He was beautiful. The type of beautiful girls see on TV and swear isn’t real… but he was. Alec Daniels was real and gorgeous and all mine. His dark hair was combed back; his misty blue eyes twinkled at me. His giant, toothy grin practically glowed in contrast to the sand.
Mine, all mine.
By the time I reached him, I jumped into his arms and kissed him. Luckily I could blame it on pregnancy hormones.
“I love you.” I sighed against his lips.
“And I you,” he said hoarsely as he rained kisses down my cheek and to my neck.
My dad cleared his throat.
Reluctantly, I peeled myself from Alec’s body and felt my face heat with embarrassment.
Alec didn’t release my hand, instead he leaned down and whispered in my ear, “You’ve always been mine, but today, I make it impossible for you to escape me.”
“You trying to be creepy or romantic?” I whispered back as the pastor welcomed everyone.
“Honest.” His teeth grazed my ear. “Desperate.” His wet lips came into contact with my cheek. “Obsessed.”
“So,” I said in a shaky voice, “Just a little creepy.”
“Alec?” the pastor called. “Will you lead your future bride the rest of the way down the aisle or did you need another few moments to kiss her neck?”
Chuckling erupted among the guests.
Fantastic. I gripped his hand and took a step underneath the makeshift white tent.
Chairs were in long rows with lanterns at the edge of each row. A chandelier hung in the middle of the tent giving the beach a glamorous feel.
“You may be seated.” The pastor called and winked in my direction. I’d only just met him the day before, and even then it seemed weird that a complete stranger would be marrying us, but he’d come highly recommended. It helped that he was Priscilla’s dad —another reason for Jaymeson to stay away from her. If that boy had any chance of going to Heaven it would be completely shot if he stole the pastor’s daughter’s innocence.
Once we reached our positions for the rest of the ceremony, I looked around. Demetri was sighing heavily in Alyssa’s direction and she was scowling back. Jaymeson was winking at Priscilla and she looked just about as interested as a person does when sitting in a dentist office.
“Please be seated,” the pastor instructed, as Alec took my hands. We stood side by side.
“This ceremony isn’t like others I’ve performed in my past.” The pastor smiled warmly at Alec and then at me. “You’re so young, yet you’ve both lived — extraordinary lives. Not only have you conquered demons, you’ve come through your own battles beaten and bruised, only to discover that you’re stronger than you thought.
“Strength is a funny thing.” He paused for a moment to clear his throat. “We assume it’s solely from within ourselves — and forget that a lot of times, it takes someone else holding our hand to pull us through it. Alec.” His gaze left mine. “She’s not just your wife. Nat is your partner. When you’re weak… She’s strong. When she’s weak, you’re her rock. Marriage isn’t just a union — it’s a partnership. Never again will you have to walk through life’s trials alone — because you have each other.”
Tears streamed down my face. How did this guy know exactly what to say?
“Nat.” The pastor’s warm smile put me at ease. “You are the crown of creation. You were created not only to be a complement to your husband, but to be his encouragement, his beauty, his pearl, his most treasured part of himself. For when you marry, you become part of him. Your souls no longer traverse the world independently, but interdependently — entwined with one another. With that being said, I have a question for each of you.”
By now the tears were flowing freely. I could hear Alyssa sobbing behind me and Demetri was wiping something from his eye as he squinted hard at the ground. But Jaymeson, Jaymeson’s face was perfectly impassive — as if the pastor hadn’t just made the most beautiful speech any of us had ever heard. It was almost like he wasn’t affected.
“Alec, do you take this woman—”
The pastor chuckled. “I wasn’t finished.”
“I do,” Alec said again. “I take her.” He turned to face me. “I’ll take her when she’s sick, if she gets cancer, if she gets in a terrible wreck and doesn’t even remember my name. I’ll make it my purpose to convince her again, every single day, that she’s the love of my life, that she’s the reason I even want to live. I promise to provide for her, to take care of her always. I promise to put her needs above my own. I swear to never leave her side — ‘til death parts us.”
