Alison, a twenty-something girl with straight brown hair and cool gray eyes, stood outside a large courthouse. The building loomed in front of her. She swayed a bit and wrung her hands. Her palms were cold and slick and her fingers were nearly numb. She swallowed, attempting to moisten the dry patch in the back of her throat. The air was nippy and her cheeks glowed red from the bite of the wind. The sky was a bright, cold blue. With each breath it looked as if she exhaled puffs of smoke.
“Up we go,” a gruff voice startled her as a man took her by the elbow and led her gently up the steps to the courthouse. “Don’t be nervous, Ally,” he said with a smile and a friendly sideways glance. “Your sister got married just last year and you see how that turned out. You’ll be fine.”
Alison stumbled along up the steps and into the building. “Not every girl’s as lucky as Christine,” she muttered. “Macy married that guy, Phillip, now look where she’s at. Four kids in four years and he doesn’t let her do anything.”
“Eh,” the man shrugged. “I’m sure that doesn’t happen often. Besides, I’ve met your fiance. Seems like a nice fellow.”
Alison raised a brow. “But papa…isn’t that against the –”
“Shh,” he raised his fingers to his lips and winked.
They approached a large oak desk that blocked off a hallway. Several clerks sat behind the long desk, filling out paperwork and leading men and women down the hallway. They stood in line for just a short amount of time before they were motioned over.
“How can I help you?” The woman behind the desk looked up at Alison and her father.
“Just engagement procedure,” he said.
A smirk flitted onto the woman’s face. “Fresh in, are ya?”