If Gabi thought she looked pretty, Alicia was the definition of perfection. Her dress was strapless and made of very fine lace that hugged her every curve until it flared at the bottom into a ten-foot long train. She needed minimal makeup to enhance her natural beauty and her curly hair cascaded down her back to her waist. The ensemble was completed with a diamond headband and cathedral length veil.
“What do you think?” Alicia asked nervously, as she faced her bridesmaids and her maid of honor.
“Leesh you look absolutely stunning,” Penelope, Alicia’s cousin and maid of honor said in awe.
“I don’t have words to accurately describe how beautiful you look,” Gabi chimed in.
Lizzie scoffed. “I do. You look like what every girl dreams of looking like on her wedding day and what every guy dreams his bride will look like. Perfect is the word Gabi was looking for.”
Alicia blushed with a shy smile. “You really think so?”
“Absolutely,” they replied in unison.
The door to the suite opened and Jack walked in gasping when he saw his daughter. “Oh, my baby girl!” he exclaimed. “You are pristine! You look so much like your mother. She would be so proud of you,” he said kissing her cheek.
“No tears, Alicia,” Penelope chastised. “You’ll ruin your makeup.”
A few minutes later they were headed down to the lake where the ceremony was being held. Lizzie was first to walk down the aisle, followed by Joseph’s sister. Then it was Gabi’s turn.
For a moment she forgot why they were there when she locked eyes with Ryan who was standing next to the best man at the altar. She felt like she was walking toward her future and any doubts that she had about their relationship were gone at that moment. She winked at him when she turned to take her place next to Lizzie.
Joseph teared up the moment he laid eyes on Alicia as her father and her son Aiden walked her down the aisle. The ceremony was short but incredibly sweet and sincere and soon they were all headed back to the castle for the reception.
Gabi was antsy the entire reception, something that didn’t go unnoticed by Ryan. She was tapping her leg through all the speeches and chewing her nails nervously. When he asked her about it, she said she was just a little tired.
“Would you care to dance?” Ryan asked, extending his hand to Gabi with a smile.
She beamed up at him and nodded. They made their way to the dance floor and swayed slowly to the music.
“This is the classiest wedding I’ve ever been to,” Gabi mused. “The string quartet, the celebrities, the fact that we’re in freaking Italy...”
Ryan chuckled. “It’s a bit much for my taste but our Italian side of the family always goes all out. You should have seen my Uncle Francesco’s fifth wedding. It was held here as well and was disgustingly opulent.”
Gabi’s jaw dropped. “He’s been married five times?”
“Yeah,” Ryan commented with a short laugh. “It’s a long story.”
“You think you’ll ever get married?” Gabi asked quietly after a moment. “You know after the whole thing with Suzette?”
Ryan was taken aback by her question but tried not to let it show. “I used to say absolutely not, but lately I’m not so sure.”
Gabi nodded absentmindedly.
“What about you?” Ryan countered.
“I sure hope so,” she replied with a laugh. “Otherwise I might send my mother to an early grave.”
They both burst out laughing to the amusement of the older couple dancing near them. They danced for a while longer until Ryan noticed that most of the guests had trickled out after the send-off.
“You want to head back up to the castle?”
“That’s such an odd sentence to hear, but yes,” Gabi giggled. “My feet are killing me.”
“Here,” Ryan said squatting down a bit. “Get on my back.”
“Are you insane? I’m wearing a dress!” Gabi responded fighting back a smile.
Ryan stood to his full height and shrugged, offering her his arm instead. She struggled halfway back to the castle until Ryan’s patience wore thin and he picked her up, carrying her the rest of the way back to their room, with her laughing the entire time.
“I’ve got to go check with my dad to make sure all of the vendors were paid and everything is good to go,” Ryan said, setting Gabi down on the bed. “I should only be about twenty minutes; Will you be okay on your own for a bit?”
Gabi nodded, biting her lip. “Although you might want to hurry back.”
Keeping her eyes on him, she kicked off her shoes and unzipped her dress. “If you take too long, I might have to finish what we started earlier, without you,” she said seductively.
His eyes widened. “You'd better not! I’ll be right back!”
He ran out of the room leaving Gabi in a fit of giggles. As soon as the door closed behind him she jumped into action. She ran into the closet and searched through her suitcase until she found what she was looking for. She hurriedly changed her clothes and headed back into the bedroom.
Gabi sighed and fluffed her curls out as she glanced at the clock on the nightstand. Ryan had been gone for fifteen minutes. She laid down on the bed and tried to position herself in an alluring way but felt incredibly awkward.
She kept adjusting herself but froze when she heard the door opening. Ryan walked in and tossed his jacket on the chaise by the door. “I told you I’d be back quickly babe--”
He stopped in the middle of his sentence when he turned and laid eyes on Gabi. She was sitting on the edge bed with her legs crossed. His eyes started down at her feet, clad in black stilettos, and traveled up the length of her lean, brown legs. She was wearing a soft pink, sheer babydoll negligee and her cheeks were flushed pink with excitement or embarrassment, he couldn’t tell. The overall effect had Ryan buzzing with anticipation as Gabi nervously gnawed on her soft pink lips and played with one of her long curls.
