A/N: I don't own Twilight or Made of Honor. Note at the bottom.
Mate of Honor
This time, the gasp that escapes the gathering surpasses all those that have happened before it. I'm surprised the makeshift chapel holds any more oxygen. The celebrant looks heavenward, and Bella turns to face Benno.
"Anything you want to tell me?" she asks. She sounds terrifying; it kind of turns me on.
"It was only once," Benno says, shrinking into himself a little.
"Actually, it was more than once," Bec calls helpfully. "I have other pictures…"
"Who?" Bella asks, advancing. "Who is she?"
"It's me." There's another collective intake of breath, and everybody turns to face Tess.
"And you're in love with her." Bella states it simply, like it's fact. "I guess I knew."
"You knew?" Benno asks, sounding surprised. His shoulders relax a little.
"Of course I did." She sounds a little softer. "You think I wouldn't notice that you were in love with your best friend?" She reaches behind her to grasp my hand in hers. I squeeze hers in return. "I saw the same look in your eyes I saw in the mirror every day."
"Then why?" asks Benno. "Why'd you agree to marry me?"
Bella shakes her head and tilts her head down. "Same reasons, I guess. I thought he'd never see me the same way. But wait." She looks up and stares directly at him. "You slept with her?"
"It was only once," he says.
Bella blows out a breath. "Right," she says, and then she smiles. "Then I have a good reason to do this."
With a wide swing that he never sees coming, her fist connects with his cheekbone. He falls backward, and Tess squeals as she runs to his side.
"Now we're even," Bella says. She hitches up her dress with one hand and reaches to grab my hand with her free one, but she winces and loops her wrist through my elbow instead. "Let's go."
We walk hurriedly down the aisle, through the sea of shaking heads and tsking, with our friends and Bella's family hot on our heels. I figure we've got about two minutes before everybody here loses it completely and comes after us, so I pull Bella into a run. She stumbles a little as she kicks off her shoes, and we sprint for the cars.
"This way!" she calls, pulling me in the direction of a car that has "just married" written across the back and beer cans tied to the bumper. We jump in, and I'm thrilled to see that the keys are already in it.
"Go!" she says, giggling as she slaps the dashboard. She sounds a little hysterical, and I can completely understand it—I feel the same way. "Go!"
Bella pulls her skirts in around her and slams the door, and I gun it in the direction of the driveway. My phone chimes in my jacket pocket, and I toss it to Bella. She reads it aloud.
"It's from Jasper," she says. "'Had a feeling this would happen. Head south. Have the girls. Will meet you at the airport.'" She taps at the screen, presumably a return message, then sets the phone on her lap. She turns to look at me, a wide grin on her face. It's unlike any smile I've seen on her. Ever.
"What the fuck did we just do?" she says, still giggling. She pulls at her hair, tearing off the veil.
"Here," I say, holding the wheel with one hand and reaching across with the other. I gently tug at the comb holding in the veil, and it comes loose.
"Thanks," she says, and she reaches up to pull about a billion more tiny pins out that were somehow hidden in there. Once the veil is free, she winds down the window and tosses it out. The wind catches it, and it blows off into a field.
"Wasn't that—" I ask, but she interrupts.
"That was new," she says. "I never wanted to wear the stupid thing."
"You didn't want to wear this either," I say, winking as I tug at one of the massive sleeves on her dress.
"It's staying on," she says, and then she frowns. "Stop at the next town. I'll post it back to Sarah."
"The people in the next town are probably all at the wedding," I comment dryly.
She gasps. "Shit, you're right." She tugs at the neckline. "God, those people know everybody. Well, maybe get a few towns away, then. We should be in the clear."
I remember back to the night at the pub—I thought we were miles away from Benno's family's house—and Snow's friends looked pretty rough. "I think we better wait until we get to the city."
"That works," she says, and she lifts her feet to rest them on the dashboard. Her head falls back, and she looks over at me, a lazy smile spreading across her face. "I'm beat."
When I look over at her, she looks completely exhausted. There are dark circles under her eyes, and she looks drawn. "Why don't you take a nap? It's hours until the airport. You've got time."
"Maybe I will," she says, and she snuggles deeper into the chair. "Ah, crap."
