"Duncan," Tessa shook him gently awake late the next morning.
"Mmm?" he asked rolling over to face her.
"You have to leave," she told him. "The hairdresser will be here in a bit."
"Why do I have to go?"
"Because it's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding."
Groaning, he rolled out of bed and sat up. "So I have to leave?"
"Yes. Go up to Connor's suite and sleep there. I have to start getting ready."
"Already?" he looked at the clock. "The wedding's not for another five hours."
"Perfection takes time."
Connor opened the suite door before Duncan had even reached it. He looked into the hall, still on guard, though expecting his clansmen. He let Duncan in, locked the door and offered him some coffee from the pot the hotel provided in every room.
"The blushing bride has banished her beau?" he asked.
Duncan smiled. "You've been playing that alliteration game with Richie, haven't you?"
"He's a hard one to beat."
"But, yes. I have been kicked out."
"So, today is the big day. Any cold feet?" Connor sat next to Duncan on the couch.
"No. I'm ready for this."
"It's a big step."
"Are you trying to make me nervous?"
"It's only natural. This changes everything."
"Keep trying, old man, I'm ready."
They sat and talked for another hour before Duncan decided it was time to wake Richie. The teen was sound asleep in the back room, dead to the world. It took a few tries, but the promise of lunch got him to open his eyes.
"Sorry, partner," he said quietly, as Richie rolled over. "It's my own fault for letting you drink so much last night. You're not hung over too badly, are you?"
Richie groaned and stretched. "I'm not," he answered. "Just tired."
"Get dressed, it's time to head out."
"What about lunch?"
"We'll stop somewhere on the way."
Tessa stood in front of the full length mirror and inspected every inch of herself.
"You look beautiful," Odette told her softly, fluffing the veil.
"I can't believe I'm doing this."
"No need for nerves," Katia told her. "This is going to be the best day of your life."
Tessa took a deep breath. "I know," she said turning around. "I'm just so excited."
A soft knock on the door interrupted their conversation. "Tess?" Richie's muffled voice asked. "Can I come in for a sec?"
Katia moved to open the door and let Richie, fully decked out in his Catholic School Girl/Waiter's uniform, in.
"Oh, Richie!" Tessa put her hand to her mouth and tears welled in her eyes. "Look at you!" she exclaimed. "You look so handsome!"
He blushed and quirked a little, embarrassed smile. "That's one way to put it."
"You look very smart," Odette assured him.
"What about Tessa?" Katia asked. "This is, after all, her day, no?"
Richie smiled, and blushed. "Honestly…. I forgot why I was sent in here to begin with."
Tessa laughed and took him in for a hug. "I'll take that as a compliment."
"Believe me, it is," he promised.
"What's this?" Tessa asked, as something clung to her veil as she pulled back. A sprig of heather came out from where it was tucked in Richie's vest.
"Oh! That's what I came here for!" he remembered, gently unsticking the flower. "It's good luck. You have to have this and…" he dug around in the sporran. "This." He held up a silver sixpence. "You have to put the flower somewhere and the coin in your shoe," he explained. "Mac wanted me to give it to you."
She smiled and took the offered tokens. "Well, you give him this for me." She gave him a gentle kiss on the cheek.
"I think you're going to have to wait to give that to him yourself," he laughed.
"Then tell him thank you. I need to finish getting ready. So, you must leave."
"Alright," Richie said, heading to the door. "You really do look great, by the way," he added over his shoulder.
Duncan was waiting for him in the grooms changing room, where Connor was helping him finish getting dressed. The ceremony was set to start in less than half an hour.
"Did you see her?" Duncan asked Richie, trying to brush the odd feeling of multiple immortals out of the back of his mind.
"Yeah," Richie answered with a big grin.
"How does she look?"
"Wow? That's it, that's all I get?"
"That's the only word for it." Richie leaned against the door. "Wow."
"I guess I'll have to see for myself." Duncan fumbled with the broach and tartan in the mirror. His fingers were starting to go numb.
"I've got it," Connor said with a smile, pinning the plaid over his left shoulder. "Still say you're not nervous?"
Duncan took a deep breath and looked at himself in the mirror. "I think it just hit me," he admitted with a weak smile. "I'm getting married… who has the ring?"
"Got it right here." Richie said shaking the waist strap of his sporran.
Rolling his eyes, Richie reached in an extracted the ring still in its velvet pouch. With Duncan satisfied, he put it back.
"You'll be fine, lad," Connor told Duncan, straightening his tie. "Everything has been checked and double and triple checked. Nothing will go wrong. I have it all covered." Richie cleared his throat. "Sorry, we have it all covered."
There was a knock on the door and the old lady who ran the rehearsal the night before let herself in. "It's time. Come with me, please." They all followed her; Connor and Richie were left outside the chapel doors and Duncan was taken to the room behind the alter.
The wedding was about to begin.
The chapel wasn't full, there were still five or so empty pews on each side and the pews that were occupied were sparsely seated. But the somewhat modest turn out was expected. Not many invitations had been sent out and those that had been sent, were sent on short notice. Tessa's side of the church was populated by some family, college and childhood friends. On Duncan's side, sat slightly uncomfortable immortals. It was holy ground and there seemed to be an unwritten rule that personal feuds had no place in such ceremonies. Especially since there were so many mortals around.
