“Not a single word. Ollie would be proud.”
A small sigh left my lips. “Okay. Thank you.” She stood up and started walking toward the door, and I called after her once. “Do you think you’d want to be my plus one for Karla and Susie’s wedding?”
A gentle smile landed on her lips and she shrugged her left shoulder. “I’ve been waiting for you to ask me.”
“I wasn’t certain you’d want to come. I mean…it seems weird to take a friend to a wedding.”
Her voice lowered and her chocolate eyes showed a touch of sadness as she stared my way. “Oh, Graham Cracker,” she said softly. Her voice was so low that for a moment, I wondered if I imagined the words. “What I wouldn’t give to be more than your friend.”
The day of the wedding, I waited in the living room as Lucy finished getting ready in her bedroom. My chest was tight waiting to see her, and when she appeared, it was better than I could’ve ever imagined. She came out like a spark of perfection. She wore a floor-length baby blue gown and had baby’s breath twisted into her hair.
Her lips were painted pink, and her beauty was louder than ever.
Each second I saw her, I fell a little more.
Plus, she held Talon in her arms, and the way my daughter, my heart, snuggled into this woman made me fall even more.
We weren’t supposed to feel this way.
We weren’t supposed to fall for one another, she and I.
Yet it seemed gravity had a way of pulling us closer.
“You look beautiful,” I told her, standing up from the couch and smoothing out my suit.
“You don’t look half bad yourself.” She smiled as she walked over to me.
“Dada,” Talon said, babbling and reaching out to me. Every time she spoke, my heart grew in size. “Dadadada.”
I’d never known love could be so real.
I took her into my arms and kissed her forehead as she kissed mine back. Lucy stepped forward, straightening out my bow tie, which she had picked out. She’d picked out my whole outfit. She was convinced my closet contained too much black, so she had forced me out of my comfort zone with a light gray suit and a baby blue polka dot bow tie.
We drove to Lucy’s employee, Chrissy’s, house before heading to the ceremony. Chrissy had said she’d take care of Talon for the evening, and a part of me worried. Talon had never spent time with anyone other than Lucy or me, but Lucy told me she trusted Chrissy, and in turn, I trusted Lucy.
“If you need anything, you have our numbers,” I told Chrissy as I handed her Talon, who seemed timid at first.
“Ah, don’t you worry, we’re going to have a great time. All you two have to worry about is having a great time tonight. Embrace each moment.”
I gave her a tight smile before leaning in to kiss Talon’s forehead one last time.
“Oh, and, Graham? I’m sorry about your father. Professor Oliver seemed like a great man,” Chrissy told me.
I thanked her as Lucy took my hand and squeezed it lightly.
As we walked to the car, I turned her way. “You told her he was my father?” I asked.
“Of course. He was your father, and you were his son.”
I swallowed hard and opened her car door to help her in. As she climbed inside, I waited a second before shutting the door. “Lucille?”
“You make the world a lot less dark.”
We arrived at the ceremony about ten minutes before it was going to begin and sat in a middle row on the edge of the aisle. The space was surrounded by beautiful flowers, which Lucy herself had arranged for the event and set up earlier that morning. She was the best at making every moment beautiful.
When it was time, everyone in attendance stood up as Susie walked down the aisle first with her arm looped through her father’s. She was smiling wide and looked breathtaking in her white gown. Once she made it to the front, her father kissed her cheek and took his seat. Then, the music shifted and it was Karla’s turn. She looked like an angel, holding her beautiful bouquet of pink and white roses. Her dress flowed effortlessly, but her steps seemed to be a struggle. With each one she took, I could tell what was weighing on her heart—she was missing her father, the man who was supposed to be walking her down the aisle on the happiest day of her life.
Halfway down the aisle, her steps stopped, she covered her mouth with her hand, and she began sobbing, the overwhelming pain of the situation swallowing her whole.
Within seconds, I was there. My arm wrapped around hers, I leaned in closer to her, and I whispered, “I have you, Karla. You’re not alone.”
She turned to me, her eyes filled with broken pieces of her soul, and she wrapped her arms around me. She took a few seconds to fall apart, and I held her each second that passed. When she was strong enough, I kept her arm linked with mine and walked her down the aisle.
The officiant smiled wide when we reached the end of the aisle. Susie’s eyes locked with mine for a moment and she silently thanked me. I simply nodded once.
“Who gives this beautiful bride away?” the officiant asked.
I stood tall, staring straight at Karla. “I do.” I wiped a few of her tears away and smiled. “With every ounce of my being, I do.”
Karla turned and hugged me so tight, and I held her close to me as she softly spoke. “Thank you, brother.”
I walked back to my seat and sat beside Lucy, who had tears streaming down her face. She turned to me and gave me the greatest smile I’d ever seen. Her lips parted and she whispered, “I am in love with you,” and then she turned to face the ceremony.
Within seconds, my heart filled with more love than I had thought possible.
Because that was the thing about hearts—when you thought they were completely full, you somehow found room to add a little more love.
Loving Lucy Hope Palmer wasn’t a choice; it was my destiny.
The rest of the ceremony ran smoothly. The evening was filled with love, laughter, and light—and dancing. So much dancing.
When a slow song came on, Mary walked over to me and held her hand out, asking me for a dance. I stood up and walked her to the dance floor. As she placed her hand on my shoulder, we started to sway.
“What you did for Karla…I’ll never be able to thank you enough for that,” Mary said, a tear rolling down her cheek.
I leaned in and kissed her tear away before it could hit the floor. “Anything you ladies need, I am here for you. Always, Mary. Always.”
She smiled and nodded. “I always wanted a son.”
“I always wanted a mom.”
We danced, and she laid her head against my shoulder, allowing me to guide our moves. “The way you look at her,” she said, speaking of Lucy. “The way she looks at you…”