“This is the spot,” I say, looking down at her. She’s gorgeous with water dripping off her long lashes. The contrast highlights her amazing green eyes.
“It’s not really the right weather for laying on the beach today,” she replies, wrapping her hands around my upper arms.
“No one is going to be lying on the beach. I have something I want to give you.” I nervously remove one of my hands from her body and reach into my pocket to pull out the little black box.
Her eyes focus in on my hand, and as I open my fingers, her mouth hangs open. “Beau,” she says with a shaky voice. “What are you doing?”
I kneel down in front of her, slowly opening the box to reveal what’s inside. “There’s this girl I’ve loved for a really long time. Every day she makes me want to be a better man. She holds my entire heart in her hands, and I never want her to let go of it. I know we’re still young, but there’s nothing in this world that can change the way I feel about you. Whether it’s next year or five years from now, I want to be the guy watching you walk down the aisle in a white dress. Kate Alexander, will you marry me?”
Her hand covers her mouth as she stares at me then the ring I hold in my hand. “Beau, stand up,” she finally says.
I comply, anxious to hear her answer. I debated on whether or not this was the right timing for this, and everything inside of me told me it was. I’ve seen what can happen when I don’t act on my feelings for her, and I’ll never make that mistake again. I’m scared as hell that she’s going to say no, though. I don’t think I’ll be able to cope.
I already know she’s it for me.
“Kate,” I whisper, running my thumb over her cheek. What follows is probably the longest thirty seconds of my life. Our eyes are locked, but all I can read in her sea of green is shock.
“Yes,” she answers as she wraps her arms around my neck. “Yes, yes, yes,” she repeats against my neck.
Lifting her off the ground, I spin her around in a circle. The sound of her laughter plays in my ears. This is most of the dreams I’ve ever had coming true.
“Let’s get this on your finger then,” I say, lowering her to the ground. “Then there won’t be any confusion about who you belong to.”
I open the box to showcase the princess cut diamond that I worked all summer for. It’s not huge by any means, but it’s perfect for her delicate little fingers.
“It’s gorgeous,” she squeals when she gets her first glimpse.
I slip it on her finger just as the rain stops, and after taking a few seconds to admire the beautiful expression on my future wife’s face, I hug her, resting my chin on her head.
For the first time, I see a rainbow has formed over the lake. Life’s most beautiful moments come after the rain.
Three Years Later
I’VE THOUGHT ABOUT THIS MOMENT many times before, but as I stand here watching my dream girl walk down the red carpeted aisle toward me, it’s better than anything I’ve ever imagined.
Fourteen months of planning, and more money than I can count, and it’s everything Kate wanted.
I’m more than happy to give it to her.
My eyes well up a little more with each step she takes toward me. She’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen—inside and out—and I can’t wait for her to be mine forever. Not that she wasn’t already, but this makes it official.
We’ve lived our lives together. I’ve seen her best moments and her worst, and she’s seen mine. We’ve weathered the sun and the storm, the light and the dark, and we’re stronger because of it.
Her eyes glisten as she stops in front of me with Daniel at her side. I thought he was going to jump out of his seat when she asked him to walk her down the aisle, but he played it cool. The unshed tears in his eyes show just how much this moment means to him. He’ll never get to watch his own son get married, but if it weren’t for Asher Hunt, I wouldn’t be standing here right now.
“Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” the preacher asks.
“Her mother and I,” Daniel answers. As he releases her arm, I grab her hands in mine. I probably have the biggest grin I’ve ever had on my face, even with the tears that fill my eyes.
The whole ceremony is a blur because I can’t concentrate on anything but her. I met her almost eighteen years ago. I fell in love with her at about the same time, and I know I’ll love her until the day I die. I’m memorizing the way her eyes sparkle when I recite my vows, the way she smiles when I slip that ring on her finger, and the way she runs her thumb across the top of my hand while our song plays.
But what I’ll remember most about this day is the way her eyes watched my lips when the preacher said, “You may now kiss your bride.” It’s been exactly three years since I put that ring on her finger, and every one of those days I thought about this kiss.
The wait ends now.
