Two Years Later - Epilogue
Nicole was sitting in her favorite window seat in her bedroom staring out the window into the back yard with the pregnancy test in her hand. Two years ago at this time she and Ryan had just found out that they were having Chad, who was now 17 months old, and now here they were again. She had suspected something for a couple weeks and finally caved and bought a test just to ease her nerves. It was almost laughable to her because the doctor told her a little over seven years ago that she wouldn’t be able to get pregnant and now she had a six year old, a baby and another on the way. Who would have thought?
She set the test on the seat beside her and then stood up and walked toward the closet where her beautiful wedding dress was hanging. She ran her fingers over the ivory lace overlay which felt beautiful beneath her fingers and admired the fitted bodice. The top was simple and the skirt was basic with just a little bit of poof.
Ryan had asked her to marry him about three months ago when he took her on a little getaway to Mexico. They had managed to escape for seven days and leave the kids with her mom and dad. It was beautiful and perfect. It was more than she could have imagined.
Nicole looked up when her bedroom door opened and in walked Beth and Anna with coffee and breakfast.
“Its breakfast time,” Beth sang as she put the tray down on the table beside the bed, “How are you doing beautiful lady?”
“I’m excited,” Nicole replied with a smile, “And nervous.”
Nicole walked over to Beth and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and then put a hand on her very pregnant belly. Beth and Alex had tried for years to get pregnant and they had never been successful, but it just went to show that a little hard work and perseverance pays off. Beth was now eight months pregnant and Nicole just hoped that Beth wouldn’t go into labor during her wedding, although it would make for an interesting turn of events.
“How are you feeling momma?” Nicole asked, smiling at her best friend.
“I’m feeling great!” Beth replied, “The baby hasn’t been very active this morning, probably because she was active all night long.”
“How are you Anna?” Nicole asked as she handed her a cup of coffee, “You sleep ok?”
“Yeah, peacefully,” Anna stated with a smirk, “I’m just glad I wasn’t the one who had to share a bed with Beth. Poor Alex.”
Anna had made a full recovery from her depression and minor drug addiction and now she was living a good, clean life. She had one more year left of school before she could become a drug and alcohol rehabilitation counsellor. While at school, Anna had met a wonderful guy named Charlie and she couldn’t be happier.
“Anna, I need you to do me a favor,” Nicole said as she rushed over to the window seat and picked up the pregnancy test, “I would like for you to take this downstairs and give it to Ryan. I struggled for weeks trying to come up with the perfect wedding gift, but I think this is a winner.”
Beth walked over, not wanting to miss out on the perfect gift. Nicole handed over the pregnancy test to Anna and within seconds all three of them squealed in excitement. Beth and Anna threw their arms around their best friend and Nicole beamed with happiness.
“When did you find out?” Beth asked quickly, “How long have you been keeping this a secret?”
“I suspected for a couple weeks, but I couldn’t be sure,” Nicole replied, “But when I woke up this morning I felt nauseous and my boobs really hurt so I decided that I would take the test. Positive!”
“I’m so happy and excited for you,” Anna said quietly, “You finally got the happy family you deserve. Today is going to be a beautiful day!”
“Absolutely, it is,” Nicole agreed, “So you don’t mind taking that down to Ryan?”
“Nope, I’ll do it as soon as they get back from breakfast,” Anna replied, “They left just as Beth and I were preparing your breakfast. They should be back in a couple hours.”
“Have we heard from my parents?” Nicole asked Beth and Anna, “How are my boys?”
“They are doing well,” Beth stated, “Your mom will have them bathed and ready and here at the house by 1:30. That gives you plenty of time to go see Chad and make it to your make-up appointment by 11:30.”
“Perfect,” Nicole stated, “I appreciate the breakfast gesture, but I’m just not hungry right now.”
“That’s all right,” Anna said, “It will wait for you. I don’t care what I have to do Nicole, you will be eating before your big moment.”
“I know, I know,” Nicole replied as she rolled her eyes, “I have to get going. I’ll be back at 12:30.”
Nicole quickly kissed her girls on the cheek before grabbing a sweater out of her closet and disappearing down the hall.
It was quiet as she walked through the cemetery that morning. She kicked her feet through the grass as she walked, feeling the cold dew leaking into her sandals.
She looked up at the sky, the sun was shining bright and there was not a cloud in the sky. It was a beautiful day for a wedding.
As she approached Chad’s grave she ran her hand over the headstone and leaned down and kissed it like she always did when she came to visit him. She knew he was no longer alive, but she never wanted to stop talking to him, she still felt his presence every so often and she felt at peace.
“Hey Chad,” she whispered as she sat down beside his headstone, “I miss you and Hudson asks more questions about you now as he gets older. He wants to know more about you. As for your other son, Chad, he is 17 months old and an incredible bundle of energy. He is absolutely beautiful and he has your eyes and your smile. When I look at him I think of you.”
