“Are you ready? I’m coming in…!”
“Hurry up! Don’t let anyone see you!”
Kat opened the bedroom door and shut it quickly behind herself. She turned around and gasped. “Ooh…”
I was wearing the dress. Not just any dress. The dress.
It was an A-line cut, made from charmeuse with a pale white chiffon overlay. Frosty white at the top, it was studded with tiny sparkling crystals across the bateau neckline. Just after the waist, the dress began to spread outward over a soft tulle skirt underneath, and the color faded into a prussian blue before fading into a dark royal blue at the bottom. The dress ended there, gracing the tops of my feet, which I had in silver-colored mary jane heels.
My hair was done up in a grecian hair style, half up with a loose braid down my back. A silver filigree hair slide was overtop the start of the braid, giving my hair an early 1900s look. At my ears were sterling silver art deco towers, roughly two inches in length. They resembled miniature Eiffel towers, each studded in marcasite and featuring a white pearl in the center.
Kat made a little squeal of excitement and came running over. “Oh I love it! It’s so you. Tres magnifique!”
“Why thank you, m’dear.”
“You’re going to knock him over when he sees you.”
“Well, that’s the idea, right?”
“No seriously, he’s going to go bananas.”
I laughed. “Thanks.” I turned to look at myself in the mirror. “I think I’ve got everything ready.” I glanced at her in the mirror. “You sure everything looks okay?”
“It looks amazing. You look amazing.” Then she stopped. “Wait – do you have your somethings?”
“You know: something borrowed, something blue… The somethings!”
“Oh! Ha! Yes. My dress is the blue part. The earrings are my ‘something old’; they belonged to my grandmother. My shoes are new… Oh damn. I don’t have the ‘something borrowed’…”
“Here!” She took off her sterling silver bracelet that had filigree etching across the top. “This will go perfectly, and you can give it back to me at the reception.”
“Oh, awesome! You’re a lifesaver!”
She smiled smugly. “I know it.”
Another knock at the door sounded. “Hi there! It’s Marcus. Can I come in?”
“As long as you’re alone, sure thing!”
Marcus opened the door and poked his head in. Instantly his eyes found me, and he blinked a few times before letting out a slow whistle. “You look beautiful, Celie!”
“Thank you.” I smiled sheepishly. “What’s up?”
“Everyone is ready and waiting for you.”
“Thanks. I’ll be right down.”
“Okay, I’ll let them know.” He smiled again. “You really do look gorgeous.” On that final note, he closed the door.
I turned and looked in the mirror again. This was it, ‘the final countdown’. I was going to walk downstairs and become Mrs. Cecelia Hawkins. Was I ready? Hell yes! Was I nervous! Also, hell yes! I blew the air out of my lungs and took one last look before turning back around to meet Kat’s gaze.
“Yes! Let’s do this!”
Kat rushed over to the door and held it open for me so I could walk through it. Then she led the way downstairs to the entry hall.
As I walked down the stairs, I looked around, remembering everything that had happened here: the demon training session, my first time morphing into a panther, learning about his being a vampire. Everything seemed like a lifetime ago but it had only been a little over a year. From the SpellCaster battle to making love on the parlor floor, it made sense that this would be where we truly started our lives together.
I met Kat at the bottom of the stairs, and she fluffed my dress in the back. I stood up straight as she came around to stand in front of me. Then she gave me a wink, took my arm, and led me to the front door. We headed through the doorway and down the front steps.
At the bottom, Xander stood in his fantastic navy blue suit. He was all cleaned-up, face freshly shaved (except for his nearly permanent goatee), and had a sparkle in his eye. When I reached him, he grinned and gave me a big kiss on my cheek. With Kat’s permission, Xander had agreed to walk me down the aisle. From this point, I took his arm and we headed towards the garden. Kat went ahead of us as my Maid of Honor.
Just outside the maze entrance, our garden of wildflowers sat backed by large hydrangea bushes. Everything was in full bloom, and the generous scent of the flowers permeated the air like a natural perfume. I inhaled deeply as we rounded the corner, and it was then that I caught sight of everyone.
Our guests, who were few, stood up from their chairs. I saw Dmitri and Francois, both dapper in their respective gray and black Ralph Lauren suits. Yoshikuru had come, along with the Haven Mother, to witness the ceremony. He was still dressed in an all-black suit with a standout bright red tie, while she wore a gray silk kimono adorned with white cranes at the back. Amunet stood off to the side, wearing a dark gray linen tunic over dark gray linen pants. I nodded to her to thank her for coming, and she returned my nod, if a bit somber. I felt sad for her loss, but was glad that she had still made it.
