Getting Married

Getting Married

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by Theresa Alan

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You are not the first, and you are definitely not the last.
. . .And probably you are not the best.

It's never a good idea to take messages scrawled in bar bathrooms personally. Eva Lockart knows this, really she does. Still, such things tend to take on a weird sort of significance when one is in the throes of a panic attack prompted by irrational

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You are not the first, and you are definitely not the last.
. . .And probably you are not the best.

It's never a good idea to take messages scrawled in bar bathrooms personally. Eva Lockart knows this, really she does. Still, such things tend to take on a weird sort of significance when one is in the throes of a panic attack prompted by irrational jealousy of one's boyfriend's ex-wife. Something that's been happening lately--a lot. . .

Not that Eva has anything to worry about, really. "X" (she has a name, but why dwell on details?) is long gone, and Will loves Eva now--loves her enough, in fact, to want to move in and get married. So, she's got a guy she's crazy about, a thriving business, and "fun" wedding plans to make, including finding an affordable reception site that doesn't have dead animal heads hanging from the walls, a non-poofy dress that adequately corrals her cleavage;and a cake that isn't orange inside. Still, what's a little stress in exchange for wedded bliss? When Eva thinks of all the married people she knows, she's positive that this may turn out to be the biggest mistake of her life because all those "married people" are now either acrimoniously divorced, or seemingly on the brink.

But once the bridal ball is rolling downhill, it's damn near impossible to stop it without getting crushed. And now, the fact that Will's done this once before has Eva running that much faster to make things perfect--and getting herself into more trouble than she ever dreamed possible. . .

Theresa Alan is the author of The Dangers of Mistletoe, Girls Who Gossip, Who You Know, Spur of the Moment, and The Girls' Global Guide to Guys. She lives in Denver, Colorado, and is working on her next novel.

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Publishers Weekly

Eva Lockhart, a 31-year-old management consultant who's not outdoorsy and who's very committed to her career, has had trouble finding a man in Denver. When she meets nice-guy Will online and he moves in, Eva begins to stress that she needs to cook and clean, satisfy his sexual needs and still run her business. Her misgivings are nearly forgotten when Will proposes. But planning the perfect wedding pushes her over the edge, and in a hard-to-believe turn, she gets hooked on speed. Though Eva's drug addiction is handled with all the finesse of a public service announcement, it's a pretty big departure for a chick lit heroine. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

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Copyright © 2007 Theresa Alan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-0996-2

Chapter One

You are not the first, and you are definitely not the last. (Graffiti written in block letters with a permanent black marker in a bathroom stall at Mickie's Pub in Denver, Colorado.)

And probably, you are not the best. (Graffiti written just below in red ink.)

The graffiti makes me groan. I'm trapped in this stall, paralyzed by the words scrawled on the door in front of me.

Here's the deal: My boyfriend, Will, who is sitting downstairs drinking beer and listening to music, blissfully unaware that I'm up here having a conniption fit, is thirty-four and divorced. (I'm thirty-one and never married.) He doesn't have any kids, and his divorce sounds about as amicable as a divorce can get, but I can't help it-I'm wracked with jealousy over his ex. I can't even bring myself to call her by name; I think of her as X. A big, slashing, Zorro-like, blood-dripping-down-like-on-a-poster-for-a-horror-movie X.

It's so painful for me to think that the love of my life once vowed to spend his life with another woman when he should have known to wait for me. I know my feeling is unreasonable, and I'm not even sure why it's so strong. I used to have a long-term boyfriend who had once been married, and I nevergave his ex-wife a second thought. Somehow though, with Will, thoughts of X just kill me. And the intellectual in me knows that if you're going to wait around until your thirties to get married, your choices are either going to be men who are afraid of commitment or divorcés or the real whammy, men who are divorced and are now afraid of commitment. But I still don't like it.

And here's why:

1. Will will always have met X a decade before he met me. He and X were younger, thinner, and he had more hair when they got married. His photos with X will forever be wrinkle free, and I admit it, I'm jealous I didn't get him first.

