Say You'll Never Love Me(86)

By: Ann Everett

Her mouth dropped open, but she didn’t speak. Tears rolled down her cheeks. Then she leaned forward and cried. “I waited too long. I keep making terrible mistakes. I don’t deserve to be happy. That’s why I’m not and never will be.”

“Raynie, look at me.”

She bit her bottom lip and gazed up at him. “No, it’s okay. I understand. I was right all along. We’re not meant to be together. The cards said so, but they were wrong.” She stood. Placed her hand on the counter to steady herself. “I should go. I’m sorry . . .”

He stepped closer. “Rosebud, hush and listen. I’ll never love you . . . less, only more . . . each day for as long as I live.”

She blinked and placed a hand to her head. “What?”

“I said I love you. I don’t know when it happened, but it did, and I think you love me, too, but you’re just too damn stubborn to admit it.”

She vaulted into his arms. “No. I’ll admit it. I love you. I’ve been miserable without you. I want happily-ever-after. I want it with you.”

He held her tighter. “Did you just propose?”

She jerked away and blinked again. “Yes. No. Yes.”

He smiled and remembered the moment he fell in love with her. “Is it multiple choice?”

RAYNIE STOOD AT the end of the aisle and took it all in. Jared put his hand over his heart as if to keep it in his chest. She’d chosen an untraditional dress. Blush in place of white. A sleeveless silhouette with a blossoming hem, hand embroidered roses and vines, plunging V-neckline, and revealing back to show off the tattoo he loved so much. The way he was looking at her made her bare toes curls into the carpet.

His parents sitting on one side and hers on the other, looked . . . normal. The housewife and the architect. The nudist with the young husband. And the marijuana farmer on Raynie’s arm.

Turned out, her fear of not fitting into Jared’s family had been a waste of time. She and Maggie formed a fast friendship. Elizabeth and John loved Silbie, and Jared’s mother had told Raynie she’d never seen Jared happier.

Nobody could ask for a more perfect August day. Fluffy clouds danced across a crystal blue sky, while a slight breeze stirred enough to carry the scent of flowers, but not a speck of dust.

Best friend, Quinn was radiant. Pregnancy agreed with her. Molly slept on her dad’s shoulder, and Dak looked miserable. Weddings weren’t his thing, but he’d do whatever it took to keep Quinn happy.

Mr. Remmus winked. He’d gotten his muse back and started a new book. Ironically, the characters met in a church parking lot. Raynie couldn’t wait to read it.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Chapel had been the natural choice for the ceremony and had never looked more beautiful. The minister had said as much.

Filled with roses, greenery, and baby’s breath, white wicker pockets hung from each pew. Staggered columns held massive baskets of leafy ferns, flanked by candelabrum. Urns mixed with pink roses, white lilies, and sunflowers sat on either side.

Raynie wore her hair the same as the first time Jared saw her, but had intertwined fresh flowers. He’d told her it was the odd hairdo that had taken his breath. Any woman with that many styles going on at the same time had to be the most interesting he’d ever met.

She’d never seen him more handsome. His dark hair and blue eyes a sharp contrast against the gray tuxedo. Next to him, the angel in her life, Silbie.

Tears rimmed Raynie’s eyes. Waiting at the end of the aisle before her, stood the first chapter of her happily-ever-after. And she finally believed it possible.