Through His Lens (edited version)

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The wedding crasher

We made it by the skin of our teeth. I'd probably grown grey hairs and bitten all the skin off around my nails but at least we'd made it. I released a breath I didn't know I was holding when we finally drove up the gravel driveway of hotel where the wedding was being held.

Every time we got stuck in traffic on the way back my leg would start bouncing up and down even more. I wanted to scream at all the cars to move out of the way or at least push their speed up to the limit. Was that really too much to ask for? I'm mean really, what jackass does 60 in a 70 speed limit?

'Come on Taliah pick up your damn phone.' I muttered when the call reached voicemail again. My fingers flew across the screen as I sent a text saying I'd just got here, even though it was probably pointless as she must've had her phone on silent or given it to someone else to look after.

The ceremony was due to start literally right now so there was no way I was going to be able to go upstairs and get changed. I just prayed they were running a little late so I could slip in before the ceremony started. I really didn't want to walk in mid ceremony like the 'other woman' in those romcoms.

'Go on Evie you jump out here.' Ms Stevens said as she pulled up to the entrance of the hotel and put the car in park.

'Are you sure you don't want to come?' I'd already told her that Hailey had insisted she come to the wedding as she'd been kind enough to be my chauffeur today.

'I'd love to but I have to head back. Send my congratulations to them though.'

'I will do and thanks again for everything!'

'Phhh it was nothing! Now out you get.' She threw me my bag and practically pushed me out the car.

Like the main character in one of those action movies I ran up to the reception desk like my life depended on it. Which I kind of felt like it did. Hailey had seemed pretty chilled this morning when I told her there was a chance I may be late but I didn't want to see her actual reaction if that was the case. Trust me, she could be scary when she wanted to be. I'd had the unfortunate pleasure of witnessing it when Carson suggested that fireworks may be a little excessive. From the look on her face I thought she was going to turn into the Incredible Hulk. After that Carson wisely learnt to keep his mouth shut.

The receptionist almost leapt out of her seat and held her hands up like I was going to rob her when I barrelled into the main desk. If I wasn't so out of breath I would've laughed.
'Hi could you tell me where the Scott/Thomas wedding is being held please.'

'Sure.' She clicked away at her computer screen before looking up when she found what she was looking for.
'It's being held in the Moorecroft barn. If you head outside, take a right, just carry on following the pathway and it'll be just ahead of you.'

'You're a life saver thanks.'

'The bride and her party have just headed over there!' The woman called as I was already running off.

'Crap! OK THANKS!' I shouted back, earning more than a few stares for people loitering around in the reception.

I followed the receptionists directions and although they were easy to follow, of course I managed to get held up behind a group of people who apparently had no cares in the world.

'OUT THE WAY PEOPLE!' Nora shouted. 'Jesus people are so rude, can't they see we're in a hurry? Oh my god move your ass!' She screamed in the face of a woman who was looking around in confusion.
'It's times like this when a pole vault would come in handy.'

Not that I didn't love Nora's commentary but seeing as no one could hear her apart from me and I didn't have a pole vault to hand, it wasn't exactly helping me.

'Excuse me!' I shouted just before dodging out the way of a group carrying speakers which I assumed were for the wedding reception. The men jumped back just in time, giving me a disapproving look and tutting as they cradled their precious equipment.

Thankfully, after making it through what felt like a level of crash bandicoot, the barn was in sight and I could see Hailey and the bridesmaids were all still waiting outside.

'Oh my god you made it!' Both Hailey and Taliah said at the same time.

'Just.' I managed to wheeze. 'Christ I think I just pulled every muscle in my body and I'm seeing spots.'

Apparently Hailey wasn't too concerned as she pulled me into a bone crushing hug.
'I'm so happy you made it!' She squealed.

When we pulled away I looked down at my jeans and grimaced.
'Hailey I'm so sorry. Not exactly what I was planning on wearing but we got held up.'

'Honestly I don't give a shit what you're wearing I'm just happy you're here.' Her smile faltered slightly as she looked down at my jeans but it was back again when she saw me trying not to laugh.
'Ok so I might tell the videographer to avoid you until you're dressed but I swear, apart from that I don't care.'

'I guess I should go in, I don't want to hold you up.' I said when I clocked the wedding planner checking her watch.

'How about we sort your hair out first.' Taliah interrupted. 'Hair brush anyone?'

