Ok, people, this is it. The last chapter. I want to thank everyone for all of their kind words and support for this story. The number of reviews I've received for this fic far surpassed my original expectations. I was simply thrilled to reach 1,000. So to get triple that really had me in awe and grateful to have such wonderful readers. I think what most people said they loved about my writing and the story is how detailed it is. I want you guys to be able to picture what's going on and really relate to the characters and their feelings. The fact that so many people said that they could do that really helped me to take pride in the story and feel like I accomplished my goal as an author.
Also, I've already been asked a few times if there is going to be a sequel to this story. I'm not really planning on it as of right now. But if I ever do change my mind, I'll have it listed with my other upcoming stories under my profile. As I've mentioned before, I'm still going to be updating Never Too Late. I'm working on Secrets of Life now. The full story won't be posted until I get a large portion of it written. However, I was actually toying with the idea of just posting the prologue for it. It's basically a sneak peek of what I have planned. But I'm not sure if you guys would rather wait to read it when the story is ready. Just let me know which you prefer.
Again, thank you all for the reviews for this fic! I hope you really enjoyed the story and will like this last chapter!
August 23, 2008
"What about this one?"
"I don't know."
"Come on, it'll look so good on you. You'll be the hottest girl at the party. Well, besides me and P. Sawyer, of course," Brooke said with a beaming smile.
"I agree. You'll look amazing," Peyton added.
"I still don't know. It's a little…revealing," Haley said uneasily. As grateful as she was that her roommate wanted to help her get ready for the party being held tonight, Haley wasn't sure that their taste in clothes was the same. She'd only known Brooke for a little over a day, but Haley could already tell that she was much more stylish and secure with her body to wear such sexy outfits. Haley, on the other hand, was a little more laidback when it came to her wardrobe. And it wasn't that she didn't have a nice figure, she just felt weird sometimes about flaunting it.
"Haley, it's orientation weekend," Brooke stated. "First impressions are everything. And did you see how many hott boys are around? It's the perfect time to get some numbers. And with this outfit, I guarantee that by the fall you'll already have a few of these hotties eating out of the palm of your hand." Haley stared back at the black, gray, and white starburst halter top in Brooke's hand. It was really pretty. Ah, what the hell. I'm going to be in college. It's time to take chances.
"Ok, fine," Haley gave in. "I'll wear it."
"And the low-rise jeans," Brooke added.
"Awesome!" Brooke exclaimed.
"I have some cute black heels you can borrow, too," Peyton said.
"Oh no, Peyton, that's ok," Haley protested. She already felt bad about her roommate letting her borrow an outfit for the party tonight. But her roommate's best friend letting her use her things, too, was just too much.
"Haley, it's fine," Peyton assured her. "They'll bring the whole outfit together."
"Exactly," Brooke agreed. "Now no more trying to get out of it. We're supposed to meet Lucas and Nathan in a half hour, and I still have to do your hair and makeup."
"Who are Lucas and Nathan?" Haley asked confused.
"Lucas is my boyfriend, and Nathan is our friend/Lucas' brother," she answered. "Now no more stalling. Go get changed." Haley was about to say something else but quickly shut her mouth when she saw Brooke's stern look and hands on her hips. She just sighed softly before making her way into the bathroom connected to their room. It was becoming quite obvious that any type of arguing with the perky, fashion-oriented brunette would prove useless.
It was another forty five minutes later, after many arguments about various shades of lipstick and different hairstyles, that Brooke and Peyton declared her ready to go. The three then headed over to the party in the dorm next door. As soon as they walked into the common room, Haley could hear the music blaring and loud chatter. Some people had situated themselves on the couches up against the wall while others grinded on the dance floor. There were also a few kegs of beer hidden away in the far right corner and many people making use of them. So this is what a college party is like, Haley thought. It's not that much different from high school.
"Do you see Lucas or Nathan?" Brooke asked Peyton—snapping Haley out of her musings.
"Not yet," she answered.
"I'll just text Lucas then," Brooke replied while whipping out her phone.
"Where are they?" Peyton questioned after a minute or so.
"Lucas says he's at the far end of the room near the couches," she answered. "He's talking with some of his new teammates."
"Teammates?" Haley asked curiously.
"Yeah, he's on the basketball team here at Duke," Brooke informed her. "Come on." She then led them in the direction that Haley assumed this guy Lucas was located. It took less than a minute to reach him.
"Hey, Broody," Brooke greeted as she bent her head to kiss a shaggy, blonde-haired guy on the lips.
