Fiance by Friday(118)

By: Catherine Bybee


Gwen smiled.

“And we’re not wearing god-awful yellow concoctions in the Texas sun,” Eliza said.

“Oh will I ever live that down?”

Sam and Eliza both said no at the same time.

The bridesmaids wore gray silk. Each of them lovely.

“Thank you all for being here.”

“Oh, hon. We’re so happy this is working out for you.” Eliza hugged her first. And as much as Samantha tried to smile, her stomach simply wasn’t cooperating.

“Now will one of you kindly go out and make certain I’m a bride who isn’t walking to an empty altar.”

Karen laughed and left the room. “I’ll go check.”

“He said he was coming. He’ll be here.”

“But none of you have seen him.”

“Blake would kill him,” Sam said.

“Neil would be hard to take down,” Eliza murmured. “Just sayin’.”

Karen popped back into the room less than five minutes later. Behind her was a man Gwen had never seen in person before, but she knew who he was.

Neil’s friend Rick walked into the room, doing his best to disguise his limp.

“Holy…Go, Neil. He said you were beautiful, but…well, men say those things all the time.”

Gwen giggled. “You must be Rick.”

“You sure you want that old guy down there? I’m a couple years younger,” he teased.

Rick was cute…tall. Those dimples would play a number on the right woman.

“I’m taken.”

“Can’t blame a man for trying.” Rick stepped forward. “Rick. A pleasure.”

“I’m so happy you’re well.”

“Me too. Those nurses weren’t even cute. Isn’t there a cute test for nurses?” Rick smiled at the women in the room.

Eliza was laughing. “’Fraid not.”

“Should be. Anyway. Neil wanted me to come up and give you this.” Rick handed her a note. “And, ah, he needed me to get your ring.”

Gwen smiled and removed the pink diamond from her hand. “I get it back.”

“That’s the plan. See you down there.”

Gwen sucked in her lips and tore open the envelope.

The cardstock bore the semblance of a ballerina. Tears instantly sprang to her eyes. He remembered.

To my Princess in the ivory tower.

I’m not very good with words. In fact, most people think I have a third grade vocabulary. But I promise to always find the right words to make you feel safe and loved.

Before you, I was lost. With you, I’m whole.

Now please come down and marry me in front of our family and friends so they know you’re mine.

I love you,

Neil

“Oh damn…she’s crying. Quick someone get a tissue.”

“Is it bad?” Karen rushed to her side, glanced at the note in her trembling hand. “Oh…Oh!”

The note was passed around the women. “Who knew?” Sam whispered.

“Go, Neil,” Eliza chuckled.

Gwen dried up her tears and smiled. “All this and the man’s hung like a bear.”

“Ahh!” Karen screamed with laughter.

Eliza’s jaw dropped and Samantha held her stomach. “Oh Lord. We skipped your bachelorette party.”

Karen waved them off. “It’s OK. We can make up for it at my divorce party. Michael and I are already planning it.”

“So soon?”

“No…still over a year off. But he’s a planner. Loves a good party.”

Gwen rolled her eyes. “C’mon. Let’s not talk of separation when I have a man who’s waiting for me.”

The warm waters of the Caribbean lapped up on the shore. The wedding party preceded her down the aisle and the gentle music of a local ensemble changed as she rounded the corner and walked toward her future.

He stood there, wearing a gray suit, just as she pictured. His broad shoulders stood tall, his gaze never left hers. Rick stood beside him, and then Blake and Carter. Perfect.

He looked nervous. Like he had anything to worry about. She was his already. Even without the vows, without the rings. She’d been his for months even if he didn’t know it.

She made it to the minister and smiled.

“You’re beautiful,” Neil whispered.

She chewed her lower lip.

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