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can we always be this close (forever and ever)?

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“So you still haven’t told me that much about this Jamie girl,” Sterling says as she and April wait for the maid of honor herself to show up in the baggage claim area for Delta Airlines. Jamie’s plane from Raleigh supposedly landed twenty minutes ago, so it’s only a matter of time that she’ll show up, and from all that April has told Sterling, she doesn’t exactly know what to expect.

“I told you, she’s an old friend from camp,” April says and intertwines her fingers with Sterling’s at her side. “But I like her, so can you please just take my word for it that she’s great?”

Sterling nods, though she’s still unsure about this. Everyone else in their wedding party is someone she’s known for years, but this Jamie is a mystery. A mystery whom April used to have a crush on, no less. 

Just as she thinks that April gasps. “JStar!” she says, letting go of Sterling’s hands and running toward who can only be Jamie. And she is...not at all what Sterling expected.

Sterling was expecting a prim and proper church girl. But the woman whose arms are wrapped tightly around her fiancée is anything but prim and proper. In fact, she looks more like Ruby Rose’s even hotter cousin with her short hair, halfway tucked in t-shirt, and a sleeve tattoo. 

When she manages to pull herself away from April—or rather, shifts so that one arm remains wrapped around April’s waist, holding her close to her side, Jamie seems to finally notice Sterling’s presence. “And you must be her famous fiancée,” she offers Sterling her free hand. “Jamie Arden,” she introduces herself.

Sterling grips Jamie’s hand a little overly-hard as she shakes it. “Sterling Wesley. How the heck are ya?”

Jamie smiles, completely unfazed, and even Sterling feels herself go a little weak in the knees. “I’m great. Our girl’s had nothing but good things to say about you, so I gotta say I’m pretty stoked to see you crazy kids get hitched this summer. And I’m beyond honored to be included.”

Sterling tries not to get jealous at the usage of ‘our girl’ in reference to her fiancée, but April must sense her tension and takes over the conversation.

“I’m just glad you said yes. You’re the only friend I can trust to not give a speech about the time I fell off stage during rehearsals for Jesus Christ Superstar,” April says, rolling her eyes and picking up Jamie’s bag from next to her, leading the way out to the Volt.

“‘Kay, but someone definitely needs to tell that one to me,” Jamie says, following the two of them out to the car.

“The important takeaway from it was I caught her,” Sterling brags as she pops the trunk.

April scoffs and puts the bag in, slamming the trunk shut. “I’d say, ‘broke my fall’ would be a more accurate depiction of events. Keys please,” she says, holding out her hand expectantly. When Sterling hesitates, she adds, “I’m not letting you drive when we have a guest.”

Sterling sighs and hands over the keys, knowing it isn’t worth the argument as she climbs into the backseat.

“So, you guys know each other from church camp?” Sterling asks incredulously once they’ve joined her in the car.

“I was her counselor,” Jamie says, then adds, “I totally saved her life once, and then she tried to Sandlot me.”

“I did not!” April argues as she pulls out of their parking spot, meeting Sterling’s eyes in the rearview mirror as she adds, “I had a little accident at the pool and Jamie saved me from drowning. No ulterior motives behind me needing CPR.”

“Whatever you say, Kid,” Jamie says with an air of smug confidence that Sterling does not like one bit--especially because she can see April blush. Knowing that April once had feelings for other girls was easy to deal with when they existed in the past and were unattainable straight girls. Neither of those things applies to Jamie. “So Sterling, I gotta know. What made you want to ask little April to marry you?”

“Uh…” Sterling’s a little taken off guard by the question, seeing as it came out of nowhere. “Well, I love her…”

“That’s good to know, but what else?” Jamie asks, amused. “You know, what was ne sais quoi?”

“My theory is she’s afraid of having to take care of herself at UGA,” April jokes dryly.

Sterling is about to argue with that, but realizes immediately that it’s not entirely untrue, she just hadn’t thought about it before. But it certainly isn’t the reason why she and April are getting married--no matter how much she loves chicken biscuits. “Actually, it’s more like, I knew that if I don’t put a ring on it now, then I’m the biggest idiot in the world.”

April gives her a look in the mirror that says she’s getting the biggest kiss later. “Sterl knows quality wife material when she sees it.”

Jamie shakes her head. “You two are disgusting. No wonder my agreement with April’s been voided.”

Sterling frowns as April tries to change the subject by commenting on the level of traffic on the freeway. “What agreement?”

There’s a silence in the car before April quietly and quickly says, “If I hadn’t been kissed by the time I was 18, Jamie said she would do it.”

Sterling is taken aback by this, her mouth agape as she struggles to find the words to respond to that knowledge. “Oh, um, wow-”

“But don’t worry, she texted me I was off the hook the night you guys got together,” Jamie adds reassuringly, but Sterling feels anything but assured.

“April, you didn’t let me tell my sister we were together but you were texting Jamie the night of our first kiss?” she asks as she hears Jamie loudly suck air in through her teeth.

“To be fair, I didn’t want Blair to know because I didn’t want it getting out that I was gay. Jamie already knew.” April shrugs her shoulders. “Anyway J, which hotel are you staying at again? We have our dress appointments but you should have some time to get settled before.”

“The Waldorf in Buckhead,” Jamie offers helpfully, the cheery tone of her voice ignoring the awkwardness in the car.

