‘Calla’ continues with another unedited excerpt.
Exiting the banquet hall Calla smiled, reinvigorated by the sweet scents of spring carried on the night air from nearby Golds Lake.
The clouds carrying the rain Tena feared would ruin her wedding day, at last, gathered in the late evening sky but even their dreary darkness couldn’t hide the brilliance of the full moon.
Gazing toward the lake stirred feelings of wanderlust in Calla.
Though small and not a true lake, the body of water was just one of many tributaries winding its way through the small towns of eastern Missouri to join with the mighty Mississippi River a couple of hours away.
Even the water was going places.
Shaking her head, Calla clicked the release button on her car remote, opening the back hatch of her Chevy Equinox.
She’d stayed far longer at the reception than planned. But after Tena and Lloyd made their departure for their hotel and Tanya had to get her fussy two-year-old home, Calla felt obligated to pack up Tena’s personal items used before the ceremony and help Neeri oversee the hall’s cleanup.
Her mood darkened as she deposited garment bags and overnight cases into the large compartment.
Slamming the hatch with more force than needed, Calla stalked to the driver’s door, flung it open and launched herself into the vehicle with all the grace of The Hulk.
Exasperated, Calla slid down in the seat, burying her face in her hands.
Why do I allow this to bother me?
Most people look forward to going home, but the thought of it is bringing on a migraine.
No longer avoiding the inevitable, Calla flipped open the center glove box, took out her cell phone and turned it on.
An array of musical tones and beeps played for a full minute while messages loaded. Swiping the screen, Calla knew the nine most recent texts were sent from Mavis’ phone, candid shots of the bridesmaids during the reception.
Ignoring the rest of her notifications, Calla opened the reception photos, her good mood returning with the first photo.
All five of the bridesmaids were grouped together around Lloyd with stern faces and clenched fists, as if to say, “Hurt Tena and we’re coming for you!” The goofy grin on Lloyd Taylor’s face proved the photo was in jest… especially since Tena photo-bombed the shot doubled over in laughter.
A photo of Calla and Tena tugged at Calla’s heart. Her lifelong friend had been there for Calla through everything, good and bad. The two women had never had a single argument. They each had a way of speaking truths the other didn’t always want to hear, without judgment or meanness.
Happy for her friend, Calla would miss their girl-time together. After a three-week honeymoon with stops in Vegas and Hawaii, the Taylors would return home and to work.
Tena promised a girls-night out the week she returned, but Calla knew better. Newlyweds only had time for each other, and that was the way it should be. Both thirty-four, Calla also knew her friends wouldn’t waste any time starting a family.
The joy in Tena’s face made her smile. She got her happily ever after.
Studying herself next to Tena, Calla wasn’t sure what she saw.
Large, dark ringlets left out of her formal up-do hung down the side of her full, cherubic face. Her maid of honor dress was the same pale straw shade of gold as the other bridesmaids, but Calla’s dress didn’t have an empire waist or sweetheart neckline. Instead, Calla’s dress hung from her shoulders and cinched to one side, showing off her full, hourglass figure while the color made her smooth honey brown skin glow.
She looked good.
Calla also looked happy, which she was… for Tena. But a closer, more thorough inspection would find the sadness in her eyes.
She tossed the phone into the passenger seat and massaged her lower abdomen.
The slow burn she’d ignored for most of the evening was making itself known again, searing a feverish path across Calla’s stomach.
She had only herself to blame.
The peptic ulcer was all but gone after weeks of bland foods and Calla’s rock-solid determination to not allow things to upset her, but the champagne and rich foods of the wedding reception found their way to the weak, still open areas of the ulcer and went to work.
The pain wasn’t easing up and Calla had no antacid with her, so she started the car and headed home… to the cause of the ulcer.