Engagement: Forget Me Not (excerpt)

Maxie looked from him to Van. “Tell us what?” Gnar asked.

Throwing her arms around Isaac and pulling him close, Van gushed, “We’re getting married!”

Maxie inhaled sharply. Did they see the horror, the anger, the immense, indescribable sadness that passed over her features, all in those short seconds? Maybe Isaac had. He was looking right at her the entire time, right in her face. Gnar stood, smiling widely, and embraced his friend. “Wow,” he said. “I never thought I would see the day. Congratulations!”

He embraced Van next and kissed her cheek. “I can’t think of anyone else I would rather see this guy with.”

Isaac went to Maxie. “Aren’t you going to congratulate me?” he asked. She hadn’t even risen from her seat.

“Of course,” she said, slowly pushing her chair out. He wrapped his arms around her and she held her breath. When she pulled away, Van was waiting to embrace her next.

“Are you happy for me, Max?”

“Of course,” Maxie choked out again. “Congratulations.”

“You know that you’re going to be my maid of honor.”

She bowed her head against her friend’s shoulder and shut her eyes tightly. Don’tcrydon’tcrydon’tcry. What would they all think if she cried? When Van let her go, she turned and began cleaning off the table. “You guys are done eating?” Van asked.

Gnar raised an eyebrow. “Actually, we just started.”

“Oh,” Maxie said, looking down at their plates in her hand. She’d lost her appetite. “Right. Sorry.” She put Gnar’s plate back down on the table but continued to empty her own. He sat back down and Van and Isaac joined him.

“So, is it too soon to ask the date?” he asked.

“We’re thinking the spring time,” said Van.

“Are we?” said Isaac.

She shrugged. “We were. Before you got shot.” Everyone jumped as the loud clang of dishes echoed through the kitchen. They all turned to Maxie, who stood above a pile of broken plates and glasses at her feet. “Christ, Max! Those are our good plates!” Van snapped.

Gnar rose to his feet. “Everything alright?”

“Yeah, sorry,” she said, kneeling down to pick them up. Gnar kneeled down to help while Isaac got the broom. Van, on the other hand, remained seated.

“It’s going to be a small ceremony,” she said. “Just a few friends and family. Thirty people, tops.” Maxie could feel Gnar’s eyes on her, but she kept hers averted. Don’tcrydon’tcrydon’tcry. “We’re not going to do it in a church, since Isaac doesn’t believe in God. Central Park, maybe?”

“Max,” Gnar whispered as Van prattled on. She managed to look up at him. For a moment, he simply stared at her. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” she lied, forcing a smile. But really, she was anything but fine. Her heart wasn’t beating. She wasn’t breathing. Her insides were collapsing. Engaged. Married in the Spring. Before he was shot.

Picking up the last of the glass, Maxie turned to Van. “Congratulations. I’m happy for you, Van.”

She smiled widely. “I’m happy. For myself.”

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