Sterling sits back in her seat, watching the interplay between April and Jamie as the Volt speeds down the highway. Sterling has never seen April this at ease with anyone, besides her. And, truth be told, she doesn’t love how it makes her feel. On top of what feels uncomfortably like jealousy, Sterling is left out of the conversation about April’s favorite show. One Sterling has never even heard of before.

“Don’t tell me you still haven’t watched the series finale?” Jamie says, clearly wanting to talk about it before April cuts her off.

“I’ve been busy! Don’t you dare tell me,” April says firmly as she smoothly changes lanes.

“What show?” Sterling pipes up from the back seat, tired of being left out of the conversation.

“One you said you didn’t want to watch with me,” April says, then briefly looks at Jamie to say, “She hasn’t even seen Imagine Me and You.”

Jamie physically turns around in her seat to give Sterling a look of wide-eyed outrage. “What? You’re marrying a woman and you haven’t even been indoctrinated into the most basic of lesbian cinema?”

“To be fair, she’s not a lesbian,” April pipes up, “But yes, her ignorance is a real struggle in our relationship.”

“Hey, that’s not fair. I watched that spy one with the girl from Fast and Furious with you,” Sterling argues, though it sounds weak even to her as it leaves her lips. Especially since she can’t for the life of her remember what the movie is even called.

April and Jamie go back to talking about whatever it was they were talking about before, and Sterling sighs, crossing her arms as she sulks. Of course, she’s aware that she’s acting like a bratty kid not getting the attention she thinks she deserves, but she’s also not at all used to having to share April with anybody. And sure, it’s a selfish way of looking at April having a good friend she can be herself with--God knows April puts up with a lot when it comes to her and Blair--but Sterling can’t help herself.

She just has to keep reminding herself that at the end of all this madness, she’ll be married to April, and that’ll make it all worth it.

The rest of the wedding party is already there when they pull up in front of Bridals By Lori. Much to Sterling’s chagrin, her mom had insisted they had to invite Kristina to the fitting since she is a bridesmaid (whether Sterling wanted her to be one or not), and she seems to be keeping her distance from everyone else.

Her sister, on the other hand, nearly rips the Volt’s door off its hinges in her eagerness to pull Sterling aside. “I can’t believe you left me alone with mom for three hours, while she’s in wedding planner mode. You owe me, big time,” Blair whines, loudly enough that everyone in the reception area can hear her.

“Blair not now! Look at her!”

“Umm rather not, I still can’t believe you’re actually marrying her.”

“Not April. Look at Jamie!”

“Oh. Oh! She’s hot. And like not even objectively, just straight up hot. She looks like Ruby Rose!”

“I know! And April had a crush on her!”

“Dude, I might have a crush on her. But how old is she?”

“Old enough that she was April’s camp counselor, not just a friend from camp!”

“Yeah, that’s not suspicious at all.”


Sterling and Blair turn their attention back to the rest of the bridal party, who finish making introductions with Jamie just in time for one of the shop’s cheery employees to ask, “Are y’all for the Stevens-Wesley wedding?” Everyone nods or makes a sound of confirmation, and she smiles. “Great. Well, I’m Chantel, I’ll be one of the people helping today. Why don’t we go upstairs to a private room and get started?” She leads the way to a staircase as she continues making conversation. “Now, Lori says y’all have two brides and a mixed-gender wedding party, yes?”

“Yes, that’s right,” April says, walking faster to stay mostly at Chantel’s side. “Now, I already found a few dresses online that I would like to try on to get a feel for what I’m looking for, so are you who I go to for that?”

“I will be, yeah. But first, we’re going to try to figure out the wedding party outfits since y’all will probably want to be coordinating that together,” Chantel says helpfully.

“Where’s Lori and Monte?” Kristina whispers to Sterling, having managed to sneak up on her without making herself known until now.

“This isn’t an episode of the show, Kritter,” Blair reminds her, and their cousin rolls her eyes.

“Whatever. I just better be able to wear something nice to this wedding; don’t try to pull a fast one and put us in something ugly just to make the two brides look better,” Kristina laughs to herself.

“Oh, I don’t think that’ll be necessary,” Blair fires back as they’re led into a room with a bunch of couches to sit on, and mannequins set up all around to show off various bridesmaid dress options, as well as a few suits. All in light colors or pastels.

Sterling moves up to take April’s hand, squeezing it tight and sharing an excited look with her. Not everything about planning their wedding has been exactly fun, but this could be a blast if they manage to stay on the same page.

“I called ahead and had them bring out some options. Since the two of you will be having a summer wedding that starts in the daytime, you’ll probably want to steer clear of any dark colors,” Debbie says, gesturing to one of the mannequins in a powder pink dress standing next to one in a light blue tux.

“Mooom, you know I’m allergic to pastels,” Blair whines.

“Normally I’m not one to agree with Blair, but I think I might have to with those,” April says, grimacing at both ensembles.

“Aww, come on,” Jamie says, stepping up and standing next to the tux. “I think I could pull this off in a 1980s prom kind of way,”

“And you would be the only one,” Ezekiel quips as he and Hannah B. begin perusing, with Luke following like a lost puppy.

“You’re planning on wearing a suit to the wedding?” Kristina asks snidely, clearly amused by a certain stereotype being reinforced.

