"You want your mom and Margaret in here to help?"
It wouldn't feel right if they weren't. "Yeah, I do."
After Addison retrieves them, I stand in my robe by the bed as they work to remove my dress from the garment bag. My mom sighs when she sees it. "Oh, Laurie. It's beautiful."
It is the most beautiful wedding dress I've ever seen. The perfect in-between shade of creamy vanilla lace over champagne charmeuse—something I never imagined myself choosing. I always thought lace was old-timey, but not in this case. It's a modern sleeveless trumpet gown with a romantic plunging-V neckline. My favorite part, and probably the reason I chose it, is the thick champagne sash around the waist adorned with a floral embellishment that matches the one in my hair.
I step into my gown and Addison pulls it up. I suck in so she can zip me because it's a little snug in the waist. "Sweetie, your seamstress didn't cut you any slack here."
I work to situate my cleavage. "No, she didn't. I said that I wanted it to be fitted and she did exactly as I told her, so I can't complain." It's even a little tighter in the chest than I thought it'd be.
"Jack's going to be a huge fan of the boobage you have going on here. They look great."
"I just hope I manage to not pop one—or both—out during the reception when we dance."
She reaches up and bounces them. "Nah, you're good. Those puppies aren't going anywhere."
I do a spin around and look at my mom and Margaret. "What do you think?"
Margaret, being the courteous person she is, allows my mom to speak first. "You're gorgeous, baby girl. Never doubt how proud I am of you or your decisions. Jack is a fine man and lucky to be making you his wife."
"You're a beautiful bride. Jolie will always be your mum, but I couldn't be more thrilled about being your other mother. You're one of my own from this day forward. Today you become Laurelyn McLachlan, my son's wife and the mother of my future grandchildren." Margaret puts her arms around and squeezes me. "I love you. But please, don't make me wait long on a baby."
"I don't think you have to worry about that," I laugh.
I see the surprised expression on her face. "Are you pregnant?"
"Not yet, but we've been talking about it. A lot. Jack Henry's done a one-eighty. He told me he never wanted children after we first met, and now almost every other conversation is about kids."
"I thought he'd never marry or want children, but then you came along and everything changed. You don't know how happy it makes me to know you're already talking about having sweet babies."
"Okay, ladies," Addison cuts in, "I hate to be the one to interrupt, but we need to get Laurie rolling with the photographer so she'll be on time marrying Jack Henry if she wants to get to work on having those babies you're talking about."
"She's right. It's not that long until the ceremony begins." My mom passes me the bouquet of white roses. "I love you, baby girl. Don't be nervous."
"I'm not. I can't be because everything is perfect." And it is. I'm marrying the man I love and every person who means something to me is here to witness and celebrate the beginning of our lives as Mr. and Mrs. Jack Henry McLachlan.
I'm waiting for my bride in the heart of Avalon under a grapevine canopy covered with white roses and sheer white fabric. When the carriage stops, I can easily see Jake and Addison, but Laurelyn is hidden from view behind her father. He steps down from the carriage to assist Addison and that's when I get my first look at her.
She's so beautiful, it takes my breath away.
I've always heard people say that, but it literally happens. She's proof of it. My chest is heavy like something is sitting on it. I inhale deeply because I'm so short of breath. My heart is racing and my palms are tingly. I make fists and release them because they feel so strange.
"Don't lock your knees, bro," Evan whispers in my ear.
He leans over. "I see what you're doing with your hands. They're tingling because you're about to pass out. Unlock your knees."
I do as Evan says and shift my weight from side to side. "Now you look like you're doing Celia's pee-pee dance."
"Shut the fuck up." I turn to look at the minister because I know he heard me. "Sorry."
He shrugs as he shakes his head. Great. He thinks he's about to marry this beautiful woman off to a heathen.
The music begins and Addison walks the rose petal-covered aisle first. Celia is next and skips down the aisle, making a game of throwing petals on the path. She then barrels over to sit in Emma's lap instead of taking her spot next to Addison.
