"Jerry, the car has arrived," says Tom, rushing to the room. "We've to go now."
I straighten my bow tie for the last time, take one last look at my face, and turn to face Tom.
"How do I look?" I ask him.
"The best you've ever been," he says.
I pick up my coat lying on the arm of the sofa and fold it on my arm.
"Where are the keys?" he asks.
"On the sofa," I reply.
"Gotcha," he says.
He locks the door, and we start descending the stairs.
I shudder at the thought for a millionth time. Will I hold myself erect like a statue, not shy, not embarrassing as tens of paired eyes are riveted at me?
Don't make a fool of yourself, I hear a voice telling me.
"I won't," I reassure it in a low voice.
"What are you saying?" Tom asks.
"I was talking to myself," I say as I push the apartment's main gate open.
I'm stopped on my track by a sight I never thought would occur in my life.
Unable to contain the astonishment, I ask Tom almost in a whisper, "Is that Rolls Royce Ghost meant to drive us to the church?"
Before he could reply, a middle-aged man, wearing a black suit steps out of the driver's seat. "Are you Jerry?" he asks.
"Yes," I reply.
"Your boss told me to drive you to the church."
"How kind of him," I say.
Tom opens the passenger's door and signals for me to enter. I oblige. He closes it and makes himself comfortable at the front seat, besides the driver.
I look at my watch. It's thirty minutes past nine. The wedding is supposed to start at eleven.
Arriving at St. James Cathedral, I notice a few people had arrived. I greet them and head to the interior of the church.
A handful of people are seated on the pews. John, the youngest priest in the church smiles widely at me from the altar and beckons at me to follow him in his office.
We hug in a brotherly love. He signals that I should sit.
"As I told you the previous week, there are things I would like to go through with both of you before I officiate the marriage," the priest says.
I nod my head in agreement.
"Has she not arrived?" he asks.
"Well..." I'm interrupted by a knock on the door.
"Come in," the priest says.
"I'm sorry for being late," she says as she hurries to a chair opposite mine.
"Let's get to the matter straightaway," the priest says.
He revisits the teachings he had with us for the past six weeks. He reminds us of the importance of being faithful in the marriage, understanding and ready to apologize whenever one wrongs another one.
Lastly, he hands us a booklet. He asks us to read the five-page booklet.
"I see you're through with reading the booklets, the priest says.
We nod our heads.
"Well, that's it," he says as he signals at us to hand back the booklets. "See you in forty minutes."
Outside the priest's office, we're met by my mother. She hugs both of us.
"If you can excuse me, I've some business I need to finish...you know..." Cate says.
I smile. "I understand."
"No problem," my mother says.
"Your dad won't be able to come," my mother tells me after Cate has left.
"He has an urgent meeting to attend to."
"I'm not astonished," I say in a cold voice.
"Anyway," I say, "The good thing is that you're here. That's what matters."
"Okay," my mother says. "Talk to you later."
I watch my mother as she joins with other women. She had endured a lot at the hands of my father. I admire her courageous and the never-give-up attitude.
"Hey, are you ready?" Tom asks.
"Ahh...yes," I say.
I look at my wristwatch. It's nearing twenty minutes to eleven.
"Do you have the rings?" Tom asks.
"Cate has them."
"Tom, can you come for a minute?" A middle-aged woman asks, on top of her voice.
"Get them," Tom says as he walks towards the woman.
The bathroom is located outside the church, some few meters from the priest's office.
I see a 'closed' sign on the main door of the women's bathroom. I knock gently on the door knowing the 'closed' sign means Cate and other women are preparing themselves in readiness for the wedding.
I don't hear any response. I knock again, gently, but no response. I don't hear women's voices. That's strange, I think.
I contemplate whether I should open the door and walk in. But, that is lack of manners, I remind myself.
I wait for a minute. Maybe someone might come out of the bathroom.
A minute passes by without any female coming out. There is only silence. That's weird.
I think of calling her when I hear a low-male voice from the bathroom. What is a male person doing inside there, I wonder.
Curious, I open the door as carefully as possible so as not make any noise.
At the far right wall, I sees a man's back. Opposite the man, is a woman's figure, her hands folded around the man's back; her face locked to his.
Feeling my knees giving away, I watch in despair Cate passionately kissing a man. The figure of the man is also unmistakably evident to me.
Cate, whose eyes are closed, lost in the passion of lust, opens them when he hears a weak voice calling out at her.
She disengages herself from the man, and takes a few steps backward; her eyes riveted beyond my father's face.
"What is it?" Charles asks as he nears her for another round of passionate kiss.
Cate doesn't respond. Charles, unable to contain her motionless and unresponsiveness, turns to look what has caused mixed feelings transparent on her face.
"Je...rrryyy..." my father stammers.
I feel anger rising in me which is quickly overshadowed by a feeling of betrayal and rejection.
"Why Cate? Why are you doing this to me? What have I done to deserve this?" I ask her in a choked voice.
I feel heaviness on my chest, my breathing becoming difficult. Feeling weak on my knees, I collapse on the floor.
"Jerry, please, don't leave me," Cate says.
Tears are streaming from her eyes. I feel sorry for her.
I open my mouth to speak but no words are coming out.
"I'm sorry, Jerry. Please, don't leave me."
I feel her tears as they drop on my cheek.
"I can't breathe well," I say with a lot of effort.
"I have always loved you," I struggle uttering the words, unsure if I was reeling into a world full of darkness.