2. I can't seem to stop myself from asking questions about her. Why I do this to myself is clearly an exercise in masochism. Everyone knows that after a certain point there is no reason to get details about how many sex partners your New Boyfriend or New Girlfriend has had, the wildest/best sex NB/NG has had, who NB's/NG's first love was, etc. You just don't do it.

Except, I do. The answers to my questions inevitably just add salt to my already raw wound. For example, I asked him once what X did for a living. He said that when they were together she worked in human resources, but before he met her, she'd been a stripper. He laughed when he said that. "We were married when I found out," he said. "She waited a good long time to tell me. It bothered me for awhile, but now I think it's funny."

That makes one of us.

A woman who isn't afraid to get up on stage and take off her clothes in front of men is-I'm venturing a wild guess here-going to be a little more free about her body than oh, say for example, me. There are women who can pull off high heels, garters, and all manner of ridiculous and impractical undergarments. I am decidedly not one of these women. And while I think my bras and Victoria's Secret underwear are perfectly pretty, sometimes maybe even a little sexy-lace, vibrant colors, lots of black-they are a far cry from see-through merriwidows and crotchless panties. Feelings of merriwidow inadequacy have me in an emotional chokehold.

3. He told me X is outgoing and fun. I fear that I am not. I would never be confused with a party animal, for example, unlike X, whose party exploits are well known among Will's circle of friends.

When I asked Will what made him fall for X in the first place, he told me that he liked how friendly and outgoing she was.

"In what ways was she outgoing?" I, like an idiot, asked.

"Like, say she's at a bar or a party. She introduces herself to everyone in the room and makes friends with everybody. She's always the life of the party. Like this one time we had a get-together, and when everyone was good and liquored up, she went around taking all the women's bras and then threw them on the ceiling fan-"

Let me take this opportunity to assure you right now, if you had any doubts: I would never do such a thing. For one thing, this seems a ridiculous activity and it would simply never occur to me. I'm telling you, no amount of drunkenness would ever be enough for me to come up with such a scheme. For another thing, I'm not a go-braless kind of girl. I'm busty as hell, which makes it pretty much a medical necessity that I wear a bra at all times. I mean I need serious architecture to keep things more or less in place. Let's say I was unharnessed and had to move quickly for some reason-a fire, say-the inevitable mammary backlash could wallop me in the face at best, or, at worst, leave me in traction with the kind of concussion where the resulting amnesia is lifelong.

I pull myself together enough to exit the stall. I splash water on my face and look at myself in the mirror. I've met a wonderful man. I have a mostly good job. Why can't I just celebrate how great my life is? Why do I do this to myself: Indulging in feelings of self-doubt? But every now and then I can't seem to stop dissecting my flaws in painful detail. Like now.

My failings (a sampling):

1. I'm a worrier. An insomniac. A panic-er over things trivial.

2. I can't cook for shit. It doesn't seem like this should be a challenging activity, but I'm hopeless. The other night I tried to make a simple meal of pasta and garlic bread for Will and me. The pasta was just about done, but the garlic bread was still frozen in the middle, so I cranked up the heat in the oven to hasten the heating of the bread, and then I took the pasta off the stove and poured it into the colander. This is where things went terribly wrong. I gave the colander an overly exuberant toss, and spaghetti went everywhere-the counter, the sink, and most distressingly, down the garbage disposal. Will was at the table finishing his salad as I went into panicked pasta-retrieval mode, peeling spaghetti noodles off the counter and salvaging what I could from the sink and then cleaning it all off. Meanwhile, I called from the kitchen, "Everything's fine in here! Dinner's almost ready!" Unfortunately, half of our dinner went down the drain, and as I'd gone on a pasta scavenger hunt, the garlic bread had been solidified to the consistency of a crouton. I served poor Will about four spaghetti noodles and the garlic-flavored crouton and assured him I'd make us some microwaved popcorn right after our "dinner."

3. I have a tendency to focus on the negative, as I believe I've illustrated here.

It doesn't matter that I know how stupid my destructive thoughts are, I can't seem to stop myself. Logically, I know that Will does not care if I'm the type of woman who gathers women's undergarments and drapes them from the rafters. There are plenty of good things about me. I'm a successful small business owner. I'm fairly smart. I kick ass at Scrabble.

