Emily Harbison was lying on a blanket in her back yard looking up at the stars like she had done every summer night since she could remember. Her long reddish brown hair spread out behind her head like a fan. A foot with a flip flop on it suddenly appeared in the middle of her flat stomach startling her.
"Jesse," she said with a smile and followed the well muscled leg up past the flat rock hard abs to the handsome face.
Jesse Copeland had been Emily's next door neighbor and best friend for as long as either could remember. Over the past two years Jesse had shot up to an impressive height of six foot five, his chest had broadened and he'd started lifting weights in the ninth grade but it was only in the last two years that the hard work had payed off.
It was also in the last two years that Jesse and Emily had started dating.
Jesse flopped down on the blanket next to Emily like a puppet with it's strings suddenly cut.
"So Emmie I've been thinking," Jesse said.
"I thought I smelled something burning," Emily quipped.
"Funny," Jesse replied, with a smirk.
Jesse rolled up onto his left side and reached into his right pocket and pulled out a small box.
"Emily Harbison will you marry me?"
Emily blanched and her blue eyes were as big as saucers.
"OK not the response I was hoping for," Jesse said, nonplussed, by her reaction.
"I..I," Emily stuttered.
"I love you Emily I mean the kind of love that the thought of being with out you makes me sick to my stomach," Jesse said, his dark eyes staring into her blue ones.
"I..I love you too I haven't always but I think it started after Robbie was killed in the accident. The three of us were so close you were probably the only other person who knew what it feels like to lose a twin," Emily said teary-eyed.
"Robbie,oh man what he'd say about this. He'd probably say it was incest," Jesse stated smiling fondly.
"Yeah he probably would," Emily agreed.
"I miss him so much. It still hurts so bad," Emily said,sadly.
"I know me too." Jesse reached over and squeezed her leg.
The muscles in Jesse's' jaw where tense making his already strong square jaw more prominent. Emily could stare at him forever he was so handsome and he wanted to marry her. She did love him and thought of her going off to college and him joining the military had been tying her stomach in knots since they graduated. She decided she was going to go for it.
"So let me see. Gimme Gimme!"
Emily held out her hand bounced on her bottom and her voice rose with excitement.
"So we're doing this?" Jesse beamed.
"We're doing this put the ring on it," Emily said, holding out her left hand.
"I'm sorry it's so small I promise one day I get you a huge ring," Jesse said.
"No this is perfect you know me I'm not flashy," Emily said, holding out her hand and admiring her ring.
"You know we'll have to get married at the courthouse I'm leaving for basic training in two weeks. But I promise one day we'll do it right," Jesse said.
Emily smiled and took Jess's face in her hands leaning forward she kissed him warmly.
"This is absolutely perfect." The statement was quickly followed by a terrifying thought.
"How are we going to tell our parents?" Emily groaned .
Jesse picked up her hand entwined their fingers and kissed her hand.
"Together like we do everything else from now on," Jesse said.
He stood up and pulled Emily to her feet.
"I'm nervous," Emily said, as they walked towards the back door of Emily's' house.
"Honestly so am I," Jesse said, opening the door for Emily. Jesse grabbed Emily's hand and pulled her through the kitchen and into the family room where Emily's parents and Jesse's dad were talking.
"Hey kids," Lane Harbison said, and smiled.
At fifty years old Lane Harbison was still handsome with the same redish brown hair as his daughter. He was just beginning to gray around the temples and his brown eyes twinkled with mischief.
"Hey dad," Emily said, and smiled back.
"OK I don't know how to say this so I'm just going to say it. I asked Emily to marry me and she said yes, " Jesse watched as the four adults exchanged looks.
"Sit down kids," Lane said nodding toward the double ottoman. Emily and Jesse exchanged looks before taking a seat on the ottoman.
"Honestly we think at this point in your life's marriage would be the wrong decision," Bruce Copeland said.
Bruce Copeland was six foot two inches with dark eyes, an olive completion and a jaw line that went on for days that he shared with his son. His hair had turned silver only making him more handsome.
"Emmie you've wanted to go to college since you understood what college is. I just really feel that if you don't take the chance you will end up regretting it," Lane said.
"So this is what you guys do sit around and think of ways to control our future," Emily huffed angrily.
Cindy Harbison took a deep breath before asking her next question.
Cindy a classic case of graceful aging her dark brown hair was just beginning to get peppered with stands of snow white. Her smooth completion making her look at least five years younger than her fifty years.
"Emily are you pregnant?"
"What!? No I'm not pregnant," Emily answered her face a bright red.
"Then what's the rush your both eighteen years old. You should be out having the time of your life's," Bruce said.
"We'll have the time of our lifes but we'll have it together," Jesse said reasonably.
"I can't imagine my life without Emily."
