out the curls.”
Me, with curls piled on top of my head. Me, in lace underwear. Me, in taffeta. It was some sort of wedding nightmare and I had agreed to this agony. “Shoot me now,” I muttered. For the sake of my big brother’s future happiness, I left the curls, the itchy lace underwear and the hideous dress alone.
The girls powdered their noses and we moseyed en masse back out to reception room of the Crystal River Country Club. Camera flashes blinded me as everyone but the waiters took my picture. I was trying to be a good sport, but I was stumbling around half-blind and unfortunately sober. I danced with the father of the bride, who said I looked lovely; I danced with my own father, who said he’d lost a fifty-dollar bet with my brother that I would actually keep the dress on through the reception and I smiled pretty for the endless amateur photographers who wanted just one more picture.
Finally, I’d had enough. I grabbed an open bottle of champagne from one of the tables, hiked up the miserable taffeta dress with my free hand and stalked outside before another wedding guest told me how pretty I was or another drunk guy asked for my phone number.
“Hey babe, where you running off to?”
The voice came from the shadows cast by the palatial white columns of the country club’s entrance. I saw the flicker of a cigarette, but little else. At first I thought it was one more guy attempting to score at a wedding. “Some place where taffeta gowns and lace underwear don’t exist,” I muttered, stalking past my interrogator.
“Too bad. I was working up the nerve to ask you to dance.”
The voice was deep, but not that deep. I paused mid-stride and turned. “What makes you think I’d want to dance with you?”
She stepped out of the shadows and leered at me, her tanned face bare of anything more than a glisten of perspiration from the steamy Florida heat. “Because I hear I’m your type.”
Her hair looked like she spent a lot of time running her hands through it. It was short, red and tousled like she’d just climbed out of bed. My gut reaction was instant and surprising. I was turned on by her just-fucked hair. The rest of her wasn’t so bad, either. She was tall and lean and dressed all in black – black shirt, black pants, black jacket, black shoes. The red hair above the unrelenting black was striking. It was also unmistakably a family trait because Ginny, the taffeta-happy bride, had the same color hair, albeit longer and more fashionably styled.
“I’m Jae, Ginny’s sister.” I’d heard about Jae, the nature photographer who was currently living somewhere in the wilds of Australia. Heard of her, but in the two years my brother had been with Ginny, never met her. She was at least ten years older than me and sexy as hell in a confident, quiet way.
It figured I would be wearing taffeta when I met the dyke of my dreams.
“I just got in this afternoon, so I missed the rehearsal dinner,” she went on, taking a drag off her cigarette before flicking it away. “I’ve been waiting all night for Ginny to introduce me to her hot new sister-in-law, but she’s been a little preoccupied.”
“I guess you know I’m Beth.”
The silence was awkward. I was actually nervous. Picking up chicks at weddings while wearing a gown is kind of outside my area of expertise.
Voices drifted to us from just inside the country club doors. Jae grabbed my arm and pulled me behind one of the columns. I was so startled, I nearly dropped the champagne.
“What — ?”
She put her fingertips over my mouth. “Sshh. They’ll be looking for you to take more pictures.”
With that, my mouth slammed shut and I nearly took her finger off at the knuckle. Sure enough, I heard someone call my name. One of the bridesmaids, it sounded like. I snuggled up against Jae and waited for the door to open again.
“Thanks,” I murmured, suddenly aware of how close we were.
She kissed me, hard. Her breath tasted of wine and cigarettes. She slid her hands around the back of my dress as she hauled me up tight against her. She was several inches taller than me, but my heels took away some of that advantage, bringing us hip to hip. I pulled back slightly, laughing. Even through layers of taffeta, I could tell she was packing.