Four Weddings And A Fireman(2)

By: Jennifer Bernard


Four months and twelve days later, from the wedding of Patrick Callahan IV and Lara Nelson . . .

The ring of her phone startled Cherie awake. Disoriented, she scrambled for it, squinting at the name that flashed on the screen. Vader. What in blue blazes? Vader was in Loveless, Nevada, at the wedding of his friend Patrick. And it was three in the morning.

Oh, sweet Lord. A wedding. She’d nearly forgotten what happened at the last one. The smart thing would be to ignore the call in case Vader did anything reckless like throw their relationship into chaos again.

Still, it was Vader, her own personal version of catnip, the only substance in the world she couldn’t resist for long. “Hello?”

Vader’s deep voice rumbled from her phone, sending the usual shivers down her spine. “We should get married, Cherie.”

Crap.

“I mean it,” he continued. “Why don’t you fly down here right away and I’ll pick you up in Psycho’s tractor and we’ll get ourselves hicced. I mean, hitched.”

“Vader, are you drunk?” Was Vader drunk-dial-proposing to her? Despite her sinking heart, a little snort of laughter escaped her.

“Oh come on, Cherie. You know we’re meant to be together. You know it. Hang on. Some dude’s banging on the door.”

“Where are you?”

“Bathroom.”

“You’re proposing to me in a bathroom?”

“Dude! Find yourself a bush. Toilet’s taken.” He returned to her. “Some guys have no manners. Frickin’ embarrassment.”

Cherie clapped a hand over her mouth to keep from giggling out loud. “Let’s talk later, okay?”

“I can’t stay in here all night. People won’t like that.”

“No, I mean, let’s talk tomorrow. When the wedding’s totally over and you’ve had a good night’s sleep.”

Vader went quiet. Then, “Aw, hell.”

“What?”

“I proposed again, didn’t I? And you rejected me.”

“Vader. I didn’t reject you because you didn’t propose. You’re a little buzzed, and I’m half asleep, and none of this counts.” Please, just let him forget the whole thing ever happened.

“You wanna erath . . . erase it, don’t you? Just like last time?”

Cherie groaned silently. “Could we?”

“Guys don’t like having their proposals erased. Feels bad.”

No, no, no. Cherie hated hurting anyone, but hurting Vader was the worst of all. She couldn’t bear it. “Please don’t feel bad, sweetheart. You know how I feel about you. This is just bad timing, that’s all. We’ll talk about it later.” She cast around for a distraction. ”How was the wedding?”

“Beautiful. That’s the problem, right there. Weddings. I can’t take it. They’re too freaking beautiful. The way Lara looked at Psycho, like he’s made out of stardust or something . . . and the llama . . . the cute little llama had the ring tied to her collar and she trotted up right when she was supposed to, and—” He broke off.

“Vader? Are you okay?”

“I better go.”

“Are we cool? Still friends?”

Vader let out a long groan. “We are what we are, tha’s all. Whatever that is. And don’ ask me to figure it out. I’m done trying, Cherie. Done.” And the connection ended.

Cherie dropped back on her pillow, then grabbed another one and clamped it over her mouth so she could let out a frustrated scream. If only she could explain everything to Vader . . . but she couldn’t . . .

This was a disaster. Vader had now proposed twice. In the morning, he’d probably hate her. What if he hated her so much he decided to call it quits, for real? The thought gave her a horrible chill. Life without Vader . . . she didn’t want to think about it. Vader was too important to her.

They’d survive this. She didn’t give up that easily. At the right moment, she’d try to get their relationship back on track.

With her natural optimism flowing back, she searched for a bright side and finally found one.

Vader was one of the famous Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel. Bachelor Firemen. As in, single. Surely that meant no more weddings for a while. If the Bachelor Firemen would just stop getting married, Vader would forget about proposing and they could go back to normal. She floated a tiny prayer into the heavens. Let the Bachelor Firemen curse last just a little bit longer.

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