The wedding chapel ….
“Sam!” exclaimed Cassie, and ran over to her. “Look!” she said and waggled her ring finger.
“Oh my God!” squealed Sam, “it’s amazing, congratulations! And you look so happy, its a good look for you.” Sam was beginning to feel a bit jealous and had to dig deep to fake her enthusiasm. Grayson was getting married, and Cassie and Cris were engaged. She glanced at Walker and he was shaking Cris’ hand. Everyone is moving forward except me, but I shouldn’t be jealous, she scolded herself, I’m not even sure I’m ready for that next step, or maybe it’s Walker not being ready, but he said he loved me. Maybe it’s just too soon. I haven’t even met his family.
“Sam what’s got you all frowny?” asked Walker as they took their seats.
Leave it to him to read my moods. “Nothing, its nice that Cassie has finally settled down with Cris, those two are adorable together, plus it’s time Cassie was happy again, she said her new bar was coming along great, and they’re going to call in Purple, that’s such a cool name for a wine bar don’t you think?” She had to stop and take a breath.
“Samantha,” said Walker, “you’re rambling, what’s really on your mind?”
Before she could respond, the organist began to play Cannon in D. “Shhhh,” she whispered, grateful for the interruption, “it’s starting.”
“That was beautiful,” said Cassie after the ceremony, “does it make you nervous about our wedding? I mean, I know you’ve done this before.”
Cris gave her a sad smile. “Cass, my first marriage was a sham and it was done by a J.P., not in front of God and all the people that were important to us, so no it makes me,” he paused searching for the right words, “wish it was you and me today.”
She smiled, relieved he wasn’t getting cold feet. “So you’re okay if we do something like this?” she asked, trying to temper her excitement as thoughts of her and Alex discussing their weddings danced in her head.
“Cassandra, if you want a white wedding, we’ll have it, in fact, we should set a date, I’m ready to make it official.”
“Oh,” she said as she melted inside, “I guess I was happy having a ring, and not thinking about a date, but watching Grayson and Alessia, I think I have wedding envy now, so when were you thinking?”
Cris raised an expectant eyebrow. “Well, Purple will be ready soon, we could get married a month after it’s open and do it there, in the upstairs tasting room. We don’t need to have 200 people, just those that are closest to us … that is unless you want more.”
“That’s a wonderful idea,” she agreed, “small is better, it sounds very romantic and intimate. Now I’m really glad we went with a Tuscany theme for the bar, it’ll be like home for you.”
Cris chuckled. “You know I didn’t grow up in Italy, just with Italian parents and grandparents. But perhaps we can honeymoon in Italy and, if you like, start working on our own family.”
“Ohhh,” said Cassie swooning a little. I need to be careful, he makes me want babies with him, like in more than one. “I’m ready Cris,” she confessed then wished she could swallow back her words, but the look of love on his face stopped her. “As soon as we get to Willow Creek we can start planning our wedding, but we don’t have to do Italy, we’re far too busy for that, let’s save it for our first anniversary.” The music changed catching Cassie’s attention. “Oh look they’re doing the first dances, let’s go watch and maybe get some ideas.”
Veronica sighed dreamily as they watched Grayson and Alessia take the dance floor for the first dances. “Alessia looks so beautiful,” she said, “and just look at them, they’re so happy.”
“Yeah, they do look happy,” replied Tyler as he put his arm around Veronica and tucked her into his side. I want that too, he thought as he watched the couple dance, I’ve never been happier since we moved in together. “Ronnie, let’s take a walk outside,” he whispered in her ear, then nipped her earlobe with his teeth, “I want to talk to you about something.”
“Why Tylah,” she said in an exaggerated southern drawl, “are you gettin’ frisky with lil’ ole me?”
He chuckled softly. “Why, are you chicken?” he teased.
Veronica looked at him and he could swear her eyes were sparkling. “Depends,” she said with a smirk, “how far do you plan to take it?”
“Ha, you are chicken.”
“You’re on,” she said, and raised her eyebrow in a challenge as she leaned in close and whispered, “we’ll find out exactly who’s a yellow-bellied chicken liver.”
Tyler swallowed hard as all the blood in his body raced south. He should know better than to challenge Veronica, she never backed down, hence why she was such a good athlete and excellent at her job. He discreetly adjusted himself before taking her hand and sneaking behind the crowd that had gathered to watch the first dances.
“It’s gorgeous out here,” said Veronica once the doors closed and the sounds from the reception hall were muffled, “so different than Newcrest and Willow Creek, you can even smell the ocean from here.”
Tyler frowned. “You’re not thinking of moving here and working for Walker are you?”
Veronica stopped and turned around. “Not unless you came with me, I’d be lost without you.”
“Thank fuck, I’d be lost without you too,” he whispered, then gathered her in his arms and kissed her deeply.
“Fishsticks Tyler,” she breathed out when they parted, “that was hot, but we’re still a bit too out in the open, you know, in case you want to ravish me or something.” She dramatically fanned herself with her hand. “Let’s go around there, behind the trees.” She pulled out of his embrace and grinned before running towards said trees.
“Ronnie?” he called out in a loud whisper as he followed her, “where are you?” Then he heard her soft giggling and the rustling of fabric. When he made it to her, she was standing there grinning with something red and lacy swinging from here index finger.
“Who’s the chicken?” she asked with a smirk.
He plucked what he discovered was her thong from her finger, horrified at what she’d done and stuffed them in his pocket. “Ronnie, what the hell? You’re killin’ me, these are mine now.”
Veronica simply giggled in response.
