Part Forty Three - The End
"So what do you think he wants?" They'd visited the shop and selected some groceries that they neither want nor needed, and neither of them had commented on Stafford appearing in his home.
Laura paused at the car and looked up at Adam, "I'm praying he's seen the error of his ways. I'm not that convinced, but hopefully seeing your mother might shock him a little."
Adam opened the door and climbed into the driver seat waiting for her to join him, "doubt it!" When she raised her eyebrows he leaned across and gave her a gentle kiss, "I'll try and be civil, I promised you that much!"
As he started the engine, he glanced at her again and smiled, "if it makes you happy I'll be the politest man in the world."
Laura nodded, "good."
The drive home took a lot less time than they both hoped, and as he swung into the basement garage, Laura could spot the tension, his knuckles white at the exaggerated grip on the steering wheel, and the harsh angle to his jaw, As he sighed she reached out to cover one of his hands on the wheel.
"It'll be fine, you'll see."
Nodding he followed her into the house.
The tension in the air was palpable, the two parents were sat across the coffee table on opposite couches and it was obvious the conversation was stilted. Diane looked flushed, and Laura actually felt sorry for her. She should never have let these years pass without telling her father about Adam, but she'd made those decisions for her own reasons that were right at the time. Who knew what twists fate would have made if she had told him back then.
The two looked up at her, and both offered a half smile, it was then she realised that Adam was holding back.
"Look this is something for the three of you to work out. I'll..." She didn't want to leave, but this was nothing to do with her, but Adam had suddenly burst into life.
"No Laura, YOU belong here." He turned to his father, "I don't know why you're here. I thought you said more than enough back in London."
Stafford pulled himself up to standing, and squared up to his son, "look Adam, I realise that I haven't done everything the way I should have...but when I heard that someone was trying to jeopardise your business then I knew I had to come and help out. I'm not expecting things to be as they were, but I wanted to help you."
"What's the matter with your business?" Diane also jumped to her feet, crowding Adam.
Giggling Laura moved to the kitchen, she was happy to observe this debate, but it needed to be accompanied by wine. From the open plan kitchen she could observe clearly and hear the heated debate between the three. It pleased her to watch her father and Adam argue, because it showed they both cared, her worst fear would be disinterest from one to the other. She really wanted them to get on.
She started cooking as her father tried to explain to Adam that he was wrong, that he didn't mean the things he said, but his next line made her stop in her tracks.
"It was never about you! Not really. I just can't imagine losing Laura. I have no idea how she feels about me anymore, I may not be the best father, but I still want to be her father..." When he looked across the room Stafford met Laura's eyes, "I'm sorry love, sorry that I made this so difficult. I just never wanted you to think that I didn't want you...or that maybe Adam was..." He shrugged, "you're my daughter, Adam..." he looked at him, "I'm proud of you, I like you a lot...but I've not been part of his life like I have with you." he was back to staring at her. "When he asked me about dating you...well I just sensed the worst. I imagined a rift through this family and that I'd lose everything."
He stepped towards Adam, "I don't expect you to forgive me for that, but I did what I thought was best."
It was Diane who comforted him, "Stafford, you did exactly what you thought was right. My reaction wasn't much different. And this is where it's my fault too honey." Adam had walked to the window and was stood looking out onto the deserted beach. She joined him, placed a hand over his arm, "if I'd told Stafford years ago then you'd know him, you'd be closer, but as it is you're strangers, and that's what this is all about. Don't you both see that?"
Laura was too busy trying to digest her father's revelations to take anything else in; he'd feared EXACTLY the same as she had, only in reverse. There was no other thought in her head than to walk across the room and slide her arms around his neck and bury her face into his shoulder. Stafford, a man used to debating, not exactly a touchy-feely kind of guy froze, but after just one second Laura sighed as she felt his arms wrap tightly around her. He was silent for a change, then she felt his lips graze her forehead. When she lifted her head to look at him he looked as she'd never seen him before, his eyes glistened with tears and his usually hard and angled face was soft...and he was smiling.