"Cheery," he replied. "Hey, Peyton."
"What's up?" Peyton responded. Haley stood off to the side a little awkwardly as they started to talk. They all knew each other, and she felt weird intruding. Haley had just begun to turn away and make a break for it when Brooke caught her arm and pulled her back.
"Not so fast, girlie," she laughed. "I want you to meet my boyfriend Lucas. Lucas, this is my super-cool roommate Haley."
"It's nice to meet you, Haley," Lucas said with a kind smile while holding a hand out to her.
"It's nice to meet you, too," Haley replied and returned the gesture. He seemed like a really nice guy so far.
"Oh, and this is Jake," Lucas announced while motioning to the guy sitting on the couch next to him. "He's also on the basketball team." Jake gave them all a friendly wave as greetings were, once again, exchanged. The guys then pushed over to make room for the girls. Conversation resumed shortly after. At first, Haley still felt a little out of place. But it wasn't long before Brooke and the others started asking her questions about where she was from and making her feel more included. After that, everything seemed to flow naturally between them. It almost felt like they'd been friends for years.
"No way!" Haley exclaimed.
"I'm serious," Lucas replied. "I had a dog named Rocket when I was a kid, too."
"That's so weird," Haley laughed.
"Well, great minds think alike," he quipped.
"Apparently," she agreed with a smile.
"The only pet I had was a floppy-eared bunny named Chester," Jake spoke up. "He didn't really do much." They all laughed and continued to talk before Brooke interrupted.
"Unbelievable," she scoffed.
"What is?" Peyton questioned. Brooke didn't answer. She just nodded her head towards the left. Haley followed her gaze. About fifteen feet away from them stood a tall, muscular, dark-haired guy surrounded by a bunch of what Haley could only describe as drunken, plastic bimbos. The girls were practically on top of him, whispering something in his ear that made that smirk on his face grow wider. He definitely wasn't hard on the eyes. In fact, he was pretty damn hott. And based on the way he was sopping up the girls' attention right now, she figured he knew it, too.
"Who's that?" Haley inquired—unable to take her eyes off of him.
"That's my brother Nathan," Lucas replied.
"The semester hasn't even started yet, and they're already lining up for him," Brooke said while shaking her head.
"Yeah, he's such a bitch magnet," Peyton joked. Haley gave them a perplexed look. Peyton then elaborated, "He's also on the basketball team here. He's pretty much their star player now."
"Which means that all of the little groupies are eager to get a piece of him," Brooke added. "It's so gross." Haley looked back over at Nathan and the girls and shuddered. One of them had the string of her thong pulled up above her jeans. Wow, that's classy, Haley thought sarcastically. A second later, Nathan's eyes wandered from the girls over to their spot on the couch. His eyes swept over their little group before landing on her. Haley could've sworn she felt a chill run up her spine as his striking blue eyes bored into hers. Nathan then turned back to the girls, said something causing them to laugh, and slowly made his way around them. It took a second for Haley to realize that he was heading their way.
"Hey, guys," Nathan greeted once he'd reached the group. He was speaking to everyone, but it was obvious to Haley that he was checking her out. She felt Brooke nudge her discretely. Apparently, she was noticing it, too.
"Hey, Nate," Lucas replied. "I was wondering where you went." He then nodded over to the group of girls still swooning over Nathan from afar.
"Just a few fans," he smirked with a shrug. "It's not their fault I'm irresistible." Haley had to resist the urge to roll her eyes at the "charming" smile he sent her way. It was just as she'd suspected. This guy was really full of himself.
"Anyway, Nate, this is Jake," Lucas introduced. "He's going to be on the basketball team with us."
"Hey," Nathan said as they shook hands. A second later, however, Nathan's gaze returned to Haley. "And who is this?" he asked his friends. She fidgeted uncomfortably under his probing stare.
"This is my new friend/roommate Haley," Brooke spoke up. "She's also going to be a cheerleader with us in the fall."
"Well, Haley, it's nice to meet you," Nathan stated as he held his hand out to her.
"It's nice to meet you, too," Haley politely responded. She felt her skin tingle as she shook his hand but quickly brushed it aside when she saw that cocky smirk from before make an appearance.
"I look forward to seeing you cheer for me," he commented. Seriously, could this guy have a bigger ego? She really hated men like that.
"Well, I won't just be cheering for you. It'll be for the whole team," Haley clarified.
"We'll see about that," he stated with a wink.
