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Authors: Erin Duffy

Lost Along the Way

BOOK: Lost Along the Way
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Dedication

For D.F.

Thanks for everything

Contents
one

May 2005

T
axi!” Jane yelled, hurling herself into oncoming traffic in an attempt to slow the canary-yellow car as it came speeding down Columbus Avenue. She'd overslept and had to hurry downtown to meet the girls for brunch, leaving her husband, Doug—she loved the way that sounded—back at their apartment on West Eighty-Second Street, sleeping off the bottles of champagne they'd had after the ceremony. She was going to be late, which wasn't unusual in the slightest, but today it actually bothered her. Today she had news. Today she really would've liked to have been on time.

Jane checked her face in her compact mirror and plucked one lone false eyelash out of the corner of her eye. She tousled her blond hair, the curls from the night before now looking chicly disheveled, and dropped some Visine in each eye while her cab idled at a light on Houston Street. She pulled her phone from her bag and sent a quick text message to both Cara and Meg:
Stuck in traffic, be there in five,
even though she knew it would take her at least ten minutes to get there. They wouldn't be surprised as Jane hadn't been on time for anything in her entire life. They didn't seem to care all that much, but old friends are good like that. She loved them like sisters, and while they each had become their own women over the years, they were still best friends. She couldn't wait to tell them that she'd gotten married.

Finally, it was her turn.

When she entered the restaurant in lower Manhattan, Jane immediately spotted them sitting at a small table in the corner and waved. She was giddy, and nervous, and excited, and dying to tell them what she'd done. She'd been married less than twenty-four hours, but she already felt like a completely different person—like a legitimate adult. The day before, she'd stood in City Hall in a beautiful white cocktail dress and over the course of a ten-minute ceremony managed to redirect her entire life. Today she was a married woman. Today she was Jane Logan, the wife of a Wall Street executive, instead of Jane Parker, the unemployed actress. Today three married girls were having brunch together, instead of two married girls and their one perennially single friend. Today she was starting over.

Today was a very, very good day.

“Hey!” Meg said when she approached the table. “We ordered you a mimosa, light on the orange juice.”

“Thanks!” Jane chirped, happy to have her celebration continue, even if her friends had no idea she was celebrating anything yet.

“How was your night?” Cara asked. “Do anything good? I watched a movie with Reed and went to bed at ten. I wanted to go to an early spin class before we got together.”

“I did, actually!” Jane sang, secretly loving the suspense she was building without their knowing it.

“Can we tell the waiter to take the bread basket off the table?” Cara suggested, grabbing the basket of carbs and waving to get the waiter's attention. “I didn't just bike my ass off to eat these muffins, and if they sit here I will consume half the basket. You guys don't mind, do you?” she asked, though she had no intention of waiting for an answer.

“Not really,” Meg said. “Although you're crazy if you think
you need to watch your weight. You look amazing.” Meg was right. Cara was a poster child for natural, understated, effortless beauty, one of the only girls Jane knew who somehow managed to look good even when she was a sweaty mess. Cara always elicited quiet envy from girls who didn't know her—and loud envy from those who did.

“Thanks. You should come with me to spin sometime!” Cara said. Her chandelier earrings swayed beneath her dark hair. She looked as if she'd stepped out of a page in
InStyle
magazine instead of a locker room at the gym.

“Hey, guys!” Jane interrupted. “Not that I have a problem talking about bread baskets and spin classes, but I do want to tell you about my night.” Her impatience was becoming obvious.

“Sorry!” Meg said.

“Me too,” Cara added. She reached over and tucked a piece of hair behind Jane's ear. “What's up? What did you do?”

“I got married!” Jane said. “I am now a boring married lady just like the two of you. Can you believe it?” She bit her lower lip, like it would somehow contain her enthusiasm.

Meg and Cara stared at Jane with their mouths agape, their mimosas untouched and the napkins still folded in their laps. No one screamed. No one jumped up to hug her. No one grabbed her drink to offer a toast. This was not the reaction she'd been expecting.

