The Toast

***Las Vegas, NV***

Abby sat on the end of the bed in their hotel suite. Yes, suite. Jack had gone all out. The Bigalow bridal suite. It was almost lunchtime when they finally arrived. He had insisted they stop first at the Marriage License Bureau. She wasn’t totally sure when Jack had found the time, but all the arrangements had been booked. They had not even had to wait in line for the license. Jack had filled it all out online, so they went straight to the express window, showed their ID, and had the paperwork ready for the ceremony.

Jack had arranged for those spa treatments, too. Not just waxing – everything, but mani and pedi as well as a facial and massage. She had never been so pampered. Or so nervous. Sure, she knew that second thoughts were only natural. Most brides and grooms had them. But given these circumstances…

She could not cry. The salon had done her hair and makeup too. When she got back to the room, she had discovered the most fantastic bustier with a garter belt and even seamed silk stockings as well as the traditional blue garter for show. The note said: I look forward to taking these off you. Love, Jack.

It was so tough not to cry at those words. Love, Jack. It was so casual. As if it meant nothing at all. But it meant everything to her. She doubted that he meant them. How could he? Her hands trembled as she picked at invisible lint on her wedding dress. Would he ever say those words to her? Would he come to feel that way about her?

Abby reached for her clutch purse on the bed next to her. It matched her shoes and the pillbox hat with the modest veil attached. She opened the bag and pulled out her phone. Eight messages from Lizzie. None from Mercy or anyone else, of course. She scanned Lizzie’s, but what more could she say than ‘Don’t worry. I’m fine. Be back before the wedding.’ She might want to call Sebida’s last vestal virgin and unload all these fears and insecurities. But she knew better. Lizzie was the dependable one. She would never understand…

Any of this. Getting so drunk and lost in your secret fantasy that you gave your precious virginity to the man you had loved for as long as you could remember. And certainly not the whole Dom/sub thing. Let alone eloping to Vegas. This was one time that the adage ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ would not be true. Marriage was forever. At least in her mind. Was it in Jack’s too? He had sounded like it, but then men could talk a good game to get what they wanted. But he’d already gotten…

Abby checked the time. Over an hour until she was supposed to meet him at the wedding chapel. A limo would be picking her up and taking her to the chapel he had chosen. But he wouldn’t give her any more details than that. He had dropped her at the salon, kissed her, and told her he would not see her again until the ceremony. That it was tradition. Something about this damned thing ought to be. She fought back those tears and doubts as she looked around the posh hotel suite. Everything was soft cream and gold.

She had to get out of this room. If she didn’t, she would let all those doubts multiple in her mind until she was paralyzed. She popped her phone and the keycard to their room in her bag and closed the door behind her. That had been happening a lot lately. Since school was out and she had no distractions, she lived with her worries, fears, and doubts. That was why she ended up eating at the diner most days. Thankfully, Lizzie never let her pay. Otherwise, she would be broker than she already was.

Oh god, she had not told Jack. She should have mentioned that they were behind on the mortgage. That they might foreclose on what had been her family legacy for over a hundred years. Of course, who ‘they’ were was the mystery. How could Sebida Bank just sell her grandmother’s mortgage without notifying her? Now, she lived in daily fear of someone arriving to claim the only home she had ever known.

How had such a thing not come up in conversation? The elevator dinged, and Abby got inside, pushing the button for the lobby. They had talked about lots of things, caught up on fifteen years of lost memories, old and new. The drive was incredibly long. At least to her. Jack seemed to take it all in stride. They had stopped only to eat and pee. Lunch in San Antonio along the River Walk, then a late supper in El Paso was the last thing she remembered before waking in Phoenix. Abby felt the heat rising in her cheeks.

Well, not the last thing. Dessert in El Paso had been unforgettable. After finishing a steak almost as large as his plate, Jack had whispered in her ear what he wanted next. And sweet Mary, mother of god, had he delivered. She just hoped he had not been too disappointed with her attempts at returning the favor. Her dessert was pretty remarkable too. It was odd; she had always been a spitter with John. But even if Jack had not commanded her to swallow every last drop, she would have. She wanted to taste him, to savor the flavor like the finest crème brule or chocolate mousse.

The elevator doors opened, and she turned towards the bar. No tequila shots this time, but a glass of rosé might calm her. The bar seemed almost empty. Not at all what she would have expected for Vegas this time of night. She walked to the counter, waiting as the bartender served the only other person at the bar. Abby could not tell if it was a man or a woman because whichever had pulled a hoodie up to cover most of their head. Whoever’s attire of jeans and t-shirt gave no clue either. But the slight build had her guessing it was another woman as she waited her turn two seats over.

The bartender finished with the other patron and turned to her, “What can I get you?”

“A glass of champagne,” seemed more appropriate to the occasion than rosé. Though, they would probably have a bottle later. After the ceremony. After the wedding came the honeymoon. Abby felt her nipples harden in the lace confines of the bustier. At least she did not have to worry about messing her panties. But damn, the thought of feeling Jack inside of her, this time without any of the pain, had her juices running down the insides of her thighs. And that tongue. “Oh, sweet Jesus,” she whispered.

“That good?” the voice coming from beneath the hoodie confirmed her suspicions. The other bar patron was a woman. She turned slightly to face Abby. The woman looked vaguely familiar, but that could just be that her model-thin, platinum blond, and well-preserved features were the standard for women in their late thirties or maybe early forties. “What are you celebrating?”

Abby smiled; this was precisely what she needed – someone to talk to. Another woman to kill time with. “I’m getting married.”

“Congratulations. I sort of guessed that. How long have you been together?”

Abby’s voice trembled, “Just a day.” She fought back the tears. Maybe this wasn’t the best idea after all. She was certain the woman’s silence was judgment. They would certainly get plenty of that in Sebida.

Hell, she wasn’t even sure how she was going to tell Lizzie or Mercy. She frowned; she did not want to steal Mercy’s or Laura’s thunder. She would talk to Jack, but they should definitely wait until after the wedding on Friday to tell anyone. Heck, the return trip would have to be just as rushed if they were to make it back in time for her friend’s wedding.

“Is that what has you so worried that you’re in a bar drinking and talking to a stranger before your wedding?”

“No, maybe, sort of. It isn’t exactly as simple as it sounds. I’ve known Jack almost my whole life. Hell, I’ve been in love with him almost as long.”

“So, what’s the trouble then? Shouldn’t you be happy? Not look like you’re going to cry any moment? Sorry, if I’m nosy. It’s just that sometimes…” The woman’s pretty face darkened, and she looked away for a long moment. When she finally turned back and lifted her glass of wine, Abby noticed that her eyes were misted with unshed tears too. “A toast. To getting what you always wanted. I hope it makes you happier than it did me.”

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