“I’ll have my fingers wrapped around her neck,” the professor muttered under his breath, “if she even thinks of standing me up today.”
“She won’t.” Matthijs’ best man stood up and clapped a hand over his back. “So relax. You got this.” He started for the door. “I’ll leave you to pray.”
“Who says I’m going to pray?”
“You have five minutes,” Ryder said simply, “and then I’ll come back and get you.”
The door closed behind the other man, and Matthijs was left alone in the tiny room behind the altar.
Matthijs stared at the crucifix hanging on the wall.
I’ve already thanked You.
What else is there to stay?
He waited and waited.
But he heard nothing, no voice coming from the sky, no white dove flying down.
This was stupid, the professor thought.
But just as he turned away, he felt it. A familiar sensation, an embrace that he had known and cherished, once upon a time.
It was his blue-eyed beauty, the girl he once loved…and lost forever.
His eyes squeezed shut.
There’s nothing to be sorry for. You didn’t kill me.
‘But if I hadn’t hurt you…’
You did hurt me. But that’s all. You hurt me, and I forgive you. I’ve forgiven you a long time ago, and I’ve been trying to tell you so many times. You just couldn’t hear me.
And after that, he could’ve sworn he heard her sigh wistfully, could’ve sworn he felt her fingers touch a lock of his hair, the way she used to.
Are you happy?
He slowly nodded.
I’m glad. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.
His throat tightened, and as he felt her fading away, he heard himself whisper in his mind.
What is it?
‘If I had known you wanted flowers that badly, I’d have bought you a fucking farm from the start.’
Her laughter played in the air.
Be happy, Matthijs.
God Only Knows by Kina Grannis & Imaginary Future
Matthijs opened his eyes at the feel of his daughter’s hands on his face.
“Am I?” His voice was rough with emotion, the memories still too damn vivid.
He cleared his throat. “Where…where was I again?”
“You were telling me about the day Grandma went to Heaven first.”
“Ah, yes. It was a very sad day. For all of us.”
“I remember,” his little girl said in a small voice.
So she did.
And so did he.
He remembered how, after making sure that the estate was in order, his father had approached him, saying gruffly, I think it’s time for me to go, too.
And Matthijs had snarled, What the fuck do you think you’re saying?
You know I love you with all of my heart, but you also know…you don’t need me. And you know…I need her.
Looking back at his daughter, he said slowly, “Because Grandpa was the loneliest of us all on that day, God sent the angels for him. When Grandpa fell asleep, the angels took him and flew him to Heaven. And when he woke up…she was there, the girl he loved.”
And so it was.
She was as beautiful as the first day he saw her, the same dark-haired, doe-eyed saint that he had fallen in love with.
But as much as he loved her—
“You goddamn broke your promise to me again,” Matthijs gritted out.
She threw herself at him with a laugh, and he caught her, just like before.
Pulling away, she said in protest, “I didn’t leave you. I just came here first, that’s all—” A rueful look flickered in her eyes. “But you didn’t have to hurry. I would have waited—”
He stopped her with a kiss, saying gruffly, “If I had known you were leaving, I’d have hitched a ride with you.”
Tears burned in her eyes.
“You’re my life, Diana.” His voice was faintly exasperated. “We’ve been married for over eight decades, and you still don’t believe me?”
A giggle escaped her. “Eight decades.” She shook her head in wonder. “I can’t believe we’ve been married that long…” She wriggled to make him put her down, but as soon as her feet touched the clouds under her, she snuggled close to her husband, loving the familiar hardness of his chest against her chest.
“We had a good life, didn’t we?”
And because they were in Heaven, he no longer had to speak with his lips. Their minds and hearts could hear each other fine as well now, and a smile curved over her lips as she remembered what he remembered.
Their honeymoon in Teleios…
The day they adopted Matthijs II from a Greek orphanage…