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(CH2) Chapter 23: Husband and Wife

Four years passed by quickly. Riane had begun to play as a sit in for the local orchestra which was no small feat considering they were rather famous. Since she could play so many instruments, she often found herself being called in when someone was ill. She couldn’t wait until the day someone retired and she would get to be permanent member. The music teacher job she had lined up ended up being torture, so she decided not to pursue it.

For the time being however, she worked at an office with Emma. It was enjoyable work especially since the two were cubicle buddies. So, she got to spend all day working beside one of her best friends.

Of course, they lived across the hall from one another in the same building. No intention to move just yet even after Julian finished getting his masters. During that time, it had been rather lonely, but he came to visit whenever he could which often meant every other weekend. The curriculum was much harder than CHU, and he actually had to study and go to his classes. He was now happily working as management for an advertising company.

They had both wanted to get established in their careers before they got married. Emma and Seth had their wedding the year before and it was decided during the festivities they would get married in the coming year.

Riane had no idea how fast that day would come or how much work it would take to set the wedding up. They had decided to get married in his family’s backyard and then take a trip to Hawaii where they first admitted their feelings to each other. They even rented the very same house.

Standing in what used to be her old bedroom, she looked at the full length mirror at the dress she wore. It was very traditional but she had been given it by Nanette. A lot of alterations had to be done in order to get it to fit her frame from the original ballerina owner.

She loved the way it flowed down her legs and how the shoulders and sleeves were a sheer fabric with a rose lace design. She smiled at herself as she realized the day they had been talking about was finally here.

She had invited Blake and his girlfriend to the wedding, but he said he had work and couldn’t make it. They had drifted apart from their days of being inseparable kids, and she figured he wanted it this way. Whenever she tried to make contact with him, he was always polite but very curt.

Joe, Emma, and Ivy buzzed from room to room as her bridesmaids as they made sure everything was going off without a hitch. Joe was her maiden of honor as she had known her the longest, though Emma took it in stride, it was obvious she was a bit disappointed by the choice. However, asking Emma would have done the same to Joe. In the end, Emma got over it without them even discussing it. She was too busy helping to be jealous of a small thing like a title. Though Riane did feel guilty since she was the maiden of honor at Emma’s wedding.

Dalen, Seth, and Bryce were all serving in the wedding party as well. Bryce was acting as best man for his brother. Zachery had been asked but he turned it down because he didn’t want to be the only one not walking a bridesmaid down the isle. They were attending to Julian in his old bedroom which his mother hadn’t changed at all since they had lived there. Seth popped by from time to time to get a feel for the mood in the room, and he looked like he was trying to escape that which was probably Groomzilla.

Nanette had insisted on old traditions before the wedding, and Julian had gone to Dalen’s old home for the night. They hadn’t seen each other since lunch the day before and in all truths it was kind of exhilarating for Riane. She wondered how he was doing and what he was doing. Seth had looked like he was a little flushed and she hoped Julian wasn’t drinking too much.

Though the girls were having mimosas and they were super careful with Riane’s dress every time she took a drink someone would hold a towel under it. Riane thought it was ridiculous because she knew how to drink from a cup, but she had to remind herself they were just trying to make sure she stayed pristine.

Riane sat down on her old bed and looked towards her bridesmaids. They looked more nervous than she ever could.

“Nervous?” Emma asked as she clutched her champagne flute. “I know I was right before the ceremony.”

“I was the one telling you not to climb out the window, I remember.” Riane chuckled.

Ivy was on towel duty at the moment and hovered around Riane as she took a sip from her own glass.

Joe giggled at the memory. “I thought you were going to grow wings and fly away on the spot. You were so nervous.”

Emma blushed. “Yeah, yeah. So, are you?” She turned her eyes to the bride.

Taking a deep breath, Riane gave a beautiful smile. “I thought I was going to be, but actually I’m really excited to be taking these next steps with Julian. I know he has been wanting to get married for a while now, and I was the one pumping the breaks on it. I feel we are in a good place in our careers and in our relationship, and so this is finally the time.” She smiled even more wildly. “Not to mention, I love him more than anything and I can’t wait to be married to him.”

“Boring!” Joe teased.

“Yeah.” Ivy made a vomiting sound. “I swear sometimes the two of you are just so head over heels for each other, you turn my stomach.”

Emma laughed at their comments. “Oh come now. Today is exactly the day for that kind of romantic crap.”

Riane giggled, “Not you too, Emma.”

“Seriously though, I am so happy for the two of you though. You went through a lot to be together, so it’s nice this is finally happening.” Emma looked like tears were forming in her eyes but she blinked them away.

Everyone pretended to not notice as Riane turned to Ivy, “I wonder how long it’ll be before Heath asks you.”

Ivy flushed, “Don’t say anything like that. You’ll jinx us!”

The girls all laughed as they continued to drink their mimosas and tease each other. Riane knew it was a way to remove the tension, but she wondered why her bridesmaids were so nervous but she wasn’t. She smiled to herself as she thought about what adventures awaited in the future.


“Maybe I should go check on them.” Nanette spoke nervously as she stood in the backyard surrounded by the gathering guests.

Colin smirked at his nervous wife. “You leave them alone. We were invited as guests only, and they are taking care of the rest.”

She rubbed one hand with the other. “I can just feel Riane needing my help. It’s like she’s calling to me.”

He chuckled, “Her bridesmaids have phones. If she needed you, she could use that instead of mystical message sensory.” He gently placed his hand on her shoulder to bring her attention away from the sliding glass door, she so desperately wanted to disappear through. “She’s fine. She has Joe, Emma, and Ivy. They are more than enough to take care of her.”

“You look like the bride.” A voice spoke behind them and they both turned to find Simon who had just arrived. He grinned. “All nerves.”

Deidra was standing beside him with a grin. “I just saw Matilda out in the driveway and she didn’t look this nervous.”

Their words seemed to calm Nanette as she laughed. “What can I say? She’s my only daughter for the time being. Plus you can’t trust Julian to follow the rules. I just know he’ll break one tradition or the other and spoil it for Riane.”

Nanette eyes went to the tall and now eighteen year old Russell. “My goodness, Russ, you get bigger and bigger every time I see you.”

He smiled widely, “It’s my healthy diet.” He was only half serious but he seemed to be looking around at the guests.

“Looking for some gals your age?” Simon asked. “I doubt you’ll find much of that here. These are all your sister’s family and friends. She’s not in the habit of befriending eighteen year olds.”

Russell frowned at his father briefly, “I’m going to get something to drink.” He announced before disappearing into the crowd.

