Jan loved this time of the year. The winter doldrums were over, the weather was warming up, and people were getting their income tax refunds, and in a home-buying mood. Particularly with interest rates at record-low levels. Her calendar was booked with appointments from sellers looking to list their homes, and potential buyers looking for that dream or retirement home.
But not on this particular Saturday.
She’d kept her calendar clear, and she and Anne had left Venice around mid-morning, heading for Sarasota. They stopped at Michaels on East for an early lunch, then arrived at Chez Maison, an upscale bridal shop on St. Armand’s Circle, where they had fittings scheduled for their wedding gowns. Inside, they met Anne’s two other bridesmaids, friends of hers from the church she attended with Jim and her parents, and the group headed back to the fitting area.
Jan struggled to remain jovial, both for her friend and the gaiety of the occasion, but she couldn’t help the dark thoughts hovering at the edge of her consciousness.
I’m happy for Anne, I really am. She looks happy, compared to a few months ago, when she was all sad, and gloomy, and depressed all the time. Talk about karma coming back to bite you in the ass. I could have been a better friend. But no, I had to go and lord it all over her about my engagement—
She swiped a hand quickly over her eyes, wiping away the tears that threatened to fall at the memory of how joyful she’d been.
“Come on, Jan,” Anne urged. “Get in your dress and let’s see how it fits.”
Jan picked up the garment and disappeared into the dressing room.
Just a bridesmaid like everyone else. I should have been a matron of honor by now, or at least planning my own wedding. If only Alex…
Jan gave herself a mental kick as she slipped out of her clothing.
Don’t go there. Stay happy for Anne. She’s your best friend. She doesn’t need a gloomy Gus ruining her day.
Jan frowned as she pulled the gown on.
What the —
She distinctly remembered coming here a month ago. She’d been by herself, met the dressmaker, who took her measurements. Surely the woman couldn’t have screwed things up that badly. She eyed herself in the mirror. Where the gown should have hugged her hips, it sagged. She looked like a frump instead of an elegant bridesmaid.
“Anne, I think we have a problem,” she called out as she left the dressing room. The stunned looks that greeted her confirmed her fears. It was worse than she thought.
“How much weight have you lost?” Anne asked.
Jan shrugged. “I don’t know. I haven’t paid much attention,” she said. “I’ve been eating,” she added.
“It’s okay, that’s what fittings are for. To make corrections we need to make,” the dressmaker cooed. “Step on up here, and I’ll put a few pins in and we’ll make this all better.”
Mortified, Jan did as she was instructed.
Well, no crash diet for me.