“Stella, are you ready yet?” Beau impatiently calls from where he’s tapping his foot on the hardwood floor of the kitchen as he waits for his beautiful Stel. Beau’s smile widens even further than it already was stretched as his almost 3-year old daughter toddles into the room in her pretty pink tutu dress dragging her favorite purple blanket behind her.
“Dada, Momma’s a princess!” She giggles, throwing her arms up to signal she wants Beau to pick her up. He reaches down and tosses his daughter in the air, spinning her in a circle before tucking her against his side.
“Momma’s always a princess, darling.” Beau grins at his daughter, and promptly follows her finger as soon as she points at the doorway that Stella is emerging from. It’s been almost 7 years since Beau met Stella in that airport, and she’s still as breathtaking as she was that first day.
Beau’s jaw is still dragging the ground when Stella saunters toward him in her pale purple wrap dress and 3-inch chunky heels. “I’m pretty sure I said not-too-fancy, Stel.” Beau murmurs after Stella has closed his jaw for him and kissed his cheek before kissing Amora’s.
“I’m pretty sure I can wear whatever I want to.” Stella grins, causing Beau to roll his eyes and lean in for a kiss.
“Well, I guess I’m not going to complain, because I could look at you all night. Was this the dress you wore the night I asked you to marry me?” Beau asks, softly grabbing a fistful of the dress’s material as he remembers that night on the way home from Gemma and Fernando’s wedding.
“Beau, this place is gorgeous.” Stella sighs as she pulls her jacket closer around her shoulders and leans into Beau’s side. “I’m glad they decided to do the wedding in December. That way we get to see Central Park with all of its Christmas lights up.”
“You would have been happy if they’d have had the wedding in a trashy trailer in the middle of the Sahara in the dead of summer.” Beau wraps his arm tighter around Stella’s shoulders as he shoves his other hand into the pocket of his jacket, making sure the little ring is still there. He was planning on asking before the wedding, but just couldn’t bring himself to ruin Gemma’s day for either her or Stella, and this worked out perfectly.
“Well, she is my best friend and she and Fernando are perfect together. I’m just glad they didn’t elope like they’d joked about.” Stella laughs, glancing up into the handsome face of the man she hopes to marry someday. The man who is the father of her beautiful 2-year old daughter who is back home in Georgia with her grandmother and Jack.
The two stroll through Central Park pointing at the wildlife that stop and stare at them, and watching all of the beautiful holiday lights twinkling in the trees and on the buildings surrounding the park. Almost unnoticed to the both of them, the two stop walking in front of a path leading into a row of trees lit up by solid white Christmas lights surrounded by the freshly fallen snow.
It’s now or never. Beau thinks to himself, clutching the ring tightly in his fist as he rubs his palm down Stella’s arm and glances down at her beautiful face as she takes in the beautiful scene before her.
“Stel…” Beau sighs, slightly turning her to face him.
“Yeah?” She asks, allowing Beau to see the lights sparkle in her eyes.
Beau takes a deep breath and sinks to his left knee, producing the simple gold engagement ring that has a single round stone in a rounded diamond setting. “Stella, I’ve loved you since the moment I first saw you in that airport. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I wouldn’t want to fight and make up with anyone else. I love you. I love our daughter. I love our life together. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Stella Jo Hawkley, will you marry me?”
“That was a great night, wasn’t it, Beau?” Stella smiles, holding out her hand that has held that diamond ring for the last 9 months.
“Tomorrow night’s going to be even better.” Grabbing Amora’s jacket, Beau ushers his soon-to-be-wife out the door of their farmhouse and to his new Dodge so they can head to the rehearsal dinner. Everyone should be there tonight, Stella’s mom and step-dad, Bryndle, Gunnar, Gemma, Fernando, Connor, Alex, Colt, Rachel, and Beau’s dad more than likely. His mother was invited to the wedding and rehearsal dinner, but an RSVP was never received, so they’ll soon find out if she’s going to be involved in their lives. After Stella tried relentlessly over the last few years to get Beau to have a relationship with his mother so Amora could have a relationship with her, Beau agreed, but it was pointless. She wanted as little to do with him as he wanted with her, so the wedding invitation is their last ditch effort. If she doesn’t show, she’s not involved.
