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White linen drapes served as rooftops for the wedding tents, all curved to perfection as they crossed and met in different directions. The festoon lights underneath it made it stand out much more, and also illuminated the light and airy space as the reception continued down towards the beach. The waves weren't as angry today, a neutral calm flowing through the water with ease as it crashed against the sand and against my toes. The sun was minutes away from setting and the view from here was breathtaking.
Marley had done an amazing job planning every single detail of this wedding, all the way down to the cocktail napkins, which had her new initials engraved at the top right hand corner in a cursive font. It was hard to grasp how much we've both grown apart in the last couple of years, considering we used to be just a couple of best friends who had no idea what life was about not too long ago, kissing boys and getting wasted because of them. Now here we were on her wedding day, barely speaking to each other. I shouldn't have shown up here. I knew that. But how could I pass up the opportunity to see her up on that altar, marrying the love of her life, in that jaw-dropping wedding dress of hers? I was proud of her and wished nothing but the happiness she deserved. Even if she did decide to kick me out of her wedding tonight.
"Mami? You want some cookies? We want to share some with you," the small voice and arm came from Zach, who lifted his hand to hand me a few cookies. Smiling down at my baby boy, I took a cookie and bit into it, moaning with pleasure as the sugar exploded against my tongue. I loved sugar cookies. But they were definitely going to keep these boys up tonight if they kept eating them.
"Come sit with me," I ordered, both of us sitting our behinds on the warm sand. Zander sat by my right side shortly after, the three of us watching the sun go down while we shared the cookies. We had alot of moments like these back in Palomino, and while I missed it terribly, this was home. It was going to suck leaving this place again.
"Aunt Serena? Uncle Danny needs your help. He got cut trying to fix one of the lights. He's in the bathroom upstairs," Giselle's panicked statement caused me to stand up quickly, brushing the sand off my dress as we all hurried inside the beach house.
"Watch the boys for me, Giselle," I ordered and she nodded as she took their hands and led them away, while I hurried up the stairs and knocked on the left hand corner bathroom, "Daniel? It's Serena. Let me in," I demanded, hoping he found the first aid kit I had seen under the vanity earlier for the guests.
"Who told you I was up here?" he asked with a raised eyebrow when he opened the door, holding a rag against the back of his hand. I noticed his wound was bleeding through after I closed the door and I reached to apply pressure on it but I hesitated, in case he didn't want me tending to the wound.
"May I?" I offered, and he nodded, giving me permission. I took his wounded hand and reached for the first aid kit he had already been opening when I got here. Reaching for the hydrogen peroxide first, I dumped a small amount onto some gauze from the kit and removed the rag away from his cut. It didn't look as deep as I had pictured, but it was still dripping blood. I began to clean it up, careful not to hurt him further, then took a new sheet of gauze, placing it against his wound with enough pressure to stop the bleeding while I wrapped his hand up with the gauze wrap.
"There. You should be okay if you clean it at least once a day and change the bandage," I informed him, disposing of all the bloody gauze into the trash bin near the toilet.
"Thanks," he replied, stretching his fingers out a bit as he looked at me. He was trying to hold back his smile and I sighed, wondering why despite his drinking habits and sleepless nights, had he remained so handsome.
"No problem. The boys like to climb things, and I'm the one usually cleaning up their bumps and bruises," I mentioned, chuckling as I remembered the time Zach had decided climbing a coconut tree was a fun idea when he was four, and had manage to scrape his entire left leg on the way down. I'd been pissed at him that entire day, but I had to put that aside to tend to the crying boy and his brother, who had tried the same thing shortly after.
"Told you so," he answered smugly and I rolled my eyes at him, turning to open the bathroom door. When I tried to turn the doorknob, I realized the door was stuck. I kept shaking it, rattling it, hoping it would budge. But it seemed it might've been locked from the outside maybe?
"Let me try," Daniel offered, and I stepped aside to let him. He banged on it, tried to rattle the doorknob just like I had but it was still stuck. He quickly went to the window to try and open it, but that was stuck as well. He dipped his finger into something that resembled clear goo dripping from the bottom of the window, and he raised an eyebrow after he sniffed at it.
"This is gorilla glue. Someone glued this window shut," he pointed out, trying to lift the window up with his good hand. I stepped in next to him, giving him the extra strength he needed, but the window still wouldn't move.
"Wait, I have my phone," he mentioned and I nodded in relief. But when he cursed, I assumed he realized his phone was dead, "I told Giselle to charge this thing for me," he finished, throwing his phone back into his pocket and I raised an eyebrow at him.
"She's the one who sent me up here..." I trailed off, growing heavily irritated by that little scheming shithead. I had a feeling this had been her plan all along. I guess she was more like her father after all.
"Are you saying we're stuck in here until someone figures out we're missing?" Daniel questioned and I growled in frustration. I was growing more claustrophobic by the second and I felt as if I might pass out soon.
"I need to get out of here," I panicked, trying to keep myself together while I paced back and forth. I had two boys out there, who were surrounded by strangers, and I was stuck in here with no way out.
