“We should be getting back inside before my mom sends out the rescue squad,” Matt joked knowing how overprotective his mom was towards him; especially when he was home. He caught the flicker of pain as Payson put weight on the ankle she twisted. “Are you sure it’s not broke?” he asked grabbing her arm to steady her.
“I’m sure,” she muttered trying to limp up the steps. She squealed in surprise as Matt swung her up into his arms “I don’t need to be carried. Put me down.”
“Shush,” he smiled at her “I’m not letting you hobble around in pain when I can have you in my arms.”
Giggling she threw her arms around his neck “I could get used to this Sir Galahad”
Forgetting where he was Matt gazed into her eyes as he slowly set her down inside the foyer. He bent his head down to kiss her soft lips. A hot passionate kiss that held all the pent up emotions he held inside away from everyone and a kiss that held the promise of things to come. “Matthew?” the astonished voice of his mother interrupted the kiss. He looked up and smiled. “Matthew aren’t you going to introduce your young lady?”
“Mom this is Payson. Payson this is my mom” Matt introduced them.
“It’s nice to meet you Mrs. Bennett,” Payson said politely.
“Matt why didn’t you tell us she was coming?” Aimee asked her tone accusatory.
“Don’t be mad Mrs Bennett. He didn’t know I was coming. I didn’t know I was coming until today,” Payson tried to explain
“So are you and Matty engaged?” Aimee asked eyes shining with curiosity.
“Mom please,” Matt admonished knowing once his mom got started they’d never hear the end of it. “We just agreed we’re more than friends. Don’t go marrying us off just yet.”
“It’s a mother’s prerogative,” she turned towards Payson intent on asking the girl a million and one questions.
“Honey,” Gene said approaching the group and wrapping his arms around his wife. “I’ve been looking for you. They’re playing our song. Come dance with me.”
“But I …” she smiled up at him “alright you win.” She allowed Gene to escort her to the dance floor. Before leaving Gene winked at Matt with a twinkle in his eyes.
Watching them walk away “he did that on purpose, didn’t he?” Payson asked laughter in her voice.
“Yes he did,” Matt confirmed with undisguised relief and pride in his voice. “He knows what mom can be like and was rescuing you from several minutes if not hours of intense interrogation.”
“I think I’m going to like your dad” she said turning to smile at him “if I hadn’t hurt my ankle I’d love to dance.”
“There isn’t anyone else I’d rather dance with either,” Matt told her helping her to a chair where they were quickly joined by his sisters all eager to find out who the girl was he was talking to.
Staring out the window watching the clouds go by Ian sighed. It had been perfect. Just what Celia had wanted. Smiling he glanced down her beautiful face as she slept on his shoulder. She had been ethereal as she walked down the aisle towards him. He couldn’t take his eyes from her. The moment their eyes made contact his heart fluttered and skipped a beat. He knew there would never be another girl for him. Taking her hand as his dad handed her off was like taking a live wire. He could feel the energy sizzling between them. He tried to focus on the minister as he spoke but his mind kept straying to her eyes, her lips….to the hand he was holding knowing she was the most important person in his life. He loved her and wanted to share a lifetime of love, happiness and sometimes pain and sorrow with her. Whatever life threw at them. Glancing down at her he recalled her vows and how her voice trembled as she spoke. The way her eyes told him more then the words she spoke “I love you Ian. You are my best friend. Our love is stronger than I ever thought it could be. I believe as long as we love each other we can do anything. Today I give myself in marriage to you. Ian you have taught me what it truly means to love someone more than myself. I promise to love you forever…”
Opening her eyes Celia smiled up at him lifting a hand to caress his face “penny for your thoughts.”
Kissing the top of her head Ian said “I was thinking I’m the luckiest man alive. I have the woman I love by my side. I can’t ask for anything more.”
Closing her eyes she let his words warm her heart, still her doubts. The doubts she tried to hide even from herself. The fear that she’d never be good enough to be his wife, the mother of his kids. Her thoughts turned to the wedding when their eyes locked on each other. It was like he could see right through her and for a moment she wanted to run away afraid he’d see her inadequacies. She had felt Gene squeeze her hand. Looking up she saw him smiling down at her giving her the courage to continue to walk towards her destiny. For that split second she wished her dad was there. The man who gave her life but never wanted her. Why she had that wish she didn’t know. Gene had been more of a father to her then her own ever was or would be. She was thankful that Gene had stepped in and took his place in her life. She regretted not coming to him when she needed help. When she had become so lost and confused. Instead she had pushed him away as she had done Ian. Sighing deeply she listened to the vows Ian had written just for her “As I stand here before you, my eyes looking deeply in yours, I see all the things I love about you. As I stand here with my heart beating loud in my ears holding this ring in my hand I remember how you complete me. With every smile, every embrace and every tear you’ve wiped from my face. I love you now and forever.”
“So where is this houseboat you rented for our honeymoon?” Celia asked after they received their leis from the native islanders.