"I wouldn't count on it," she retorted with a cheeky smile that made the others snicker. She inwardly grinned when she noticed a small frown form on Nathan's face. Apparently, Mr. Big Shot wasn't used to women not eating up his charm. But as quickly as the frown appeared, it was gone a few seconds later. Nathan then took a seat on the other side of Jake as they all started talking again.
"So, Haley, where are you from?" Nathan asked—completely cutting Peyton off mid-sentence.
"I'm sorry, Peyton, can you repeat that?" Haley questioned ignoring him.
"I said that…" she started again.
"East coast? West coast?" Nathan prodded.
"You're going to have to say that one more time, Peyton," Haley stated. Peyton barely opened her mouth before he cut in again.
"Are you even going to answer?"
"Nathan," Lucas said in a warning tone.
"What?" he replied innocently. "I'm just asking her a question."
"Well, if you hadn't rudely interrupted Peyton and waited until after she was done speaking, then maybe you'd get an answer," Haley explained.
"Or maybe you could stop making a big deal out of this and just answer a simple question," Nathan retorted.
"I'm not making a big deal out of anything," she defended. "I just think it's disrespectful to talk over people."
"Well, you sure have no problem talking down to them," he bit back.
"Excuse me?" Haley gritted out. She was usually a calm person, but this guy was seriously getting on her nerves.
"You know what? I could use a drink," Brooke declared. "Who's with me?"
"I'm just saying that you've known me for about five minutes, and you're already giving me a lesson in etiquette," Nathan stated.
"It's not etiquette. It's common courtesy," she clarified.
"Haley, you want some beer or wine or something?" Brooke questioned.
"No thanks. I don't drink."
"You don't drink?" Nathan questioned before suddenly getting a knowing look on his face. "You're one of those girls, aren't you?"
"One of what girls?" she inquired while folding her arms defensively.
"Anyone want to dance?" Peyton proposed. "Nathan?"
"Not now, Peyton," he stated as she kept his gaze on Haley. "One of those girls who is a total straightedge and always follows the rules."
"I'm not…" Haley began before Nathan cut her off.
"I bet you're a straight A student, too, huh?"
"I am, but that doesn't mean that…"
"I knew it!"
"Come on, guys, why don't we all…" Lucas started when Haley interrupted.
"You don't know a damn thing," Haley argued. She was beyond pissed now. Who the hell does this guy think he is?! "You are such a hypocrite! It's ok for you to completely judge and stereotype me as soon as you meet me, but I can't make one comment about you talking over people—which is still totally rude, by the way."
"See, you did it again," Nathan exclaimed. "I'm starting to wonder if you have a superiority complex." Haley felt her temper shoot through the roof at that. She was officially seeing red.
"Says the guy who walks around acting like he owns the freaking place just because he can dunk a stupid ball into a hoop," she retorted. "If anyone has a superiority complex, it's you."
"What can I say? I've got skills," Nathan smirked proudly.
"Please, show me something that actually requires brain cells."
"Keep leaning over like that so I can see down that top of yours and I'll definitely show you something else," he retorted while wriggling his eyebrows suggestively—which just completely pushed Haley over the edge.
"Yeah, well, why don't go fu—" Haley was about to say when Brooke suddenly stood up and pulled her with her.
"I think that's enough of introductions for right now," she declared. "We're going to go to the ladies room and freshen up."
"I'll come with you," Peyton quickly added.
"Nathan, what the hell…" Haley could've sworn she heard Lucas say as Brooke and Peyton dragged her away.
"Oh my God, Haley, what was that?" Brooke asked once they'd finally made it into the bathroom.
"Look, I'm sorry you guys. I know that Nathan is your friend, and I promise that I'm not usually like that, but he just…"
"That was awesome," Peyton declared.
"…got me so mad and…wait. What?" Haley asked shocked.
"Seriously, I have never, ever seen someone stand up to Nathan like that—especially a girl," Brooke commented in awe.
"Yeah, I totally give you props," Peyton added with an impressed smile.
"So you're not mad?" Haley questioned making sure.
"Hell no," Brooke laughed. "We've known Nathan for a long time. He can be a real ass sometimes. It's refreshing to see a woman who won't fawn over him."
"Yeah," Peyton agreed. "In fact, it was kind of entertaining."
"Well, I'm glad you enjoyed it," Haley laughed while shaking her head. She then looked at herself in the mirror and took a deep breath to calm down. Her skin was still a little red.
"So, you ready to get back out there?" Brooke asked once she and Peyton were done fixing their makeup and hair.