Jamie doesn’t take the bait, smiling at her. “Thinkin’ about it, yeah. I know you wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but I’m typically not much of a dress girl,” she says sarcastically.

“And you’ll be the most dapper Maid of Honor in all of Georgia,” April says, leaving Sterling’s side to interlock her arm with Jamie’s and smile threateningly at Kristina. Clearly, she was prepared for this. “But let’s find something a little more...low key,” she says and leads Jamie to where Ezekiel and Hannah B. are considering a sand-colored slim-cut suit.

Blair takes this opportunity to complain, sighing loudly. “This is seriously the worst, I hope you know,” she says to Sterling, who figures she may as well join in the fun, making the rounds around the room. 

Everything is nice, but nothing immediately pops out to her as something she wouldn’t mind seeing in a picture on her wall every day for the rest of her life. “It’s just a dress for one day, Blair. I think you’ll live,” Sterling says, not having the energy to fully placate her sister when she feels like she’s been sidelined in her own wedding planning by her fiancée, who seems to be having a jolly good time with her studly maid of honor.

“I’m not talking about the dresses—even though, and I cannot stress this enough, they’re awful—I’m talking about all of this,” she gestures around them to the goings-on in the room. “All of this fake bullshit for you to marry April.”

“You can hate the dress shopping and even the wedding all you want, but please don’t bring my fiancée into this,” Sterling says firmly. She may not be particularly happy with April at the moment, but she still isn’t about to let Blair put her down.

“Fine, fine,” Blair sighs, smartly knowing this is a battle she will not win, but then she clicks her tongue and asks, “But I have to know. What’s it like to be marrying a carbon copy of Mom?”

Sterling sputters at that. “What?!”

“You heard me,” Blair says and cuts her eyes in the direction of April and Debbie speaking to Chantel. Both are in a similar stance with their hands on their hips as Chantel walks them through how much a rush order on alterations will be.

Sterling frowns. “I mean, they’ve got similar tendencies but trust me, April’s nothing like mom when you get down to it. She’s a big nerd, but she’s so much fun when she lets loose,” she smiles to herself, being reminded all over again why she’s going to marry that girl when she thinks of April, just last night, passionately explaining to her the great tragedy of Padmé Amidala.

“I guess I’ll have to take your word for it. Remember when we were kids and we had to stop inviting her to sleepovers because she kept making us all go to bed at like 9?” Blair says as she saunters up to a dress that Sterling doesn’t quite know what to think of. A sort of 50s-cut short dress in a sandy color, not unlike the suit April was looking at before. Except it also featured a large, multicolored floral design. “Now this one is just-”

“Perfect!” April says, coming up behind them and not allowing Blair to give it whatever insult she had in mind. “J, come look at this one,” she calls over to Jamie.

“I was gonna say tacky,” Blair says under her breath to Sterling, who finds herself feeling extremely stuck between a rock and a hard place. She doesn’t want to say the wrong thing to either of them.

When Jamie approaches, April has already gone into full visionary mode. “Okay, so picture it. This dress with the Havana tux. Maybe we could do different colored ties to go with the colors of the flowers?” April suggests, much to Sterling’s annoyance, mostly to Jamie.

“Oh, that would look so dope. But, ya know, I’m partial to anything that involves the rainbow,” Jamie says as Sterling rolls her eyes. 

She’s met teenage boys with less douchebag energy than this girl. “I mean yeah, that would be cute, but shouldn’t we ask the opinion of the people who have to wear it?” Sterling asks in an attempt to split the baby between appeasing April and making Blair know she’s still on her side. But that works about as well as when King Solomon tried it the second Kristina jumps in.

“Oh, that’s so cute! Don’t you think so, Blair Bear?” she says in her signature goading fashion as Blair goes red in the face.

“If we’re doing colored ties, then Luke gets green!” Hannah B. calls from across the room where she’s comparing ties with Luke’s face.

Sensing disaster, Sterling turns to make eye-contact with Blair in a last-ditch effort to salvage all of this.

“Look, I know you hate the dress, but if you agree to wear it, I promise I’ll help you pack up your whole room before you leave for UNC.”

“That dress is hideous; you’ll have to do a lot better than that.”

“I can help do your homework remotely next year?”

“Close, but no cigar.”

“Dollywood. Spring Break.”

“But your new bride will be with us, no doubt. I want the Volt.”


“You heard me. I want to take the Volt with me to UNC.”

“What am I supposed to drive, then?”

“Not my problem, Mrs. Stevens.”

“Don’t call me that. We’re hyphenating. But alright, fine. Deal.”

“You know what? I actually really love this dress,” Blair says with an exaggerated smile, turning to April. “So if Sterl here likes it, then I think we have a winner.” She pats Sterling a little too hard on the back.

“Yeah, I like it,” Sterling says, nodding, but thinking she’s going to be in deep trouble when April learns she just gave their only means of transportation to Blair without a fight. But she is willing to give anything to not drag out this circus.

April beams. “Well, then I think we have our wedding party figured out,” she says excitedly. “And now the real fun begins.”

Sterling feels an overwhelming sensation of dread fall over her when she realizes this only means she’ll have to put on a dramatic white fashion show now.