Sniffling was heard among the guests. I dabbed my eyes.
“Nat?” The pastor turned to me.
“Oh great,” I said in a wobbly voice. “I can’t compete with that!”
Alec’s warm chuckle soothed me, his eyes dripping with desire and love.
“Do you take this man to have and to hold—”
“—I take him.” I interrupted just like Alec did. “I promise to be his voice of reason when someone thinks it’s funny to un-alphabetize his music. I’ll stand by his side when people may criticize him. I’ll always encourage him, love him, take care of him when he’s grumpy and sick.” Demetri coughed out a laugh. “I’ll kiss him every morning and every night — I’ll be true to him and only him. I’ll take care of his heart, but mostly, I’ll swear my life to his, until the day we die.”
“Well then.” The pastor’s voice was warm with emotion. “I think that about covers it.”
Confused, I looked away from Alec only to feel his hands leave mine. He grabbed a nearby guitar. It was set up so that microphones were around us but nobody could see them, so I knew if he sang it would be loud enough for people to enjoy, but still… He hadn’t said a word to me. Not one word.
“Nat,” Alec’s voice croaked in the microphone. “This is for you.”
I wanna tell you, but there’s so many words to say. I wanna tell you, but the words get in the way. It’s all there on the tip of my tongue. My heart’s so full, brain goes numb. So I’ll just ask you. Do you? I do, me too.
I promise I will be there as the years go by. And I’ll be faithful to you till the day I die. Just to have and to hold your hand makes me the luckiest man, so now I’ll ask you, do you? I do, me too. So now I ask you, do you? I do, me too.
So many pieces of paper, crumpled up and thrown away. So many I’ll do it laters. Gotta get the nerve… Why such crazy behavior? Gonna say my vows today. I can’t wait.
Oh baby, I do. I do. I love you.
The chords changed and then he started another song.
I’m never giving up on you — I’m loving you forever — here’s my heart, take my soul and my body too. I live and breathe for you — want to die right beside you — hold my hand as we walk through this journey into eternity together.
I was just learning to love, when you walked in my life.
Now my greatest accomplishment will be to have you as my wife.
I’m sorry I’m so undeserving of your love — but I’ll promise you Forever and pray it’s enough.
Yes, I’ll promise you Forever and pray it’s enough.
The first song I recognized from Lovestruck, a musical I’d been obsessed with during all the wedding planning. We’d basically memorized it together. But the second part? That was all Alec. Correction. That was all AD2 perfection.
“I now pronounce you…” The pastor’s voice echoed as Alec strummed the last few chords then handed his guitar to Demetri. “Husband and wife. You may kiss your—”
His mouth crushed mine. In two steps he’d already grabbed me and lifted me into the air, silencing me with his kiss.
When we pulled back, Demetri was grinning like an idiot and Alyssa was trying to hand me flowers but was struggling, considering she was trying to wipe her face with her tissue. Priscilla stole a glance at Jaymeson, he winked. Idiot.
All in all it seemed like a typical day in the life of AD
“I can’t do it.” I looked at the three-tiered cake from Sweetside Seaside Bakery; the frosted masterpiece was something out of Nat’s dreams. As a guy all I could really say was that it was cool, if you liked black and white, and lots of shiny objects that make you want to put on a pair of sunglasses.
Michelle, the baker, tapped her foot impatiently. “Just do it.”
“Do it, or so help me God, I’ll ruin the cake myself!” She raised the knife above her head.
“Wait!” I grabbed the knife from her hand and scowled. “Fine, we’ll cut the cake.”
“And…” Michelle crossed her arms.
“And…” I gulped. “I’ll very gently wipe some cake on her face.”
“That’s all I ask.” Michelle patted me on the cheek. “Good choice, Alec. Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to go make sure Jaymeson hasn’t molested the female ice sculpture.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time,” I mumbled.
