I wake up the next morning and Jason is still asleep. He’s adorable when he’s sleeping. He’s hair is sticking up in all directions and he seems very vulnerable with his glasses off. He doesn’t snore, but I can hear the sound of his deep breathing. I feel like I could watch him sleep for hours, but then I suddenly catch sight of the digital clock in the room reading 9:15 AM. I instantly fly into a panic.

“Oh my god!” I practically scream. “It’s morning! I stayed here all night!”

Jason doesn’t really react at first, because he’s asleep. He rubs his eyes with his free hand and then finally says, “Huh?”

“It’s morning,” I repeat. “I spent the night in your room.”


“So…” I shake my head. He doesn’t seem to get it. “I don’t want my parents to think I slept with you. I mean, they think I’m engaged to Larry. I don’t want them to think I’m hooking up with a random guy the night before my grandmother’s funeral.”

Jason grins sleepily. “I’m a random guy?”

He kind of has a point. Jason is less of a random guy than Larry is. Nobody’s met Larry before, but everybody knows and loves Jason. I look at Jason now and realize I have fallen into that category as well. So much so that I don’t want to ever leave this bed, regardless of the consequences.

“You’re not,” I admit. “But it’s still weird that I told them I’m engaged to someone else and now I’m spending the night with you.”

“Maybe.” He shrugs, still grinning. “Maybe they won’t notice you were gone.”

That doesn’t seem very likely. My mother wakes up like 7AM every morning to start breakfast. Still, I could pretend like I got up early and went to take a walk at six in the morning. And decided to make my bed before I went. Totally believable.

I get back into my clothes from last night, figuring I’ll shower and change after sneaking back across to my house. Jason gets back in his wheelchair, and slips on a T-shirt and jeans. I’m always amazed at how quickly he can get dressed. “I’ll escort you to the door,” he says.

I look at him nervously. “What if your mom sees?”

“Now you’re worried about my mom?”

As I’m contemplating this, my cell phone rings and I see the number: Larry. I shudder inwardly at the thought of an awkward conversation with my fiancé.

“Is that your mother?” Jason asks.

“No.” I bite my lip. “It’s Larry.”

“Oh,” he says. He avoids my eyes.

“I’ll talk to him later,” I say decisively.

“What are you going to say to him?”

“I don’t know,” I say, trying to keep the irritation out of my voice.

Jason wrings his hands together. “You’re going to… I mean, you’re not going to still… marry him?”

I feel a little pang in my chest. I can’t believe that after last night, Jason would think there was a chance I’d go back to Larry. That would make me the worst kind of cheater. At least now I can reassure myself that the guy I cheated with is someone that I truly love. And want to spend the rest of my life with.

“Of course I’m not,” I say. “I’m going to break up with him. I just need to… you know, figure out what I’m going to say.

Jason’s shoulders sag with relief. “Oh, okay,” he says, giving me his half-smile. “I was worried that maybe last night was a one-time thing for you or something.”

“It wasn’t for me,” I say.

“Me either,” he says. He looks at me with this incredibly longing in his eyes, then he grabs my hand and pulls me into his lap. He lowers his lips onto mine and my heart starts to pound. Much as I want to get back to my parents’ house and wash the grease out of my hair, I also kind of want to spend the rest of the day in bed with Jason.

Naturally, Mrs. Fox would pick that moment to do the old one-knock-and-enter routine. “Jason,” she’s in the middle of saying, “I washed your—”

And then she just stops talking.

I scurry out of Jason’s lap, my face flushed scarlet. I can’t even bring myself to look up at Mrs. Fox. I remember how stricken she seemed when she caught Jason and me innocently kissing at age eleven. She used some choice words to describe me to my mother and although she didn’t outright ban me from her house, she devised a new rule that we weren’t allowed to hang out in his room with the door closed anymore. “Tasha!” she cries. “I didn’t know you were still here!”

Meaning, she didn’t realize I spent the night in her son’s room.

“Um, yeah,” is all I can manage to stammer. I can’t believe I’m 32 years old and I just got “caught” making out like a teenager. And I’m probably going to get yelled at and tossed out of the Fox household for a second time.

“Well, won’t you join us for breakfast then?”

I get up the courage to look at Mrs. Fox’s face and I see that she’s absolutely beaming. To my surprise, she looks delighted to catch me and Jason kissing this time. I guess she realized how he felt about me. I was apparently the only person in the world who couldn’t see it.

“I really better go,” I say, still blushing. “But, um, I’ll see you later.” And I get the hell out of there, leaving Jason to handle the third degree from his mother.

It’s too much to hope for that my parents will be asleep or out when I return home. The second I walk in the door, I see Mom and Lydia sitting on the couch, looking at bridal magazines. It seems like a terribly inappropriate thing to do on the morning of a funeral, but then again, I know neither of them were close with Nana. I think Mom is a little relieved, to be honest.

When Lydia sees me, she offers me a broad grin. She’s absolutely thrilled to be getting married before I am. This is like a dream come true for her.