“Did you guys hear what I just said?
I got married! Look!
” Jane held out her hand to show off the small diamond band Doug had given her, which served as a placeholder until he had the time to get her the bigger diamond he'd promised. “Say something!” she demanded, waiting for both of them to jump up and throw their arms around her neck and tell her how happy they were that
she'd found someone who loved her and treated her well and had made the last five months of her life more wonderful than she ever could've imagined.

“How could you do this to us? How could you go and get married and not even include us? I've never been so mad at you in my entire life!” Meg wailed.

“Huh? What do you mean, you're mad? I think ‘Congratulations' is the appropriate response when someone tells you she just got married,” Jane answered.

“Are you serious?” Cara asked. “You weren't expecting us to be mad at you? Have you totally lost your mind?” Unlike Meg's high-pitched squeal, Cara's voice was reserved, if not monotone, as if she was afraid someone would overhear their conversation. Still, Jane could tell from the look on her face that she was royally pissed off. Displaying raw emotion just wasn't Cara's style. That's something that would never change.

Jane sincerely didn't understand their anger. If one of them had eloped without telling her she honestly wouldn't care. In fact, she'd be grateful for having been spared yet another bridesmaid dress. She loved both of them, and had since they were little girls sitting in the same third-grade classroom, but her wedding day didn't have anything to do with them. This was about her and what she wanted for her life with her new husband.

“Wow. I didn't mean to upset you guys. I swear I didn't see any of this coming,” Jane replied, trying her best to pacify them, but at the same time resenting that she had to. Meg and Cara had been her best friends since they were kids, but they were women now, and Jane didn't feel like they needed to be attached at the hip all the time. She fidgeted with the pearl bracelet Doug had
given her as a wedding present, hoping one of them would notice it and comment on how beautiful it was.

“Don't you think you rushed into this? I mean, you don't even really know this guy! I don't know him at all. I've only met him once, and he called me Mary the whole time!” Meg pointed out. “How old is he? He's a lot older than us, isn't he?” Meg bit the cuticles on her right hand until they were raw and jagged and burning bright red, which was what she always did when she got nervous.

“He's only ten years older than we are. He's forty, not sixty. I know it's been quick, you guys, but I love him, I really do. What's the difference if we've only known each other a few months? When you know,
you know
. And I know in my heart that this is what's right for me.”

“Then why couldn't you at least include us? Why'd you run away and do it alone?” Cara asked. She glanced over at Meg. “Stop biting your nails!” she snapped.

“I didn't run away anywhere! I just didn't make it a big deal, that's all,” Jane said, her resentment growing.

“That doesn't sound like someone who's secure in her decision. Most people share their weddings with the people who care about them. They don't hide it.” Cara sighed.

“I did share it with people who care about me. My mother and brother were there. I'm sorry I didn't tell you about it, but it was a spur-of-the-moment type thing and I don't think I need to justify that decision to you guys. We are almost thirty! Aren't we a little old to be arguing over shit like this? We don't need to live in each other's back pockets all the time!”

“What did your mother say about this?” Cara asked. “She had
no problem with you eloping?” Jane immediately felt her ire rise. Cara had a way of making her feel like she needed to defend herself all the time. It wasn't that Cara was judgmental; it was just that she had everything in her life perfectly in order and had for years, and anyone who didn't do things exactly the way she did was somehow doing things wrong. If Jane had met her as an adult instead of as a little girl, she would think Cara was a snob. She wasn't. She was just perfect in a way that occasionally made it hard to be her friend.

Those occasions were starting to become more and more frequent.

“My mom had no reservations whatsoever, actually,” Jane answered. “My mom and my brother are both happy that I finally have someone stable in my life.” Jane's choice to have an unconventional and impromptu wedding was no surprise to anyone who knew her—except for the two people who were supposed to know her better than anyone else. “I thought you guys would be happy for me. Why are you making me feel like I did something wrong?” she asked, surprised to hear her voice crack.

