“Brian, do you think I could have a word with you in private?” I asked. There was something I needed to do and I wanted to get it out of the way.
“Sure Clay. Want to go out on the porch or something?” he suggested, nodding to the side door.
“Yeah, great.” I gulped nervously, my hands starting to sweat slightly. I followed him out of the house, promising my friends that I’d be right back as they questioned where I was going. When we got outside I headed straight over to the porch swing, needing to sit down for a few minutes.
Brian sat down next to me, looking at me curiously. “Is something wrong, Clay?”
I shook my head and wiped my hand over my face trying to calm my nerves. “No, I just need to ask you something and I’m a little nervous about it,” I admitted.
He laughed and patted my knee, “You can ask me anything, Clay. What’s up?”
I took a deep breath, “Ok, so you know I love Riley, right?” I started. He nodded, frowning, obviously confused as to where I was going with this conversation. “Well, I know we’re young but I really wanted to ask you for your permission to marry your daughter. I know I should have asked you before, traditionally I should have asked you a long time ago, but it’s better late than never, right?” I winced a little, feeling bad that we’d run off to get married, Riley had told me that he felt a little cheated last time.
He laughed, looking a little relieved. “You had me scared for a minute there!” He sat back against the swing and ran a hand through his hair. “Clay, I know you and Riley are meant for each other, and I couldn’t wish for a better guy for her, I really couldn’t. The only hope I ever had for her was that she’s happy in her life, and you make her happy.” He patted my leg again affectionately.
I grinned, “So, that’s a ‘yes Clay, you can marry my daughter’,” I asked, then as an afterthought I added, “Again.”
He nodded, “Yeah Clay, I’d be honoured to call you my son in law……again.”
I smiled and held a hand out to him, relief washing over my body. He gripped my hand tightly, a big smile stretched across his face. “Thanks Brian. We won’t be running off this time. I want us to get married here, in a church this time. I’m sure Riley would love to have you give her away,” I said.
He laughed, “I guess I’d better break out the wedding fund I’ve been paying into since I married Sarah, huh?”
I smiled, he’d been paying into a wedding fund for Riley? I wasn’t too surprised though, to be honest Brian doted on his daughter and I’d never seen a more devoted dad than him, even though she wasn’t even technically his daughter.
“I guess you’d better,” I laughed. I noticed that he hadn’t let go of my hand which was a little strange.
His face tuned serious, “Clay, I love you like a son I really do. I know you love my daughter, which is the only reason I would consent to you two getting married so young.” His eyes bored into mine and I shifted a little uncomfortably on the swing under his intense stare. “But if you hurt my daughter, I swear I’ll kill you myself, understand?” he asked sternly.
I wanted to laugh, but because he was being so serious I kept my face straight as I nodded. “Absolutely. I’ll never hurt her, I promise,” I vowed.
Brian nodded in approval and finally let go of my hand, his face softening again as he smiled and I knew the threat was over. He was just looking out for his daughter and I couldn’t help but admire the man, maybe he loved Riley as much as I did, I quickly dismissed the thought, no one loved anyone as much as I loved Riley, it just wasn’t possible.
“Thanks for letting us stay here,” I said, leaning back against the swing, smiling gratefully.
“It’s nice having you here again. You stay as long as you need to, ok?” he patted my knee again.
I was about to answer when the screen door opened and the love of my life walked out, looking at us curiously. I smiled and she headed over to us, sitting in the space between me and her dad. “Everything ok?” she asked, looking between the two of us worriedly.
I nodded and slipped my arm around her shoulders, “Everything’s perfect, Riley bear.”
Brian stood up, kissing the top of her head. He smiled at me happily, “Don’t stay out here too long you two. There’s a party going on in there, people came here to see you, Clay,” he said as he walked into the house.
Riley pulled her knees up, curling into me as I tightened my arms around her. I sighed happily as we just sat on the swing for a little while, neither of us talking, just holding my girl in my arms. Everything was just as it should be.
Everything was set up, there was nothing else I needed to do or worry about. All I needed to do was relax, enjoy and memorize every single second of today.