The ride to the local diner where they’re having the rehearsal dinner isn’t a long one, but Stella doesn’t want to get out of the truck where’s she’s in the middle seat tucked against Beau’s side. “I love you Mr. Morris.”
“I love you too, soon-to-be Mrs. Morris.” Beau grins down at his beautiful bride-to-be before kissing the tip of her nose. “Just 24 more hours before I can call you that officially.”
“Beau, did you ever think we’d end up here?” Stella asks, grabbing his arm as he reaches for the door handle.
“Here as in, sitting outside of the Country Café on the eve of our wedding with the rest of our family waiting inside? Or here as in about to get married with our almost 3-year old daughter being our flower girl?” Beau asks, reaching up to push a loose strand of hair out of her face.
“Here as in just us getting married.”
Beau glances at her sad features, and immediately knows she’s thinking about her father.
“Sweetheart, your dad would love what we’ve done with the place. He’d love Amora, and he’d be thrilled we are finally tying the knot. He loved you so much.” Beau whispers, pulling her close and kissing her temple, thinking about John and wishing he could be here to see how beautiful his daughter looks.
“I can’t wait to marry you.” Stella murmurs, leaning up for a kiss, before finally allowing Beau to get out of the truck so she can unbuckle Amora from her car seat.
“Come on, sweetie. Grandma and Aunt Bryndle are inside waiting to see you!” Stella grins, allowing her 3-year old to run ahead and do her best to open the heavy door of the restaurant before her father can rescue her.
“Don’t forget to give Uncle Gunnar a hug on your way by, too.” Beau chuckles, tucking his fiancée under his arm as they make their way into the reserved room full of their family and friends that are going to surround them tomorrow.
“I hope we’re as happy as you and Fernando are, Gem.” Stella sighs, leaning her head on her best friend’s shoulder, pressing her palm against Gemma’s slightly poochy stomach that is carrying her honorary niece or nephew.
Bryndle glances at her sister with a soft smile on her face, and reaches around Gemma’s back to rub Stella’s shoulders. “You can’t get cold feet now, sis.”
“I’m not getting cold feet. I want more than anything to marry Beau, I’m just worried things might end up like Mom and Dad.”
Gemma turns a glare on Stella and quickly shakes her head. “Your mom and dad were trying to live separate lives. It didn’t work out. You and Beau were made for each other. Everyone knows it. Everyone has known it since you two met. Stop worrying about stupid what ifs and embrace each other.”
“Damn, when did my best friend get so deep?” Stella laughs, shooting a grin at Connor across the table from her.
“She’s always been a deep person. You’ve just always been too wrapped up in Beau to notice.” Connor grins back, and Stella rolls her eyes, glancing at Beau with his friends and family. Colt is standing up as his best man tomorrow, and even though Stella didn’t like him when she and Beau first got together, she’s realized that Colt and Beau are actually very good for each other. And she likes Rachel, who was a diamond that Colt somehow managed to snag. She must be insane to willingly love Colt, but hey, some people might say that about Stella and Beau.
Glancing around the rest of the room, Stella is disappointed to not see Beau’s mother, but she’s still holding out hope for tomorrow. Deep down, she knows Beau doesn’t want to never have his mother again, but he’s just too stubborn to try and make peace.
“Stella, honey, tomorrow’s going to be perfect.” Stella’s mother sighs, sitting in the open chair beside Stella with her granddaughter and pulling Stella into a hug.
“Thanks Mom. I just wish Dad could be here to walk me down the aisle.” Stella tries to keep her bottom lip from trembling, because she knows how honored Jack was when she asked him, and as much as she loves Jack, he’ll never compare to her father.
