Esthie is riding in the passenger seat as Dominick drives them down Miracle Mile, a stretch of Coral Way that serves as the unofficial main street of the city of Coral Gables. Just a couple miles up from Isobel’s house in Coconut Grove, the Gables is one of the few places in South Florida where you find a high concentration of Mediterranean Revival architecture from the 1920s amongst oak canopies and green golf courses.
Aside from the chain restaurants and luxury residential buildings on the Mile, there are also many bridal shops where women from Miami take their mothers, aunts, grandmothers and sisters to pick out the wedding dress of their dreams. Esthie spots the bridal shop where Isobel said yes to the dress just before they pass the Corinthian colonnade of the historic City Hall building on Biltmore Way. Esthie will never forget the unexpected tears that came as she saw her sister in her wedding dress for the first time. Isobel had dreamed of that moment since she saw her first Disney movie and her wedding looked like something out of the Enchanted Forest.
Esthie always felt like she would put Isobel in charge of her wedding in the event that she would ever have to plan one. She and Dominick spoke about marriage on the last night of the trip to India that brought them together. At the time, Esthie felt like Dominick was trying to get an idea of how serious she was about getting into a relationship and she she’s always felt like she screwed that conversation up because she told him the truth. She said that she had never really thought too much about getting married and that her ideal relationship looked more like Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell’s than the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge who had gotten married the year before. She felt, and still feels, that a committed long-term relationship is more meaningful when there is nothing binding the commitment but love.
The surprised look on Dominick’s face that night, one she has come to know very well over the years, made her feel like she had said the wrong thing and that his interest in her would fade as soon as they got back to Miami. They haven’t spoken about marriage since and now that they are about to become parents together, they have been bombarded with questions about when they will be getting married. Though they successfully evaded questions about their relationship over the holidays, the questions still linger as she and Dominick prepare to spend New Year’s Eve together in a hotel suite with no distractions but the fireworks at midnight.
After a huge increase in her rag doll sales from being featured in the Miami Herald over Thanksgiving weekend, Esthie spent all of December filling orders and sewing dolls to meet the high demand for the holidays. Though she can barely keep her eyes open after working so many hours without any coffee due to the baby growing in her belly. Drained and in need of a romantic getaway that wouldn’t take her far away for too long, she decided to book a room at the Biltmore Hotel for New Year’s Eve so she and Dominick could reconnect and relax.
“I haven’t been here since we came for that wedding a couple years back,” Dominick says as he grabs his backpack and Esthie’s carrion.
Hearing him bring up a wedding before they get to the lobby makes her wonder if it was a good idea to spend New Year’s here. When you enter the Biltmore you are immediately greeted by the chirping of tropical birds flying around in large antique cages in the center of the grand lobby. It is a beautiful place to get married and Esthie hopes the romantic setting doesn’t prompt Dominick to continue the wedding talk during their stay.
Her ideal night involves eating room service in robes and watching the ball drop in Times Square before going out onto the balcony to look at the fireworks. Esthie would like to make it through the year without having to process yet another monumental shift in her life. Although she has extreme anxiety about giving birth and isn’t sure how she is going to keep up the momentum her small business is starting to see, she feels like she is ending 2016 on a high. The storm cloud that she felt was following her over the summer dissipated over the fall. Though winter in the tropics looks like summer in northern latitudes, Esthie knows that the hard work is only beginning for her because after the spring her life will never be the same.