She scooped the tiny little girl into her arms, and nuzzled her. The tiny thing giggled and grasped at a lock of Carmelita's boxy blue curls, yanking at the intricate pile upon her head.
"Rosie!" Carmelita gently admonished, a smile on her lips and a laugh in her throat. "That's my hair, muchacha." She bopped Rosie's nose lightly, and another giggle erupted from her. Carmelita smiled tenderly at her, before cuddling her close and breathing in her bubble bath and talcum powder scent. Rosie buried her dainty paws in the fur of Carmelita's shoulders, as her darkly ringed tail danced at her side. Prying her from her side, Carmelita set the toddler to the floor, and took her paw to keep her steady.
"You have to help mama today, muchacha… she's nervous for like the fifth time in her life…"
The words were soft and self patronising. Carmelita, keeping hold of Rosie's paw, scooped a handful of white gossamer fabric in her other paw, and walked out of the tiny hotel bathroom, taking deep breaths as she did.
He hopped from foot to foot, his tail flitting from once side to the next in an anxious staccato. His fingers were wound tightly together, only breaking when he occasionally cracked his knuckles. He straightened his dickie bow for the hundredth time, when Bentley swivelled towards him.
"Sly. Do you need to go to the bathroom?"
Sly Cooper glanced down at his lifelong friend, and shrugged his shoulders, his jittery dance never ending.
"No? What do you mean Bentley?"
"He means you look like you haven't been to the bathroom all week and you're about to implode, man!"
Bentley glanced at Murray, a small smirk on his shiny green lips.
"Rather crudely put, but accurate all the same Murray. You need to relax Sly."
At that, Sly stopped bopping and turned sharply to face his two best men.
"Relax?! You want me to relax Bentley? In 15 minutes, I'm going to be marrying Carmelita Fox! No, forget that, Inspector Carmelita Fox!"
"I'm aware she's an inspector Sly – in fact I'm fairly certain I had to remind you of that numerous times throughout our thieving years?"
"He did hafta remind you Sly," Murray chirped up, nodding his head pensively. Sly ran a hand through his hair, caused Bentley to yelp and Murray to step forth, crudely flattening out the grey tufts upon his head. "C'mon, man, do you wanna look like a hobo for your big day?"
Sly glanced from Murray to Bentley, and then to the two shiny rings on Bentley's lap. He gulped.
"This is really happening. This is really, really happening."
"Dios mío, Carmelita, te ves tan hermosa!"
Carmelita's eyes fixed on the small, greying fox in the wheelchair, the only man in the room who mattered. The shine in his eyes caused her to blink back her own tears in embarrassment and happiness.
"Gracias, papa," she replied, stooping down to encase him with her arms. Her father clutched on tight to his Carmelita, smelling of cigars and Spanish sunshine. She hadn't seen him in months, and he had gotten so small since her mother had died. She gave him one final squeeze, before lifting her head to see her four sisters, standing across the room.
She let go of Rosie, who clambered straight into the lap of her papi, who immediately held her close. Adrienne, Valentina, Cruz and Lourdes all watched on.
As the youngest child, Carmelita had always been picked on by them anyway – however relations between she and her sisters had frozen even further when Carmelita became an Inspector for Interpol, her father's greatest dream for them all. Carmelita knew that it was just jealousy because papa was so embarrassed by the rest of them and their nasty habits; however it didn't help the feeling of inadequacy that came over her when they looked at her. She managed with Lourdes and Cruz well enough when they were alone – Adrienne and Valentina were different stories.
However, papa was old. The last thing he needed was them arguing and ruining Carmelita's wedding day. Adrienne, the oldest, was first to speak.
" Well, Carmelita, you do look beautiful in that dress – which is surprising seeing as Lourdes help you pick it," she shot a sly look at Lourdes, who stuck her nose in the air.
"Carmelita and I both agreed it suited her just right. Maybe I'll help you pick a dress for your… what is it Adrienne, 45th birthday?" Lourdes replied, her tone light and airy, complimenting her sky blue bridesmaid dress. Cruz snorted, covering her muzzle quickly and shooting Adrienne an apologetic look.
"It wouldn't be my choice now," Valentina commented, eyes narrowed as she scrutinized the dress.
"Girls!" Carmelita's father piped up from his quiet spot in the wheelchair with Rosie, eyeing them all with a warning glare. Carmelita rolled her eyes at them, and turned.
"Maybe on your wedding day Valentina, I'll do my best to mock your dress – which I'm positive will match your personality perfectly," she said calmly. Her papa smiled, and she allowed herself a small moment of victory.
Carmelita Fox was not one to lie down and allow herself to be walked all over.
Crossing over to her father, she leaned down to smile at Rosie.
"Will you look after her, papa?" Carmelita asked softly. Her father looked up from cradling his little granddaughter and smiled.
"Of course, chica. You shall sit on papi's lap, Rosetta," he added to Rosie who nuzzled in closer to his warm red fur.
This was it. The people were standing up. She was almost here.
She was almost here.
Sly glanced at Bentley and Murray who gave him the thumbs up in unison, huge grins sported upon their faces.
Sly grimaced and turned back to the old badger who was conducting the ceremony. This was happening.
The pianist punched in the first chord on the piano of Debussy's Clair de Lune, and the congregation turned to see the bride enter under a rose petal endowed arch. The Spanish sun beat down upon Sly, through the large windows scattered throughout the hall and he opened his eyes slowly, to catch a glimpse of the only woman he had ever loved.
And when he saw her, all traces of nervousness slipped away, and all that was left was –
Adrienne's girls were holding her veil as she walked, her father and Rosie close at her side.
Sly Cooper stood on the pulpit, at the end of an aisle that seemed to go on forever, smiling at her, his chocolate brown eyes wide with that characteristic mirth and happiness. She smiled at him then, and the rest of the room seemed to slip around her.
She didn't notice they were at the end of the aisle, until her papa let go of her hand and Rosie screeched, "Daddy!"
Sly let his eyes break from Carmelita's only for a minute to laugh and catch his scrambling tiny daughter.
"Rosie-Posie, let your mama have all the attention for once!" he whispered to her. Before passing her back to Murray, he gave her a soft kiss on her velveteen forehead. "You be good lil' girl!"
Carmelita stepped up opposite from him, both his hands in her own, their gazes fixed.
Their friends and family sat down.
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…"
The ceremony was short, and beautiful.
Murray cried, and Rosie played nurse.
Carmelita's father shook Sly's hand, and even her sisters were nice to him for once.
And the kiss.
Well, it was the best thing since a ten-second head start.