“Jack knows how lucky he was to have you ask him. He’s been practicing non-stop to make sure he doesn’t trip and cause you to fall.” Grace tells her daughter, kissing Stella’s forehead.
“Beau, you know it’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding, so I think you need to go sleep on Colt’s couch tonight.” Stella grins as they get home and Amora toddles into the living room to her pile of toys that are strewn everywhere.
Beau turns a soft glare on her as he settles his arms around her waist, pulling her to his chest. “That’s only for traditional couples, babe.”
“We are a traditional couple, goof.” Stella softly smacks his shoulder as she’s reaching her arms up to run her fingers through his hair.
Beau reaches one hand up and gently turns Stella’s face to look at their daughter. “Amora makes us an untraditional couple, Stel. Most couples get married and then have the kid. We had the kid and are now getting married.”
Stella glances back up at her almost husband and stands on her tippy toes to kiss him. “Either way, I’m the luckiest girl alive to have both of you in my lives. But still, I’d like to keep this tradition the way it’s supposed to be. Please, go sleep at Colt’s.”
Sighing as he traces his fingers up the back of Stella’s dress, Beau reluctantly agrees, giving her a goodbye kiss before grabbing Amora and telling her goodnight. Stella watches his taillights pull out of the driveway before glancing at her almost 3-year old daughter and hurrying to the bathroom to do something she’s been wanting to all day.
Before the dinner tonight, they’d been setting up for the ceremony tomorrow, and Stella hadn’t felt the best for the last few mornings, and when she started getting tired and worn out only a few hours into decorating, she knew something was up. Since Bryndle was headed into town anyway to grab a few more decoration items they forgot, Stella begged her to buy a test and hide it in her bathroom. Now, ripping open the container, Stella stares at it before doing anything, unsure of what she wants the test to come out as. 3 minutes later she’s staring back at the results.
Stella stares at the two pink lines for a solid minute as she thinks about what this means for her and Beau. She’s thrilled, obviously, and she should have expected it, but it’s still a shock. There’s going to be another little of them running around here soon enough.
Maybe it’ll be a boy this time.
Grinning as she already starts thinking about possible boy names, Stella hurries to her bedside and grabs the notebook where she wrote her vows, reading them, and changing a few lines in order to surprise Beau with this surprise during the ceremony.
Almost too excited to sleep, Stella goes and rounds up her daughter, getting her ready for bed before making sure that her little flower girl dress is hung up on the door for tomorrow. She’s going to be the star of the show tomorrow, and I’m not even the slightest bit jealous. Making sure her baby is asleep before shutting the door to her “big girl room” as she calls it – they just bought her a “big girl bed” that only has half-sides on it so she doesn’t roll off, but still looks like a normal bed, so now she calls her room that. A new paint job is probably in store soon because she’s more than likely going to grow into a Tomboy and out of pink just like her mother did around her age.
Quietly tip-toeing back to their master, Stella brushes her teeth and puts her purifying facemask on that Gemma swore by for her wedding. She pulls her wedding dress out of the back of the closet, and unwraps it from the black garment bag it was stored in, taking in the majestic beauty that hangs before her. As soon as Stella saw it in the store, she knew it was the one. Slightly off-white, because, well, you know, and a deep V-neck with straps and a lot of lace trim, she fell in love with it. It only took two stores to find it, too. And they found Amora’s flower girl dress at the same time, but Stella had to take her back to the shop to have her measurements taken last week, so it’ll fit her perfectly tomorrow.
Beau, Colt, and Gunnar had their last tux fitting yesterday, and all last minute hems were finished and taken to Colt’s house. Stella’s bridesmaid dresses have been ready for a week, all hanging in the spare bedroom’s closets, ready for when the girls get there in the morning.
Laying her head down on her pillow without Beau there beside her feels odd, because they’ve spent almost every night since Amora was born together. She grabs his pillow that thankfully smells like him, and cradles it to her chest, dreaming about tomorrow.