The violinist started to play a soft melody and the priest walked Duncan out to his spot in front of the alter. Duncan took a deep breath as Richie began to slowly walk Katia up the aisle. Katia's dress matched the blue in Richie's kilt perfectly. The gown was simple, strapless with an A-line skirt. In her hands, Katia held a small bouquet of the golden Whiskey Mac Roses. Once Richie and Katia made it to their positions, Connor and Odette began the walk the aisle. Odette matched Katia in every detail, down to the diamond pendant necklace Tessa had given both of them that morning. The violinist transitioned expertly into Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring as Marie began up the aisle with her little basket of yellow rose petals. The friends and family gathered, smiled and cooed at the little girl in her white satin dress, with blue sash and trim. She stopped and smiled for a picture before taking her seat with her father. The congregation stood and watched Gaston proudly march Tessa up the aisle.
Duncan's breath caught in his throat as she came into view. He had never seen anyone look more beautiful. Her dress was a crisp white, strapless as well, with a fitted corset and skirt that clung to her hips and flared at the knees. Her blonde hair was piled on top of her head in a mound of perfectly formed curls, the white heather he had sent her added in as an accent. Her veil was tucked in under her curls and hung to just below her shoulders. Her bouquet of roses were held together by a tartan ribbon and pinned with the broach he bought her in Scotland. Amanda was right, the jewels matched perfectly.
Duncan smiled and found his voice. "Wow," he breathed softly as she made it to the foot of the stairs.
Richie smirked at him. "Told you," he whispered.
The ceremony was traditional and went as smoothly as they had hoped. The reception was held in the ballroom of a fancy down town hotel. After Duncan and Tessa were announced, they stood in the front of the room while Connor recited a Gaelic blessing.
"Mìle fàilte dhuit le d'bhréid, fad do ré gun robh thu slàn. Móran làithean dhuit is sìth, le d'mhaitheas is le d'nì bhi fàs."
And Richie translated: "A thousand welcomes to you with your marriage kerchief,may you be healthy all your days. May you be blessed with long life and peace, may you grow old with goodness and with riches."
Duncan and Tessa danced their first dance to a slow instrumental piece, quietly whispering to each other as they danced. Next came Richie's contribution to the reception, the dollar dance. He quickly slid into the first spot in the line that formed to dance with Tessa as the music started.
"I know I'm supposed to stand around and collect the money, but I wanted to be first," he told her handing her an envelope.
Smiling, Tessa looked inside. "Richie, this is a check for a hundred dollars!" she gasped. "I can't take this."
He grinned shyly. "Sure you can." He held out his arms and she put her hand in his. "Besides, I just figure you're worth more than a buck."
"That's very sweet of you."
After his dance was up, Richie fulfilled his duties and collected the money for the rest of the people wanting to dance with Tessa. It took four songs to let everyone have their minute dance with the bride and groom. After that was done, there was the cutting of the cake- Tessa's chocolate cake just like she wanted- and Duncan finally had her back in his arms.
"Ready to go?" he asked.
She smiled as he leaned down and put his forehead against hers. "We can't yet. There are a lot of things to do yet."
"But I want to go now." he whined.
"But we can't."
"I don't think anyone will notice if we duck out a bit early…."
"Really?" she asked. "No one would notice if the bride and groom left?"
"Well." He gave her a little twirl. "When you put it like that."
The party lasted late into the night until Duncan just couldn't take it anymore and persuaded Tessa that they should take their leave. But there were just two more traditions to cover before they could go.
Tessa stood on the stage with her back to the growing number of single women who clamored for a good position to catch the bouquet. Connor convinced a few of the immortal women to at the very least take part and stand in the back of the crowd. Once all the women were in position, there was a loud countdown and Tessa tossed the flowers over her shoulder. There was shouting and applause as from the middle of the pack, a hand reached up and plucked the flowers from the air before the other women seemed to be able to react at all.
Tessa turned around as the crowd parted to find Amanda standing alone of the floor with a smirk on her face and the bouquet in hand. The two laughed happily and hugged on the dance floor.
"Just give him respectable time to mourn me," Tessa said over Amanda shoulder quietly.
"I'll give him a lifetime," Amanda whispered in promise.
Then it was Duncan's turn. Tessa was sat in a chair on the stage with Duncan kneeling before her. The band started to play some cheesy strip tease tune as he reached up her skirt with a devilish smile to retrieve the garter. Tessa shrieked and laughed as he took his dear sweet time, tickling her behind the knees as he went. After her face was suitably red, he brought out the garter and took his position on the stage to toss it to the bachelors in attendance.
"Oh no!" He hopped off the stage and took Richie by the arm from where he was standing front and center. "Too young!" Everyone burst into laughter as he took Richie to a table behind the group of men and sat him down. "You stay there." Richie stared after him as he went back to the stage, too embarrassed to find the voice to protest. Duncan turned his back to the group of bachelors and at the end of the countdown, let the garter launch from his fingertips.
The hall erupted in hysterical laughter and Duncan turned around quickly wanting to catch what had happened. Everyone was facing away from him laughing and pointing. He jumped off the stage and, as the men parted for him to see, found Richie obediently sitting in the chair with a bemused look on his face and the garter in his lap.
"I sat right here the whole time!" he insisted as Duncan advanced on him in friendly anger. "Ask Connor! I swear!" he continued, clutching his prize and slouching in his seat.
"He didn't even try for it, MacLeod," Amanda said still laughing.
"Didn't move a muscle," Connor agreed. "It landed square in his lap."
Tessa pushed her way past Duncan, laughing so hard she could barely breathe, and gave Richie a hug and a kiss. He smiled cheekily at Duncan, now assured that he wasn't in trouble and it was all in fun, and proudly posed with Amanda for the photographer, blushing fiercely and giggling a bit when told to give her a kiss for the next shot.
After everyone had calmed down, it was announced that Mr. and Mrs. MacLeod were leaving. Everyone lined up to bid them farewell as they left the hall to spend their first night as man and wife.