The sun had fully set by the time I stepped out of the bridal suite. It was a crisp night, but I was on cloud nine and the cold wasn’t phasing me. The white lights illuminated the courtyard, and I knew that just beyond the trees blocking my view of the gazebo, Avery was waiting for me.
The man who I’d met on a cruise ship. The man who had fallen in love with me. The man who had cared for me through everything we’d been through in the short amount of time we’d been together.
The man who I loved more than anything.
“Are you sure about this?” Dad asked from beside me.
I looked up into his blue eyes that were like mine. “Never been this sure about anything else.”
“It’s not too late.”
“I know. But Avery’s the one. My one. The one who makes everything better.”
Dad stuck out his arm for me to hook mine in. “Then we better get you married.”
He kissed the top of my head, and I caught Jessica’s eye. I nodded to her and a few seconds later, “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri started to filter in from the speakers. Then I took my first step toward the man who I knew I would love for more than a thousand years.
The moment Avery came into view, dressed in a black tux with a white dress shirt, everything around me disappeared. I thought that only happened in romance novels, but it was true. It was him and me and no one else. The smile he gave me was the one I knew I could count on for the rest of my life. He made me happy, made me strong, and while I didn’t understand why we’d lost our baby, I knew that no matter what, we’d always have each other. He was my prince, and I knew that we’d eventually fill our castle.
Maybe we weren’t meant to start our family yet. Life was weird like that. Maybe God was waiting to give us one when Brooke and Easton decided to grow their family. Maybe I would get pregnant tonight. Maybe. I didn’t know the answers other than Avery Scott was my soulmate. He was the reason I got up each morning. The reason I breathed. We’d fought for this moment through the ups and the one down that still crushed me every time I thought about what we’d lost. But I knew there was a reason, and I was excited to find out what our future held.
Today was the first day of the rest of our lives.
I’d heard that saying before, but now, I understood what it meant. We were becoming man and wife. We were becoming Mr. and Mrs. Avery Scott. We were becoming one.
Dad gave me to Avery, and as I turned to look up into Avery’s azure eyes, he wiped a tear from my cheek. I hadn’t realized that I was crying.
“Don’t cry,” he whispered.
“These are happy tears,” I assured him. Anyone could make me smile, and people could make me cry, but it was Avery who made me smile with tears of joy in my eyes.
“Good, because I didn’t get cold feet,” he teased.
I smiled. “I didn’t either.”
The minister, who was not Elvis, began the ceremony. I wasn’t sure what he said because as far as I was concerned, Avery and I were the only ones in the courtyard. I stared into his blue eyes the entire time.
Avery cleared his throat and began to speak. “Nic, my beautiful bride, my one and only, today and every day I promise to love you, to honor you, to make you laugh. May the way I look at you and treat you reflect the truth that I’ve loved you since the first time I ever laid eyes on you in the middle of the ocean. You’re the light to my darkness, and I never truly understood what love was until I found you. You make me the happiest man in the entire universe, and today I vow that I will love you until my dying breath.”
More tears streamed down my face as all of his words sank in. I swallowed, trying to remember what I wanted to tell him. Finally, as I looked into the eyes I wanted to bare my soul to, I was able to find my words. “Avery, I searched for you my entire life. While I always wanted the fairytale that most girls wish for, I’ve realized that life isn’t always unicorns and rainbows, and I know that love isn’t always perfect. Love is overcoming obstacles, facing challenges, fighting to be together, and holding on and never letting go. Love is realizing that every hour, every minute, and every second was worth it because we did it together. We’ve had our heartbreak, but we made it through, and today I vow to you that I will love you through the good times and the bad. I will love you until the day after forever.”
The minister spoke again and we said our “I do’s.”
“I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride.”
Avery grinned, and the moment his lips touched mine, I felt the love, the passion, the desire. I was so thankful that we’d chosen to get married at a venue where the wedding wouldn’t last hours. I wanted to run down the aisle, hand in hand, and go directly to our suite where we wouldn’t leave until it was time for our week-long honeymoon. However, we had an hour to eat, drink, and be merry.
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