As Claire watched the bridal party make their way down the aisle, it was apparent this wedding would be a far cry from the chic, urban weddings she was accustomed to.
The bridesmaids wore almost comically awful, hot pink, floor length satin dresses which were made particularly hideous by the oversized, jewel encrusted bow at the waist. And of course, what better to compliment the bridesmaids' horrid dresses than matching pink vests and ties for the men?
Claire felt her cynicism falter when the bride, Jessica, made her way down the aisle. Even though she wore the typical princess style strapless dress, complete with tiara (barf), Claire couldn't help but be touched by the sheer joy on Jessica's face as she walked towards her husband to be. Claire only hoped that she'd someday find someone who made her feel even half as happy as Jessica looked.
Thankfully, the wedding ceremony was a short one. When it was over, Gabe and Claire made their way to their assigned table. When Claire got to her seat she was greeted by a little tin of mints with the words "Mint to Be" inscribed on it. She was about to make a smug remark about it being sooo overdone, until the petite red headed woman seated to her right gushed about how adorable they were.
"The bar's open, ready for a drink?" Gabe asked, interrupting Claire's uncharitable train of thought.
"Do you even have to ask?" she said with a smile.
It took forever to get to the bar; every few steps Gabe was stopped by a long-time friend who wanted to catch up.
"A G&T for the lady, and a vodka soda for myself." Gabe called out to the bartender when they'd finally made their way over.
"Make that two of each" Claire amended, figuring they'd probably be done the first round of drinks by the time they got back to their seats.
"Good one!" Gabe said approvingly at the upgraded order. "I'm happy you're here babe." He added before bending down to give Claire a light kiss, that sent more heat through her than it should have.
The evening progresses as expected; it started with a limp mixed green salad, continued on with stilted conversation between Claire and her tablemates and pushed forward with a few cheesy games that forced the bride and groom to kiss. Luckily, by the time the overcooked chicken breast on a bed of flavourless rice and side of roasted vegetables main course was served, Claire had had enough of the cheap white table wine to start enjoying herself.
"So how did you and Gabe meet?" Becky, the red head to Claire's right asked.
"He's been doing some construction on the offices at the bank I work at."
"Nice! My mom's a teller too. It's a good, steady job." Becky said assuming that working at bank automatically meant Claire was a teller.
"Claire's not a teller." Gabe said overhearing Becky's mistake. "Believe it or not, she works in investment banking on multi-million dollar deals" He then added proudly.
Claire realized that this was the first time that a man she was on a date with actually bragged about her career instead of his own; it surprised her at how good it felt. But seeing the looks she was getting from the other women at the table, Claire almost wished Gabe hadn't corrected Becky's assumption - It was a sad reality that many women weren't very friendly to women who were more successful than them; though they'd instantly find a successful man to be the most engaging person in the room. It was probably why she'd bonded with Miriam and Iris so quickly.
"You don't need to make it sound that fancy Gabe." Claire said in an attempt to downplay his comments "Honestly, it's a pretty boring gig." Thankfully, their awkward conversation was interrupted by the wedding party's speeches.
When the overly long wedding speeches were over and the Bride and Groom had their first dance, the DJ put on Y.M.C.A. to get the party started - Claire mentally rolled her eyes at the song choice and decided it was the perfect time to excuse herself to go to the ladies room.
When she entered the bathroom, two other women were already in neighbouring stalls speaking to one another as they relieved themselves. Claire couldn't avoid hearing their conversation while sitting in her own stall.
"Jesse and Nate look so happy. Weddings are so romantic!" Said one woman.
"They're such a cute couple..." said the other woman. "Speaking of couples did you see that stuck up bitch Gabe brought with him?"
"I know... Does it make you mad?"
Mad? Why would me being with Gabe piss her off? Claire thought to herself as the conversation was interrupted by toilets flushing.
"Honestly, in a way it makes me feel badly for him. It's obvious he brought her to make me jealous."
Claire could now partially see the women who was speaking through the gap between the bathroom stall door and recognized it was a blonde woman who had caught her attention earlier in the night. It was hard not to notice her; the woman looked like a real life porn star. She was artificially gorgeous with bleached blonde hair, inflated, frosted pink lips and grapefruit shaped implants. She was the type of woman that guys loved and women loved to hate.
"You're probably right. I'm sure he was devastated when he heard you were dating someone else." The second woman said as the two women left the bathroom.
Now that the coast was clear, Claire flushed her toilet and walked up to the sink to wash her hands. It was obvious Miss. Porn Star Wannabe was Gabe's ex; and it seemed to Claire that there may have been some truth in what she said about Gabe bringing her to the wedding just to make her jealous - Him still being hung up on this woman would also explain why he'd avoided getting intimate with Claire.
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Love Like a Man - CHECK OUT THE REVISED VERSIONRomance
**This story was a top 55 SYTYCW15 Finalist!** Claire Warren felt like she had her life under control; she kicked ass at her job as an investment banker, had her own condo overlooking the City and spent her personal time knocking back G&T's at some...