'Here.' Hailey's friend slash bridesmaid passed a brush to Taliah and before I knew it multiple people were attacking my hair. Luckily once the rollers were out, my hair looked almost as perfect as it had this morning. I just needed Taliah to run a brush through it and add a touch of hairspray the wedding planner managed to find.

Whilst Taliah was finishing off my hair I properly looked at Hailey. Her dress was even more beautiful than I had remembered.

It wasn't what you'd call a traditional wedding dress but it so suited Hailey's style. Spaghetti straps held up the lace bodice which was adorned by small diamanté's. It cinched in at the waist before going out slightly over her hips where a mesh like fabric sat over lace and then fanned out in a small train behind her. Her skin glowed with minimal makeup and her hair looked so effortlessly styled in a messy bun with pieces falling down to frame her face. Small beads and white petals had been added to the back to finish off the look.

There was no doubt in my mind that Carson wouldn't be able to take his eyes off of her.

'You look really beautiful Hailey.'

'Thank you.' She took a deep breath and released it through her mouth. 'Actually you rushing in at the last minute is helping with the nerves. I'm terrified I'm going to trip and fall on my ass in front of 200 people.'

Just at the right time Micheal appeared by Hailey's side and gave her arm a squeeze.
'No you won't. I won't let that happen.' He reassured.

I gave them both a smile as Taliah patted me to say she was done.

'Ok well I'm not going to hold you up any longer. See you in a bit ok.' I have Hailey's hand a squeeze before heading over to the door.

I tried to slink myself in a subtly as possible but still it seemed like all 200 guests turned around to look at me as I clicked the door shut. I would've parked my ass down in a seat right at the back but before I could Lindsay called out my name and waved to me to join her at the front.

I tried to walk down the aisle as quickly as possible but that didn't stop guests staring and whispering behind their hands. I guess I did look a picture.

I didn't need a mirror to tell my hair looked great. Taliah just had that magic touch so she'd managed to tame it into elegant, gatsby inspired pin curls, which will look great with my dress but didn't exactly match the jeans and T-shirt I had on. As the old woman in the 5th row commented, it wasn't exactly appropriate wedding attire.

Harrison's eyes were glimmering with mischief when I met them. I raised a questioning eyebrow but he just shook his head and grinned. It was weird seeing him standing up at the front with the rest of the groomsmen but it wasn't an unwelcome sight. That boy in a suit was enough to make my whole body go hot.

'You made it.' Lindsay gave me a hug before pulling me into my seat.
'How did it go?'

'It went well I think.'

Before we could say anymore kina Grannis' version of Can't help falling in love started playing and like a Mexican wave everyone stood up and turned their heads to the back of the barn.

First came the flower girl who was Carson's niece. Thankfully she managed to make it down the aisle without throwing a tantrum that everyone was anticipating from seeing the look on her face. I can't say I blame her, if I was forced to wear that dress I'd be pissed too.

After the bridesmaids Hailey made her entrance, clinging onto Michaels arm for dear life until she saw Carson. He was watching her with a love sick smile on his face, like he couldn't quite believe his luck and she looked like this was the happiest day of her life. Watching them together, so undeniably in love, really would make anyone believe that soul mates do exist. By the end of what was a beautiful ceremony I don't think there was a dry eye in the room.

Whilst everyone else was directed to where the reception was being held, those needed for photos stayed back at the barn until they were called by the photographer.

I was about to excuse myself to get changed when a pair of arms encased my waist and a face buried into my neck making me giggle.

'You two make me want to be sick sometimes.' Nora muttered before walking off.

'I like your outfit, you look hot.' Harrison whispered against my skin.

'I was about to get changed.'

'I can help if you like?' I didn't even need to look at him to tell that cheeky smile was back on his face again.

'Little brother you're needed for photos.' Hailey shouted making Harrison groan.

I chuckled before turning so we were facing each other.
'Go on. I promise if you think I look hot now just wait until you see me later.'

'Fuck sake.' He gave me a puppy dog look before trialing off.

I focused my attention on Hailey who was trying not to laugh.

'Nothing. I'm just wondering how long it'll be until I get invited to your wedding.'

'Hailey I'm 16, you're going to be waiting a while.'

She didn't seem convinced.
'If you two weren't so adorable together I would've been annoyed that he spent most of the wedding looking at you rather than paying attention.' She rolled her eyes before going back into bride serious mode.
'Now tell me, can you get ready in half an hour?'