Sterling is on dress...five? Or was it six? She’s honestly started to lose count in this seemingly endless cycle of returning to the dressing room to strip down and put on yet another dress that makes her feel somewhere between a cloud and a cupcake. It’s started to drive her to wanting to wear a suit for the big day--maybe Jamie had the right idea all along.There’s a small knock on the dressing room door that breaks her out of her self-examination of herself in the 360 mirrors.

“You ready, sweetheart?” her mom asks gently.

Sterling sighs. “Yeah, hold on a second,” she says, hiking the strapless monstrosity up near her armpits and adjusting her boobs accordingly. She already knows this one is a big fat no for her--she knows now that ball gowns are not her style, especially not ones with beading and lace for days without even some shoulder straps to hold it up--but in true Say Yes to the Dress tradition, she has to let her mom, sister, ex-boyfriend, and least favorite cousin judge her in it anyway. Taking a deep breath, she sighs and opens the door, walking down the small hallway to her designated room.

There are a couple of seconds before anyone notices she’s returned when Sterling can take stock of her bridal party. Poor Luke looks bored out of his mind while Debbie and Kristina talk animated about the pros and cons of mermaid dresses, and Blair just looks...amused. No doubt at least partially at Sterling’s expense. Her designated Bridals by Lori employee after Chantel went with April--Veronica-- clears her throat to bring everyone’s attention to Sterling, and they all look up.

“Baby, that one looks so gorgeous!” Debbie says, to the surprise of nobody, considering it’s a dress she picked out personally as Sterling does her obligatory twirl.

“It’s an Eve of Milady. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser,” Veronica says like a proper saleswoman.

“Yeah, it’s...pretty…” Kristina says, trailing off as she looks in another direction. “Don’t know how I feel about the sheer midsection…”

“You can forget about wearing any sexy lingerie under that,” Blair chimes in as Luke seems to choke on his own spit.

“I just don’t think this one is really me,” Sterling says finally, looking down at herself and then back at Veronica. “Do you think we can maybe try something a little less...poofy? With straps. But no train.” The bright side to having already tried on so many dresses is Sterling is starting to get a clearer idea of what she’s wanting. She just doesn’t know if it exactly aligns with what everyone else is envisioning for her.

It really is like her own episode of SYTTD.

Sterling retreats back to her changing room, taking extra care not to snag any of the lace, especially around the midriff. The assistant takes the Eve of Milady dress and leaves another in its place before Sterling even gets a good look at it. Though once she does, she’s pleasantly surprised.

The dress is very cute, and basically the polar opposite of everything she’s been made to try on so far. It only just brushes her knees and the entire bodice has lacy overlay, giving the illusion of three quarter length sleeves. Once she’s in it and has it zipped, Sterling looks at herself in the mirror, and she loves it even more. The ivory color goes well with her skin tone, and she can’t help but appreciate the airiness of the dress for an August wedding in Georgia.

With one last look in the mirror Sterling pads back down the hallway to show off. As she approaches she can hear another voice from down the hall. “April wants to know how things are going in here.” It’s Hannah B. and that can only mean one thing; that April found her dress.

That knowledge is equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking, but Sterling feels somewhat confident that if everyone else agrees, this dress she’s wearing could be the one.

“I think we’re making progress,” she hears her mom reply. “Did April decide on that third dress?” Debbie had been back and forth between dressing rooms up until now, so her sticking around should have been yet another clue that April was wrapping things up.

“Mhm. I’d say she’s gonna knock Sterling’s socks off when she sees, but I know Sterling won’t be wearing socks. Hopefully,” Hannah B. confirms, and Sterling smiles. She’s always known how gorgeous April will look when she walks down the aisle, but to have it solidified with a real dress makes everything all the more real. And not even frickgirl Jamie can ruin it for her.

With that, Sterling decides to make her big entry, making more noise than necessary when she walks back into the showing room so everyone will already be prepared. “Tadaa!” She says excitedly, giggling as she does her twirl, but the joy drains from her face when she stops and sees the less than impressed looks on everyone’s faces—except Blair.

“What do you think?” Sterling ventures. “I really like this one,”

“Don’t you think you want something a little more...formal?” Debbie suggests tactfully, and Sterling knows immediately that she hates the dress.

“I...tend to agree,” Luke speaks up for the first time since they’ve been here. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, you look beautiful, but I’m not sure it’s right for a church wedding.”

“Yeah, and definitely not for your reception venue,” Kristina adds. “And like, with two brides, you don’t want one majorly upstaging the other, ya know?” She makes a good point, as Sterling is sure whatever dress April’s picked out is probably beyond glamorous and dramatic—much like the bride herself—but that doesn’t stop her from being upset at Kristina’s bluntness actually having a sliver of truth behind it for maybe the first time.

Sterling sighs. “Well fine, I guess this one’s out,” she says, defeated. “Anyone else want to pick one out for me to try on?” 

Much to her surprise, Blair raises her hand. “Yeah, I’ll go,” she says and follows Veronica to where the dresses are stored, beginning to describe what she’s looking for.

Sterling takes that as her cue to return to the dressing room, stripping out of the short dress without allowing herself to glance at it in the mirror again. There was no use in being attached to a dress that she wouldn’t be wearing.

When she’s stripped down to her bra and underwear, Blair and Veronica still haven’t presented her with anything to change into, so she retrieves her phone from the pocket of her jeans, pooled on the floor from when she took them off. She smiles when she sees a text from April, sent just five minutes ago.

April: You find anything yet?

