One drive to Boston down.
One rehearsal, one rehearsal dinner, one raucous night out with the guys down.
A wedding tomorrow, and one wife-to-be sleeping . . . down the hall.
I had a feeling this arrangement wouldn’t last. Hanna hated sleeping apart on her recent trips for faculty position interviews nearly as much as I did. And the night before our wedding her mother gets us separate rooms, to keep tradition, build suspense?
It wouldn’t last.
I reached behind me, fluffing the pillows, and then stretched out on the giant king-size bed.
My cell phone buzzed on the bedside table and I laughed, saying, “Called it,” to the empty room before answering, “Hanna, my love.”
She skipped the greeting entirely. “I’m nervous.”
I smiled into the phone. “I’m not surprised. You’re promising to obey me and be my sex slave for the remainder of your days. You know I won’t go easy on you.”
She didn’t even spare me a laugh. “Can I come to your room?”
“Of course,” I said. “I’ve been hoping you would come down—”
“No,” she interrupted with force. “No, I can’t. That was a test, Will. You’re supposed to say it’s bad luck.”
“But I’m an atheist,” I reminded her. “I don’t believe in luck. I believe in intent. I believe in discovery. I believe in sex before the wedding. In fact, I believe you are three doors down, completely wigging out, when you could come in here and talk. And then let me put my penis in you. I’ll stare at you the entire time, too, and our marriage will still be the most amazing marriage in the—”
“My boobs look enormous in my wedding dress.”
I groaned, throwing my arm over my face. “Are you trying to kill me?”
“I just wanted to warn you.” Her voice grew slightly slurred and I could immediately imagine her nervously chewing on a fingernail. “I think maybe it’s overboard. I wanted it to be a cute thing between us—your boob obsession, our wedding; I mean, you—”
“Hanna,” I cut in. “I promise to do my best not to motorboat you at the altar.”
“That isn’t what I mean.”
“Plum. Breathe.” I heard her take a long inhale and slowly let it out. “Tell me,” I said quietly. “What did you mean?”
“Just that . . . what if I look . . .”
“Perfect?” I suggested.
She blew out a burst of air and admitted in a rush, “Busty—like a busty whore bride.”
I held back a laugh, because while this was ridiculous to me, I knew it wasn’t to her. “Are we seriously doing this right now? This is your pre-wedding freak-out? That your boobs will look too awesome tomorrow?”
Hanna had dealt with the wedding planning with ease, handing over the final details to her mom while she traveled all over for job interviews. She was being recruited by schools in nearly every corner of the country, sometimes going to two different places in a single week. And she’d never once complained about the madness of the past few months. I knew my Hanna was laid-back, but—Jesus—given everything, I had expected . . . something. A meltdown while we packed, maybe? But no, we got into a playful laundry war and ended up having sex in the hallway. Maybe a nitpicky fight on the drive up to Beantown? But no, she gave me head. Even a tantrum once we reached the hotel? Nope. She grinned and stretched to kiss me before yelling, “Here we go!”
I looked around the empty hotel room, saying, “I feel like I’m getting off easy.”
Her little growl made my mouth curve into a smile, but it straightened when her voice came out reedy and stressed. “What if my dress is all boob and you’re like the only one who doesn’t think it’s obscene?”
“If you came down the aisle topless I would be completely okay with this. And mine is the only opinion that matters tomorrow.”
“Then why did we invite a hundred and sixty-four other people?”
“Hanna. Shut up, right now. Come to my room to get laid.”
The line clicked dead, and a few seconds later I heard feet shuffling in front of my door, a long pause, and then a quiet knock.
“Close your eyes,” she called from the hallway.
I walked over, closed my eyes tight, and opened the door.
“Keep them closed,” she warned.
I squeezed them tighter, obediently.
Her hands moved to my neck and slid up to my face, fumbling in her nervousness before finally managing to tie something around my eyes. And then she fell quiet. I couldn’t see her, couldn’t feel her.
Reaching out, I found her waist, pulled her to my bare chest. “Tell me what’s really going on.”
“I don’t like not being with you the night before our wedding,” she confessed into my skin. “I need you.”
Blindly, I ran my hands up her sides, over her shoulders, and along her neck before cupping her face. My fingers met soft silk, and I followed the path of the fabric to a knot at the back of her head.
Hanna had tied a scarf around her eyes, too. Oh, this one.
Laughing, I kissed the top of her head. “So stay with me.”
She groaned. “This tradition sucks, but I feel like if there are any traditions I should listen to, it’s the ones about how to not mess this marriage up. We can’t see each other until tomorrow.”
I held her face in my hands, tilting it so I could kiss her. My lips met the tip of her nose first, before traveling south to their target. “There is no way to mess this up,” I said, right against her mouth. “Even if we didn’t get married tomorrow, you’re the love of my life. I’m with you until we both die, at the same time, when I am one hundred and you are ninety-three.”
With a quiet laugh, she turned me, guiding me to the bed and carefully pulling me down onto it. She pushed me until I was lying on my back and then climbed over my hips.
“Are your eyes open now?” I asked her, teasing.
“I lifted the blindfold for a second, but they’re closed again. Someone had to navigate us here safely.”
“I mean, I think the rule is the groom can’t see the bride, right? You can look at me,” I whispered.
She paused. “Really?”