“Hey, babe,” he told me.
Even after all those years, the second I heard his voice, even after only a few hours absence, he sent my stomach into my throat. The adrenaline rushed through my veins making me feel euphoric. The Beatles’ Blackbird sang throughout his studio in the Village. One of my favorites.
It was a bit hot out so his window was open and the light breeze shifting over his small garden balcony made of rod iron brought the beautiful smells of the Sweet Alyssum’s summery honey scent through the room. I’d planted them in pots and set them at the sill there because he let me. He let me do anything I wanted whenever I wanted. I once asked him why he was always so accommodating. “I love you, Cricket,” he explained simply.
The room was dim except for a warm lamp over his straw colored hair as he was reading. He sat upon his sofa. The same one, when he bought it, that once he jumped into the cushions and wouldn’t stop sinking said, “Bullseye.” He was positively mouthwatering every second that he existed.
He lounged in a pair of white track pants and his practically threadbare gray t-shirt from Brown. He never wore socks because he hated the feel of them without shoes on. His bare feet crossed at the ankles on his industrial metal coffee table.
He stopped reading long enough to sport a lopsided and devastating smirk. “Come here,” he ordered and I tossed my bags to the floor without hesitation.
I walked over to him steadily, fighting the urge to run as I always did.
When I was close enough, he shut his book with a definitive thud and tossed it onto the table. He shifted his body so that his legs spread across the entire seat of the couch. He leaned forward and wrapped his arms around me, tossing me beside him and wedging me between his body and the cushions at the back.
He breathed in my neck. “I missed you today,” his deep voice rasped against my skin, leaving gooseflesh in its wake. My eyes closed tightly in reaction and my breathing shallowed.
“I-I missed you, too,” I choked.
“You-you did?” he mocked playfully, kissing my ear and sending me drowning in sensation. My mouth opened but nothing came out. His effect on me was singularly like nothing I’d ever experienced before.
He grabbed at the dark plastic frame of his glasses and I watched as his hand moved away from his face, sliding down the front of the couch. His other arm wound tightly around my shoulders and I remember wishing so badly I could have studied the defined muscles of his forearm there but dared not give up being held. He kissed my temple then down the side of my face until he reached my ear, facetiously growling, making me laugh.
“God,” he breathed barely, lightly running his lips against my throat. “You smell so good, Cricket.”
He dropped his glasses to the floor and brought both hands to the sides of my neck, making me face him. He smiled just before running his hands throughout the length of my hair.
“It’s getting so long,” he said.
“I’m too broke and too lazy to cut it,” I explained with a smile.
His own smile fell when he noticed mine. He was distracted. I distracted him. I bit my bottom lip.
“Cricket,” he said, eyeing my mouth.
“Sorry,” I said releasing my bottom lip, not in the least bit sorry.
“Can I just…,” he began steadily, studying my face. He kept my hair threaded in his fingers while he tenderly kissed every square inch of skin of my face, making me sigh heavily. He ended his exploration with a hard kiss against the mouth before inexplicably bringing me hard against his chest and kissing the top of my head with a frustrated groan.
Without any prompting, he opened the coffee table drawer and handed me the pad and pencils I kept there, placed his adorable glasses back on his face and retrieved his book once more, tucking me in closely to him before opening to the last page he dogeared.
I set my pad on his washboard abs and began sketching away, working on the sculpture I planned on creating for my final piece for the show I had coming up. After half an hour, I was done shading, bored with it, and laid my pencil on top of the pad. It rolled back and forth, back and forth with each breath it took and finally slid to the floor after he took a deep breath.
I looked up at him, silently imploring him to retrieve it for me.
He laid his book on his chest and looked out from the top of his glasses. “What?”
“Could you?” I said, gesturing toward the pencil and biting my bottom lip again for good measure.
He opened his mouth briefly with a flirtatious grin but it fell too easily and instead of the playful admonishment I usually got, he only watched me, swallowing hard.
I furrowed my brows, “You okay?”
He gulped audibly, his breaths shallow and nodded his answer. He stretched his hand down and brought the pencil back up but rather than hand it over to me, he clenched it in his palm. For a brief moment he steadied the pencil in his hand, then brought it to the pad of paper my left hand had found rest on while waiting for him.
His eyes locked on mine briefly, his jaw clenched, before eyeing the pencil tip resting on the paper. He brought it up and began to trace my left hand slowly.
“I love this hand,” he told me, his eyes trained on his work.
“Why?” I asked, curious.
