The Bridesmaid's Best Man

By: Susanna Carr

THE DANCE MUSIC pulsed through the floor and the lights flashed across the shadowy room. As the bare-chested men danced for the screaming women, Angie Lawson glanced at her cell phone to check the time. How much longer was she required to be at this bachelorette party?

She jumped when she felt someone tap her on the shoulder. Angie whirled around and saw the bride-to-be behind her. Brittany was dressed to attract attention from her fire-engine-red bandage dress to the rhinestone tiara and veil perched on top of her long, coppery hair.

“Angie, you are supposed to be having fun.” Brittany’s whine seemed to pierce through the music. Her hands were on her hips and she tapped her foot impatiently. “You’re my bridesmaid. It’s practically required!”

Angie stared at her and then looked at the women standing on the table and chairs as they screamed for the well-endowed Tiger to take it all off. She returned her attention to Brittany. “This is what you notice?”

“And what are you wearing?” She gestured to Angie and gave a look of disgust. “It’s a bachelorette party.”

“There are half-naked men everywhere,” she reminded the bride-to-be. “I didn’t realize there would be a dress code.”

“Absolutely, it is my party.” Brittany flattened her manicured hand to her chest. “I am a personal shopper for an exclusive clientele and they’re here.”

Exclusive? Angie wanted to snort at the word. She had worked with some of the most accomplished and talented women in the Seattle area. The women here at Brittany’s invitation were sloppy drunk and out of control. She was pretty sure one of them had tried to bite a stripper.

“Not only do I have to look good,” Brittany said, “but so do my bridesmaids.”

Angie glanced down at her clothes. She wore a glittery black tank, dark skinny jeans and—with great reluctance but her mother had insisted—strappy heels. There was nothing strange or offensive about her outfit.

She scanned the room, taking note of the other women in the upscale strip club that had been reserved for Brittany’s bachelorette party. The guests were not like the flannel-shirt, thick-framed-eyeglasses and designer-boots crowd she knew. They weren’t even the yoga-pants and organic-coffee group from the suburbs. The women wore flirty dresses and skintight miniskirts. The outfits were wild and sexy.

Oh. Those were two words that wouldn’t describe her. Ever. Angie sighed and fought the urge to hunch her shoulders. Once again, she had dressed all wrong. She thought what she had worn was sophisticated and trendy enough that she would blend in. Instead she looked like a dark giant among the sugarplum fairies.

“I mean, really, Angie.” She tossed her hands up with frustration. “What’s wrong with showing a little cleavage?”

Now Brittany was really beginning to sound just like her mother. “Nothing.” Angie shrugged. And it was a good thing she felt that way, since she was going to flash the whole world when she wore her bridesmaid dress. It was tight, shiny and barely covered the essentials.

“I give up. Just try to look like you’re enjoying yourself,” Brittany said as she marched off.

Angie froze at those parting words. She had made a valiant effort to get into a party mood but she was bored. And that was cause for worry. Actually, she hadn’t been interested in any man since Cole walked out of her life. That was months ago and yet, watching these gorgeous men had left her cold. Why couldn’t she enjoy watching a man dance? It didn’t make sense. She was young and healthy. What was wrong with her?

“Don’t listen to Britt.”

Angie peered down and saw Brittany’s assistant at her side. Cheryl, a petite and curvy blonde who usually wore jeans and animal-print tops, was dressed in a leopard-print tube dress and skyscraper heels.

“She gives unsolicited fashion advice all the time,” Cheryl said with a weary smile. “She doesn’t mean anything by it.”

“It’s okay. It doesn’t bother me,” Angie assured Cheryl, but the woman was already trailing her boss.

And it didn’t bother her that much. She heard the complaint so many times that it had become white noise. Boyfriends had always wanted her to wear revealing clothes and well-intentioned friends kept trying to give her a makeover. No matter how much they insisted, she wouldn’t give in. She knew she would never meet their expectations. What would be the point of trying?

She had learned to resist this type of help from a young age. Her mother used to make her go on shopping expeditions that felt more like death marches. Despite her mother’s perseverance to create a girly look for Angie, it never stuck. Angie preferred the hand-me-downs from her brothers rather than the ruffled dresses and makeup.