So, if you need a reminder, here is where Dean and Kacey got started. Many thanks to those of you who have read this story and loved Dean and Kacey along with me. And a special thanks to Cheyenne, who first told me I should keep continuing their story after that first one.
Now for today's story. Here are my five words:
I glance at my watch for what must be the fortieth time in five minutes.
Bryce rolls his eyes. “Gosh, Dean, you’re making me nervous.” He stands and shoves his hands in his pockets, then takes them out again and readjusts his bowtie. “I feel like a dinosaur in this thing. You couldn’t go for a traditional tux, huh? Just had to go all vintage.”
He grins and I try to relax. “You can blame Kacey for that,” I tell him. “She okayed everything.”
Bryce walks over and straightens my tie. I bat his hand away, my eye going to my watch again, but he gives me a shove and reaches for the bowtie again, pulling it to the left then back to the right again until he’s satisfied. “Substandard attire on your wedding day is not to be had.” He glances down at my checkered Vans “Does Mom know you’re wearing those?”
Mom pulls open the door as if on cue. She smiles, though it does nothing to relax my nerves. “Just about time,” she says, stopping in front of me. She looks nice. Older than I always seem to think she is. She presses a kiss to my cheek, her perfume smelling like sunshine and grapefruit – the same way she’s smelled for years. She holds my face in her hand for a moment. “You look handsome,” she tells me. “Even with those shoes on.”
She sweeps back through the door and I grin again, skimming the fingers on my right hand over the ring finger on my left.
“Five more minutes,” Bryce says.
I nod. “You got everything?”
He pats his pocket. “Ring is in here. I’ll get the preacher to sign the license and take it to the post office first thing Monday morning. You ready?”
I nod, glancing down at my left ring finger again. The tattoo I got there just last week covers my finger right where my ring will go, today’s date inked there in black script. It was an idea I’d toyed with for months; some need I had to have something more than just a ring on my finger to remind me of the promise I’ll make to Kace today. My heart speeds up again thinking about the matching tattoo on her own left finger. Thinking about being in that chair at the tattoo parlor. I’d held her hand and watched in horror as tears flooded her eyes when the guy started. She’d squeezed my hand harder, and out of nowhere I’d been hit with the image of being in that exact position – me holding her hand through pain – as she gave birth to our kid someday. The idea had floored me so hard I thought my heart would stop beating.
A knock sounds on the door, snapping me from my thoughts. Mom pokes her head in again. “You ready?”
I smile. I’ve never been so ready for anything in my life.
I will throw up on the church’s blue carpet if we do not get this show on the road soon. I glace around the nursery we’ve used as a holding room, my bridesmaids bags mingling with the blocks and toy dinosaurs littering the floor. I fluff the full skirt of my dress, my yellow chuck taylors peaking out beneath the layers of lace and crinoline. Mom nearly had a heart attack when I told her I was wearing them under my dress.
“Time to line up,” Lacy tells me, pulling me to my feet and scooting around me to smooth down my gown.
I glance at the tattoo on my finger, delight singing through me at the sight of it. Mom had nearly had a heart attack about that, too. “He’s changed you,” she’d said. “No, Mom,” I’d countered. “He’s just made me not scared to be who I really am.”
I follow Lacy to the church foyer, a sudden calm cooling my nerves. You’d think I was standing in line for the post office, not waiting to walk down the aisle for my wedding.
I’m so aware of everything: the smell of the church carpet, and Lacy’s gardenia perfume, and the grapefruit body spray I’d spritzed on this morning.
Guitar music floats through the closed doors that open to the sanctuary. A door beside me opens, and my dad walks out. He smiles at me, the wrinkles in his face making him look old but regal. I smooth down my dress again. “How do I look?”
His eyes get misty.
My own throat starts to close up. “Dad, you can’t.”
He puts a hand on either side of my face. “You look horrid,” he says. “Substandard and only okay, and nothing at all like the best thing I’ve seen in my life.”
I smile. “I love you, Daddy.”
It all blurs.
The solo one of Dean's friends plays on the guitar.
All I know is Dean. He slips a ring over my finger, and I put a larger band over his. Then I'm his wife, and his lips are claiming mine and there's nothing I wouldn't do for this man in front of me. My husband. My best friend. And I'm so thankful for seemingly pointless jobs, and careers that don't match what we majored in, and for guys taking the chance on girls who may not say yes. All the things we think that make our twenties so hard, and they turned out to be the best things of my life. Dean grips my hand and raises it in the air as he lets out a whoop that sets our guests to chuckling. He kisses my knuckles, tucks my hand under his elbow, and pulls me down the aisle toward the rest of our lives.