"Sure," Haley replied. She felt a lot calmer now. "As long as we stay away from Nathan the rest of the night." The two girls laughed before looping arms with her and making their way out of the bathroom. Haley smiled. She really liked Brooke and Peyton. She didn't know them all that well yet, but she could just tell that they were going to be great friends. As they walked over to Lucas and Jake who were now standing near the DJ, Haley caught sight of Nathan again. He was surrounded by the same group of bimbos. Haley rolled her eyes. Just as she was about to look away, though, Nathan's gaze suddenly met hers. That same damn smirk present on his face as he stared at her—just daring her to walk over and pick another fight with him. Haley, once again, felt her face get hot and her temper flare. He really was an ass.
"Haley. Haley. Haley!"
"Huh?" Haley replied as she looked up to see Brooke hovering over her.
"I found it," Brooke said while holding up the tube of lipstick.
"Oh, good," she responded. She then turned so that Brooke could apply it on her lips.
"So, what were you thinking about?" Brooke questioned.
"The first time I met Nathan," Haley said with a reminiscent smile. "You know, at that party during freshmen orientation."
"Oh God," Brooke laughed. "Don't think about that. You might rethink this whole thing and never walk down that aisle."
"I know. He was such a jerk," Haley joked.
"Who's a jerk?" Peyton asked as she came to touch up Haley's hair.
"Nathan," Brooke answered. "At least he was until Haley whipped his butt into shape."
"Well, duh," she chuckled. Haley just shook her head and smiled. She then took a deep breath as she felt the butterflies in her stomach increase. She couldn't believe that in less than ten minutes, she was going to leave this room, walk down the aisle of this beautiful church, and become Mrs. Nathan Scott…again. It was so surreal remembering how she and Nathan had initially met and not gotten along. It literally felt like a lifetime ago.
"Nervous?" Brooke inquired.
"Just a bit," Haley kidded as she took another deep breath. Ever since Nathan had re-proposed almost four months ago, she'd been going nuts planning every little detail. This was her chance to finally have the wedding of her dreams, and Haley wanted everything to be perfect. Luckily, she'd had the help of her two best friends and mother. As soon as Lydia found out about Nathan's second proposal, she immediately had Jimmy hightail the RV to Tree Hill to help out. Haley wanted a summer wedding and knew it was going to be stressful trying to get everything in order in such a short amount of time. She was glad that Lydia did come. Planning her wedding was something that she'd always wanted to share with her mother.
"Please, you've got it so easy. I'm the one who looks like she's about to pop," Vivian said as she slowly got up from her dresser and joined them. "When have you ever seen a maid of honor as big as me?" Haley smiled as she stared at her sister—her pregnancy hormones, once again, taking over. Vivian only had one more month before the baby would be born. And although Vivian often viewed herself lately as fat and ugly, Haley thought the complete opposite. She'd never seen her sister more beautiful and glowing than during these last few months of her pregnancy. Haley only hoped she'd look the same way one day.
"Viv, you look stunning," Haley assured her as she stood up and brought her sister into a hug—her swollen belly brushing against Haley's flat one.
"Thank you," Vivian stated. "God, I'm now officially the worst maid of honor ever. I'm supposed to be convincing you that you look beautiful. Not the other way around."
"No, you do. You look absolutely gorgeous, little sis," Vivian declared.
"Well, I have to say that Brooke did an amazing job on this dress and with getting me ready," Haley said as she turned to her best friend. The dress Brooke made was simple but also extremely elegant. It had thin straps that connect to the bodice, which hugged her curves perfectly. The rest of the dress poofed out slightly and flowed to the floor. The veil was connected to a beautiful white-stoned clip that pulled her hair in a half-updo. The rest of her hair was curled and rested on her shoulders. Overall, Haley couldn't think of a more perfect outfit or look. "Thank you, Tigger."
"It was my pleasure, Tutor Wife," Brooke replied while giving her a hug.
"And thank you, Peyton, for helping to calm me down during my many wedding-planning meltdowns."
"It's what friends are for," Peyton responded as Haley also pulled her into a hug.
"You are all the best bridesmaids ever," Haley announced sincerely.
"Ok, stop right there, or I'm going to cry," Vivian informed her.
"Me, too," Brooke stated while fanning her face.
"I just did my mascara," Peyton proclaimed.
"Sorry," Haley laughed as she dabbed at her eyes. "I just love you guys and am really grateful."
