I had to break up this chapter into three parts, and still each part is pretty long. But after all, this is Stella and Brandon’s wedding. So I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And as always, have a great day or night depending on when you are reading this!
Stella was approaching the end of Med School. She was on her last semester, and all she had left to do was pass the final exam in front of The Exam Board. It all came down to this. If she doesn’t pass this last test then all of the late night study sessions, practicing with Harvey, and the long hours at the library would all have been for nothing. On top of that, Stella has a wedding to plan.
Stella was beyond excited as she got ready for her first wedding planning meeting. Since Cindy lives so far away in Appaloosa Plains Stella had the idea of chatting online to keep everyone involved in the planning. Stella was more than ready to get Operation Perfect Wedding started. Or so she thought.
“We want you to be focused 100% on passing your final exams,“ Aunt April, Aunt May, and Aunt June informed her. “So, leave everything up to us.“
At first Stella was relieved, and more than willing to have her aunts and her mother handle some of the wedding plans. The four of them made a surprisingly excellent team. Each one of them had special talents that they brought to the table. They were The Avengers of wedding planning.
Cindy had the vision and overall theme. April had the organizational skills to keep everything on track (and on budget). May had the creativity and the foodie knowledge. And June had the never take no for an answer attitude to bust through any red tape that they may come across.
Every detail was falling into place. Too bad that neither the bride nor groom had any input.
“This wedding is getting way out of hand.” Stella was updating Sarah.
Sarah was a few years older than Stella, and had already passed her final exam. Even though Sarah’s exam was for the ER and not for pediatrics, the format is basically the same. And Sarah has been more than glad to help Stella study.
They made a space in Stella’s dining room to go over what questions might be asked of her. They were determined to stay focused on Stella’s studies, but the conversation quickly moved from how to detect early childhood diseases to wedding updates. Everyday Stella had something new to report. Some new detail that she had had no say in.
“The guest list has gotten out of control. My parents want to invite the entire free world.” Stella began her rant. “Most of these people I have never met, or have never ever heard of!”
“You are their only child, and only niece,” Sarah was quick to offer up her advise and support, “”They all love you and they want to share your happiness with the world. Literally.”
“I understand that they want to help, and at first it was great. They focused on all of the little details, while I was able to focus on school.“ Stella continued. “But things are getting out of hand. Now Mom has decided that the wedding is to be under the giant gazebo at the Beach.“
“That doesn’t sound so bad,” Sarah thought that she had found the silver lining. “The gazebo is large enough to hold the wedding. Plus, it over looks the beach, and it is one of the most beautiful places in Twinbrook.”
“First off, Brandon hates the outdoors.” Stella retorted. “I don’t want Brandon to be uncomfortable for the entire ceremony. Secondly, that gazebo is the most popular location in Twinbrook for couples to get married. It is booked for the next year and a half. But then Aunt June felt the need to step in, and made the poor girl at the receptionist office cry, and somehow we got the date set. That’s going way overboard! But the last straw has to be the fact that they have my dress already picked out for me. I haven’t even stepped a foot into a bridal shop, but somehow I have a dress!”
“You need to talk to them,” Sarah had heard enough “This is suppose to be your day. You and Brandon. You need to tell your family that you appreciate their help, but there are some things that you need to have a say in.“
Stella felt better after talking with Sarah. Sarah always seemed to be the voice of reason when Stella’s emotions were spiraling out of control.
“At least there is one thing that they let me do,“ Stella had wanted to talk to Sarah about this for a while, she was just waiting for the prefect opportunity. “Mom asked me who I want as my Maid of Honor, and I can’t think of anyone else I would want but you.“
“Stella, I’m honored!” Sarah hugged her best friend. “Just don’t expect me to wear anything with a giant bow!”
“I can’t make any promises,” Stella joked. “They already have my dress picked out. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for you.”
Stella and Sarah were discussing possible dresses for Sarah when Brandon came home from work. Stella wanted to give her fiancé a home from work kiss, but stopped when she noticed that Brandon was holding his side.
“What’s wrong?” Stella worried.
She noticed that Brandon flinched when she lightly touched him. Sarah noticed it too, and quickly went into Doctor Mode.
“What happened?“ She asked as she felt Brandon’s forehead and was relieved that he didn’t have a fever. She lightly pressed down on his side, and Brandon winced in pain. Not a good sign.
“It is his own fault.” a voice said behind Brandon. It belonged to Carson, Brandon’s friend from The Base.
“So, what happened?” Stella repeated Sarah’s question.
“He was trying to complete the obstacle course we used to do during basic training.” Carson explained. “He fell off of the bars, and landed on his side.”
“The doctor already examined me,” Brandon tried to reassure everyone that he was alright. “He said that I have some bruised ribs, but nothing is broken.”
“Thanks for helping Brandon home, Carson” Stella had a scheme brewing in her mischievous brain. “Why don’t you stay for dinner? You stay for dinner too Sarah. Brandon, try to make yourself comfortable on the chair, and I’ll have dinner ready soon.“
“Uh oh,” Brandon joked, “call the fire department now.”
