“It’s an honor.” His smile is so familiar, an older, weathered version of Storm’s.
I check myself in the mirror one more time. The diamond bracelet Storm gave me this morning sparkles in the light—my something new. My mother’s earrings swing against the tendrils of my hair—my something old. Hanging from my neck is Aria’s heart-shaped ruby, diamond, and white gold necklace—my something borrowed. And beneath my gown is a blue lace garter belt Tabitha gave me—my something blue.
Aria and Amy appear at my side in the mirror reflection, Amy in a tight red dress and Aria in a silver pantsuit.
“You’re gorgeous,” Amy says. “I hope I’m half as beautiful as you if I ever get married.”
“Are you kidding?” I retort. “You’ll be even more beautiful.”
Aria repositions the white faux fur shawl around my shoulders. “You’re both stunning. Are you ready, Evelyn? I’ll go out and make sure everything’s in order.”
Turning away from the full-length mirror, I take a deep breath to calm my nerves. “I’m ready. Petrified, but ready.”
Storm’s mother smiles reassuringly. “All brides feel that way. It’s exciting and terrifying to get married, no matter how in love you are.”
Ronnie cocks his head at her with a teasing grin. “Were you scared on our wedding day?”
“I was scared out of my mind, darling. But it was the best decision of my life.”
Amy and I smile at each other as my future in-laws share a kiss. I hope Storm and I are still madly in love with each other after being married for more than thirty years, and I hope my best friend finds that too.
When Storm’s parents part, Aria’s eyes are glistening. “Okay…it’s time to get this wedding started!” She grabs Amy’s hand. “Let’s go tell everyone we’re ready.” She turns to Ronnie and me. “We’ll see you two on the aisle. I’ll tell them to start the music in ten minutes.”
After they leave, Ronnie takes my arm. “It’s show time!”
The Ronnie Vale is walking me down the aisle - a famous musician and singer who I grew up listening to. Oh my God…I’m marrying a famous musician.
“You doing okay?”
I nod a few times. Quickly.
“Breathe, Evelyn.” His words echo Storm’s. “This is nothing. Standing up there and saying ‘I do’ is the easy part. All the hard stuff comes after this. The ups and downs, raising kids, all the curves life throws at you.” He smiles down at me. “It’s good and it’s bad, but you know what? It’s all worth it when you’re going through it with the one you love. Trust me, I know.”
I’m so ready to be Mrs. Storm Valentine.
I feel as if I’m in a daze as I move through the next moments. If Ronnie weren’t holding my arm and guiding me, I probably would walk right into a wall. The wedding march seems muffled in the background of my mind as we enter. Every one of my senses is zeroed in on Storm standing at the altar with his sexy smile, wearing a black tux with a red rose pinned to the lapel and a red tie to match my bouquet of assorted red flowers. Ronnie gives my hand to Storm, kisses us each on the cheek, and leaves to take his seat between Aria and Gram.
Storm’s smile widens as he takes my other hand, and he lets out a low whistle, as he looks me up and down, eliciting laughter from our guests.
“You look abso-fucking-lutely breathtaking,” he whispers.
My breath comes out in an excited rush, and I can’t stop smiling at him. “So do you…you look so handsome all dressed up.” I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen Storm out of ripped jeans, biker boots, and a T-shirt…but holy hell—he looks incredible in a tuxedo.
The officiant begins to speak, but Storm and I are so entranced by each other we’re barely listening. Our mouths might be saying the vows, but our eyes are saying and promising so much more. Talon, the best man, has to nudge Storm’s arm to remind him to take the ring to slip onto my trembling finger, and the room fills with laughter again. My fears and insecurities about not having my own relatives here on this special day have been squashed to mere particles of the past. I’m in a room full of people who love us—who love me. I’m not just marrying Storm; I’m getting brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and a grandmother.
Maybe my parents were guardian angels watching over me when my car went out of control, and they somehow sent Storm to find me, knowing we would be everything each other needed. That’s what my heart believes.
“You may now kiss your bride!”
