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Taken by the Major: Epilogue


Valentine’s Day a year later

“Are you ready, Major?” Allan asked.

I adjusted my cravat in the mirror. Kenzie had fussed over me every time I called it a fat, loose tie. So, there I was, using the appropriate term because it made her happy. And making Kenzie happy was the most amazing feeling. Her joy was infectious, and I never wanted to be cured.

I brushed down the front of my tux.

“Ready,” I admitted.

Allan wore a similar tux, same dark blue color. Only he wore a normal necktie and no vest. It’s what Kenzie wanted. She had a vision for her wedding, and we were here to deliver that dream for her.

“You have the ring?” I asked.

He held up his hand showing me the ring on his pinky finger. It looked silly, the small, delicate gold filigree and diamonds on his thick finger. We stepped out of the small side room into the main part of the chapel. Light filtered in through the stained-glass windows.

The Flat Rock chapel was small and full of flowers, not ours, but for a wedding in the early evening. I should have known Valentine’s Day weddings were a big deal, and Flat Rock, being a ski town, was considered a destination wedding location.

It was ten in the morning, and we were scheduled for the first wedding of the day. I was under the impression that on days like this one, it was as if there were a revolving door into the chapel, and they ran weddings every other hour.

Early worked for us. We weren’t having a large wedding, just a few friends. The baby should be awake for the ceremony and then go down for her first nap of the day when we headed out to our celebration brunch.

I stood next to the preacher. Allan stood next to me. I waited for a few moments before the music started. When I turned, I saw my baby girl. Ruby wore Paris in a front-carrying pack. She kicked her feet when she saw me, and even Ruby was smiling.

I hadn’t been allowed to see Kenzie’s dress. She had taken over one of the downstairs rooms immediately after the reconstruction crew finished and turned it into her sewing workroom, and then she banned me from entering. All I knew was there was a lot of fabric involved.

When Kenzie stepped into the chapel… my heart skipped a beat. She was perfect.

“Steady there,” Allan said, putting his hand on my shoulder.

Her dress was a froth of pink and cream, and while it was very much a wedding dress, it was somehow more. She looked like an angel. It wasn’t until later that I noticed that she had incorporated into the patterning of the skirt her parents’ silhouettes in large lace hearts. It seemed fitting to have them with us that way.

The ceremony passed as a rush of noise in my ears. I followed the instructions, repeated the words I was told to repeat, said ‘I will’ when asked. Allan handed me the ring, and I placed it on Kenzie’s finger when told to do so.

I had always thought the instructions during wedding ceremonies were overkill. Everyone knew what to do and when. I hadn’t realized they were necessary until I forgot everything I knew. If the preacher had asked me to say my name, I would have looked at him with confusion. I had a name. What was a name?

All I knew at that point was that Kenzie was beautiful, and I was the luckiest man in the world. Beyond that, I didn’t know what I was doing. Without guidance, I would have stood there holding her hand, staring into her big, luminous eyes, smiling like an idiot.

I even had to be told I could kiss her and that this was our first kiss as husband and wife.

The noise in my ears turned to the applause of our friends as the kiss ended. We started to walk down the aisle, only to have Paris start to cry.

“Mommy’s not leaving,” she said as she took her hand out of mine and picked Paris up out of Ruby’s charge.

Latisha swooped in with a large scarf. “Here, cover your dress. You don’t want that baby girl spitting up on you.”

Our celebratory exit became a huddle of everyone gathered around us and the baby.

“She’s tired,” Kenzie said, gently rocking her. “And this is a bit overwhelming.”

I had one arm around Kenzie’s back and cleared the path with the other as we resumed our promenade out of the chapel. In the vestibule, I wrapped Kenzie in a thick cloak that was more like a red velvet blanket rimmed with white fur. I shrugged into my overcoat as everyone around us all pulled on their coats.