'Yeah it won't take me long. I just need to touch up my makeup and put my dress on.'

'Great.' Hailey clapped. 'Well then be back here in half an hour. We want you in the wedding photos.'

I grabbed her arm and gave her what I was sure was a shocked expression.
'Wait seriously? But I'm not family?'

'Evie, really?' Hailey sighed in what sounded like frustration.
'I'm going to say this once so you never question it again. You are family and we love you. You're stuck with us now and you're never going to get rid of us.'

As a smile grew on my face I could practically feel my heart getting bigger.

I looked around the group the photographer was trying to organise and realised there was no doubt in my mind that they were family to me. Lindsay and Erika were trying to appease Hilary who was refusing to move from the spot she was in, like she was the queen of England and the photographer was going to have to take what he could get. James was shoving skittles into his mouth when no one was looking, Micheal and Simon were non subtlety watching a hockey game on someone's phone and Harrison was having an argument with his tie.
'I'd never want to get rid of any of you. I think of you all as family too.'

For a moment both Hailey and I smiled at the scene in front of us before she turned serious again.
'Good. Now get that little ass of yours into your dress and get back here whilst I'm trying to sort this mess out.'

She stalked over to Hilary where I was sure a mighty argument was about break out but as much as I wanted to witness it I really needed to get changed.

After collecting my room key from the receptionist that looked a little scared when she saw me approaching again, I quickly got ready.

The dress that Lindsay and Taliah had managed to find for me was a silver satin number. From the thin straps it scooped down a little at my boobs and then draped over my figure. It was fitted but not too tight which meant it was perfect for eating and dancing. The fabric finished just above my knees and had a small slit up one side. As soon as I put it on the first time I fell in love with it. I touched up my makeup then slipped my feet into a pair of heels before grabbing my bag and heading back out.

Groomsmen photos had just finished when I arrived so as Harrison was distracted I snuck up to him this time, planting my hands gently over his eyes.

As I was already copying him I decided to give him a taste at his own medicine.
'Guess who?' Almost pressing my lips against his neck as I whispered. Now he'd know how I felt when he did it to me when we were in public.

I watched as he swallowed and let him gently remove my hands from covering his eyes. His eyes had already darkened before he even saw me but when he did he wasn't even subtle about trailing them over every inch of me.

'So what's your verdict?' I asked.

I wanted to laugh when his wide eyes met mine but I tried to keep up the act.

'Is that all?'

'I don't think I can form a coherent sentence to describe what I'm seeing.'

This time his honesty made me laugh.
'That good huh?'

'Yeah.' He bent his head about to kiss me but Hailey interrupted.

'Ok you two. We want couples photos.' Hailey took our hands and pulled us over to where the photographer was setting up.

Whilst the photographer was changing the settings on his camera Harrison shook my hand.
'Hey, I want to hear how it went earlier.'

'Not now, I'll tell you later.'

He looked like he wanted to push it but we were interrupted before he could.

Doing as we were told without complaint we followed the photographers instructions and let him take photos until Hailey and our number one fans were satisfied enough had been taken of us.

After that we were allowed to join everyone else at the reception which was a short walk into the woods from where the barn was. As gracefully as I could in heels we walked down a pathway lined either side with trees. Strings of fairy lights had been hung from the trees either side of the walk way, creating a canopy of warm lights like stars above us. Interwoven in the lights were vines adorned with beautiful white flowers. Eventually the pathway lead us to a clearing in the middle of the woods which had been turned into an enchanted forest.
Whereas the barn had been decorated a little more on the classy side the reception looked like a magical Shakespearian play. On one side of the clearing was the stage set up for the band and a dancing area. On the other side were around 8 long tables where some guests were already sat at their allocated place.
The whole atmosphere felt a lot less formal and more homely. Flowers, lights and wood were everywhere giving it a more rustic vibe.

Even after the ceremony and the photos I was still surprised to find I'd been placed on the family table. Sat in between Harrison and Taliah I don't think we stopped laughing the whole meal.

When the meal was cleared away it was time for Hailey and Carson's first dance. As the band started playing Thinking out loud by Ed Sheeran, Carson took Hailey's hand and pulled her onto the dance floor.

