Read #1 book on Hinduism and enhance your understanding of ancient Indian history.
Read #1 book on Hinduism and enhance your understanding of ancient Indian history.

Forever I Do

Forever I Do

13 mins 436 13 mins 436

Emily wandered barefoot onto the smooth stone balcony. Lovely green foliage, tall trees, and multi-colored flowers surrounded her. She breathed in the warm ocean air in an attempt to settle her anxious mind.


The day was finally here. Today was the day she would tie herself to the only man she'd ever truly loved in an intimate beach wedding.


She looked in all directions and took in views of clear blue water. She heard the crash of the waves against the sharp rocks and sandy beach. When she peeked through a gap in the trees, she saw a stunning white wedding arch, festooned with pastel flowers and dotted with the small white flowers of baby's breath. 


"Mommy? What are you doing?" Six-year-old Abigail hopped out on to the balcony and grabbed Emily's hand. Emily was the only mother Abby had ever known, and her heart still skipped a beat every time she called her 'mommy.' She was almost two when they found each other. A man without a partner. A child without a mother. They immediately sensed a connection and Emily had a strong feeling that she'd just found the family she wasn't aware she was missing. 


"Looking at the pretty ocean." She lifted her to stand on a bench so she could see the water. She promptly wound her arms around Emily's neck.


With a look of astonishment, Abby scanned the scenery in front of her. They were so close that their faces brushed together when either of them moved.


"Is Daddy down there?" She craned her neck to search for her father, hands tangling in Emily's hair.


"I don't think so, baby. It's still early," She attempted to liberate her hair from the child's grasp without causing herself too much pain.


The sound of musicians tuning instruments floated in the air.


"The music people are here," Abby said excitedly.


"I guess we should go change then."


She held out her hand, and Abby grabbed on, skipping and twirling to the soft tones of the music. She smiled at her little girl and squeezed her hand tightly.


Emily's best friend Jenna was a successful artist whose skills expertly transferred from watercolors to hair and makeup. She watched in the mirror as Jenna carefully wove tiny flowers into her long hair. Jenna painted her eyes in pretty pastels that sparkled in the sunlight. She slipped into her floor-length soft pink silk dress. 


While Jenna helped Abby get ready, Emily went back out on the balcony and looked over the edge. It was then that she saw him.


Nick was standing off to the side, talking to a man she didn't recognize. He looked positively beautiful - always so strong and confident. She stood motionless as she watched him casually interact with people in a way she never could. He smiled at a server who passed by with tall drinks and her breath caught. Her index finger moved to her bottom lip. Despite any misguided feelings she thought she had toward any other men in her life; he was her first, and only, true love. He incited so many emotions in her that there were times she thought she might explode. 


Abby appeared next to her in a light and airy ivory lace dress. Her wispy blond hair was left free to swing around in the breeze, as she requested.


"Can we see Daddy now?"


"I think so."


She lifted her back up on the bench, and she searched the crowd below for her father. After moving a sizeable leaf off to the side, she spotted him.


"Daddy," she called out loudly. 

Emily, not expecting her to shout at him, abruptly moved to the left to keep herself out of view. She saw no need to press her luck with wedding superstitions, whether she believed in them or not. Abby flailed her arms enthusiastically until she got her father's full attention.


"Mommy looks pretty," Abby yelled. 

Emily had a limited view through the foliage and saw people turn to look toward Abby's voice. She moved closer to the center of the tree for fuller coverage. 


"Tell her to come down," she heard him shout back. It made her smile as though she was the luckiest person in the world. Out of every woman available, he chose her.


They stood at the top of the stairs until they heard the soft notes of, Have I Told You Lately That I Love You, flood the air. The song signaled the start of the ceremony. Emily's hands started to tremble. Not because she was having second thoughts or because she wasn't sure if she was making the right decision. Being the center of attention was her worst fear, and this wedding was all about her.


