John opened the driver’s side door and glanced around. “Carrie? Are you still there?”
He caught sight of Olivia. She put her arms around her husband’s neck and kissed him.
John’s mind reeled. He got in the car and closed the door. He sat there, stunned and dizzy.
It isn’t her.
It isn’t Carolyn.
It’s Olivia. It isn’t Carolyn. It isn’t my Carrie. It isn’t her.
But I feel like I just peeked into an alternate reality. One in which I don’t exist, but she does. She found someone else to love. She married someone. Someone who wasn’t me.
“Carrie? Are you here with me?”
The back doors opened. Sarah and Robin scooted in and closed the doors. “Hey.” Robin said. “Ready when you are.”
John snapped out of his thoughts. “Where’s Father Landover? I thought he was coming with us.”
Robin smirked. “I talked him into goin’ with Raven and the newlyweds. That’ll keep ’em outa trouble.”
Ambrose watched Father Landover buckle his seatbelt. “I don’t mean to sound rude or offensive, Father, but I thought you were riding with John and Robin.”
“Robin told me that you two need strict monitoring.” the priest said. “He made it sound terribly urgent that I come with to ‘keep you two out of trouble’. His precise words, not mine.”
Barbara smiled and touched her forehead against her husband’s upper arm.
It was a simple gesture and a very modest touch. But Ambrose felt like he’d been transformed into an exclamation point made of fire and electricity. “Oh!”
The priest nodded as if he finally understood what Robin had meant. He retreated to his seat.
Raven started the car and drove out of the parking lot.
“Barbara.” Ambrose kissed her head. “Barbara, never, ever keep me from touching you again.”
She raised her head and looked up at him in the car’s darkness. “As long as you promise me the same.”
“I do.” He kissed her with rapturous delight.
kneading my hair
and I want more.
Her hands slid from his face down to his shoulders.
He shifted, bringing his knee up on the seat. “mm. mmm.”
Her hands disappeared under the blackness of his tuxedo jacket and came to rest on the whiteness of his dress shirt.
Father Landover cleared his throat and asked Raven a question.
Barbara quickly pulled away with her wedding veil knocked decidedly askew. She had a bad feeling that her hairstyle was a matching disaster. “Um. Umm. I. I umm…”
Ambrose smiled lovingly at her. “I understand.” He released his grip on her hair.
Barbara sat back and marveled at the wonder of it all.
I married him and he married me. After all of the stress and hoops we had to go through. After all of the worries and doubts. So much uncertainty.
We’re finally married. I am finally Mrs. Barbara Smith. I never thought it would happen. But it did happen.
And nothing drastically horrible happened. Elsie didn’t charge down the aisle shouting “I object!” Hildreth didn’t rush in to stake Ambrose. Mark Caten didn’t crash the scene and take him away from me. Even Kevin and his pack stayed away.
Raven stopped at a red light.
Barbara admired Ambrose’s physique in the streetlight’s pale orange glow.
The width of his chest. The way it filled the tuxedo’s jacket.
His long legs.
And he’s mine. He’s all mine and no one else’s.
Barbara took his hand again.
He exhaled a startled, “Oh!”
“If Elsie saw you now, she’d die from jealousy.”
Ambrose let out a surprised laugh. “Where’d that come from?”
Barbara gave the question serious consideration.
He smiled and kissed her. “I love it when you make that face.” he murmured. “I adore it.”
“That’s not fair. Saying things like that to me…How am I supposed to respond?”
“Kiss me again and we’ll call it fair.”
“Hmm, okay!” She kissed the tip of his nose.
“Ha! You outrageous brat.”
He put his mouth close to her ear and murmured. “I wouldn’t have you be any other way.”