Cupping her face in my hands, I run my thumbs along her cheekbones as my lips descend on hers. A few people in the crowd whistle as I kiss Kate Alexander like she’s never been kissed.
As we make our way up the aisle, all I can think about is how long we have to stay at the reception so we don’t piss everyone off. My family and friends mean everything to me, but right now, all I want to do is make love to my wife.
… after I carry her over the threshold.
Life has taken me on a crazy ride down Lombard Street, but I can’t complain about where it stopped. Some people wouldn’t consider me lucky, but I am. I’ve loved. I’ve lost. And through it all, I found a better appreciation for what I have … mainly the man holding me tightly in his arms for our first dance as husband and wife.
I think I know how Cinderella felt when the prince danced with her that first night at the ball. Drew and fear were my wicked stepsisters, but I found my glass slipper. Beau had it in his hands the whole time.
“What are you thinking about right now?” he asks, holding one of my hands in his with the other pressed into my lower back.
“Yeah,” he whispers, his warm breath hitting my cheek. “Tell me about this prince.”
I smile, even though I know he can’t see it. “Well, he’s handsome with his dark hair and green eyes. And he’s not a bad kisser either. You should have seen how he kissed me a couple hours ago.” I stop, closing my eyes as I remember that moment at the end of the ceremony. It’s one I’ll never forget.
“Go on,” he says, spinning me around.
“Well, he’s also very sweet and protective. He’s smart and knows when to pick his battles. He’s patient.”
“He almost sounds perfect.”
“He is,” I say, pressing my cheek against his. The song is about to end, but I’m not ready. This is another one of those moments I want to put into a snow globe and remember forever.
“You’re not thinking of leaving me for him, are you?” he teases, turning us around slowly.
I laugh, trying to come up with a witty comeback. “Nah, perfect is boring. Why would I want that?”
His chest vibrates against mine, and I know he’s laughing right along with me. “I’m going to show you just how imperfect I am as soon as we get out of here.”
“I can’t wait.” He still won’t tell me where we’re going for our honeymoon, but I know we’re spending tonight in the small cabin he took me to three summers ago.
He bought it a while back, and we’ve been enjoying many weekends by the lake, staring at the stars.
The next song starts to play as our wedding party joins us on the dance floor. Having Emery and Rachel here in Carrington made this day so much easier. To say we’re inseparable would be an understatement.
Each of us has had our ups and downs, but it binds us. I didn’t know if Emery would ever return to school, but she did, and she wasn’t alone. As I watch her dance with the man she loves, I remember everything they overcame to get to this point. And Rachel, she’s been on a crazy ride the last couple years, but things are looking up for her. Hopefully together, we’ll just keep getting stronger.
Right when the song ends, Beau pulls me from the dance floor. “What are you doing?” I ask.
He keeps walking, moving quickly through the crowd. “We’re going to cut the cake.”
“Yes, now. That’s the last thing we have to do before we can leave, right?” He stops, smiling back at me.
“And thank our guests.”
After we have everyone’s attention, we cut into the simple three-tier white wedding cake. I’d asked the baker to only add a few fresh lilies going down one side because I wanted it to be like us … understated and beautiful. Not to my surprise, Beau is sweet, putting a small delicate bite against my lips. I open my mouth to the sweet buttercream and savor every morsel. When it’s my turn, I do the same to him, but he uses the tip of his tongue to taste the amazing sweetness that lingers on my finger as I pull my hand away.
We announce that we’re leaving and say goodbye to all of our guests. I’m sad to leave them, but I’m ready to start this next phase in life with the man standing beside me.
“Ready?” Beau asks, grabbing my hand tightly in his again.
“Yes.” I bite my lower lip.
Beau groans. “Let’s get out of here.”
We make our way through a wall of bubbles being blown by our guests and climb into Beau’s truck. We could have rented a limo or some other fancy car, but the truck is part of what makes us us. It holds so many memories.
“How are you doing, Mrs. Bennett?”
“I couldn’t be better.”
“We’ll see about that.”
We make our way to the cabin with our hands linked between us. It’s a calm summer night. No breeze. The only sound we hear is the soft country song playing on the radio. This is what life is about … being with the one you love in the place you love.