I try to remind myself of the good things about me, but sometimes thoughts of my flaws supersede everything else.

Will and I have only been together for six months, but he's the first guy I thought I might want to spend my life with. After our second date, I emailed all my girlfriends and told them that I might just change my mind about marriage after all. Before Will, I thought I didn't want to get married. I don't mean that I wanted to spend my life alone or anything. I did want to find someone to share my life with. I just didn't think I wanted to do it with all the official trappings that signing a marriage certificate brings. Here's why:

1. My parents are divorced and it was a brutal, fangsbared type affair. I never want to go through anything like that.

2. Too many of my friends and colleagues have been cheated on and/or gotten divorced. I could blame the failure of my parents' marriage on the fact that they were so young when they got married. Not so with my friends. They all thought they'd be different. They were wrong.

3. I had a friend who was separated from her husband. The guy died in a freak accident, and it turned out he was more than two hundred thousand in debt from gambling and bad investments. Even though they'd been separated for more than a year, she had to pay for it all. Taking on someone else's debt terrifies me. (See point one about my parents' divorce-they bickered endlessly about money. Needless to say, I have issues.)

Then came Will and everything changed. I'm not sure exactly why, but soon after meeting him I could barely stop myself from buying the phone-book-thick bridal magazines adorning the racks at the grocery store. After our first kiss, I could envision the engagement ring on my finger. I actually missed it, almost sensed it on my finger. You know how when you forget to put your watch on, and then all day at work you look at your bare wrist, feeling naked? You can actually feel the ghost of the watch, the palpable absence of it. That's how I felt about my left ring finger except, and this is key, there had never been a ring there to miss. It's lunacy. We haven't been dating long enough to even think about marriage. He hasn't even met any of my family yet since they are spread out all across the country. Dad is still in Chicago where I grew up, my younger sister Sienna is in New York trying to launch a career as a comedian, and my mother is out in California with her second husband. But who cares about them. I want the ring. I've become Gollum from The Lord of the Rings: Give me the ring. Give me my precious. My precious ring.

I should defend myself and tell you that it was really more than a couple dates that made me crazy about him. I knew Will pretty well even before we actually met.

I found him online. I'd been searching the online personals for months, and I just could not find a guy I was interested in. The challenge is that I live in Colorado, but I'm not an outdoorsy person, which makes me quite the exception 'round these parts. Coloradoans are a ridiculously outdoorsy people as a rule. I would say about eighty percent of the men around Denver put up personal ads that say something to the effect of: "I love to ski, mountain climb, fish, golf, camp, hang glide, hunt, scuba, snorkel, kayak, snowboard, mountain bike, go four-wheeling, and scale cliff faces. I love watching baseball, football, hockey, tennis, and basketball. I live life to the fullest and would like a woman who I can trek the Himalayas with and train for marathons alongside."

I got tired just reading them. I did not want to be dragged up a mountain on a week-long hike. I did not want to pee in the woods, sleep in nature, or commune with insects. Where was a guy who just wanted to talk, drink, screw, and see a good movie once in awhile?

Of the twenty percent or so who weren't triathletes, most of them had something else about them that was a deal breaker for me like they weren't attractive or couldn't spell for shit. Many of the guys posting ads wrote things that looked like they'd taken a running leap onto their keyboard and then hit SEND. Like this one, repeated here verbatim:

i&*$%%m lookin for womin who is prety, intelegent (I ask you, to misspell "intelligent"!? The nerve!) and wers thong underwear. I&*@%%ve a heart of gold

I'd nearly given up hope. Then came Will. I liked his picture-he has a sexy smile, kind eyes, and cool glasses-so I clicked on his profile to learn more. His ad read: "I think my friends would describe me as funny and smart. I've been told that I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, and that I am one of the easiest-going people around. I work with computers for a living, which I generally enjoy. For fun, I like live music, movies, restaurants, dancing (though not the ballroom variety-trust me, it's not pretty), travel. I am a guitar player (not bad), a golfer (not good), and willing to try most anything once (anything, that is, that doesn't involve throwing oneself out of a perfectly good aircraft)."

