“Loralee, no,” I said. Loralee froze in place and peeked over at me. I’d just caught her edging towards the back door. “You can’t play outside right now – you’ll get your dress dirty. We’re about to leave anyway, so go use the bathroom.”
“But I don’t have to go.”
“Go anyway.” I returned upstairs to finish getting ready, a ball of nerves firmly planted in my stomach. Was Shirley at the park already? Last night, she had stayed over at Hadley’s. Though we were far from traditional, she had thought it would be nice if we saw each other in our gowns for the first time when we were at the altar.
I got dressed and touched up my make up, inspecting myself in the floor-length mirror I’d installed just for this occasion. After making sure not a hair was out of place, I flew back downstairs. Loralee, please don’t be on the monkey bars. I didn’t have the time to get her into another dress. To my unending relief, I found her in the living room watching cartoons.
“Come on, honey,” I said, smiling and holding my hand out to her. “Lets go see Mommy.”
I looked at Camille as she stood before me at the altar. She was so beautiful – radiant – that it made my heart squeeze in my chest.
After she spoke her vows, I had to clear my throat before I began to speak. “Camille, today I take you as my wife in the eyes of others, but, in my heart, you have been my wife for a long time. I met you over ten years ago and we have both grown and changed so much. I didn’t know for so long what I wanted to do with my life. I had a career, but that wasn’t my life. Now, I know. I am meant to be your partner in life, to share with you all of the joys and sorrows that come with it. I vow to love you with all of my heart for the rest of time.” Because surely not even death could ever make me stop loving her.
Camille and I both sniffed as we exchanged rings and kissed. Before we fully parted, Camille murmured, “I love you.” I smiled and was about to respond when we were mobbed with teary-eyed well-wishers.
“Congratulations, both of you,” Chastity said to me. Some might think it weird that one of Huy’s relatives had been invited to the wedding, but she was actually a very nice person. Loralee and her son, Tito, had become good friends, too.
“Thank you. I’m so glad you could come.” I felt a hand clasp my arm, and I looked over to see Hadley pulling me away. I shot Chastity and apologetic look and then laughed at my sister. “Hads! Don’t you know you’re not supposed to manhandle the bride?”
Hadley grinned and pulled me into a bear hug. “I am so happy for you, little sister.” She sniffled and squeezed me tight enough that breathing became a concern. “I had begun to think this wouldn’t happen.”
I rolled my eyes and extricated myself from her arms. “Oh, hush.”
Hadley’s face suddenly turned downcast. “I wish Mom and Dad could be here.”
I took one of her hands and squeezed tight. I missed them, too, especially today, but this wasn’t a time for tears of sadness. “They are here.” I motioned over to Carter who was talking animatedly with Santiago, Chastity’s husband. “So, you two are still together. Are things serious?”
“Shirl, don’t be ridiculous.” Hadley looked over at him. “He’s wonderful, but he’ll move on to someone new soon enough.”
“Uh huh,” I said skeptically. Hadley evidently didn’t see the way Carter looked at her. “Well, you know I fully support the two of you. I think Carter is great. What’s most important is that he makes you happy.” He was like a puppy, but one that I suspected would grow up to be as loyal of a dog as he was a puppy. I’m no good at analogies. Hadley may have her doubts about him, but I had a good feeling where Carter was concerned.
“Oh, go talk to you wife.” Hadley rolled her eyes and shooed me in Camille’s direction.
I laughed softly and did as she said.
A/N: This chapter was an absolute nightmare to screenshot.