Pieces of Me (A Pieces Novel)

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Epilogue - Aldrich

I tap my foot anxiously at the floor. I shake my head, hoping to get rid of the nervous feeling. Two years of waiting. Two years of preparing for today, and I might be getting cold feet. I wonder how Danica is doing right now. Why is it taking so long for her to get here? What if she doesn’t want to make a life with me anymore? I yank at the tie around my neck, loosening it slightly.

“Quit it man,” Danny says with a chuckle, pushing my hands away and fixing my tie again. “If you mess around with your tie too much, you’ll be a mess by the time she gets here.”

“And you’ll tap a massive hole into the floor,” Charlie adds, downing the rest of his drink. “Fair warning: when they turn two, it’ll be the best-worst time of your life.”

I give a half-hearted chuckle, shaking my head as I look to the doorway of the room we’re in. Any moment now, the wedding coordinator will come to get me to stand at the alter. Danny claps my shoulder and goes to stand at the window. Charlie goes to refill his glass, drinking it before he even returns the top to the bottle.

A few moments later, a gentle knock comes to the door, causing my to nearly jump out of my socks. Annette, the coordinator, steps in wearing a smile.

“She’s here,” she says with a chuckle. “Don’t look so nervous, Aldrich! You’re getting married, not fired from a high-paying job. Now, put on that million-watt smile and get out there. It’s show time!”

Annette leaves the door ajar as she walks out. I blow out my cheeks and wipe at the sleeves of my tux, as if they have dust on them. Charlie places his empty glass on the table and pushes out of his chair. Danny joins us and we exit the room. Danny and Charlie both go to walk Amethyst and Amber down the aisle, whilst I go to stand next to the minister at the alter. He instructs me to stand with my back facing the doorway.

The suspense is murderous. I haven’t seen Danica since the day before yesterday. I wish my father were here. He couldn’t get away from the hotel. He sent Claire and Laila in his place, but I had wanted him to be my best man. So, I stand here alone. I haven’t had enough time to acquaint myself with anyone in Beaverton yet. I’ve been working in a restaurant. As a valet, of course, and I work hard. I get to see Laila at home, and that is the best thing in the world.

The organ that is playing changes into the traditional ‘Wedding March’ and my heartbeat is rising to my throat. I can hear the shuffle of feet as both Danny’s and Charlie’s kids walk down the aisle. Danny and Amethyst’s daughter, Charlotte, is the flower girl. I glance of my shoulder and chuckle. She looks like a little princess in her lavender dress, white stockings and shoes. She waves at me, dropping the rest of her flowers in a single clump. The guests chuckle fondly and Charlotte races to Gram, who is waiting for her in the front pew. Next is Dominick and Chandler, Charlie and Amber’s twins. Twins definitely run in the bloodlines. They carry the ring cushion. To my surprise, they are not arguing the way they would normally.

Next is Charlie and Amber. She is adorned in a pale-blue gown with a large, lace bow-bustle. As beautiful as it looks on her, I can see the frustration in Amber’s eyes. However, her smile becomes more genuine when she sees me. She makes a face that tells me that I am about to be the happiest man alive. And I know I am.

Danny and Amethyst follow a moment later. Amethyst is dressed in an identical dress to Amber’s, only her dress is a pale pink. She also smiles at me as she goes to stand next to her sister. I quickly turn my head away when the music changes, ever so slightly. I hear the guests rise to their feet, and I smile because I can only imagine the sight taking place behind me. The minister then smiles at me and motions for me to look. And when I do, I am awestruck.

The first thing I notice is Danica’s smile. So bright and vibrant. Alive and content. So beautiful. I then take in her dress and my! She has chosen a strapless gown, which fits her every curve until it reaches her knees and flows outwards. Her veil is like a waterfall. Danica’s hair is much longer now than it was two years ago, giving her the lovely advantage of gracefully falling down her back and shoulders with the veil. I smile at her when our eyes meet. Her grandfather has glassy eyes as he accompanies her down the aisle.

I love you, are the words that Danica’s mouth forms. I mouth them back just as she and Gramps stop to stand beside me. He places Danica’s hand into mine, offering an appreciative smile, acknowledging the minister’s question as to who gives Danica to me. The ceremony seems to pass in a blur. I do not know how I manage to say my vows, as I am completely dumbstruck by the most beautiful woman beside me. And when the time comes to slip the ring on Danica’s fingers, I cannot hold back my tears any longer.


Danica

The sight of Aldrich’s tears provoke my own wells to overflow. I blink my eyes repeatedly as he slips the wedding band onto my finger where it will remain until our days have passed. And I know our days together will be long lasting. We’ve survived these last two years. The highs and the lows. Even the sudden surprises. Like when Aldrich’s mother decided to show up one day while we stayed in Serbia for Christmas.

