Chapter 30. I Do.
To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow - this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.—Elizabeth Gilbert.
Dannie stood in her long white gown in Mrs. Clington's parlor. Today was the long awaited wedding day, and the family of Martin was preparing to depart for the church. On this festive day Dannie allowed herself to believe that maybe she was pretty. Perhaps not forever, perhaps tomorrow she would go back to being plain, unattractive Dannie, but today as she looked at her reflection, she pronounced herself lovely.
"You weddin' dress is a dream," Sophie sighed as she carefully fixed the veil over Dannie's delicate hairstyle. "Though I still think we should have added more lace. Oh don't get me wrong, it's nice and all, but a little too simple if you ask me."
"I like it the way it is," Dannie replied. "I don't like too much lace; you can do that with your wedding dress."
"I'm not getting married any time soon! And I have yet to forgive you for runnin' off and gettin' married without my blessin'."
"I have your father's blessing that was all I really needed."
"Oh go ahead, break my heart all the way."
"Dearest Sophie." Dannie put her arms around her friend. "The Cora Belle is only a few hours away, we're still close by."
"But it's not the same as you livin' with me in the same room," Sophie pouted.
"No, but I'd still love to have you come and visit."
"Have you seen your new home yet?"
"I haven't. Jake wanted it to be a surprise."
"Prepare yourself for the worst then."
Dannie burst out laughing at this and gave Sophie a kiss. "I hope one day the two of you will be able to get along, but that will take combined effort from both of you."
"Can you imagine yourself a cowboy's wife? And out on a lonely ranch surrounded by rag tag men?"
"Sophie you paint such wonderful pictures with words," Dannie giggled as she turned back to mirror. "I think I will make a good cowboy's wife. Grace has deemed my cooking skills superb and during this year on I've learned many practical skills that will aide me in running a house on my own."
"Still, you will be the only woman."
"All the more reason for you to come and visit me. And who knows, maybe the other cowboys will start following Jake's good example."
The conversation was interrupted by Mr. Martin coming over. "Dannie dear, you look so lovely. How I wish your parents could see you now, they would be so proud."
"They can see me," Dannie softly smiled and raised her eyes. "I can feel them with me right now. I know they are happy for the way everything turned out."
"I have a present for you." Mr. Martin handed Dannie the box he was holding in his hands. "I wanted to give it to you before we left for the church, give it to you while you are still Danielle Preston."
Dannie took the box and set it on the table. Opening the lid she gave a gasp of delight. "Oh, Mr. Martin!" She cried in a thrilled voice.
"What is it?" Sophie leaned over Dannie's shoulder trying to see what sort of wonderful gift her father could have given.
Very gently Dannie pulled out a beautiful silver flute and showed it to Sophie. "How did you ever?" She questioned in disbelief.
"Wasn't the easiest thing in the world to obtain." Mr. Martin smiled mysteriously. "But it is here and it is in one piece."
"Oh, play somethin', Dannie," Sophie begged. Dannie shook her head.
"I haven't practiced in over a year, I'll be terrible. I won't play in public until I am as good as I used to be."
"But that means Jake will get to hear you play that thing before I do!" Sophie grumbled.
"Speaking of Jake," Mr. Martin glanced at the clock. "It is high time we get to the church. We don't want to keep the groom waiting."
"Aren't you like afraid, Dannie," Sophie teased as Mr. Martin looped Dan's arm through his.
"Afraid of what?"
"That Jake will chicken out at the last minute and not show up?"
Dannie laughed and shook her head. "He's not like that, silly."
"Daddy said he was so nervous when he was gettin' married that he barely made it to the church," Sophie pointed out. "Who says Jake will be any different?"
"But I did make it," Mr. Martin put in. "And if I know Jake he's already at the church, wondering what is taking us so long."
"Ya nervous?" Sam asked as he stood by Jake at the altar.
"Should I be?"
"Ain't it common to get all nervous when standin' at the altar?"
Jake shook his head, "I've been waitin' for this day for three months and I find absolutely no reason why I should get nervous. I was nervous when I asked her to marry me, that was the hard part, this is the easy part. I don't even have to come up with any speeches, just nodded my head and say I do."
"What if she changes her mind an' decides not to show up."
"Dannie is not like that."
"They're all like that," Sam winked at Jake. "Or so I remember you tellin' a certain Abner Shaw."
