Monday, August 31, 2015

Only a Kiss ~ Part 1

Only a Kiss
by Jennifer McMurrain

Chapter One

Anastasia Durrant tightened her grip on her small bouquet as tears pooled in the corner of her eyes. She smiled as she looked at her stepsister, Cindy, standing hand in hand with her new husband as the priest said, “You may now kiss the bride.”
The wedding guest erupted in applause and whistles as Cindy’s husband bent her over in a long, passionate kiss. Ana’s heart swelled with both happiness and a jealousy. She loved that her stepsister was getting her “happily ever after”. Lord knew Cindy deserved to be happy.
Ana’s gazed shifted from the happy couple to the lone white rose that sat in a front seat. Cindy’s dad had passed away ten years before of cancer and Ana’s mother, Tilde, had never let Cindy forget it. Tilde had always been a force, but when it came to Cindy she was a hurricane. Ana never understood why Tilde decided it was Cindy’s fault her father had died. Ana had tried to help Cindy, but knew she hadn’t done enough for fear her mother’s wrath would turn toward her.
Ana watched the happy couple walk back down the aisle, she fell into step behind them. As she met the best man she looked out into the wedding audience. Cindy married into one of the wealthiest families in South Carolina and the crowd read like an edition of Forbes’s wealthiest southerners. And there in the back row, stood Tilde and Ana’s sister, Deidra, looking as if they’d rather be walking on hot coals.
Stifling her laugh, Ana looked down and entered the reception area. Cindy ran to her.
“Ana, wasn’t it lovely?” Cindy beamed. “A dream come true. I couldn’t have done it without you.”
Cindy wrapped Ana up in a hug.
“I didn’t do that much,” said Ana, returning the hug.
“Oh, but you did,” said Cindy. “You will never understand how much your kindness meant to me after my father died. I was lost without my father and you were a beam of light.”
Ana shook her head. “No, I wasn’t. All those times my mother was awful to you and I just stood back and watched. I should’ve stood up for you. I hate myself for being silent for so long.”
Cindy waved her off. “Ana, don’t you realize you made all this happen? Had you not insisted I go to that masquerade gala that was being given in honor of my father I would have never met Charles. You know as well as I do your mother wasn’t going to let me go, no matter how much I pleaded. You not only acted sick so your mother and sister would leave without you, you let me wear your dress and mask so I could go.”
Charles walked up behind Cindy and wrapped his arms around her as guests started to file into the reception area. “Honey, I hate to interrupt, but Mother is insisting we stand in that dreadful reception line.”
“Okay, Baby,” said Cindy, she started towards the door before turning toward Ana. “You see, Ana dear, you’re responsible for my happily ever after.”

Ana sighed as Cindy turned and greeted her other guests. “If only I could be responsible for my own.”

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