Nanette watched him go then turned to Simon. “You are walking her down the isle, correct?”

He nodded.

“Could you go check on Julian and her? I just wanted to make sure they are alright, but Colin keeps reminding me I am only here as a guest and not part of the wedding party.” She scowled at her husband.

Simon offered a grin, “Of course.” He looked towards his wife, who he had remarried almost two years ago. “Will you be alright here alone?”

“I am not alone.” She motioned towards Nanette and Colin. “Give Riane my love, and Russell’s too even though he is being a bit of an ass right now.”

He chuckled before heading into the house. One he had visited several times over the last few years.

Nanette smiled at Deidra, “Things look well between you two.”

She gave a hearty nod, “Yeah. I was skeptical when he wanted back into our lives. I thought things would fall into the old habits, but he is a completely different person. He keeps trying to make up for everything even after all this time.” She frowned slightly, “He’s told me himself he can’t get back all those years, but he has the time ahead of him to set things right.”

“That’s good to hear. I am glad Riane got her old father back.” Nanette sighed wistfully. “For a time there I thought...” She shook her head, “No, today is not the day to bring up such sorrowful topics. Our little babies are getting married… to each other.”

Deidra clasped her hands together, “I am so excited. They have been waiting so patiently for this day.”

Colin stood idly by as the two women talked. He stuffed his hands into the pockets of his tuxedo’s pants.

“I heard Julian proposed multiple times and in several romantic ways.” Deidra giggled.

Nanette nodded before chuckling. “Yes, poor thing kept getting turned down. She wanted them to establish themselves first. Finally at Emma and Seth’s wedding she caught the bug and just told them they should get married the next year.”

“Ugh, Riane has no romantic side what so ever.” Deidra rolled her eyes. “I swear I couldn’t ever get her to sit still through a romance movie, she was so bored.”

“You don’t have to tell me. I was hoping for real girl time when she finally moved in, but I felt like I got another son I could put in dresses.” She giggled and placed her hand over her mouth.

They fell into a brief silence before Nanette spoke again. “I really miss having them around the house. All I have left is Zachary and even he will be leaving soon enough. I am starting to think maybe we should move into the city so we can be closer to them.” She looked at Colin briefly who gave a gentle grin.

“I know what you mean. Russell doesn’t have long before college and he doesn’t want to attend CHU. Not that I blame him for it, but I wish he would so I can keep him close for a couple more years.” Deidra placed her hands on her hips and pressed her lips into a thin line. “I can’t believe my little baby is already a man. The years just melted away.”

Nanette smiled at her kindred spirit, “I know, but think of it this way. You’ll get grandchildren soon enough, and they are way more fun than raising your own.”

Looking up from the spot of the grass she had been staring at, she met Nanette’s eyes and smiled widely. “Oh my goodness. Can you imagine Riane and Julian as parents?”

She giggled, “I am a bit afraid of a fatherly Julian, I have to admit. I can’t imagine him being patient enough to teach his child, but then I remembered how he used to help his friends and Riane study. When he took his year off and helped Riane finish her last year of college, he was so kind with her when she didn’t understand something. So, maybe… maybe he might make a decent father after all.”

Deidra looked through the crowd to Russell, “I don’t even want to think about that for my son for a while. His teenage fits of rage are all I can deal with right now.”

“Ugh, you don’t have to remind me. Zachary is still at that stage as well. I’ve become somewhat of a professional though since I went through it with Bryce and Julian. Though Bryce was a saint compared to Julian.”

Colin placed his hands on his wife shoulder as if to remind her he was standing nearby. Though he remembered they had an unspoken deal to stay with Deidra until Simon returned.

“Why don’t I get you ladies something to drink? White wine?” Colin offered and looked between them.

“Oh, yes, please. Thank you, Colin.” Deidra smiled at him while Nanette simply nodded her head.
Julian paced in his old bedroom with a glass of whiskey in his hand. His nerves were in bunches as his friends and brothers surrounded him. They were all drinking alcohol except for Zachary who was drinking a soda.

It was as if no one wanted to speak as they watched Julian walk the room like a caged tiger. Their eyes went towards each other but no one wanted to break his concentration for fear that whatever was happening inside of them would be turned on them.

Finally, Julian stopped walking and looked towards him. “What if she is a run away bride?”

It wasn’t exactly what they thought he would say, but they all stood silently with mouths slightly a gap as if they had no idea how to respond or why he would think that about Riane.

Julian could see their confusion and explained. “She’s been saying no to me for so long, what if she changes her mind and runs?”

Bryce being the best man decided this was his place to step up. He moved towards his brother and placed his hand on his shoulder. “Then we will just pick someone random from the wedding guests.”

That got a chuckled from everyone but Julian, who had no sense of humor in this tense atmosphere he had created.

“She’s a flight risk, I’m telling you.” He spoke quickly ignoring his brother’s joke then downing his entire drink.

Bryce decided to get serious for his brother’s sake. “She only wanted to wait until she felt her career was in a good place and so was your relationship.”

“Who waits eight years to get married? No, no. She’s definitely only doing this because I pushed too much. She’ll regret it and then what will happen to us?” Julian filled his drink back up as he spoke.

“First of all, you were in college and then you went off to get your master’s, you two have only been officially what I call an adult couple for like two years. Living together, working jobs, and paying bills.” He squeezed his brother’s shoulder. “I know that is how she views it.”

“How do you know?” He asked wide eyed.

“Because she told me so.” Bryce responded quickly. “You know I actually talk to my future sister-in-law about more things than how good dinner was at Mom’s.”

He seemed to calm down a bit upon hearing this and took a breath. “Yeah, yeah. Of course, only been real adult couple two years. We couldn’t have gotten married while we were in college that would have been so stupid of us, and me being away a lot while I was attending university would have been a strain on our relationship. Only now is the right time.”

The room release a collective breath of relief as a smile returned to Julian’s face and he sipped his whiskey.

“Riane was right the whole time.” He sat down on the end of the bed which made the rest of the room feel at ease and take their own seats.

“Once we finish up here, we should head down and start greeting the guests.” Seth finally felt able to speak again.

Julian nodded right as a knock came to the door. Bryce jumped up to open it and smiled at Simon.

As Simon shook Bryce’s hand, he pulled him in. “Be careful, he’s all nerves.”

Riane’s father tried to hide his chuckle as he walked over to Julian who stood up to shake his hand. “Have you seen Riane? Is she alright?”

It took everything he had not to laugh at the boy. “Actually, I came to see you first. Your mom asked me to check in on you, but your father thinks no one but the wedding party should disturb the bride and groom right now.”