I snap out of the trance Storm’s eyes have had me under as his hands go to my waist and his smiling lips cover mine.
“We did it,” he whispers, pulling me closer. Our guests start to clap their hands when he kisses me more deeply, bending me backward.
I hold on like a vice to his arms with tears of happiness forming in my eyes.
“I love you.” I say breathlessly.
His dark green eyes flash like the northern lights. “I love you, too, Evie.”
We step down from the raised platform and hug Storm’s parents, Gram, and everyone in our wedding party before we head down the aisle together with tiny snowflakes falling down upon us. Tabi is waiting in the hall, with Vandal at her side, to take us outside for photographs.
“You guys look so happy,” she says, as Vandal helps her into a long coat. “I promise we’ll make this quick so you can get back to your party and enjoy it.”
“You’re going to freeze your asses off,” Vandal says.
“Hush,” Tabi replies, handing him two of her gear bags. “They can’t have a winter wedding without winter photos.”
Before we go outside, Storm stops to kiss me then moves his lips to my ear. “As soon as we’re done with pictures, I’m going to kiss you like I’ve never kissed you before. I just don’t want to wreck your makeup for the photos.”
“I don’t care if you wreck my makeup,” I whisper back.
He leans away and grins at me. “I care, babe. I’m so fuckin’ happy.”
My heart jumps. “I am too.”
Even though it’s freezing outside, we decided beforehand to not wear coats for the photos so our wedding clothes wouldn’t be covered up. Now that it’s almost five o’clock, it’s colder than it was when we arrived, and snow flurries are falling from the sky.
“This is perfect! It’s snowing!” I exclaim happily as we walk from the banquet hall toward a gazebo on the lawn surrounded by big oak trees.
Vandal trudges behind us carrying Tabi’s bags. The stark contrast between them is striking, with him being so tall, dark, and brooding, with his long jet-black hair, and her being a tiny, smiling, blond.
“Couldn’t you guys have gotten married on a beach? With the sun?” He scowls as he brushes snowflakes off his black leather jacket.
Storm shakes his head at his cousin. “No. We met in a blizzard. The snow is symbolic.”
“Of what? The fact that neither one of you can drive in the snow?”
We stop at the gazebo, filled with tiny white lights, and Tabi takes her camera bags from Vandal, shooting him a warning glance. “Be nice. It’s romantic.”
He hooks his finger in the silver loop attached to a choker necklace she’s wearing and tugs her lips up to his, holding her there while he whisper-growls, “I’ll show you romantic later when you’re tied to my bed.”
Storm and I exchange a look as Tabi practically melts under Vandal’s hard but incredibly sensual stare. They have a very unconventional relationship.
“Okay, you two can get all whips and chains later,” Storm says, interrupting their moment. “Let’s get these pics done before we freeze out here. Evie’s already shivering.” He rubs his hands up and down my arms to warm me up. “Are you too cold?” he asks. “We can do the pictures inside instead. I don’t want you freezing on our wedding day.”
“No…I’m fine, hon. I really want outdoor photos, and the flurries will be so pretty.”
He strokes my chin. “Okay, but we’re gonna do this fast.”
“I’m ready,” Tabi announces. “Let’s start with some shots in the gazebo, then we’ll do some by that tree and the wooden post fence, and later we’ll get some inside.”
The ground is already covered with three inches of snow from this morning’s brief snowfall, and the trees and mountains in the background are covered in white, giving us the perfect winter backdrop. The falling snow flurries will provide a magical added bonus to the photos.
Tabi and Vandal work together taking photos, directing us on how and where to stand, moving our hair to the perfect place, moving lights around us. This new, helpful side of Vandal surprises me, and it makes me happy for them after everything they’ve been through.
When we’re done, Storm takes his tux jacket off and puts it around my shivering shoulders for the walk back to the banquet hall. Hopefully, the goose bumps I’ve had for the past forty-five minutes won’t show up on the photographs.
We thank Vandal and Tabi as we head to the reception room for cocktails, but Storm pulls me into my bridal room as we’re walking past it, locking the door behind us.