Jake rolled his eyes. "Yeah well a man is allowed to change his mind, ain't he?"
Sam chuckled. "Fine, fine, we won't go there. I'm just tryin' to get you to be at least a little uneasy."
"Appreciate your support, Samuel Carthwrite!"
"Now don't go usin' that tone with me. I just find it unfair that you're all calm and composed. Why, when I was gettin' married, I was so anxious the sweat was poured down my brow at such an alarmin' rate I was sure I was meltin'—even though it was the middle of winter."
"You were married?" Jake looked over at Sam in surprise.
"Long, long time ago," Sam sadly nodded his head. "But let's not remember the gone days; this is a day we want to think of everythin' that is happy an' hopeful."
"What is takin' them so long?" Jake grumbled.
"Oh, be patient, Jake. You've got to let women take their time."
"I've been patient, I've been patient for three whole months; I'm tired of being patient!"
Sam laughed and slapped Jake on the back. "I'm surprised you made me your best man an' not Clay Walkers."
"Well, number one I have to say it really is thanks to you that Dannie and I are getting married. Nothin' would have happened if you hadn't pulled me out to that silly dance. And number two, you know Clay will never set foot inside a church."
"Right, I forgot about that. I wonder, does the boss mind that your wife is rather religious person? He does have this personal vendetta against God."
"I told him and he said he don't care. You know how Clay is, as long as you don't force somethin' he don't like on him, he's cool with everythin'. I've never seen a more composed man in all my life. I'll bet even if a tornado swept through the area and destroyed his ranch he'd be like: oh well, nothin' lasts forever."
Sam chuckled at this and shook his head a little as he thought of the young owner of the Cora Belle. Hearing a noise up at the front, he nudged Jake, who grew alert. Soon the doors of the church opened and Mr. Martin appeared, leading Jake's bride by his side. Jake took a deep breath, this was it, just a few minutes and that lovely girl in white would be his and he would be hers.
"Do you, Jacob Carver Wade take this woman, Danielle Frances Preston to be your lawful wedded 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 do you part, according to God's holy ordinance?"
"And do you Danielle Frances Preston, take this man, Jacob Carver Wade to be your lawful wedded Husband, 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 and to obey till death do you part, according to God's holy ordinance?"
"With the power vested into my by God, I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride." The minister smiled as he spoke the last words.
Jake's eyes shone as he leaned over and placed a kiss on his wife's lips. Mrs. Martin stood by her husband, crying tears of joy. Sam was almost more happy than Jake as he shook Jake's hand, offering his most hearty congratulations. Sophie tried not to cry as she kissed the now Mrs. Jacob Wade. Caleb grinned from ear to ear and warned Jake he might not have known what he bargained for. Mr. Martin also shook Jake's hand and told him to take good care of Dannie. Mack sighed and looked at Dannie a little wistfully. Other people from the town also offered congratulations and words of advice. Dannie caught a glimpse of a very gloomy Cal and tried to give him a supportive, sympathetic smile. He was a very good youth and the girls of the town all swooned over him, surely he would be able to find himself a good, loving, and suitable wife.
After the festive wedding supper held in Mrs. Clington's parlor, Jake helped Dannie into the wagon and climbing up next to her, twitched the reigns. The wedding guests stood on the front porch, waving goodbye as Jake took his wife to the Cora Belle Ranch that was to be her home from now on.
"Here we are," Jake said as pulled the horses to a halt in front of the small, one story house. He jumped down and lifted Dannie out. "Only I'm warnin' you, it's not all that well, set up inside. I mean, it's clean and neat but--"
"Oh Jake." Dannie couldn't help from laughing. "I didn't marry you because you were a good housekeeper, but because you're a bad one. Don't worry, I love it already and with a little work we'll make it a home."
A smile broke out on Jake's face as lifted his wife in his arms and gently kissed her. "Welcome home, Danielle Wade."
So at last, that wedding we were all waiting for :) This is the last chapter in Westbound. But don't get all sad and start saying goodbye to Dannie and Jake and the other characters. There is the epilogue after all, and I'll let you in on a little secret (which isn't a secret anymore since I'm telling everyone, lol) Many of the people we met here will appear in the second Love Travels West book :) There are five books in the series and many of the characters make appearances in all five :) So hang in there :) more adventures are to come.