Chapter Ninety-Four: “I wish you were dead”

Jacklyn had asked Amare to be her date to Dan and Jana’s wedding, much to the apparent hatred of Gord, who was furiously angry about it for reasons Jacklyn didn’t understand. She had heard Amare talking to Gord as he picked up the keys to his car before they’d left the city.

“Thanks for this, bro,” Amare said, jingling the keys in his hand.

“I wish you were dead,” had been Gord’s flat respone. Jacklyn had been able to hear Finch’s delighted laughter from all the way across the hall.

The trip up had been nice. They’d had a good first date the week before, despite the fact that he was forty minutes late, apparently due to the colour of his shirt. He had tactfully avoided the topic of conversation, but both Gord and Finch brought up the colour pink whenever she was around any of them. The four hour car ride had provided a lot of time for them to get to know each other better. She found she quite liked Amare; he wasn’t just a good-looking face. He was a nurse, he had his own apartment, and he liked going to the gym. He was a guy’s guy, which Jacklyn liked about him. She had never gone for the sensitive type men. She wasn’t all that sensitive herself; she wasn’t sure she’d know what to do with someone in touch with their emotions, unless those emotions were rage or jealousy.

The rehearsal dinner had also gone well. Iggy had been most impressed that she’d managed to snag Hot Neighbour as she insisted on still calling him. He had gotten on well with Miles and instantly disliked Taylor, which was the mark of a sensible person. All this compounded to create a nice, happy feeling inside her chest. She was pleased with her choices. It didn’t hurt that she felt she had won him from underneath Sybil’s nose. That was a nice confidence-booster.

And then the wedding ceremony began. Jacklyn walked down the aisle after Iggy, just before Melly. When Katy had made it to the altar, taking her place in the maid of honour’s spot, Jacklyn chanced a look to check on Amare. She felt a little bad because, as her date, he would be abandoned while she went to take part in the photographs. Most of the people he knew were in the bridal party. She had left strict instructions to Priscilla for her to take him under her wing, but she had mumbled back something about already being under a lot of pressure and Oscar so Jacklyn was slightly concerned. Not as concerned as she was when she noticed that Amare was crying, however.

At first, she assumed something was wrong. What other reason could he possibly have to be crying? She assumed he was grievously injured. But then the crying only intensified when Jana began her walk down the aisle and Jacklyn realized he was crying because he was moved emotionally and she had no idea what to do with that. It didn’t stop for the entirety of the wedding ceremony. She kept glancing over, expecting it to have finished, but it was a steady stream of tears. He was seated next to Oscar and Priscilla and their respective dates. Both Oscar and Priscilla looked incredibly alarmed.

After the ceremony, when Miles had escorted Jacklyn back up the aisle, Jacklyn darted off in search of Priscilla. She had a few minutes to spare before she had to leave to get photos taken with the rest of the bridal party. The guests were milling about, settling in for the cocktail hour before the reception began. She found Priscilla and her date standing with Oscar. His new girlfriend had gone off to the bar to get drinks for the group of them and Amare was nowhere to be seen. Jacklyn briefly worried he was alone in a dark corner somewhere, bawling his eyes out.

“Hot Neighbour went to the bathroom,” Priscilla informed her as she approached them. “I assume to compose himself after his sob-fest. He’s a wreck. He’s happier for Dan and Jana than I am. I think he might even be happier for Dan and Jana than Dan and Jana are.”

“I didn’t know he was going to be like that,” Jacklyn returned urgently, feeling a little frantic at the thought of someone having such strong emotions.

“I don’t know if he even knew he was going to be like that,” Priscilla returned. “This is Keith, by the way.”

Jacklyn shook hands with Priscilla’s dry-eyed date, feeling a little envious. At that point, she noticed that Oscar was doing a weird half-crouch thing, trying to shield part of his body with the elevated table they were standing next to. He kept looking around the room like he was expecting someone to pop out at him unexpectedly.

“What the hell is he doing?” Jacklyn asked, jerking her thumb at Oscar.

“Having an aneurism maybe,” Priscilla said, rolling her eyes. “Or avoiding Katy. Either one.”

“Excuse you, I am preventing further emotional trauma,” Oscar defended himself. All things considered, it was a pretty fair statement. He had been through a lot. And yet, he had managed not to cry. Not that Jacklyn thought whatever he happened to be doing at that precise moment was the solution to any problem. He looked demented.

“What do you suppose is going to be worse?” Priscilla began to reply shrewdly, eyebrow raised. “Her seeing you or her seeing you half-crouched behind this table like a hunchbacked nutjob?”

Keith laughed at that and Oscar looked at him like he wanted to tear off one of Keith’s arms and club him unconscious with it.

“Will you make sure Amare doesn’t cry anymore?” Jacklyn asked Priscilla, changing the subject back to her own issues. She only had a few precious minutes before she had to trek out to a field to take photos in the blistering sun. It was Priscilla’s turn to look at her like she was crazy.

“How the fuck am I supposed to do that?” She demanded incredulously.

“I don’t know, manage it,” Jacklyn answered vaguely and dismissively. Iggy was waving her over from the door into the ballroom where they were gathered.

“Manage what?” Priscilla asked. “His emotions?”

It was a very good question and not one Jacklyn had the answer to. All she could think about was Amare crying and her never being able to properly comfort him. She wasn’t cut out for that kind of emotional support. He’d only end up resenting her. She’d already imagined a crushingly depressing lifetime for them and they’d only been on one date. There clearly could never be another unless he found a way to sort out his emotions. She assumed it would be difficult to find a tactful way to tell him that.

“Jacklyn? We’re ready,” Katy announced, coming over to gather her. She smiled at Priscilla, who half-smiled in response.

“Okay, I’m coming,” Jacklyn said, urging Priscilla to follow her instructions, but through eye contact. She wasn’t sure it was very effective because Priscilla looked at her with her eyes crossed in return.

“Oh hey, Oscar,” Katy said, clearly noticing him for the first time. Part of Jacklyn was surprised he hadn’t dropped to his stomach and elbow crawled away at the first sight of her.

“Hi,” he said flatly, straightening up. Again, he glared at Keith like he wanted to see him dead. Keith, who hadn’t even done anything this time, looked startled.

“Well, you guys better hurry!” Priscilla said, literally pushing Jacklyn away. “Have fun! See you later!”

As she and Katy were walking away to join Iggy by the door, Jacklyn passed Amare, who thankfully had stopped crying.

“Just going for photos,” she told him, feeling awkward.

“Right, right,” he nodded. “Good luck. Beautiful ceremony, eh?”

Considering the amount he had cried, that seemed like a gross understatement. And frankly, she was a little surprised he’d managed to see it at all.

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