The soft ruffles of chiffon on Anna's sleeve rustled in the early spring breeze. She absently rubbed her belly. She'd been having a few contractions but it only served to remind her that there was a little bundle of love within, made from the love between her and Phillip. Normally, she would have hated the idea of being a pregnant bride but the choice was to marry and honeymoon before the baby came or take an infant on a honeymoon. The choice was pretty easy for her.
She looked around the grounds of the church they were getting married in. The tulips and hyacinth were in full bloom, and they perfumed the air. Before she could turn around, a pair of arms grabbed her from behind and circled her shoulders.
"I'm so happy for you!" Ophelia said, hugging her tightly. "And I'm so happy you didn't make me a bridesmaid!"
Anna smiled and patted her sister's arms. "Do I know my sister, or what?" she said, chuckling. Once Ophelia let her go, Anna turned around saw that Justin, dressed in a nice suit, had followed Ophelia up the church steps. "I'm so glad you could make it, Justin. Phillip will be so glad to see you."
"I'm glad Ophelia decided to invite me," he said, smiling. "You look beautiful, by the way."
"If you can call two hundred pounds of beached whale beautiful," Anna said.
"Not two hundred," Ophelia said. "One hundred and seventy, max."
"I have a surprise for you," Ophelia said. She pulled her phone out of her purse. She turned the screen so that Anna could see. It was the wedding cake Ophelia had made for the wedding. It was exactly as Anna had hoped for. But then she noticed the top of the cake. Sitting amongst the sugared wildflowers was a little statue. It was made of wood and depicted two figures embracing.
"Marg sent it to Phillip," Ophelia said. "And he gave it to me especially for today."
"Oh, Phee," Anna said, hugging her sister. "I absolutely love it."
"I couldn't wait until the reception," Ophelia said.
Art came up to his two daughters. He shook Justin's hand.
"Daddy!" Ophelia turned to her dad and gave him a hug. Then she went around to his back and straightened his slightly snug Army dress uniform and sharpened his shoulders. "There. Doesn't Anna look pretty, dad?"
"She does," he said with pride in his eyes. "It's almost time, are you ready?"
"Only for about two years," she said.
"You two go on inside," he said to Ophelia and Justin. When they were out of earshot, Art said, "So what's the status on that?"
Anna shrugged. "She keeps him around. If that's good or bad, I'm not sure. But it looks like he's determined to stay, so we'll see."
Art reached down and hugged his daughter. "You look just as radiant as you did when you married Darren."
"Thanks, Dad," she said, hugging him back.
"Grandpa!" Zoe came running out wearing a light green dress, straw hat, and gloves - the very picture of spring. And sitting prominently on her chest was the emerald necklace Phillip had given her. Her long auburn curls blew about in the breeze. "The marriage guy says its time."
"Ok, ok," he said. "Hold your britches on. We're on our way."
The little church Phillip and Anna had chosen was old but graceful, and almost entirely not wheelchair accessible except for a small door on the side of the building. When they got inside, she could see Brody in his tux playing on his phone. He'd actually styled his hair. Phillip had probably made him. They made their way around the pews to the back where Zoe and Ellen were waiting. She looked among those ready to witness the ceremony. She found Hank and Marg sitting not too far away. Marg turned to give Anna a large smile and when she did Anna mouthed the words "Thank you" to her. The older woman nodded her head in understanding. Anna blinked away the tears while she could and turned to her dad.
"Ok, dad, ready?"
Art signaled to the pianist and guitarist. The strains of Vivaldi's Guitar Concerto filled the nave. Anna saw Phillip step up to the officiant and her heart filled to bursting. He still had shadows under his eyes but his smile radiated his face. He wore his blue dress uniform and his beret, and she couldn't imagine anything being sexier. More tears threatened to leak from the sides of her eyes. Her mother handed Anna her bouquet. At first, she thought her mom had handed her the wrong one. It was supposed to be red roses and white daisies. Instead, it was cream color roses tied with a scarlet red ribbon. She looked back up at Phillip and he winked at her. Now she knew she couldn't stop her tears from sliding down her face.
Ellen and Zoe walked down the aisle and then Anna and Art followed. Her eyes were only for Phillip. Her only thought was how close they had come to not having this day at all. She loved this man all with her heart. She had taken him home that awful day, and then the hard work of getting on the path to healthy had started. She sat outside the office during his sessions when she could and she sat in on them when he wanted her to. No matter what, that was where she felt she needed to be, and where he needed her to help him heal. Sometimes it was hard. He would tell such awful stories of things he'd experienced and seen on the other side of the world, things that would leave him shaking, crying and exhausted. Sometimes he wouldn't tell her anything and then she just had to trust that he was working it through with his therapist. And sometimes he would wake suddenly in the middle of the night and she would just hold him as he forced his heart to calm down. She wouldn't need to say anything. All he needed was her to be nearby. He was worth it, though. On his best days, he was an amazing man to his own clients, to her children and to her. And she knew that one day he'd make an amazing father to his own child. She knew because the thing that made him the happiest in life was knowing he was taking care of someone - something he'd been denied for so long with the deaths of his best friends and parents.
Anna handed Zoe her bouquet as her maid of honor, and Art held both Anna and Phillip's hands together before stepping away. She looked briefly over at Brody. She hadn't seen her son more happy or proud as when Phillip asked him to be his best man. Even now, his smile was almost wider than his face as he stood behind Phillip.
Anna looked up at her almost-husband and it was overwhelming how those brown eyes of his could reach down in her soul and capture it. She got lost in them every time. It had been the first thing she'd really seen of him when they first met and now they were the only things she wanted to look at as they said their vows. He slid the diamond wedding band on her finger. Her hand trembled a little as she put his band on and that was it. He was hers. She started to cry in earnest. She couldn't imagine being any happier. He picked her up out of her chair and kissed her softly in front of everyone. She laughed as the tears rolled down her face. Placing her back in her chair, he rubbed her tummy.
"I love you, Mrs. Laughlin," he said looking into her eyes. "I'll never get tired of saying it."
"I'll never get tired of hearing it," she said putting a hand to his face. "I love you too, my husband."
YOU ARE READING
[ Complete ] Anna, a paraplegic woman with two kids, is living life as best she can after the death of her husband. But a chance encounter while on vacation with her family shows her she may have a second chance at love. But Phillip, as sweet and ki...