Okay folks, it's over... Well, the dating part. . .There's still the whole marriage part which, we'll see how it goes. I have some ideas as to what will happen soonish. Someone will spot them in Vegas. ;)

Here we go, enjoy. No smut as I've always written this story without it. Live with it!!! Sheesh! ;)

Enjoy!

Jackie

PS: Thanks for the support, feedback, comments etc, they've been very much
appreciated!

Part 52 – When One Ride Ends, Start Another.

I must say, my future husband has pulled out all of the stops when putting together this little eloping adventure of ours. Though he hasn't said so, I suspect that he used the money that Trish was giving him to plan the wedding on our escapade. Not that I can complain. Harm and I aren't the traditional type and though I'd always envisioned the two of us getting married at a church, with Harm in his dress whites, I came to realize that I didn't care how it happened, as long as it did. Not to say that I want him wearing a potato sack or anything, but my dream wedding has shifted course and I, for one, am happy it did.

The more the pressures of a big wedding kept strangling us the more I wanted to runaway, with Harm. Eloping just sounded fun and, frankly, Harm and I have had enough of the serious stuff and deserve a little fun and happiness. "Are you ready, ma'am?" I turn around and find the concierge standing at the open door to our honeymoon sweet. He's dressed to the nines and was wiling to serve as our witness. It's a little sad that none of our friends could be present, but all I really needed is my sailor.

"Just a few minutes, Geoffrey, thank you." I check my reflection once again, making sure everything is in place. I had opted to skip the traditional white gown. I really didn't want to look or feel like a gigantic cream puff. What I chose was still considered a wedding dress, but it was more sexy and flattering to my figure. The dress is champagne colored with a low cut front, showing enough to still keep it modest, sort of. It drapes over my shoulders and has a 'V' at the back which ends just above the small of my back. It cost entirely too much for the few hours I'm going to have it on, but a girl needs a little class now and again. Dangling from my neck is a 'Y' shaped necklace with little diamonds spaced half an inch apart. The set came with matching earrings.

I haven't seen Harm since last night, when we purposely separated all account of that "groom shouldn't see bride on wedding day" crap. I am not the overly superstitious type, but seeing as everything that could go wrong in our relationship has happened, it's best not to tempt fate. "Alright, let's get going."

Stepping out of the bedroom I find Geoffrey wearing a grey Armani suit with a red rose on the breast of his jacket. He's a gorgeous guy, tall, blond hair, green eyes with one hell of a body. His boyfriend, Jack, who just so happens to be the gondolier's vocal coach will be taking pictures. "You look gorgeous, honey." He says, grinning widely as he admires the dress. Only the dress.

I slip my hand through the crook of his arm and we are off, heading towards the elevators that will be the entry way to the beginning of the rest of my life.

Last night we went through the rehearsal and all of the doo dah's that we needed to know about the mini-ceremony. Harm will be waiting for me at 'Ponte di la Piazza' or the 'bridge over the square' and we will walk together down the steps that lead to the gondola. The Venetian hotel was built so that it looks as if you are walking through the stress of Venice complete with a Grand Canal and a few bridges. It's as authentic as you can get in Sin City and, if you ignore the rings and dings of the slot machines nearby, you can just believe that you really are in Venice.

"Are you nervous?"

"No!" I answer Geoffrey's question just a little too quickly which earns me a chuckle.

"Then why are you fidgeting?"

"I'm not." Really! I'm not! It's just that the damned garter belt, which I bought specifically to give Harm something 'interesting' to look at later tonight, has decided to twist. I am trying to modestly shift it back into place without doing something utterly unlady like.

"Uh huh." Geoffrey doesn't seem to believe me and when the elevator dings at the lobby, that nervousness I claimed not have decided to manifest itself. He pulls my arm but I remain standing at the back of the elevator staring out as I remember why I am here. "Ms. MacKenzie?"

"I'm getting married." I ground out and the weight of it all hits me like a two ton heavy thing. "I am marrying Harm." Harm, the once elusive conquest that is now my fiancé, soon to be my husband. "I am marrying Harmon Rabb Junior." Jesus Christ, is he nuts?!

I mean, really, with my track record with men, Harm's best bet is to run the other way and never look back. The man has to be completely insane to consider marrying me. Then again, Harm's sanity could be questioned many times over. The man did play tag with a dirty nuke. Another tug on my arm and I find myself unconsciously moving out of the elevator.

"Ms. MacKenzie, your fiancé is waiting." He says nothing else as I am weaved through the hotel and into the areas that make it look as if you really are standing in Venice's Piazza. I pass by onlookers in a blur as I am escorted towards the Ponte di la Piazza.

My breath catches at my throat when I spot him. I know what I was expecting, a tuxedo, maybe a suit which he tends to wear so well. However, I am surprised to find him standing there in dress whites and gold wings. He's having an animated conversation with the gondolier and the minister, probably about flying jets if I know him. The gondolier, dressed in traditional clothing complete with a hat, funky trousers and black and white stripped shirt notices me before my fiancé does. Grinning, he taps Harm on the shoulder and motions towards me.

We are a good twenty feet away from each other but once our eyes lock everything else disappears. His smile disappears and his mouth forms a perfect 'o'. Obviously, the dress is doing just what I expected it to do. Geoffrey takes me the rest of the way and it's a long while before my sailor has anything to say, even then, it's only my name. "Sarah."

I run a finger down his cheek and then down over his shoulder and lower still. I straighten his gold wings, not that it needed straightening, but mostly to ensure myself that this is real. "Always was a sucker for dress whites and gold wings."

