“You should have waited until after the wedding to unleash the beast. You gotta can the crazy, ya know?” The guard laughed. “The crown and title go to you though. You definitely won that round.”
Alice sat on her concrete throne with her hollow victory watching her mom nervously twirl the gold band around her neck with one hand while cautiously stroking Bella’s head with the other. It was impossible for Ruthanne to be mean to anyone, even if they deserved it. It was the trait Alice loved and hated most about her mom. In this moment it was hard to see her mom consoling the enemy. How could she say such awful things to people she barely knew? How dare she.
And then a thought came to Alice. “Sometimes the meanest people need the most love” her dad would say. She used to roll her eyes whenever he would give her that line, but now the thought humbled her. Alice looked up to the sky and smiled at this memory of her dad. “She must really need a lot of love dad, ‘cause that girl is MEAN”.
With each miserable tear, a little of Bella’s spitefulness seemed to wash away. She looked up remorsefully at Ruthanne and mouthed what Alice took as an apology. Ruthanne winked at Alice through the window and tucked Bella into a motherly hug.
“I’m sure she is nice once you get past the ‘devil’s spawn’ exterior.” Alice thought to herself.
Three weeks after the bridal shop wrestling match Alice drove back into town for a “take two” of the dress shopping drama. Ruthanne gave her directions for a new shop, which Alice was grateful for. She wasn’t quite ready to face Celeste or make eye contact with the security guard that pried her off of Bella.
The atmosphere that greeted them in the new shop was amazing. The boutique felt more like an actual wedding event than a shopping experience. Ornate mannequins lined the walls, looking like happy guests awaiting the bride’s arrival. An antique wood trellis sat reverently at the end of a pseudo chapel isle. It framed the three hundred sixty degree mirror that each bride would inevitably view their perfect dress in. It was breathtaking. The room propagated romance. It would be impossible to not find a wedding dress in this ambiance.
A runway worthy hostess welcomed them to the shop and led Ruthanne and Alice back to the dressing rooms where they met their dress stylists…Celeste and Izzy. Thankfully, not the same Celeste as the other shop, but Alice and Ruthanne laughed uncontrollably at this private joke while the clueless stylists looked on in confusion.
“I hope you don’t mind, but our private designer suggested a couple styles for you. They are hanging in your rooms now. I would love to have you try them on first and if they don’t work we can go from there.” Celeste said as she led them into their private dressing suites.
Alice thought it odd that a designer would recommend dress styles without discussing her budget or desires but decided to just enjoy the moment. She just wanted to enjoy today. No drama.
Izzy joined her in the dressing room and slipped a gown from its bag for Alice. The A line, organza and silk gown slid on effortlessly and rested gently on Alice’s shoulders. It felt amazing. Alice’s heart fluttered as she waited to look in the mirror. Izzy pinned a simple veil in Alice’s hair and tied a Swarovski crystal embellished belt around her bodice.
In the next room Ruthanne cried happy tears as Celeste unzipped a beautiful sheath dress adorned with Alencon lace and a beaded sash. She slipped into the dress excitedly and held Keith’s ring against her heart.
As both Alice and Ruthanne made their way down the mock isle they already knew they had found their dresses. They ooo’d and awww’d over each other and relished the moment.
“These dresses are amazing!” Alice admitted joyfully.
“Would you like to meet the designer?” Celeste asked. “She just happened to stop in today.”
“Please.” Smiled Ruthanne.
As Alice looked at her dress from every angle in the mirror her smile faded as a familiar face joined her reflection. Alice began to tense up and instinctively stood in front of her mom.
“Alice. It’s okay. Isabelle invited us here. This is her new shop. She wanted to mend the bridge.” Ruthanne explained softly.
“You look beautiful Alice.” Bella offered.
Alice wasn’t buying it. Her eyes darted across the room as she made mental notes of exits and possible defensive techniques she could use. While Isabelle continued her apology Alice concocted a plan to take Bella down without damaging her dream gown. The thought that someone so callous could be in such an industry was inexplicable to her. Oh, and the dress! There was no way she could buy it now. Isabelle had just brought them here to taunt them. To make her feel vulnerable. She had entered the belly of the beast. Her jaw clenched and she readied herself for a full bridezilla moment until the soft touch of her mother’s hand softened her.
“Just listen sweetheart. She’s trying to apologize.”
Bella had tears in her eyes and a soft expression on her face. “I designed this dress with you in mind. I’m so sorry about the…incident…in the other shop. I was in a really bad place and I was so out of line. Obviously I have some issues with my parent’s divorce that I need to deal with. My dad and I had a long heart to heart after our little brawl. He set me straight on a few things.
After their divorce I always heard whispers of their being an affair. I just assumed he did the cheating. He never corrected anyone and he never had a bad word to say about my mom. Not ever…even when she bad mouthed him. I didn’t know it was her that cheated on him. I just assumed. I am so, so sorry for the way I treated you both.”
“I really hope we can all be friends.” Ruthanne pleaded. “I love Jim so much and I want to start our new life together on a positive note. You both mean so much to us. We have waited such a long time to find this happiness. Can’t we make peace and leave the past behind us?”
“I don’t expect you to forgive my awful behavior so easily, but I’d really like a do over.”
“Throw in the dress and you have a deal.” Alice winked.
On a cool September afternoon, Alice zipped Ruthanne into the brilliant white lace dress that her new sister had designed. Ruthanne reached behind her neck unclasping the necklace she had worn for the last nine years and fastened it around Alice’s neck. Alice touched it tenderly as Ruthanne hugged her and said “I think dad would be so happy if Troy would wear his ring.”
As the sun set, the wind blew through the picturesque vineyard, and Ruthanne and Jim exchanged vows in front of family and friends. Their love, like her dress, was simple and beautiful and perfect.
Thanks for reading our story! Check back on Monday for the exciting beginning of our next story!