Cake-Roof by Désirée Matlock

Laura Williams

He walked in right as the cake fell from the roof; I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life.

The man – no, the asshat – who had jilted me at the altar, whom I hadn’t seen in six years, finally showed up. Did he show up while my sister was peeling me off the bathroom floor, having cried myself into stay-puft marshmallow man status? No.  Did he show up while I tried to reach him to find out where he’d run off to? No. Did he show up when our lease expired and I had nowhere to move to? No. Did he show up when scary people came to find him? No. Not once.

No, the asshat showed up at my wedding. At my fucking wedding.

On top of that, he showed up when everything was falling apart. Had he shown up while the vows were being exchanged? As my beautiful dress flowed serenely around me and a choir sang “Ave Maria” softly, the morning light shining in through the cathedral windows? Had he shown up while the most amazing man in the world stared straight into my eyes and vowed to love me forever? No.

No, he hadn’t.

He showed up while my sister’s toddler was hiding under my skirts from the panther in the middle of the dance floor, while the caterer and the cake were sliding off the gazebo roof, while guests were running screaming.

Somewhere in the back of my head, I knew I should be scared of the damn panther, but that animal’s wrath had nothing on the bride whose wedding was ruined.

My new husband was under the stage, ostensibly guarding our double set of parents, but factually leaving me completely exposed. Sure, I loved my parents. And his were pretty great, too, but dammit, this wasn’t boding well for future chivalry, that he’d left me out here, facing down a rampaging beast.

The panther slid out from under a table, trailing a silk tablecloth, slinking closer. More cake slid from the roof, making a sad plopping noise. There goes ten grand. Dammit! This panther was ruining my wedding. My rage was overtaking my common sense. I wanted to slap this wild animal. I unthinkingly started walking into the middle of the room.

The asshat walked powerfully into the middle of the yard, commanding the animal’s attention. I’d always felt he had a rugged, dangerous animal sense, and the panther certainly agreed. Asshat and the panther slinking in circles around one another had all the guests, and myself, dammit, utterly rapt. No one’s eyes moved from the pair sizing one another up. Asshat stopped, standing directly between me and the panther. Oh God, I was not going to be thankful for the help. No fucking way. My husband whispered to me from under the stage, probably to join him, just exactly as the asshat started growling lightly. Oh my god, that might be the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen. Shut up, I told myself. That’s the adrenaline talking.

The toddler niece wiggled and clung to my left leg. I stood stock still, mortified at the first impression asshat was getting of my husband as he squealed lightly from under the stage, but to be fair, so did everyone else, as asshat lunged lightly toward the panther.

The panther yowled as if bit and ran suddenly back into the fields beyond the park.

As the dozens of guests broke out into cheers, asshat sat down on an abandoned white deck chair and, ignoring a champagne glass beside him, pulled a flask from his breast pocket. I walked up to him.

“Hello lovey,” he said, looking every bit the international man of mystery, and as sexy as ever.

“Fuck you,” I said and turned on my heel. I stormed over to the stage and got down on my knees to help my husband crawl back out of his hidey-hole.

Fuck sexy, I told myself. I wanted someone who didn’t disappear for six years. Right?

My husband, with his gorgeous good looks, was more than enough man for me. So what if he wasn’t as commando as asshat. Right?

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