As soon as I read that he had no desire to toss himself out of a plane, I thought, there's my man. Also, I needed a guy who was easygoing. I'm high-strung enough for two people. I need a yin to my stressed-out yang. The fact that he played the guitar was also a plus. A guy who plays guitar is somehow intrinsically sexy.

I was out of town on business when I first emailed him, so we wrote each other back and forth for two full weeks before I got back in town. Via three or four long emails a day, we told each other all about our childhoods, our families, our jobs. Before we'd even met, I knew he was hilarious, intelligent, and a damn fine grammarian.

In one of those premeeting emails, I asked him about his divorce. "If I'm being too nosy, just let me know."

"I'm happy to answer any of your questions, Eva, don't worry about it. I'm all about honesty," he wrote back. "Let's see, we were married for four years, and in the beginning, it was really good. The end wasn't about money, nobody had an affair, and no firearms were involved. I think what I learned from the experience is that if there are things that bother you before you get married and you can't even discuss them, can't even talk about how to change or deal with whatever issues are going on, run. It was an exercise in Chinese water torture for me."

I emailed him back. "Interesting. Except what's Chinese water torture?"

"When you get the Chinese water torture treatment, you are strapped to a table or whatever, and a steady drip of water hits your forehead from overhead. The first few drops aren't a big deal-as were the issues my ex and I faced prewedding. Eventually, though, the inescapable, relentless drips are maddening to the point they can simply drive you insane. Drip, drip, drip. You know it's going to come again and again and again, and there is not a damn thing you can do about it."

When Will and I finally met in person at a bar for drinks, it was-I'm sorry to be sappy and dramatic here-magical. When I first saw him, my pulse surged and I couldn't keep a smile off my face. The very first words out of his mouth were, "Wow, you are really pretty. I thought you looked cute in your picture, but now I realize that picture really didn't do you justice."

Our date was completely free of the usual first date awkwardness because we'd already gotten to know each other so well through email. We didn't stop talking or laughing for six hours straight. At the end of the night, he walked me to my car and gave me a kiss that was soft, and warm, and wonderful.

Will had no time for games. The morning after our first date he wrote me that the previous evening had been one of the best dates of his life, and he couldn't wait to see me again. Oh how that put a smile on my face. And I felt the exact same way and told him so.

We went out again the next day, which was a Saturday. It was another whirlwind deal of us talking without pause, laughing so hard it hurt, and having a general blast together. We came home after a romantic dinner and started kissing and then groping and then sort of accidentally had sex for the better part of the night (oops! I didn't mean to sleep with him on our second date!), and, much to my relief, he was great in bed, so he aced the Fun-to-Have-Sex-With test.

My search, at long last, was over.

Now, the only thing standing between me and happily-ever-after is, well, me. I wish I could stop obsessing, but I hate that he loved his first wife and doesn't regret marrying her. He never says anything disparaging about her. It's so annoying. It's really his worst quality.

I inspect my face in the bathroom mirror, decide I look passably decent, and go downstairs where I join Will at the table.

"Is everything okay, babe?" he asks.

"Yeah. I was just writing down some thoughts for my meeting with Woodruff Pharmaceuticals. That's why I took so long."

He smiles and together we watch the band play.

I take a sip of my beer and try to shake my feelings of self-doubt, attempting to enjoy the music. Then a flurry of activity to my right catches my eye and I turn to look at what's going on. The older couple who had been sitting there is leaving, and three young women are snapping up the table. The women are wearing tight, cropped shirts that fall off the shoulders and are loosely draped on, held in place by a couple well-placed knots. I suspect that one overly enthusiastic laugh would cause the blouses to disintegrate. The girls are very pretty: Their hair, their smiles, their laughs, the confident way they move. They are decidedly alluring. I look over at Will. His eyes are resolutely focused on the band, straight ahead.


Excerpted from GETTING MARRIED by THERESA ALAN Copyright © 2007 by Theresa Alan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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