At least the fall didn’t affect his sense of humor.
Stella playfully stuck her tongue out at him. “You have to admit I have gotten better in the kitchen. Besides, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to heat up lasagna.”
One fire scare and one burnt lasagna later, Stella ordered pizza. Good thing she still had Vito’s number on speed dial. “Yup, one large Stella Special!”
The four of them sat around the living room while they waited for the pizza. Brandon sat on the soft chair that supported his back. Stella took a side chair for herself, which forced Carson and Sarah to share the sofa. The dominos were set, all Stella had to do was knock over one, and everything would fall perfectly into place.
“So Sarah, Carson and Brandon went through basic training at the military base together.” Stella began the conversation. “”And Carson, Sarah is an ER doctor who is helping me study for my final exam.“
“I know” Carson said as he subtly moved closer to Sarah. “We’ve actually met before.”
“Where?” Stella and Sarah asked at the same time.
“The day of the accident at the base,” Carson informed the group. “You set my arm in a cast.”
“Well, how interesting is that?” Stella couldn’t hide the Cheshire Cat smile from appearing on her face. “Isn’t this a small world?”
After the pizza arrived, the conversation moved to the dinning room.
“There is one more thing that the two of you have in common,” Stella spoke to Sarah and Carson as she passed around the paper plates, “Sarah will be my Maid of Honor, while Carson is going to be Brandon’s Best Man.”
Brandon started chocking on his piece of pizza, and it wasn’t because of the garlic. “Umm… Stella, I hadn’t quite gotten around to asking him yet.”
“Dude, of course I’ll be your Best Man.” Carson gave Brandon a reassuring pat on the back. “Your bachelor party is going to be epic!”
Carson was already planning the details, while Brandon was excited to have his friend be by his side. Stella, on the other hand, was not so excited. “Hold up. What kind of bachelor party do you plan on having?”
“The two of you are not even married yet,” Sarah joked, “And already you are fighting like an old married couple. Why don’t we have joint parties?”
After the meal Carson offered to help take out the trash, but Stella wouldn’t hear about it. “Why don’t you tell Sarah about all of the medals you have won instead?”
It was getting late and Sarah had the early shift at the hospital.
“Sarah didn’t drive her car, so Carson could you give her a ride home? You both live on the same side of town, so it wouldn’t be any trouble!”
By now it was pretty obvious to everyone what Stella was doing. Carson didn’t mind though.
“I would be honored to take Sarah home,” Carson smiled as he held the door open for her.
Before Sarah got into the car she gave her best friend a hug and whispered, “I am going to get you for this.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about.” Stella tried to act innocent, but couldn’t hide her mischievous smile.
“So, how is the studying going?” Brandon asked Stella as she joined him on he couch.
She put her head on his shoulder, and sighed.
“My prep for the final exam is going great. Sarah thinks that I’m ready.“ Stella let out another sigh, “But I still feel like my wedding is being hijacked.”
Brandon protectively put his arm around his fiancée, “Have you tried talking with them?”
Brandon already knew the answer was no, but he needed to ask anyway. He wanted to push Stella into taking with her aunts, but he knew that if he pushed too hard she would get defensive.
“You know how they are,” Stella felt defeated, so there was no sense in even trying, “Once they have an idea in their head, there is no reasoning with them.”
“Yeah,” Brandon said sarcastically as he rolled his eyes, “I have no idea what that is like.”
“Ha, ha, ha,” Stella closed her eyes and wondered “”But seriously, what are we going to do?”
“You know,” Brandon was in a jovial mood and joked, “Lucky Palms is only a short drive away. We could always elope.”
“That is a great idea!” Stella jumped up off the couch in excitement. “We can cut out the middle man, and just get married ourselves!”
“Stella, sweetie I wasn’t serious.”
“But I am!” Stella wouldn’t back down. Once her mind was made up there is no going back. “We are both off next weekend. It is the prefect plan. No more drama!”
“Are you sure that this is what you want?”
“Why?” Stella was starting to get defensive. “Don’t you want to marry me?”
Stella could look at Brandon anymore, and had a to turn away from him. She could feel the temperature rising as she held back the tears.
When Stella gets heated there is only one thing for Brandon to do. He put his arm around Stella’s waist so she could look him in the eyes again. He needed to let her know that what he was able to say was serious and that he meant every word of it.
“You know that I want nothing more than to marry you and spend the rest of my life with you,” Brandon held Stella’s head to his so that she could see that he was serious, “But don’t you want your family to be there?”
“The only person I want to be there is you,” Stella met Brandon’s bright blue eyes and smiled, “This is what I want.”
Brandon had no other choice but to give in, “Then tomorrow night we will plan our elopement.”
Stella was so excited that she threw her whole body into Brandon as she kissed him passionately. Brandon forgot all about the pain in his ribs as he kissed her back.
Later that night, after Stella fell asleep, Brandon snuck out into the living room to make a phone call. He knew it was late, but he wouldn’t have called unless it was an emergency.
“Hey, it’s me,” he told the voice on the other end on the line, “I’m sorry to be calling you so late, but we need to talk.”