Chapter Two: A Gilmore Huntzberger Affair
"What are you doing here?" Rory clutched at her chest; she felt it collapsing as Jess Mariano walked towards her. Jess chuckled.
"Don't worry; I'm not here to ruin anything…" Jess put his hands up defensively. "Taking my step-cousin from her groom on the day of her wedding would be the scandal of the year, not willing to trash my rep that fast. I wanted to give you this before you got married away to Fancy Pants in there…" Jess smirked as he reached into his messenger bag. He pulled out a thick package, wrapped in brown paper, and then he handed it to his former girlfriend. She set down her bridal boutique on the upholstered bench beside the door.
"You don't have to open it now…" Jess insisted and Rory snorted.
"You are delaying my wedding each word you speak, Mariano…" Rory smirked as she quickly unwrapped the bundle. Inside was a thick novel, and the author's name was what caught Rory's attention.
"Jess! You got another book on the presses! Oh my gosh! Jess, this is fantastic!" Rory squealed, brushing the front with her fingertips.
"Open it…" Jess whispered. Rory did as she was told, flipping it open to the first page.
Dedicated to Rory Gilmore, whose constant inspiration and never-ending support coursed the way for this novel to be published, the encouragement of these words poured out to create a new world that readers can dive into…my undying devotion is hers; to my heroine.
"Jess…" Rory gushed, embracing him.
"You see, Rory Gilmore isn't going anywhere. She is permanently in print… I think you will see a serious resemblance between yourself and the heroine. Least I could do…"
"Least you could do?" Rory inquired. Jess chuckled.
"Don't take this the wrong way, because you and I both know the mushy stuff is not our style. But you saved me, Rory…without you, I would have ended up working at Wal-Mart for the rest of my life. Because of you I realized, potential is not ability, it is the amount of effort you are capable of putting forth. So consider it your first wedding present…" Jess kissed her on the cheek before reaching down to hand her the bouquet of roses. As if internally knowing the timing, he pointed to the door as the orchestra began to play from the hall beyond.
"Don't I even get an autograph?" Rory whispered, trying not to cry.
"I'll sign it before I go. It'll be on the present table, excuse me, present mountain in the reception hall."
"Stay, Jess! Please!" Rory urged. "Clara would kill me if she knew I got to see you and she didn't!"
"I'm not sure Logan would want the brigade of your ex-boyfriends parading in…I'll be around. Don't worry." Jess took the book back and smiled.
"Congratulations, Rory…I think they are waiting for you." Jess whispered as he turned to go. In a second, he was almost to the end of the hallway.
"Jess!" Rory called after him. He turned.
"You're not just an ex, not anymore…" She smiled. "You're family."
Jess smiled, before nodding and disappearing down the hall, while Rory pulled open the door.
"I'm ready, Dad." She beamed as Christopher held out his arm.
"You sure?" Chris inquired.
"More than ever…" Rory replied as the guests rose to her feet and the wedding march began.
Rory took a deep breath as she took a step forward, taking one step at a time down the elegant staircase along the back of the ballroom, beaming proudly as she met eyes with Logan. All anxiety melted away as she glided down the aisle on her father's arm. Faces of the ones she loved looked on happily as she approached the altar. Clara swelled with happiness as her sister winked at her before taking Logan's hand after kissing her father.
"Knock um dead!" Chris whispered.
"You bet!" Rory replied as the minister began to speak.
"Welcome, family and friends. We are gathered here in the sight of God, to join these two, Lorelai Leigh Gilmore and Logan Elias Huntzberger in holy matrimony. Before we continue, who gives this bride to be wed?"
"We do, her mother and I." Christopher spoke. "And…her stepfather, sisters, and grandparents." Rory giggled.
"Right then." The minister continued. "Is there anyone here who feels distress towards this union of these. If so…speak now or forever hold your peace."
"That's a relief…" Logan whispered. Rory blushed.
"Trust me. Clara would of jumped them." She whispered back.
"Damn straight." Clara muttered. "Sorry, Reverend Masters."
"If there are no objections, then we shall continue."
The wedding progressed beautifully and when it came time for the bride and groom to kiss, the room erupted with joyous cries and screams of delight as the newlyweds lip-locked.
"I am proud now to announce for the first time - Mr. and Mrs. Logan Huntzberger!" Reverend Masters bellowed as every guest jumped to their feet, applauding thunderously. Logan wrapped his arms around his bride's waist and breathed softly onto her neck as he spoke.
"I've never been happier than I am right now…" he murmured.
"Me either…" Rory replied and she reached to touch his face, planting a kiss on his soft lips. Cameras flashed feverishly. Clara watched as the two of them escaped up the aisle and out the doors. She started up the precession when she felt a warm hand on her arm.
"One day that will be us." James Andrews beamed down at her as he escorted her past the rows of clamoring guests along with him.