"Sorry darling, I never meant to drive you away."
She smiled back, "I've driven myself away Dad, for years, I never felt good enough for you, never felt I achieved what you expected of me. If it wasn't for Adam I'd not have realised that..." She glanced at the man she loved and saw him smiling at her, then she looked back at her father again, "when he appeared he seemed to be everything you'd be proud of..."
Stafford smiled, "I'm proud of EVERYTHING you've done darling. I'd love to have you take over my business, just so that I can spend more time with your mother. I would love to see you step into my shoes, I trust you, I believe in you. No one else comes close..." he smiled at her. "Is he being good to you? Treating you well?"
Laura's smile filled her face, and before she spoke Stafford knew her answer, "the best Dad, just the best."
Three months later
The sun was shining, it was a beautiful day. Laura looked across the room at Alana who looked out of this world. With her flowing white dress and long dark hair, the headdress a pale circle of flowers a stark contrast. She smiled nervously and smiled at Laura.
"I'm so glad you came. I've felt so terrible since Ben abandoned you so dramatically!"
Laura smiled, "that was a long time ago, and SO the right thing to do. I mean if you hadn't left, we'd not be stood here on your wedding day. And I have to say, you look amazing!"
The other woman giggled, "I feel ridiculous!"
"It's hardly a meringue. Your dress is so typically you, unadorned, simple, yet really beautiful." Laura stepped toward Alana and smiled, "I'm SO pleased for the both of you!"
And she really was. Since she'd arrive in Hawaii a few days earlier, she'd realised that this was exactly what the couple had needed. Ben had set up an import business based on his previous contacts and now supplied a huge independent chain of surf wear and equipment to the surf capital of the world. Within months he was inundated with business and whilst it was early days he was prospering, and most importantly, they were happy. Alana's parents ran a huge gold resort on one of the quieter islands of Hawaii, and within the complex the couple had started to rent a small house, it offered them everything they wanted, though Ben had already eyed up a piece of land that he wanted to build the perfect house on.
The wedding was the most perfect and timely step for them, and their happiness and fun was infectious. Not that Laura was feeling a million miles away from either these days. Adam had accompanied her to the wedding, and since Ben's only other regular friend Mark had had to cancel his trip to be best man, Adam was more than happy to fill the role.
Just thinking about Adam made her heart beat and her chest swell. Nothing had changed, he was still all that she could ever wish for, and he wasn't showing any signs of being bored with her! After that disastrous weekend with both parents their relationship had gone from strength to strength. And the good news was that the relationship between them and their families had improved. Diane and Stafford had formed a truce, and whilst Adam was a long way from forgiving his father, he was at least civil with him, and Laura had every confidence that her father would do everything he could to make that improve, she knew that.
And the relationship had taken a turn for the better when her father was instrumental in uncovering the identity of the arsonist. He'd made a few calls, and ended up with a rather disturbing name, the recently dumped Kristi Salter. Revenge and a scorned woman took on a new level after that. The court case was imminent when they returned and they were both looking forward to closing the door on that chapter.
It was so rewarding to know that it wasn't anyone closer to them, but Adam had questioned himself, and his behaviour towards women prior to Laura. She'd had to help him out of his depression, after all, he not promised anything more than fun to her, or any of her predecessors, Laura was convinced this was purely a revenge act. Kristi was hurt that he'd dumped her, rather than had her heart broken. They were hoping it would come out in the court case, which was planned for six weeks after this wedding.
"So you're enjoying California?"
Laura glanced up at Alana who was finally ready to walk down the aisle and nodded, "it's amazing. I'm just so glad to be with Adam...I start my Masters in a few months, and I'm doing some great sessions as Marshall Surf School! Who'd have thought I'd have my own business?"
Alana chuckled, "you were always the driving force behind Ben! The rocket to his ass! Your surf instruction will be world famous soon...you'll see."
The two women hugged.
"You ready?" Laura took Alana's hand and led her out on to the beach front gazebo that was the location for the wedding. Where Ben was waiting with his stand in best man, and Laura's definite best man Adam.