"Damn it, Tutor Girl, stop!" Brooke exclaimed as she, too, wiped at her eyes. A minute later, there was a knock on the door.
"Haley, sweetheart, it's time," Lydia announced while entering the room. Deb followed behind her. "Oh my God, you look so beautiful."
"Mom, you just saw me ten minutes ago," Haley laughed.
"I know, but it just keeps hitting me every time I look at you," Lydia explained with a proud smile as she brought a hand to her daughter's cheek. "You're just glowing."
"Oh crap," Vivian muttered while grabbing a Kleenex. A few tears spilled from her eyes. Haley held her hand out for one, also. Emotions were running high. And at this rate, her makeup was going to be completely ruined before she even walked down the aisle.
"I hate to break up the moment, but everyone is waiting," Deb cut in. They all quickly did touch ups and checked over their makeup before heading out to the main atrium.
"Deb," Haley halted the woman before she could leave the room. "I just want to thank you so much again for paying for everything. I promise that Nathan and I will pay you back as soon as…"
"Haley, don't worry about it," Deb assured her. "I don't mind."
"Are you sure?" Haley questioned. She'd been speechless when Deb offered to pay for the whole wedding. She and Nathan had been having lunch with her at Karen's Café a couple of weeks after she had gotten out of rehab. Haley was shocked when Nathan initially told her about Deb wanting to make things right between the two of them. But she'd gladly accepted Deb's apology. Her mother-in-law was doing very well, and Haley saw no problem putting everything behind them and starting again. That's when Haley and Nathan had told her about the second wedding. Almost immediately, Deb had insisted on taking care of all of the expenses. Haley, Nathan, and Lydia and Jimmy had all offered to pitch in countless times, but Deb wouldn't hear of it.
"Haley, I wanted to do this for you and Nathan. I was never supportive of this marriage, and I was wrong. You both deserve this day," Deb explained while taking her hand and giving it a small squeeze. "So don't think of it as some kind of debt you owe me. Think of it as more of a 'thank you' for taking care of my son and making him so happy." Haley nodded—not trusting her voice at the moment. She was truly touched by Deb's words.
"Now let's go," Deb urged with an encouraging smile. "I think if Nathan has to wait any longer, he's going to have a heart attack." Haley laughed softly as she followed her mother-in-law out of the room. She knew exactly what she meant.
"Do you have the rings?" Nathan asked.
"Yes, for the ninety billionth time," Lucas answered.
"I'm just making sure," he defended. "You could have a hole in your pocket or something."
"Well, I don't."
"Maybe you should just check."
"Please, just check."
"Lucas," Nathan said in a firm tone. Lucas rolled his eyes and stuck his hand in his pocket. A second later, he pulled out the rings.
"See, there's nothing to worry about," he reassured him. "You just need to relax."
"Well, I don't see that happening anytime soon," Nathan mumbled. He didn't think he'd ever been more nervous in his life. Even winning the NCAA Championship and proposing to Haley again didn't compare to this. He'd been watching TV the other day and saw True Life: Runaway Brides on MTV. All of the women completely freaked out minutes before the wedding was to begin. One of them actually tried to escape through a small window and got herself stuck. Nathan knew it was irrational to think that Haley would leave him at the alter. They were already married, so it was too late to back out. Plus, she loved him. But he still couldn't silence that part of him that just needed to see her standing in front of him.
"Hey, we're almost ready to start," Jake said. "I just need the rings to give to Henry."
"Make sure he doesn't lose them," Nathan warned. "You know how little kids can be."
"I think he can handle it," Lucas commented as he passed Jake the rings. Nathan watched as he left with them. His eyes then glanced over all of the guests already seated and chatting as they waited for the ceremony to begin. On Haley's side, all of her siblings, their families, and close relatives had shown up. Megan and Anna had also flown in from California.
Nathan then looked to his side. His mother, his mom's brother Cooper, Karen, Keith, and Lily were all in the front row. Behind them were Whitey and his River Court friends. Other family friends, a few of his Duke teammates, and even Coach K had shown up. A couple of seconds later, Nathan noticed his grandma Mae make her way towards the front and sit next to Deb. She'd been shocked when she found out that he and Haley were married but was happy for them, nonetheless. Royal hadn't even shown up. He'd practically flipped his lid when he found out. Plus, he didn't even want to talk to Nathan or Deb since they issued the restraining order against Dan. Mae was saddened by it, but Nathan got the feeling that she understood why they got one. However, he didn't really care what Royal thought. His life was so much better now that Dan was out of it. And to be honest, Nathan was relieved that his grandfather didn't come to the wedding. He was, after all, the person his father had taken after.
