“No,” Isabelle says as she rips the phone from my hands. “No texting the groom. It’s tradition.”
She walks to her clutch on the coffee table in the center of my parent’s game room. My mom turned this room into beauty central. There are four chairs with full-length mirrors in front of them. The hairstylists and make-up artists are working on all the women in the bridal party. Isabella already has her hair and make-up done. The lavender dress the bridesmaids are wearing looks lovely on her.
Isabella drops my phone into her clutch, shutting it, and puts it under her arm. My fingers curl into my palms.
“It’s tradition not to see him before the ceremony. I can text him all I want,” I respond. “I stayed here last night. I wanted to be at home. I don’t care about tradition.”
“Well, I do,” my mother calls over her shoulder. She’s at one of the beauty stations now. The stylist curling her hair chuckles to herself and continues to work.
I can’t believe I’m marrying James today. I’ll be his wife in a couple of hours.
“Are you nervous?” Savannah asks while rocking her sleeping toddler in her arms. Avery looks angelic in her deep purple flower girl dress. I can’t wait to see Harper and Roman’s toddler, Caden, in his little tuxedo.
Savannah is pushing Caden, Avery, and Sirius down the aisle in a flower-adorned wagon. I can’t wait to see the video of it. I wish I could see it happening, but I’ll be inside waiting to walk down the aisle toward the man who owns me to the depths of my soul.
“Not even a little bit,” I confess to Savannah. I scrunch my nose. “Is that bad?”
Harper takes a seat next to Savannah. She looks glamorous in the bridesmaid dress, effortlessly taking the dress up a notch with her beauty.
“It’s not bad at all.” A wide grin stretches across her face and her eyes sparkle. “It only means that it’s right. I wasn’t nervous when I married Roman. I was only anxious to see him.”
“That’s how I feel.”
“I was only nervous about one thing,” Savannah says, brushing Avery’s hair away from her face. “I didn’t want anyone to be upset with us that we had a surprise wedding. I’m the only child, so I didn’t want my mom to feel like she missed out on something. I wasn’t nervous to marry Liam though. That felt like everything right in the world was finally coming together.”
These words make my heart burst at the seams. If I know one thing, it’s that I need to spend my lifetime with James.
A soft tap of knuckles sounds on the closed door. Harper stands and strides towards it, opening it just a hair. I want it to be James. I want him to burst through the room so I can see him and kiss him. Last night was the first night we’ve spent apart in a very long time.
Harper takes a step back and allows Callan into the room. His finger tucks under the collar of his dress shirt, tugging it away from his neck. A soft smile appears when his turquoise eyes land on mine.
“Hey,” I say standing and hug his waist.
Callan places a kiss on the top of my head. Since he moved to Texas with Brae, I’ve inserted myself into their life. James thinks of him as a brother, so I do, too.
“You look beautiful,” he says.
“I’m not even ready yet.” I chuckle, shaking my head. “Is James okay?”
Callan smirks. “He’s going full on Not-So-Jolly-Green-Giant since you stopped messaging him.”
“Isabella took my phone.” I look over my shoulder, sticking my tongue out at her.
“It’s tradition,” she shouts.
I turn back to Callan. “I have a couple things for you.”
“What?” I ask, bouncing on my toes slightly.
“First,” he says plucking his phone from his pants pocket. “James wants you to answer this message. He figured one of them took the phone from you.”
James: Can’t wait to marry you, sunshine. Don’t be late.
I laugh as I type my response.
Me: I can’t wait to be your wife.
I hand the phone back to Callan with a broad smile on my face. He turns back toward the door, grabbing something just behind the threshold. When he turns back around, he’s holding a gift bag. “This is the other thing I have for you.” He bends kissing my cheek and whispers into my ear. “Thank you for giving him everything we never had.”
My nose starts to burn as tears fill my eyes. Callan quietly exits the room. I sit on the couch to open the present. Every girl in the room surrounds me, watching me.
I grab the card from the bag, opening it to read.
