Even in her prettiest white summer dress, Lilah felt frumpy. All these people in their perfectly tailored slacks and expensive dresses, perfectly fat hair and perfectly tanned skin. She imagined explaining herself if she got a sideways look, “I’m on my period, you know how that is.” But they probably wouldn’t. Even bloated, she bet they managed to look fabulous. Lilah took another gulp of her mimosa.
Anyway, she was here as support. Wolfie, her roommate of almost a year now, had asked them to come. His descent into a bohemian– what era were these people from?– San Franciscan lifestyle had really upset his entire family. Did he think bringing her and the rest of their non-profit lawyer friends was going to impress them? She straightened her stance, took a smaller sip of her drink, put her pinky up.
“And now, if I may have everyone’s attention,” Wolfgang Sr. rapped a small silver spoon against his crystal glass. “A rare thing has occurred in this family of late.” He had a huge smile on his puffy pink face. “All of my children have recently become engaged!”
Lilah looked at Wolfie, watched his eyes widen over his cup. Wolfie had asked Julia to marry him almost immediately upon moving to the city. A textbook youngest child, impetuous and hell-bent on getting his way, Wolfie had decided she would be his girl as soon as he saw her. She had beautiful curly red hair and very fair skin. Julia played hard to get for months, so when Wolfie was finally able to touch her naked body he decided to seal the deal with a ring. He had told his parents immediately. They decided not to acknowledge it until now, half a year later, convinced that this was just another one of their son’s bold ploys for attention. Perhaps they were right. As the months went on, Julia and Wolfie seemed a less and less likely pairing. They fought a lot, and sometimes Lilah wondered if they were only together to prove a point. Today, instead of coming along with the rest of them, Julia used the trip to Napa to visit old friends. “Without a car, I never get to see them,” she had whined. “I’ll try and come by later.”
“What will I tell my parents?”
Wolfgang Sr. spread his fat arms out, palms open, swiveling in his slate gray suit as though to embrace the whole party in one long hug. The party guests clapped. “Let’s start with the oldest and go down the line meeting them, shall we? Lorie, sweetheart, introduce your fiancé.”
Lilah had taken a seat on a beautiful chair carved from a single piece of wood. She was inspecting it, running her hands over its sides, when Wolfie approached. “You have to be my fiancé,” he said.
She scrunched her eyebrows together and threw her head back, “Get serious.”
“They’ve never even seen Julia. They won’t know. Please. It’ll be such a scandal if they find out my fiance isn’t here.”
“Sooo scandalous,” she mocked, laughing.
Wolfie’s face remained frozen in that anxious plea. He rarely showed fear of any sort, and Lilah was confused. Wolfie was gorgeous with a squared face and a head of startlingly black, full hair. He got along well with everyone, was loved by everyone, emanated “cool” even though they were a decade removed from high school ideas like being a “cool kid”. Wolfie was a cool kid, naturally, even at 29. The partygoers applauded again and Wolfie’s face fell into a beg. Lilah had barely upturned the corner of her lips before he held both her bare shoulders in his big, smooth hands from behind the chair.
“And our youngest, the baby of the family, Wolfgang Junior! Introduce your fiance, Junior!”
“Good afternoon party-people, thank you for coming to my father’s party.” He had flipped a switch with an ease and quickness that shocked Lilah. His voice sounded fuller, rounder. She turned her head to look back over her shoulder at him, this sudden stranger she shared a flat with. “I’d like to introduce you to my beautiful bride-to-be, Julia McLear!” He squeezed Lilah’s shoulder apologetically. “Stand up, Cupcake, meet the nice people!”
Lilah stood, nodded timidly to the applause. She thought they must be taking in her faults to gossip about how much better their Junior could have done. Wolfie grabbed her hand, and shining in the spotlight, raised their hands together in victory. Lilah remembered that his father had done something similar minutes earlier. The applause grew louder and morphed into a chant: “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!”
A showman, Wolfie grabbed her other hand so that they stood face to face. Wolfie, who had been up to this minute playing his role as beloved, charismatic son, saw Lilah’s eyes widened in fear and felt his heart melt suddenly. A foot apart, their hands in one another’s, the noise of the chanting party became a protective wall around them. He smiled at his friend, the genuine, kind smile that she had always adored. She smiled back. He really was very beautiful. Stunning, if she were to be honest. He leaned in and put his forehead against hers.
“Can I kiss you?” he whispered.
(Part II in the works…)
(Ps- I’m kind of obsessed with the name Wolfgang lately. I thank Leang and Brandon for that.)