A minute later, Nathan was jarred from his thoughts when he heard the music begin. Jake had returned along with Bill and were standing next to Lucas. The priest was already in his spot, too. Nathan straightened out his tux quickly before turning his attention to the entryway of the church. Vivian, Brooke, and Peyton made their way down the elaborately decorated aisle in their stunning red dresses that Brooke had designed per Haley's request. He heard people "aw" as little Henry walked with the satin pillow carrying their wedding rings. He was followed by Samantha who gracefully dropped the flower petals as she walked. Once she'd finally reached the alter, the music changed—signaling the impending entrance of the bride. Nathan's heart was beating out of his chest when he finally saw Haley and her father come into view in the doorway. All of the guests stood up and looked on in awe as Haley made her entrance.
Haley could hardly breathe as she walked down the aisle beside her father. The elaborate decorations and smiles of their family and friends were lost to her. The only person that she could concentrate on was Nathan. He looked so devastatingly handsome in his tux. They hadn't seen each other for a whole 24 hours due to the old tradition, and it just made Haley all the more eager to get to him. She hated it when they were apart.
Nathan's stomach did flip flops as Haley approached him. She looked so amazingly beautiful in her wedding gown, and he just couldn't take his eyes off of her. A smile formed on his face when he noticed her cheeks start to blush. Nathan loved how he still had such an affect on her. She certainly had a hold over him. Like a moth to the flame, he walked the short distance to meet Haley and her father. Jimmy gave her a quick hug and kiss on the cheek before shaking Nathan's hand and joining it with Haley's—giving her away. Nathan squeezed Haley's hand briefly while leading her to the spot in front of the priest. Haley passed her bouquet to Vivian before turning back to face Nathan and taking his other hand in hers.
"Friends and loved ones," the priest began after a few seconds. "We are gathered here today to witness the renewal of a commitment. A commitment between Nathan and Haley to love one another unconditionally and endlessly." He then looked between the pair. "Nathan and Haley, there are many things that I could say to the two of you today. But instead, I choose to listen to the words you have for each other."
"Haley," he ushered her. Haley took a deep breath as she turned to face Nathan. She'd been practicing what she wanted to say for over a week. Haley was nervous and had wanted to be fully prepared. But as she stood in front of Nathan now and saw the loving smile he was giving her, she slowly started feel her fears of speaking fade away. Everything she was about to say to him wasn't just from her memory. It was all from her heart.
"Nathan," Haley started. "It's been said that there's one word that will free us from the weight and the pain of life, and that word is love. And I truly believe that. It doesn't mean that it hasn't been hard or that it won't be. It just means that I've found a stillness and bravery in myself with you. You make me brave. And I will love you until the end of time. This I vow today."
"Nathan," the priest prodded. Nathan almost didn't hear him, since he was so taken by Haley's words. Would it be wrong if he just kissed her now? He quickly brushed that thought aside as he focused on what he wanted to say.
"Haley, last year we stood on a beach, and I promised to spend my life with you," Nathan stated as he looked deeply into her eyes. "To always love and protect you no matter what. And on that day, nobody really believed that this would work. Even as time passed, I don't think that anybody really understood the love that I had for you. Because if they did, they would've never doubted us. So I wanted to marry you all over again in front of most of our world. Because today, when I look into your eyes, my love for you only grows. It's even stronger now. And that love will never waver. This I vow to you today and always. And forever," he added causing Haley to smile with watery eyes and clutch his hands even tighter.
The priest then ushered Henry forward with the rings and spoke, "Haley, on this day, do you reconfirm and rededicate yourself to the vows you promised to uphold?"
"I do," Haley promised as she took Nathan's ring and slid it onto his finger.
"Nathan, on this day, do you reconfirm and rededicate yourself to the vows you promised to uphold?" the priest repeated.
"I do," Nathan promised while taking Haley's ring and sliding it onto her finger.
"And now, by the eyes of God, I, once again, pronounce you husband and wife," the priest proclaimed before turning to Nathan. "You may kiss your bride."
"I love you, Haley," he muttered softly while wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her to him.
"I love you, too," she replied full of emotion as his lips claimed hers in tender, yet passionate kiss. When they finally broke apart, they turned to face their family and friends. Everyone was clapping and whistling. Haley took a moment to take it all in. Her mother along with her sisters and close friends were crying. Haley soon noticed Karen, Mae, and even Deb wiping at their eyes. But it wasn't long before she felt Nathan's intense gaze on her. Haley faced him again just in time to meet his lips in another loving kiss. Afterward, they smiled at each other, looped arms, and finally walked back down the aisle together.