Aldrich’s reunion with his mother was an emotional one. She regretted leaving him the way she did. The conversation was . . . it was pleasant, to say the least. Aldrich answered her questions about his life and filled her in on the years she missed. It was going quite well, until later that evening. When Aldrich’s father returned from the hotel, she couldn’t look him in the eye. I had always seen Aldrich’s father with such a lively, pleasant expression. On rare occasions, I saw him in distress, but mainly it was when he had a bad day. Never had I seen him so distraught. He truly loved, and still loves, Aldrich’s mother. I will not be surprised if she were to go back to him, and he would welcome her will open arms.

Aldrich’s arms are wrapped around my waist, his forehead pressed against mine, as we dance to our wedding song, Darla Love’s Today I Met The Boy I’m Going To Marry. I can’t help smiling as Aldrich takes my hand to turn me in a circle. And then he dips me backward, and our guests all cheer. Aldrich presses a gentle kiss to my lips before setting me upright again. And once again, his forehead is pressed to mine, his arms around my waist.

“Can this day be any more perfect?” Aldrich asks with a content smile.

“Possibly,” I reply softly, biting my bottom lip. “But I don’t to say my reasonings here . . . not in front of everyone.”

“Okay,” Aldrich kisses my nose and we continue dancing. The song changes and more people join the dance floor. I glance over at my lovely niece and nephews, tossing a napkin ball back and forth in a circle. I laugh softly at the sight, because both Charlie and Danny want their kids to play ball. While Amber may not mind, since she has two boys, Amethyst wants to put Charlotte into modeling. And she will be great, because that little girl is gorgeous.

“We need to have a little girl first,” Aldrich says suddenly, bringing me closer as he glances at Charlotte fondly. “I’ve watched the twins, and I can see the trouble they cause your brother . . . Not that I’d mind.”

“A little boy like you wouldn’t be too bad,” I tease, smiling. “And having a boy first means he can protect his little sister . . . if that happens to be the order our kids come in.”

Aldrich chuckles, “You want him to be a little prince, don’t you?” he asks, pulling his head back and looking into my eyes. “If that be the case . . . I want our daughter to be just like you.”

Speeches and cutting the cake happened before our first dance as husband and wife. So we dance through the rest of the night, until it’s to go. I can’t wait to get Aldrich alone. What I have to tell him is going to make him grin, I just know it.


Aldrich carries me over the threshold of our sweet house, kissing me all the way. I wrap my arms around his neck for support, and safety, as he carries me through the house to our bedroom. He lays me on the bed and tosses his jacket to the floor. Aldrich then helps pull off my shoes and stockings.

“You had something to tell me,” he says as he yanks off his tie and tosses it next to his jacket.

I grin as Aldrich lies down next to me and runs his hand along the fabric of my dress. I take his wrist and gently move his hand to rest his palm over my stomach. At first, Aldrich just rubs gently, rolling over onto his elbow to look at me. He chuckles and kisses my nose.

“Tell me,” Aldrich whispers as he starts kissing behind my ear. “Don’t cause me further suspense.”

I smile, “I gave you a hint already, silly,” I peck his cheek and pull away to meet his eyes. While saying this, I move his hand around my belly. Aldrich exhales, his expression thoughtful as he starts to rub my stomach more vigorously. I remain silent while he thinks of what I could possibly be trying to tell him. Suddenly, Aldrich stops rubbing my belly and looks directly into my eyes. His grin spreads ear to ear, across his face, reaching his eyes.

“Are you trying to tell me what I think you’re trying to tell me?” he asks, wiggling his eyebrows.

“Erm . . .” I mirror Aldrich’s expression, because I know he is teasing me. “I don’t know . . . We don’t always know each other’s thoughts, exactly.”

Aldrich chuckles and rolls to hover above me. He kisses my nose and then moves to my forehead.

“How far along?” he whispers, pulling his head back to look in my eyes once more.

I smile up at him. “Guess,” I tell him.

“Well, it can’t be that long . . . we’ve only done that twice in the last month . . . Possibly our night of reunion when I came back from visiting my dad? Three weeks?”

I laugh softly, nodding. Aldrich’s grin widens and he starts to shower me in gentle kisses. He nuzzles my neck, gently tightening his arms around my waist. He whispers endearments into my ear and tells me how I how glad he is to have claimed me as his forever. It is amazing to think that emailing back and forth to each other allowed Aldrich and I to give each other pieces of ourselves. Granted, I gave Aldrich more pieces of me at the start, but he came around. Now, we are starting a life together. Looks like I fell in love with someone who is pure of heart, loyal, and faithful after all.

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