Then I saw him. Michael stood at the front, next to Marcus, and he was wearing a custom, navy blue, three-piece Italian suit. An antique pewter chain led from the breast pocket to the lapel. His shirt was a pale steel blue, with a matching paisley-print tie and pocket square. On his feet were brown leather oxfords. As was normal for him, his chestnut brown hair was pulled back and tied in a ponytail with a piece of brown leather suede.
My heart skipped a beat as he turned from Marcus to look at me. I braced myself for his reaction, and it was everything I had ever wanted. He stilled for a moment, his eyes meeting mine. Then his face softened into a smile that grew bigger with each passing breath. I saw tears in his eyes from across the way, and he said something to Marcus who nodded. I smiled for him, feeling bashful for a minute as his gaze never left me. He continued to smile, and I swore a tear fell from his eyes.
I love you, Michael.
I love you so much, Celie.
Can you believe we’re doing this?
I believe so many things right now.
I giggled, and his smile grew ten times bigger.
In front of Michael, Xander stopped and turned to me, giving me another kiss on my cheek before taking his place as Michael’s Best Man. Then I took the last handful of steps to meet him and stand with him in front of Marcus. He took my hands in his, and we looked into each other’s eyes. Marcus began to speak, acting as our officiant for the ceremony.
“Michael and Celie aren’t just two vampires. No, they are heroes. Heroes in life and in love. They were already sworn faithful to each other when they fought against Devlin Raines. When their friends were struggling, they came to the rescue. When strangers needed their help, they gave it without hesitation. When the SpellCasters separated them from each other, they still managed to find each other and fight back. Through it all, their love for one another has never wavered.
“Despite the obstacles they’ve faced, these are two brave and selfless souls who have endured much to be together. Today, they are finally commemorating their love with this ceremony, binding their hearts and souls together under your watchful gaze. And I, for one, could not be happier to bear witness.”
At this point, Marcus turned towards Xander, who stepped forward with the rings. He placed them in front of us, and I took the band I had crafted for Michael. I began first, reciting the vows I had written.
“I love you, Michael. You are my world. We’ve been through so much, you and I. I like to think that the reason we’ve survived is because of what we have together. Our connection, our love, our bond. It’s more than just being vampires. It’s our souls that are intertwined with each other. I know now that I couldn’t ever bear to be parted from you.
“I promise to always be by your side. I vow to remain faithful to you and to us, to never let anything get in the way of what we have. And I promise to fight until my last breath to always protect what we have.”
I had found a simple platinum band for Michael but had it engraved on the inside. It read, ‘Mo shíorghrá, forever and always.’ When I showed it to him, his eyes welled with tears, and he smiled just for me.
When it was his turn, he held my hand and held up the ring he had received from Ginny. I instantly smiled at the sight of it, knowing the meaning it held. Michael spoke his vows to me, and I didn’t hold back the tears.
“Celie, my love, you are the other half of me. I spent so long alone that I hadn’t realized what was missing, until I met you. You are my world. The only part of me that is good is the part that gets to be by your side, each and every day. No matter what the future holds for us, I will stand by your side. I can’t wait for us to start our lives together.
“I vow that I will be yours until my very last breath leaves me. I promise to remain faithful to you throughout all of our days together. And should that final day ever come, I vow I will die protecting you. I love you.”
He pushed the ring onto my finger and looked up to meet my eyes. I felt my heart explode into a million tiny pieces and reform itself in the shape of something new, something meant just for the two of us. He smiled at me, and it was as if the world and time itself fell away. The moment was ours alone.
Marcus finished the ceremony, and we kissed, a deep and passionate kiss that felt like the uniting of souls. We were one. Our guests clapped for us, and we walked back down the aisle together. All the while, I smiled like I was drunk on romance and hung onto my husband’s arm, with him holding his own hand overtop of mine.
When we reached the house ahead of the guests, I leaned close and whispered in his ear. “Take me to bed, husband.”
Without hesitating, Michael wrapped his arms around me and ported us to the bedroom.
The wind whipped around me, disheveling my hair, but I didn’t care. I began to kiss him, earnestly, eagerly wanting to taste him and feel his tongue. My lips were desperate for his. We landed in the bedroom, and he didn’t let me go for a second. He picked me up underneath my arms and carried me to the bed, letting me fall backwards onto it. I sat up and began unbuckling his pants as he took off his jacket.
