Sunny Haloran was just the luckiest girl, everyone always said so. She was beautiful, smart, kind-hearted and rich – the only child of one of Houston’s richest men.
Sunny was loved and admired by some and deeply envied by many others, but that morning there was no one in all Texas who wanted to be in her beaded satin shoes.
Sunny ripped off the yard-long delicate lace of her veil as she rushed down the steps of the cathedral, screaming, “TAXI!”
She pulled her long satin skirt up above her knees and leapt carelessly into the middle of the street, tossing her bouquet of flowers carelessly over her shoulder. Then she brought her fingers to her lips and let out a deafening whistle.
Seconds later, a yellow cab came to a screeching halt in front of her. She yanked open the back door, jumped in and screamed:
“Please, drive fast and don’t stop, no matter what!”
The driver was used to crazy things, after all, it was about driving a cab, but he was sure this was the strangest thing that had ever happened to him.
Nevertheless, he obeyed his new passenger, stepped hard on the gas pedal, and within a few minutes the huge, imposing cathedral was just a rapidly disappearing speck in his rearview mirror.
David Carmichael slowed his pace and glanced at his passenger, who was hyperventilating in her wedding dress and wiping tears from her face with her gloved hands.
“Where are you going, lady?” he asked gently.
Sunny suppressed a sob.
“Somewhere where no one knows me!”
David shook his head.
“I need an address. Where do you live?”
“No,” Sunny cried, “I can never go back there! Never!”
“Nothing is ever that bad,” David told her gently.
He drove to a nearby park and stopped the cab. He turned around in his seat and said to Sunny:
“Why don’t you tell me what’s wrong, and maybe I can help you?”
“You’re a cab driver, what can you do?” she asked.
“Taxi drivers are like bartenders, we hear the most incredible stories – plus I’m a lawyer,” David said. “Almost a lawyer, I’m just waiting for my state exam results.”
Sunny felt comforted by David’s kind voice and gentle smile.
“This,” she said, “was going to be the happiest day of my life. I was going to marry Rory and live happily ever after.”
“Rory?” asked David. “He’s the groom?”
“Yes. He works for Dad, and I’ve known him for years. I thought he loved me…” Sunny shook her head to stop a new flow of tears. “I’m telling you all this wrong. It didn’t start out that way.”
“It started when Lisa and I – that’s my best friend – were 12 years old. We planned our weddings with the handsomest men in the world in the most beautiful wedding gowns here at the Cathedral.”
“Then we planned that when the first one gets married, the other one waits until the priest says ‘Speak now or forever hold your peace’ and then stands up and yells ‘I object!” like in Shrek, you know? And really shock the guests with that?”
David grinned and nodded.
“It sounds funny when you’re 12, maybe not so much when you’re 25…”
“So I was standing there looking at Rory, and the priest said:
‘If anyone can show good cause why she or he cannot be lawfully married, let them speak now or forever hold their peace,’ and then I heard Lisa’s voice say ‘I object,’ and I started giggling.”
“I couldn’t help it! I turned around, and there stood Lisa in her bridesmaid dress, looking just as fierce and somber as we’d imagined as kids – but it turned out she wasn’t kidding at all.”
“Lisa looked me in the eye and said:
‘I’m pregnant, Sunny, and it’s Rory’s baby. He’s only marrying you for your father’s money.’ I laughed, isn’t that amazing? I even turned to Rory to share the joke.”
“I said, ‘I’m sorry, honey, Lisa and I have been planning this since we were 12!’ And then I saw his face and knew it was all true. He shook his head and opened and closed his mouth like a fish. I can’t imagine why I thought he was handsome.”
“Love makes you blind. I’ve made that mistake, too.”
Sunny looked into David’s sympathetic brown eyes.
“Really?” she asked with a strange sense of comfort. “I can’t go back, I can’t marry him. I can’t face my friends and family again. I’m so ashamed.”
David shook his head.
” You have nothing to be ashamed of,” he said firmly, “you’re the ones who should be ashamed!”
“I’ll be a laughingstock,” Sunny whispered. “A laughingstock!”
“No!” said David firmly, taking her hand. “You’re too beautiful to be a joke. People will be shocked, but they’ll soon forget.
“No, they won’t!” cried Sunny bitterly. “They filmed the whole thing!”
“Well,” David said in a burst of inspiration. “How about going to dinner in your wedding dress at the most famous restaurant in town with the best-looking cab driver in Houston?”
“Everyone will think you ran away with me, not that you ran away from them…” said David smiling.
Sunny started to laugh. Yes, it would be a feast for the gossips!
She started to feel better. She also noticed that David was really handsome and had the warmest smile.
“How about you take me home,” she suggested, “and we’ll have dinner tomorrow night when my eyes aren’t so puffy and my nose isn’t running?”
David grinned and agreed.
That night, Sunny talked to her parents and felt much better than she thought possible under the circumstances. The next morning, she was stunned to find Rory sobbing at her door.
“Please, Sunny,” he sobbed. “I couldn’t sleep all night! I realized that I really love you…”
“Too bad,” Sunny said coldly before slamming the door in his face. “I’ve moved on, Rory, I suggest you do the same!”
But leaving Rory was one thing, Lisa was something else.
Sunny had known Lisa since they were both four years old. She loved Lisa, and she knew her friend was in financial trouble. Sunny couldn’t imagine Rory being there for her.
Lisa’s parents had passed away, she had no one and no money. So Sunny went to her father’s study and had a long talk with him. Later that afternoon, she knocked on Lisa’s door.
When Lisa appeared at the door, Sunny saw hope welling up in her former best friend’s eyes.
“Sunny,” she whispered, “please…”
Sunny shook her head and handed Lisa the $100,000 check her father had reluctantly given her.
“This is for you to have your baby safely,” she said softly.
Lisa startled and took a step forward to hug her friend. But Sunny shook her head.
“Please don’t. I want you to be safe, but I know now that you were never my friend,” she said. “I’m doing this for the love I’ve felt for you all these years, but there’s nothing between us anymore, Lisa. You turned out to be a traitor when you should have been my friend.”
Sunny turned around and walked away. That evening she met David for ice cream and they talked until dawn. She felt like she had turned over a new leaf in her life and that maybe she had found her true love.