Julian looked disappointed Simon hadn’t laid eyes on Riane.

Zachary, on the other hand, realized he wasn’t suppose to be up here if that was how his father thought. He downed his soda and stood up. “I’m going to head down first. If anyone asks, I was never here.” He told them before disappearing into the hallway and shutting the door behind him.

The room seemed a little amused by his sudden departure due to Simon’s words just moments before.

“Getting nervous?” Simon asked Julian, who seemed to wince at the question and then look at his whiskey.

“I’m worried she might change her mind.” He finally admitted to the man, he had come to trust over the last few years.

Simon clasped his hand over his shoulder, “My Riane would never do that. She is stubborn and knows what she wants. If I recall correctly you two ran away together once and then she threatened me in order to keep you with her. I don’t think you’ll have any luck getting rid of her.”

Seth smirked at the man’s words and Dalen gave him a knowing look, before Bryce stepped up next to his brother.

“I just feel like she has been putting off this wedding for a while now, and I wonder if I pushed her into doing this.” Julian sipped his drink.

“Uh, didn’t I just tell you that girl is stubborn? How long have you known her? Do you think she would ever do something she doesn’t want to do again? Besides, I thought she was the one who suggested through no prompting on your part.” Simon chuckled. “I think you’re good.”

The other three men in the room snickered at his remark, but Julian stayed stoic before taking a deep breath.

Simon took his glass from him and set it down on the counter. “Now,” He straightened Julian’s bow tie. “listen closely. If you go out there drunk or if you black out and don’t remember your own wedding, Riane will tan the hide of every man in this room.”

Julian straightened up immediately.

“So, that was your last drink. Sober up quick because it won’t be long until you get to see your bride walking down the isle. Trust me, it is something you’ll want to remember.”

He gave a short nod. “Of course.”

“Now, I am going to see how Riane is doing. I’ll pop in here real quick to let you know her situation. However, if I know my daughter, she is as cool as a cucumber while you are over here sweating bullets.” He laughed before leaving the room.
Ivy answered the door to the knock and smiled at Simon who offered her one in return. He stepped inside and she closed the door behind him. His eyes fell to Riane and he offered a huge smile.

“You look beautiful.” He said as he came to stand before her and hold one of her hands.

“Thank you.” Riane allowed him to hold her hand.

Even though they had become closer over the years, she still felt a distance to him. She thought perhaps it was her who was creating the distance in order to protect herself. At any time this man could return to who she remembered he once was and it would be heartbreaking.

“Your man is over in his room losing his mind.” Simon chuckled and noticed everyone become very interested in what he had to say.

Riane raised an eyebrow, “Seriously?”

He nodded, “Yeah, he is certain you’ll turn into a runaway bride scenario, because of how long it took you to agree to the wedding.”

Emma and Joe both shook their heads while Ivy looked a little nervous. She wasn’t very close with Julian, and her trips into the city usually just involved girl time.

Riane let out an exasperated sigh, “I guess my wanting to wait put more of a strain on him than I thought.”

“Yeah, I think he is chomping at the bit to see this wedding through. As soon as I entered the room, he asked me how you were doing. I have to go back and tell him, I promised.” He grinned down at his daughter, “You, on the other hand, are just as I thought you would be. Cool and calm.”

“I swear Julian is always acting like you’ll disappear from his side at any minute. He’s been that way for years and it got worse when he went off to university without you.” Joe giggled.

Riane rolled her eyes, “That man, I swear, he really needs to get over this. It’s been this way since…” She looked at her father briefly, “well since the time we ended up running away together.”

Emma laughed loudly before letting everyone in on her private joke. “You should see how many texts he sends her everyday. Not only is it distracting Riane, but me as well. I can’t work in this environment.”

“It’s not that bad.” Riane frowned at her friend. “We are usually planning dinner, a date, or telling each other funny stories. It’s not like he is asking me if I am ok all time or being some possessive boyfriend who wants me to prove where I am.”

“Ugh, you guys must have each other in stitches then with the amount of texting you two do.” Emma shook her head. “In fact, I am surprised your phone isn’t going off right now.”

“Nanette took my phone from me last night. She wanted us to be without each other for a full twenty four hours, because of some reason she spouted. I guess about missing each other or something.” She explained as she brushed down her white dress and felt the soft fabric.

“I wondered why you weren’t answering my texts. Just yours?” Ivy questioned.

Riane nodded her head, “Yeah, Julian needs his for work, but I’m sure I’ll have a lot of messages from him on there when I get it back. Actually, I am kind of looking forward to reading them.”

“There is that sickly sweet love again.” Ivy sighed.

Simon smiled at the girl’s chatter, “Obviously, you two are very close and love each other. Do you want me to give him a message before I head over and tell him all is well over here?”

“Nah, just make sure he isn’t drinking to much. I saw Seth and he was looking a little red in the cheeks.” Riane bit her bottom lip.

“He did?” Emma asked. “I asked him not to get drunk.”

Simon put his hand on Riane’s shoulder and gave her a reassuring smile. “I’ve already taken care of it. He’s had his last one before the ceremony and he is sobering up as we speak, I promise.”

“Thanks, dad.” She squeezed her own hand. “Knowing he is over there nervous makes me a little nervous though. I was having a good time until I heard he is over there a nervous wreck.”

He nodded, “Then, I shall tell him his nervousness is upsetting you, and knowing him he’ll calm right down.”

“I don’t know if I want to burden him more.” She slowly sat down on the bed and Ivy was quick to come to her side to help with the dress. Riane thought to herself she knew how to sit, but reminded herself Ivy was just managing the dress.

“That man is over there thinking you are in here pacing the floor and wondering if you can make the jump out of the window. I think telling him you were perfectly at ease until you found out he wasn’t will force him to calm down. After all, he despises making you upset.” Simon let out a deep exaggerated sigh. “He’s firmly wrapped around your pinky finger, isn’t he?”

The girls laughed except for Riane but her heart was lightened by their humor, and she gave a soft smile.

“Alright, I’m off to reassure him.” Simon placed his hand on his daughter’s shoulder gently before heading out the door and closing it behind him.

“Who would have thought all those years ago we would all be here now?” Emma said in a light voice and all eyes turned to her. “I mean before we all came together, we were all very different people. Julian and his friends were bullies at a fricking college then he was forced into an arrangement with you and fell in love. Now he is like a puppy. I was being bullied and suffering everyday at that school until Riane befriended me, which helped me get through it all and meet Seth.”

The girls around her smile as they realized where she was going with this.