In the morning, Stella wakes to light streaming across her face and a child in bed beside her. Blinking as she stares at her mess of a daughter, she faintly remembers her crawling into bed with her around 3 am and Amora mumbling something about a dinosaur. Stella didn’t question her, and she tries to sneak out of bed without waking her up. Peeling the mask off and washing her face, Stella is surprised to find that Gemma was right – Stella’s face looks flawless.
“Stella! Are you up yet?” Bryndle hollers, allowing the front door to slam behind her. Shooting a terrified glance at her daughter, praying she didn’t wake up, Stella flies into the living room to shut her sister up.
“Are you insane? It’s barely 7 am. I have a 2-year old daughter sleeping here who does not need to be woken up yet.” Stella cries, and her sister looks guilty as she drops her makeup bag on the kitchen counter.
“Actually, Stel, it’s almost 9.” Bryndle replies, and sure enough, Stella glances outside at people who have already shown up to finish the last few touches on the barn. She sees her mom and Jack, Fernando, Gunnar, Beau, and Bryndle’s date – who Stella has never actually met yet – finishing up last minute decorations.
Turning to stare at her sister, Stella sighs at how surprisingly well she slept without Beau last night, knowing what she knows. She’s so excited to tell Beau her news, but she’s even more excited to marry him tonight.
T-minus 9 hours ’til I Do.
“So? Did you take the test I secretly bought for you?” Bryndle asks, grabbing her sister’s arm and forcing her to sit in the kitchen chair while she starts digging through her huge makeup bag.
“Yes I did. But I’m not telling you the results.” Stella smirks at her sister as she closes her eyes and allows her sister to rub a primer across her nose, cheeks and forehead.
“Eek! That means it was positive! Oh my god, I hope it’s another girl. I definitely need another Amora running around causing trouble. Or a boy! Oh my god, if it’s a boy then I’ll get to be that annoying aunt going to all of his football and basketball games. Stella, it better be a boy.”
“Shut up, Bryndle or Beau is going to hear you.” Stella laughs, opening her eyes finally when Bryndle’s fingers leave her face. “I want to surprise him tonight.”
Bryndle squeals and does this weird little happy dance around the kitchen as Gemma walks in.
“Don’t ask.” Stella shakes her head at her sister and pats the seat beside her.
“Everything is almost done outside. We just need your opinion on the center pieces and last minute decorations.”
“Make Beau leave. I told him he can’t see me until the wedding starts, and I want to keep that happening.”
“Yes ma’am. I’ll go make him do a drink run or something. Come out when you see his truck leaving!”
Bryndle finally stops dancing around the kitchen and leans her elbows on the table across from Stella. “I’m so happy you have no idea.”
“Actually, B, I think I do.” Stella laughs at her sister before glancing at the doorway that Amora just walked into with crazy hair and a yawn, carrying her favorite blanket and teddy bear.
“Good morning, sweetheart!” Stella cheers, holding her hand out to her daughter.
“I am hungry.” Amora declares, climbing onto the chair that Gemma previously occupied.
“Yes ma’am. What do you want?” Stella asks, immediately going to the fridge for milk for her daughter.
“Bacon!” The little girl demands, and Stella laughs and checks to see if there were any leftover bacon slices from the other day.
“Looks like you’re in luck, sweetheart!” Stella smiles, pulling out the last bag of bacon and popping it in the microwave. “Now, Aunt Bryndle is going to feed you while I go check on last minute things, okay?”
Stella grins at her precious daughter before hurrying out the door to make sure all the decorations look like they did in her dream wedding journal she drew up years ago. After making a few minor table and seating chart adjustments, Stella is happy with how the barn looks and Zeus is content out in the pasture with Tank, Faith, Jessie, and Lucy.
T-Minus 7 hours ’til I Do.
“I want pizza, not your stupid sushi.” Stella complains at Connor, who waltzed into the bridesmaid’s bedroom where all of the dresses are being kept.