" And I can't imagine my life without Jesse, " Emily said.
"Which is exactly why you two need some time apart. You've been together most of your life's you need some time apart to get some perspective, "Cindy said.
"We're not talking about you two completely cutting the other out of your life but some space and time might do you some good give you a chance to meet other people. And in four years you still feel the same way about each other then you can revisit getting married, Lane said, reasonablely."
"No we love each other," Emily said angrily.
"Baby there's so much more to marriage than love. The song is wrong love isn't all you need. You need patients so much patients when you're married and you get into a fight you can't go to your separate houses until you cool down. You want even be able to come home if you're on the other side of the country maybe even the world," Lane said.
"This is a big one maybe even bigger than patience because this will cause a lot of fights and cause you to lose your patience especially when you first start out. Money you have to have it there's no other way for you to survive,"Cindy said.
"I'll get paid while I'm in basic training," Jesse said.
"Maybe enough for a one bedroom apartment that you have to fight the mice and roaches for everything. Jesse, son that's the way your mother and I started out when we first got married we want so much more for you and Emily," Bruce said.
" I am capable of working too you know I have done it before," Emily said.
"I want you to go to school,"Jesse said, putting his hand on Emily's knee.
"I will sooner or later after things get settled. And I want you to get a chance to go too," Emily said.
"Baby I'll be so busy with special forces training for the next eighteen months to two years I want have time for anything else," Jesse said.
"What about the marriage license son? " Bruce asked.
"Em and I can go get one tomorrow at the courthouse there thirty dollars and there's no waiting period in Colorado, " Jesse answered.
"And as far as money goes I've worked every summer since I was fifteen. I also have several years of birthday and Christmas money and graduation money you guys know I'm frugal," Jesse stated.
"More like cheap," Emily muttered.
"Really?" Jesse turned to look at her.
Emily smiled and shrugged.
"I don't want to fight about this so I'll just say I enjoying saving money more than I do spending it. See I'm mature I'm willing to comprise,"Jesse said.
Emily responded by sticking her tongue out.
"Very mature Em that goes a long way towards proving to our parents we're mature enough to get married."
"Oh please pull the stick out Jess. I very much want our parents blessings and I want them to be there when we say I do. But I'm not going to let them stop me from making what I know is the right decision are you? "
"No, no I'm not ," Jesse said sincerely.
"There's nothing we can say to make you reconsider? " Cindy asked.
Emily and Jesse shook their heads.
"OK well this certainly isn't how I always imagined your wedding would be but I guess we make the best of what we have,"Cindy said.
"You're going to do a few things my way though young lady. We still have two weeks before you leave? "
"Yes ma'am,"Jesse said.
Emily looked at her mother uncertainly.
"Emily you're our only child and we've been saving and planning for you college education and your wedding since you were born. The two combined accounts equal fifty thousand . It's your money Emily consider it our wedding gift," Cindy said.
Emily and Jesse stared at Lane and Cindy with their mouths slightly agape.
"We made some wise investments with your money over the years because when the time came we wanted you to have everything you ever wanted. As your mother said this is not how we saw your life going but it is your life. And we both love Jesse dearly so if your going to insist on get married at such a young age I'm glad it's to him. Jesse's' a fine young man and I know that he loves and will take care of my baby," Lane explained.
"Wow I...I don't know what to say. I love you guys," Emily stood up and hugged both her parents.
"What is it you want me to do mom? " Emily asked.
"I want to buy you a new dress I don't want my grand kids to look at their parents wedding pictures and wonder why their mom was in a mini skirt and tank top when she got married," Cindy said.
"Ok fair enough but nothing to fancy because one that's just not me and two it's the courthouse, "Emily agreed.
"I'm sure we can come to an agreement on something. The day of the wedding I want you to get your make up done. Not that your not always beautiful I just want this to be really special."
"Mooom! If you guys really want to make it special then all you have to do is be there and be happy for us. I'll think about the make up," Emily conceded.
"I need to take you out to get a new suit or and least a nice a pair of dress pants, a jacket, a tie and definitely some new shoes. I don't want my grand children wondering why their daddy looked like a bum on his wedding day. Jesse how I wish your mother could be here for this she'd be so proud of you," Bruce said.
"Jesse can come shopping tomorrow with me and Emily," Cindy offered.
"If it's ok with Jesse that would be great," Bruce said.
" Oh boy I can hardly wait," Jesse said, sarcastically.
"Me either,"Emily agreed.
Later that night Lane and Cindy were lying in bed talking when there was a knock at the bedroom door.
"Come in," Lane called.
Emily opened the door and quickly crossed the room. Crawling into the bed with her parents Emily pushed her way in between them.
"Is something wrong baby?" Lane asked.
"No I was just thinking how much I'm going to miss you guys," Emily said.
