VI: The Devils in the Dark

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(Warning: Intense violence, reference to sex, dark imagery.)


J A C O B

Eden's Gate Church
Hope County Central
One Year Ago

After months of planning, flower arrangements, music coordination, a lot of fear about cold feet and marital anxieties, it was the day Jacob had waited for, for a very long time. The pews of the congregation were littered with friends and followers, soldiers from his army and a handful of people who had gotten close to the two of them over time. They were all smiling, some emotionally taken by the scene, most of them proud that the Alpha Wolf had taken a mate. Jacob, of course, preferred a smaller and more private service but after Faith and John's insistence that they be surrounded and showered by the love and admiration of their people at the ceremony, he agreed.

He wanted to give Diana the wedding she'd always dreamed about—even if it was never in her mind as a young girl to find herself engaged to a man as old as him and wed in a church back in her home county in Montana. But for Jacob, it was more than he could have ever asked for, something he never imagined would happen to him in his life.

Jacob was dressed up too, far fancier than he'd ever dressed in his entire life, thanks to John. Of course, he didn't care for the high-maintenance as much as his baby brother did on a regular basis, but he made an exception for this occasion. His hair was freshly cut, his beard well-groomed with some of the finest oils his brother had often imported. They'd even found his old military formals in a trunk of things they'd shipped over from Rome, and after a bit of tailoring and adjustments to fit his aged build, it was snug but comfortable.

"Are you ready?" Joseph asked, closing the book he had been thumbing through for the last few minutes, going over notes for the ceremony.

Jacob took a deep breath and shrugged. "Guess I gotta be."

Joseph gave Jacob a supportive pat on the shoulder, and chuckled. "Don't worry, brother. The moment you see her, all of your worries and doubts will flee."

As he waited for her to take her place at the entrance of the chapel, Jacob tried not to focus on the butterflies in his stomach. He hated that feeling, that uncertainty that she might just hightail it out of there without a second thought. It was a good thing Faith said Diana had showed up to the chapel, which was a good sign, but he wanted to keep his cool as he stood there waiting for her.

His mind drifted elsewhere as he thought about his proposal. It was planned meticulously with the help of their sister Faith. John had a few pointers here and there, a few that were a little overboard as far as Jacob was concerned. He wanted to make a spectacle out of it, in true John Seed fashion, but Jacob didn't want that. He wanted simple, private and heaven forbid he admit, a little romantic.

Jacob had nearly given himself a heart attack over it, and for the days leading up to the big moment, he was somewhat juvenile and awkward around Diana. He hadn't been riddled with that many nerves, impatience and anxiousness since the day he'd enlisted in the Army, and even then, he thought he would rather face that all over again over the worry she would deny him when he asked.

**

It was a beautiful day in Hope County, just six months after he'd confessed to his brothers about her, that he decided it was time. They asked him if he was sure if marrying was the right play since they were still building their congregation and preparing for the worst-case scenario Joseph had said he'd seen in his visions. Jacob assured them it was, that he would want nothing more than to do this, considering his days were perhaps numbered—that he wasn't getting any younger. And that he knew he loved her, that was first and foremost.

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