Love Letters(7)

By: Geraldine Solon

“You are,” Nicole said, following her down the stairs.

They got in the Jetta and headed for the first stop, the Ritz Hotel. As they entered, Chloe asked Nicole to wait for her by the table in the lobby, while she spoke to the manager about the menu, fees, date and time.

“Do you realize how long you took?” Nicole said when Chloe returned to the table nearly an hour later. “I already drank four martinis and I’m buzzed.”

“Will you relax? I got all the information I need and now I have to decide on my guest list and the food. I reserved the date for June 15th, which is a Saturday, at four p.m. I want my guests to be able to watch the sunset while celebrating,” Chloe said, admiring the ocean view.

“Whatever,” Nicole said, obviously feeling no pain after the four martinis. “You seem to have it all figured out.”

“C’mon, Nic. At least I have one of my tasks down. What do you think I should serve: braised beef or grilled chicken?”

“How about a martini,” Nicole said, her face flushed and her eyes glazed.

“There will be lots of martinis, but you better stay sober because you’ll be doing our makeup, including my mother’s.”

Nicole laughed. “You’ve spoken to Suzanne?”

“Not yet. That’s last on my list,” Chloe said, looking down at what she had written.

Nicole raised her perfectly waxed eyebrows. “Suzanne will make sure she’s the fairest of all.”

“She better not. This is my special day, not hers,” Chloe said, remembering her childhood. Mom hosted parties at home for Dad’s work and for their friends and often commented about how tacky the wives of Dad’s employees dressed.

Suzanne, on the other hand, would always dress with matching purse and shoes. She made sure her nails were neatly manicured, her hair freshly blow-dried, and her makeup perfect. At times, she seemed overdressed for the occasion, but she always said, “It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.” Chloe had to admit, she had learned a lot about quality back then.

“If you buy a cheap purse,” her mother had insisted, “you’ll end up spending more because it doesn’t last long. Better to buy an expensive one that you’re sure will last a lifetime.” Mom’s goal was to be number one all the time.

Nicole patted Chloe’s arm. “Did you hear what I said?”

“Huh?”

“I was asking about your color.” Nicole nudged her friend playfully. “What color are you going for?”

“I’ve decided my motif is going to be white with a touch of blue like the ocean.”

“Ooh! Sounds pretty.”

“Speaking of color, c’mon.” Chloe stood up and pulled Nicole’s arm. “Time for step two. Flowers!”

Fifteen minutes later, with Nicole staggering beside her into the flower shop, Chloe rushed over to examine the arrangements. She tapped her chin and frowned. In the end, she chose a simple floral arrangement for the tables. Blue hydrangeas with white gardenias. The florist advised her to add a small touch of pink ginestras as filler. The same arrangement would be used for her bouquet.

“Two places down. How many do we have left?” Chloe asked, checking her list.

“We need to eat. My stomach is growling,” Nicole said, touching her midsection.

“All right, we can discuss the rest over lunch.”

“Haven’t you had enough for one day?” Nicole groused.

“You don’t sound happy for me, Nic. If this were your wedding, I would be enthusiastic about it,” Chloe said as she opened the door to her car. Nicole sighed.

They were silent on the way to the restaurant. Nicole sighed again.

“What’s wrong?” Chloe asked as they arrived at Pasta Moon, one of their favorite restaurants. Nicole shook her head.

They entered the restaurant and took a seat. A waitress brought the menu then left, returning five minutes later.

Chloe ordered her usual Wood-Oven Roasted Pork Loin Panini, while Nicole ordered the Baked Eggplant Parmesan. They both requested fresh lemonade.

“Will you please tell me what’s wrong? You’re my best friend and I don’t want you keeping secrets from me,” Chloe begged.