Sterling sighs. That doesn’t exactly help her feeling of anxiety that she’s taking forever and probably won’t even find the right dress. Like the worst kind of bride from the show.

Sterling: Not yet.☹️ why do wedding dresses come with so many rules? She replies and smiles when she gets a response less than a minute later.

April: ‘Cause they’re one of the last ceremonial dresses women have left after they stopped sacrificing us to volcanoes.

April: Sooo...what’re you wearing rn? 😉

Sterling laughs to herself, genuinely laughs, for the first time all day. April just has a gift for making her feel better when she needs it most. But then April’s second text has her deep in contemplation.

Sterling sneaks a glance at the changing room door, knowing Blair or Veronica could come in at any moment with her next candidate, but feeling a little daring. Sure, Jamie is April’s good friend and has opinions on things like nerdy fandoms and formalwear, but there is certainly one thing she doesn’t have. Her mind made up, Sterling opens the camera app on her phone and snaps a few quick selfies, her favorite upon looking through them being one in which she bit her lip and brought her non-phone hand up to her shoulder to hook her thumb through her bra strap. Before she can think better of it, she selects the picture and sends it to April, deleting the others.

For a couple of grueling minutes, there’s no response, and Sterling wonders if she’s made a mistake in sending it. For as long as she and April have been together, sending sexy pics was never something they’ve really done before. Especially with them only recently being of legal age.

There’s a knock on the door, and Sterling jumps, putting her phone into sleep mode.

“Your sister thinks you and your mom might like this one. It’s an Allure Couture,” Veronica says, cracking the door open enough to hand Sterling a dress on its hanger.

Sterling rolls her eyes. Knowing Blair, it’s probably the most hideous dress she could find. But she takes it anyway.

Putting it on, she notices two things right off the bat. One, this dress is ever so slightly off-white, more of a champagne color with only the lacy outer layer being white, which she’s sure her mom will love . Two, it has small cap sleeves, but it’s pretty low-cut on her chest, warranting her to take off her bra as she had with the strapless dresses. When she has it on, she doesn’t get much of a chance to look herself over in the mirror because her phone buzzes, and she snatches it up immediately to see April’s reply.

April: Give a girl a little warning next time

April: but also 🤤🤪😍

Sterling smiles to herself, perfectly satisfied with such a response. Despite what most people think when they look at her, April is the furthest from a prude when the moment calls for it, and Sterling loves that about her. Sure, the waiting ‘til marriage thing is a less-than-fun curveball she’s been thrown, but the teasing and the toeing of the line between what they should and shouldn’t be doing in the time leading up to the wedding is also a little exciting. 

Of course, Sterling has also never masturbated more in her life than in the last few weeks, but at least it’s kept her sane.

With that thought, she returns her phone to rest with her things and gets to examining herself in the mirrors. 

She feels her heart leap in her chest when she realizes that Blair did not choose something hideous for her. Far from it, in fact, as she unexpectedly feels tears prick in her eyes because this is possibly the most beautiful dress she’s ever seen. Not too flashy or dramatic, just simple elegance that makes Sterling feel radiant. When she notes the small train on the back, she can’t help but chuckle to herself, because of course, Blair would give her one thing she could do without, but it’s not nearly enough to make her stop loving the dress.

As she opens the door of the changing room and makes her way back down the hall, the only fear Sterling has is that nobody else will like it, but even that is abated the second she opens the door and the only sound to come from her bridal party is a collective gasp.

“Wow,” Kristina says, sounding genuine for perhaps the first time in as long as Sterling has known her, “Blair, you picked that?” she asks in disbelief.

Blair nods, a look of smug satisfaction on her face. “I know my sister. Maid of Honor, for the win.”

Debbie gets up from her seat to circle Sterling to get a good look from all angles. “The back’s perfect for a veil,” she notes, then turns to Veronica. “Any chance y’all carry this in pure ivory? I’m not sure how I feel about the champagne color.”

“We do,” Veronica says helpfully. “Should I go get one…?” she ventures.

Sterling shakes her head firmly. “No, I like the color.” She loves her dress and she wouldn’t change a thing about it.

“C’mon, Mom. Let Sterl wear whatever color feels right for her. I’m sure April’s wearing something perfectly lily-white,” Blair argues, and Sterling’s surprised she’s really going to bat for her over this. Sure, it’s the dress she picked out, but it’s not like she’s exactly happy about this wedding even happening anyway.

“I just think it would look more bridal if it was white,” Debbie says in a more hushed tone, revealing exactly what her concerns are about.

“It’s bridal if a bride is wearing it,” Blair says plainly. “I can assure you that Sterl’s innocence, or lack thereof, won’t be called into question over the color of her dress in the year 2022.”

Kristina snickers as Luke pinches the bridge of his nose.

Debbie sighs, seemingly looking up to the Heavens for guidance before putting on a good face and smiling, clearly knowing that Sterling being satisfied with her own dress is more important than it not being white enough to avoid scrutiny. “Well, Sterling, is this really the dress you want?” she asks finally.

“It is,” Sterling says with all the certainty in the world.

Blair gets up from her seat and whispers in Sterling’s ear, “You have to say it.”

Sterling rolls her eyes and begrudgingly says, “I’m saying yes to the dress.”