“Gabriella?” he managed to choke out. He cleared his throat. “What’s this?”
Gabi laughed. “What does it look like? Come over here.”
Ryan was quick to oblige her as he knelt on the ground and pushed her knees apart so he could pull her close to him. Her response was immediate. She ran her fingers through his hair and kissed him soundly, every nerve in her body tingling as he ran his hands up and down her bare back underneath the negligee.
They kissed hot and heavy for a few minutes, making their way further onto the bed. Soon Ryan was hovering above Gabi as she lay on her back.
“Wait! Ryan wait!”
Ryan leaped away from her like he had touched a hot stove. “What? What is it? Did I hurt you?”
Gabi laughed shakily and shook her head. “No, I just...I have something to tell you.”
“Oh.” Ryan sat back down on the bed and blew out a deep breath. “You scared the shit out of me. You have to tell me something right now?”
"Like right now?"
“What is it?”
Gabi bit her lip nervously and drew her knees to her chest.
“Gabriella? Baby, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong. I’m just trying to figure out how to say it.”
Gabi sighed. “Okay. So it’s like this. Remember a few months ago, right before we went to New York, I got sick?”
Ryan nodded, amused by Gabi’s actions.
“Well, the doctor put me on antibiotics and apparently antibiotics mess up your birth control. I didn’t know that maybe they told me, I don’t know but anyway I’m pregnant and I know this is a shock but I found out before we came here and I didn’t know how to tell you so I--” she rambled on until Ryan placed his hand over her mouth.
“Did you just say you’re pregnant?” he asked with a frown.
Gabi nodded and tried to remove his hand from her mouth. It was silent for a beat until Ryan yelped in pain. “Ouch! Did you just bite me?!”
“I couldn’t breathe you jackass!” she coughed.
“Oh, I’m sorry, baby--BABY. Oh, my God. Are you going to have a baby? Are we going to have a baby? Holy shit! Now I can’t breathe!” He jumped up and started pacing the room.
“Ryan,” Gabi called to him. “Ryan. Ryan!”
Ryan turned to look at Gabi, who was adorably sexy in his eyes, with her hair mussed and a slight smile on her lips.
“How long have you known?” he asked sitting down next to her once more.
“I found out a few days before we left to come here. I went to the doctor because I hadn’t been feeling well and he did a blood test. Bam! Preggo!”
She got up and walked over to her purse pulling out a sonogram photo and handing it to him. “I went back the day we flew out for the ultrasound. I wanted to surprise you.”
Ryan snorted as he studied the picture. “I’m definitely surprised. I thought you couldn’t get a sonogram until later in the pregnancy--”
“I’m sixteen weeks,” she interjected.
“Sixteen weeks? That means four months?! No freaking way; I would have noticed!” Ryan exclaimed, pulling up her negligee.
“Hey!” Gabi pushed his hands away with a laugh. “You could at least ask!”
“Sorry!” He ran his hand through his hair, not knowing what to do with them. “Can I see? Is there anything to see?”
Gabi smiled softly. “Yeah. I thought I was just gaining weight from too much pollo guisado but...”
She lifted the negligee and Ryan’s eyes widened. Where her stomach had been flat before, it was slightly rounded now. His hands were itching to caress her and she could sense it.
“You can touch me, Ryan,” she said with a slight laugh. “I’m not made of glass.”
He placed his hands on her stomach and flashed her that lopsided grin of his.
“Wow,” he said finally.
“What’s going through your head right now?” Gabi asked, letting her negligee fall so she could tangle her fingers in his soft curls.
He pulled her closer and rested his head on her chest. “So many things. I doubt I could pick just one.”
“Indulge me and try to pick one,” she whispered.
“I’m so happy right now. I feel like I’m floating on a cloud.”
“Of course. Why do you sound so surprised?”
“Well we haven’t been dating that long; Hell, we just said we love each other earlier today. And we both have a lot going on...” she trailed off.
“Who cares? Life is hardly ever convenient. We’ll make it work babe.”
“Oh, it’s such a relief to hear you say that.”
“You thought I would react differently?” Ryan asked, leaning back to look up at her.
“I wasn’t sure how you would react, to be honest,” she confessed. “That’s why I got all dressed up like this; I thought it would soften the blow.”
Ryan laughed heartily. “You thought you might seduce me into accepting the situation?”
Gabi joined him in laughter. “It sounds a bit ridiculous when you put it like that but I guess so.”
“Gabriella, I love you so much that it scares me sometimes. You’re giving me the greatest gift anyone could ever give me.”
“I love you too Ryan. You’re going to be a great dad,” she said, wiping the tears from her eyes.
“And you’ll be a great mom,” he replied, placing a soft kiss on her tummy.
“As your first fatherly duty,” Gabi said, lowering herself onto his lap. “You get to be the one to tell my mother we’re expecting.”
“Oh lucky me,” Ryan replied with a smile.