Marrying Ember
Author:Andrea Randall

My palms started to sweat, but my words highlighted the truth. “I’ve been ready since I first kissed her, Monica.”


“I know you have, Bo. Just keep your cool until then. Whatever you do, do not ask her dad for permission until, like, right before you do it.”


Her suggestion took me by surprise. “Seriously?”


“My God,” she said, sounding frustrated, “the man can not keep a secret to save his life. That info will serve you well around her birthday, too. He totally blew the surprise twenty-first I’d spent a semester planning. He’s just so enthusiastic about life that he can’t contain his little self.”


I laughed at full-volume. Ember’s dad was the full-on embodiment of a peaceful, hippie dad. He was super involved, über sensitive, and I could almost picture him helping Ember get ready for prom.


“Thanks for the heads up.” That was precisely why Georgia said to call the best friend, I realized.


“Just keep your hat on for another five weeks. Do you think you can do that?” Monica’s tone was calm, which I apparently needed as my palms continued to sweat.


“Will do.”


I hung up with Monica, tossed my phone on the bed, and wiped my hands on my jeans.


“Who were you on the phone with?” Ember slowly opened the bedroom door and my stomach dropped, wondering both when she’d gotten home and how much she’d heard.


“Josh,” I said causally. It was the closest thing to a non-lie I could come up with. If I’d said Monica she would have known something was up.


“Oh! Did he tell you they’re able to come out for the Napa show?” Ember’s eyes lit up like they hadn’t in a long time. I hadn’t been conscious of how long it had been since I’d seen her so lively until she smiled like that.


I held out my hands, leading her to me. “He did. You seem really happy.”


Ember folded herself perfectly into my embrace as she sighed into my chest. “I haven’t seen her since January. It’s the longest we’ve ever gone without seeing each other since college, for God’s sake.”


I rested my chin on the top of her head, rubbing her back. “I know Regan and I are certainly no substitute for Monica.”


“I didn’t mean it like that.” Ember shook her head as she pulled back.


“Oh, neither did I. I was serious. Sometimes I have no idea what the hell to say to you, and I wish I could have a hotline to Monica to ask. Really. I’m glad she’s coming.”


Ember rested her head on my shoulder. “Everything with Willow … and now she’s coming with us on tour …”


While Willow was an integral part of the recording of our album, her skills were studio based and not needed on the tour. The first half of the tour had given Ember a lot of breathing room from Willow and the dark cloud she carried around with her. Willow herself was always in a good mood, but that seemed to be at the expense of others, and, frankly, I was glad to have her out of my hair for a while, too.


Despite the fact that I shook off her advances a few months ago, Willow kept an uncomfortable eye on me. She made sure Ember never saw it, and I’d certainly never draw Ember’s attention to it, but I wasn’t looking forward to dodging those glances again.


“Why is she coming?” I finally asked.


“To ruin my life.” Ember tucked a heavy blanket of sarcasm around her words. “She wants to see Napa,” she cooed like a child, mocking the light and airy way Willow produced her words. “As if she hasn’t spent significant amounts of time there since she turned twenty-one. God, she’s annoying.”


“We won’t let her ruin it.” I tried to sound encouraging, but my nerves surrounding my own plans for Napa were getting in the way.


Ember looked up at me with her gorgeous jade-colored eyes. “You’re right. The more I let her get to me, the more she’ll try.”


I laughed. “You know what? Do you want to get away for the weekend?”


“Away? That’s where we’ve been all summer. Away. Where do you propose we go?”


I snatched my cell from the bed, and led Ember by the hand through our beachfront condo. When I reached the counter in the kitchen, I picked up Ember’s phone, too.


“What are you doing?” She asked.


I continued leading her around as I formulated the plan in my head. I reached the front door and let go of Ember’s hand as I locked the dead bolt. Though I was no longer holding her hand, she continued to follow my path. Walking to the sliding glass doors, I locked those and pulled the blinds, turning them so they blocked out all sunlight. I did that with each window I passed, too. Finally, I made sure to lock the back door by the garage. Once we finished the circle around the house, I led us back into our bedroom, where I removed the batteries from our phones, and tucked them into the top drawer of the dresser.


“Here.” I shut the bedroom door and locked it, pulling Ember into a kiss.


“I beg your pardon?” she asked when she pulled away.