The Wedding…..part 2
6 Days Till Wedding
Church in a small town, was a big deal. Missing one service, would mean the talk of the town. There was never an excuse for missing a church service. So the next morning, church came way to early for everyone in the wedding party. It was only the beginning of the week of the wedding, and everyone was already tired. Michelle silently wondered how she would make it through this busy week. There were too many things that had to be done in such a short amount of time. She knew that she had to get up and go to church. The hardest part, though, was always getting out of bed. All she could think about was turning her alarm off and snuggling back under her covers.
That morning was just as hard on the rest of the wedding party as it was on Michelle. They had all been the last ones to leave the bridal shower the night before. None of them could think of anything better than skipping church and spending the day in bed. But all of them knew the rest of the town wouldn’t approve of that decision and none of them wanted to be the talk of the town.
However, RJ had other reasons for wanting to skip church. He felt a desperate need to see Michelle again. To see how she was doing after the successful party, and late night cleaning. Just being with her for a short time, made him want to spend more time with her. But his need to see her didn’t make him any more excited about showing up at church. People in town had been watching him closely for the last three years. Ever since he turned 25, everyone was waiting for him to find some woman that would make him want to settle down. Now that he had made a public display of affection, in front of the whole town no less, everyone would be gossiping that Michelle was the woman. RJ hated being the talk of the town. But despite this, he had no choice; he had to go to church. It would look worse if he didn’t show up. He could only hope that no one was watching him when he arrived.
As fate would have it, RJ pulled into the church parking lot the same time as Michelle was climbing down from the backseat of Dan’s Ford truck. The truck had been lifted so it was quite the jump down for Michelle’s short 5 feet, 4 inches. RJ couldn’t help chuckling to himself. She made quite a sight in her knee-length, flowered summer dress and her cowboy boots. By the time RJ had pulled his own Ford truck in next to Dan’s and gotten out, Michelle was out of the truck and standing next to Dan and Elizabeth. They were waiting for RJ to join them.
By the time RJ reached them, Michelle had turned into a ball of nerves. She had been so tired while he helped her clean up after the bridal shower. She hadn’t had enough energy to be nervous around him. But the second she was him pull in the parking lot in his truck, she remembered just how gorgeous he was. She remembered that just the sight of him made her nervous. Especially today. She had only seen him dressed casually and while church wasn’t a black tie affair, it definitely wasn’t dirty jeans and T-shirts. RJ was wearing clean jeans with clean cowboy boots, a button up flannel shirt and a cowboy hat. Most of the men in church were wearing cowboy hats.
Once everyone exchanged their hellos, the four turned and headed into the church. Elizabeth and Dan, looking like the happily engaged couple that they were, held hands while they walked. They were walking a couple steps ahead of RJ and Michelle, and seeing her cousin so happy and comfortable with someone, made Michelle slightly jealous. Not that she wanted Dan or anything; she just wanted what Elizabeth had with Dan.
“You look beautiful.” RJ told Michelle as he gave her his arm. Without thinking about it, Michelle slid her arm through his. It felt right, and both couldn’t help but notice.
After a few minutes, Michelle realized she hadn’t responded to his compliment. She had been too surprised to respond. By the time she had stammered out a thank you and gave him a shy smile, they were already at their seats. Elizabeth and Dan usually sat in the fourth pew from the front, and since Michelle had been staying with them, she sat with them. RJ usually sat with his parents in the second pew on the right. This time, he slid in next to her after Michelle sat down.
“Not sitting with your parents?” Dan asked. He had a look on his face that said he knew why RJ wasn’t sitting in his usual seat. Whatever the reason was, Michelle wanted to know. Everyone in this town was stuck in a rut. They all did the same thing, every of every week. RJ sitting with them would throw everyone in church off and definitely be the talk of the town for a few days.
“Not today, man. I couldn’t let this beautiful girl sit all alone.” RJ winked at Dan. Michelle had been staring at her hands, neatly folded in her lap, and missed the wink. But she did look up in time to see him turn his gaze to her.
Twice now he had called her beautiful. Was that supposed to mean anything? Michelle wasn’t sure. She knew RJ was a man with his own mind, impossible to break, but the town was starting to think that she was going to be the one to break him. She didn’t know if she was up for the challenge.