If the process of buying formalwear was tense, then the lunch that immediately follows is anything but. With everyone chatting animatedly, genuinely excited for the wedding that feels all the more real now that they all have outfits for it--even Debbie, who managed to find the most glamorous mother of the bride dress Sterling has ever seen--Sterling feels for the first time that maybe, just maybe, it might just go off without a hitch. Something she’s even more certain of when she turns to April sitting at her side and smiles as she squeezes her hand under the table.

“So girls, have you given any thought to where you’re gonna go for the honeymoon?” Jamie asks as she beats Kristina to the last remaining piece of fried calamari on the appetizer plate in front of them.

“That’s a tricky one because unfortunately, there’s only a week between our wedding and the first day of classes at UGA,” April says, sipping on her peach lemonade. “But, I was thinking maybe we could plan something small and relatively close by for now, and then later we can do a real one, maybe to Europe or an island.”

“Or a European island,” Sterling suggests, earning herself her favorite kind of endeared smile from April.

“Or that,” April agrees. “So maybe we could go to an all-inclusive resort for about five days if we do a lot of our school packing beforehand. Maaaybe to the happiest place on Earth that just so happens to not be so far far away…” she smiles deviously at her not-so-subtle references.

“April, are you making this poor girl take you to Star Wars Land for your honeymoon?” Jamie asks as it clicks in her head.

“Technically it’s called Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and she’s promised that we can actually spend some time in the other parks too,” Sterling says, coming to April’s defense. Sure, it’s not her first choice for her honeymoon, but when working on a time crunch, she can think of worse places than Disney World.

April smiles, satisfied with having Sterling sticking up for her on this. “And I’ve done my research and we can get an amazingly romantic suite at the Grand Floridian resort for the time we want to spend together outside of the parks.”

“So like...90% of the time?” Jamie says cheekily as Debbie drops her salad fork.

Sterling feels herself blush crimson. Obviously, she and April are expected to have sex once they’re married, but the idea of her parents knowing they will is more than a little horrifying.

“Isn’t the Grand Floridian where that kid got eaten by an alligator?” Blair asks, clearly wanting to change the subject as much as, if not more than, Sterling.

“Oh yeah, I hear that Disney lake is like super gator-infested,” Luke chimes in.

“It’s Florida. The whole state is gator-infested,” Debbie says, rolling her eyes. “Take it from someone who honeymooned there herself, make sure you girls bring about triple the deodorant you thought you’d need.”

“Good to know…” April trails off, suddenly seeming unsure about their destination for the first time since she brought it up to Sterling. She shakes it off quickly though. “Anyway, at the end of the day, the honeymoon is irrelevant so long as I get to spend those first few days after the wedding with my new wife,” she says, punctuating her sentence by bringing Sterling’s hand up to her lips to gently kiss her knuckles.

Blair loudly gags as Sterling feels overwhelmed by the love she has for April. There’s no doubt in her mind that they’re doing the right thing.

“And, in case any of you were wondering how we’ll be wanting our Mrs. and Mrs. towels monogrammed, Sterl and I have decided on our name,” April adds, taking Sterling off guard, as she didn’t realize this announcement would be coming so soon. “You all are staring at the future Mrs. April Elizabeth Stevens-Wesley, and yes, that is my bridal hashtag from here on out,” April says with a self-satisfied smirk since she’d actually managed to get Sterling to agree to let her name go first.

“That’s...a mouthful…” Blair says, sneaking a glance at Sterling as if she can’t believe her sister would agree to this, but Sterling just shrugs. It wasn’t worth the fight.

“That’s what she said,” Ezekiel mumbles under his breath, and he and Luke snicker.

Sterling wonders why they thought it was a good idea to include boys in their wedding party.

“So is that something y’all decided in your counseling sessions with Pastor Booth?” Kristina asks, which is innocent enough until she adds, “One of my friends from high school is getting married in a couple of weeks and she says those sessions have basically made her hate her fiance.”

“Well thankfully, that isn’t the case for us,” April says, unwavering. “Harland thinks Sterl and I show great promise for the future. In fact, we have a session with him tonight and we’re really looking forward to it. Right, Honey?” April says in a vaguely threatening tone, knowing how Sterling has grown to loathe their counseling sessions.

Sterling nods, shoving a couple fries in her mouth to avoid having to do much more than that. She’s not exactly looking forward to airing her grievances regarding feeling somewhat left out in planning her own wedding.

“You know, a lot of relationship experts say therapy is good for couples even when they don’t have problems because it keeps you level,” Jamie says, backing April up. “And I mean, I know it’s not the same thing, but I feel like even my Youth Group kids do really well with having a constant source of spiritual guidance as they go through a transitionary period in their lives. I can’t imagine it hurts having your pastor guide you into married life.”

Sterling rolls her eyes at the way Jamie was just able to humble-brag herself into a comparison with Pastor Booth.

“Exactly, J,” April agrees, clearly not seeing or choosing to not see what a self-absorbed douchecanoe her maid of honor is.  “I didn’t know you lead a Youth Group,” she says, sounding genuinely impressed, which would be bad enough if she didn’t proceed to twirl a strand of her hair around her finger like an infatuated schoolgirl.

“Yeah, it’s actually a group specifically geared toward Christian LGBT youth, but anyone can join if they want to. I just think those kids are the most in need of someone in their corner who can just talk to and relate to them, you know?” Jamie says, then laughs to herself. “I mean, obviously, you know.”