Connor, who is Stella’s honorary bridesmaid but is standing on Beau’s side because they’ve actually become pretty good friends after Beau apologized for how shitty he was to him, and because Connor is such a good guy, forgave him. “Honey, you need no greasy carbs today. You have a wedding dress to fit into.”
Stella glares at her friend who is denying her what she’s craving, and shakes her head. “I’m not eating that. It’s pizza or I’m starving myself.”
“Bitchy, bitchy.” Connor mutters, walking away from Stella with his box of sushi and his phone in his hand – hopefully to go order a pizza.
“Just make sure it’s the greasiest pepperoni pizza they can make!” Stella calls after her friend before turning back to Bryndle, who is currently layering her face with makeup.
“Don’t come crying to me when you don’t fit into your dress in two hours.” Connor answers over his shoulder as he’s pressing his phone into his ear.
The three girls surrounding Stella all laugh at the antics while Stella’s mom works on their hair, twisting them up into elegant simple designs. “I just want to thank you three so much for being here with me today. It really means so much, and y’all have put up with a lot from me and Beau over the years. Thanks, Mom, for everything you’ve done for us too. Amora is so lucky to have you in her life.”
Stella ends up blinking tears back at her bridesmaids, and Bryndle fixes her with a sharp glare. “I might be good with concealer and foundation, but I’m not a miracle worker, sis. Stop crying before you give yourself puffy red eyes.”
T-Minus 1 hour ’til I Do.
Several hours later, Stella has successfully stuffed her face full of all the greasy pizza she could get her hands on, sucked in her “pizza gut” enough to miraculously zip her wedding dress up, and peed sitting backwards on the toilet while her girls helped – twice. Connor has been in and out of house, running back and forth between the farm and Colt’s, mediating between the soon-to-be husband and wife who still have not seen or talked to each other today.
“Come on, sweetie. The photographer is here and wants to do some before shots of the wedding. Since Amora still has yet to put her dress on, I figured we could start the photos with that, what do you think?” Grace asks, walking into the room with the mid-30s woman who took Stella’s senior pictures.
“I think that’d be lovely. Amora, will you come here, darling?” Stella calls to her daughter, who has been wandering around the house in her PJs after they somehow managed to get her hair and soft makeup done without her throwing too big of a fit.
“Yes momma.” She giggles, waddling over to where Stella was just handed the beautiful flower girl dress. Smiling at her precious little girl while the photographer snaps pictures, Stella helps Amora out of her PJs and into the dress, making sure it’s zipped and fits just right before pressing a kiss to her daughter’s forehead.
“Stella, that was perfect. I already have a feeling this is going to be my favorite wedding yet.” The photographer grins, clicking back through all the pictures she took.
Squatting down to Amora’s level, Stella grabs her hands and holds them as she looks into her daughter’s eyes. “Are you ready to go see Daddy?”
“Yes! I can’t wait to tell him how much of a pretty princess you are!” Amora giggles some more, her freckles dancing across her cheeks.
“Are you going to behave, walking down the aisle with Griffin?”
“Yes momma. I like Griffin. He’s my boyfriend!” The little girl cheers, and Stella smiles and rolls her eyes. Griffin, Colt and Rachel’s almost-four-year-old, and Amora have been friends almost since Amora was born. They play together all the time, and it’s not one bit surprising that she’s calling him her boyfriend – considering that’s all Stella and Beau called each other for the first two years of her life.
“Okay sweetheart.” Stella laughs, standing up and shoving her feet into her wedding heels, unfortunately unable to bend down with her huge, sparkly wedding dress, so she lifts the skirt and holds her ankle up to Bryndle.
“Stella, I have some ideas for some pre-wedding husband and wife photos where Beau still won’t see you. Are you up for that?”
“Absolutely! Let me just call Conner and see where they are with things.”
“Actually, they’re already all outside ushering the early guests in. I thought we’d take these pictures in the backyard though, that way I have good lighting, and the crowds don’t get to see how gorgeous you look yet.”