"You don't have your phone with you?"
"You try having a personal phone with kids around. They take everything you have and take it for themselves," I snapped and he raised an eyebrow at my angry tone. I winced, turning away from him, bracing my hands against the shower glass in front of me as I tried to collect myself.
"Are you mad because you're stuck in here? Or because you're stuck in here with me?" he asked and I shook my head, not willing to start this argument when I no way to escape if I needed to.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean anything by it," I apologized, hoping it would smooth over quickly. But it only made him throw something across the floor. I stepped back and glared at him, wondering what the hell he was thinking.
"What the hell is wrong with you?"
"What's wrong with me? You come back into town, with this new I-don't-give-a-fuck-about-anything attitude and then you keep doing nice things like cooking, and taking care of my fucking hand, and on top of that, I don't know how to be around you anymore. And I fucking hate that because you used to be the only person I wanted to be around, and now I don't know anything anymore," he ranted, the rage in his eyes penetrating my gaze as he moved away from me. He was still stewing and rotting in his pain and I had no one to blame but myself. The tables have definitely turned this time, and I was finally the villain in his story, instead of him being mine.
"I should've stayed away," I stated quietly, looking away as I crossed my arms and stepped away from him.
"Yeah, maybe we both should've," he spat and I looked at him sharply.
"You don't mean that."
"Of course I don't," he admitted in defeat, placing his back against the bathroom door as he slid down and sat on the tiled floor. I did the same, sitting next to him, and he reached for my hand then, not bothering to ask for permission first. Hand holding usually led to other heated things whenever Daniel and I were concerned. This time, it started after the slow merging of our lips, and we continued to sit there, his fingers in my hair, our foreheads touching, easing into calm but unfamiliar territory as he unzipped the back of my dress.
The sound of the door shaking behind me stirred me awake, and I lifted my head off of Daniel's bare chest, quickly pulling my dress back up before I turned to wake him up. He jumped upright, rubbing his right eye as I helped him button up his dress shirt.
"Danny? Are you in there?" I heard Marley's voice on the other side of the bathroom door, and Daniel and I shared a look as we hurried to finish getting dressed and look at least halfway decent.
"The door and the window are stuck. We can't get out," Daniel announced as his fingers took a hold of the zipper at the back of my dress, pulling it up just in time before Michael and Freddy kicked the door in, splintered wood spreading all over the floor.
"Did she stab you?" Michael asked with a raised eyebrow, and Daniel looked at him in confusion. I nudged at his ribs and gestured towards his injured hand.
"Oh, no. I was trying to fix something and got sliced pretty good. She took care of me," Daniel explained to them, sending a knowing smile in my direction. I held mine back as they all cleared their throats, forcing us to focus.
"Someone locked us in here," I changed the subject, before anyone could focus on the fact that Daniel and I had been in this bathroom for two hours unsupervised, "and I have an idea as to who it was," I finished, glaring down at the mischievous little girl standing behind Freddy. They all turned to look at her and she showed them her best dimpled-smile as she stepped away from Freddy and shrugged.
"I was downstairs the whole time. Ask Zander and Zach! They're my witnesses," Giselle stated innocently and Marley seemed like she was the only one who wasn't buying her story, as well as Daniel and I.
"Are the boys okay?" Daniel asked them all. Michael nodded first, taking his phone out of his pocket to show him a picture of our sleeping boys laying on what looked like a white leather loveseat with navy blue accent pillows.
"They're sleeping in my office," Marley chimed in, hiking up her dress as she turned to look at me, "you have a minute?" she asked and I nodded, following her outside while the guys began to clean up the mess in the bathroom. She led me downstairs, and we walked side by side in silence until we reached the far end of the beach, where no one would be able to hear my screaming if she decided to throw me into the ocean behind us.
"Michael told me your story about Thea forcing you into hiding. I get why you left. I really do. But," she paused, taking a breath as she crossed her arms and blinked away her tears. I tried to reach for her but she stepped away, "I'm tired, Serena. Michael and Freddy are too. We're all tired of how both you and Danny do nothing but hurt each other, forcing us to take sides when all we want is to get along and be a damn family. So, if you intend on staying, and I have a feeling you wont, do us all a favor and stop dragging us into your mess," she demanded, catching her breath as she turned to leave.
I stepped in front of her, stopping her and pulled her in for a hug. I didn't care how pissed she was at me. She was still my best friend and I had missed her more than words could say, eventhough I knew I probably wasn't hers anymore.
"Your flight to Cancun leaves in an hour," I explained, as I pulled away and helped her fix the mess that was her running mascara.
"It's my wedding gift to you and Michael. An all expenses paid honeymoon trip to Cancun. And before you try and talk me out of it, it's all non-refundable. So, please go and enjoy yourselves. You deserve it," I persisted and while I knew she wanted to decline my offer, she also knew I was the most stubborn one out of us all, and wouldn't mind arguing about it all night if I had to.
"Thank you," she said quietly, nodding towards me as she stepped away and walked back up the beach to say goodbye to her guests, and ultimately our friendship.