Lila laughed awkwardly. "You mean, do I feel about him the way you feel about Reece?"
"Exactly!" Callie's whole face lit up at the mention of Reece's name. She had only recently started dating him, but she was giddy with excitement.
"Callie, not everyone has the same relationship. Steve is a great guy. He's incredibly good to me, and he has a great job, and he'll make a wonderful husband and father."
"Jesus, Lila. Who's that speaking? Is that your father? Because it sure as hell isn't you."
And Lila realized that indeed it was her father. Tat he was the very reason she was sitting at this table, with the final alterations being done to her wedding gown (they were letting it out, rather than taking it in—Lila had to be the only bride in history who, rather than losing tons of weight before her wedding day, was putting it on because she was eating and eating, to try to push down the feelings she didn't want to admit were there).
"Oh Callie." Lila's mask started to slip. "Help me?"
"Of course. Whatever you're doing, you need to stop it now."
"But how?" Lila's voice dropped to a whisper. "How do I let so many people down? How do I tell Steve? It will ruin his life. And my father! And all the people who are coming. I don't know if I can do it."
"Would you rather walk down the aisle knowing you're making the wrong decision? Have to go through a painful divorce?"
"I'm standing under a chuppah," Lila said, attempting humor.
"Whatever. You know what I mean."
"What if we make it work?" Lila grimaced. "Because not everyone has what you have with Reece. If I thought a Reece was waiting for me in the wings it would be easy, but that doesn't exist for me. I've only ever known pain from falling in love, and there's no pain with Steve. I'm making a pragmatic choice, choosing with my head rather than with my heart."
"Oh Lila." Callie's eyes welled up. "You are a beautiful, strong, brilliant woman who deserves to fall in love, and to be loved in return. What makes you think that you have to settle? What makes you think that you have to marry Steve just because he asked?"
"What if no one else does?" Lila's voice was laced with panic as she voiced a fear she had never admitted to anyone.
"So what? So you'll buy a fabulous apartment, sleep with lots of toy boys, and have sixteen cats. So the fuck what?"
And Lila started to laugh. "You're right. So the fuck what?"
"Thank you. You do not have to be your mother in order to have a fulfilling life, and you do not have to please your father in order to be okay. This isn't the sixties anymore, and you absolutely do not have to marry someone just because he asked, or just to make your father happy."
Lila, crying and laughing at the same time, overcome with relief, happiness and sadness, reached over and clutched Callie's hand. "Will you help me?"
"I will. And I'll even help you return that God-awful vase from your great-aunt Sadie. What were you even thinking, putting that on your wedding list?"
"I didn't." Lila started blubbering with laughter. "Steve insisted on putting it on the list. His mother has the same vase."
"Jesus. Does it look as ugly in her house?"
"Yes! God, I hate her house. Oh God, I can't believe I'm going to admit this, but I can't stand them! Any of them. I can't stand his family. And I can't stand his friends. Oh God, Callie. What the hell have I been doing?"