I absolutely loved Natalie's Getting Married - it has the perfect mix of laughter and tears with a little bit of magic sprinkled throughout. I couldn't put it down once I had started to read as I was completely under its spell and gave it a 5 star review in January 2016.
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Some girls dream of the perfect wedding. I was never really one of those girls. I'd set my sights on a career in media. I worked hard at school, achieved good grades and decided to go to university. I'd had boyfriends up until then, the first serious one was when I was sixteen, but the idea of marriage never once crossed my mind. I'd never been in love, yet my girlfriends fell in and out of it so easily, you'd think they were exchanging one pair of must have shoes for another.
They'd all either been swept off their feet, or claimed to have met “the one”, or bored everyone senseless by walking around love struck and starry eyed. But not me. I had plans and I wasn't going to let a little thing like never having fallen in love stop me.
So, off I went to university and that's where I met Jackson Humphries.
It was Fresher's Week on the day I first saw him. He was so cool and self-assured I never would have guessed that, like me, he was a Fresher too. He was out in the quadrant where new students were signing up for various clubs and societies. He was wearing a navy polo shirt, a pair of jeans and had his bag slung across his shoulder. He wasn't very tall for a guy but he had a perfect body; dark hair and chocolate brown eyes. And that day, I fell in love.
Little did I know it would take two years for Jackson to notice me and that he'd surprise me with a wedding proposal on graduation day.
I stood gazing at Jackson from the far side of the quadrant, doing that thing I do with my curls, twiddling the ones that fall to my shoulders. In my misty-eyed state, I signed up for the Poetry Society. I didn't mean to. I was staring so hard at Jackson I hadn't realised I'd joined a queue of poetry lovers.
'Thanks,' the Poetry Society girl said to me. 'Our first meeting is next Friday. It's just a welcome night. You won't need to bring your poems. We probably won't read until the next time.'
'Fine,' I said, collecting a Poetry Society Handbook and tucking it into my bag, all the time keeping my eyes on Jackson. He seemed to know everyone; he was relaxed and chatty. But, as I followed Jackson's every move around the quadrant, I almost joined the Rowing Club. Finally coming to my senses, I moved well away from the society reps.
I sat on a low wall and watched Jackson walk up to a bunch of sporty types who were dribbling a basketball and shooting hoops. Jackson scored a basket every time he got the ball. Somehow, I knew he would.
'You like basketball?' a voice from thin air said to me.
I turned around and saw a tall guy standing next to me. He was smiling. He had sandy hair that was uncombed, a wrinkled t-shirt under an un-ironed checked shirt, and jeans that were fraying at the knees. His smile was warm, big and white. He had hazel eyes that seemed to change from green to light brown by the second. He rubbed his hand over his messy hair.
'Um,' I stuttered. How was I to tell a complete stranger I was eyeing up some hunky guy? 'No, I'm not a fan, not really. I'm just taking it all in.'
'Where are you from?' he asked.
'London,' I told him.
'Ever been away from home, London?'
'First time. And you?'
'I'm from Manchester so Sheffield isn't so far. You'll find it very different up here, though.'
'I've been up a few days already, sorting out halls,' I said. 'Do you travel in from Manchester?'
'No, I've got a house with a bunch of students. This is my second year. How about you?'
'First year and my name is Natalie. Spencer.' I put my hand out, immediately thinking that was too formal a gesture and decided to wave at him instead. He seemed to stifle a laugh but grabbed my hand to shake it anyway.
'Nice to meet you, London. I'm Gabriel Miller.'
'Gabriel … like the angel?'
'Yes, but only without wings. Fancy a coffee?'
Gabriel Miller and I became instant best friends. For me it was good to have someone with at least one year's experience of university life to draw on. He showed me the ropes, introduced me to all his friends and convinced me to stay with the Poetry Society; he was an English Literature student, wrote poetry and he was a member himself.
'But I'm hopeless,' I told him. 'I don't know my Keats from my Emily Dickinson's.'
'That doesn't matter, London.' He was very convincing. 'They're a great bunch of people and you don't have to read your poems if you don't want to.'
'Believe me when I say, I won't be writing any either.'
'Come on, you never know what you might get inspired to do.'
'What you really mean is, you want me to come along so I can listen to your poems,' I joked. But I did stick with it and, I have to say, Gabriel's style of poetry blew me away. I could listen to him read for hours.
It wasn't until a couple of months after term began that I revealed to Gabriel my secret crush on Jackson.
'You're joking, right?' he laughed. We were sitting in the Student Union bar.
'Why do you say that?' I asked.
