Hildreth spread his hand on Elsie’s lower back as they followed the photographer.
She looked up at him and smiled.
I wish I could sweep her up into my arms and run off with her. I’m sure she wouldn’t object.
He smiled in return.
I know she wouldn’t mind.
I know her.
My beloved Elsie. She’d laugh and call me an idiot. But she’d still grab my hair and kiss me. But we’d both want to do more than just that.
I know I do.
The photographer stopped them in front of the lace heart backdrop. “Here! Now, I want you to stand like—-hmm. No. How about you kneel? Groom, kneel. No! Not like that. On one knee. Yes! Perfect. Now, bride. I want you to sit on his knee. No! Not like that. No. No. Yes! Lay your hands demurely in your lap and look at him. Look soft, bride and groom. Ahh! My soul just went to Heaven!” He frantically took picture after picture. “Yes! You’re an angel! You’re a beautiful virginal angelic fantasy!”
Hildreth bit the inside of his lip to keep himself from laughing out loud.
“And, groom. You are a sinister archangel come to steal her away!”
I am a sinister archangel. Woot! I am awesome! Wait. If I’m an archangel, what kind of angel is she? Hmm. Good question. I like the idea of her being a Principality, just because it has a cool sound to it. Elsie the Principality! Boom! But I love the idea of her being a cherub. She’d get to wear that cute little toga outfit.
He couldn’t help grinning.
Such an amazing mental image. Oh. Wait. Cherubs are usually shown as chubby little children. Naked chubby little children.
I think that makes it even better.
Elsie as a chubby little child is just too precious. I’d want to take her home with me and feed her Fruit Loops and Golden Grahams cereal.
“Oh, the two of you together are paradise!”
“Now, that is some solid truth telling.” Hildreth said.
Elsie broke out of demure angel mode to stroke the side of his face and kiss him. “Amen.” she said softly.
John Addleston walked down the hall to the banquet room. Talk and laughter drifted down the hallway. He couldn’t help listening for her voice, for her laugh.
I hope Sarah’s really okay with me leaving her alone. She’s just a small thing. She’s just a little girl. And she can’t talk. So, if she needed to call for help…
John turned pale as he imagined her in a variety of dangerous scenarios.
I won’t stay long.
I’ll be quick.
I hope she’s safe.
I hope she stays safe.
He entered the banquet room and glanced around.
So many people that I don’t know.
He took a step back.
I don’t belong here. I’m an interloper. I’m a party crasher. I’m a wedding crasher. I’m a wedding party crasher.
I should just go back home.
Clarice’s laugh soared above the assorted crowd noise.
John’s uncertainty fell away.
He entered the room with strong, purposeful steps and followed the sound of her laughter until he saw her.
Clarice Vansing sat at a table with at least five other women. They were all talking and laughing and having a raucous good time. The chair beside her was conspicuously empty.
“I want you to be happy. Clarice will make you happy. I know she will.”
“She does, Carolyn.” He thought about all of their small misadventures and smiled. “Oh, she does.” He approached Clarice’s table and stopped beside her. “Excuse me.”
She looked up at him with a big smile. “John!”
“You seem to have an empty seat at this table. Do you mind if I join you?”
“What a question to ask! Do I mind?” She took his nearest hand and held it. “I’ve been waiting for you all day, you delicious bacon and peppercorn ham snack wrap.”
He laughed and sat.
She held onto his hand.
He curled his fingers against her skin.
Carrie love, I am happy.