“I'm sorry. I am happy for you,” Meg said, finally rising from the table to give her the hug that was now about five minutes too late. “I'm just sad I didn't get to see it. That's all. I would've loved to be a part of it.” She released Jane from her arms and immediately began to bite the cuticles on her right hand again. It was mind-boggling to Jane that she hadn't managed to get that habit under control by now.

“I wasn't trying to hurt you; I just, to be honest—”

“Didn't think of us at all,” Cara said.

Jane shrugged. It sounded so awful when she heard it out loud.
But it was sort of true. A wedding was between a man and a woman—not a man, a woman, and her two best friends. Did they seriously not get that?

“I'm sorry. I really am,” Jane said, realizing that whether or not it was intentional, she'd hurt their feelings. “I don't want to argue with you guys. Today is supposed to be a really happy day and I want you both to help me celebrate. Doug is throwing a cocktail party tonight for some of his friends and I want you guys to come. It's basically our wedding reception. It'll be fun.” She was sure it would be. Doug always knew how to throw a great party, no expense spared.

“Hear that, Meg?” Cara said, dabbing her mouth with a napkin. “Jane actually wants to invite us to a cocktail party. I guess we should be honored.”

“I said I was sorry, Cara,” Jane said, getting tired of defending herself. She didn't need to answer to anyone anymore. It was beginning to bother her that her friends somehow felt that she owed them an explanation for why she did what she did. It was her life; what did it matter to them whether they attended the ceremony?

“Okay. I just hope you know what you're doing. Marriage is hard enough when you really know the person, and you guys have only been together a few months,” Cara added. “
Trust me
.”

“I know what I'm doing. And I'm done talking about this with you guys. You've made your objections known, and now you don't need to wonder about why I didn't tell you about it beforehand. The truth is, right now, your opinions don't really matter much to me. And I'm having a hard time remembering why they ever did,” Jane snapped.

“Jane, don't say that!” Meg said, obviously hurt by the tone of her voice. Meg had always been sensitive, and Jane immediately felt bad for sniping at her. “I just wish we got to see it. That's all. Please tell me you at least have pictures.” Meg pushed a lock of her blond hair behind her ear. “Did anyone take any?”

“I'm sorry. I just didn't see this coming. This is supposed to be a happy time for me. Why are you guys picking a fight with me over this?” She had known they'd be surprised when she told them she'd gotten married, but she'd drastically underestimated how hurt they'd be. In fact, they were more than just hurt. They were furious.

“We're not,” Meg said. “Honestly, I'm really happy for you. Where's the party tonight?”

“At the restaurant where we had our first date. Isn't that cute? He planned the whole thing. It's going to be small, but you guys have to come. It won't be the same without you.”

“Of course we'll be there,” Meg said, looking over at Cara, who was still trying to absorb the news and had been staring at the wall for the last few minutes. “Cara?”

“Of course,” she said, finally sighing and breaking into a smile. “Jane, you never cease to amaze me, you know that?”

“Isn't that one of the things you love about me?”

“One of many,” she said, though Jane wasn't entirely sure she meant it. “I hope you two will be very happy together.”

“I hope that he stops calling me Mary,” Meg joked.

“I think that can be arranged,” Jane said with a laugh.

“So do you have any pictures? Don't make us ask again!” Cara asked.

“First, a toast. To the new Mrs. Douglas . . . ,” Meg trailed
off. Jane and Cara looked at each other and quickly burst out laughing.

“Oh my God. We don't know his last name,” Cara said, choking slightly on her champagne. “I mean it. I have no idea what his last name is. What's your name now?”

“I can't believe we have to ask, but yeah, I don't know what his name is either!” Meg said. “I guess I won't be getting you anything with a monogram.”

“It's Logan!” Jane said. “Mrs. Douglas Logan.”

“It has a nice ring to it, actually,” Meg said.

“Thank you. I think so, too.” Jane pulled a few photos from her bag of her in her gorgeous cocktail dress and Doug in his navy suit and bright-green tie, and felt herself relax. She finally had everything she wanted. She had a wonderful new husband, lifelong friends, and a glass of champagne with a splash of orange juice.

BOOK: Lost Along the Way
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