“That sounds great.”
“Okay, wait here and I’ll come get you when I’m ready for you.”
Grace disappears out the door with the photographer while Bryndle, Rachel, and Gemma do some last-minute fussing over Stella’s face, hair and dress. Her earrings are old, sapphire tear drops that her grandma Lindy wore when she married Stella’s grandpa. They were passed down to Stella’s mother, who gave them to her this morning for something old and something blue. One of the hair pieces holding Stella’s long, blonde locks up off her neck was a piece Rachel wore in her wedding – something borrowed. And the necklace around her neck is a brand new diamond necklace Beau surprised her with just before the rehearsal dinner. Now, she has all of her traditions taken care of, Stella can’t wait to read her vows to Beau. Actually, she can’t wait to be married to Beau in general, but she especially can’t wait to tell him about the little peanut growing inside her.
When Grace comes back with a happy grin on her face, motioning for all five girls in the room to follow her – Stella’s three bridesmaids all in their gorgeous sky blue dresses – and as soon as Stella steps out the back door, the first thing she notices is Beau has a black blindfold stretched across his eyes, and Colt, Connor, and Gunnar are all grinning at the girls. Griffin looks extremely handsome in his mini tux, and Stella’s heart swells at how amazingly beautiful the wedding party looks.
The group laughs for a solid 15 minutes, moving into different poses, making faces at the camera, and just having a great time taking these fun pre-wedding pictures. Stella thinks her favorite though, is going to be the one where she has her cheek pressed between Beau’s shoulder blades, wrapping her arms around his waist while Amora and Griffin take turns kissing each other’s cheeks.
“T-Minus 30 minutes until I do.” Stella whispers into Beau’s ear as she kisses his cheek before being whisked into the house so the guys can head back to the ceremony.
“I wish Dad was here to see this.” Stella sighs as she wraps her arms around Bryndle’s slender frame while they stand in the middle of the living room looking out the big picture window at the crowd forming.
“You know he’s smiling down on us though.”
Stella gives her sister a loving smile before going and giving Gemma and Rachel hugs, too. “Thank you both so much for being here. I know I’ve said it before, but really, I don’t think I’d be here today if it weren’t for the both of you.”
“Nonsense. You and Beau were destined for each other, so you’d be here regardless of us.” Gemma grins, poking her chin up towards the ceremony where the groomsmen are starting to make their way back to the house.
“Come on ladies! It’s about to start! Okay, Rachel and Connor are walking first, then Bryndle and Gunnar, and Gemma and Colt last, followed by Amora and Griffin, and finally, Stella and Jack. Okay, I have to go take my seat, but everybody counts to 20 before they start walking. Stella, you count to 30, and don’t trip walking up. I love you. I’m so proud of you.” And with a final kiss on the cheek, Grace hurries out of the house as the guys are coming in.
Stella pulls all of her girls into one final group hug before everybody grabs their flowers and finds their partners. Jack, who has been extremely quiet, finally comes and tells Stella how proud of her he is, even though he’d trade anything for her father to be here. She gives him a weak smile as she’s handing Amora’s flower basket to her, and making sure the mock rings are tied securely on the pillow Griffin has a death grip on.
“Colt, you have the rings, right?” Stella asks, looking at the guy who she used to not be able to stomach being in the same room with. Now, he’s actually become a pretty good friend.
Frantically, he checks his pockets causing Stella’s stomach to momentarily drop, before he shoots her a grin. “Gotcha. Of course I have the rings. You just worry about walking right and looking pretty.” Colt sends her a wink, and the next thing Stella knows she’s counting to 30.