"I hope so." She answered, ducking into his shoulder as they followed Rory and Logan out into the hallway. The heavy wooden doors slammed behind them as the four all waited for the guests to move to the reception hall before they make their grand entrance.
Rory and Logan greeted them, they were winded.
"Can you believe it?" Rory squealed, taking Clara by the hands and sighing contently. Clara choked back her tears as she embraced her sister.
"No. I lose you to Logan! It's so not fair!" Clara laughed, wiping the tears from her eyes swiftly as not to mess up her makeup.
"Look at it this way!" Rory replied. "You're gaining a brother!"
"Right! And I want a dance with my new little sister!" Logan added.
"You bet, Logan." Clara giggled, hugging him.
"There she is! The woman of the hour!" Lorelai shrilled bursting from the ballroom and embracing her eldest daughter with a engulfing hug.
"You guys better get ready." Lorelai noted. "Grandma has everyone waiting for you guys to arrive. And the cake is gorgeous by the way."
"Mom, any food looks gorgeous to you." Clara said.
"You know, your sarcasm, young lady, is not appreciated!"
"I'll talk to you all when the party gets started. I need coffee!" Lorelai kissed them all before rushing down the hall and out of sight.
"Should she be drinking coffee?" James inquired.
"Yeah. Don't go there." Clara assured him.
"Come here, James. I need you to help me loosen this tie." Logan pulled him aside.
Clara sighed as Rory pulled her into a hug.
"You aren't losing me. Ever." She whispered.
"You bet. Are you kidding? You are the one who is going to have to keep me from killing Logan when he leaves all his crap all over the place." Rory laughed.
"We had better get going. I can hear the music. And we had better make the rounds before everyone continues to be sober!" Logan suggested as he took his bride by the arm.
"Maid of Honor and Best Man first!"
"Has anyone mentioned you look absolutely beautiful today?" Luke murmured to Lorelai as they swayed in time to the music, the band's lively big band number causing many couples to whirl around the dance floor. Lorelai grinned and shrugged.
"You don't look half bad yourself." She replied, brushing her hand across his hair. He blushed before pulling her closer.
"You feeling ok? Need to sit down?"
"You are a worrywart…I'm totally fine. I'm happy. My daughters are happy…and I officially have a son-in-law. And I'm dancing with the greatest, most wonderful man in the world. How much more 7th Heaven could we get?"
"Next it will be Clara getting married."
"Oh let's not talk about it." Luke grumbled as the song ended. Lorelai chuckled and the two of them went back to their table, sitting down with Emily and Richard.
"It's a beautiful party, Mom. Really." Lorelai complimented as she took a sip of her drink. Emily nodded.
"I think so. Oh Richard. I love this song! Dance with me, won't you?!" Emily pleaded.
"As you wish my dear. Are you sure you are Emily Gilmore? You do not look nearly old enough to have a granddaughter married!" Richard laughed as he stood.
"Oh, Richard. Excuse us, Lorelai, Luke." Emily cackled with glee and she and Richard twirled away.
"Mom!" Clara waved as she made her way through the crowds and plopped down on Emily's now empty chair, catching her breath.
"What did you just a marathon? Take a drink." Luke ordered passing her a glass of water. Clara downed it effortlessly.
"Sorry. I've been dancing with the groomsmen. Apparently, the maid of honor is supposed to go home with one of them and they are fighting over which one of them gets the honor. Huh, I guess that's why it's the Maid of Honor. Or does it have to do with the fact they are taking your honor?" Clara stopped when she saw the blood rush from Luke's face.
"Oh sorry, Dad. I was kidding."
"You had better be…" He warned. Lorelai set her hand on his arm, and smiled at Clara.
"Of course, my heart will always belong to you, Daddy." Clara smiled widely, before checking her hair in the back of her spoon. Lorelai rolled her eyes.
"Honey, ever heard of a compact?"
"I don't have time. I'm due on stage!" She beamed as she flipped her dark brown curls over her shoulder.
"What? What is she going to do?" Luke was instantly alarmed. "Not something that she is going to embarrass the crap outta of herself I hope!"
"Luke…" Lorelai rolled her eyes as she watched her daughter climb up onto the stage, the spotlight causing her dress to sparkle and shine. She stared out over the room. Liz and T.J were sitting with Patty and Babette, swapping stories and laughing loudly. Honor and Josh were chatting away with Logan and Rory, Shira and Mitchum were obviously fighting and were avoiding each other. The rest of the Stars Hollow crowd were trying to start a conga line, Kirk as their leader and a group of DAR ladies were gossiping about all guests, it was incredibly obvious by the way their eyes darted from person to person. Everyone seemed happy for the most part, dancing and drinking and eating.
"Hi everyone!" Clara called through the microphone. "This is some party! Huh?!"
Everyone erupted into applause and Clara laughed when she saw Colin and Finn in the back whooping and hollering.
