Author, poet, speaker, and singer Jennifer Anne F. Messing of Portland, Oregon, is a wife, and mother of three children. She has a bachelor's degree in Christian Education and a diploma in Journalism. A past president of the Oregon Christian Writers, Jennifer Anne has had 180+ articles, short stories, and poems published in 55 magazines and books including Bible Advocate, The Storyteller, Evangel, LIVE, Seek, Standard and Nudges from God. She reviews classic and family-friendly movies as the "Portland Classic Movies Examiner" for Examiner.com. Jennifer Anne has also authored two poetry gift books. She was born in Manila, Philippines. Visit her website www.JenniferAnneMessing.com, or visit Portland Classic Movies Examiner
Arriving at this familiar church to be a bridesmaid at Claire’s wedding seems almost unreal. Claire Bloom was one of my closest friends in grade school and high school. Now she’s going to walk down the aisle in less than two hours into the arms of dashing Paul Payne!
While I was visiting Springfield last summer, Claire and Paul had announced their engagement. They said they’d be married on Valentine’s Day next year. Because Claire had gone through a difficult first marriage, I’d been delighted with their news.
I see another dear old friend, Suzette Powers, hurriedly approaching me. She gives me a big hug. “Genevieve! So good to see you.”
We walk through the spacious hallway and into the bridesmaids’ dressing room. In a corner hanging rack I see an elegant, wine-colored gown. Within fifteen minutes I’m changed and ready.
We walk into the foyer and see a large group of people. Ushers are handing out programs. Next I hear the voice of the wedding coordinator, Ms. Drummond. “Wedding party members need to get in place now.” She starts to line everyone up.
A few minutes later I see another familiar face. And it’s not just a familiar face, it’s a handsome one: Justin Morrelli, a boy I dated for several months during my senior year in high school. But he’s not a boy anymore. In fifteen years he’s grown up and he’s even more good-looking now!
“Justin, so nice to see you!”
“My pleasure to be your escort today, Genevieve.” Justin gazes me with an appreciative eye.
I’m stunned. I didn’t even know Justin was going to be a groomsman. I look over at Suzette, who appears to know exactly what I’m thinking.
“You haven’t been in town much, and you weren’t here yesterday for the rehearsal dinner,” Suzette says. “We decided last night that Justin would be your escort.” She flashes me a wink.
“I’m so glad you’re here for Claire’s wedding,” Justin says softly. He carefully adjusts my corsage. “It’s been a long time since I last saw you.”
“Five years ago, at our high school reunion.”
“I remember. And you looked beautiful that day. But today you’re absolutely ravishing! I’ve always loved your long brown hair.”
“Thanks, you don’t need to flatter me.”
“I’m not flattering you, Gennie.” Hearing him speak my nickname warms my heart unexpectedly. “I mean what I say. I’ve missed you.”
“Perhaps it’s too late.” I turn and look away.
“Gennie, don’t say that. Please, give us another chance. Will you come to dinner with me today, after the wedding? Will you be my valentine?”
“I was supposed to be your Valentine’s Day date fifteen years ago! But you suddenly wanted to take Deanna out. You said, ‘How about a rain check?’”
“I didn’t know what I was doing. I was young and stupid. Have you ever done anything you’ve regretted?”
“And I’ve always regretted not taking you out for Valentine’s Day back then. I’ve thought about you many times in the years since . . .” His voice is husky. “I’ve never forgotten our first kiss.”
How can it be that I’m standing side by side with this handsome, kind man I used to love and have tried so many times to forget?
Justin clears his throat. “We’ve both never married. So many years have gone by, but I can’t forget you. I still want you so badly.”
I suddenly hear music, the first chords of the wedding march. I turn and look behind me and spot Claire, who looks exquisite in her bridal gown.
An elegant wedding march and a touching wedding ceremony follow. Later, while we’re in line to get hors d’oeuvres, I briefly smell the scent of Justin’s manly cologne.
“Everything looks delicious,” I remark, as we’re seated.
He nods and sips his champagne. Next, he leans closer and spoon feeds me a bite of the scrumptious wedding cake. “I remember when I first fed you a bite of dessert when we were dating.” Justin winks. “That look of surprise on your face was precious. Say, you never did answer. Will you join me for dinner later?”
My heart pounds, the same way it did when he first asked me to be his girl. “I’m glad the rain check didn’t expire,” I answer. “I’ve still got it in my purse. It’s a date.” I wink back.
A smile brightens his face. “My sweet Gennie. Have I told you, Happy Valentine’s Day?”