The service was beautiful, the sun shone, the gentle swell of the sea, it all made for an idyllic cocoon where the happy couple made their vows witnessed by seventy guests. Ben was equally as devastating in his pale suit and even paler shirt which was open at the neck, the lei around his neck replaced the need for any tie. But Laura only had eyes for the man beside him, tall, dark, unending in his handsomeness, and Adam's eyes were only for her. For the whole of the formal day they were separated, as a best man and maid of honour should be. And it was with relief that after the speeches the couple took to the dance floor for their first dance as Mr and Mrs Tucker.
Adam hadn't taken his eyes off Laura all day, she was beautiful in his second hand dirty gym clothes, but in this designer dress, pale pink with pastel gerberas all over it, she looked ethereal. Flowers peeked out from behind her ear, and her blonde hair shone in the sun. Yep, love made everything SO different. And if he'd ever doubted he loved her, the way she'd so effortlessly slotted into his life proved otherwise. They were made for each other, he knew that without doubt.
Stalking across the room, he was glad she hadn't seen him approach, he loved watching her when she wasn't aware. His hand sliding around her waist caused her to jump, startled for a moment, with a chuckle he placed his lips next to her ear.
"When did a wedding become SO long and torturous?" he was rewarded with a smile as she turned to look at him.
"When we're stuck opposite sides of the room!"
He laughed, "I was hoping for a break between courses where I could drag you off somewhere...you bring out the rampant teenager in me!"
"There's plenty of time for that, tonight!"
And that was no exaggeration, they were booked into the best suite in the hotel that night, as a compensation for spending the last few evenings and nights apart. But it was little sacrifice really to be there for her best friends on their special day.
Suddenly there was a shout from the doorway and Adam was dragged off for more best man duties!
An hour later the formalness had reduced and Laura was searching for Adam, she wanted to dance with him, she'd not danced with him she realised, not in a proper 'couple' way and suddenly she was dying to know if they moved well together. A band had been playing all evening, and just as she wanted to dance, they took a break. Typical.
And there was no sign of Adam!
Laura had circled the room, spoken to a dozen guests, and drank a glass of champagne before she headed out to the sandy gazebo. Unfortunately he wasn't there either. Suddenly the man who had barely cast his eyes anywhere but her all day, had disappeared. It was more than exasperating! Alana waved from across the room as she re-entered, she looked so happy that it made Laura's heart swell.
Music started from the band behind her, but she was oblivious to it, until she recognised the voice, the less than note perfect voice, singing.
"Laura and Adam were lovers"
Gasping she spun around, her eyes locking on the stage and the man she never imagined would ever sing this song again, she almost laughed at the name change in the song, but she was too stunned.
"He wanted to give her everything,
Flowers, presents, and most of all a wedding ring!"
She gasped again, feeling the room spin as every guest turned to watch her, all smiling as she struggled for breath.
"He saw a sign for a stock car race, a thousand dollar prize it read
he couldn't get Laura on the phone, so to her mother Adam said..."
Then he jumped from the stage, a little bit like Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, though to Laura's relief he didn't accompany his singing with dancing too. She was mortified, but also a little stunned, and emotional, and a lot excited.
Stood in front of her, he dropped onto one knee, microphone at his mouth as he sang,
"Tell Laura I love her,
Tell Laura I need her,
Tell Laura not to cry, my love for her will never die."
He smiled at her stunned face, "So...will you? Marry me?"
The whole room gasped in simultaneous surprise, all waiting for an answer.
Laura looked down at Adam who was uncaring that he was on one knee in front of everyone, he merely stared at her intently, patiently waiting for her answer. When her eyes left his and looked further down, she saw a velvet box in his hand, popped open to reveal a beautiful yet simple diamond solitaire.
Her reply was a whisper, but there was enough in the accompanying body language that caused the whole world to erupt into cheers. Before standing, he turned and nodded at the band who then burst into a rock version of the song he'd started. And as he pulled her into his arms, and devoured into a kiss filled with promise, 'Tell Laura I love her', still echoed around the room.
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