“Give me a sec to figure out where we need to go to collect the keys before you start complaining,” he said unable to disguise his irritation. He had been awake all night due to the turbulence the plane had to fly through because of bad weather. He hated flying at the best of times and feeling the plane shake and bounce around like a two year old was in control wasn’t calming to say the least. Then their luggage didn’t make their connecting flight and instead of sending it on to Isla Paradiso the airline sent it home to Starlight Shores. So on top of no sleep, he now had to go shopping for clothes and other necessities. If anything else went wrong he was going to snap, he could feel it.
“I’m not complaining,” She objected trying to curb most of the irritation. It wasn’t his fault they had no luggage. Not his fault that the flight was so terrible she thought they were going to crash into the ocean. “I just want to go to bed. Get some sleep. I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m blaming you. I really don’t mean to take my bad mood out on you.”
Dropping his carry on bag to put his arms around her. “No I’m sorry. I’m taking my frustration out on you. I just wanted this to be perfect and so far all it has been is a nightmare.”
“No it’s not,” she kissed his nose “we’re together and once we’re on our houseboat drifting on the open sea I’ve got a little something to show you”
“What?” he asked eagerly.
“You’ll have to wait and see,” she giggled “its a surprise.”
“I hate surprises,” Ian pouted hoping she would give in and tell him.
“You’ll like this one,” she gave him her best sultry look “I promise.”
Groaning he grumbled “why do I let you do this to me?”
Taking his hand they walked together to the office where they could collect the keys to the houseboat.
Stepping onto the boat Ian turned to Celia “what’s my surprise?” he asked eagerly.
“Impatient much?” she teased “I need to freshen up a bit then we’ll get to your surprise.”
Nodding Ian said over his shoulder “I’m going to check out the engine….”
“We’re not going out tonight are we?” Celia asked “they said the water is to choppy after the storm.”
“No we’re not going out,” Ian confirmed irritation creeping into his voice “I just want to acquaint myself with the boat.”
“Oh ok don’t be long,” she said as she was going into the bathroom.
Climbing up top Ian could feel the wind as it blew through his hair. Breathing deeply of the cold salty air he smiled. It felt good to be carefree for once. No little ones to feed or dirty diapers to change. Just him and Celia on the open seas, alone on the boat. He lay flat on the deck looking p at the star studded sky.
“Ian?” Celia yelled from above him “Ian.” He blinked seeing a vision of beauty above him. Sitting up he smiled as his vision became flesh and blood. Reaching up he grabbed her hands pulling her down to him.
Laughing on top of him she asked “do you like your surprise?”
His arms wrapped around her in response “best surprise ever,” he said rolling her over onto the deck his hands exploring her body.
“Don’t you think we should go inside?” she asked nervous that someone might come along and see them.
“I don’t see why,” Ian said kissing along her neck stopping at the spots he knew were the most sensitive. All thoughts of decorum quickly fled as she helped Ian from his clothes.
The next morning they woke in each others arms. The sun high above them. Grabbing Ian’s shirt Celia threw it on before siting up. “Rise and shine sleepy head,” she teased him until he sat up blinking. “I’m going to take a shower.”
“Hey wait for me,” he grabbed her hand before she could walk away “I’ll join you.” He grabbed his and shorts after her. Following her down the ladder he asked “why is it you look better in my shirt then I do?”
“Because everything looks better on me,” she laughed impishly up at him. “If you hadn’t shredded my surprise last night I wouldn’t have had to wear your shirt.”
“It was really a very poorly made outfit. Much to flimsy. Besides aren’t you supposed to rip open presents?” Ian asked coming up beside her.
“No you’re not,” she shook her head as he tilted her face towards him.
“I want to enjoy my present some more,” he said capturing her lips again as he brought his hands up under her shirt.
Stepping back she laughed at his disappointed face. Walking backwards towards the bathroom she pulled his shirt over her head and tossed it at him. “Thought you were joining me.”
Rushing to remove his jean he hurried to join her in the shower.
It wasn’t until the next day that Ian finally started the engine and pulled anchor in search of the beginners diving spot he had been told about. Both Celia and him had taken a few diving lessons in Starlight Shores in anticipation of the honeymoon. The only thing that bothered him was the recent reports of shark attacks.
Getting geared up Celia asked “are you sure it’s safe?”
Leaning over Ian kissed her reassuringly “of course it is.” Before slipping his air mask on he told her “just stay close to me and if you want to come up signal me. We’ll only dive together. Never alone ok?”
Nodding she gave him a thumbs up while her eyes scanned the surface for dorsal fins. She followed him into the ocean. Keeping close as they explored the sea. Pointing Ian showed her a school of brightly colored fish. There were many clown fish among them reminding her of the girls favorite movie Finding Nemo. She felt a momentary pang of homesickness thinking of her little girls waiting for them at home.
Sensing where her thoughts may have strayed Ian touched her shoulder pointing towards the surface. Nodding she followed him up to the surface. On the boat he helped her remove the air tank “you all right?” he asked.
“I’m fine,” she smiled at him.
Laughing he gave her a hug “you miss the girls, don’t you?”
“Yes,” she said as her bottom lip trembled.
“Aw honey it’s ok,” he held her as she cried “mom and dad will take good care of them.”
“I know I just miss them,” she sniffed “seeing all those clown fish reminded me of their favorite movie….”
“Then the water works started,” Ian laughed down at her as she glared up at him.