"What is it?" I ask.
"All my stuff. I mean, I have enough clothes for a few days, and my passport is in my purse—thank God—but everything else?"
I think for a moment. "Maybe Tess will send it to you. I kind of got the impression she was a nice person."
Bella quirks an eyebrow at me. "Except for the part where she slept with my fiancé."
"Oh yeah," I say. "Except for that part."
"Well, it could be worse," she says, and she looks downward. Her cheeks flush, and her expression is unreadable.
"How's that?" I say.
Bella clears her throat and shifts uncomfortably. "She could've slept with you."
I snort loudly. "Never," I say firmly.
My girl fiddles with the lace on her dress, rubbing it between her fingers. "I...um…"
Glancing over at her, I can see she's flushed an even deeper red. "What is it?" I ask gently.
She blows out a breath and stares out of the windshield. "I thought you did. Last night."
My brow furrows in disbelief. "Last night?" I say.
Bella grins, but it's sheepish. "Yeah. I saw you leave with her."
"Ah," I say dismissively. "Nothing happened."
"I know," she says quickly. She giggles nervously. "I had Cookie check up on her."
I laugh out loud. "Now there's somebody I will miss."
Bella sighs happily. "I know. Her cooking?" She kisses her fingers. "Amazing."
Grinning, I wink at her. "Maybe I'll offer her a job. She'd get along great with Mrs. Cope."
Bella's half-squeal almost makes me jump. "Ooh! That would be so great! But she'd have to live at my house."
"Ha!" I laugh. "You're delirious, B. Get some sleep."
"Good idea." She sighs again and settles back. "Oh, E? One more thing."
"Yeah?" I ask, my attention back to the road ahead of us.
"I've never been as happy as I am right now." She yawns loudly. "Tired, but happy."
I reach across to hold her hand. "Me, too."
"Another thing." She yawns again, and I wonder if she got any sleep at all last night. "I'd like to kiss you again."
I grin, and it probably looks really goofy. "Soon," I promise.
She sighs contently, and her eyes drift closed. "Good."
"Oh, and Bella?"
"There are a few other things I'd like to do with you, too."
"Mm?" she murmurs, still smiling. "Like what?"
My mind flashes through countless images. Bella curled up in the corner of her office in her red chair. Bella, giggling as she eats her disgusting mushroom-covered pizza in our favorite restaurant. Bella, wearing a completely different white dress, walking toward me, surrounded by our family and friends. Bella, later that evening, sprawled across a bed, that same white dress cast aside as she writhes and gasps my name.
"There's something I'd really like to do. More than anything else," I tell her. "As soon as we get to Chicago."
Her eyes pop open, and her cheeks flush. "What is it?"
"Bella?" I take my eyes off the road long enough to gaze into hers. "I'd really like to date you."
She giggles. "Edward?" she says, and she smiles brightly. "Right now, there's nothing else I want more."
A/N: Big thanks to itsange for beta'ing this chapter. Huge hugs and my deepest, humblest thanks to the amazing mcc101180. Mel, thank you for everything you've done for me over the years. I'm a better writer for it, and I appreciate it more than you could know.
TwiSNfan: Lisa, you know I'm crazy about you. You know it. You give me a nudge when I'm lost, and you're there for me when I whinge and freak out. My life really is better for having you in it.
Huge thanks to the very special people who live in that special, always-sunny spot—you know who you are. I have no idea how I managed to stumble onto such an amazing group of people. You make me stop, think, and consider the value of every word. And you make me realise that the occasional run on sentence is okay every once in a while.
Lastly, to my loyal readers. I appreciate those of you who have stood up for me, and those who have stood by me. I just wish your voices were enough to drown out the negativity. The armour I've built around my heart isn't strong enough to beat off the nastiness I've been hit with these past few months. The clincher was the string of guest reviews that told me I was worthless, that I'm a terrible person, and that I should never write again.
I will...but it'll take some time. The epilogue is to come, but I need to work myself up to write it. I also need to settle in to my house (which I finally moved in to, two days ago). I need to put real life first, and I also need to try to remember what it is I love about writing.
So, for now, this is me signing off.