"I'm scared," she told Abby, "Hold my hand."


"Daddy said to go down."


"Right," she said, taking a deep breath, "Let's go down then. Do you remember where to stop, baby?" Fear made her brain fog up, and she suddenly couldn't recall the routine.


"I remember. Come on," Abby said, tugging on her hand.


"Wave, Ab," she suggested as they began their descent. If Abby waved, people would focus on her. When she did, everyone stood and enthusiastically waved back at her. Emily was able to let out the breath she didn't know she was holding. 


"Hi Grandpa," Abby shouted to Emily's father, startling her.


"Hi, cutie," her father yelled back.


They continued to the next stopping point. Regret tugged at Emily for agreeing to stop at both levels of stairs. Multiple calculated stops causing everyone to gawk at her was a horrible idea.


"We're almost there, Grandpa." Abby jumped up and down a little, unable to contain her excitement. 


"We're ready, cutie."


This time, when she looked toward the arch, she could see him. When their eyes met, the world faded away. All she could feel was the way his gaze devoured her. The white linen chairs that held a sea of staring eyes slowly evaporated. She was no longer afraid because nothing else existed. There was just him. When they finally got to the bottom of the stairs, Abby ran off to her grandfather. 

Jenna lightly put her hand on her arm, "Just go."


Needing no more encouragement, she rushed to him, and he caught her in his arms. She closed her eyes and held on as he spun them around enough for his body to shield her from the inquisitive eyes of the guests. She felt the warm sand on the tips of her toes as they dangled to the ground. She inhaled deeply and took in his scent. Her head started to spin with delight. 


"Hi, sweetie," he whispered into her ear, "You look beautiful."


She smiled brightly at his compliment. When he placed her back on her feet, she wasn't ready to let go. She couldn't bear the thought of standing nervously across from him when all she wanted was to feel the safety of his arms encircling her. They turned toward Gabriel, who was officiating the service, and she wrapped her arms around his waist then placed her cheek on his chest. Nick put his hand on her lower back, lightly stroking her exposed skin, and kissed the top of her head. She looked at Gabriel, who was waiting for them to take the traditional positions across from one another.


"You can start now," she told him.


Nick put his other arm around her and clasped his fingers together, securing her in place tucked into his side. When she looked up at him, he smiled at her, silently agreeing to fight her fears for her. Emily knew it was old fashioned, but she wanted him to protect and take care of her. He made her feel safe in a way that she never felt before. If he wanted to shield her from the harshness of the world, she certainly wasn't going to stand in his way.


Emily tried her best to listen to Gabriel's formal speech, but she was warm and comfortably safe, so her thoughts strayed. Her mind, floating in a fluffy cloud of contentment in his arms, started to show her the story of them. She remembered when they first met, awkwardly standing next to each other at a set of double doors watching the rain pour down in sheets from the sky. In her mind's eye, she could see the text he sent her asking if she'd be interested in spending time with him. After she read it, she jumped up and down like a giddy teenager. When the heavenly emotions she felt the first time they kissed bubbled up inside of her, she softly smiled at their depth and squeezed him a little harder. She saw images of him right as she caught him intensely staring at her from across the room and the way he winked at her when she finally noticed him. She remembered the look of sheer terror in his eyes as he got down on one knee and presented her with the most beautiful ring she'd ever seen. His face was pale, and his hands shook so badly that she thought he'd drop the box. He could have presented her with a paper ring, and she still would've screamed out, YES!


She heard someone say her name, and it pulled her out of the love story playing in her head.


"Hmmm?" she mumbled, noticing that everyone was looking at her expectantly. She looked up at Nick for help. 


"It's the 'I do' part. Unless you don't," he smiled and kissed her lips, "you have to say you do."


"Oh. Right. Sorry. Do you need to repeat that, or can I just agree?" 


"I'll repeat it for you, so you know what you're getting yourself into."