I always feel jealous of women who are really close with their sisters. Lydia and I have never been close, mostly because we’re so different. I think Lydia always sort of resented that I was the pretty one. She was always very overweight, but even if she dropped down to a size two, she wouldn’t have been pretty. Lydia went through all of high school and college without even a single date, while I was wildly popular. Well, maybe not wildly popular in general, but at least I was very popular with boys. Getting married first is Lydia’s chance to finally get her revenge, to show that men find her just as desirable as me.

“Hi, Tasha!” Lydia says in an overly cheerful voice. “Where have you been all morning? We were looking for you.”

“I was… out taking a walk,” I mumble.

“For three hours?” Mom says, raising her eyebrows.

I’m not about to tell them about Jason, so I just shrug. Fortunately, Mom doesn’t push it.

“I was looking forward to meeting Larry,” Lydia says. “Where is he anyway?”

I don’t like the tone of her voice. “He couldn’t make it,” I say. “Where’s Duncan?”

“He’s still at home,” Lydia says, because of course, Duncan lives in Pittsburgh, as does Lydia. She still lives within a ten mile radius of her childhood home. “He’ll be at the funeral though.”

I guess she’s implying that her fiancé cares about her more than mine because he’s making an effort to go to her grandmother’s funeral. Of course, Larry would have been here if I wanted him to. The problem is me.

“Larry was very busy with work,” I say, trying to sound convincing.

“Uh huh,” Lydia says in a totally patronizing voice.

Who the hell is she to patronize me? She’s the one who could never get a date to save her life. If I had wanted to marry an ugly loser like Duncan, I could have done so years ago. Like Nana said, I had higher standards. Lydia’s just jealous of me because I would look way hotter in any of these wedding dresses than she would. She’s probably going to go for a sleeveless dress, which is a terrible idea considering her thick arms.

“I’m sure we’ll meet Larry eventually,” my mother says.

I grit my teeth. “I’m going to go take a shower.”

Mom raises her eyebrows. “You didn’t shower when you first got up?”


“I did,” I mumble. “But I’m sweaty from taking a walk, so…” I clear my throat. “Anyway, I’m going to take that shower now.”

I leave my mother and sister staring after me, probably wondering where the hell I’d been all night. Considering what a big mouth Mrs. Fox had, there’s no doubt in my mind that they aren’t going to be wondering very long.


I had no idea that Nana had so many friends until I see them all gathered at her funeral. Aside from the family, it looks like the whole town had turned up to pay their last respects to my grandmother. I guess if you’ve been alive as long as she had been, you meet a lot of people.

It’s a closed casket, thank god, but I get a little teary-eyed looking at it. After my shower, I spent a long time debating whether on not to put on mascara, because even though it was “waterproof,” it wasn’t really. As a tear trickles down my cheek, I’m glad I went sans eye make-up.

“You okay, Tash?”

I lift my eyes and see Jason has wheeled up next to me. He’s wearing a dark suit, and while I always said green was his best color, he actually looks really sexy in black too. And he looks really good in a suit. He’s so much more attractive than Larry ever could be.

“I’m okay,” I say, wiping my eyes with the back of my hand.

I hear my cell phone buzzing from within my purse. I fumble to get my bag open and when I finally wrench the phone free from between my wallet and a paperback novel I stuffed in there a few weeks ago, I see Larry’s number pop up on the screen. Jason notices the look on my face and says, “It’s Larry, isn’t it?”

I nod. “He’s called a few times… I should probably get it.”

“Yeah,” Jason says, but his brow is furrowed. Despite what went on between the two of us last night and the fact that he knows Larry is wrong for me, he seems like he’s still worried I might not break things off with Larry. Which is crazy because obviously I’m going to.

I mean, of course I will. Eventually. Maybe not, like, this minute, because what kind of bitch breaks up with the guy she’s engaged to over the phone? But eventually, I’ll end it.

I open my phone and hear Larry’s voice on the other line. “Hi, Tasha,” he says. “How are you doing?”

Jason is still sort of looking at me, and I feel really uncomfortable having a conversation with Larry right in front of him. Yet what else am I supposed to do? I can’t very well leave and go to another room.

“I’m doing okay,” I say.

“I really wish I could have come with you,” Larry says. He sounds very sweet on the phone and I feel almost suffocated with guilt. He has absolutely no idea what went on between me and Jason. He probably can’t even comprehend it. He probably thinks Jason is here to protect me from something like that happening.

“I think it’s better this way,” I say. I glance at Jason, who’s pretending not to listen, but I’m sure he is. “Listen, I’m at the funeral right now, so…”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” he says. “I’ll let you go.”


“I love you, Tasha,” he says.

Oh god. What the fuck am I supposed to say? I can’t tell him I love him right in front of Jason. But I can’t leave him hanging with an “I love you.”

“Me too,” I mumble quickly.

I see Jason (obviously listening) look up sharply. I’m guessing he knows what “me too” must mean. But at least he pretends not to know and doesn’t say anything to me about it.

“I’m sorry,” I say to him after I hang up with Larry.

