#77 More perfect than anything I ever imagined
James looks at me like I’m a ghost from his past, which I guess I sort of am. It’s so weird to run into him randomly, while Joshua and I are doing some shopping on our day off. I haven’t thought of James in a while, to be honest. Months, even.
“Congratulations,” he says, his eyes on my baby bump that is very present these days.
“Thanks,” Joshua says when I don’t speak up. “How are you?”
“Uhm, yeah, good,” James says, his eyes flicking to Josh. “Great, I guess. Got a promotion, been dating this girl I met a few months ago, things are good. Slow, but good.”
“Slow is good,” I say with a smile, knowing that this is a big thing for him. “Very good.”
“You don’t look like you’re taking things slow,” James jokes, motioning at my belly.
I shrug. “Shit happens.”
“Don’t call our baby boy shit,” Joshua says, nudging me and rolling his eyes.
I laugh and stick out my tongue at him. “That’s not what I meant and you know it.”
James is smiling now. “Good to see you again, Franny. You’re positively glowing. You’re a lucky man, Joshua.”
“Yes,” Josh agrees immediately. “I am.”
I roll my eyes. “Why does everyone always tell you that you’re a lucky man? No one every calls me a lucky woman.”
James and Joshua share a knowing look and smile.
“Of course you’re lucky, baby,” Joshua says, squeezing my hip when he puts his arm around me. “You’ve got me, after all. And…” He consults our shopping list. “Raisins?”
“Oh yeah!” I exclaim. “I’ve been craving them for days,” I explain to James. “I actually can’t stand salmon anymore. Being pregnant is weird.”
James smiles. “I bet it is. It looks good on you, though. I guess I’ll see you guys around. Have a good day.”
We part ways and I feel a little weird watching my ex walk away from me after this weird-ass conversation, but it also feels… right? Just like when Thomas found out, it’s obvious that James isn’t thrilled that I’m pregnant with Joshua’s baby, but I’m still ecstatic, so that’s a good thing. I love this little baby boy inside of me and Josh is the only one I’ve ever been able to truly imagine myself with years from now. Just a few days and we’ll be walking down the aisle. And not a stupid supermarket isle, but a real aisle with a flower arch at the end.
I can’t wait.
I’m in my flowy wedding dress, but I don’t like what I’m seeing in the mirror. Since we only had little over a month to plan our wedding, I had to get something off-the-rack, and while that’s perfectly fine, this one is just so… basic. It’s white and simple, and meant for pregnant ladies like me.
I don’t feel beautiful. At all.
“Franny?” Shaughna pulls a brush through my hair and smiles at me in the mirror. “Are you okay?”
I shake my head. “No, I’m not. I hate this stupid dress.”
She laughs. “I knew you’d say that. Luckily, I’ve got just the thing…” She steps away from me and moves to the door, calling out into the hallway for Annabel.
Moments later, Annabel and Destiny step into the room, holding a large garment bag between them. Destiny is no longer pregnant – her little girl is doing great – while Annabel is already pregnant with her second child, and here I am, standing here 23 weeks pregnant, hating the dress I’m about to marry Joshua in.
“Do you remember the dress Chloe bought for me to wear for the surprise wedding Aston threw me?” Annabel asks, smiling at me. “The one I hated and you loved?”
“Yeah,” I say, looking at the garment bag with wide eyes. “Is that… but… It won’t fit anymore! I wasn’t pregnant back then!”
“We had it fitted with the same seamstress that took your measurements for the dress you’re in right now,” Shaughna explains, beaming at me. “You love this dress, Fran. Try it on, see if it’s still as pretty as it was the first time you tried it on.”
I hesitate, but we all know that I’m going to do it. I slip out of the awful gown I bought for myself, and the girls help me into the huge poofy gown, pushing my boobs into it and lacing it up in the back, making sure its snug around me without hurting my belly.
“Wow,” I breathe when I see myself in the mirror. It’s just as stunning as it was the first time, even with my huge belly. It suits the gown, somehow, the beading wrapping around my baby bump like a soft hug, and I look like princess. A pregnant princess, but still. It counts. “This is too much,” I tell Annabel, feeling a little shy now. “This must have cost a fortune.”
She shrugs. “Chloe paid for it, so who cares? My sister has money up the wazoo.”