“Right, well, a trip to the ER isn’t really in my plan for your wedding day, so I’ll just go make sure security hasn’t let that Brit close enough to do anything—”
“Right.” She walked off leaving me alone with the shiny cake and knife.
It wasn’t that I had a fear of cutting cakes or anything, or that I was super attached to food. But Nat… she looked so damn beautiful, how was I supposed to wipe cake on her face when all I wanted to do was kiss her lips? Stare at her? Lick her from head to toe? Hmm, maybe I should just start at her feet. Right, I’d just put frosting on her toes, suck on each one until the frosting was gone, then I’d move up her calf and—
“So, you got a thing for knives now, or what?” Demetri said behind me.
“Ass.” I didn’t turn around, just placed the knife onto the table and continued to stare at the cake.
“It’s cool.” He walked up beside me. “I mean, I used to have a thing for butter. So you like knives, no biggie. I mean, I wouldn’t have taken you for being a knife lover. After all, Jaymeson’s the one that can find his reflection in anything from a spoon to a toilet.”
“What do you want?” I asked, voice strained.
“Time to cut the cake.”
“—Had to change.” Demetri slapped my back. “Girls these days don’t just have one dress for the wedding, they have two.”
Just as he finished talking, the aroma that was pure Nat wafted into my personal space. I swear her pregnancy made her the most beautiful-smelling woman around. She was always fresh like sunshine. Damn. I was going to start fantasizing again if I didn’t get a hold of myself.
“Husband?” She giggled.
Demetri laughed. “If you don’t have a freaking heart attack after turning around, there’s no hope for you.”
“Go,” I barked, turning at the same time.
What I saw took my breath away — stole it straight from my body and placed it on the opposite end of the earth.
In a see-through, plunging white dress. There was hardly any material, yet it covered her shoulders and back. Certain parts were totally see-through as if she’d just covered the important parts and let lace do the rest.
Damn my imagination.
“We’re married.” She smiled, taking a step toward me. I held out my arms and pulled her against my chest.
“Any second thoughts?”
Her smile grew. “Never.”
“Time to cut the cake!” Jaymeson yelled above the crowd.
“He drunk yet?” Nat giggled.
“Hope not because he has to get Demetri and Alyssa to the airport after the reception.”
Nat’s grip tightened around my waist.
“Hey.” I tilted her chin toward my face. “I know it’s crazy that we have to go back to work right away, but I promise I’ll make it worth it to you.”
“Of course.” I kissed her gently. “I’ll make it worth it, over and over and over again, until you forget the reason for being upset in the first place.”
“And what if I don’t forget?”
I gave her a smug grin. “Baby, if you don’t forget your name, then clearly I’m not working hard enough to erase your memory.”
“So what? You’ll just work harder.”
“Harder.” I laughed. “Faster, slower, then when you can’t take it anymore, even slower than that.”
“I have a feeling we’re talking about different things.” Her cheeks turned pink.
“I have a feeling you know exactly what I’m referring to.” I grabbed her ass and pulled her flush against me. Her eyes widened briefly before she closed them and turned completely red.
“Uh, cake?” Jaymeson came up next to us. “Or are you planning on having sex right here?”
“Cake,” Nat mumbled against my chest.
“Then sex.” I shrugged.
“Hmm.” Jaymeson grabbed the knife. “I would have done sex first, but then again, I’m a—”
“—Whore,” Alyssa finished. “We know. Now hurry and cut the cake, guys! I have to go grab my stuff for the airport.”
I took the knife from Jaymeson’s hands and led Nat to the cake table. Hell, how was I supposed to go through with tradition without messing up her makeup?
I placed my hands over hers as we cut through the first tier and placed small pieces on each other’s plates.
Nat was too sweet. With a giggle she dipped her finger in the frosting and rubbed it across my lips. Clearly she hadn’t a clue that about ten minutes previous I’d had several fantasies about licking frosting off her body.
