Menopause to Matrimony (Fortytude Series Book 2) (16 page)

BOOK: Menopause to Matrimony (Fortytude Series Book 2)
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“O-kaaay.” I frown. “What’s the point of this anyway?” My comment gets a few giggles and I make my first attempt.

“Gah! The damn thing is so small. I may need my reading glasses.” More snickering.

Raising my head, I peer at my guests before returning to my task. “Stop moving. I can’t get it in!”

Gretchen’s face is turning pink. What the hell? Is this a trick needle and thread or something?

Readying the end of the thread between my thumb and index finger, I mutter, “Maybe if I lick it…”

That’s it. Everyone bursts into laughter while I stand here dazed. “What is going on?”

“Carly’s now going to read back to you some of the things you may be saying on your wedding night.” Julia motions to give her the floor.

Carly dramatically clears her throat, and one by one calls off the following.

What’s the point of this anyway?

Gah! The damn thing is so small. I may need my reading glasses.

Stop moving. I can’t get it in!

“And my personal favorite… Maybe if I lick it.”

Everyone roars, but keep in mind, we’ve had a fair amount of champagne at this point.

I put my hands on my hips. “You all are sick,
sick
puppies.”

 

TWENTY-FIVE

 

Our day has arrived, and the wedding is scheduled to take place this afternoon on Lake Jacqueline here in Desert Shores. There’s just one small glitch. The day that started off as a gorgeous mid-December morning begins to look somewhat ominous by eleven o’clock, and by one o’clock, weather advisory is issuing flash flood warnings from two to seven. The ceremony is at three. Did I mention it’s on the lake?

Thankfully, the reception will take place in the banquet room on site that overlooks the water, but as I peer out the window of my dressing suite, the wind is starting to pick up. Carly pays no attention as she brings me my garter belt and veil.

“Can you believe this?” I shake my head and sit down. “When’s the last time we had a major flash flood in our part of the valley? What, seven years?”

“I wouldn’t worry about it too much.” She starts pinning the veil into my hair. “Flood warnings are a dime a dozen in this town.”

“I don’t know… It
is
starting to smell awfully wet.”

“It’s not even raining.”

“But you can smell it. Can’t you smell it? And it’s muggy.” I move my arms up and down. “I’m already sweating.”

“That’s just nerves.”

I turn my head to see out the window. I am going to be so disappointed if we can’t outrun this storm.

“Mom, please. Stop moving. I’ve almost got it in.”

“Sorry.”

“Okay…” She places a couple more hairpins. “Done. Have a look.”

I rise and walk to the full-length mirror, never dreaming that I would be remarrying at this stage of my life. Holding a hand to my stomach, I take a deep breath. “Well, this is it.”

Carly stands beside me and touches my hair. “You look beautiful, Mom. I’m so happy for you and Kiran.”

“Thanks, sweetie.”

There’s a knock on the door. “Can I come in?” Julia calls.

“Entree!”

Julia enters with my father behind her. “So, are you all set to do this thing?”

“Yes, let’s get this show on the road before the weather craps out on us. Did Terrence arrive okay?” Terrence is a friend and physical therapist at my clinic who has been ordained to officiate at wedding ceremonies. When I learned he had led his brother’s ceremony, I begged him to do mine as well. Since Kiran and I don’t have a pastor or minister, I wanted to at least have someone I know do the honors.

“He is here with bells on,” Julia replies. After giving me her love and well wishes, Julia takes Carly by the hand and my daughter turns to give me a smile as they leave the dressing room.

“Wow.” Dad looks me over. “You look amazing, Boo.”

“Thanks,” I breathe. “So do you.” My usually breezy, casual father who’s accustomed to wearing flip flops and Bermudas in the middle of winter, is surprisingly dashing in his black tuxedo; his smiling blue eyes all a-sparkle.

He takes me by the shoulders. “You know I have always loved Luke, and thought he was a good man. Others you’ve been involved with?” Making a face, he shrugs. “
Meh
. Not so much. And David…” Now the eye roll. “Not a bad guy, but that poor dude had some issues!”

Smirking, I let him continue.

“But Kiran…” He holds up a finger. “He’s a keeper. I see the way he looks at my girl, and I think he may love you
almost
as much as I do.”

I laugh softly and give him a hug. “Thanks, Dad.”