"Nathan, I'm slipping," Haley laughed. "You're going to drop me."
"Drop you?" Nathan questioned incredulously. "Haley, please. I could shoot you across this room like a three pointer if I wanted to. You want me to try?"
"Don't you dare!" she objected laughing. Nathan soon joined in. A few seconds later, they finally reached their room. Seeing as though Nathan's hands were full at the moment, Haley had to swipe their key card in the lock to open the door. He then carried her across the threshold.
"Nathan," Haley gasped when she saw the rose petals and candles all around the room.
"What's a dream wedding without a dream honeymoon," he said while gently putting her down. Haley continued to stare at the room. In the center was a big king-sized bed with what looked like cream satin sheets. To the left was the door to the large bathroom. Haley noticed that their luggage had already been brought up to the room and was resting next to the entryway. She then glanced to the right and took in the French doors that led to a private balcony. Haley walked towards them and made her way outside. They had the perfect view of the sun setting over the water.
Almost instantly, Haley knew that they'd made the right decision about where to spend their honeymoon. Ocracoke was a small island just off the coast of North Carolina. While Haley loved her big church wedding and reception, she had wanted to return to the beach for the honeymoon. The thought of going back on the cruise crossed their mind, but it was too expensive—although her parents had offered to foot the bill. However, Nathan was adamant about paying for the honeymoon himself. So Haley decided that Ocracoke was the next best, affordable choice for them. She planned on really enjoying herself the next several days.
"It's so beautiful," Haley commented as she felt Nathan wrap his arms around her from behind.
"Yeah, it is," he agreed while kissing her temple.
"Thank you for all of this," she said sincerely.
"I know that I couldn't exactly afford the wedding, but I can at least give you a great honeymoon," Nathan stated.
"Well, I love it," Haley declared. She then added, "Besides, the fact that we're both sober right now is already a step in the right direction." Nathan laughed out loud at that. Both had been reluctant to drink at the reception. Aside from the general toast, neither one really touched their champagne.
"I think it's safe to assume that we learned our lesson the first time," he concluded.
"Yeah," Haley agreed.
"Although, I think I'm going to have to get you drunk at least once while we're here."
"And why is that?" Haley questioned curiously as she turned her head so that she could look up at him.
"Because drunken sex can be hot," he mumbled before lowering his lips to her neck.
"I knew it wouldn't be long before you cracked," Haley teased laughing. However, she moved her head to the side to give him better access.
"No sex for three weeks was just cruel," Nathan commented jokingly without breaking contact from her skin. Haley smiled as she remembered telling Nathan her plan to make their wedding more memorable. She'd been saving herself for marriage the first time around. Why not do it again for a little while? Nathan's reaction, however, had been priceless. His eyes had gone wide, and he completely froze. He originally thought that she was joking. Unfortunately for him, she wasn't. But being the good guy and husband that he was, he honored her wishes. It didn't help that he was so sexy, though. It had actually been a lot harder than she thought. Haley found herself ready to give into temptation and completely have her way with him a few times.
"I've missed you," he stated huskily a few seconds later. As much as he'd been looking forward to the wedding, he'd be lying if he didn't admit that he'd mostly been anticipating the wedding night. Not being with Haley all those weeks had him practically jumping in his skin. She was just so damn sexy. Nathan didn't know if he could handle one more second not having her.
"I missed you, too," Haley said breathlessly. She then turned in his arms and pulled his face down to meet hers. Nathan quickly took possession of her lips and tightened his hold on her. He groaned into her mouth as her tongue stroked his. Afterward, he started to slowly walk them back into the room.
"I don't know if I told you this, but you look so beautiful in this dress," he said while sliding his hands up her waist to feel the material.
"You did only a hundred times at the reception," she teased. "But thank you for saying it again. Now just take it off already."
"Someone's a little impatient, aren't they?" Nathan smirked back. Meanwhile, one of his hands roved over her chest and up to her shoulder. He slowly pulled down one of the straps and started to nip at her shoulder.
"I can't help it if my husband looks so hott in his tux," Haley defended as she slipped off his jacket. Nathan laughed against her skin. She then undid his tie and started to unbutton his shirt—all the while letting her fingernails and lips graze his skin on the way down. She smiled when it had the desired affect. Nathan let out a low growl before pulling her back up to him. He kissed her hungrily as his hands roamed over her body.