It was too cold to simply run from the building into the waiting limo. But once properly wrapped up, we headed outside where our friends pelted us with bird seed. Well, Ruby, specifically. Everyone else tossed the seeds into the air to rain gently down on us. Ruby threw her hand full of seed directly at me.

The waiting limo did not whisk us away. It took a few moments to get Paris settled into her car seat. Only then was the driver allowed to move.

Kenzie lay against my chest as I pulled her into my arms.

“Good morning, wife,” I said right before I kissed her. She tasted like strawberries.

“What a morning. It’s been crazy, nonstop, and look at us, we’re married.” She sounded shocked.

“It’s fabulous, isn’t it?” I chuckled.

“I think so, but my head is spinning and I’m suddenly exhausted. Did I remember to say, ‘I do’?”

“I’m pretty sure you did. I had to be told what to say. Thank you for not insisting that we write our own vows.”

“I made my own dress. I think that was plenty for me to do.”

“And it is a beautiful dress,” I crooned as I stroked her soft cheek.

“You didn’t even look at it. What color is it?” she demanded.

“Pink and white,” I answered.

“it’s cream,” she corrected.

“Cream is white,” I replied. “You look beautiful. Cream or white, you look good enough to eat.” I went to kiss her again, but Paris decided that we were done flirting and she needed attention.

“Did you bring the diaper bag? Are we almost at the restaurant?”

I lifted the diaper bag from the side seat and handed it over. “We’re almost there.”

“Let the driver know I’m going to feed and change Paris when we get there, so he should pull over somewhere out of the way.”

I passed her instructions along to the driver. Once stopped, Kenzie took Paris out of her car seat, and I prepped a bottle for her. As Kenzie held Paris to feed her, someone knocked on the limo’s window.

“What?” I asked as I lowered the window.

Ruby stood there making faces at us. “Everyone is wondering why you aren’t coming inside. They’re being gross saying you’re doing it in the car.”

“We aren’t doing it.” I laughed. “Your sister is feeding Paris. We’ll change her, and then we’ll be inside.”

“I can change her,” Ruby volunteered.

“She’s almost asleep. We’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“Okay,” Ruby said with a shrug before turning around. “You owe me ten dollars,” I heard her say to someone as she walked away, and I raised the window.

Paris fell asleep just before she finished the bottle. I got her into a fresh diaper, something that I was learning was easier while she was asleep because she wanted to kick too much when awake.

Kenzie climbed out of the limo holding the sleeping baby while I unfastened the car seat that would serve as a bassinet with a handle I could carry while she slept.

Our party was tucked into the back party room of the restaurant, and everyone applauded at our arrival. It wasn’t a large party. We had a few tables, and everyone was served mimosas for the toasts. The cake was more a tower of cinnamon roll decadence than a proper cake. It was delicious.

After the cake was served and toasts were given, Ruby stood up and picked up the microphone.

“Hi, it’s me again.” She waved awkwardly at our guests. “We don’t have a band or a DJ, so we have a boombox” She gestured toward a vintage-style tape deck that Allan set up on the corner of a table.

“As you know, Mom and Dad can’t be here with us. But they would have wanted to. I know Kenzie doesn’t think I remember them very well. But I do. And I remember their favorite song. Every time this song came on a playlist, or one of those mix CDs they would put together, they would say it was their favorite. It was their wedding song, the one they danced to.”

As Ruby talked, Kenzie grabbed my hand and squeezed. I felt emotions lodge in my throat at the tribute, and when I looked at my wife, she was quietly crying.

“I know you didn’t plan on having a first dance, so Allan helped me to make sure you got to dance to this.” Ruby pressed Play.

I didn’t recognize the song immediately, but Kenzie did, and a sob shook her. I was going to tell her she didn’t need to dance if she was going to be upset by it, but she dragged me out to the small area of cleared floor by the cake table and clutched me as we swayed to her parents’ favorite song by Peter Gabriel.

I tipped up Kenzie’s face so I could look at her. I wiped her tears away with my thumb.

The lyrics were perfect. In your eyes, I am complete. In my eyes, she was.


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