Or maybe they hadn’t given up hope. There was a part of me that felt a little guilty about the fact that I had given up. Not a hundred percent, but I had been beginning to accept that Seth was gone.
It took a few days for me to fully accept that Seth wasn’t going to disappear on me. That this wasn’t some kind of cruel cosmic joke. I still woke up in the middle of the night, clamoring to touch him just to make sure he was still there. I still got nervous when he wasn’t within eyesight, and Seth seemed to realize that, because he rarely strayed too far for too long. That was incredibly needy of me, but I don’t think anyone would blame me since I’d just spent two months believing Seth was dead.
Probably would be a long time before I stopped waking up in the middle of the night to reach for him.
But I wasn’t going to focus on any of that today. My stomach fluttered with a mixture of anticipation and nerves. The dress I was wearing was gorgeous, simple yet elegant. I’d never worn anything remotely like it before. A strapless white gown gathered under the delicately beaded bodice, it whispered along the floor as I turned slightly.
A wedding dress.
I couldn’t believe that Seth had proposed only three days ago, and I already had a tailored wedding dress, thanks to Laadan.
And I was about to get married. Today. In under an hour.
“Are you nervous?” Alex touched my arm, drawing my attention.
I nodded. “I am. A little. I don’t know why, but I am.”
“I think all brides are nervous,” Alex said as she reached up, straightening the pale white rose crown that Laadan had picked out and now rested on top of my head.
I’d left my hair down, knowing that Seth liked it that way, and I was going to be married barefoot, in one of my favorite places.
On the beach, with Seth’s home, soon to be our home, overlooking us as we actually got married.
What had started off as a proposal had become a full-fledged wedding—a mortal wedding.
Even though Seth and I had wanted to spend the next month locked up in our bedroom, we wanted to let everyone know that Seth was, in fact, not dead. So we’d headed to the Covenant, and after giving everyone the shock of their life, Seth had given them the second shock of their lives.
Aiden had looked like he’d choked a little. Alex had broken into a fit of giggles, and Deacon immediately rushed off to find Laadan, shouting something about planning a wedding.
From that moment on, things had sort of spiraled out of our control—the whole wedding business. Seth and I hadn’t exactly planned on doing the actual wedding thing. We’d figured we’d exchange vows and rings, and that would be all.
Deacon was not having that.
And he had not been pleased to learn that we weren’t going to wait months for a massive wedding to be planned. Seth had given him two and a half days.
But he’d risen to the challenge. With Laadan’s help, a wedding was planned.
I turned to Alex and Erin. Both were wearing pretty dresses the color of the pale white roses in my hair. They weren’t bridesmaids. Seth and I had pulled the brakes on doing the whole bridal-party thing, but Laadan had snuck in those super cute headpieces, so the girls were wearing them too.
The woman was a miracle worker. Right now, she was down on the beach with Deacon, making sure everything was perfect.
“This is…this is crazy, isn’t it?” I asked the girls.
“The best kind of crazy.” Alex sat on the bench in front of the bed. Her eyes glimmered with emotion. “When you showed up with Seth, I…” She trailed off, shaking her head. “I’m just glad he’s alive and back to his arrogant self.”
“Me too,” Erin chimed in.
I arched a brow at her.
She giggled as she picked up their smaller hair garlands. “Look, I still think he’s an arrogant asshole, but he’s your arrogant asshole.”
Alex snorted as she took her garland. “I hope you do the toast.”
I eyed Erin, shaking my head when I saw the eagerness in her eyes. “No.” I turned to Alex. “Thank you again. Tonight was supposed to be your and Aiden’s party.”
Rolling her eyes, she waved her hand dismissively. “We don’t need a going-away party every single time we head back. That’s all Deacon, and besides, you made Deacon’s year. You know how he is with parties and stuff.”
I grinned at her. “I’m kind of afraid to see the wedding cake.”
“You and me both,” Alex snickered.
There was a knock on the door and we heard Luke call out, “You guys good in there?”
“Yeah.” Alex turned to the door.
Luke stepped in. Dressed in a pair of dark slacks and a loose white button-down, I almost didn’t recognize him. His gaze found me and his features softened. “You look beautiful, Josie.”
“Thank you.” I clasped my hands together to stop them from trembling.
“You about ready?”
I glanced at the girls. “I think so?”
“Yes—wait.” Erin popped forward, straightening the crown yet again. Apparently I had an oddly shaped head or something. “Okay.” Erin’s smile was bright. “You look perfect. Everything is perfect.”
“Yeah, it is…” I trailed off as my smile faded a little. Turning back to the mirror, I swallowed the lump forming in my throat. Everything was perfect except…
My father should have been here.
Because he seemed to know everything that was happening, it wasn’t like he didn’t know this was happening.
Then again, we hadn’t parted on good terms. We hadn’t even really spoken to one another when he brought me here, but I thought…I thought maybe he’d show.
Maybe he would. There was still time. Either way, I wasn’t going to let anything ruin today.
Taking a deep breath, I turned away from the mirror. “I’m ready.”
Priestesses and priests stood along the cliffs, their golden robes billowing softly in the warm, salty breeze.
They bowed as we passed them, one by one, and my stomach was twisted up in so many knots as we walked down the steps. The fact I didn’t trip over the hem of my beautiful dress and roll down said steps was a freaking miracle.
Erin and Alex walked ahead with Luke, out of sight around the bluff so they could take their seats. There was no music, just the sound of waves and the low hum of conversation, but I knew as soon as I rounded the jagged outcropping of rocks, I would see them—I would see Seth waiting for me.
Oh, my gods, I was legit getting married in every sense of the word. There wouldn’t be documents filed in the mortal world, like a marriage license, since Seth didn’t, well, exist to them. Or something like that. Who knew? But paperwork would be filed with the Council. It would be legal, but I didn’t need a piece of paper. I didn’t even need a ring or this wedding. I just needed Seth.
This was all just a bonus.
A great bonus.
Grinning, I looked down at my stomach. The way the dress fell, it completely hid the small baby bump. I touched my stomach and whispered, “You ready?”
The wind picked up, stirring the strands of my hair and I lifted my gaze. The sand sparkled under the bright sun and felt warm under my feet.
This was real.
My chest swelled to the point it felt like I would float straight up into the endless blue skies. I started walking, rounding the bluff. A white runner was laid down the middle of two sets of white chairs.
Looking back, I’d remember seeing Deacon sitting beside Luke, holding his hand. I’d remember seeing Alex and Aiden looking over their shoulders at me, both of them smiling as they started to rise, as did Alexander. The always-radiant Laadan beaming as she held onto Alexander’s arm. I’d recall seeing Erin beside Erik, who was sitting with Cora and Gable. I’d remember seeing Basil and Karina standing off to the right of Marcus, who stood in front of a vine-covered trellis. He was the officiant.
But right now? Seeing them didn’t register. There was only one person I saw.
The air in my throat hitched as Seth turned to face where I was, and nothing, absolutely nothing mattered other than him.
He was dressed in a tux, and I’d never seen him like that. I hadn’t even expected him to be wearing that, figuring he’d settle for something looser, but he looked like he stepped off the cover of GQ. The cut of the suit fit his broad shoulders down to his tapered waist. His golden hair was pulled back into a short ponytail, and even from where I stood, I could see the heat and love in his amber eyes.