Elizabeth bumped shoulders with Michelle and when she turned to look, gave her a knowing look. The two women smiled at each other while the men looked on. Dan about thought how lucky he was, to have a woman like Elizabeth agree to marry him, to know longer feel the need to look for someone to spend his life with. He had already found her. RJ felt the need to get to know Michelle better. There was something so intriguing about her. He couldn’t help himself.
As the church began to fill up, the four couldn’t stop from glancing around. People were definitely talking about RJ’s mysterious reason for not sitting with his folks. At five to ten, Jeff and Sara came striding in, hand in hand. They were always right on time; never late, never early. Jeff slid in next to Dan, leaving Sara sitting on the end of the pew. As Sara set her church on the floor and got out her bible, Jeff turned to Dan.
“What’s with RJ sitting over here?” Jeff asked quietly. He could just ask RJ himself, but he didn’t think he would get an appropriate answer for church.
“I think it has something to do with the maid of honor. Not that he would say the same thing.”
While Dan and Jeff chuckle quietly, Elizabeth smacks Dan’s arm. “You two are just as bad gossips as us women. If your so curious, just ask him.”
Just then, the pastor walks up behind the pew. Simultaneously, all the men take their cowboy hats off, and politely set them in their laps for the rest of the service. Once RJ has set his hat in his lap, he reaches for Michelle’s hand. He knows people are watching them like hawks, but he doesn’t care. She’s sitting so close, he just has to be touching her. She doesn’t pull her hand away, so he figures he has her permission. He can see that Michelle is looking at him out of the corner of his eye. He turns just enough so he can look her in the eye. Michelle is studying him. When she noticed that he was looking at her, Michelle looked down at their interlaced hands, then back up at him, and smiled. With that, they both looked back at the pastor and paid attention to the church service. Neither one made any move to separate their hands. RJ could tell that he had surprised her, but everyone knew he was spontaneous and unpredictable.
By the time the service was over, it felt normal for Michelle to hold RJ’s hand. However, everyone else in town didn’t think it was too normal. Everyone slowly began to file out of the church, stopping to shake hands and exchanged pleasantries with the pastor at the doors. It took a full fifteen minutes just to get out of the church, and when they did everyone stood around for a while, chit-chatting.
“Max and Lilly missed church. Again.” Sara said, ever the goody two shoes. Her and Jeff never missed a church service. It wasn’t that they were serious Christians, Sara just couldn’t stand the thought of having everyone talk about her missing church, which always happened to Max and Lilly.
“They probably had another fight.” Elizabeth added. Everyone had filled Michelle in on their relationship when she arrived. Max and Lilly were the typical on and off again couple. Everyone knew it, even them, and no one expected it would change.
“Let’s not waste our breath discussing their relationship.” RJ said. Before he knew what he was doing, RJ was steering Michelle away from the group and asking her to have lunch with him. He definitely hadn’t planned on asking her to lunch, but the minute the words left lips, he liked the idea of spending more time with her.
“Everyone’s going to talk if we have lunch together. They’re already talking about us. I don’t think it’s a good idea to be seen alone together too much.” Michelle said, as an excuse. She wanted to not think about it and say yes, but she didn’t want to be stared at any more than they already were today. She hated being the center of attention.
“Who the hell cares if people talk about us? I want to have lunch with you, and I think you’re just using that as an excuse.” RJ began leading her toward his truck; he wasn’t taking no for an answer. Especially when he could tell from the look on her face, that she wanted to say yes. “We’ll see you guys later.” He yelled over his shoulder to the others who were staring after them.
“I thought I said no to lunch?” Michelle was confused. She had told RJ, outright, that she would not be having lunch with him, but here he was, herding her like an animal, toward his truck.
RJ didn’t say anything when they reached the truck. He just opened the passenger door and took Michelle’s right arm to help her into the truck, which was also lifted just as high as Dan’s.
Michelle backed a few feet away from RJ, took her arm back, and put her hands on her hips. “I don’t think your listening to me. When a woman says no, she means no. Just because I’m quiet, doesn’t mean I’ll do whatever you want me to. I don’t think you want to mess with me.” She was trying so hard to sound serious and not smile, but honestly, she liked confident men. And she did want to spend more time with him, she didn’t want everyone in town to know that.
