Disclaimer - I DO NOT know the Hardy's or Shannon Moore - those characters belong to themselves. All other characters belong to themselves or are made up by my mind. Please do not take anything in this fic as truth in whole or in part - it is fictional and should be enjoyed as such.
Out of the Dark.
Written By; Harley-Mac.
Feb 14th, 2009;
The sound of the door clicking closed pulled me from the slumber that I had fallen in to around 3am this morning. My eyes fluttered for a second as the sunlight pierced through the dark that I had been enjoying and as I slowly started to come round, I could hear the soft gurgling of my little girl – Willow in her cott next to the bed. Sitting up and going to check on her only to be suddenly aware of the abundance of flowers around the room.
What could only be described as a dozen, of a dozen red, black and white roses was placed around the space in my husband's brother's house. Smiling to myself, I went to peel back the covers only to be left aware of the millions of rose petals that lay over the top of the duvet. Jeff – my husband of 10 years knew that I was allergic to real flowers so he had filled my room with artificial ones instead. Only the petals on the bed were real and silky soft to the touch.
Today was the day that we were renewing our wedding vows in front of the people we loved, the ones who hadn't been present when we had done it the first time. Some said we had married too young – hell I had only just turned 16 years old and Jeff had been 21. It didn't matter to us what people thought but I did wonder sometimes if he would have married me had he had a choice in the matter. I knew that Jeff wasn't the guy who believed that you needed a piece of paper to tell you how in love you were and for the most part I respected that – hell I even agreed with it but my Parent's weren't listening nor would they be made to rethink their request when they had found out the truth.
The gurgling started once again and tore me away from the trip down memory lane as I finally climbed out of the bed and moved to the bassinette where Willow had been asleep since about 2am this morning and as I looked at the clock I could see that it had just hit 10am. God she would be starving – I can't believe that she slept that long without waking for a feed but as I leant in to the bassinette my eyes landed on a folded piece of paper lying on her tummy while her legs kicked around and her hands curled in to tight fists and the content smile played over her tiny gorgeous features.
'Suzie Q – Willow has been fed and burped, all she needs now is a huge morning cuddle and kiss from her Momma. Can't wait to see you baby, love you Jeff x'
The smile hit my features before I could stop it, slowly sliding my hands underneath my little girl and pulled her up in to my arms where she smiled and made little cooing noises that I swore made her more beautiful than I had ever thought possible. Willow had been born almost a month ago now and she was growing at an incredible rate.
Corey had never grown that quickly when he had first been born. I wasn't complaining however. I loved every minute that I had spent with Corey and right now he was sitting down at his Dad's house waiting for the time to come around where we would be declaring our love and committment to one another. I don't know what I had done to deserve Jeff but I couldn't imagine my life without him now and all that we had been through had only made us stronger.
"Did Daddy come and feed you toots – you know your Daddy is besotted with you; yes he is! He loves every last part of you and he would do anything for you," I gushed over my little girl as her hands started to reach out for my hair.
Making my way out of the bedroom in Matt's house, I made my way down to the kitchen careful to be quiet in case no one was up yet. It had been a good night – my friends had come round where we had a little hen night inside – face packs, waxing, hair dying and truth or dare was enjoyed by everyone present even myself. After only having given birth a month previously, I hadn't been in the right frame of mind to go on a night out so Brittany had suggested a pampering night for my hen night, which suited me much better.
Slowly moving in to the kitchen with Willow still cooing in my arms happily; her little legs kicking strongly while her fingers played with my hair happily.
"Morning honey," Matt said as he moved around the kitchen preparing flute glasses on to the dining table.
"Morning big bear – what's going on?" I asked watching him as he moved towards me and happily fussed over his new neice; who lapped it up happily.
"Jeff was here – I have strict instructions to ensure that you are pampered this morning and you have your own personal slave for the day – "
"You don't have to do that Matty; I am quite capable of – "
"Not me sugar – Corey!" He nodded his head to the kid in question who walked in to the kitchen carrying a huge white box in his hands and smiling.
"Morning Mom!" He greeted me by kissing my cheek before laying the box down on to the island in the middle of the kitchen. It was strange to think that he was coming up to 11 years old and already he was almost taller than I was. "Dad said that I have to pamper to everything that you need today and I have to watch Willow while you get ready,"
"Corey what is going on?" I asked my son as Willow started to fuss to get out of my arms – clearly she had sensed the change in my body so Uncle Matty who seemed to always be on hand prized her from my arms and cradled her in to his huge chest where she relaxed instantly and went back to being the least fussy baby that I had ever met.