She sat in silence for a little while, listening to the birds chirp while playing with the bouquet of flowers that she had brought a couple days earlier. She always brought a fresh bouquet when she came to visit to brighten up his spot.
“I miss you, but I want you to know that I’m doing well,” she said quietly, “I’m getting married today and Ryan and I are expecting another little one. He doesn’t know yet, well, he might now, but in several short months our house is going to be crazy. Not only are we going to have our three, but Ryan’s daughter, Emily, who is 11 is going to be moving in with us as well. Like I said, CRAZY. I like to think that you might be watching from above somewhere, smiling down and knowing that I’m well taken care of and that I’m going to be ok.”
At that moment a butterfly landed on the top of Chad’s headstone and a shiver travelled through Nicole. She smiled as she looked up at the sky, feeling Chad’s presence in that moment. It was a beautiful and comforting feeling.
“I love you,” she said quietly with a smile.
The moment Anna heard the door slam downstairs she reached for the pregnancy test, grinned at her sister and rushed down to see Ryan. She ran right into her boyfriend, Charlie and also one of the groomsmen.
“Hey baby,” he said with a smile, “Why the urgency?”
“Hey Charlie,” she replied, grinning up at him, “I have Ryan’s wedding gift from Nicole. I’m kind of excited to give it to him.”
“He’s out in the backyard with the rest of the guys, which is where I should also be,” Charlie replied, “Just doing some final prep before the guests start arriving.”
Anna reached for Charlie’s hand and they made their way out to the backyard together. Everything looked perfect, she didn’t know what Charlie meant by final preparations, there was nothing left to do.
“It looks perfect out here,” Anna exclaimed, “It will pass Nicole’s inspection.”
“Hey Anna!” Ryan called out as he walked across the yard towards her, “How is everything? How is Nicole doing?”
“Everything is great and your bride-to-be is doing good,” Anna replied with a smile, “She was pretty happy this morning, but she is refusing to eat.”
“Make sure she eats Anna,” Ryan stated, “Did she go see Chad?”
“That’s where she is now and then off to get her hair and make-up done,” Anna responded, “Nicole wanted me to give you this though, that’s why I’m here. It’s your wedding gift.”
Anna handed over a small white envelope and Ryan took it from her. He gave her a look before he opened it and pulled out the pregnancy test. It was silent for what seemed like an eternity as he looked at the test. He shook it and then looked at Anna in disbelief.
“Good Lord Ryan, it’s not an etch-a-sketch,” Anna laughed, “You’re having a baby!”
“I just wanted to make sure it was real and not a joke,” Ryan stated in shock, “Holy Shit! Nicole and I are having a baby!”
All the guys in the backyard cheered for him as he lifted Anna up in his arms, hugging her tightly. Anna laughed with him, his happiness was contagious.
“Congratulations Ryan,” Anna said quietly, “You guys deserve this happiness. I’m so excited for you two!”
He kissed her on the cheek and put her back down on the ground beside Charlie.
“This is the best day of my life!” Ryan exclaimed, “Thank you Anna for bringing me this. Tell Nicole I can’t wait to see her.”
Anna nodded her head before she kissed Charlie quickly and ran back into the house. She sat down on the couch in the living room and took a deep breath. Every once in a while all the memories of all the horrible things she had done came back to haunt her and depending on the day, sometimes she let those memories consume her. However, today, she would not let these negative emotions take over. What happened was in the past and Nicole and Ryan would finally get their happy ending.
A couple hours later, Hudson and Chad were running around Nicole’s bedroom playing tag and the girls were putting the finishing touches on their make up when there was a knock on the door. Nicole made her way over and opened the door. Holly walked in and the tears were already falling down her cheeks.
“Hi mom,” Nicole said joyfully, “Why are you already crying? The wedding hasn’t even started yet!”
“I know sweetheart,” Holly replied, “I just...it’s an emotional day. I’m just so happy that this day has finally arrived. Granted, you guys had to go through hell to get here, but you all made it through. You, Ryan, Anna...you are all closer to each other because of certain events and your strength is amazing. I admire you all for fighting the good fight.”
“Oh mom,” Nicole stated, “You’re such a softy.”
“Don’t make fun of me,” Holly pouted before she saw the dress, “Oh, it’s even more beautiful than I remembered. Can I help you?”
“Of course,” Nicole replied.
Nicole took off her robe and her mother took the dress off the hanger and helped her slip it over her head. Nicole held the top of the dress against her chest as her mother let the dress fall naturally around her. Holly then stood behind her and zipped the dress up slowly and carefully and Nicole had to suck in slightly so it would do up. Shit, Nicole thought to herself, I’ve already gained a little baby weight.
