Chapter Four, Part Two
“Girl, you are so working that dress,” Ned said, snapping his fingers as he looked me up and down. “I swear I must be gay because even the sight of you looking so luscious isn’t enough to get me hard.”
“Thanks, I think,” I said as I locked the door behind me. “You look pretty hot yourself.” He was wearing a custom-made tux which fit him perfectly. His tie and cummerbund were silver, which I liked better than black. “So, what have you decided?”
It turned out that he hadn’t, so we had to hash out the pros and cons the whole way to his parents’ house. I suggested that we say he jumped the gun a little bit because he’d been thinking of proposing, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. Then I could say that I was the one who’d turned him down, therefore saving face for his parents in front of their guests. Ned didn’t want to make me the bad guy, however, as it was his fault we were in this mess. I didn’t mind taking the rap if it would make things easier for him. He was determined to tell his parents the truth, but couldn’t decide if it was better before or after the get-together. It was hard to say because either way, he was fucked. Either way, his parents lost face. We reluctantly agreed that the best thing to do was to go through with the party and tell his parents after. Then they could tell their friends I’d dumped him or some such nonsense.
“You’re the best,” Ned said, squeezing my hand. “That’s for you.” He waved vaguely in the direction of the backseat, and I carefully undid my seatbelt so I could grab the package. I turned back around and buckled up for safety—not that I really needed to—before opening the nicely-wrapped gift. Inside was a Hermes scarf that was a luscious blend of silver and plum.
“Oh, Ned, it’s beautiful,” I sighed, holding it up to my neck and admiring myself in the mirror in my visor. It didn’t match my dress so I didn’t put it on, but I mentally planned my outfit for Monday to include some purple so I could wear the scarf. On second thought, scratch that. It was too high-toned for where I worked. “Why can’t straight men have your sense of fashion?” I mourned, carefully packing the scarf away and stowing it under my seat. “It’s just not fair.”
“We’re here,” Ned said tersely, both hands gripping the wheel. I patted him on the knee to calm him down, but I didn’t think it helped. He parked the car and rooted through his pocket, bringing out a small box. “Put this on.” He opened it, and a diamond ring sparkled within the box. I gasped because I’d never seen a rock that big—except for on his mother’s hand, of course.
“Ned, you didn’t buy that, did you?” I couldn’t even touch it for fear I’d break it or something.
“No, it’s my grandmother’s. My mother gave it to me to give to you.” Ned slipped the ring onto my third finger, and it fit me perfectly. I couldn’t take my eyes off it; it was so shiny. “I guess we have to go in.” He walked around to my side of the car where I was ready and waiting.
“You’ll be fine,” I said softly as Ned helped me out of the car. I normally didn’t go in for that girly shit, but something about wearing a formal dress brought out the genteel in me. Not to mention a rock the size of Gibraltar. “You have God on your side, remember?” Ned smiled wanly as he offered me his arm. The ring on my finger felt heavy, though I knew it was just my imagination. I wouldn’t breathe easily until I gave the ring back to Ned, which would be at the end of the evening, hopefully.
“Darling! You look beautiful!” Mrs. Chang air-kissed me, critically checking out my outfit. She was a tall, languid woman with jet-black hair that came from a bottle these days. It was pulled up in a severe chignon, and she was wearing a black dress that looked like a Vera Wang. Knowing her, it was. Big diamonds glittered from her neck and ears, as well as her wrists and fingers. She was attractive only because she had the money to achieve a certain style. “Edward, you look so handsome as well.” Mrs. Chang fussed with Ned’s bow tie, though he had tied it perfectly.
“Margaret, so good to see you,” Mr. Chang boomed, engulfing me in a warm hug. He was a good-looking man, also over six-feet tall. It was easy to see where Ned had gotten his looks from. Mr. Chang’s hand strayed south of the border for a nanosecond. I still couldn’t get over this highly-religious man copping a feel every time he saw me, but I wasn’t going to make a fuss this time around. There were more important things to think about, namely how to break it to Ned’s parents that he was gay.
“The ring looks perfect on your finger,” Mrs. Chang cooed, holding my hand up to the light. “My mother would have been so happy.” A tear showed up in the corner of her surgically-enhanced eye, but it didn’t dare fall. “You two make such a striking couple.”
“It’s about time you two got married. You’re getting on in years, Margaret. You and Edward will want to start having children right away. You’ll have them baptized at the Taiwanese church, of course.” Mr. Chang still had his hand on my back as he guided me towards the living room. I pressed my lips together so I wouldn’t say something inflammatory, such as that I was already pregnant with a child who needed no blessing. Mr. Chang brought out the worst in me, and we’d had quite the rows in the past. However, I kept repeating my mantra that nothing mattered except getting Ned through the night, and I was able to ignore Mr. Chang’s blathering.
“I was thinking of rose and ivory for your colors,” Mrs. Chang said to me, swooping on me from the other side. Mr. Chang dropped back, presumably to exhort Ned to do his manly duty and procreate. “I think you would look lovely in ivory. We Asians have the perfect skin tone for it. I know Vera Wang personally, and I think I could get her to whip up an original for you. Wouldn’t that be grand? What color do you think your mother will be wearing so I don’t clash with her? She would look stunning in a dark blue whereas I look my best in black. Oh, I know it’s considered taboo in some circles to wear black to a wedding, but it’s so slimming.” She was skeletal, but that wasn’t the point, I guess. I didn’t contribute to the conversation because I was having a difficult time not gagging.
“Tell them now,” a voice boomed in my head. “Don’t let this farce go on any longer.”