"Well, it's an especially wonderful day for me because my sister is now one of the happiest people I know. Although I have no idea why!"
Laughter filled the room.
"Well, I could not figure out what to for Rory and Logan as a wedding present and so with some help from Lane, Zack, Brian and Gil, I figured out the perfect thing." Clara blew a kiss to Rory and with a wave of her hand, Hep Alien started to play - a jazzy number with a rock and roll twist. Clara tapped her foot in time with the music and with that she began to sing, the words come out effortlessly and in perfect tune.
"For Once in My Life,
I've got someone who needs me.
Someone I've needed so long.
For once unafraid, I can go where life leads me
And somehow I know I'll be strong.
For once I can touch
what my heart used to dream of
Long before I knew.
Someone warm like you
can make my dreams come true." *
Clara continued to sing, swaying back and forth, her voice serenading the room. Emily and Richard danced around, showing off their moves while Logan and Rory could not keep their eyes off each other. Luke was shocked.
"Did you know she could sing?!" His jaw was dropped, his face etched in disbelief.
Lorelai did not answer. Her daughter was a natural on the stage, and she was enchanting. People gawked as the tiny girl belted out one of the greatest love songs ever heard as if their ears had never heard anything like it. She focused her attention on Clara as she neared the end of the song.
"For Once I can say
This is mine you can't take it
Long as I know I've got love,
I can make it.
For once in my life
I've got someone who needs me." *
The round of applause was deafening as the guests jumped to their feet, the clapping thunderous. Rory and Logan rushed up and hugged her as whistles and cheers sounded.
"That was absolutely beautiful!" Rory squealed.
"You can sing?" Logan was flabbergasted.
"I'm a girl of many talents, bro." Clara noted, as she gave a bow and turned to address the band. Zach, Lane, Gil and Brian all bowed and applauded Clara. She was bright red by this time as she climbed down and the blush in her cheeks did not fade away by the time she reached her table. Luke was still shocked.
"Dad, it's just a thing…" Clara replied.
"It's not nothing. You should audition or something. I mean that was great honey."
"Thanks, Dad." Clara's cheeks went ever redder.
"Oh honey, he's right." Lorelai replied.
"Ok I'm officially going to melt if I don't get a drink…excuse me, won't you?" Clara sauntered off to the bar, leaning against the stand waiting for the bartender to return. After a few minutes, she sighed and decided a drink from the water fountain would be faster. As she turned to go, she ran straight into a waiter. Empty martini glasses and champagne flutes clattered down and smashed on the hard wood floor. Amber colored liquid flew and stained the skirt of her gown. She shrieked out of shock and fell to her knees to help the annoyed server with the mess. No one seemed to notice the incident over the music and drunkenness.
"I'm so sorry…I didn't see where I was going."
"Yeah, some snotty rich girl bumps into me and she wasn't watching where she was going. Surprise, surprise." He pulled the rag from his arm and mopped up the scotch.
"What…?" Clara could barely speak. "I'm sorry…"
"Whatever." The waiter hadn't stood up fully before someone hit him in the square of the back.
"Watch your manners! I'm so sorry if Jake was an ass. He's a jerk."
Clara gawked at her hero as her eyes panned him automatically. He was just another waiter but his deep brown were captivated, his jet black hair was cropped short, and his skin was a smooth tan. He was carrying a tray of salmon puffs and his arms were muscular under his white ironed shirt.
"Ms. Gilmore-Danes." He nodded before he turned to walk away. She reached for his arm and stopped him.
"How did you know my name?"
"Well, you go to Chilton. My younger brother is on the newspaper staff with you. Scholarship applicant."
"Well so was I. You're Vance Kelly's older brother?"
"How'd you know?"
"You look like him."
"I'm Will. Will Kelly." He flashed her a smile as he set down his tray to shake her hand.
"I'm Clara. Clara Gilmore-Danes. My sister's the bride."
"Well, it's very nice to meet you, Ms. Gilmore- Danes. Salmon puff?"
"Um, no thank you, not really my kind of food. And please, call me Clara." She knew that if her cheeks were not already scarlet, it would be obvious she was blushing.
"Very well. Clara." Will smiled again before leaning to her ear. "There is a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos behind the bar. Snag a couple if you are hungry." He whispered.
In an instant he was gone, circling the floor. Clara clutched her chest, weirdly winded. She had just been hit on; it had been a long time. All of the sudden, James was at her side. He leaned and kissed her fervently.
"You sang beautifully, babe. Wanna dance?"
"Yeah, but um, I'm going to get a drink first, ok?"
"Sure, I'll meet you out there." James kissed her again and disappeared.
"Very nice to meet you too, Will Kelly." She giggled to herself. "Very nice indeed."
*( The Song is "For Once in My Life" Sung by Michael Buble)
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