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Chinese Water Torture

Five months later:

“Are you ready yet, momma?”

“Give me just another minute, Braelynn. This dress is like Chinese water torture!”

“Just hurry up, momma! Everyone is waiting on you!”

“I’m coming, I’m coming!” I said as I hobbled my way out of the dressing room and into the lobby of the Simpson Wedding Chapel. Manhattan had an exclusive contract with them to cater all of their events so Mr. Simpson had given us free reign of the wedding chapel. Braelynn, my maid of honor, looked beautiful in her light purple tea-length gown. I had let Braelynn do all of the dresses and flowers, including picking out my own dress. Now that I was standing on the other side of the chapel door wearing what was surely a seventeenth century torture device I was pretty sure I’d never let her pick out another dress for me. The dress was an off white color with a strapless sweetheart neckline and lots of lace and beading all the way down. It was form-fitting in the hips and flared out at the bottom with a five foot train behind it. The shoes she had picked out were five inches tall with pencil thin stiletto heels and I was scared to death I was going to fall and break my neck.

“Are you ready now, momma?” She smiled up at me.

“Yes, let’s get this show on the road.” She stuck her head in the door and nodded to the music man. I heard the theme music to Cinderella start up; also picked by Braelynn. The double doors opened and Braelynn started her trek down the aisle. She had practice her walk all week. She made sure to stop at every row and nod hello to everyone each side of her. The chapel was packed with people. My family was sitting in the first two rows. Keaton’s family had flown in from the real Manhattan and was taking up the first four rows on his side. Everyone else seated on either side were friends from college or work. I hadn’t even wanted a big wedding but Braelynn had pitched a fit. She said it wasn’t fair to Keaton since he’d never been married before. Keaton was obviously on her side. I gave in under the condition that Braelynn got to pick out everything since she was the one championing for it. Seeing all of the white roses, tulips, and tiger lilies spread out around the chapel, I would say she’d done an amazing job. She and my mother had made me a bouquet from broaches, buttons, and old earrings that belong to all the women in my family. Just before I was about to take a step, I felt an arm link into mine. I looked up and saw Grayson’s father smiling down at me.

“Jerry? What are you doing?”

“Braelynn had a long talk with me and her Mims about you getting married again. I can’t lie. It really hurt. But I know that Grayson would want you and Braelynn to be happy. She thinks a lot of Keaton and swore to us that we’d like him a lot if we got to know him. She told us that he reminds her a lot of her daddy. And then she asked me if I would walk you down the aisle since you father was no longer here to do the honor. If you’ll have me, Brodie, I’d love to give you away.” I didn’t say anything because I was scared I would start crying. I tried to blink back the tears. I just smiled and nodded. He nodded back at me and we started down the aisle. I was halfway down the aisle before Keaton turned his head to look at me. I could tell he was nervous. I saw his twitchy fingers clasped together in front of him. His eyes got wide when they met mine and mouthed the word ‘wow’ at me. I couldn’t help but smile and I’m sure I blushed a little. I looked back down at Braelynn who was almost to the end of the aisle. Before she stepped up onto the little wooden platform that was the stage, she stopped by my mother’s seat and kissed her new baby brother on the head.

Kailee had been pregnant and the baby hadn’t been Keaton’s. Kailee didn’t know who the father was. She was going to give the baby up for adoption. Keaton came home from work the day she went into labor and told me all about Kailee’s plan. As this point, we still didn’t know whether he was Keaton’s or not. We rushed to the hospital just in time for Keaton to sign the birth certificate. I think he’d already made up his mind that he was going to be there for this child regardless of whether he really was his child or not. The next week we had the paternity test done and took Kailee to court to gain custody since she was going to put the baby up for adoption anyway. She didn’t fight us. The judge granted us custody and now I was the mother of a baby boy named Vincenzo, or Vinny for short, after Keaton’s grandfather. I think we were all madly in love with him. He was wearing a tiny onesie with a tuxedo print on it and was snuggled in my mother’s lap. Sitting next to my mother was Audrey, who was dabbing her eyes with her handkerchief. I’d never be able to repay her helping Keaton and I get back together or for helping me figure out that Walker was who he was.

Jerry and I reached the front of the platform and the preacher did the formalities of letting him give me away. He kissed me on the cheek and shook Keaton’s hand before placing my hand into Keaton’s. Keaton helped me up onto the platform. I got a good long look at my new handsome husband. He’d grown his hair back out a little. It was wavy and grazing his eyebrows. I loved running my hands through it when we were snuggling in bed at night. His slate gray tux and light purple vest and tie made him look like a GQ model. A GQ model that I couldn’t wait to undress. I smiled and winked at him. He stifled a giggle as the preacher began the vows. We swapped our vows and rings. And then Keaton got to kiss his bride. And boy did he! As soon as the preacher said, “you may kiss the bride,” he grabbed me, pulled me to him, and dipped me; kissing me hard on the lips. Everyone in the room was cheering and clapping. I knew I was five hundred shades of red and pink from blushing. He set me up right and leaned his head against mine.

“I love you, Mrs. Maddox.”

“I love you, too, Mr. Maddox. For all of my life for the rest of my life.”

“Same here, sugar. Even when you start pooping yourself.”

It seemed like we had come full circle--well, except for the stiletto that snapped off of my dress shoe as I stepped into our get-away car; that was new.

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