“Are you ready?” He holds out his hand to me.

I nod and take it. “Yep. Let’s get ’er done.”

Dad and I are hidden behind strategically placed foliage as Canon in D begins to play, signaling the start of the procession led by Carly. As I accept his arm, he places his hand over mine and gazes at me with tenderness, and I take a few seconds to fully appreciate his open smile and kind eyes, so beautifully aged with laugh lines.

“I love you, my dear Anna.”

“I love you, too.”

A gust of moist air—not exactly rain—blows through, making me wince. A warning the contrary weather is on its way. Flicking my gaze upward in annoyance, I let out a small groan.

Dad just chuckles. “It’s all good, Boo.”

We round the shrubbery that has served as our camouflage to see the guests rise as we come into view, and I note the simmering ripples on the water beyond the altar. Oddly, the sky is mostly bright for the time being with some heavy clouds over the mountains nearby to the west. One of the strange things about Las Vegas is that the sky can appear deceptively clear shortly before a deluge.

Proceeding down the aisle, I attempt to take in each face as we pass. Luke presses his fingertips to his upturned lips and sends me a kiss. Claire, dressed in a red velvet holiday dress with white tights, sits in Jason’s arms and watches with rapt curiosity. I had brought up the idea of letting her be the flower girl, but Carly was dead set against it, saying she couldn’t take the stress of Claire possibly having an outburst.

When we reach the altar, the first person I make eye contact with is Hayden, standing as Kiran’s second groomsman, where he flashes a smile and gives me a thumbs-up. God, how can this nice-looking young guy be my son? Seems like it was just the other day he was watching
Power Rangers
and playing
Crash Bandicoot
on his Sega.

Next, my gaze falls on Seth, who winks at me.

At last I turn my eyes to Kiran, and his chest swells—an adorable, nervous smile on his face. “Hi, beautiful,” he whispers.

“Hi.”

Terrence begins.

“Marriage in itself is a blessing. Especially blessed is the couple who comes to the altar with the approval and love of their families. Who has the honor of presenting this woman to be married to this man?”

“I do,” my father says. Then he kisses my cheek before returning to his seat by my mother.

I hate to admit it, but the next few minutes of Terrence’s speech are just a bunch of
blah, blah, blah
, because all I can focus on is the worsening weather. The gazebo creaks in the quickening breeze, and I look up at the clouds which are rapidly moving in. Kiran squeezes my hand.

Before I know it, Terrence says, “We will now give Kiran and Anna a few moments to exchange their vows.”

Uh oh.
Was I supposed to go first?

“Kiran, would you like to begin?”

Kiran and I face one another and he now takes both of my hands in his. My veil whips wildly behind me, and Carly steps up to hold it so it doesn’t blow in anyone’s face.

His eyes lock on mine as he brushes my hands with his thumbs. “Anna, when I first noticed you all those years ago, the thing that impressed me most about you was your kindness. Not just toward me, but to others as well. I’ve said this before, but I don’t think you will ever fully grasp how much that kindness meant to me, especially at that difficult time. Since coming into my life, you’ve brought me so much happiness—with your sense of humor, your love and devotion to your family… to me—and I promise to do my best to bring you that same happiness in return.”

Wow.

Taking a deep breath, I prepare to recite my vows when a bow from one of the chairs comes loose and flies past our heads. We both dodge it as a few of our guests cry out in surprise and laugh.

“I don’t mean to rush you, Anna,” Terrence says, “but it’s looking like time is of the essence.”

“Right.” I nod. This crazy weather is probably the only thing keeping me from becoming overly sentimental, so at least I’m able to say my vows without tearing up.  

“Kiran, I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone like you. You mention my kindness, but compared to you, I’m… I don’t know, Norman Bates?” Leave it to me to somehow include such a reference in my wedding vows. “You are one of the most compassionate, generous, and patient people I have ever known.”

Glancing at the crowd I see Mom leaning into Dad, trying to warm herself from the breeze that’s dropped in temperature in a matter of minutes, and realize I’d better pick up the pace. I return my attention to Kiran, who doesn’t appear at all distracted. “You make me feel safe. And maybe it’s not a very modern thing to say, but I love how you take such good care of me. I promise to always take equally good care of you.”