“How do you still have this even though you didn’t want it for your own wedding day?” I ask, looking at myself fin the mirror from every possible angle. I look good. Really good. I’d have loved not being pregnant during my wedding, being skinny and shit, but Joshua and I both want to be legally wed before our son gets here. We want to be a family, a real one, and me having his last name added onto mine is a part of that.
“Shaughna had me save it,” Annabel explains, stepping up to fix my hair. “She knew you’d want it one day.”
“You did?” I ask, on the verge of tearing up even though I know I can’t cry since my make-up is already done. “Shaughna…”
She smiles and hugs me, careful not to ruin my look. “I love you, Franny.”
“Don’t make me cry,” I warn her, already sniffling.
“You’ll be sobbing the moment you see Joshua anyway,” Destiny says knowingly. “I just spotted him in his tux, and I’ve got to say… damn. He doesn’t look 24. That man is hot.”
“I know,” I agree immediately. “I can’t wait to see him.”
When I step into the small church we managed to book on such short notice, I’m taken aback by how beautiful it all looks. It’s surreal, honestly. Like a fairytale. I never thought I’d get to this point, but I made it. We made it.
“Wow,” Joshua mouths the moment his eyes land on me, and I can tell he means it. There are tears in his eyes while I make my way towards him. I’m walking too fast for the slow wedding march, but I don’t give a shit.
We reach for each other immediately, our fingers intertwining. He’s a sight for sore eyes in his tuxedo, and I swear he has never looked as sexy as he looks today. Destiny is right, he’s hot. And he certainly doesn’t look 24. Not that he was ever too young for me anyway. When I think back to when me met, it still baffles me that I thought of him as a cute little puppy instead of someone I would end up marrying. Whose baby would be growing in my belly.
We agreed to keep our personal vows shorts and sweet, and to say the traditional ones after. I’m nervous for mine, but luckily Joshua is first.
“Franny,” he says with the sweetest smile on his face. “Every day I’m with you, I thank the Lord for being able to call you mine. The road to getting together was a little rocky, but ever since our first kiss, I knew neither of us was ever going to let go. You’re my everything. The moon, the stars, the sun…” He takes a moment to keep himself from crying, making me tear up as well. “Now you’re carrying the center of our universe, our baby boy. I feel like I’ve been working towards this my whole life. Being your husband, becoming a father… I want this more than anything. Thank you for giving it to me. For agreeing to marry me. I promise to try my best to make you as happy as you make me.”
“Thank you,” I whisper, ruining my make-up with my tears. Oh well, who cares? “I love you, Joshua,” I say, trying to fight through my emotions to get out the words. “You’re everything I never knew I wanted. Never knew I needed. You’re my home, my safe haven, the one person who always has my back. When I freak out, you calm me down. When I feel down, you pick me up.” I squeeze his hands. “I’ve always wanted to get married, and like so many girls, I’ve been imagining this day for years now, imagining what I’d wear, what kind of flowers I’d want lining the aisle, my mother giving me away…” I take a deep breath, knowing Dad is looking down on me right now. I can feel him with me. “Never did I imagine a 24-year-old guy with long curly blonde hair and a smile that lights up the world. Nor did I think I’d be pregnant. But…” I smile at him. “In a way, this is more perfect than anything I ever imagined. This is where I’m meant to be. With you. I love you, Josh, and I’m ready to be your wife and the mother of your son.”
“I, Joshua Theodore Petrus Chambers, take you, Francesca Anthonia Berger, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law, and this is my solemn vow.”
I repeat the vows as well, and then we slip the rings on each other’s fingers. The moment we’re told we can kiss, our lips find each other and my hands knot in his hair. I may be in a wedding dress in a church, and I may be 23 weeks pregnant, but I’m also a girl very much in love with a boy, and I want to snog his goddamn face off.
“I love you,” Joshua whispers before kissing my neck. “So much.”
“More than anything,” I reply, kissing him again. “You’re stuck with me now, Chambers. For better or for worse. I plan to get really fat now, finally be my nasty self, stop shaving my legs, never brush my teeth again…”
He laughs. “So basically I only married you for worse, huh? I guess it’s good thing I like you with hairy legs, morning breath and a little extra booty to hold at night.”
“Like?” I repeat, pouting.
“Love,” he says with a smile. “You know I love you, Franny.”
“Well, good, because I’m your wife now. It would be kinda awkward it you didn’t.”
Only one more chapter to go after this one...