Raven stopped them before they could open the door. “Hold on, please.”
Ambrose looked back at him. “What now?”
Raven reached into his tuxedo pocket and pulled out something carefully wrapped in white tissue paper. He unfolded the paper to reveal a white rose boutonniere. Small, dew-like crystals balanced on the petals’ edges.
“Nice.” Robin said. “Do I get one too?”
“Obviously, sir.” Raven attached the flower to Ambrose’s lapel. He inspected his tuxedo one more time. “Very good. You are presentable.”
“That’s good to know.” Ambrose said.
Raven pulled another tissue-wrapped package out of his pocket. He opened it to reveal Robin’s red rose boutonniere. It was such a rich shade of red it looked like velvet.
“When did you get these?” Ambrose asked.
“The same day I purchased your tuxedos.” He attached it to Robin’s lapel. “It was a last minute purchase. I had forgotten to put it on my mental checklist.”
“Ain’t that big a deal. You had plenty of junk goin’ on at that time.”
“All the same,” Raven fussed with straightening it. “I was disappointed in myself to have nearly forgotten it. After all, everyone knows that a wedding tuxedo is incomplete without a proper boutonniere.”
“If you say so.”
Raven gave him a death dealing glare. “It is common knowledge, sir.”
“Ahh, there you are!” Father Landover said as he hurried over to them. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
“I’m glad to see you’re still alive and well.” Ambrose said.
“Do you have any questions or concerns?”
Ambrose shook his head.
“Do you have any doubts?”
“This is what you want and this is what she wants?”
“Neither of you is being coerced into marrying?”
“Not at all, Father.”
“Just wanted to double check. Does someone have the wedding rings?”
“I do, sir.” Raven said. He pulled out the small black box out of his other pocket. He opened the box and both rings were still in there.
“Good. I’ll let you hang onto them.”
Raven closed the box and returned it to his pocket.
Father Landover focused at Ambrose. “Are you ready?”
“Then, you may go inside as soon as the doors are opened.”
He nodded again. “Father.” He swallowed hard. “Thank you. Thank you so much.”
The priest smiled a kind and genuine smile. “Thank God. I’m going to go talk to Barbara. Just to go over a couple of things with her. Remember: As soon as the doors open, go inside. Walk up the aisle as we had rehearsed and stop at the altar rail. I’ll come in shortly after you.”
“Hey.” Robin pulled out his cell phone and handed it to Father Landover. “Give this to Barbara’s dad. Tell him to take pictures. Lots of pictures. Especially of me.” He scuffed the toes of his right shoe against the pavement, earning him a piercing glare from Raven. “It ain’t that I’m a cam’ra hog scene stealer. I just…’sellta ain’t here. I wanna show him what all he missed.”
Father Landover quietly processed that information. “I understand.” He took the cell phone. “I’ll give it to him.”
As Father Landover hurried out into the parking lot, Ambrose turned to face the closed doors.
His knees shook.
“This isn’t a dream. This is real.” He laughed a tearful laugh. “I’m getting married.”
Rebecca appeared in his mind. Rebecca with her brilliant laugh and her luscious red curls.
Maria with her chestnut brown hair and gentle touch.
Fierce, powerful Elsie with her frizzy black hair and gold eyes.
None of them had wanted me enough. None of them had wanted to fight for me to stay with them. They all let me go, leaving me alone.
I won’t be alone anymore.
The doors opened wide.
“Stand up straight, sir.” Raven said. “Hold yourself with pride and dignity. And…go.”
Ambrose took a deep breath and exhaled.
He entered the church.