After exchanging rings and saying our “I do’s” in a timely fashion, Terrence pronounces us husband and wife, and gives Kiran permission to kiss me. I am so relieved that we have a photographer recording the ceremony, because I feel as if I’ve missed half of it with my gears spinning on the weather. However, Kiran looks at me intently.

Life can be so surprising. When I was sitting in that English Lit class back in high school, if someone would have told me that many years later Kiran would become the absolute love of my life, I would have thought they were crazy. That shy, awkward, overweight teenager who I knew nothing about, other than he was often the object of ridicule for the class jerkoff. And to think if I hadn’t made that one smart-ass remark in Kiran’s defense, I might not even be here.

How long have we been standing here, gazing into one another’s eyes? I can’t help but wonder at all the thoughts running through his head right now. As if in slow motion, he takes my face into his hands and kisses me so sweetly, so lovingly, I think this may very well be the most joyous moment of my life.

As if waiting on our kiss, the skies release their downpour, and I’m barely aware that our guests now scramble for cover.
I’m not leaving this spot, this moment. Not ever.
But unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and Kiran pulls away and smiles at me.

Coming down hard and fast, the rain prompts all sorts of wails and laughter from the crowd as they run for the building where the reception will be held. Despite the chaos, whoever is in charge of the recessional music—Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”—manages to cue the song while Kiran and I have not moved. I’m not sure why. Maybe we’re in a state of shock. Or maybe we’re not willing to allow the weather to cut short this sliver of time we’ll never get back.

But when hail starts mixing in with the rain, that gets our attention.

“This is beginning to hurt.” I rub my arms. “What do you say we make a run for it?”

“I’d say that’s an excellent idea.”

Kiran takes my hand and we tear through the gardens.

“Wait!” My spiked heels sink into the soggy lawn, and I bend over to pull off my shoes. I’m not prepared for the dreadful chill of the wet, hail covered ground. “Agh, that’s freakin’ cold!”

The rain comes down in torrents, and we now both resemble a couple of wet rats. Everyone else seems to have made their way inside long before us.

“Do you want me to carry you?”

“No, that’s—”

He picks me up and hurls me over his shoulder. As I watch the marshy ground pass before my eyes while he speeds through, you would think I’d be devastated at this turn of events. Without a doubt, my dress is ruined, but all I can do is laugh as I bounce uncomfortably on his shoulder.

Kiran finally gets us indoors, and I can’t see a thing just yet, except for the entrance door, as I’m still draped over his shoulder. However, everyone applauds and laughs when they take in the sight of us, and he sets me down beside him.

“Sorry,” he says, standing in the pool that has formed at his feet. “I had to take matters into my own hands.”

***

Thankfully, no one was soaked nearly as bad as we were, given that they had the sense to high-tail it out of there, unlike us. As much as I would love to stay in our wedding garb, we’re forced to change into our post ceremony clothing if we’re going to enjoy the rest of the evening.

The rain has let up quite a bit, however there’s now a river flowing through the grounds and parking lot. Photos of the wedding party couldn’t be taken in the gardens like originally planned, so we make do the best we can inside. I have to beg, borrow, and steal cosmetics from my guests to make myself halfway presentable again.

Afterward, I sip on champagne with Claire in my lap as we sit at the wedding table.

“Nana, why didn’t you come in fast?” She feels my damp hair. “You would have been dry.”

“Because Nana’s not very smart sometimes.”

Kiran touches the top of her head. “And neither is Papa.”

“Can I have everyone’s attention, please,” the DJ announces. “It’s time for the bride and groom to have their first dance as a married couple, so let’s give them a round of applause!”

Carly comes to collect Claire as “Adore You” begins to play, and Kiran stands and offers me his hand. As I follow him to the floor, I realize I’ve gotten off easy this entire day because, with all the pandemonium, I’ve not had the opportunity to get all gushy and sensitive. Well, my free pass is about to expire.

Kiran wraps his arm around my waist and skims his fingertips along my jaw. “Remember the first time we danced? At my mother’s seventieth birthday?”

“Of course I remember. I was so nervous.”

“I know.” He chuckles, taking my hand. “Although, I don’t know why.”

“You don’t know why?” I draw my head back. “I wasn’t used to your striking good looks and intense gazes.”

BOOK: Menopause to Matrimony (Fortytude Series Book 2)
6.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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