“I am listening to you. I just don’t think you mean what you say. You know you want to have lunch with me.” RJ was inching closer and closer to Michelle, slowly pushing her up against his truck. Everyone who was still chatting in the parking lot, stopped to watch what was going on. However, RJ was close enough, and talking softly enough, that no one could hear what he was saying. “And honey, I think I do want to mess with you. Just not with all these people around. No why don’t you get in the truck. We’ve given these people enough to talk about for today.” This time when RJ tried to help Michelle in the truck, she let him. It was pointless to try and stop him.
“Do you always get what you want?” Michelle asked him once he was behind the wheel and they had pulled out of the parking lot.
“Yep.” RJ grinned at her. “But you have to admit, you wanted to say yes.”
“You’re a cocky son of a bitch.”
“You know you like it.” RJ reached over, grabbed her left hand, and slowly brought it to his lips. Kissing the back of her hand lightly, he glanced over at Michelle; she was looking out the window, shaking her head, but smiling.
“I hate when your right.” Michelle laughed as she pulled her hand out of his grasp.
Five minutes later, the two pulled up outside the casino, right outside of town.
“This is where we’re eating lunch?” Michelle asked, surprised. She had been expecting someplace in town, where people would see them.
“You were worried about being seen together. Whoever see’s us here, isn’t going to care that we’re together.” RJ’s reason made sense.
Michelle shrugged her shoulders and opened her door. RJ quickly turned off the truck and hopped out. He was over by the passenger door in time to help Michelle out of the truck gracefully in her dress and boots. “Thank you.” Michelle automatically responded as he closed the door and locked his truck.
“It was my pleasure.” As they turned and headed into the casino, RJ noticed that Michelle had been sure there was space between them as they walked. RJ also made sure that there was no space between them. He walked next to her, bumping shoulders with her and grabbed her hand.
Walking into the restaurant in the casino, Michelle understood much better why RJ had picked to come here. The restaurant was practically empty, with only a few tables occupied, and the people at the tables looked as if they had been up all night. They definitely didn’t care who was eating with who.
A waitress who quickly came over to show them to a table. RJ requested a table in the back and the waitress muttered under her breath something that sounded like, of course they do. Michelle definitely didn’t get a fuzzy warm feeling about this woman. The second they sat down and had their menus, the woman disappeared, to go take a smoke break Michelle assumed.
“I would have taken you somewhere nicer, but you didn’t really give me many options. It was either here or my place where I can make some sandwiches.” RJ was grinning at her and he looked more comfortable in this place than she did. She could picture him, sitting in the casino, playing poker until late in the night.
“This is just fine.” Michelle said primly. Now that they were sitting down, she wasn’t sure what to do with herself. They were sitting across from each other in a booth in the back corner. RJ seemed to be able to read her.
As she was sitting there, trying to come up with something clever or smart to say, he just reached over and grabbed her hand. He seemed to be doing that a lot lately. “You’re nervous.” He didn’t say it as a question, he said it as a statement. Michelle didn’t understand how he was able to read her so well, was it really that easy?
“Why do you always hold my hand?” Michelle couldn’t think of anything to say to his statement, so instead she decided on a question.
“Because I like holding your hand. It’s soft and warm and small; it fits just right in my hand. Do you not like it?” RJ had asked the question, but he wished he hadn’t. He didn’t plan to stop holding her hand all the time; as long as she was around he would do it. But if she had a problem with it, that would make it more difficult.
“No. You can hold my hand.” Michelle told him. She had been looking him directly in the eye when she responded, but she looked down at their interlaced hands immediately after. She seemed so unsure about herself. RJ didn’t want her to ever feel unsure; about anything.
The rest of the lunch passed uneventfully. Neither one talked much and when they did, it wasn’t about anything important. RJ held Michelle’s hand up until their food arrived and he grabbed it again the second they were both done eating. He liked that they could sit and enjoy a meal together without having to talk. He felt comfortable just sitting with her and looking at her, and he thought she felt the same way.