“Is the dress too tight sweetheart?” Holly asked curiously.
“No, it’s good now mom,” Nicole replied, “If I wasn’t pregnant, it wouldn’t be so tight...”
It was so quiet in the room, you could hear a pin drop. Anna and Beth popped their heads out of the bathroom to see Holly’s reaction to the news.
“I’m sorry...I thought I just heard you say...” Holly stumbled over her words, “...that you were pregnant. Did I hear you right?”
“You heard me right!” Nicole squealed excitedly, “I took a test this morning so I haven’t had time to go to a doctor yet. But I promise I will go see Dr. Hayward on Monday before we go to the airport.”
“Oh my God!” Holly screeched, “I can’t believe you are pregnant again. It’s amazing, don’t get me wrong. It’s just...the doctors, four different ones I might add, all said the same thing. That it would be close to impossible for you to get pregnant. Now you are going on baby number 3.”
“Momma, miracles happen every day,” Nicole said with a smile, “Look at Beth. She and Alex have been trying for six years and the doctors told them they would never have children. Now, I just hope that she doesn’t go into labor while walking down the aisle.”
“Shut up!” Beth shot back, “This baby is staying intact for another two weeks at least.”
They were interrupted when there was a knock on the door. Anna, playing guard, rushed over to the door and opened it slowly making sure it wasn’t Ryan trying to catch a glimpse of the bride before she made her debut. It was Fred, Nicole’s dad. It was show time.
“Daddy,” Nicole exclaimed happily as she rushed over to him.
He smiled at her as he pulled her into his arms and held her tight. She never thought she would have a second opportunity to walk down the aisle with her daddy, but clearly God had other plans for her.
“You look beautiful momma,” Fred whispered into her ear, “Ryan told me the news. I’m so excited for you two. You guys deserve nothing but the best. Are you ready to do this?”
“Absolutely,” Nicole replied quietly, enjoying her moment with him, “Is it time?”
“Everybody is here,” Fred replied, “And the groom is eager to get this show on the road. What do you say?”
“Let’s do this!” Nicole said loudly, grinning up at her dad, “Let’s go girls!”
Fred reached out his hand and Nicole placed her hand in his. She looked into his eyes and saw the joy shining from them. She took a deep breath and nodded her head, signalling that she was ready and he led her down the hall and down the stairs.
When they got downstairs they moved single file down the hall towards the back door. Nicole’s heart was pounding in her chest with excitement. This was the moment she had been waiting for. The moment she became Ryan Wilson’s wife.
Nicole looked down as she felt a little tug on her dress. She smiled down at Hudson, who was holding Chad’s hand. They both looked so handsome in their little black suits and purple bow ties.
“Hello my handsome little boys,” Nicole said as she knelt down so she was at their level, “Are you two excited?”
They both nodded, but Chad really didn’t understand much of what was going on. He pushed in front of Hudson and held out his arms. Nicole kissed Hudson on the cheek and then stood up and lifted Chad into his arms. He was at the stage in life where he played strange with others who were not momma, dada, namma or papa. Guaranteed she would have to walk down the aisle with Chad on her hip.
The music started outside and Anna and Beth turned to look at her. They smiled at each other and Nicole blew kisses at both of them. She didn’t know how she would have done this without them. Yeah, she and Anna had gone through a rough patch, but they made it through and two years later, Nicole loved Anna more than she thought could, considering the circumstances.
Nicole watched as Anna picked up her bouquet and made her way outside and down the aisle. She could barely contain her excitement.
“I love you Nic,” Beth whispered as she grabbed her bouquet in one hand and Hudson’s hand in the other, “We’ll see you on the other side beautiful.”
Hudson smiled up at his mom before he followed Beth outside. She watched them disappear around the corner and then waited for the music to change. When it did, Nicole froze on the spot. She wasn’t scared, but maybe a little nervous. They had managed to squeeze 80 of their closest family and friends into their backyard and some of them she hadn’t seen since Chad passed away.
“You ok sweetheart?” Fred whispered.
“I’m ok,” Nicole whispered back before she kissed Chad on the nose and took a deep breath let’s do this.”
Fred held his arm out and she linked her arm through his and they slowly made their way outside. She gave her dad one last smile as they turned the corner.
“Dada!” Chad cheered, lifting his hands up the air.
“Yeah, baby, its dada,” Nicole whispered in Chad’s ear.
Nicole looked at the crowd ahead of her and then her eyes locked with Ryan’s. The nervousness disappeared and an overwhelming joy flowed through her. Her eyes filled with tears when his smile lit up his entire face. She was about to marry the love of her life.
“It’s time to give your baby away...again,” Nicole said quietly to her father as they slowly began to walk down the aisle toward her future.
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