Seconds later, he was pushing my skirt up and sliding his hands up my thighs to the softest parts of me. I fell backwards as he knelt down and began kissing a trail up my thigh. I cried out when he found that most special part and began licking and sucking me senseless. My nether region was aflame with desire for more, and I grabbed his head by his hair, encouraging him and moving my hips in time with his tongue. He held my thighs apart and pushed them up to plunge deeper with his tongue. I moaned and then felt him stop to smile against me. Then he slipped two fingers inside of me and found just the right spot to make me call out his name.
Right as I was about to reach my zenith, he leaned over me and pushed his way deep inside, slowly and torturously sliding into me with his full length. I clutched his shoulders and shivered, feeling my insides quaking with wanton need for him. He began to thrust, slowly and deliberately until I was scratching my nails down his back, and he was unable to contain himself any longer. We became two frantic animals desperate for release.
When it finally came, I felt myself clench around him, the vibration of our union pulverizing me into dust. I lost myself in him, in us, until he brought me back with his kiss. We were panting, both unified and undone in our liberation. I kissed him back, lingering on his lips as the last of the waves rocked us. Michael stroked the hair back from my face, then we simply laid there together, holding each other for a time.
Eventually, we realized we had to see to our guests, so we changed into new clothes. I put on a pair of white linen pants and a navy blue linen tunic top. Michael changed into khaki pants and a white button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up. I eyeballed his muscular forearms with eagerness as I rolled my hair up into a messy bun.
“You better roll those sleeves down, or we’ll be back up here in no time.”
Michael laughed. “Maybe that’s the idea.”
I laughed and took his offered arm as we headed back downstairs.
* * *
“That’s it, that’s the last of them.” Marcus closed the front door as the last guest exited. “Now I guess I should be leaving the two of you alone.”
Michael walked over from the parlor doorway to where Marcus stood. Reaching out, he shook Marcus’ hand. “Thank you. You’ve done so much for us.”
“The pleasure was all mine.”
“Where will you be headed now?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I was thinking of traveling to Greece. Or perhaps Egypt? It’s been a long time since I was in the Mediterranean.”
“Perhaps it’s time, old friend.”
“Perhaps it is, indeed.”
I watched their exchange from just around the corner, not wanting to interrupt. When I saw that Marcus was preparing to leave, though, I ran up and launched myself at him, enveloping him in a big hug. “Thank you. We couldn’t have survived without you.”
“You’re most welcome, Mrs. Hawkins.” He pulled back and winked at me.
“Don’t be a stranger. Come visit us when you can.” I turned back to glance at Michael and waggled my eyebrows. “Just give us a month or two for the honeymoon.”
Marcus and Michael both laughed, then Marcus stepped back and gave a subtle bow. Turning around, he opened the door and headed out, closing it behind himself.
The house was quiet and still. I looked at Michael and smiled. “Wine?”
We headed into the kitchen. He pulled out two glasses while I retrieved a particularly excellent bottle of 2010 Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. We met at the table, where I took the glasses while he uncorked the bottle. Holding each glass out for him while he poured, I watched his face.
“You’re so handsome, Mr. Hawkins.”
“Why thank you, Mrs. Hawkins.”
“Say it again.”
I sighed. “I just love hearing that.”
“You’re in luck because I love saying it.”
When he was done pouring, we picked up our respective glasses and clinked them together.
“To our future.”
We each took a sip, then sat down near the window. Michael stretched out his legs, and I swung mine over to rest them on his lap. He put his left hand on top of my ankles and began stroking and massaging my calf muscles with his right. It was so wonderful I gave a little purr sound.
“So this is what marital bliss is? ‘Cause if it is, I’m loving it.”
“So I’ve heard.”
“Now that we’re married, what will we do?”
“Anything and everything, love.”
“Really? When can we start?”
“Whenever you want.”
“How about as soon as the sun sets?”
“Your wish is my command.”
“You say such sweet things to me.”
I laughed, and we talked about the wedding while sipping our wine. The setting sun turned the sky brilliant hot pink and juicy orange for a brief time. Some sparrows took flight over the trees in silhouette, and a handful of deer crossed the grass just outside, their breath a cold mist in the chill air. Within minutes, the world beyond the window grew dark as the night came, the sky growing violet and indigo in color.
As we finished our wine, we glanced at each other. I slapped my hands on the arm of the chair and swung my legs off Michael’s lap. He watched expectantly as I stood up. I began to walk away, then glanced over my shoulder.
“You coming, or are we making love right here in the kitchen again?”
Michael jumped up from his chair and chased after me.
The house was filled with the sound of our laughter as we ran up the stairs to the bedroom.