It turned out Roger next door got himself ordained to perform a ceremony for a friend of his some years back, so we were going to let him marry us. Ironically, Roger Podger had become a pretty good friend of mine, even though I continued to bust his balls regularly.
A flock of seagulls dispersed as Bea came running toward me. Her dress was soaked as she handed me a seashell. “Daddy! Blue!”
“What do you have for me, Beatrice Banks?”
Amelia brushed sand off of her skirt and explained, “We’re trying to find something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue for the ceremony later. We found this blue shell.”
“That’s perfect, Bumblebee,” I said, handing it back to her as she beamed.
“We have to figure out the rest,” Amelia said as she took something out of her pocket and handed it to Bea. “We have something new, but technically it’s for you, not me. Bea, give it to Daddy.”
My daughter handed me a tiny box. It had a guitar pick inside with the inscription, Thank you for picking me.
Squeezing her, I whispered in her ear, “Thank you for picking me, sweetie. I love this so much.”
After the wedding, I’d be formally adopting Bea. She was two years old now and more attached to me than ever. Thankfully, that asswipe, Adam, relinquished his parental rights without a fight.
Life was good. I was still working the software job and playing a few nights a week at Sandy’s. I’d been offered another opportunity to tour with a different lesser-known artist, but turned it down. As exciting as it was being a travelling musician, the downsides outweighed the benefits. I didn’t want to miss any precious moments with my family. I used to think music was my life; I was wrong. My girls are my life.
“Okay, we have something new and something blue. Now, we just need something borrowed and something old,” I said.
Amelia wrapped her arm around my neck. “I was thinking of looking through some of Nana’s old things in the safe. I haven’t gone through it since we moved in. I’m sure we could find something old in there.”
I got up from my spot on the sand. “Let’s do it.”
The three of us walked back to the house. Amelia’s simple white strapless dress was hanging off the mantle in the living room. It made me giddy just looking at it, knowing that tonight, she would officially become Amelia Banks. Although, the piece of paper didn’t matter. She’d been mine for as long as I could remember. I stared at her for a bit as she fumbled with the safe. Knowing she was pregnant with my baby did things to me. Admiring the voluptuous shape of her changing body and knowing that I was responsible for it, ignited something primal in me. My sexual appetite was off the charts, but thankfully so was hers. I couldn’t wait until our wedding night tonight. Bea would be staying for the first time overnight with Susan and Roger. I planned to take full advantage of the empty house—and full advantage of Amelia.
The safe was located behind a picture in the wall of the kitchen. She finally managed to get it unlocked. I walked over to join her, and we examined the contents.
Inside was some paperwork, a few items of jewelry, and several photos.
I took an antique-looking rhinestone barrette and clipped it into Amelia’s hair, tucking some strands behind her ear. “Beautiful. There’s your something borrowed.” For a moment, I could see the little girls I’d fallen in love with reflected in her face—both Bea and little Patch.
Amelia began to sift through the photos, some of which contained images of her mother and grandfather. Her hand stilled at one point before she lifted a Polaroid. Nana used to love to take pictures with old-fashioned cameras even in the digital age.
This particular photo was of Amelia and me at probably ten and eleven years old. We were sitting on Nana’s steps, and the photo was snapped from behind. I was holding my first guitar, and Amelia was leaning her head on my shoulder. Nana had written on the bottom in blue pen: The way it was meant to be.
I took the snapshot from her to examine it more closely. “Wow.”
“This is proof, Justin. She gave us this house because she knew it would bring us back together. She knew we would find this photo and hoped it would remind us of how foolish our estrangement had been. She probably didn’t have faith that we would find our way back to each other on our own. She wanted to send us a message.” She gazed at it. “Look at this. How precious. Think of all those years we wasted.”
“It happened the way it was supposed to,” I said.
“You think so?”
“Yes. Think about it. Without all of that pent-up frustration, we wouldn’t have had as much angry sex.” I smiled. “We might not have been able to create that little girl in your belly.”
We’d found out the other day that our baby was a girl. We planned to name her Melody. I continued, “I know this is strange for me to say, seeing as though I don’t want to think about you and that asswipe, Adam, but if we hadn’t separated, Bea wouldn’t be here. So, no…I would never go back and change anything. Never.”
I looked at the inscription on the photo again.
The way it was meant to be.
I took a pencil from the counter and added a small letter A to the end of the sentence.
The way it was meant to Bea.