Her eyes lower, and a tear slips out of the corner of her eye. That tiny glistening tear is a twenty-foot, neon-red warning sign in my head.
Grabbing her chin, I gently lift her face. “Talk to me, baby. You can tell me anything that’s on your mind. You know that.”
My voice might sound confident but, inside, I’m freaking the fuck out with worry about her. I’m not going to let her slip into an anxiety-ridden state of depression. I won’t let her sabotage what should be the happiest time of her life - of our life.
I’ve been there and done that and have the T-shirt and the fucking scars to prove it.
“I’m worried,” she says as she wipes the tear from her cheek.
“That’s obvious, and you have to tell me why. Are you having doubts about me or us?”
She shakes her head. “No…I mean, sometimes things are a little crazy with you traveling and the social media stuff is frustrating, but I know we’re okay as a couple.”
“Then what is it?”
“It’s…I don’t have anyone to come to the wedding.” Her voice cracks on the words. “I only have Amy—and I love her—but I don’t have any family or any other friends that aren’t part of your family.”
“Hey, my family is your family, Evie.”
“I know, and I love them all so much. It just makes me sad, not having my mom here to plan it with, or having my father here to walk me down the aisle. Even though I was in high school when they died, there were a few times when they talked about me getting married someday. My mom wanted me to wear her pearl and diamond earrings.” She sniffles and smiles weakly. “And my father wanted a live band that could play and sing some Sinatra songs for him and my mom to dance to. And he always said he was going to have a long talk with my future husband before he gave his blessing…and now we’ll never know what he wanted to say.” The trembling of her lower lip cracks my heart, and all I can do is pull her into my arms and hold her close to me.
“You can still wear your mom’s special earrings. And I think I know what your dad would have said to me.” I press my lips to the top of her head. “He would have told me to love you, and take care of you, and be patient with you, and never hurt you. He would have told me I better always treat you like a princess. And I will. Always. He would have told me to kiss you every night and every morning. And he probably would have told me to cut my hair and get a real job.”
She laughs and sobs at the same time and snuggles against my shoulder. “I think you’re right. I can picture him saying those things.”
“I know you miss them, Evie. If there were a way to bring them back for you, I would do it in a heartbeat. But I’m sure they’re watching over you, and they wouldn’t want to see you sad about your wedding. They’d want you to be happy.”
“My father can’t wait to walk you down the aisle. He brings it up every time I talk to him. And you know my mom and Gram are itching to start planning and get all involved and spend as much money as possible. Look at Talon and Asia…Asia doesn’t have any family either, and she married a stranger in a roomful of even more strangers. I love you. My family loves you. You got this, babe.”
A big sigh escapes her, and I can feel the tension leaving her as her body relaxes against me. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I think I’m feeling a little lost and lonely and overwhelmed. Sometimes things just hit me hard, and I miss my parents even more.”
“It’s okay. I want you to talk to me when you feel like that. Don’t shut me out. You know I can’t deal with that. It makes me mental.”
“I know. You like to be all up in my head,” she says teasingly, twirling a lock of my hair around her finger.
“Actually, I like to be all up in your everything.”
She giggles when I pull her closer and kiss her neck, and it’s music to my ears. She’ll never know how much seeing her sad or worried destroys me inside and how it opens doors for ghosts of the past to creep out. I never want her to see that side of me.
Releasing her, I pour some wine into our glasses and hand one to her. “Why don’t we go in the bedroom and play bad cop arrests the naughty driver, and tomorrow we’ll pick a wedding date?”
She almost spits out her wine as she giggles some more. “Do you have handcuffs, Officer Storm?”
“You’re about to find out.”
This is what I love and need so much—how she’s always willing to happily play along with any of my moods.
I’m sitting on the floor in the living room of the cabin, with my laptop and a big printed calendar in front of me, trying to find a date that fits Storm’s schedule and also his mother’s. She is now going to be my boss and my mother-in-law. Thankfully, she and I have a great relationship and are able to keep our work and personal lives separate, or this could have disaster written all over it.
Storm stabs his e-cig at a square on the calendar.
“Here. Let’s get married on this day.”
“That’s next weekend, hon.”
He takes a drag off his e-cig and raises a pierced eyebrow at me. “And your point is?”
“That’s too soon. There’s no time to plan.”
“Evie, between my mom’s persuasiveness and the money we can spend, we can make it happen next weekend, trust me.”
I frown at him and open my “Wedding Wish List” file, which I started a few months ago, on my laptop. “No. We’re not using money to bribe people to rush our wedding.”
“Why not? People do it all the time.”
“We’re not going to be like those people. We’re not snobs.”
He shrugs and nods. “Okay…you’re right. Then soon. Not a hundred days away from the day I picked. I want to get married and honeymoon while the band’s on break so we can be together as much as possible before the crazy starts up again.”
Leaning back against the couch, I pull my laptop onto my lap and eye him from behind the screen.
“Do you want to know what I really, really want? Like my super-duper dream wedding?”
“Lay it on me and I’ll make it happen. As long as it’s soon.”
Has any man ever been this excited and impatient to get married? How did I get this lucky? I chew my lip, hoping he doesn’t think my idea is crazy or weird. “I would love a Christmas- and winter-themed wedding in December. I want to wear a white dress with white fur trim, with little glittery snowflakes in my hair, and carry a bouquet of red flowers. I want to give snow globes to our guests. And I’d love a cake that looks like it has icicles hanging off it. I know it sounds a little out there, but I have all these ideas and pictures I’ve been saving…and it would be sooo beautiful.”
He crawls over to me, grabs my face in his hands, and kisses me to the point of making me breathless, knocking my laptop onto the floor.
“Its fuckin’ awesome, babe,” he says, grinning. “Let’s do it. Then a honeymoon someplace quiet.”
“Really? You’re okay with all that?”
“I think it’s gonna rock. It’s cool as hell that it goes with how we met. My mom will lose her mind over it. It’s going to kill her that she didn’t think of it herself.”
“December is two and a half months away though. Is that okay?”
He sits back on his heels and sighs. “I can live with it. It has to be early December though.”
“I’m good with that.”
“I do have a requirement,” he adds.
“I figured you would,” I reply with a smile as I pick up my laptop and put it on the coffee table. “Since you’re going along with my wedding theme, I’ll do whatever you want.” That comment gets me the adorable, sexy, and playful smile that I fell in love with.
“I think it’s time you move out of your apartment and move in with me permanently.”
“I’m at your place almost all the time though.”
“I know, but we don’t need three places to live. Our shit is everywhere. We’re constantly bouncing back and forth between your place and my place. The cabin is supposed to be a getaway—I want us to have one real home that we’re living in together.”
I love my apartment, and I’ve been reluctant to let it go for a few reasons. After I left Michael, having my own apartment was a big step for me, learning to live alone and just be comfortable with me. Jumping from living with Michael to living with Storm didn’t seem like a good idea. As much as I wanted to live with him, I still felt like it was best to give myself some time. I already felt like a horrible person for falling in love with Storm while I was in a relationship with Michael. And learning about Michael’s various affairs, on top of that, made me question everything in the entire relationship department. I was scared to trust anyone, including myself.
Even though Storm is a great guy, he’s still a popular rock star who hasn’t been in a relationship in a long time and has women flirting with him all the time. Honestly, I was still trying to figure out what he saw in me, and I was afraid once the chase was over, he’d get bored and move on to a more exciting woman.