“It’s lovely that’s why but mostly because it creates so much pleasure for me. This hand,” he said, rounding my index finger painfully deliberately, “creates life. It sculpts the art that defines a world I want to live in, strokes my hair, my skin,” he said, stilling the pencil and staring hard into my eyes. “It sends shivers down my spine, this hand,” he said seriously before returning back to the sketch pad, rounding my middle finger then. “This hand represents so much to me. This hand will be the means to an incredible happiness, Cricket.”
“How’s that?” I asked, watching his unimaginably clear eyes.
“Because,” he said, sliding the lead tip down the side of my hand to meet my wrist.
He stopped drawing then and lifted the pencil, threading the fingers of his free hand with mine and tucking it against his chest. He brought the pencil back down and ever so lightly drew a straight band of shading across the ring finger of my newly sketched hand.
“Please?” he asked simply.
I gasped and swallowed heavily. My chest felt heavy and tears slipped but they were happy. I looked on his sweet face, watched his eyes dance as they awaited my answer, drank in his lopsided smirk, memorized the outline of his jaw and as the song came to an end, I took the pencil from his hand and copied the last line of Blackbird as my answer.
I was only waiting for this moment to arise.
Six months later…
“Just breathe,” I told myself, closing my eyes tightly. “Whatever you do,” I ordered, before taking a very deep breath, “don’t cry.”
My eyes burst open just as Blackbird began to play and the double doors whooshed opened, revealing the breathtaking old gray stone floor and one hundred year old wood beams. Maybe you can cry a little.
I felt strong hands grab my arm and loop my hand through his. “You ready, baby girl?” he asked.
I looked up at my grandfather. I admired him, loved him as a father as well, and I knew without a doubt that I would remember him in that moment forever, like that, always.
“Yes,” I whispered, barely able to contain my emotions.
We began to walk toward the stone aisle and my hands shook wildly.
He patted my hand in his arm twice. “No need, Cricket.”
I smiled at him and nodded once, suddenly made of steel by just the slightest reassurance from him.
I felt the weight of my gown behind me, the glow from the candlelight lining the pews warmed me, the heavy stares of our loved ones comforted me, cushioned me. My chest filled with anticipation as I moved my eyes straight ahead of me. The heat of his gaze burnt me through and I gasped slightly at the sight of him.
Our eyes met and so much was said when they locked. The promise of happiness, love, children, fire, passion. The promise of forever. My eyes stung with ecstasy. I didn’t deserve him but I knew love wasn’t fair. I knew love discriminated and I was grateful to its partiality. Love chose him for me, chose me for him. Love was the best of friends to me.
Spencer’s mouth gaped slightly. He shook his head back and forth as if in disbelief and his hand went to his heart and stayed there. He devastated me. I began to lurch forward, to run to him, to reach for him, but my grandfather’s hand stayed me where I was.
“Sorry,” I whispered, falling back into place.
“For what?” he asked, his eyes crinkled in delight.
I turned back to Spencer. You are the only one I see. You’re the only one I can see, I repeated over and over.
The remainder of the walk down the aisle was pure agony for me and it looked as if it was as so for him as well. He bounced on his heels and clenched his hands into fists repeatedly, making me beyond giddy.
I turned toward my grandfather and he kissed my cheek.
This is it. This is it. I took a deep breath and faced the altar just as Spencer came forward. My grandfather took my hand, squeezed it and gave it to Spencer.
My fingers slid into his palm and I almost sighed out loud. He held me with such comfortable ease, it felt as if he was an extension of myself and every dream he owned became mine and every wish I had became his. An overwhelming surge of happiness engulfed me in that moment and I began to choke back tears but Spencer stopped them with a kiss to my temple.
“Thank you, Emmett,” he told my grandfather.
“Thank you, Son,” he replied, squeezing his shoulder then turning to join my grandmother.
Spencer turned to me with the biggest little-boy grin on his face, I almost burst out laughing. “My word, you’re so beautiful, Cricket.”
“Thank you, darlin’.”
“No, Cricket,” he continued, swallowing. “You’re stunning. I-I’m speechless.”
I winked at him. “You clean up well, too.”
We stood watching one another at the top of the aisle, neither of us moving, too engrossed in one another. That is, until the priest asked us if wanted to get married sometime that night to which the entire congregation giggled and my cheeks flamed red. Spencer plastered himself to my side and led me to stand in front.
The ceremony swirled around us in a blur and all I knew was that my hand was tucked into Spencer’s and our hearts were tucked into each other.