We’d been planning this for the last two months and finally it was here. Things were back to normal now, my back and legs were in perfect working order, we were back living in our own place. I had graduated high school and was due to start my dream job in three weeks’ time. Riley had her senior year starting in a month, it would be weird her going off to school and me going to work, I was used to seeing her all day everyday, so that was going to be a big step. I had a feeling it would just make us appreciate each other more when we did finally come back together though.
Tom was standing next to me, cracking little remarks about me still having time to call it off and run away. I knew he was joking though, he knew how much I loved Riley so that wasn’t something that would be happening.
I fiddled with my cravat, making sure I looked ok. I wanted everything to be perfect today, Riley deserved a perfect day. She’d been a rock for me since everything happened, so strong and supportive that she took my breath away.
I flicked my eyes around the room. People were sitting on the benches, chatting and smiling, all dressed up to the nines. My family and Riley’s, all sitting on the wooden benches, eagerly awaiting the show.
I saw Sarah sitting at the front, tissue in her hand, dabbing her eyes already, with a little happy smile on her face. I caught her eye and she grinned at me, sniffing and looking at me affectionately. I guess she always knew this day would come, she always told Riley and I that we would get married one day, and here we were.
I couldn’t wait for this ceremony to be over. Not that I wanted to wish it away or anything, but I just couldn’t wait for her to be Mrs Preston again. It’s surprising how quick you get used to everything and when I found out that she wasn’t technically my wife that was a little soul destroying, I needed to get my ring back on her finger, and fast!
Also, once the wedding and the party after was done I’d get to take my girl to a posh little hotel room with the big four poster bed that I’d booked and finally consummate our marriage properly. Then after that we would have two weeks of heaven on a beach, alone. I couldn’t wait for that.
I heard a rustling from behind me so I glanced back to see the Priest standing there, his book in his hand ready. He gave me a small smile and I felt my heart speed up, did that mean she was here? I took a calming breath and glanced at Tom, he grinned and slapped me on the shoulder. It only seemed right that he would be my best man for the second time, not only was he my best friend but tradition said he needed to hook up with the bridesmaid and I was pretty sure that Rachel would kick my ass if I chose someone else.
They had been dating for the last four months, they had hooked up a lot before that but Rachel had told Riley that she decided to go for it after I had my accident. She said that she realised that life was too short to be worrying about getting hurt and that she needed to take a chance before someone else nabbed him, apparently those were her exact words.
The music started, signalling that they were here. I laughed quietly under my breath, my hands were sweating, my feet itching to run to the front door so I could see her quicker, this waiting felt like agony. I hadn’t seen her since last night because she wanted to stick to tradition and kicked me out of our apartment for good luck. She had the girls over stay over instead. I couldn’t help but call her last night though, just to make sure she hadn’t changed her mind and was going to stand me up. We’d ended up talking for over an hour about random crap before she fell asleep whilst talking to me, I could hear her heavy breathing through the phone.
I heard Tom groan beside me, I flicked my eyes to his face. He had turned around and was watching the other direction, a lustful expression on his face, a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. I turned back to see what he was looking at and realised it wasn’t a what, it was a who. Rachel was walking down the aisle in a ‘off white’ dress with a yellow ribbon tied around her waist. Her hair pulled up in an elegant twist, she looked beautiful even I could see that. She smiled at Tom, blushing slightly as she walked up the aisle.
When she got to the end she stood on the other side of the aisle, before turning back to look at the door expectantly. Oh God, this is it!
When I saw her step round the corner my breath caught in my throat. She looked beautiful as I knew she would, but I never could have imagined just how utterly breathtaking she would look. The ivory off the shoulder silk dress, clung to the top half of her body before flowing out at her hips, layers and layers of silk falling to the floor and trailing behind her a little way. It molded to her in all of the right places, showing off everything she had to offer, but at the same time concealing everything so only I knew what was underneath.
She looked like something that had walked straight out of one of the bridal magazines she’d been fussing over for the last two months. The veil covered her face but was still thin enough that I could see her flawless face. Her hair had been pulled up at the back, with loose curls escaping around the front. She was carrying a bouquet of yellow tulips, her favourites.
She looked stunning, and I really was the luckiest guy in the world.
Brian smiled down at her proudly, his arm looped through hers as they started walking towards me. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her, my mouth was dry, my hands sweating even more than they were and I could barely stop myself from walking down the aisle and meeting her halfway just so I could be closer to her.