"You don't have to go through with this you can still change your mind," Cindy said.
"No this is what I want. I'm just going to miss you," Emily said, confidently.
" We'll miss you too sweetie," Lane said.
"Jesse and I were talking and he said he thinks we should get married by Wednesday he said it should only take a day or two to reach Columbia SC. He wants us to have our honeymoon along the way take some time and enjoy our self's," Emily said.
"Are you ok with that?" Cindy asked.
"I'm fine with that what bothers me is that Jesse is insisting on bringing Duke with us. I love Duke but I just think bringing him on our honeymoon might be awkward especially if he won't stay off the bed," Emily said.
Duke was Jesse's' beloved six year old lab.
"I can see were that might be a problem. But honestly I rather not think about your honeymoon, " Lane said.
Emily just smiled wickedly at her dad.
"Have you and Jesse ever ...," Cindy asked.
"I'm not answering that," Emily said, blushing.
The next morning Cindy, Lane, and Emily had just finished breakfast when Jesse knocked on the back door.
"Good morning my soon to be beautiful wife," Jesse said , when Lane let him in.
"Good morning my soon to be handsome husband," Emily said.
She stood up from the table and met Jesse in the middle of the kitchen. Stretching on her tip toes Emily kissed Jesse on the lips.
Emily was five foot ten with long legs and shapely in all the right places.
Jesse moved his hands down to cup Emily's bottom until Lane cleared his throat Jesse moved his hand back to Emily's' waist and broke the kiss.
"Well should we get the day started," Cindy asked, in the awkward silence that followed.
"Sounds good to me," Emily said, picking up her purse off the counter.
"Yep good idea," Jesse said, following Emily and Cindy out the door.
"So where do you want to go first," Cindy asked, as she backed the car out of the driveway.
"Let's go to the courthouse I want to get our marriage license," Jesse said.
"Everything ok Emmie?"
"It's great I just didn't sleep much I was to excited," Emily said.
"I think I'm just going to sit here I don't want to embarrass you kids if I start crying," Cindy said.
"Ok we'll be back as soon as we can. I love you mom," Emily said leaning over to kiss her mom on the cheek before getting out of the car.
"You ready for this?" Jesse asked, taking Emily's hand as they walked up the steps to the courthouse.
"I'm so ready for this,"Emily said, and smiled brightly.
Together they walked hand in hand to the county clerks office.
"Can I help you?" the clerk asked.
"Yes we'd like to get a marriage license, " Jesse said.
"Ok I need a picture id to prove you're eighteen or older, your birth certificates and your social security numbers, " the clerk said.
Jesse and Emily handed over the required documents both smiling like they had just won the lottery.
"It will take about thirty minutes to process your application. Here's a calendar with the available dates, judges, and times," the clerk informed them sliding a calendar across the counter.
"What do you think Wednesday at 9:30am we can get hitched and then go to breakfast with the 'rents be for we head out for our life's together. We'll have to swing by dad's house and pick Duke up," Jesse said.
"Sounds good," Emily agreed.
"But??" Jesse asked, and cocked his head.
"We need to talk about Duke," Emily said.
"We'll talk about in the car. It's nothing to worry about you know I love Duke."
"Ok," Jesse said with a nod.
Thirty minutes later Jesse and Emily worked out proudly with their marriage license.
"Mom?" Emily said, and knocked on the passenger side window.
"Oh I baby,"Cindy said, looking up teary-eyed and unlocked the doors.
"Mom what's wrong? Why are you crying?" Emily asked and rubbed her mom's arm.
" My baby's getting married," Cindy sobbed.
" Oh mommy," Emily said, and reached over and hugged her mom.
"We need a plan before we go in,"Cindy said."If we go in that door we will get to the men's clothes first and you you taken care of Jesse if that's Ok with you?
"That's fine with me the quicker we get done I the quicker I can go somewhere else. I...I mean..mean the quicker we can find something for my beautiful bride," Jesse back tracked.
"Good job trying to save that but you meant exactly what you said and I don't blame you. I'd run too if I could," Emily said, and winked at Jesse.
"You two make quite a pair," Cindy said, and shook her head.
Much to Jesse's great delight they were able to find him dress pants, tie, jacket and shoes in only and hour and half. Then he quickly made up an excuse to go somewhere else in the mall.
"Trader!" Emily joked.
"We'll call you when we're ready to get some lunch," Cindy said.
Two and half hours later Cindy, a glum looking Emily met in the food court.
"Hey babe," Jesse said, and kissed Emily.
Emily groaned and leaned into Jesse.
"She's killing me she made me try on every dress in the frigging store," Emily complained.
"Yes, yes I'm a horrible mother. And the torture will continue after we eat," Cindy said.
Six hours, several fights, much aggravation , and some tears they finally walked away with the perfect outfit.