“That I do,” April says, smiling.

Sterling grabs her chocolate milk glass from the table, sucking it down fast enough that she doesn’t realize she’s finished it off until her straw makes a loud sucking noise, and April lightly elbows her side to get her to put it down. “If you all will excuse me, I have to use the ladies' room,” she says, getting up from the table and putting her cloth napkin that was on her lap next to her plate.

Without needing to be told, verbally or otherwise, Blair follows suit. “I’ll go with you,” she says, then follows Sterling as they all but run to the restaurant’s women’s bathroom. The second the door closes behind her, Blair is going off. “What the Hell was that? Who does this bitch think she is?”

“She thinks she’s a saint, apparently, and so does April,” Sterling says, feeling herself getting more worked up by the second. She knows it’s not fair to make such a harsh judgement of someone she’s only just met, but this all has been one terrible first impression.

“I’m sure Bowser or Yolanda know a guy if you want her to be conveniently unavailable for the rest of the wedding planning?” Blair suggests, and Sterling laughs, not necessarily thinking it’s a bad idea but knowing she couldn’t do that to April. “Or I can teach her a lesson myself. Mano a mano. MOH vs MOH,” Blair says, getting into a boxer’s stance and jumping around like Muhammad Ali.

Sterling shakes her head. God does she love her sister. “Unfortunately, I don’t think that would go over well with future Mrs. Stevens-Wesley,” she says, genuinely disappointed to have to shut down the idea.

“Okay but seriously, what the eff? You’re seriously going to look me in the eye and tell me you’re fine with becoming Sterling Stevens-Wesley?” Blair shakes her head in disgust. “God, saying it out loud is so much worse than thinking it.”

“Yes, I am fine with that. I love April and she loves her name, so compromises have to be made,” she says resolutely.

“Yeah, but I figured it would be Wesley-Stevens. You’re seriously gonna give first billing to the dude we,” Blair lowers her voice for the last part of her sentence, “threw in the damn slammer only like two years ago?”

Sterling sighs. “Yes, but speaking of. Do you think it’s wrong that I still haven’t told April about...any of that?”

Blair scoffs. “No. The jerk threw her out of his house right before her high school graduation and the likelihood of her ever finding out on her own is pretty low. I mean, don’t you think John would have told her by now if he was going to? Might as well save April any of the hassle of knowing,” she says with certainty, and Sterling can hardly argue with her logic. April’s been through so much already, so telling her something she doesn’t necessarily ever have to know would just bring her unnecessary pain, and that’s the last thing Sterling ever wants to do.

“Okay, but seriously, what do I do about the whole Jamie thing?” she asks, steering everything back to why they are in this bathroom in the first place.

Blair shrugs. “I mean, not to get all mature adult on you or whatever, but have you considered...talking to April about it?”

It’s the simplest piece of advice she could get, but Sterling knows it’s the right one. “Yeah, we do have that therapy session tonight…” she trails off.

“Well, there you go. You guys can duke it out over Christian Ruby Rose with Pastor Booth as referee,” Blair says and Sterling frowns.

“Do you really think she looks that much like Ruby Rose?” she asks.

Blair nods fervently. “Yeah. But like...this one doesn’t have the distinction of being a bad Batwoman. So even I would do her after a few drinks.”

“Blair!” Sterling chastises, smacking her sister’s arm. 

“I’m just being honest,” she says, putting her hands up in surrender. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I actually do have to pee,” she pushes past Sterling to a stall.

Sterling groans, rubbing at the side of her face as she feels a migraine coming on. None of this is getting any easier.

“Well, welcome back, you two,” Pastor Booth says, taking a seat across from Sterling and April in his office. “I trust y’all have been having a good weekend?”

“Such a good weekend,” April enthuses as they both move to what have become ‘their’ seats. “We both found our dresses today! And right on time. We have just enough time for the alterations; Bridals by Lori is extremely busy.”

Sterling barely manages not to roll her eyes at April’s obvious name drop, but she is surprised by Harland’s reaction.

“Are y'all going to be on Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta ? My wife and I just love that show! It’s so glamorous.” Harland smiles at both of them and segues right from small talk to counselling. “Does it feel like things are really starting to come together? It’s alright if you’ve encountered some...strife during wedding planning, you’re not the first and you certainly won’t be the last to feel that way.”

“No, we haven’t had anything insurmountable,” April replies smoothly and Sterling has to bite her tongue (hard) to keep from bringing up the Ruby elephant that had been in the car less than an hour ago.

“Well, in that case,” Harland says, leading into the next part of their session, “Last time I asked the two of you-”

Sterling can’t let him finish his sentence. She can’t hold it in anymore. “April’s maid of honor makes me uncomfortable and I feel like she values her opinions over mine when it comes to planning the wedding.”

“What?!” April says in outrage, turning her whole body to face Sterling. “You just met her today. How did you come to that conclusion?”

Sterling clears her throat and puts on a high-pitched, mocking version of her take on April, “Oh, J, this dress is so cute, don’t you think it’s so cute? J, you’re such a good person leading your gay Youth Group!” Sterling giggles and twirls her hair around her finger before going stony-faced.

“I did not do that,” April says in a firm denial, but Sterling isn’t having it.

“Oh, you totally did. Even Blair noticed,” she insists and April scoffs.

