He took the strip of black velvet and rubbed his thumb against it. It felt fantastic, causing little goose bumps rise up in his arms. He'd exhaled deeply. His shoulders rolled and he took in another deep breath as he danced forward and back. Pacing. His body felt hot and confined in the tuxedo. Every muscle he had seemed to be swelling and expanding. Even this throat was getting tighter inside the bow tie. His lips were rattling little thoughts that didn't quite become words.
He looked to the door then. Simple, white with a brass knob. Holding his breath to still his jittering hands, Adam wrapped the strip around his eyes. It folded around his head twice. He covered his upper eyes with one strip. The lower half of his eyes with the next pass. Then he tied it once, tightly, behind his head. His right hand, a fist, rose up and pounded on the door twice. A young woman, in a sing song tone, answered. "Hellloooo."
"Hey. I need to talk to Mary." A chorus of hoots and hollers came from behind the door. The entire tribe of women mocking him. Adam only smiled and bowed his head, enduring.
"You can't see me! I'm in the dress."
"I can't see anything. I'm blindfolded."
"I don't believe you. I don't want bad luck," she teased. She whispered.
"So have someone else open the door and check me out." A conference began. Hushed whispers. Yes. No. Oh come one. Adam merely tried to stand up straight an not hum a little song.
The door creaked open and a girl squealed and slammed it shut. "He looks so good!" She shrieked. A chorus of moans. A chorus of giggles. Adam raised his right hand again preparing to knock once more when he heard the door open. The same girl who opened and spoke took his hand and dragged him into the chamber.
The room, the rooms, were filled with tangible smells. Fresh cut flowers, Iris's. The perfumes of a dozen women. The smell of freshly made and tailored bridesmaid's gowns. The unmistakable smell of a vintage dress preserved. Silver jewelry draped off every shoulder.
Women were rustling. Moving in a hurried and slowed pace to put on their gowns, to touch their makeup. The sound of heels stepping into light carpet, their echo's softened, played across his ears. The silver jewelry jangled. It hung off ears and wrists. Maybe even toes. A thought that brought a smile to Adam's face.
"What are you smiling at?" Her voice. Her beautiful voice. He turned, as best he could, to face her. The confines of the room didn't help.
"You. Even if I can't see you."
"Flatterer," she said dryly, trying not to let tears flow down her face. Already she was biting down on her lower lip. Anything to keep from making a scene. "And here I thought you were smiling at all the naked women."
"Well, I am now."
"Isn't it one of your fantasies, dear?"
"Well, it would be. But you'd have to leave for that." Some random member of the tribe hit him in the shoulder. He feigned pain at the strike.
Muffled sounds of an oversized dress, it's train too large and too old for movement, swished over to him. He felt his cheeks stroked, caressed. First his left cheek. Then his right. Her middle and index finger slid over his lips. She stopped that rub then and went back to playing with his cheeks, one with each hand before whispering in a pleading tone.
"What are you doing here?"
"I have nerves, you know. I wanted to get rid of them."
"I wanted to slow dance them away while blind." She snickered in that way she had. The way that made any man fall in love with her. Or, at least, made him fall for her. Which was the same difference on this day.
"We can't. I put on make up already. I'd ruin it."
"We have two hours to go. Don't worry about that," he said softly, a lump rising in his throat. "Someone can retouch your makeup. Dance with me. Please."
"I can't. I don't want to make anyone," she said hurriedly. Rapidly.
"So what? It's your day. Not the girl who gives you racoon eyes. Now. Do you want to slow dance with me? Or do you want to have perfect make up while you keep getting more nervous?"
Her hands dropped from his cheeks. They raked down his neck. Then back up. She tugged at his ear lobes. Then down the back of his neck to hold him close, bend him down and kiss him on the lips. He kissed back with gentle strength. His arms wrapped around her back to press her against him. Even in that silly, stupid dress and through his jacket, his vest his shirt....she felt fantastic. She made his skin come alive. Live and die.
He held her there for a second before she broke the kiss and he felt her rest her head in the crook of his neck. She exhaled against him and he died again. A whimper, an inhalation. Then he tried to move his feet in a little shuffle. She was dead, sniffling weight in his arms. So he tried to raise her with his arms, his strength, as he moved again. She shambled after him. Left foot, right foot. Turn.
"I'm so scared," she said, and he could hear the tears in her eyes. He could hear them devour her overdone makeup.
"We are making such a huge mistake," she said, her voice hoarse and deep. "We're just not ready. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm sorry."
"Shh. We're not making a mistake."
"Yes we are, please," she started before he shushed her again. A calming noise in chaos. The room was emptying now. The dressed bridesmaids, he assumed, went out the door he just entered. Those not ready were filing into the back. No one wanted to bare witness to this. Who could blame them.
"We are not making a mistake. I love you. You love me. It's just nerves. Come on, dance with me." He continued the simple eight step. She followed, that whimpers welling up inside her.
"I love you too," she said after a long, harsh silence. Only their feet stepping into the carpet, dampened echoes, could be heard. Her face continued to press into his shoulder. His neck. He wrapped his left arm around her back tightly and moved his right hand up to her hair to hold her. Comfort her. Play with her too tightly wound up hair.
They danced like that for another eight minutes. Then she stood up, apologized profusely and fell into a hysterical fit of giggling. By the time she pried herself out of his hands and kissed him there was only one hour and forty nine minutes left until the ceremony.