Ivy laughed, “Remember how I tried to attack you while you were on a date trying to break up Blake and Adonia? What happened with her?”

All the girls shrugged their shoulders, but they knew Blake was in attendance downstairs with his girlfriend.

“Anyway, you befriended me helped me meet Dalen which got me a job at something other than a bar, and helped me meet Heath. So, I appreciate that a lot.” Ivy smiled.

Joe frowned, “I’ve always been your friend, so I have nothing to thank you for.” She said it in a teasing manner. “Oh, thanks for being there for late night calls when nursing school was too much. You really helped me out.”

Riane felt like she was getting close to tears, “You guys are going to make me cry and ruin my make-up.”

The room filled with laughter at her words.
The large backyard was filled with tables for the reception and chairs lined up near an arch decorated with white roses and ribbons. Nanette had hoped for something fancy, but over time she admitted this intimate wedding had it’s own charm. They still had caterers working in the kitchen, so she felt relief from that.

The guests took their seats and Julian took his place at the arch near the justice of the peace. There had been a long argument within the families about what the preacher or priest should be and in the end Riane decided on someone from the courthouse who was willing to come out and marry them. This way there would be no hurt feelings.

As the music began to play everyone turned towards the sliding glass doors as a little girl who was a daughter of a work friend began to toss petals down the isle. She was followed by Bryce and Ivy arm in arm, Seth and Emma holding onto each other, then Joe and Dalen. They quickly took their places next to the arch as she little girl ran over to her mother.

As the music died down, “Here Comes the Bride” began to play and Simon stepped out with Riane holding his arm. Her eyes went immediately to Julian who smiled widely at her. His shoulders seemed to give away some tension as she made her way down the isle. Simon shook Julian’s hand before handing Riane over to him and went to sit down with Deidra and Russell.

Julian’s hands shook a bit as he held onto hers before lifting her veil. It was all very traditional just as Nanette had wanted. They turned to the justice of the peace without further ado, though Julian took a couple peeks at her out of the corner of his eye as the justice started.

In those moments, Riane’s own hands began to tremble as she tried desperately to listen to the words of the man speaking before them. However, try as she might she couldn’t concentrate. Why now? She had been alright all day. She thought to herself over and over again.

“The couple have written their own vows, please proceed.” The justice broke her out of her reverie and she had to suddenly turn to her soon to be husband.

Julian cleared his throat and he began, “Riane, when I first met you, I thought you were a small boy named Ryan.” The audience laughed. “I wasn’t exactly kind to you at first, but then you become a close friend. A confidant. Then the day came when you walked into my house and were introduced as my fiancee. I asked my mom if she thought I was gay.”

More laughter from those surrounding them.

He continued, “I fought tooth and nail to get you to leave, and your stubbornness won out. I finally realized how I felt about you and had to chase you all over trying to convince you I was being serious. In your defense, I did do a rapid turn around from one day to the next so it probably looked like another attempt to get you to leave.”

Riane snickered along with the crowd.

Suddenly, Julian offered a somber look. “I’m glad for all those days. For hanging out with you behind the gym as Ryan to you moving into our house to our trip to Hawaii where you...” He spoke exhaustively, “finally accepted my feelings for you. Our running away together and our two years apart while I got my masters. Ryan… I mean Riane...” The audience laughed once more. “you have always stood beside me and waited patiently for me. So, on this day, I promise to always stand beside you. I promise always to wait for you, even if it is not patiently.”

She smiled at him and she could hear a bit of a sniffling coming from behind her. She knew it was Joe. As tough as she acted, she was a romantic at heart, plus she had a couple more mimosas than the rest of them.

“I love you and I will always be the one you can turn to for anything. Forever as my wife.” He swallowed hard as if he was trying not to cry.

Riane knew it was her turn to speak when the justice motioned for her to go ahead. “Eight years ago, I hated you.” The crowd laughed. “I actively tried to avoid you at school. I panicked when I would see you at the gate everyday. Then one day, something painful happened to me, and I found my way behind the gym. I cried and you didn’t say anything until I realized you were there. You offered me advice and you didn’t talk to me like anyone else. I felt like your equal and not some injured doe. Your friendship became invaluable to me.” She tried to stop herself from crying before she continued.

Joe was still behind her and was in full on tears at this point, but she was trying to hide it from the audience. Ivy and Emma were trying to hide her and help stifle her crying. Riane wasn’t angered by it in fact if she wasn’t in the middle of her vows, she would have laughed at her friend for her dramatics.

“You’re right when you said I didn’t believe in your feelings for me at first, but you continued on even when I kept turning you down. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for holding my hand when I was scared. Thank you for every little thing you do for me without thinking or realizing it.” She swallowed. “I love you. You are my best friend and I am so glad you will become my husband today.”

The justice called for the rings and Bryce pulled it out of his pocket by with a little more gusto than he expected and it went rolling down the isle. He hurried after it while everyone laughed including Julian and Riane.

He held it up when he finally had it. “I got it!” He announced with a big smile as he ran towards the arch and returned to his place beside Julian. “Good as new.” He offered it to his brother, who took it with a grin.

“Which one of us is supposed to be nervous right now?” Julian asked which got more laughter and he turned towards Riane. “With this ring, I promise everything I just said again. May it always be a reminder than I stand with you in all matters throughout our lives.” He slipped the ring onto her finger.

Joe offered out the ring with tears in her eyes, but she seemed to have recovered while Bryce was chasing after the other ring. Luckily, there was no mishaps on her part and she simply deposited in Riane’s hand.

“Yeah, you make it look so easy.” Bryce spoke out and got more laughter from everyone.

Riane was still laughing at his comment as she began to speak. “With this ring, I pledge constant faith and love. May it remind you of me always and always be a reminder you are never alone.” She slipped the ring onto his finger.

“I know pronounce you husband and wife.” The justice spoke, “You may kiss now.”

The two did though it was rather chaste. Julian wasn’t big on public displays of affection anymore than she was. The two faced the audience as the justice announced them as husband and wife, before they headed down the isle to the wedding table near by.

After the feast and first dance everyone took to the dance floor. Joe had been surprised when Dalen asked her to dance after doing so with his date. When she looked for the woman, she found her dancing with Neil. She had brought him as her date but Neil was serious about another woman now as she had waited too long to make up her mind. She frowned at him dancing with her and she wondered if Dalen had been the one to convince the two to do so.

The song was slow so they were able to be close to one another. Dalen had seen many women over the years, but they never lasted very long and she always ended up getting a late night phone call asking for a visit. It often happened in the opposite direction as well with Joe breaking up and calling him.

