When Riley explained to Marla what was happening, the two of them orchestrated a switcheroo. Riley watched the baby while Marla came in to run the store for a day. She said it was a win-win, because she desperately needed the time to herself. Calliope didn’t necessarily think of managing a retail store as “me” time, but for Marla, it was like indulging in a piece of chocolate mousse cheesecake.
For about two seconds, Calliope considered having Quentin sleep in a hotel room so that he wouldn’t see her on their wedding day until they met at the courthouse, but she was way too excited to be with him to do something like that. She was going all in, and she would spend every second she could with him while he was there with her. As much as she’d love to go home with him, she had a commitment to fill.
One thing she had learned in the few weeks that she had been running the shop was that she absolutely loved it. It wasn’t the same as running the gift store. She loved the Pretentious Zebra and all its quirky, fun things, but fashion was where her heart lied, and being a part of helping other women find outfits that made them feel good made her heart sing.
There had been a dress at the shop she had been eyeing for weeks, so she splurged and let Riley ring it up for her before she left the shop to be a married woman. She made Quentin wait for her in the living room while she got ready, spending plenty of time doing her hair, painting her nails, and making herself look beautiful for her wedding day.
As she reviewed herself in the mirror before heading out to the living room, she couldn’t believe how far she’d come. She was going to be with the love of her life. This was not a drill. This was happening. There were no ex-girlfriends to come out of the woodwork, no cheating, no former childhood crushes to make appearances. Just Calliope and Quentin and a whole lot of love to be fostered.
She exhaled a deep breath and then headed into the living room. “Are you ready?”
He looked up from his phone, staring at her slack-jawed, and then he stood up. “I can’t believe how beautiful you are.”
She bit her lip, her heart melting in her chest. “You look pretty handsome as well.”
He looked down at his jeans. “You really should’ve let me rent a tux.”
“No way. I love the way you look, just like that.”
“Look at you. You look like a bride on her wedding day.”
“At least I’m on brand.”
He walked over to her and put his hands on her hips. “I’ve never been happier, never in my whole life.”
“I had never even considered marriage until I met you. It’s unbelievable what you’ve done for me. I can’t thank you enough for it, but I can treat you like the queen you are for the rest of your life.”
She smiled, soaking in all the beauty of this day with him. “Let’s go get married.”
They sat in a bureaucratic room, holding hands, waiting to be called like they were in a doctor’s office. Quentin was second-guessing all of this. Calliope deserved a red carpet and photographers to capture her beauty, and a giant cake with a stupid plastic bride and groom on top. But instead, she sat there in all her wedding day glory in this government building.
He took her other hand so he was holding both of them. “Are you sure about this?”
“About marrying you?”
“No, about doing it here. I know you don’t want anything big, but I feel like you deserve so much more.”
She squeezed his hands. “I don’t want to plan anything. And I don’t want to wait another second. To me, it’s not about the wedding…not with you. It’s about the marriage.”
He let out an exhausted breath. “I don’t know how we can be more perfect for one another.”
She smiled. “Me either.”
“Broussard and Koch?” came a voice at the doorway.
They squeezed each other’s hands and then stood up. They answered a few questions, handed over their marriage certificate, and then headed into a small room.
A Black man who looked about Radford’s age stood, pulling a pair of glasses off his face. He introduced himself to them and then started the ceremony.
As Quentin listened to him say a few words about what marriage meant, he swallowed hard, digesting the enormity of what he was doing. He’d never wanted to get married, but what he understood now was that he wanted Calliope to be his and for him to be hers, and if this solidified that for them, he was all in.
The judge asked them the standard vow questions, and when Quentin said I do, he’d never meant words more earnestly.
He slid the ring onto Calliope’s finger, and when he did, something in his heart solidified. This was his wife. This was his forever. This was the only thing that had ever truly mattered his whole life.
He understood that now, and he would stay true to these vows he’d just made till the day he died. You could take that to the bank, he thought.
“You may kiss your bride,” the judge said to him.
He placed his hands on her cheeks, taking in this wife of his, the love he felt for her overwhelming him. He kissed her perfect lips and then pulled away. “I love you,” he said.
“I love you, too.”
And with that, he was married to the love of his life.
If you haven’t already signed up for my newsletter, do that HERE to receive the free prequel novella to my LOVE ALONG HWY 30A series, ALYS BEACH FLING!
You can also download book one in that series, SEASIDE SWEETS, for free at all eBook retailers:
Back to my HOME PAGE.