I remember the day Hailey told me she and Carson were getting married. How she mentioned that there were people they knew who were sceptical about the whole thing. Well I think anyone would have to be blind not to see how perfect they were for each other. The way they looked at each other, like they were the only two people in the world. Carson was watching Hailey like he never wanted to take his eyes off of her. As they giggled with each other and sang along to the words they radiated pure happiness.

After the song was over Micheal took over from Carson, holding onto his daughter like she was a precious china doll. It was then that for the first time in a long time I felt a little stab in my heart. Although the loss of my family never goes away it has gotten easier to cope with. Most of the time when I'm reminded of them or just thinking about them in general it was happy memories. Catching a waft of perfume as a stranger walked by which was the same one my mum used to wear. Playing football and remembering my dad cheering me on from the sidelines. However sometimes all it took was something to take me off guard that felt like a punch to the stomach. Like how watching Hailey and Micheal dancing I realised I'd never have a father daughter dance at my own wedding.

'I'm going to the ladies.' I said to Taliah who was stood watching the dance floor at my side. 'I'll be back in a second.'

'Ok. Do you want me to come with you?' She asked, only quickly taking her eyes off her cousin and uncle to quickly glance at me.

'No I'm ok.'

I shimmied myself through the crowd and followed the cute picket signs to the toilets. As most of the guests were still in the main area I was able to quickly do my business without having to queue up. After washing my hands I took a deep breath and looked at myself in the mirror. That was all I needed. 5 minutes just to pull myself together.
As I was leaving the ladies I noticed another pathway lit up with fairy lights. A sign in front of me read Lake which piqued my curiosity.

I followed the pathway and after a little while the route started looking a little familiar to me, although I wasn't sure why. It wasn't until the pathway opened up that I realised where I was. A grin instantly broke out on my face as memories flashed back to the day Harrison convinced me to ditch school to come with him to take pictures here.

It looked exactly like it had the first time Harrison had brought me here but possibly even more beautiful at night.
As I strolled up the dock, tracing my hand along the rail, I couldn't help but smile at the memory of that day. That day felt like such a long time ago but at the same time like it was yesterday. How both of us had feelings for each other but we hadn't admitted it yet. The butterflies that I had that day, that I still experience every time Harrison looks at me. The music was slightly quieter down here allowing me to hear the water lapping beneath my feet. When I reached the exact spot where I'd stood when Harrison was taking photos of me I rested my hands on the wooden railing and stared out at the lake.

I don't know how long I stood there, watching flies skim over the glassy waters surface but when I heard footsteps walking up behind me I knew who it would be.

I smiled as he kissed my shoulder and settled himself behind me, hands rested on top of mine, his cheek against my hair.
'I so badly wanted to kiss you that day.' He whispered. 'With every photo I took the more I knew you were the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen in my life.'

I turned so I was captured between his body and the wooden railing. Lifting my face up to meet his I pressed my lips against his. It didn't take long for him to pull me against him like he couldn't get me close enough and kissed me back hungrily. I whimpered against his mouth as he took my bottom lip between his teeth and bit down gently. Every time we kissed I could feel my body melting against him and my knees go weak.
'I think that makes up for it.' I whispered against his lips when we remembered where we were.

In the distance Lover by Taylor Swift started playing and I smiled.
'Dance with me?'

He answered by taking my hands and pulling me so we were at the centre of the gazebo. With my arms wrapped around his neck and his around my waist, we danced, we laughed, we held each other.

'Tell me how it went this morning.'

I lifted my head from his chest and looked into his evergreen eyes.
'It went well I think. They liked my work and they had a lot of compliments for your photography skills.' I raked my fingers through the hair at the back of his head and smiled.
'I'm satisfied in knowing I did as best as I could and that's all that matters to me. There were a lot of great people there, tough competition so either way I'm happy. I'm so happy.'

'I'm happy that you are. I'm still confident you're going to get it.'

I thought back to this morning when they asked why I thought I deserved the scholarship and I smiled at my answer, content with everything I'd said.
I wouldn't be getting the scholarship but he didn't need to know that. It wasn't important right now.

'Harrison, that day I called England my home, I was wrong. It's not my home anymore. My home is here and it has been for a long time. Your family, they're so important to me, you're so important to me. You know they're right by saying your family are who you make them. I lost a lot last year but I also gained so much, more than I could have asked for. I love you with all my heart Harrison.'

I didn't even realise I was crying until the pads of his thumbs gently brushed the happy tears off my cheeks.
'I love you with all my heart too London.'
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