I dipped my finger in the frosting and winked at the crowd, all before rubbing the frosting down the front of her chest, right between her cleavage.
With a swift lick, my tongue went all the way from the V in her dress towards her neck, meeting skin in such an erotic combination of sugar and Nat that my knees almost gave out.
The crowd erupted in cheers. When I lifted my eyes I winked at Michelle who simply threw her hands up into the air as if I was a hopeless case.
But Nat grabbed my face before I could see anything else. Her mouth was hot on mine as she wrapped her arms around my neck. “Such a rock star at heart.”
“This rock star doesn’t have a heart.”
She pulled back, a confused look etched across her face.
“He gave it away a long time ago.” I kissed her mouth again. “In high school — hasn’t seen it since, not that he wants to. Why would he want his own heart when he could have yours?”
A tear slid down her cheek. “Why indeed?”
“A toast!” Demetri shouted above the crowd. “To Mr. and Mrs. Alec Daniels!”
Whistles and clapping followed, but I may as well have been alone in my own little world — all I could see, all I’d ever seen since the first day I’d met her—were those eyes, those lips, and that smile. Next to Nat, the world would always be a blur — because I refused to take my eyes off the prize — off of my wife, for as long as I lived.
I knew Alyssa was pissed. She had barely looked at me when she walked down the aisle in front of Nat. When I had tried to grab her attention she scowled. I would have gotten down on one knee had it not taken away from the wedding.
Once the reception was over I had plans. Big plans. I just wasn’t sure how receptive Alyssa would be, especially since now she thought I was backing out of commitment, like Jaymeson and I had gotten brain transplants or something.
“I don’t know…” Jaymeson licked his lips and checked his watch. “We only have a few hours before your flight. If you expect me to drive you and Alyssa to the airport while you canoodle in the backseat, you’ve got another thing coming.?
“Canoodle?” I repeated. “Who says that anymore?”
“It was the most appropriate word I could think of considering Aunt Lois is standing within earshot of this particular conversation,” he said through clenched teeth.
“Please.” I waved him off. Aunt Lois can’t hear a damn thing. “HELLO, AUNT LOIS! GREAT EVENING, ISN’T IT?”
“Oh you!” She tittered grabbing onto my sleeve. “No I won’t go skinny dipping! You rogue!” Jaymeson spit out his water onto the ground. “But this one.” She eyed Jaymeson up and down. “For you, I’d be willing to change my mind.”
Never in my life have I seen a man look so trapped. Jaymeson looked from me to Aunt Lois and back, peeling the label from his bottled water in the process.
“What say you, England?” I joked. “You up for a night swim?”
“I’d say I was down, so, so down,” Jaymeson whispered.
“LOIS!” Nat’s dad called, saving Jaymeson from being taken advantage of by a seventy-year-old woman.
When she was a safe distance away I let out a snort of laughter and punched Jaymeson in the arm. “Wow, smooth. I’m actually a bit worried to leave you alone with her.”
“I keep doing that.” Jaymeson shook his head. “Panicking in tense moments, that can’t be good.”
“Wow, maybe your past is catching up with you?”
He seemed to think about it for a moment. “Nah, that can’t be it, I’m just dehydrated or something.”
“Dehydration causes players to do what? Say ’yes’ to cougars?”
“Do I even want to know?” Alyssa said coming up behind us.
“Not this time.” Jaymeson shook his head. “Really, I wish I didn’t even know. Yet I’m pretty confident when I go to bed tonight, I’m going to wake up with at least two nightmares, both containing Aunt Lois without a bathing suit.”
“I’m concerned that you would know what she looks like without clothes on,” Alyssa said.
I raised my hand. “I second that concern.”
“Screw you both.” Jaymeson swore and grabbed his keys. “Now grab your shit so I can drive you to the airport.”
Alyssa shrugged and grabbed her bag. I stayed back and whispered to Jaymeson, “Please?”