“I need to say something to you,” he says. He closes the door behind him and starts to pace across the floor.
“What is it?” I sit down on the edge of Paul’s bed.
“I love that little girl more than anything in this world,” he says.
“And when I met you, I promised you that if you ever hurt her, I would chop your nuts off.”
“I remember.” I adjust my stance, because my balls are shriveling up into my belly.
“And I just want you to know that still stands, even when she has a ring on her finger.”
He stops pacing and stares at me for a second. I lift a brow at him. I can’t fault him for his comments. If I ever have a daughter, I’ll do the same thing.
“I didn’t get to pick the man my daughter fell in love with,” he says. “But if I could, I would have picked you. That’s all I wanted to say.”
He leaves the room, and I sink down on the edge of the bed. Damn, they’re determined to make me cry today.
After a minute, the door opens again and Friday jumps on top of me. “Why are you on my bed?” she asks.
“I was trying to fondle your panties without anyone knowing. Thanks for ruining it.” I blow out a sarcastic breath.
“You’re such a Pervy McPervypants,” she says. Then she giggles.
“No. Not a drop.” She shoves me. “Did you send Paul over with a necklace?”
“Reagan is crying,” she admits, her face going soft.
“Oh, whew,” I breathe out. I can take crying, as long as it’s happy crying.
I get to my feet. “Now?”
I nod too. “I’m ready.” I am so ready. I’ve been ready since the first time I ever saw her, I think.
I walk to the deck and look out, and I see the chairs have been set up, and Emily is perched on a stool playing her guitar as I walk down the aisle. I walk by Gonzo and he grins at me, and then reaches out to bump knuckles with me. Henry is smiling at me from the front row, where my parents would be sitting if they were here. He’s right beside Paul and Friday, and my brothers and their wives are in the row behind him. Sam is standing up by the altar, and he’s waiting for me. I pat my pockets looking for the ring. But then he pats his and nods his head. I got this, he tells me without words.
I go and stand in front of the preacher, and Reagan’s mom smiles at me and wipes a tear from her eye. I fidget, because I need Reagan up here beside me.
Then the sliding glass door opens and she walks out on her dad’s arm. I stop breathing. I can’t help it. She’s so beautiful that my heart trips a beat. She’s wearing a white flirty short dress and it’s perfect for the beach. It’s perfect for her. For us. For this. For me.
She stops beside me, and her dad kisses her on the cheek. I hear him say to her, “Not too late to back out.”
“I don’t want to back out, Dad,” she says. She kisses his cheek and he wipes a tear from her cheek with the pad of his thumb. “Thank you.”
He looks at me for a second and stops to shake my hand. “Thank you, sir,” I say.
Then I take her hand in mine, and I try to remember this moment. I want to cement it in my head. She’s not carrying flowers. She’s wearing a circle of daisies like a crown on her head, and it’s so fucking awesome that I can’t stop looking at her.
“You okay?” she asks. She fingers the necklace that used to belong to my mom. “I really love this,” she says, looking down at it.
“She would like that you have it,” I tell her. I believe that with all my heart.
The preacher clears his throat, and begins his “dearly beloved” speech.
When it’s my turn to say my vows, I clear my throat and blink past the tears. “Reagan, you have more strength than anyone I have ever met. I knew I loved you when we were sitting around a campfire and you begged me not to kiss you. You might not like that memory, but I love it, because it was the first moment I knew in my heart that you could be mine. And my feelings haven’t changed since.” I rub a hand across my nose and laugh. “Then you punched me in the face, and I knew I would do anything to win you over.”
I look at my family, and see the girls all wiping their faces.
“Then I brought you home and my family loved you as much as I did. You can kick ass, but you also know how to love, and that’s all that’s required to be a Reed.”
“So, Reagan, I promise to take care of you, to treat you with respect, and to love you with all my heart.”
Reagan sniffs. “I met you on the worst night of my life,” she says. “Then I spent two years trying to figure out how I could get to see you again.” She laughs. “Two years of scheming, because I knew you were something special. You had my heart long before you probably wanted it, and I hope you hold it forever. I begged you not to kiss me, and I’m so glad you took your time, and kissed me when you meant it. You taught me to trust you, and you earn my trust more and more every day. So, Pete, I give you my heart, and I take yours, and I plan to keep it until the day that I die.”