“Spencer?” we heard. “Spencer?”
“Huh?” Spencer asked, turning.
“Repeat after me?”
“I, Spencer Blackwell, take you, Caroline Hunt, to be my wife.”
“I, Spencer Blackwell, take you, Caroline Hunt, to be my wife,” Spencer spoke.
“I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.”
“I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health,” Spencer repeated, making my heart race.
“I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”
Spencer took a deep breath. “I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”
The priest turned toward me. “Repeat after me, Caroline?” he asked kindly.
“I, Caroline Hunt, take you, Spencer Blackwell, to be my husband.”
“I, Caroline Hunt, take you, Spencer Blackwell, to be my husband,” I echoed, the breath from my lungs stolen from me with the powerful words.
“I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health,” he said.
“I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health,” I copied, recognizing how weighty those words were to us already.
“I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”
I opened my mouth but choked on the words. The lump in my throat got in the way. A single tear slipped as Spencer squeezed my hand. “I will love you and honor you all the days of my life,” I told him.
“The rings?” Father asked Jonah and Jonah handed him the bands.
“May the Lord bless these rings which you give to each other as the sign of your love and fidelity. Spencer, place the ring on your wife’s hand and repeat after me.”
Spencer glided the ring onto my hand.
“Caroline, take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
“Caroline, take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” he told me.
Father turned toward me. “Spencer, take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
I slid Spencer’s band on to his left hand. “Spencer, take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
“By the power vested in me, by God and man, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride,” he told Spencer.
My heart began to race, my skin turning hot. Spencer’s hands found my neck and brought me slowly toward him. “I love you,” he whispered right before pressing his lips softly to mine.
I lightly sighed into his mouth. I felt such unbelievable relief when his lips touched mine, like a small piece of me could finally breathe easily as if I was drowning and I had just breached the surface. He broke the kiss too early but it was always too early, never long enough, never quite satisfying enough.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Father announced to the crowd, “May I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Blackwell.”
Our family and friends cheered and hollered as Spencer yanked me down the aisle laughing from the gut, my hand entangled with his. When we reached the double doors, we tried to catch our breath, to absorb the moment but we were immediately showered with kisses and congratulations. The crowd grew so quickly, our hands were forced apart. We stared at one another as more and more of our guests created a wider and wider gap between us.
We were whisked away to the chauffeured vintage limo in front of the church and tucked away inside.
“Alone, Mrs. Blackwell,” Spencer said when Jonah closed the door.
“At last, Mr. Blackwell.”
His brows lifted playfully and he began to slide toward me when the door burst open once more and a little girl’s gulping cry interrupted us.
“Ba ba! Ba ba!” she kept repeating desperately and both Spencer and I melted immediately.
“What did you do to her, Jonah!” I demanded.
“I’m so sorry, you guys. She saw Spencer and wouldn’t stop crying. I was hoping you could tell her hi and give her a kiss?”
“Come here, Savannah,” Spencer said, taking his niece in his arms.
She reached out to him and hugged his neck, shattering my heart.
“Ba ba,” she kept repeating over and over while sobbing.
“Shh,” he said, kissing her cheek. “It’s okay, baby girl.”
After ten minutes, it was apparent she wasn’t willing to let him go, making me laugh. Another ten minutes went by and she was buckled in a car seat in between us in our wedding limo and on our way back to Hunt Ranch for the reception.
Five minutes in to our drive and Spencer and I were laughing almost uncontrollably as Sav gibbered incessantly about nothing we could understand but that’s not what we found so funny. No, it was the fact that a toddler car seat full of toddler was wedged between my new husband and I.
“I imagined this going a little differently,” he told me.
“Oh, so did I, babe,” I flirted.
“Just wait,” he promised.
“I’ve waited long enough,” I told him, leaning over Sav just to get closer to him.
“Trust me, Cricket, no one thinks that more than I do,” he told me. His eyes roamed the length of my gown. “Especially right now.” He reached over Sav and caressed my cheek softly with his thumb. “You’re so soft,” he whispered and I wanted to jump into his lap but the moment broke when Sav put her chubby hand on my other cheek.
“Sof’,” she agreed, making me smile.
We both turned toward her.
“Not as soft as yours,” I told her, caressing her plump, red cheeks.
We pulled into the ranch and the limo dropped all three of us off at the vintage carriage house.
We’d spent two weeks cleaning it out and readying it for the reception. The hundred old wood beams had always been my favorite part until we’d cleaned it properly and I’d discovered that the hand sewn wood plank floor was a close second.