In truth, she and he both had slept together while in some of those committed relationships. She wasn’t proud of their behavior, but this was the normal they had fallen into and couldn’t get out of. She had tried her best to break it off for good, but they always ended up back together.

What always scared her off was Dalen starting to talk about their future together. When she heard him getting serious, she would find a new boyfriend to show him they weren’t together. It wouldn’t take him long to find his own girlfriend, and then when her new boyfriend got serious she would worry about losing Dalen and they would break it off. It always seemed like Dalen’s relationship would end a couple weeks or a couple months after her own did. Sometimes, she wondered if he was just playing her game along with her without complaint.

“If you weren’t seeing that guy anymore, you could have asked me to come with you.” Dalen spoke quietly.

She shook her head, “I didn’t want to arouse suspicion. I often offer information about you that I shouldn’t know and get funny looks already.”

He chuckled as he slowly dances with one hand on her waist and the other in her hand. “Well, maybe we should just clarify our relationship to them.”

“Yeah, right. Hey, guys. I just wanted you to know Dalen and I have been in a long term fuck buddy situation for several years.” She rolled her eyes. “Could you imagine their faces?”

Dalen just smirked as if he wasn’t against the idea.

“Anyway, you haven’t introduced me to your girl yet.” She motioned her head towards his date.

He shrugged, “She’s not worth meeting. I already feel the end is near. Lacy has been getting under her skin lately.”

She realized he just now figured out she had dumped her last boyfriend, and now he was getting ready to drop his new girl. It always happened like this. Was he just dating them so she would be comfortable still meeting with him? It didn’t seem like Dalen to leave a long line of broken hearts. He had been such a considerate boyfriend when they were dating.

“Oh, that’s too bad.” She sighed but in truth she wanted to ask him if her suspicions were correct. They had to be because it always happened this way, there was no way it could be coincidence.

If he could see her suspicion, he didn’t let on and simply smirked an almost knowing smile at her.

“How’s the executive world at Hurstmart?” She wanted to change the subject as she decided she didn’t really want to know the answer.

“A bit cut throat with the recent scandal, but nothing we can’t handle with a little bit of marketing. It’s a bit underhanded, but so is business in general.” He spoke dryly, and she couldn’t believe he answered her honestly. She had been expecting a joke.

For some reason, it made her heart beat race as if he was confiding in her something he shouldn’t be. Over the years, she realized he had trust in her and whenever he showed a more serious side in their relationship, she felt highly important in his life. It was this intensity which often scared her away, but recently she felt pulled in by it. She liked being his confidant.

“I never expected you to be a playboy back when we were going out. You seemed so genuine in our relationship.” She spoke the words before even thinking, and she realized her intention was meant to provoke him. Provoke him into what? She thought. To saying something to give her assurance her hidden thoughts on him were correct. Was he holding a candle for her and waiting for her to give the go ahead to be back together officially?

Dalen seemed slightly startled by her words for a moment before speaking, “I’ve been in a long term relationship for a while now. She just doesn’t want to believe it and keeps running away whenever she feels a little too pressured.”

She swallowed. She was right about his intentions and she surprised herself by how happy his words made her feel. “Well, maybe she might be ready to believe it and move forward. After you take care of your latest conquest, of course.”

The dance ended and Dalen walked her away from the crowd of dancers and towards a private area on the side of the house. She wondered why he was doing it so openly.

When they were out of sight of others, he gently pushed her against the house and placed both of his hands on either side of her head. She briefly looked at him and he had a serious look which made her blood run hot.

“Let’s have a look.” Dalen finally spoke.

“Huh?” She was looking towards the grass at their feet.

He cleared his throat, “Come on. Look at me.” Dalen ordered it in a demanding voice.

Lifting her eyes, they were set on his for several seconds as Dalen looked into them as if there were answers inside. After a couple seconds, he let out a breath and stepped back. “You got that nervous wild look about you. Are you about to run? Take back what you just said?”

She realized she hadn’t been breathing and there was panic in her heart, but the desire to run wasn’t there. She was more disappointed he hadn’t tried to kiss her.

“Looks like the jig is up, and I’ve let it slip what I’ve been doing all this time, huh?” He swallowed. “So, you are going to tell me we shouldn’t see each other for a while. I’ll agree then after a few months we might start texting again or we’ll eventually run into each other due to our shared friends. Where we will start this game all over again, but this time you’ll be aware I was waiting the whole time and you have the upper hand, huh?”

Joe’s heart could barely take how straight forward he was being with her. She opened her mouth to speak, but there was nothing she could say.

He nodded his head and put his hands back in his pockets. “You know, one day, one of these girls might be right for me, and I’ll stop playing your game.” He sighed, “But alright another round? I’ll leave you alone until you are ready.” He began to walk away, but Joe caught him by his elbow. He turned to her with a raised eyebrow obviously not expecting it. This was a new reaction.

“I’m bored of it. Let’s play a new game.” Joe watched his expression change from confused to curious. “Let’s call it exclusive and that’s what we will do with each other. Yeah?”

Dalen turned to face her, “Sounds like my kind of game. Why don’t we start tonight after the wedding is over? My place? I’ll cook.”

Joe nodded her head, “Uh, what about your date?”

“That’s why we are starting after the wedding. I’m not going to break up with her here and cause a scene.” He played bonked her on the forehead with his finger, before walking away.
Seth and Emma caught a quiet moment to themselves away from the festivities outside, and simply sat on the bed in Riane’s old bedroom together. Her feet were bothering her and people kept asking her why they weren’t dancing not to mention asking her why she wasn’t drinking much.

“It’s going to be a little difficult to hide when we get to Hawaii and I’m not drinking with everyone else.” Emma sighed and looked at the wine glass of white grape juice she had been carrying around all day.

Seth smirked, “I’m sure they will forgive us if we tell them while we are there. After all, the newlyweds will have a couple days to themselves before we arrive.”

“I was pouring my own mimosas this morning and it was just orange juice, but I had to pretend to use the champagne. Hiding my actions with my body.” Emma giggled. “I felt like a spy or something, I dunno.”

He grinned and stared down at his own wine glass full of grape juice. Once they discovered Emma was with child, he pledged not to drink along with her. She told him he didn’t have to, but he didn’t want to be unable to get her to the hospital if anything went wrong so it was a simple choice for him.

“It was a nice ceremony. Who knew Julian was sappy like that?” Emma smirked as she remembered his words.

“I was more concerned for Joe. I thought she would have to be forcibly removed with all the bawling she was doing.” Seth smiled so wide his cheeks hurt. “I never would have expected it from her.”