“It’s okay,” he says. “What do you think? I’m not going to hassle you about this at your grandmother’s funeral. I know you’ll break up with him when we get back.”

He’s right. I will. Of course I will. It’s just… not going to be so easy. I’ve never broken off an engagement before.


I sit on the aisle during the memorial service so that Jason can sit next to me. I have to be honest: this is my first funeral. I didn’t think I’d get so emotional, but I feel tears welling up in my eyes every time they say Nana’s name.

As the first set of tears falls, Jason reaches out to grab my hand. I think it’s supposed to be a reassuring pat at first, but then we end up just holding hands. Jason’s palm and fingers are very rough, but his hand feels large, warm, and comforting in mine. I look over at him and smile through my tears. He smiles back. It’s sort of ironic that Nana was such a proponent of my getting together with Jason, and now it’s her funeral that finally brought us together.

Out of the corner of my eye, I can see my sister Lydia watching us. Her little piggy eyes are all squinty and suspicious. I don’t know why the hell she cares if Jason and I are holding hands, but obviously she does. I don’t know why she feels like she has to be in competition with me all the time. She’s getting married before I am, so what more does she want?

Once the service ends, Jason leans over and whispers in my ear. “Are you all right?”

“Uh huh,” I say.

“Because I have to drive my mother back home now,” he says. “But if you need me to stay…”

I shake my head and glance over at Lydia, who is still staring. “No, I’m fine. Take your mother home.”

Before he goes, Mrs. Fox comes over to me to give her condolences while Jason fetches the car. She reaches out and takes both my hands in her own. “I’m so sorry, Tasha,” she says. “I know you were close with your grandmother.”

I nod. “Thank you.”

Mrs. Fox is still holding my hands in hers and it’s making me a bit uncomfortable. Finally, she leans forward a bit and says, “If you want to spend the night again tonight, it’s okay.”

My cheeks burn. “Oh, um…”

“I can leave a fresh towel for you in the bathroom,” she offers.

Oh god, this is so awkward. I wrench my hands free from hers and mumble something about “we’ll see.” She gives me this kind of tender look before she smiles at me and leaves.

And of course, I turn around and there’s Lydia standing there behind me, a triumphant look on her face. “I knew it,” she hisses. “You’re hooking up with Jason.”

I guess I could deny it, but she just heard his mother basically admit I spent the night there. What was the point? “Okay,” I say. “I am.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be engaged to some other guy?” Lydia says, squinting her little piggy eyes at me. “Or is that just a story you made up to steal my thunder?”

God, does everything have to be about her? This is our grandmother’s funeral, for Christ’s sake. “Steal your thunder? What are you talking about, Lydia?”

“You know very well what I’m talking about, Natasha,” Lydia says, poking one of her well-bitten fingernails into my chest. I don’t think the girl has had a manicure in her whole life. She probably doesn’t even know what they are. “Everything is always about you. You’re the pretty one, the big shot who went to Manhattan. Now finally I’m getting married and I get to have my moment… and like five seconds later, you just happen to get engaged. What a coincidence.”

I blink my eyes, shocked at this outburst. I quickly glance around to make sure nobody is listening. “I’m sorry you see things that way, Lydia,” I say. “The engagement just… happened. It’s not like I planned to get engaged at the same time as you. I just met the right guy.”

Lydia folded her arms across her chest. “The right guy? And who is this right guy that you’re apparently cheating on with Jason.”

I don’t really have a response to that one, actually.

“Really, Tasha,” she says. “That’s the lowest of the low, using Jason like that. You know that he’s been pining after you since you guys were teenagers and now to use him as an excuse to get out of your engagement… he’s a good guy and he deserves better than that.”

“I’m not...” I start to say, but then I wonder for a moment if Lydia’s right. No, she isn’t. Definitely not. “I really like Jason. I’m not using him.”

“Oh, come on,” Lydia snorts. “After all these years, I honestly can’t see you ending up with Jason. Maybe when you’re forty and completely desperate. But I know you pretty well and I know you haven’t been holding out so long just to marry a guy in a wheelchair. I don’t see your perfect honeymoon involving tread marks all over the threshold.”

I want to yell at Lydia that Jason is much more than just a guy in a wheelchair. But somehow the words stick in my throat. Because as much as I dislike my sister right now, in a way she sort of hit the nail on the head. I do love Jason, but could I really have a long term relationship with him?

I picture our wedding: the groom disabled, in a wheelchair. Everyone staring at us, feeling sorry for me like I couldn’t get anyone better. Making reservations at a hotel for our honeymoon and having to explain that my husband is in a wheelchair and they’ll have to make special accommodations. I think about the way people stare at Jason, and having to go through my whole life that way. Do I want to do that? As much as I hate to admit it, appearances are important to me.

Of course, Jason and I aren’t getting married. We’re just hooking up. But I’m in my early thirties, so really, I shouldn’t be dating anyone I wouldn’t consider marrying. And if Jason doesn’t fall into that category, maybe I shouldn’t be seeing him anymore.

God, I’m confused.

To be continued....