When Steve asked, on bended knee in the New York Botanical Garden, proffering a box containing a large, sparkling, emerald-cut diamond that had belonged to his grandmother, she didn't know what to say other than yes.
She chose to ignore the feeling she had never quite been able to shake off since she'd started dating him: Is this all there is?
Not that Steve was a bad person; he just wasn't ever what she had envisaged for herself. She was this marketing guru who loved her career, who had spent her twenties waiting for her knight in shining armor to come and sweep her off her feet.
And instead this sweet, schlubby mensch had shuffled along, and was already treating her as if they had been married thirty years. There was no excitement, no passion, no thrill. Just the routine of stepping into the role of her mother: housewife, cook and at-some-point-in-the-very-near-future-if-Steve-had-anything-todo- with-it mother.
But it should have been enough. Isn't this what everyone wanted? A decent guy who treated her reasonably well, who had a great job. And he wanted to marry her! Not like all those tall, handsome men she had spent years falling in love with who had broken her heart, over and over again. Here was someone who actually loved her. He wasn't going to break her heart. They would have a life just like her parents; he was already talking about moving out to New Rochelle once they were married. And he definitely wasn't going to cause her any more pain.
She didn't love him.
It took months for her to realize this. She tried being the good girl, doing everything she was supposed to do to make everyone else happy. She waited patiently in line at the Vera Wang bridal gown sample sale, with her mother and future mother-in-law chattering excitedly about the bargains to be had inside, then she ran in, joining the stampede, furiously trying on dresses her mother and Carol threw at her, and wondered why Vera Wang hadn't considered five-foot-one size twelves when putting together her samples.
She went to the Roosevelt Hotel and met with the banqueting manager, the catering manager, and sat blankly sampling the wedding menus, all the while feeling as if she were having an out-of body experience. Just get through this, she told herself. This is pre-wedding jitters. Everyone has them. She'd look at Steve, sprawled on the sofa after dinner, watching television, which had become their nightly routine, and will herself to feel something. And when she didn't, she put it down to stress. Or nerves.
Callie took her out one night to plan the bachelorette party. They had a quiet dinner at Atlantic Grill, and Callie, watching carefully as Lila mechanically worked her way through the sushi on the table in front of them, suddenly asked the question Lila had been trying to avoid.
"I know you're getting married in four weeks," Callie leaned forward and lowered her voice, "and I know this sounds like a ridiculous question, but do you love him?"
"Of course," Lila responded, for the words came easily. Steve called her several times a day. To ask what they were having for dinner, to put in a date for dinner with friends of his, to tell her about some movie he thought they ought to see, and at the end of every conversation he said, "Love you," to which she replied, equally flatly, "Love you too."
"That's not what I mean. I mean, are you absolutely crazily in love with him?"