'Because, he's a jerk.'
'Why is he a jerk?'
'Because – he's just some stuck up rich kid who couldn't get into one of the posh universities but wants to bum around until he takes up his guaranteed executive position in Daddy's firm.'
'But he's a first year,' I said. 'What do you know about Jackson? Have you ever spoken to him?'
'Not as such. But I know people like him. You wait, he'll get a mediocre degree and end up making three times what you and I do, even if we come out of here with Firsts.'
I knocked back the last sip of my watery beer. 'You can't begrudge people their inheritance Gabe. He can't help being rich. Hey, don't tell me you're jealous?' I grinned at him.
'I'm not jealous. I'm just saying, be careful. But you're a big girl. You date who you like.'
'Thank you, Dad. I'm glad I have your blessing. Anyway, he's got no idea who I am. We've never actually spoken.'
'So how do you know you'll even like him?'
'Don't spoil it, Gabriel. If I never get to talk to him, at least I can say I fell in love for the first time in my life.'
'You surprise me, London. I can’t believe you've never been in love. Has that been your dream? To meet a rich guy and fall in love? Is that all you want from life?'
'Of course not. What's gotten into you today? You're acting weird and I don't like it. Why don't you just buy me another drink?'
'Coming right up.'
And that pretty much summed up what Gabriel was like any time I brought up the subject of Jackson Humphries. Although, I had to learn to put up with him slagging Jackson off because I talked about Jackson – a lot!
For a whole year I obsessed about Jackson, observed what he was wearing, who he hung out with and who he dated. He became the object of my affection and everyone in my halls of residence knew I was a lovesick fool. They started calling me Mrs Humphries. Jackson had no idea and Gabriel remained disgusted.
I'd be chatting to Gabriel and catch a glimpse of Jackson walking around campus, and I'd completely lose focus. Gabriel would do this thing of grabbing a bunch of my curls and waggling it in my face to snap me out of my Jackson trance.
With the end of my first year fast approaching, I started getting ready for the summer ball.
'No,' Gabriel said.
'What do you mean, 'no'?'
'You're not going to the summer ball so you can spend all night dribbling into the punch bowl and staring at that idiot.'
'But I was looking forward to it,' I whined.
'No, I'm taking you to an alternative party instead. Do you trust me?'
But Gabriel was right, if I went to the summer ball I'd probably end up drunk, sitting in a corner, crying: 'Why? Why? Why doesn't he love me?' I knew, because that was what I did most weekends.
So I accompanied Gabriel to a party in a sleazy part of Sheffield. I found myself in a house with all the curtains closed and a room that was so dimly lit I managed to knock over a bowl of chilli, spill an entire pint of beer down Alison Neuberg's leggings and sit in the lap of a blonde girl I'd never met in my life.
Granted, it was a great party. The music was brilliant and no one minded that I was a clumsy wreck. But, Jackson wasn't there and with as much fun as I was having with my new found, barely visible friends, I still kept wondering who Jackson had taken to the ball.
'Where are you, London?' Gabriel asked me. He noticed I'd glazed over.
'What?' I shouted back into his ear because the music was so loud.
'You look like you're having a good time but you've got a faraway look in your eyes.' Gabriel leaned close to reply. He smelled of soap and aftershave with a hint of whisky on his breath.
'How can you even see my eyes?' I shouted back.
'Who could miss those great big baby blues of yours? All that wide-eyed innocence is quite charming.' He brushed my curls away from my shoulders and rested his hands on them for a brief moment. Maybe he wanted to shake me out of my daydream.
I didn't hear what else he said but he gave me a warm smile and I tried to forget about my aching heart and the misery that being in love with Jackson Humphries brought with it.
I spent my first year at university loving Jackson from afar and he never even looked at me once.
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About the author
Rosa Temple began writing romantic comedies and chick lit because of her passion for what she calls the 'early chick lit films', like: Sabrina, Barefoot In the Park and Breakfast at Tiffany's. She honed her skills as a ghost writer, gaining experience writing romantic novellas, both sweet and on the slightly steamy side. In her notebooks, she constantly jotted down story ideas of her own and she eventually completed her first novella Sleeping With Your Best Friend and now, the full length novel, Natalie's Getting Married.
Rosa Temple is a Londoner and is married with two sons. She is a reluctant keep fit fanatic and doer of housework and insists that writing keeps her away from such strenuous tasks. She spends her days creating characters and story lines while drinking herbal tea and eating chocolate biscuits.
To find out more about Rosa and to catch up on all her musings please join her here on Rosa Temple Writes...
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