Thank you for bringing light into my darkness.
I love you to the depths of my soul.
Tears prick my eyes again as I reach into the bag pulling out a long, velvet box. There’s a sticky note attached to it.
Your favorite color of the sunset.
I gasp when I open the box. A pink diamond pendant necklace is nestled inside. My fingers trace over the necklace. The girls are talking around me, but I don’t hear any of them. I’m lost in memories of watching suns set with James and Sirius.
I grab the next box from the bag and start crying when I read the sticky note.
My favorite shade of your eyes.
A stunning set of earrings are resting on the inside. They’re the exact color my eyes turn when I’m turned on. A smile stretches over my face. I can’t wait to wear these today.
“We’re ready for the bride,” a hairstylist calls out.
I place my perfect gifts on the table to finish getting ready, so I can go marry my man.
I don’t watch anyone walk down the aisle. My neck is craned looking for a glimpse of Tatum. It’s taking too long to get to her part. I want her to walk toward me and hear her say I do.
Tatum’s mom transformed our field into something almost unrecognizable. The grass is cut and a walkway of stones was added. I’m standing under a wood structure with flowers hanging from it.
Finally, the music shifts to something else and the gauzy curtains open again revealing Tatum.
Everything fades away.
There’s nothing else in the world, but her. I swallow thickly. The white dress she’s wearing hugs every single one of her curves. There’s a small touch of cleavage, just enough to drive me mad. My cock starts to harden in my pants.
Our eyes lock from either end of the long walkway. I have to restrain myself from running down and grabbing her myself.
After her father releases her, I take her face in my hands and kiss her. The officiant clears his throat. Tatum breaks our kiss laughing.
“That’s at the end,” she says grinning.
My eyes don’t leave hers as the officiant talks about love and marriage. My only focus is Tatum. I hardly hear anything he says until it’s time for Tatum to say her vows. I savor every word.
“James,” Tatum’s voice breaks as she says my name and slides the black band on my finger. “My heart speeds up every time I realize this is real. This is actually happening, I’m marrying my best friend, the greatest and most honorable man I’ve ever known. I vow to give you every part of myself for the rest of my life. I’ll love you to depths of my soul in this life and any life that happens after. I vow to be your shoulder, your rock, your everything. I’ll walk next to you through this life and fight for every moment. I’ll choose you every single day. Every second.
“I vow to kiss you every chance I get. I vow to make you mad and then make you laugh. I’ve never known anything as beautiful as you when you’re laughing. You’ve shown me what it is to be truly loved. I’ve never been wholly me until I met you. You give me more than I could ever return, but I’ll spend every day trying to give you just as much. I will give you everything your heart desires.
“I vow to love you through the darkness and in the light, in the happiness, through the pain, through every moment. At the end of our years, I’ll always wish for one day more with you. I’ve been captivated by you from the very beginning. I am utterly yours. Always and forever.”
I release a shaky breath and let her love pour into me. She’s given me everything I didn’t know existed.
“Tatum,” I say when it’s my turn. I slip the diamond band onto her finger. “My life changed 803 days ago in a way I never expected it to. Some would say it was luck, maybe some others would call it random. I know it was meant to be. The world as I knew it was dull and gray, but you’ve shown me how colorful it truly is. You’ve helped me understand that there are many more perspectives than just my own. You are my best friend, confidant, and my greatest challenge. There isn’t anyone anywhere that knows me better than you do and that comforts my soul. Because of you, I am a better person and for that, I am forever grateful.
“In you, I’ve found a transcending love that I didn’t know was possible, and today before our family, I vow to love you powerfully and to live in truth with you. I vow to have the patience that love demands, to speak when words are needed, and to share in the silence when they are not.
“I will encourage you, I will respect you, and I will cherish you. I promise to provide you with laughter. The day I asked you to marry me was the best day of my life, until today.”
And finally, I can kiss my bride. Our lips lock together, melting into each other and sealing our marriage. Tatum continues to give me dreams I didn’t even know I had.