You Are Cordially Invited . . .
to your brother's wedding where he will marry rich, famous Marni Shay, at the River Lodge, the most elite resort in Colorado, the state you chose to go to college in so you could escape your family, except they'll all be there. Enjoy ten fun-filled days of avoiding your mother, who still thinks you're not girly enough; planning your brother's bachelor party, because you are his best man, er, girl; and, oh yeah, trying not to drool all over Hot Connor, who happens to be in your English seminar and work at the River Lodge. Put your best foot forward, and . . .
Don't miss the most joyous celebration of the year!
This is it. You're almost done, I told myself as a cold gust of wind nearly knocked me into an evergreen. One more exam and you're home free. Well, not exactly home, but still. No studying for four whole weeks.
My very fingertips tingled in anticipationor was that from the frigid cold? Either way, I couldn't believe I was on my way to my last final of my first semester of freshman year. It was almost over. The week I had dreaded ever since midterms. And it hadn't even been that bad.
Sure, I'd spent countless hours on a hard-as-granite chair in the library, surrounded by highlighted textbooks and nursing a rank case of permanent coffee breath. And of course there were half a dozen moments when my mind had gone utterly blank and I couldn't even remember how to spell my own name, let alone who had written The Beauty Myth or why.
But at least I hadn't been in it alone. Everywhere I had looked for the past week, there had been fresh stress-zits, mismatched clothing, looks of abject confusion. People who had never spoken to each other before huddled over notebooks and calculators and art history slides, helping to cram each other's heads with as much information as possible. It had been sort of cool, the way everyone had come together. And now, as I rushed over the frozen brick walks of Colorado University, I checked out the happy faces of the kids who were already done, already free, laughing as they loaded their suitcases and laundry bags into their parents' cars.
Good for you, I thought. In less than two hours, I'll be right there with you.
Except that I wouldn't be quite so carefree and happy. Because unlike all those kids who were looking forward to four weeks of home-cooked meals, day-long naps, and having their laundry folded for them by loving mothers, I was not going home. I was going to hell. Perhaps I should take my time on this last test.
I turned the corner at the Science Building and was hit in the face with another shock of cold wind. With one swift and practiced motion, I pulled my knit cap lower and my wool scarf higher so that only the slits of my eyes were visible. Everyone had told me I'd get used to the frigid mountain winter. It had yet to happen.
Okay, Farrah, forget about tomorrow. One thing at a time. Just get through this exam, I told myself.
But I couldn't help it. As my eyes blurred from the wind, my mind drifted to this afternoon and my bus ride to Vail. To all the insanity that would await me there. I still had not wrapped my brain around the fact that my brother, Jonah, was getting married, let alone that it was happening in less than two weeks. And he wasn't just tying the knot, he was tying the knot with one of the wealthiest socialites in all of America. My former Deadhead brother was marrying Marni Shay, daughter of Brendan Shay, the most successful preppy clothing designer of the last decade. Successful enough to rival Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. This wedding wasn't just going to be extravagant. It was going to be a million-dollar affair attended by fashionistas, politicians, old-guard Hollywood, young starlets, and trust-fund babies. Which not only meant that I was going to feel like a troll by comparison for the next few weeks (you try standing next to cover models and not feeling Orc-ish), but my mother was going to be one big ball of stress. And that was never fun.
Why couldn't Jonah and Marni have just eloped to Barbados? Then I wouldn't have to be the "best man." (Marni wanted a traditional wedding, but did grant my brother the concession of having a femalemestand by his side as he read his vows.) If they eloped, I wouldn't have to wear that ridiculous ball gown and give a speech in front of all those people and . . . God. Maybe I should just hop a plane to Barbados. The sun, the sand, the warmth . . . ah, the warmth . . .
In my frigid state of daydream, it took me way too long to react to the warning. All I saw was a red scarf, a muddy tire, and a green book bag coming at me way too fast. I was about to get creamed, and all my brain registered was: Well, guess I won't have to wear that gown after all.
I braced myself. The bike skidded and toppled. Half a dozen books went flying. Someone was lying on the ground. The wind whistled. Was I dead? Had I hit my head? Was I bleeding? I looked down and found that I hadn't even moved. It was over and I was unscathed.
"Oh my God!" I cried, recovering myself. "Are you all right?"
The biker pushed himself up and glanced at a scrape on his bare right leg. Yeah, he was wearing shorts. A lot of these masochistic Coloradans wore shorts even when it was below freezing. I wasn't sure if they were tough or just stupid.
"Nothing a brief hospital stay won't fix," he joked.
Oh, no way. I knew that voice. He finally lifted his face, and my eyes widened.
Hot Connor. It was actually Hot Connor. So nicknamed by myself and my roommate, Dana, to distinguish him from Creepy Connor and Dumb Connor, two Connors on our floor in the dorm, who could not hope to exist on the same gorgeousness plane as Hot Connor. His last name was Davy and he was in my English Literature class and I had been crushing on him since the very first day when he'd walked in with his perfectly disheveled blond hair, Oakley sunglasses, and mango-banana smoothie. I had been lusting after him ever since he'd opened his mouth to defend the view that Jane Austen was a feminist ahead of her time. Now that's hot. Also? Those Oakleys had been hiding the most stunning green eyes of all time. I mean, take-your-breath-right-out-of-you stunning. Eyes that were now focused on me.