We’d filled the entire room with three solid rows of rectangular tables, lining them with cream silk table cloths. A giant row of green hydrangea graced the center length of the tables, like a giant garden. They even draped off the table and onto the floor.
Simple white china and glass completed the simple but impactful tablescape.
“Oh my God,” I said out loud, balancing Savannah on my hip.
“I know,” Bridget said, joining me at my side. She kissed my cheek and grabbed her daughter. “Sorry about this,” she said, gesturing toward the oblivious baby.
“Don’t ever be sorry, Bridge,” I told her.
“You guys better go hide out for a little bit so you don’t ruin your entrance once the guests arrive.”
Alone with my new husband. Uh, yes please. “Come on, babe,” I told Spencer, who was answering a question the band leader had posed.
“Gotta’ go,” he told the man, “the old ball and chain,” he said, gesturing at me with his thumb.
We ran through the maze of tables and into an old horse stall we had used for storage for over fifty years but converted into a little private area for me and Spence to wait for our guests in.
Once inside, we shut the gate, not that it provided much in the way of seclusion but it was better than nothing. Spencer tossed me against the wall immediately, surprising me a little.
“Mr. Blackwell, what do you think you’re doing?” I asked him.
“I need to touch you. I have to touch you,” he explained, pressing his lids together tightly.
His hands found my shoulders before running them the length of my body and back up, feeling every curve with an abandon I’d never experienced before with him. He pinched my hips bones between his thumbs and his forefingers and pressed me against him, rounding his hands to my backside.
He kissed me deeply and it ignited a fire I didn’t know existed within me.
“Spencer,” I gasped, clutching his shoulders tightly.
“I know,” he said as his eyes searched mine. “Is it the rings?” he asked.
“Oh, it’s definitely the rings,” I told him, kissing his mouth hard and sucking in his bottom lip in between my teeth and biting gently.
He pulled away and shook his head slowly. “Oh, you’ve done it now. I told you that’s a weakness for me.”
“I know, but I don’t have to hold back now, Spencer. You belong to me. You’re mine.”
“Oh, I’m definitely yours, Mrs. Blackwell.”
I kissed him harder as his hands climbed the lace at the back of my dress and began unbuttoning my top button there.
Someone cleared their throat.
We sighed deeply and our foreheads fell together.
“Sorry, guys, but, uh, they’re waiting for you.”
“We’ll be right there,” Spencer told the coordinator. He turned back toward me. “Later?”
“Sooner,” I promised as I made my way toward the door.
He swatted me and I laughed. He joined my side just as the bandleader gestured toward us.
“It’s with great pleasure,” he began, “to introduce to you for the first time as husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Blackwell!”
The crowd cheered and we waved and smiled and headed for our part of the wedding party table but it was all a rouse. We had absolutely no interest in being there. Whatsoever.
The reception commenced with the arrival of dinner, the first dance, etc. etc. and after each event we promised each other we’d steal away but every time we made our way toward the door, someone caught us or something had to be done.
Finally, dinner was over, the dancing had begun and the alcohol had been pouring freely for almost an hour. We were alone at the back of the carriage house and no one seemed to notice us.
Spencer eyed me with such heat, it nearly burned my dress right off. “Now,” he demanded.
We discretely made our way toward the sliding door and slipped behind it, closing it, hiding us away from our entire family. Not a word was said as I lifted my skirt and Spencer carried what little train I had. And we ran. Laughing and giggling all the way to his truck. He opened my door for me and lifted me as if I weighed nothing, tossing me into the passenger side. He coolly rounded the front, eyeing me with a fever I’d never seen in him before. He threw open his door and jumped inside, closing the door behind him and engulfing us in pitch black.
“Come here, missus,” he said, grabbing me by the waist, making me squeal and sat me in his lap.
His left hand braced my back as his right followed the lines of my face, down my neck and shoulders and my eyes rolled into the back of my head. I let my head fall back and exposed my throat for him. He kissed the length to the clavicle and stopped there.
“Oh my God, Cricket, I’m so in love with you.”
I righted myself and looked at him. “I’m so in love with you.”
“Get ready,” he said.
I smiled at him. “For?” I asked, dying to know what he was about to say.
“For me to show you just how much, darlin’,” he smiled steamily.
And that’s how we missed the cutting of our own wedding cake.
Merry Christmas, my lovelies! I hope you enjoyed the little short story. – Fisher