Haley felt her skin heat up as Nathan's hands slid up her waist. She involuntarily shuddered when his thumbs brushed the undersides of her breasts and made their way to her back. Before she even knew what was happening, Nathan had turned her around so that she was facing the full-length mirror on the wall. He then took the clip out of her hair to remove her veil. Afterward, he brushed her hair aside and left a trail of hot, open-mouthed kisses down her neck. Haley instinctively shut her eyes and leaned back against his chest. It wasn't long before he brought his hands to the back of her dress. A second later, she heard the sound of it slowly unzipping.
Haley reopened her eyes to find Nathan staring intently at her in the mirror. His ocean blue orbs were boring into her. Even as he started to gently pull her dress down and touch her, she couldn't look away. Haley was completely hypnotized by him. Her breathing became ragged as the erotic and sensual sensations of his stare and actions shook her to her core. Her blood was like liquid fire as it rushed through her veins. Haley's dress was off completely now and soon followed by her silk, white strapless bra. She moaned when his hands caressed her breasts and started to wander to her waist. It was then that Nathan pulled her tightly against him. She gasped as she felt how already turned on he was—which only served to make her ache even more for him. But as soon as his fingers trailed over the top of her matching white, silk and lace panties, Haley had reached her limit.
Nathan stumbled back slightly in surprise as Haley turned around and launched herself at him. Her mouth was hot and demanding on his, and he loved every second of it. Nathan thought that he was going to lose it just by watching Haley watching him as he touched her. Now it was his turn to be teased as he saw Haley remove his shirt fully and suck on the sensitive areas of his neck and chest. As her small hands quickly tried to undo the belt of his pants, Nathan's eyes traveled down Haley's bare back. He felt a sense of satisfaction and pleasure burst within him as he took in the dark blue "23" tattoo of his jersey number just above her ass.
Haley had gotten it a few days after they returned home from Vivian's in May. It was her anniversary present for him. Nathan had been shocked when he first saw it. Haley was definitely not the type of girl to get a tattoo or mark up her body. But when she had explained that she got it as a reminder of him and their love to have with her always, he couldn't stop the sense of pride that erupted within him. The fact that it was like a total aphrodisiac to him every time he saw it just made it that much better. Now was no exception. Something inside of Nathan suddenly snapped. He kicked off his pants that Haley had undone before scooping her up in his arms and gently bringing her to the large bed. The satin sheets felt cool against his already blistering flesh.
"Nathan," Haley gasped into his mouth. "I need you."
"I need you, too, baby," he replied as he removed the last of their clothes. Nathan then climbed back on top of her. Haley instinctively wrapped her legs tightly around him, and he wasted no time burying himself deep inside her wet heat. They both moaned loudly at the contact. Haley then arched against him as Nathan began to drive into her at a steady pace. His mouth hungrily attacked hers while their hands interlaced on the pillows beside her head. Nathan loved to roam and touch her body as they made love, but sometimes he was completely content with just holding his wife's hands. He could always tell if she was satisfied or wanted more from one simple squeeze.
"Oh God, Nathan," Haley whimpered as she met him thrust for thrust. How was it even possible to be so in love with someone and be connected with them on every level? Because that's how it was with Nathan. They fit perfectly and just seemed to genuinely get one another. There was no doubt in her mind that he was her soulmate and other half.
"I love you so much, Hales," Nathan proclaimed as he looked into her eyes. He released one of her hands and started to lovingly caress her cheek. "More than anyone."
"I love you, too," she replied before leaning up to kiss him amorously. "Always and forever," she promised. That did them both in. The impassioned pleasure exploded within them as Nathan pounded into her until there was nothing left, and they had both fallen over the edge. It took a couple of minutes for Nathan to catch his breath afterward. It had been so unbelievably intense. When he finally got control over himself again, he moved off of Haley and gently pulled her to him. She snuggled into his side while burying her head in his neck—reveling in the calmness of his embrace.
Neither one spoke nor felt the need to. It was a comfortable and completely understood silence. Both knew how much they loved and meant to one another. They'd been through so many things together. Sometimes trials and tribulations, other times triumph and success. There was no doubt in either of their minds that there was still more in store for them. Everything was always changing and shifting. That was life. But no matter what happened, Nathan and Haley knew that their love would be the one constant. It's what bound them and kept them strong. It's how they survived. And that's why, together, they were confident that they could rise above anything that was to come their way.