Xu Ai wrung her cold pale fingers to stay calm, just as she had predicted Lao family were wrecking a chaos downstairs. She could hardly blame them. Being stood up is embarrassing and that so on one's own marriage is...highly unsettling.
A sharp sense of guilt overflowed in her conscience while thinking about the poor groom. Guilt was caused due to the help she provided to sister in her runaway plan.
Both the sisters were great friends and were each other's chest of secrets. Of course, Xu Ai knew about her sister's preference. In fact she was the one who suggested her sister to run away, knowing that the marriage would only bring her unhappiness and unfulfillment. But at that point of time, both of them forgot to take Lao family in consideration.
Xu Ai feared the consequences her family would need to face for offending the almighty Lao family. Though her Xu family were by no means weak, in front of Lao family they were mere ants. Easily crushable.
A soft knock alerted her, pulling her out of the deep maze of thoughts.
"Come in" her voice as always was soft and frail. Lacking the youthful vigor that is common among teenagers of her age.
Mrs Xu entered the room of her second daughter, the most precious Xu Ai. The tears and tension had marred her face, making her look ten times older but she tried to smile in front of her daughter.
Xu Ai had a rare incurable heart disease from the moment she was born. She needed to be handled as delicately as a piece of glass. The whole Xu family always made sure to treat her carefully, they never shouted or showed any kind of tension in front of her. They didn't wish to put pressure on her heart.
"Mama" Xu Ai rushed to hug her mother.
"I am sorry." She apologized for being so shortsighted in her plan.
"It's OK. I am glad that she went after what her heart wanted. But the fact that she didn't feel comfortable enough to talk to us...to me, makes me feel like a failure." Her mother cried.
"Oh mama. That's not true. She was about to tell you but the urgency and pressure of the marriage scared her. Please understand, it was not easy for her. Please forgive her." Xu Ai pleaded.
Her mother shook her head and said, "it's not the right to discuss such things. Xiao Ai, we have to ask you to do something."
Her mother hesitated, the news was hard to accept. She didn't want to overwhelm her daughter, it might prove to be fatal for her fragile heart.
"I understand." Xu Ai mumbled.
Mrs Xu sighed knowing that her daughter has grasped the situation, her daughter was clever. She also knew that Xu Ai has accepted the proposal, she was obedient as well.
Hence, the wedding continued with the same groom just the bride was replaced.
Thankfully Xu Bai and Xu Ai shared the same body type, so Xu Bai's white strapless mermaid style wedding gown looked perfect on Xu Ai.
The guests were blissfully unaware cause the invitation card said 'Xu family's daughter' but it didn't specify which daughter. The gossips were not born much to Mrs Lao's relief. She was worried about her son's reputation.
She also had something to be guilty for. When she was persuading her son to marry she claimed that there was no girl more perfect than Xu Bai, her son pointed that too much perfection leads to imperfection. And indeed her son was right, Mrs Lao sincerely hoped that this Xu daughter would not do anything out of ordinary.
Mr Xu couldn't help but cry when he saw his younger daughter in a wedding dress. He knew that Xiao Ai would be married at some point in her life but he never expected it to be in such an abrupt way.
"Papa don't cry." Xu Ai tried to comfort her father. But she needed comforting as well. She has never been married before and was nervous as hell.
Her worries ranged from ordinary to extraordinary. Like- what if she tripped on her skirt and made a fool out of herself, what if her husband hates her, what if her in-laws hold a grudge against her, what if she forgets to say 'I do'. Mostly she was worried about her mother-in-law, her idea of a mother-in-law was greatly influenced by the numerous TV shows she and Xu Bai watched all the time and she was genuinely scared.
Her father took her hand and led her down the aisle. She tried to ignore the stares she got from the guests, their enthusiastic praises and the flashes of the camera. She tried to cool her nerves. Mostly she tried to avoid looking at her to-be husband.
Lao Fei was not pleased with the idea of marrying a girl who was not given much choice. He felt sorry for her, especially when he saw her extremely pale face and stiff body. He could tell that she was more than nervous and the least he could do was giving her some space.
The wedding was going fine enough, the guests were full of praises but both Xu and Lao families were on their toes. They feared for more drama and much to their misfortune drama came soon enough.
"You may kiss the bride." When the father said this, the bride and the groom visibly stiffened.
Lao Fei didn't want to do it because it was wrong, he literally just met her. Xu Ai was scared because of Lao Fei's obvious show of reluctance. The overexcited crowd made her even more anxious. At last she couldn't stand it any more and tiptoed to lightly peck on his lips.
The entire hall roared with cheers, the guests were pleased with the new couple's cuteness while worried families finally released a breath of relief and began congratulating each other.
Lao Fei was shocked to stillness and Xu Ai's face resembled a big red tomato.
All in all, it was one heck of an interesting wedding.