“She doesn’t show it, but she is a big old romantic. She wasn’t in the wedding party at our wedding, but she was crying in the audience. Funny thing is, she doesn’t even care for me that much.” Emma ran her hands down on her dress to smooth it out.

“I’m sure she likes you more than she lets on.” Seth watched his wife frown and knew immediately what she was thinking about. “Still stings a bit she got to be the maid of honor?”

Emma nodded her head. “I know Riane had to make a tough choice and they have been friends longer, but I feel a bit petty about it.”

“How so?”

She shrugged and he nudged her to get her to talk. “I don’t know. I have stupid thoughts like ‘Well had I known she wouldn’t have picked me, I wouldn’t have picked her for my wedding.’ I know it’s small, but I am pretty ticked about the whole thing.”

Seth slowly shook his head, “It’s normal, but I am glad Riane was there. She kept my mom from going overboard while we were doing all our planning. Plus, she kept us from going crazy by taking on a lot on her own when you got the cold.”

“I know. I’m just jealous. Let me be petty when I want.” She tapped him on the shoulder playfully. “It’s not like I am going to end our friendship or anything over it. I know she was trapped between a rock and a hard place, but I think she could have just made us co-maidens of honor. I guess if I wanted that though I should have told her in the first place.”

He kissed her on the temple, “She might not have thought of it.”

Emma sighed gently after he spoke and slowly nodded her head. “She might not have.”

Suddenly the door burst open and the woman they had just been talking about appeared. Emma stood up immediately with concern in her eyes as she looked at the bride. Her eyes went to behind her to search for Julian as she thought this might be a mid-wedding lovers’ rendezvous, but he was no where in sight.

“Is everything alright?” Emma questioned with a little bit of panic.

Riane smiled at her, “Yeah, everything is fine. I am not interrupting anything, am I?” She looked between the two and Emma realized she might have thought they were the ones in the middle of a lovers’ rendezvous.

She tossed up her hands and waved them around, “No, we were just taking a break and talking.”

Her friend didn’t look convinced but decided not to say anything. “We are going to do pictures soon and I wanted to check on my make-up.” She motioned towards her vanity where a bunch of make-up was set up.

“A professional did your make-up, are you sure you want to mess with it?” Emma asked with more concern than was necessary.

Riane rolled her eyes and sat down at the vanity. Seth remained quiet as he felt slightly weird to be involved in the female end of the wedding.

Emma moved towards her friend to help with anything she needed. “Let me get a towel to cover your front, you don’t want any loose powder or anything getting on your dress.”

As Riane checked over herself, she gazed at her friend in the mirror from time to time. Seth noticed it but it didn’t look like Emma did. It was as if she wanted to say something, but she was nervous to do so. He wondered if it was because he was in the room and the thought to leave came to mind, but Riane spoke before he could excuse himself.

“You know, you don’t have to fake drinking.” Riane blurted out and Emma who was sitting on a computer chair beside her looked at her wide eyed.

“What?” She finally squeaked out a word.

Seth was looking a little stunned as well.

Riane turned to her friend with a smile, “I mean you two are both really bad at pretending to get yourself alcohol. I mean the mimosas were just a terrible act. We all noticed.”

Emma turned red with embarrassment. “So, you noticed.”

Riane giggled. “I won’t ask. It’s obvious you want to keep this between yourselves for now.”

As the last word left her mouth, Emma grabbed her hands and spoke loudly. “I’m going to have a baby, Riane!” She looked at her friend with a huge smile on her face.

Riane removed her hands from her own and hugged her tightly. “How exciting! I’m so happy for you!”

“I’d join in, but if something happened to that dress, I know you’d both end me here.” Seth chuckled.

When their hug ended, Riane stood up and hugged the sitting Seth, who returned the gesture. “Congratulations.”

“You’re the first to know. So, let’s keep it between us for now.” He asked more than ordered and she simply nodded.

“Come on, pictures are starting soon.” Riane motioned for them to follow.
Sitting at a table together, Zachary tries to chat with Russell who just looks bored with everything around him. There are no girls his age here to talk to or dance with. He had been told there might be someone he could hang around, but the only person hanging to him was Julian’s little brother.

“So since nobody wanted to hire me as young as I was after college, my dad got me doing some work in accounting for a while to get me some experience. His friend hired me, but I want to move into the city like my brothers did.” Zachary spoke even though a part of him could see Russell didn’t really care.

It was always like this between them ever since they met. Zachary hoped for a friendship between them since they were like family now, but he always seemed so cold and distant. Riane told him it was just because he was dealing with college pressure and probably some faze where he is too cool for everything.

However, he got the feeling the guy generally didn’t like him. Still he tried for his sister-in-law to be on good terms with her brother.

“Um, which college did you decide on? I heard you were going to start attending in the fall.” He asked when Russell didn’t even try to offer anything after what he just said. Of course, he had told him that before several times in the past, but at this point it was his only goal.

Russell turned his eyes towards him, “Why do you ask?”

He shrugged his shoulders and grinned, “Just making conversation. We are the only ones really close in age here.”

“I have friends and I’m leaving soon.” He grumbled in reply. “Why don’t you go harass your mom.”

As if on cue, Deidra made her way over to the table and sat down with a grin. “How are you two boys doing? Too bad there aren’t any young gals here for you to dance with. This must be kind of boring for you.”

Russell frowned at his mother, “Can’t I just take the car and go home? I have talked to Riane for like ten minutes this whole afternoon.”

She frowned, “You know you are being a real killjoy right now. I see Zachary trying to make an effort and you are just being the biggest downer. Maybe if you had a conversation with him instead of moping you wouldn’t be so bored.”

Zachary hadn’t expected her to say that, and it made him a little embarrassed to know she noticed such a thing.

Russell’s eyes went between Zachary’s and his mother’s, before he let out a big sigh of annoyance. “I don’t really want to talk about college, and that’s the only subject he brings up.”

He was nervous about leaving home and the topic made him feel vulnerable. Even though he had insisted he didn’t want to go to CHU, he was starting to feel like this was a huge mistake. Even though he was already enrolled, he had been thinking about just stopping it all and asking his father to get him into CHU. He knew his father would be furious, so he just didn’t want to talk about it with anyone.

“Do you play video games, Zack?” Deidra asked trying to find a common ground between them.

“Do I?” Zachary spoke with more enthusiasm than he had expected. “I love them. I play all sorts of genres. What are you into?”

Russell glared at his mother briefly before speaking, “I prefer racing and fighting games, but I’ll play anything if it looks good.”

