Fiance by Friday(117)

By: Catherine Bybee


Neil walked by the colonel and extended his hand.

“She’s quite a handful,” Montgomery said.

Neil glanced at his wife. “Yes…yes, she is.”

“We’ll be in touch, Lieutenant.”

“Sir.”

Neil took Gwen’s hand and walked out of the room.



A driver took them to Blake’s hotel. Outside the world started to wake. The rain from the day before was gone, the blue skies were littered with fluffy white clouds.

Gwen clasped Neil’s hand and refused to let go.

“Do you realize who you just told off?”

She giggled. “No.”

“You have balls, woman.”

“Oh, I assure you I don’t. I’m simply tired and hungry and I don’t feel particularly safe without you by my side. I’m sure in ten or twenty years that will fade.” She waited for his response to her statement. He could always come back to her and suggest they dissolve their marriage now that the threat was gone. That wasn’t what she wanted.

Not by any measure.

“Or it might last thirty or forty.”

She bit her bottom lip and scooted closer. “So we’re going to do this? This married thing?”

He lifted her hand that carried the ring he’d placed on it. “On one condition.”

She scooted closer…her heart filled with love. “What’s that, Lieutenant?”

“We get married the right way. In Aruba with that dress you’re dreaming of. With witnesses we want to remember.”

Tears sprang to her eyes. She was desperately tired and so very happy. “I love you, Neil MacBain.”

He dropped his lips to hers in a crushing kiss. Her head swam as all her emotion rose up into one meeting of lips. She couldn’t imagine how awful she appeared, how she tasted. But Neil kissed her as if she were the finest nectar and she didn’t have the heart to pull away.

“I love you,” he said as he moved away.

Everything inside her shifted into position and clicked into harmony.





Epilogue



Neil left her an hour after dropping her off at Blake’s hotel to search out his friend Rick. She hated to say good-bye after such a short time, but understood Neil’s need to find his colleague. To assure himself that he was OK.

He’d called from the hospital the next morning saying Rick was undergoing surgery. When Gwen suggested she come there to be by his side, he encouraged her to return with Blake to California. He wasn’t going to leave his last remaining team member until he knew he was well and that wouldn’t be for several days.

“This is something he needs to do on his own,” Blake had told her. “He lost everyone else.”

“He has me.”

Blake patted her on the back. “He’s a lucky man. Give him this, Gwen. Let him do it alone and be there when he comes home.”

They spoke daily for a week and a half. All the while, she planned a wedding on a beach in Aruba. Apparently Samantha was in the throes of morning sickness and wanted nothing to do with saying “I do again” with the threat of her breakfast coming up. Karen, Eliza, and Sam were more than happy to help Gwen plan a proper ceremony for her and Neil. That was if he ever left the hospital.

The day before their planned ceremony, she woke in a hotel room alone. She’d not seen her husband since that morning in Colorado Springs. The warm breeze of the tropical climate caressed her skin as she opened her blinds to take in the day. Blake had assured her that Neil would be there when she walked down the aisle, but a tiny part of her worried that everything she felt was only a dream. A dream destined to end.

Karen was the first to greet her. “Oh, my God. You’re still in a bathrobe. Holy cow, woman. You only have three hours to get ready.”

Gwen laughed. “Is Neil here?”

“He’ll be here.”

Which meant he wasn’t. “Are you sure?”

“C’mon, Gwen. Have faith. And get in the shower. The stylist will be here in an hour.”

The next three hours flew by. Her hair was swept up around her face and her golden locks were left to drape on her shoulders. Carefree. Just the way she pictured her wedding attire. When Eliza zipped up the back of her dress Gwen felt like a proper bride. Samantha stepped behind her and pressed the colorful bouquet into her hands. “You’re stunning.”

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