Before heading out into the spotlight, we all gave each other a round of encouragement, support, and gratitude. And then it was showtime.
My nerves evaporated about halfway down the red aisle. It's amazing how fast you get used to people shouting out questions as they snap photos of you. I didn't want to do this all of the time, but every so often wouldn't be so bad. Kellan's smile was seamless, his swagger seductive. No one but me would know that he was freaked out. And I only knew because he had a death grip on my hand. I wasn't sure what he would be more relieved about-winning or not winning. Playing would probably ease his nerves, but unfortunately the band was scheduled to be on stage after their category was up. He would have no reprieve from his anxiety until the moment of truth was over. But, like he did so often for me, I would help him through it.
While we sat through the ceremony, I tried to help him get his mind off of it. We joked about Denny and Abby babysitting Gibson over the weekend, about how Abby was going to want to have a baby of her own by Monday. That led to a discussion about which songs the band should play for their wedding ceremony in two days. Abby was a huge fan of "Islands in the Stream," but Kellan refused to cover that song or "Endless Love," which was Abby's backup song.
As the time approached for Kellan's category, he started talking less and fidgeting more. He also started obsessive-compulsively kissing the tattoo of his name on my wrist. It was so bad at one point, I thought he was going to wear away the permanent ink. When the two announcers stepped onstage for the Best New Artist category, Kellan's knee started bouncing up and down. I'd never seen him this frazzled.
Reaching over, I stilled his leg. Eyes wide, he turned to me and whispered, "I'm nervous. I'm really f**king nervous. I never get nervous. What the hell is wrong with me?"
Smiling, I told him, "You're human. And I think it's pretty safe to say that everybody in here is nervous on some level."
As the pair in front of the microphone tried to lighten the mood with really bad comedy, Kellan told me, "You're not nervous."
I stared at Kellan for a few seconds, debating whether or not to tell him something. I'd been planning on waiting 'til all the hoopla had died down, but I knew it would absolutely take his mind off of his nerves. It was going to blow his mind. It had sure blown mine. A short movie started playing clips of the nominated bands. When I heard Kellan's pitch-perfect voice filling the auditorium, I leaned forward and whispered my secret in his ear. His mouth dropped wide open as he stared at me in shock. Tears filled my eyes as I nodded at his unasked question.
A smile spread over Kellan's face right as the announcers spoke in unison, "And the winner for Best New Artist is . . ." When they paused for dramatic effect, Kellan leaned forward to kiss me. "The D-Bags!"
The room erupted in cheers and applause, but I was sure Kellan hadn't heard a word of it. Grabbing my face, he finished his descent to my lips. The other band members started standing, but Kellan was still sitting in his chair, plastering my face with light kisses. Cognizant of millions of viewers watching this on TV, I pushed him back and urged him to stand up. His face was exhilarant as he finally did. Evan and Matt clapped him on the back, urging him forward. I stood with the rest of the girls and clapped as they fumbled their way to the stage. Kellan looked back at me every five seconds, his euphoric face still in disbelief. Whether that was over winning or over my news, I wasn't sure.
The boys climbed up the steps to the stage and exchanged polite hugs with the celebrities who'd announced them. As if on cue, Evan and Matt stepped back and let Kellan take the microphone; Griffin was subtly restrained by both men with a "supportive" hand on each one of his shoulders. Shaking his head, Kellan clutched his golden gramophone statue as he walked toward the mike
"Oh . . . wow . . . I don't know what to say. I want to thank . . ." His voice broke and the tears in my eyes rolled down my cheeks. Bringing the back of his hand to his mouth, Kellan stopped talking. Shaking his head again, he slowly lowered his hand. "I'm sorry." His voice warbled with barely contained emotion. "My wife just told me she's pregnant." He had to step back again as the moment overwhelmed him.
People started hollering. The D-Bags jumped on Kellan, congratulating him. Every head in my vicinity swiveled my direction, including my sister's and my girlfriends'. I hadn't told anybody about this yet. I'd really only just found out about it. Last week to be exact. And surprised wouldn't even begin to describe my initial reaction. I was on birth control pills for one thing, so I hadn't even been worried about getting pregnant. I just thought I was late because I was stressed, or excited. A lot of big things had been happening lately. But I just felt . . . weird. I wasn't sick or anything, I just didn't feel normal. I was more tired than I should be, and I alternated between not being hungry and being hungry enough to eat two loaves of bread in one sitting. I'd made an appointment with my doctor just to rule out any illnesses. She'd assured me that I wasn't coming down with Spanish influenza, that I was pregnant.
When I matter-of-factly told the doctor that pregnancy was impossible, since I was a fastidious planner and I'd never missed a birth control pill in my life, she then informed me about a bad batch of pills that had hit the market. Apparently, the pills had been distributed in the packet incorrectly, so the dosages were wrong. Good to know. All of the mislabeled batches had been recalled, but I had apparently hit the birth control jackpot. Our baby was due in September.
While my sister and Jenny started quietly grilling me on details, Kellan finally composed himself. Approaching the microphone again, he let out a long exhale. "Well, I can honestly say that this is the best day of my life." When the cheers died down, he told the crowd, "I want to thank every single person who has ever supported us. Your dedication has meant the world, and we wouldn't be here without you. I may be overly emotional right now, since I'm about to be a father, but I really do love each and every one of you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you."