“Oh, well if Blair noticed, then I must have done it because she’s a completely unbiased party.” The sarcasm drips off of every word that leaves April’s lips.

“What does that even mean?” Sterling asks.

“Your sister hates me and she hates that we’re getting married. You don’t think she’ll take any opportunity she can to sabotage?” April says as if it’s so obvious, and objectively, Sterling can’t exactly argue with her there, so she pivots.

“Yeah, well, you gave her the opportunity,” she says accusingly.

“I am allowed to have friends that are gay without wanting to have sex with them, Sterling,” April says plainly, sounding more than a little hurt that Sterling could even think she would do such a thing.

“Considering you don’t even want to have sex with me, I’d certainly hope not,” Sterling mutters just loud enough for everyone in the room to hear, and immediately regrets it when Pastor Booth’s eyes go wide.

April gasps. “Harland, Sterling is being ridiculous and jealous and invalidating my vow with the Lord to stay pure until marriage!” she says, sounding an awful lot like a kid tattling, which would be laughable, given the subject matter, if Sterling weren’t so upset with her right now.

Harland puts up a hand to silence them both, not letting this go on any further. “Ladies, there is… a lot to dive into here. So how about we just start from the root of the issue and go from there. Sterling, without any mockery--which is not very constructive when dealing with our partners in life, I might add--why do you not care for April’s maid of honor?”

Sterling sits back on the couch, “Well, I feel like she’s one of those not-so-humble people who do good things for people but like...knows she’s doing good things and thinks she deserves a pat on the back for it. Also, April admitted that she used to have a crush on her when she was younger and I guess that made me a little jealous from the get-go and when we were at the bridal shop and April seemed to be more interested in Jamie’s opinions than mine, that didn’t help.”

Before April can argue with anything Sterling said, Harland stops her. “And April, why is it that you weren’t willing to hear Sterling’s opinion of this girl until just now?”

“Because I know it’s not true,” April says stubbornly. “Jamie is a good person who got me through a difficult time in my life and made me the woman who is here today, willing to stand before all my friends and family and declare my love for another woman. I feel like that can’t be understated. But on top of that, I mean it when I say that I don’t have romantic feelings for her anymore. I haven’t since Sterling kissed me after our Solomon’s Temple presentation.”

Despite herself, Sterling can feel some of her resolve to be angry with April dissipate with the sincere admission. “But still, you guys can just talk about...stuff and just leave me out. I didn’t like feeling like I was playing second fiddle.”

“Sterl, I promise you, you aren’t second fiddle to anyone. It’s just...refreshing to have someone else to talk to about these things. I love you, but we don’t have all of the same interests, and that’s okay, but that’s why I need friends like Jamie,” April says and takes Sterling’s hand. “I’m sorry, okay? I shouldn’t have made you feel left out. This is your day as well as mine that we’re planning.” With that said, her face falls. “Does it really bother you that much that I want to wait until we’re married to have sex?”

Sterling sighs. “I mean, I can’t say it’s exactly easy for me, but no, it doesn’t bother me. I was just being petty.”

“That was very good, ladies,” Harland says, reentering the conversation. “That was one heck of an argument, but you worked through it constructively, and I couldn’t be happier. However, I think there’s one thing we need to touch on a little deeper. April, why do you think Blair hates you?”

“Because she does,” April says, crossing her arms and leaning back. “She has ever since we were kids.”

“And that hasn’t changed at all since you became involved with her sister?” Harland asks, mostly directing his question towards Sterling this time.

“I mean, I’d say it’s gotten a bit better,” Sterling says weakly. “I mean, April probably isn’t her favorite person in the world, but she wouldn’t be my maid of honor if she was that against this wedding happening.”

April shrugs. “Yeah, I guess so. I don’t have siblings so I guess I just don’t really get their dynamic sometimes...but they’re really weird so I doubt I would even if I did have siblings.”

Harland nods and makes a note of something in his notebook. “Alright, so for your homework before next session, I think I would like you, Sterling, to figure out something you think will help Blair and April reach some common ground. They’re likely the two most important women in your life aside from your mama, and it would be good for y’all’s marriage if you go into it with the least amount of strife between the two of them as possible. Sound good?”

Sterling nods. “Yeah, I can try to think of something,” she says, looking at April, who seems less than optimistic or enthusiastic about bonding time with Blair.

Harland turns to April. “And April, I know we talked last time about your hesitation when it comes to compromising, so for your homework assignment, I asked that you think of one thing in your life plan that you think you can compromise on to better align with Sterling. Think of anything?”

April seems taken off-guard that he should bring this up now, but straightens herself up in her seat and clears her throat. “Well, I gave it some thought and I think I could amend my stance on us maybe having a kid to us for sure having at least one, and any others would be up for discussion no less than five years after the first.”

“Sounds like you already got that lawyer-speak down pat, but yes, I think that’s a good compromise, April. Sterling, does that give you any comfort, knowing that April agrees to children in at least some capacity.”

“It does,” Sterling offers April a small smile. She knows this compromise, no matter how many caveats it has, is a big step for April. And she knows that even when they have their issues, like today, they can get through everything. So she finds herself feeling a lot better than she had coming into this counseling session.

But now she’s left with a seemingly impossible task: how to get Blair and April onto some common ground. It won’t be easy. Nay, it will be nearly impossible. But she is going to get them there. She has to.