“Out. Now.” She points a finger toward the door. “We don’t have much time left.”

They continue messing around and I can tell it’s working Mama up.

“Y’all are going to increase Mama’s blood pressure if you don’t get out,” I tell them. “We have to line up soon, anyway.”

They finally head out, but not without commotion. Right as things quiet back down, the door opens once more and the rest of my bridal party walk in all dressed and ready to go. Summer, Morgan, and Imani are my cousins I grew up with, and although we’ve lost touch since I’ve moved to California, it wouldn’t feel right not including them.

They circle around me and give me hugs and compliment my dress. We take a few selfies before Mama sends them off downstairs. The room isn’t big enough for all of us to be in here. Once the room is cleared out besides Kayla, Viola, and Ginny, Mama grabs me and pulls me into a hug. When she moves away, I wipe a few tears from her face.

“Those are tears of happiness, baby. Don’t think I’m upset. Just happy you found a man that’s going to treat you right.”

“Thanks, Mama.” I smile. “I couldn’t ask for anyone better.”

“Good. I’m glad you found him,” she says so sincerely, it almost makes me tear up again.

“Me too.”

“I’ve been waiting to give you this and now it’ll be perfect for your something old.”

Mama digs through her bag and takes out a black box. She opens it up and inside are a set of pearl earrings. I look up at her with wide eyes.

“These were Grannie’s earrings. Lord bless her. I wish she were here to see how beautiful you look right now.”

She pulls one out and removes the back. “Me too, baby. I was thinking there’s no other day that’s more perfect for you to wear them. Mama wore them on her wedding day, and I wore them on mine. It’s a tradition for us strong women. And if you have a daughter one day, you’ll know what to give her on her wedding day.”

I place the earrings in my ears and tuck my lips into my mouth because my emotions are really starting to take hold.

“Now, don’t you start cryin’ and ruining that pretty makeup you have on.” Her thumbs catch the tears before they can fall. “You’ll always be my baby girl. No matter what. Now, it’s about time for you to get out there.”

“Crap,” Viola says and lifts Ginny up. “I need to make sure TJ is doing okay with my mother and that James is doing okay with Travis. I’ll see you down there!” She quickly gives me a hug. “You’re going to do great. I love you!”

“I love you, too!” I smile down at Ginny. “I love you too, princess.” I flash her a wink and she smiles in return.

Kayla’s the next one to smother me in hugs. “I guess I should get out there, too. So rude of you to put me with Logan when you have four hot single brothers,” Kayla teases with a smile on her face. “Don’t think I don’t know you did that on purpose.”

“I’ll never tell,” I shout as she walks out the door.

Mama swipes a piece of loose hair and repositions it with a bobby pin. “I’m so proud of you, Court.”

“Thanks, Mama. That means a lot to me.”

She releases a breath and kisses me once more on the cheek. “I’m going to go find your father and send him in before you head downstairs.”

Once Mama walks out of the room, I adjust the veil on my head and try to get myself together. This is happening, right now, and it all feels so surreal. Before I get too caught up in my thoughts, there’s a loud knock on the door, and I turn to see my father smiling proudly.

“Pumpkin,” he says, and I can tell he’s starting to choke up, but never in my life have I seen my father cry. “You look beautiful.”

“Thanks, Daddy.” I suck in a deep breath and smile as he wraps an arm around my shoulders and kisses the top of my head like he’s always done since I was little.

“Drew’s a good guy. I just hope he knows what he’s getting into,” he says with a smile.

I snort and shake my head in agreement. “He does, Daddy.”

“Did you know he asked me for permission before he proposed?”

I make a face, wondering what he’s talking about.

“That day when you guys came down for B’s shower, your brothers were giving him shit and playing pranks on him, and he stood his ground with them. I took him out alone on the four-wheeler to help him escape the boys, and as we stood out there, looking out at the rolling hills and the cows in the pasture, he asked for my permission. That was almost a year ago. I told him if he ever hurt you or if you ever got hurt on his watch, I’d drive to Sacramento, and…” He glances over at me. “Well, you get the picture. The boy kept his word. And I want you to know that I may only be an old cowboy, but I know love when I see it and I’m happy for you, Pumpkin. I’m really happy for you.”

Tags: Kennedy Fox The Checkmate Duet Erotic
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