“So you think this is funny?” he asked, then kissed her again behind the cover of tree, but this time he slid his hand under her dress. When she groaned at the skin to skin contact, he got nervous and pushed away. “You win,” he said, his voice now two octaves lower than normal, “I’m a yellow bellied chicken liver, but when we get home, you’re going to pay for teasing me like this.”
“Fishsticks Tyler,” she said frowning, “I didn’t mean to tease you, I really thought this was what you wanted.” Then she reached for his belt. “Here, let me take care of you.”
Tyler didn’t think he’d ever been this turned on, and it took everything he had to stop her. “Honestly Ronnie, I’d love nothing more, but if we got caught it would ruin Grayson’s wedding.”
“So, why did you want to come out here if not to play hide the salami?” she asked softly, as if unsure she wanted to know the answer.
“Oh God Ronnie, hide the salami?” he said, then shook his head knowing she’d almost made him forget what he came out here to tell her. “No, that’s not what I wanted but you’re making it almost too hard to say no.” She giggled at the unintended innuendo making him smile and his heart melted for her even more.
“Get your mind out of the gutter Ronnie,” he teased, “No, it was that tonight, watching Grayson and Alessia getting married put things in perspective about you and me. You’re my future Veronica, pure and simple, and I don’t want to wait, I want it to start as soon as possible, to get married … so will you marry me?”
Suddenly he realized what he’d done. “Oh shit. wait!” he stammered and ran his hands through his hair. “Damn, I don’t have a ring. God what was I thinking?” His words started running together as he just spouted off whatever came into his head. “I always do things ass backwards, I just needed to tell you how I feel, then went and asked you if you’d marry me because I love you and I would totally play hide the salami if it wasn’t for my entire family sitting 10 feet away and could walk out here any minute … oh fuck a duck … now I made you cry.”
“You win Tyler,” she choked out.
“No, I’m a yellow bellied chicken liver, I wouldn’t play …”
She put her hand on his chest. “Tyler! Stop talking. You win because …” she stopped and sniffed back her emotions, smiling through the tears sparkling in her eyes, “what you just said is the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me in my entire life.” When she finished talking she started sobbing.
Tyler held her while she cried, not understanding why she was crying. “I said fuck a duck Ronnie,” he said in an attempt to stop her crying, “that’s kinda the opposite of sweet.” Oh damn, maybe she just wants her underwear back, he thought and started fishing in his pocket.
“What are you doing?” she asked and sniffed loudly.
“I’m sorry Ronnie,” he said, still unsure, “I thought you probably wanted your panties back so you can put them on and then we can go back inside and pretend this didn’t happen.” His mouth was still out of control but he couldn’t stop it. “Things are gonna be weird now aren’t they? God, I screwed up bad didn’t I? You thought I wanted to hide the salami and I screwed it up. I lost big time.”
Veronica looked panicked. “No Tyler, you didn’t screw anything up – it won’t be weird, unless maybe if you take it back.”
“It was a dumb proposal, it just came out and I made you cry. Now things are all messed up and I’m only making it worse.”
“Listen to me Tyler, I’m not upset, I was just shocked … and over the moon happy, that was a flood of happy tears because that was the best proposal anyone could ever want. I know without a doubt that you love me and I love you too, so Tyler …. oh wait.”
“Wait?” he whispered, terrified as his heart pounded in his chest.
Veronica leaned down and grabbed a long piece of grass and wound it into a circle shape and handed it to him. “Now Tyler, ask me again, but without the fuck a duck part, although that was kinda cute.”
He almost laughed when Veronica said fuck, then realized he was holding a makeshift engagement ring in his hand, and his throat went dry. She’s going to say yes, otherwise she wouldn’t have given me a ring, he thought, I get a second chance. He felt his heart skip a beat, or ten and smiled so big his cheeks hurt.
When he finally swallowed the lump in his throat, he fell to one knee and took her hand. “Veronica Hadley, I love you. Will you marry me?” His words were a soft whisper filled with anticipation.
Her smile matched his and she nodded her head “Yes Tyler, yes I will.” Then she stuck out her hand for the grass ring. When he hesitated she started laughing. “Put it on me Tyler.”
With his hands shaking and his heart beating a million beats a minute, he managed to roll it on. She looked at her hand like she had the most beautiful ring in the world. “It’s perfect, now it’s official, I’m engaged to the most wonderful sweetest man in the universe.”
Veronica jumped into his arms and they sealed it with a searing kiss. When she finally slid down his body, she looked up at him biting her lip. “Tyler, do you think we could wait until tomorrow to tell everyone? This is Grayson’s day, you were right, we shouldn’t be getting busy out here or doing anything else to take the spotlight away from them.”
Tyler couldn’t help when his shoulders slumped just a bit, but knew she was right. “Okay, I get it, and if you want to wait until you get a real ring, we can do that too, but I promise, I’ll get you one tomorrow before we leave because I really want everyone to know we’re going to be married.”
“Same here,” she agreed, “tomorrow then, but tonight we’ll celebrate in private. Now, let’s get back inside before they miss us.”
He suddenly realized she’d made no effort to retrieve her thong. “But you’re commando,” he quickly reminded her.
“Yes I am,” she said and waggled her eyes brows.
“Holy shit Ronnie, now I’ve got a boner again.”
Veronica laughed. “I love it when a plan comes together.” She took his arm and together they turned and walked back towards the reception.
A little extra since everyone was together and all dressed up:
Eliot Gray – 53 and Taylor Murdock Gray (Aunt of the groom) – 49 with their son Jackson Gray – 21 and his girlfriend he met in college Lana McKinnon – 20
And finally – the Redcliffe side of the family