His expression changes and that flyboy smile beams in all of it's glory. "I thought they were 'overrated'?"

"Nah, I was just trying to play 'hard to get.'" I say cheekily and thread my arm through his. He walks taller, almost like a triumphant knight who's just won his princess, and leads me down the steps to the dock where the Venetian has parked a large, white gondola which is reserved for weddings.

Our gondolier bows and helps me into the watercraft. "Guud ehevening, signora, miya name iz Santino." Aha, right. 'Santino' is blond haired, blue eyed and looks more like a Sven than anything else. "Iz mi pleasure to sing for you tonait." At least he has a decent, fake, Italian accent.

Harm hops in after me, taking my hand as soon as he sits next to me. Our minister, Father O'Reily steps in next, followed by Geoffrey. As soon as we push off, the ceremony begins without a hitch, unlike the rehearsal we had last night where Harm nearly fell off the gondola. He's looking at me now and I suspect that we have matching expressions of wonder, love and awe. His eyes which change so much with his emotions are a clear blue. I dare say I've never seen him so happy before. "Dearly beloved we are gathered here today to join this man and this woman in holy matrimony. . ."

Father O'Reily's speech becomes nothing but background chatter as I become aware of Harm's fingers threaded through my own. This really is the beginning of the rest of my life. . .our life. I've waited so long for my miracle, the one thing that I yearned for ever since I met this man. His going to be mine now, forever and I day if I have anything to say about it.

Yes, we'll have ups and downs; those few moments where we'll want to kill each other. I smile at him as I considered how far we have come. No matter what or who got in the way, in the end, it was always Harm and I standing side by side. He's my soul mate, I know that for a fact. He'll always be in my heart. "Do you Sarah, take Harmon to be your lawful wedded husband?"

In my reverie I've failed to notice that I've missed most of the ceremony and become aware of my surroundings again when I hear Geoffrey clear his throat. "I do." The same question is asked of Harm and he's elated as he responds, "I do."

I feel a cool piece of circular metal against my skin and realize that this is nearly complete. Our decade long journey is coming to an end and we'll be starting a new adventure as husband and wife. "With this ring I thee wed." Harm's voice is deep and rich. His eyes full of unshed tears. Oh God, this is real.

He repeats the words that Father O'Reily tells him to, his eyes glued to mine the entire time. "With my body I thee worship. . .With my heart I thee love." He kisses my ring finger and slides the white gold piece home.

Taking Harm's ring from Geoffrey, I repeat the same words. "With this ring I thee wed. . .With my body I thee worship. . .With my heart I thee love." I slide Harm's ring into place and can't help the tears that are streaming down my face. I feel silly crying but am comforted to know that I am not the last or the first female to have done the same.

"I now pronounce you man and wife you may. . ." The man isn't even done speaking before Harm pulls me close and kisses me deeply and passionately. It's something that we wouldn't have been able to get away with in a church, but in Sin City, it's probably a tame kiss. ". . .kiss the bride." Father O'Reily finishes with annoyance. Applause fills the air and I realize that the crowd around us approves the nuptials.

I cling to Harm like my life depends on it, deepening the kiss and bringing it this shy of becoming x-rated. It isn't long before I come up for air to find the gondola docking. Father O'Reily and Geoffrey step off and we are given a solo ride with only Santino as he serenades us. "You're mine now." Harm teases as he runs his fingers up my bareback. "All mine."

"Mmm, and you're mine which means I can now put that 'Property Of USMC' on your cute six." I banter back and then kiss him softly. Santino goes from one song to another, his baritone voice echoing along the canal. "Never thought eloping would be so. . ."

"Charming?"

That's one way of putting it. "Romantic. . . I should have known it would have been different with you."

"Did you doubt me?" He doesn't seem hurt when he asks, but curious.

I shrug self-consciously. "Not that I doubted you. But, I've had a bad track record and. . ."

"That's over now, Mac. . .It's you and I now. . .Nothing is going to change that." His sincerity is one of the things I've always loved about Harm. When he believed in something, he would fight it tooth and nail. I know that our relationship is now one of those things. I know that I am safe with him.

Santino maneuvers the gondola so that we are headed back towards the Ponte di la Piazza. "Hmm, our ride is about to be over."

I shiver unconsciously when his fingers brush a spot on my bare back. "Oh, baby, I can guarantee you a better ride, upstairs."

I'll bet he can. "Oh yeah? What kind of 'ride?'"

Harm scratches his chin and pretends to ponder something that I am sure he already has a response to. "Mmm. The kind of ride that will make you feel like you're flying." He says smugly and then leans in to whisper all of the things he's planning on doing to me when we reach the hotel room.

My cheeks burn into a blush. "Oh my." Never one to give up a fight, I retort with some of my own sexy details. "I am willing to bet that after you see what I have on underneath, you won't get a chance to do any of that?" I challenge.

"Oh yeah?"

"Oh yeah." I hike up the dress enough to show the start of the garter and watch as Harm's mouth widens. The gondola docks and Santino helps me out. "C'mon flyboy, time to unwrap your wedding present."

"Right behind you, Marine." We walk hand in hand through the hotel, ignoring the din around us as we step into the elevators and go up to our suite. After he carries me across the threshold the mood changes and I can honestly say I've never loved him more than I do at this very moment. "Ready, Marine?"

"As ready as I've ever been." I step forward and into his waiting arms. When one ride ends, you definitely have to start another. We kiss deeply and I am bombarded by thoughts and memories of us through the years. To think that, after all of this time, it was Harm that finally closed the distance one February afternoon when he called me 'beautiful.'