RJ and Michelle sat in their booth long after they were both done eating, waiting for the other to say they should get going. Finally, RJ had to be the one to say it. He didn’t want this meal to end, but it seemed inevitable and Dan and Elizabeth would be wondering what happened to Michelle, if he didn’t get her home soon.
Having paid for their meal over a half hour ago, RJ stood up and offered his hand to Michelle once again. They walked out of the restaurant in companionable silence but once they were outside, in the bright sun, it was like the comfortable time they had spent together hadn’t happened. When they stepped outside, RJ could feel Michelle tense up beside him.
Michelle didn’t know what to think. During lunch, it had seemed so simple. She took RJ for a honestly, loyal man but what she had heard about him, didn’t say the same. It felt like she knows a different RJ than the rest of the town. It was easier, in the dark casino restaurant, to believe that she was right and the rest of the town was wrong about RJ. But now, she wasn’t so sure. As RJ helped her into his truck, again, she could feel the tenderness underneath his touch; she didn’t think he would ever hurt her. But she knew that he had broken many women’s heart and she didn’t want to be one of those women.
The ride out to Dan’s ranch was made in silence, like their meal was, but this time it wasn’t comfortable. Michelle spend the ride trying to figure out her feelings for the man beside her, and RJ spent the ride trying to figure out what had changed between him and Michelle. He could tell that she was rethinking things, but he wasn’t sure what she had to rethink. As he pulled into Dan’s long driveway, he decided that he needed to give her something to think about. He didn’t want her to rethink anything, he was doing damage control.
Being so lost in her own thoughts, Michelle didn’t notice when RJ turned his truck off, or even when he got out and went to her door. All of a sudden, he had the passenger door open and was reaching for her. Once she was out of the truck, with the door closed behind her, she expected RJ to just say goodbye and get back in his truck. She have known better by now. RJ was never predictable, he never did what she expected him to. Michelle found herself trapped between the truck and RJ, again.
“You’re not getting away that easy.” RJ whispered in her ear. “There’s no one watching us anymore.”
Before she could respond, or even try to put space between them, RJ was kissing her. Every time he did, it surprised her. When his lips touched hers, she no longer want to put space between them; she didn’t want there to be any space.
RJ had kissed many women in his time, but no one quite like Michelle. He could feel the hesitancy and tension leave her body as she moved as close to him as she could. All of a sudden, the kiss wasn’t just a nice good bye kiss, RJ felt passion he hadn’t felt when kissing any other woman.
He had meant the kiss to be gentle and comforting, to show Michelle that she didn’t need to be scared of him, or what they had together. However, it quickly changed from a gentle kiss, to both straining to be closer. RJ had her pressed completely against the truck, and Michelle had her arms around his neck. She had molded herself to his body, and RJ had to admit, he liked the feeling.
It seemed like the kiss lasted forever, but all too soon, RJ was pulling back. Michelle desperately wanted it to keep going. Everything felt so much more clear and simple when RJ’s lips were on hers. When he had pulled back far enough to look in her eyes, Michelle could tell that he felt the same way. As she stared into his eyes, Michelle realized it was too late to stop the town from gossiping. She was in over her head with RJ, but she no longer cared.
Dipping his head once more, RJ placed a quick kiss on her lips. He need one more before he could let her go. He walked her to the walkway that led to the front door, and patted her on the butt saying “I’ll see you later,” and then he was gone. If he hadn’t left quickly he would have put her back into his truck and taken her back to his house, which he knew neither were ready for. Michelle was left watching the dust disappear from his quick getaway, confused.
Michelle was standing exactly where RJ had left her a few minutes later, when Dan and Elizabeth found her. They were walking out of the barn, having just fed the horses.
“Well where did you disappear to?” Dan asked curiously. Everyone saw her drive away with RJ; everyone wanted to know where they went off to.
“What?” Michelle asked confused. She hadn’t even seen them walk up to her.
“Why don’t we get you some coffee.” Elizabeth said. She could tell by the look on her cousins face that, right now, she was just as confused as everyone else. The last thing Michelle needed was to be interrogated.
“Okay.” Michelle, mindlessly, followed them into the house. She was too wrapped up in what had just happened to pay attention to what was going on.