Beau’s heart starts hammering a mile a minute as soon as he sees Rachel and Connor emerging from the house, followed closely by Bryndle and Gunnar, and Gemma and Colt. It’s sure been one hell of a ride getting here, but Beau absolutely can’t wait to marry the farmer’s daughter. She’s stubborn, argumentative, and opinionated, but she’s also the most beautiful, selfless woman he’s ever met in his entire life. Almost 8 years have been leading up to this point, and the wedding Stella almost single-handedly planned couldn’t be more perfect. The Georgia weather is cooperating, and there were virtually no mishaps, which is a miracle in and of itself.
As soon as Beau sees his gorgeous daughter walking down the aisle in her pretty little white dress, Beau suddenly realizes how hard today must be for Stella, not having John here to walk her down the aisle. Grinning at his daughter as she tosses flowers everywhere she can, he keeps his eyes trained on her when an untraditional wedding march starts playing. Stella insisted on using the wedding march, but she wanted her own version of it because the original is too stiff and mainstream.
Beau doesn’t glance up at his bride until he’s sure he can keep his emotions under control, but as soon as his eyes sweep up the gorgeous sparkling dress and meet her eyes, his immediately start watering as his face breaks into a huge grin and he has to reach up and wipe a tear away. She grins at him the whole way down the aisle, never once breaking eye contact with him – not even when Jack places her hand in his. Tempted to kiss her silly right here and now, Beau forces himself to hold her hands between them as they face each other in front of the preacher.
“Family and friends, please be seated. As you all know, we’re gathered here…” as the minister starts reading the beginning part of the ceremony, Beau loses himself in Stella’s big brown eyes. God, he really loves this girl. His mother may not be sitting in the crowd beside Aunt Presley and Grandma Rose, but who needs her if she doesn’t want to be a part of his life? He has Stella and Amora, and that’s enough for him.
“I love you.” Stella mouths to him while the minister is still talking.
“I love you more.” Beau mouths back, grinning at his beautiful bride.
“Now, Beau and Stella have elected to write and recite their own vows to one another, forgoing the traditional vows. Beau, if you would.”
Beau take a second to take a deep breath, never once taking his eyes away from Stella. “Stel, I swear, I’ve loved you since I met you in that airport 7 years ago. I’ve loved you every day since, and I’ll love you every day from now until the end of the world. You bring light into my otherwise dark world. Without you, who knows where I’d be? You’re the most selfless person I know, and I could not be prouder of you. You’re, well we’re, raising a beautiful daughter who I hope becomes everything you are when she grows up. I promise I will cherish you every day for the rest of our lives, and if I ever mess up, feel free to use a frying pan on me. I promise to live and love and laugh with you every day. I promise to be the warmth for your freezing toes, and your shoulder to cry on and hide behind when we watch scary movies. I would move the world for you if I could, Stella Jo. I love you, and I can’t wait to be married to you.”
Watching closely as Stella’s eyes fill up with tears as she grins at Beau, he knows he hit the nail on the head with his vows, and he can’t wait to hear what she came up with when the minister tells her it’s her turn. She takes a deep breath and squeezes his hands.
“There’s no denying it’s been a rocky road for us, but apparently, according to everyone else, the universe wants us to be together, and I couldn’t agree with the universe more. You complete me, Beau. I love you, and I love our little family. You, me, Amora, and whoever this is; we’re going to live happily ever after,” Stella pauses to move Beau’s hand to her stomach, and Beau’s heart skips a beat. Did she just tell him in her vows that they’re pregnant again? According to the collective gasp from the audience, his ears weren’t deceiving him, and his grin triples. He really wants to interrupt her and kiss her, but he also really wants to hear what she has to say. “Beau, I don’t want to wake up next to anybody else in the entire universe. Why would I when you’re so handsome and loving and perfect? I promise to stand by you at all times, and try to give you whatever you want, because you deserve so much more than the world. I promise to love you always. I promise to be spontaneous with you, and teach our children the difference between right and wrong. I promise there will never be anybody who I’d rather grow old with than you. I love you, so much.”
