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The Wedding  婚礼-The Wedding

Almost three hours later, I gazed out the front windows of Noah’s house and saw headlights approaching. Checking my watch, I saw that she was right on time.? As I straightened my jacket, I tried to imagine Jane’s state of mind. Though I hadn’t been with her when she’d arrived at our home, I tried to picture her. Was she surprised that my car wasn’t in the drive? I wondered. Surely she would have noticed that I’d drawn the drapes before leaving—perhaps she had paused in the car, puzzled or even intrigued. I guessed her hands were full when she exited the car, if not with the dress for the wedding, then no doubt with the new shoes she’d purchased that day. Either way, there would be no mistaking the note as she approached the steps, and I could just see the look of curiosity crossing her features.? When she read it on the steps, how had she reacted to my words? This, I didn’t know. A baffled smile, perhaps? Her uncertainty was no doubt heightened by the fact that I wasn’t home. What, then, would she have thought when she unlocked the door to reveal a darkened living room lit only by the pale yellow glow of candles and the plaintive sound of Billie Holiday on the stereo? How long had it taken her to notice the scattered rose petals on the floor that trailed from the foyer through the living room and up the staircase? Or the second note I’d taped to the balustrade: Sweetheart, this evening is for you. Yet there is a role you must play to fulfill it. Think of this as a game: I’m going to give you a list of instructions, and your role is to do as I ask. The first task is simple: Please blow out the candles downstairs, and follow the rose petals to the bedroom. Further instructions will await you there. Had she gasped in surprise? Or laughed in disbelief? I couldn’t be sure, yet knowing Jane, I was certain she would want to play along. When she reached the bedroom, her curiosity must have been piqued. Inside the bedroom, she would find candles lit on every surface and the soothing music of Chopin playing quietly. A bouquet of thirty roses lay on the bed; on either side of the flowers lay a neatly wrapped box, each with a note attached. ?The card on the left was labeled “Open now.” The card on the right was labeled “Open at eight o’clock.” I pictured her moving slowly toward the bed and bringing the bouquet to her face, inhaling its heady scent. When she opened the card on the left, this is what she read: “You’ve had a busy day, so I thought you’d like to relax before our date this evening. Open the gift that accompanies this card and carry the contents with you to the bathroom. More instructions await you there.” If she glanced over her shoulder, she would have seen still more candles glowing in the bathroom—and upon opening the gift, she would have found the package of bath oils and body lotions and new silk bathrobe right away.? Knowing Jane, I’m guessing that she toyed with the card and package on the right, the one she couldn’t open until eight. Had she debated whether or not to follow the instructions? Had she traced her fingers over the wrapping paper, then pulled back? I suspected as much but knew that ultimately she would have sighed and headed for the bathroom. On the vanity was yet another note: Is there anything better than a long hot bath after a busy day? Pick the bath oil you want, add plenty of bubbles, and fill the tub with hot water. Next to the tub you’ll find a bottle of your favorite wine, still chilled, and already uncorked. Pour yourself a glass. Then slip out of your clothes, get in the tub, lean your head back, and relax. When you’re ready to get out, towel off and use one of the new lotions I bought you. Do not dress; instead, put on the new robe and sit on the bed as you open the other gift. In the remaining box was a new cocktail dress and black pumps, both of which I’d purchased after determining the appropriate sizes from the clothing in her closet. The card that accompanied her clothing for the evening was simple. You’re almost done. Please open the box and put on the items I’ve bought you. If you would, wear the earrings I bought you for Christmas when we were first dating. Don’t dally, though, my dear—you have exactly forty-five minutes to finish everything. Blow out all the candles, drain the tub, and shut off the music. At eight forty-five, go down to the front porch. Lock the door behind you. Close your eyes and stand with your back to the street. When you turn around again, open your eyes, for our date will then be ready to begin. . . . Out front, waiting for her was the limousine I’d ordered. The driver, who was holding yet another gift, was instructed to say, “Mrs. Lewis? I’ll bring you to your husband now. He wants you to open this gift as soon as you get in the car. ?He’s left you something else inside as well.” In the box he held was a bottle of perfume, accompanied by a short note: “I picked this perfume especially for the evening. After you get in the car, put some on and open the other gift. The note inside will tell you what to do.” In that box was a narrow black scarf. The card nestled in its folds read as follows: You’re going to be driven to the place where I’ll meet you, but I want it to be a surprise. Please use the scarf as a blindfold—and remember, don’t peek. The drive will be less than fifteen minutes, and the driver will begin when you say, “I’m ready.” When the car stops, the driver will open your door. Keep the blindfold on, and ask him to guide you out of the car. ?I’ll be waiting for you.

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