“Cool, I love playing those games with my brothers. They aren’t around much to do it with anymore though. Maybe before you head off to college, we could get in a couple games.” He asked hopeful.

His eyes wandered to his mother who simply smiled at him, before he turned his attention back to Zachary. “Yeah, I guess we could.”

Deidra got up from the table as they began to talk about games and walked back over to the table she had been seated at before she noticed the two young men. Nanette was sitting there with a large smile on her face.

“Thank you.” She spoke softly.

Deidra just chuckled for a moment, before picking up her wine glass and downing it in one go. She set it down and continued to be amused.

“You manipulate him so well.” Nanette jested.

She slowly shook her head, “Nah, he’s a stubborn little brat. Once he gets it in his head he doesn’t want to do something, it takes an act of god to change his mind.”

“You seem to be just that.” She teased before she downed the rest of her red wine, and looked around to see if she could make eye contact with her husband. No such luck so she simply put the glass back down.

“It would be good for Russell to have a friend his own age who can help him through college. I know Zachary is already graduated, but I sense he is nervous but doesn’t want to talk about it. I’m hoping your son can get it out of him, even if I never know about it.” Deidra explained as she tried to talk low because she didn’t want her son to over hear her, even though the sounds of other tables talking were drowning out most of the sound around them.

Nanette nodded, “I’m sure Zachary would love to help. He has been trying to befriend Russell for a while. I guess Riane mentioned something about her wanting them to be friends, and he took it to heart.”

“All your boys seem to really love her.” Deidra smiled widely. “It’s good to know she has a few knights backing her up.”

“Yeah, it’s funny to think back on it. When she first moved in only Bryce was nice to her.” She placed a hand over her heart. “To be honest, I thought there might have been something more romantic going on with them behind my back. It just turned out to be my imagination though.”

“Goodness, could you have imagined?” She spoke in an exasperated voice and looked slightly shocked. “It would have been a horror show if the two brothers pitted against each other for her.”

Nanette laughed, “Bryce has always been the mature one. I doubt it would have come to blows.”

“Over a woman? Any man, no matter how calm, could lose his cool.” Deidra was just speaking playfully.

Though Nanette giggled, the comment unnerved her. She decided to change the direction of the conversation. “Anyway, Zachary hated her and now I think she can mind control him into doing her bidding.”

Deidra laughed very loudly at those words which drew some attention from others around them. As she continued to laugh, Nanette began to join in and the air cleared between them, even if Deidra didn’t know it was thick before.
After the pictures were taken, Riane was feeling very tired and just couldn’t wait to get to the airport. However, she hadn’t spent much time with her mother and wanted to spend the last moments of her reception with her.

She found Matilda at her assigned table; drinking a glass of wine. Her mother smiled at her as she sat down with her. “I suppose you’ll be heading out soon. You know this party won’t end until late in the evening.”

Riane chuckled, “Yeah, but Nanette was insistent we leave early and head straight for the honeymoon. She likes her cliches like that.”

“Or traditions as she would call them.” Matilda giggled and took another sip of wine. “Text me when you land so I know you are safe.”

“Sure, I figured I’d spend the last few moments of the party with you since I don’t get to see you very often.” Riane reached out and squeezed her hand.

“Aw, thank you, baby girl.” Matilda’s eyes looked a little misty. “I wish we lived closer. Otherwise, when you have a baby, I’m going to be at the airport a lot.”

Her daughter laughed and shook her head. “We won’t be doing that for a few years yet.”

“Well, you could have just left me in my fantasy world, you didn’t have to destroy it, you wicked witch.” She stuck out her tongue playfully.

Riane laughed lightly and rolled her eyes, before noticing Mike walking over to them. He seemed to join in their laughter even though he had no idea what they had been talking about.

“What are the two of you chatting about?” He asked as he sat down next to them with a smile and put his arm around Matilda’s shoulders.

“Oh, the wicked witch is killing my dreams.” Matilda told him and gave a wink to Riane.

Mike took the confusing response to mean it was a private conversation and he needed to keep out of it. Not surprising to him since the two of them were always a bit secretive when it came to their conversation.

“It was a lovely ceremony, Riane.” He told her. “Your mom went through a couple tissues.”

Matilda smacked him on the arm, “You weren’t suppose to tell her that, now I look like a romantic sap.”

Riane’s smile widened as Mike threw up his hands in surrender as if that was the best apology he could muster.

“Mom’s beating on dad again.” Samuel told his brother, Eric, as they came to sit at the table with them.

Matilda scoffed at her son, “Don’t make it sound like I abuse him.”

“It looks pretty abusive from here.” Eric teased.

Standing up, Matilda reached across the table and playfully smacked his shoulder. “I’ll show you abuse.”

Riane watched the scene unfold around her with a smile. Mike was a tall man with dark brown hair and eyes which always seemed to hold kindness in them. She couldn’t imagine him angry, and his sons were just spitting images of him. It hardly looked like their mother had any say in their looks at all.

She had met her brothers years ago, but it always felt weird when the rest of Matilda’s family came along. She didn’t grow up with them so there was no sibling bond there, and no memories to fall back on. It wasn’t that she didn’t like them, but when they were around she didn’t feel like she was part of the family. It felt like she was a stranger getting in their way.

She felt bad for feeling that way and so she kept it to herself, and tried to look for ways she could fit in. Sometimes they worked out and most of the time they failed. Though she still tried to find the moments to belong they were few and far between because of the distance and how often they saw each other.

Samuel laughed at his brother’s smack but quickly lost his grin when Matilda laid one on him too. “Hey!”

“You get one too! I’m sure you’ve done something worthy of it.” Their mother playfully snapped.

“Oh, but big sis here is off the hook?” Eric tried to pull her into it and even winked at Riane as he did. He was always the one who seemed to try to get her to be part of the family fun. She often wondered if he knew how she felt and was just trying to help her along.

Matilda looked shocked for a moment, “Are you suggesting I hit a bride on her wedding day? What kind of barbarian are you?”

Mike was just laughed at his family’s actions and tried his best to stay out of it for fear of another smack.

“Wedding day or not, you are passing out smacks to your kids, but she gets off free without even a love tap? Are you playing favorites, woman?” Samuel pretended to pout which was funny for a guy of his size.

“Fine, fine.” Matilda turned to Riane and lightly patted her cheek. “For good luck, honey.”

Riane nodded her head in understanding and continued to smile at this family’s antics. They were so open and warm with one another, and she couldn’t help but wonder what her household had been like if her mother had been in it. Of course, there would be no Russell and she wouldn’t trade him for anything, but still the thought would come about from time to time.