Our guests stand when the bridal chorus begins. I see Jake and Laurelyn at the other end of the path. Her arm is looped through her father's and they begin their walk toward us. I had no idea what her dress looked like or how she would wear her hair, but everything about her is perfect. I wouldn't change a thing.
Once the music stops, the minister says far too many words and then Jake finally hands Laurelyn off to me. She passes her bouquet of white roses to Addison and I take her hands in mine. I slowly rub my thumbs back and forth over the top of her hands as the minister speaks. I have no idea what he's saying because I only want to get to the part where he says, "I now present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Henry McLachlan."
She squeezes my hands as my cue because it's time for me to say my vows. We decided to write our own because nothing about us has been traditional thus far—why would we start now?
I look into her caramel eyes. "Today I lay at your feet the man I've been so I may become the man you need me to be: your husband. Your lover. Your best friend. A father to our children. I promise to cherish and respect you, to care for and protect you, to comfort and encourage you, and stay with you for all eternity. I surrender my all to you this day and every one hereafter." Tears form in her eyes as I speak; I catch them with my thumb before they roll down her cheek.
The minister then asks Laurelyn to recite her vows and I'm surprised to see Chloe appear with L.'s Martin. She takes it from my sister and watches my face while drawing a deep breath and slowly releasing it. It takes a moment before I realize what's going on here—she's going to sing her vows to me. "I take you to be my best friend, my lover, my husband, and the father of our children. I will cherish our union and love you more each day than I did the day before. I will trust you and respect you, laugh with you and cry with you, loving you faithfully through good times and bad, regardless of the obstacles we may face together. I give you my hand, my heart, and my love from this day forward, for as long as we both shall live. You will always be every song I sing."
"That was beautiful, L.…and so unexpected."
We exchange rings and the minister rambles on for too long as I anxiously wait to hear him tell me to kiss my bride. When he finally does, I do exactly what Laurelyn warned me not to do. I sweep her backward and pash her with all I have.
When I pull her up, I expect to be chastised but all she has for me is a big, beautiful smile. And then comes my favorite part.
"I now present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Henry McLachlan."
We're in the air on the private jet I booked to Hawaii. Laurelyn has no idea where we're going, but I'm taking her to our newly acquired private estate on the beach in Maui. It's one of my wedding gifts to her, and I know she's going to love it. But not as much as the music studio the architect is in the process of planning for her. Music will always be a part of her life, and I won't have her give it up because she thinks it's the only way we can be together.
"Thank you again for having the guys fly down to play at the reception. It was a wonderful surprise, almost as good as Margaret surprising me with my family."
"You're so very welcome, love." I bring her hand to my lips. I can't seem to stop kissing her since we officially became husband and wife. "I didn't know your parents and grandparents were coming, and I wanted you to have someone there you considered family."
She brings our clasped hands to her mouth. "You are the best. I couldn't ask for more—unless you felt like telling me where we're going."
"Nope—only that we have almost eleven hours of flight time ahead of us." We're still buckled into our seats from takeoff, but I put my hand on her knee and begin sliding it up her leg. "What ever shall we do with all this time we have on our hands?"
She pushes my hand down her leg. "Jack Henry! You really have no shame, do you?"
"Were you really ever under the impression that I did, Mrs. McLachlan?"
"We've barely even gotten off the ground and the flight attendants could walk this way any minute."
The captain announces overhead that we are free to move about the cabin. I wag my eyebrows at my wife. "That means we can take this to the bedroom."
The flight attendants enter the cabin but I stop them in their tracks. "You may leave the food and champagne. We'll serve ourselves and call if we need anything."
"Yes, sir," they say in unison before exiting the cabin.
"Well, you're going to make this the easiest assignment they've ever had."
If I don't see them again, that'll be just fine. "That works for me."
I'm out of my seat and pulling her up from hers. "Come on, L. Let's consummate this marriage in the sky so it'll be something we'll never forget."
She rises from her seat. "You are something else."
"I think you've told me that before."
She stops at the door and puts her finger against my chest. "Can I at least have a minute to get ready?"
"So you can slip into something special for me?"
"Yes. And take care of the birth control issue before you have a chance to negate it since you've proven to be a repeat offender."