“i know im supposed to be your best man/maid of honor, but maybe i should mention now that i’m in love with you”
(ngl I kinda thought I’d end up getting Swanqueened on this one)
Everyone knew Belle French was Mr. Gold’s only friend. Nobody was really sure why the two spent so much time together – before the announcement of his engagement to the widowed Mrs. Cora Mills (nee Greene) there had been some fairly nasty rumors that she paid her rent in trade, though only the cruelest of the town gossips (among them Mrs. Mills’ oldest daughter) did more than think it.
Once the engagement had been announced, though, those rumors had settled down quite a bit to the point that no one found it particularly scandalous or even interesting when Miss French ended up being selected as a groomswoman for the ceremony (standing with Mr. Gold’s adult son as the best man). It had simply been taken for granted she would be participating in some fashion and only the most conservative people would find fault in that arrangement.
The morning of the wedding was a beautiful day, though it was doubtful Cora would have settled for anything less, but it was less than an hour until the ceremony and Belle French was faced with a decision. She had a secret – she loved Chris Gold. She had loved him since the day she met him and she knew now she always would.
And in less than 45 minutes he would be marrying somebody else while she watched.
“I think I’m supposed to be the anxious one,” he teased as she twisted the pendant she wore around her neck. “You’re just supposed to stand there and look happy for me.”
He meant it as a joke and she smiled as she straightened her necklace out, but it still hurt. She’d been waiting for the right time to tell him her feelings for the past few years but it had never quite lined up right. She’d simply run out of time, and that was what was killing her. But he was her friend, and she had to be happy he was happy. He was happy, right?
Neal came in with a question about something and thank God that distracted Chris while they tried to figure out the catering or whatever it was that came up and she could look at him for a little while – really look at him. He looked older now, but no less handsome. His smiles weren’t reaching his eyes anymore, though, and that was her first clue that maybe it wasn’t too late after all.
She’d waited forever, and she promised herself if he was happy she’d back off and be the absolute best friend he could ever ask for.
Do the brave thing, she reminded herself as Chris finished his talk with Neal and watched his son leave the room.
“Chris?” she called out. “Can I ask you something?”
“Sure,” he replied, fiddling with his cufflinks in the first sign of nerves she’d seen yet.
“Are you happy?”
“That’s not an answer,” she scolded.
“I just don’t know why you’re asking.”
“Just answer the question.”
“Because I love you,” she blurted out. “And it’s gonna get real awkward if I have to say it when they ask if there are any objections!”