“Are you guys having a nice time?” She asked her brothers as she folded her hands in her lap.

Both of them nodded in unison.

“I tried chatting with your brother, but he seems to be in a mood.” Samuel seemed to find it more amusing than insulting.

“Yeah, he seems to be taking on an emo personality lately.” Riane replied with an exasperated sigh. “Even when you do a nice favor for him, he just grunts and rolls his eyes. I’ve been tempted to knock them out of his head.”

The group laughed at her words and how seriously she said them.

“Leave smacking his eyes out to Deidra.” Matilda smirked, “You’ll have enough of that when you make me some grand-babies.”

“I told you that is years in the future, mom.” Riane growled and crossed her arms. “If you bring it up every time I see you, I’m never going to have any. You’ll have to count on these two playboys.”

Matilda gasped, “No! Anything but that!”

Once more the group laughed and they chatted more before it was time for Riane to change and head out for her flight to Hawaii.
The flight was an overnight and when they arrived at the airport on the island, they were both tired but had slept some on the plane. After gathering their luggage, Julian got a cab which took them to the house they had once visited many years ago.

Upon entering and looking around the kitchen and living room which were connected, Riane smiled at the fond memories she had of this place. She thought how this probably wouldn’t be their last visit here.

They were only going to have a couple days alone, as they asked their friends to come and join them. Of course, they all agreed and Riane thought she would encourage Emma to announce her pregnancy to them here. It would be another good memory for this house. Of course, Adonia wouldn’t be here which was a plus.

“So many memories. Remember how Adonia was acting like a fool?” Riane giggled as Julian brought the luggage in before walking up behind her and hugging her from behind.

“Who’d think you would find that funny one day?” He teased before kissing her cheek. She had noticed he would kiss her cheek, but he hadn’t kissed her lips since the wedding ceremony even when she tried he would make an excuse. “All I remember is being forced to be nice to her when all I wanted to do was get time alone with you.” He grabbed her hand and tempted her to walk with him out the porch and down the stairs.

Riane wondered where they were heading as they stepped onto the beach and he lead her away from the house. “Where are you taking me?”

“Trust your husband, Mrs. Swithin.” He winked at her as they continued to walk on the beach. He came to a stop and smiled at her. “Do you remember this spot?”

She looked around and shook her head. “No.”

Julian gave his best pout and folded his arms across his chest, “You better be teasing me, woman, because I am about to go full crybaby mode.”

Riane playfully hit his shoulder with a bemused grin on her lips. “Of course, I remember. You think a girl is going to forget her first kiss with the man she married?” She scoffed playfully.

“Um, first kiss ever, remember?” He dropped his arms to the side and put on a smile for her. “Although, I could have made it a lot more romantic had you realized your feelings earlier, and not had to get all jealous of Adonia before you would admit to anything.”

She blushed slightly, and put on a fake pout. “Yeah, yeah. You’ll never let me live that down, will you?”

“Not in this lifetime.”

She inhaled deeply, “Why did you want to bring me out here anyway? Other than to rub my nose in the memory of it all.”

Julian smiled and looked like he would jump up and down giddy at any moment. “I know we had our kiss at the wedding, but I held back.”

“Yeah, I noticed it was rather chaste even for us.” Riane chuckled as she was starting to catch on.

“I thought we should redo this kiss. You know since it wasn’t terribly romantic and I kind of stole your first kiss without your permission. I was thinking I’ll get a picnic together real quick and we can have it out here on the beach.” He spoke sheepishly.

She couldn’t believe he was still bothered by that. “I don’t want to redo it.” She hadn’t meant to speak with the level of annoyance she had.

Julian looked surprised at her tone and a bit disappointed. “I didn’t mean to offend you.”

She slowly shook her head, and raised her hand as if to offer her own apology. “I love that moment. It is one of my most cherished memories of us.”

Her words removed the disappointment from his face and he replaced it with a smirk. He spoke in a mock offended way as if he was morally offended. “Why Mrs. Swithin are you saying you enjoy having your kisses stolen? My goodness, what will the others say if this were to get out?”

Riane folded her arms across her chest, “I’m pretty sure my reputation for sleeping with you outweighs the kissing part.”

He gasped and put a hand over his mouth briefly, “My word, a lady just saying such things without care.” He pretended to look around to see if anyone was around, and then looked back at her. “Rumors will form if you are not careful.”

“Why are you being a goofball? What has gotten into you? I thought you brought me out here to kiss you.” She rolled her eyes.

“Nah, you’ve ruined the moment.” He shoved his hands into his pocket and looked out over the ocean. It was the early hours of the morning and the sun was just peeking out over the horizon.

Riane’s mouth was ajar for a moment before a slight tinge of anger ran through her body, and she turned towards the rising sun. She couldn’t believe they had been married for one day and he was already on her nerves.

As she sat their seething at the beautiful scenery, Julian smirked at her before leaning over and planting a quick kiss on her lips though he lingered for a moment before pulling away and returned to watching the sunrise.

“I just wanted to steal another one again.” He seemed to be pretty happy with himself in those moments.

Riane moved to stand before him and he smirked at her knowing full well what she was about to do. She grabbed his cheeks and pulled his head down bringing her lips to his own.

Instinctively, he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close to him. He let her lead the kiss like he had done all those years ago, though the memory felt just like yesterday. He remembered wanting to deepen the kiss and the way she was kissing him was far more experienced than the first time.

She was purposefully being antagonizingly slow because she knew he was burning with passion inside. It was his default state to begin with, but she could feel his hands gripping her tightly as he tried to pull her closer to himself even though she was pressed against his body firmly.

Wrapping her arms around his neck, she bit his bottom lip which got a groan out from him. She wondered how long he would be able to be patient like this, and returned to her gentle kisses.

He finally pulled away with his eyes darkened with desire and he frowned. “Are you toying with me?”

“Maybe a little. It’s obvious you were trying to recreate what happened, right?” She got her answer when he briefly looked away. “You are being such a weirdo, you know that?”

He cocked his head to the side with a smirk. “You married a weirdo, what does that make you?”

“A weirdo too.” She giggled.

Julian looked out to the sunrise and then back to her, “You know we should try out the beds. Consummate this marriage and all.”

“Why do you have to kill the mood like that?” She pulled away from him and started heading for the house.

Julian chased behind her and kept trying to pinch at her while she tried to dodge him and act like she was annoyed even though she was laughing at their game. Julian laughed along with her as they headed into the house and down the stairs to the bedroom.


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