The tears streaming down both of their faces by the time she’s done are salty and sweet, and proof that neither one of them is dreaming this. When Colt hands over the rings, and they take turns slipping the rings onto each other’s fingers, Beau’s heart feels so full it could burst. After what seems like an eternity, the minister finally pronounces Beau and Stella husband and wife, and Beau eagerly closes the distance between their lips before he can even get out the words, “You may kiss your bride.”
They walk down the aisle of the barn together, holding their hands tightly intertwined and clinging to each other for dear life as the wedding party heads to take after wedding pictures while the barn is transformed into the dance floor for the reception.
“Come on, we’re going to be late!” Stella cries at her husband of almost 18-years as she’s shooing her 21-year old daughter out of the farm house and to the truck.
“Oh please. His name won’t be called until halfway through the ceremony. Remember my high school graduation, Mom?” Amora glares, crossing her stubborn arms and resisting her mother’s shoos.
“Doesn’t mean we have to miss the whole thing,” Stella growls back at her hard-headed daughter.
“Oh please. Dad didn’t even go to your college graduation. Why do we need to go to JJ’s high school graduation?” She asks, giving a bored yawn as she checks her manicure while they’re waiting for Beau to tie his tie.
“Your father didn’t go to my college graduation because your little behind was busy being sick. He spent my graduation at the doctor’s with you. He’s not missing any more graduations, I can promise you that.”
“Whatever, Mom. Can we just hurry up already?”
“Now who’s in the hurry?” Stella chuckles, scurrying back to her husband before grabbing his tie and tying it herself.
“Last one before we have the house to ourselves again. Maybe we can try for kid number 3,” Beau whispers into Stella’s ear as he leans down to kiss her cheek.
Gasping and swatting at his chest at the horror of that suggestion, they both end up grinning and kissing, successfully causing a loud groan from their college senior. “I think we’ve tortured her enough these last few days. Let’s go watch JJ graduate, because Lord knows it’s a miracle.”
Three-forths of the little Morris family climb into the same old rusty farm truck Beau owned when he met Stella. They’ve talked about getting a new one, but there are just too many memories in this truck for the two of them to just up and abandon it. Plus, they have one kid in college looking at 3 more years for her to get her Physical Therapy degree, and one more, who thankfully managed a full-ride football scholarship to Georgia. Go Bulldogs!
When they arrive at the high school gymnasium, the parking lot is packed with excited family members, and Beau lets Stella and Amora out at the doors while he goes and parks down the street.
“Wow, I can’t believe it’s been 3 years since I’ve been in this building,” Amora sighs as she holds the door for her mother.
“I can’t believe it’s been 21 years since I gave birth to you,” Stella retorts, grinning up at her daughter, who somehow managed to get her father’s height, and stands at a model height 5’7, versus Stella’s 5’3. Granted, JJ surpassed his father and landed at a perfect QB height of 6’4 – which is probably why he was a 5-star recruit this year… and the fact that he’s led his high school team to three state play-off championships, and won two of the three.
“Look, there’s Bryndle and Neil!”
“Mom, Lilly is with them and I really don’t want to listen to her whiny pre-teen butt. Can we please sit somewhere else?” Amora whines, mentioning Bryndle’s almost 12-year old.
“It’ll only be for an hour. Plus, the ceremony is about to start. Make sure you save a seat for your father!” Stella calls, reaching her sister and pulling her into a hug.
“I didn’t think you were going to make it!”
“I didn’t think we were either. Neil canceled his trip to Africa, and instead brought us here. I missed Amora’s graduation. I didn’t want to miss Jamie’s, too. Speaking of, I promise I’ll be there for your college graduation, sweetheart.” Bryndle reaches past Stella and grabs the hand of her niece, making a promise. Amora returns her smile as Stella moves to hug both Neil and Lilly before spotting her husband walking in, scanning the crowd looking for her.
Bryndle puts her hand up in the air and waves, trying to catch Beau’s attention, and as soon as he spots them, jogs up the steps to take his seat by Amora as the Pomp and Circumstance music starts playing, signaling Stella’s little family is all grown up.
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