I couldn't tell from where I was sitting, but I was pretty sure tears were in his eyes when he waved and stepped away from the microphone. I knew this emotional moment was going to be replayed on every show playing Grammy highlights tomorrow. It was going to be talked about on every radio station. It was going to be mentioned around every water cooler. And for once, I was glad. I wanted this moment to live on. I wanted to be constantly reminded of this memory. I wanted to replay this video in twenty years so I could remember the look on his face when Kellan found out he was going to be a father. And I wanted to show it to our son or daughter-so they would know, without a doubt, that they were loved. From day one, they were loved.
Denny spared no expense when it came to giving Abby her dream wedding. Everything was picture-perfect, straight out of a bridal magazine. It was breathtaking. The ceremony took place at the impressive Fairmont Olympic hotel in downtown Seattle. With twenty-foot ceilings, crystal chandeliers, arched floor-to-ceiling windows, white brocade linens, table skirts, and china place settings, the place was top-notch.
Kellan and I were both in the wedding party, him as a groomsman, me as a bridesmaid. Standing next to the altar wrapped in pink flowers and twinkling lights brought tears to my eyes. Of course, that could have been the pregnancy hormones kicking in. I didn't think so, though. It was watching Denny marry his sweetheart. It was the look on his face when he said, "I do." It was seeing Kellan just over Denny's shoulder, beaming at his friend. It was the trace amount of moisture in my husband's eyes. It was remembering my vows from my own simple ceremony.
After the lengthy nuptials, long lines formed to congratulate the happy couple. Dressed in an intricately embroidered, long-sleeved, gleaming white wedding gown, I'd never seen Abby look more radiant. And I'd never seen Denny more joyful as he proudly stood by her side. When it was finally my turn to hug him, I could barely speak through my emotions. I think I told him I was happy for him as I squeezed him tight. Wiping a tear from my cheek, he told me, "I'm so glad you're here. I love you, mate."
That did me in, and chuckling as I started falling apart, Kellan escorted me away so I could sit down, maybe get some water in me or something. God, if I was this emotional now, I'd never make it through the next seven months.
"Keep it together, you," Kellan murmured as he rubbed my back. This wedding was a lot fancier than ours had been, and all of the groomsmen were in full-on tuxedos. Kellan looked jaw-droppingly good. I'd spotted more than a few guests in the audience who had been watching him during the whole ceremony, ignoring the bride and groom.
Pulling out my chair, Kellan helped me sit down. He'd been doing that ever since the Grammys, like he thought I was already feeble. I let him, though. He was still reeling from my surprise announcement. I was too, but I'd had just a tiny bit longer to get used to the idea.
Each table setting had silver name tag holders with cards written in elegant calligraphy. Seeing my new name, Mrs. Kiera Kyle, spelled out made me tear up again. Anna and Griffin sat to the left of us at the table, Evan and Jenny to our right, and Matt and Rachel completed the circle by sitting across from us. The rest of the tables seemed to be filled with friends and colleagues of Denny and Abby's.
After a five-star meal, toasts, and the bride and groom slicing the wedding cake, the D-Bags performed. It had been a really long time since I'd seen the boys perform at a venue this size. It was like being back at Pete's. The feeling was more intimate than a concert, the sound crisp and clear; it was incredible. Kellan played with the crowd, riling them up and getting them to dance. By the end of the night, no one was sitting.
As a gift to Denny and a surprise to Abby, and also, I think, because Kellan didn't like her song choices, he wrote them a song for their first dance. It was an amazing piece about finding someone who opened you up, about falling in love with them more and more every day, about feeling breathless when they were gone and out of breath when they were near. Like Kellan, the song was scintillating, sexy, and also exceedingly heartfelt and romantic. Even though he'd written it for Denny and Abby, I knew the inspiration for it had come from us. It made me cry again.
The newlyweds headed off at the tail end of the evening, disappearing to their suite. They were catching a flight early in the morning. They were going back home to Australia to start their honeymoon and to have a second wedding ceremony for their friends and family there. I thought Denny was crazy for doing this soiree twice, but it was what Abby wanted, so he was more than happy to do it.
Kellan and I would also be heading over to Australia, but not for a few more months. The tour was kicking off in Vegas first, yet another place I'd always wanted to visit. Denny had managed to score Kellan and me our own bus for this tour. Our very own private bus! I could be as loud as I wanted, and no one but Kellan would hear me. Well, Kellan and the bus driver, who I often forgot about-and our bodyguard. After what had happened in New York, Kellan and I agreed to hire protection for the times we were out in public. It was still an odd concept for me. But the truth was that Kellan and I attracted attention when we went out, and sometimes that attention was a little too friendly. We didn't want to take any chances now that I was pregnant.
So, while we wouldn't be quite as alone as I'd originally thought, we had enough privacy that I was giddy and couldn't wait for the tour to start.
The first show that the D-Bags headlined was sold out. So was the next. And the next. Whatever city we rolled into, they created a stir. A frenzy of D-Baggery. But it was all positive, and it was all honest this time-no more duplicitous gossip. The tour was spending three months in the U.S. and Canada and one month overseas. That was a stipulation that Kellan had insisted on. He didn't want to be on the road for more than a few months out of the year-especially once the baby was born. After that happened, if I couldn't be with him for some reason, then the touring time might be cut back even more. Kellan just didn't want to miss anything, and I didn't blame him.
As the tour progressed, so did my stomach. It was astounding how I would seemingly double in size overnight. I went from flat stomach to moderate bump to definite bulge to cantaloupe-sized to looking like I swallowed a watermelon-just like that! Kellan loved being able to see the progression. He would stare at my belly sometimes when we were in bed together, just watching my skin, like he was waiting for it to expand before his eyes.