"Listen please," Nick whispered into her ear then kissed it, sending chills down the length of her spine. 



"Here we go then. Do you, Emily, take Nicholas to be your husband, to cherish in friendship and love today, tomorrow and for as long as the two of you live, to trust and honor him, to love him faithfully, whatever may come, and if you should ever doubt, to remember your love for each other and the reason why you came together with him on this day?"


"Yes, I do." He was looking so deeply into her eyes that she felt like he could see her soul.


Gabriel reversed their names and posed the question to him. She watched with curiosity as her favorite mischievous smile slowly appeared on his face.


"Let me think about it," he said as he bent over to kiss her. The kiss was just a few beats longer than she expected. Lost in him, she briefly forgot where she was until he slowly moved away from her.


"I do," he said with a surprised expression that made her quietly laugh. 


"Fantastic," Gabriel said as he feigned relief, "Let's move on then. I have the rings here in my pocket."


"These rings are a perfect circle and represent love with no beginning and no end, as your love should be. Remember to wear these rings always because they are not just rings. They are pieces of yourselves for each other. Treasure them and let them be a reminder of your love."


Her hands were shaking when Gabriel offered the ring to her. Nick took her trembling hand, and she felt his other hand under her chin, guiding her head up to meet his gaze.


"Focus on me. It's just you and me."


She took a breath, focusing on his lovely face for a moment. When she turned back to Gabriel, she was much calmer, but there was still a slight tremble when she reached for the ring. She took it, silently praying she wouldn't drop it in the sand.


"Repeat after me-"


"I'd like to say something here please," she said so quietly that her words almost went unheard.


She could do this. One small part. Just for him.


"Okay. Nicky, I've wanted to say this since you took my hands and kissed me for the very first time. You and Abby are the absolute loves of my life. With this ring, I give you my heart and promise that I'll be yours forever." She slid the black ring on his finger, pleased with herself for not forgetting the three simple sentences.


Even though he had no warning, he was easily able to speak of never-ending love, his awe at how much she loved his daughter and promised to protect her for the rest of his life. He slowly placed the ring on her finger and kissed her knuckles. She was biting her lip now, so she didn't burst into tears. 


"Abby?" she called out, needing her little girl, "Come here, baby."


"Mommy?" She couldn't see Abby, but she heard a slight whimper in her voice.


"What, baby? What's wrong?" Emily walked in the general direction of her voice.


"I have sand on me," she said in a weepy voice.


"It's not your fault, baby. Grandpa should've told you to wait a little bit before you played in the sand." She helped her brush the sand off of her while they walked back to her place with Nick. He lifted Abby into his arms so they could all be close.


"This is the part that fills everyone's heart with love. It marks the close of the ceremony and the beginning of the new couple's Happily Ever After. May your life together be blessed with love and good health. Cherish the home and family you create together, especially this beautiful child who loves you both unconditionally." 

Emily lovingly brushed an errant strand of hair off of Abby's face.


"You may have kissed a thousand times, but today the feeling is new. No longer simply partners and best friends, you have become husband and wife and can now seal the agreement with a kiss. Today, your kiss is a promise."

"Wait just a second." Nick took Abby the short distance to her grandfather. 

"Wait right here, okay?" Abby smiled in agreement.

His hands slid along the silk of her dress and rested at the small of her back. "If it's a promise, I'd better do it right." His lips lightly brushed across her forehead before he moved to her mouth. He kissed her softly, and her arms moved slowly to encircle his neck. She tried to pull him closer, and she felt him smile. The guests began to applaud. When she opened her eyes, he stroked her cheek. 

 "Happy?" he whispered, smiling at her.

She slowly nodded, feeling love radiating from her skin.

He gave her another quick kiss and then looked toward the guests. They were all standing and smiling. She noticed a few women blotting their eyes with a tissue.

"For the first time," Gabriel bellowed, "I am happy to introduce to you Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Greenbank."

The End

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