"Well Dad said that I have to give you this – " He started sliding the box to the edge of the island for me. "And he told me to tell you that you are to wear it with no arguements or trying to get in touch because he ain't taking your calls today,"
Jeff really was something else – whenever he stuck his mind to something that was usually it. There would be no backing down on his part; there would be no arguements as he calmly explained that it was being done his way. I loved that about him – because of him, I had learned how to live with someone else. Being an only child I had been somewhat spoiled and never had to share anything or learn how to live with other people.
"Damn it!" I muttered as Brittany and Claire walked in to the kitchen from the front room. "Morning girls!"
"Hey bride to be – how you feeling this morning?" Claire asked as they both hugged me and then went to fuss around Willow who happily lapped up all the attention that was being reigned down on her.
"I would honestly feel much better if I knew what the hell was going on!" I replied taking a seat at the dining table with the box in my hands.
What was it?
What would I find inside?
Jeff and I had talked about this day a lot over the 2 months; when in December Claire and Shannon had, had their winter wedding that they had always wanted. I had been so heavily pregnant that I had gone in to a tirade of wishing that I had, had the whole big wedding scenerio. I wanted the white dress, I wanted the whole guest list thing, I wanted the flowers and I wanted the first dance deal that usually happened at weddings.
What Jeff hadn't realized was that it had been the hormones talking. I hadn't wanted all of that – sure it would have been nice to have but I didn't need any of that when I had everything that I had always wanted in my life already.
"What's in the box honey?" Brittany asked as she filled my champagne flute with champagne.
"Woah what the hell is this?" I asked looking at the expensive bottle in her hands.
"Jeff's idea – he wants you to remember this day as if it were your first wedding," Matt informed me as he placed a light kiss to his wife's cheek then placed the plates of strawberry's in front of me.
"Is Jeffrey Nero Hardy trying to seduce me?" I mumbled looking to the box once again and ignoring the food in front of me.
Matt, Brittany and Claire laughed while Corey looked as if he were missing something as Matt handed him his little sister and sat down next to me; looking at the box on my lap then up to my eyes.
"You may as well open it Suzie Q!" He advized.
People only ever called me Suzie when I was being stubborn, Suzie Q was used when they felt that I was going to do something that I really shouldn't. I had been nicknamed Harley when I was much younger because of my love of the motorbike and it seemed that Matt thought that I was about to refuse to open the box but nothing could have been further from the truth. I just wanted to know what to expect but there was no one here who seemed to know what could be hidden in the box. I hated surprises and Jeff knew that – why was he deliberately making this difficult for me?
'Cos I knew that he wanted it to be perfect for me, I knew that he wanted to give me everything that we hadn't had on our first wedding day. We had literally been frog marched to the City Hall in Raleigh where we had been told that it was abortion or marriage. Abortion wasn't something that I could do and Jeff agreed that he couldn't do it either so we had reluctantly gotten married. It hadn't been about us not wanting to get married – it had been about the fact that we had only been together for a grand total of 6 months when I found out that I was pregnant with Corey.
My Parent's had hated Jeff for taking my virginity or so they thought, they hated him for the fact that he was 6 years older than me and they hated the fact that he wasn't a Doctor or a Lawyer. Everything that they had ever wanted for me had apparently gone up in smoke when they first met Jeff. Arguements had followed, me running away had become a regular occurance, staying with Jeff had come after one night I had gotten in to a particularly bad fight with my Dad and he had slapped me for being insolent towards him. When Jeff had found out – he had marched round there, nearly taken my Dad's head off and told him that I was moving in with him but because I was still considered a minor it hadn't happened until they found out that I was pregnant and then they seemingly couldn't wait to get me out of the door.
Our marriage had been simple – my Mom, my Dad and Jeff's Dad had been present and that was it. There had been no reception, there had been no beautiful dress or a days worth of being made up to look beautiful and there had been no flowers. A quick ceremony at City Hall, home to my Parent's place where my things were quickly packed up and then home to Jeff's house.
Shaking my head free of the memories that still hung in my head like some sort of spiders web – intent on keeping the memories at the front of my memory to torture me. I looked down at the box again and took a deep breath before opening the lid slowly and gently pulling back the white tissue paper that concealed the silk ivory slip dress. Swallowing hard, I placed the box on the table carefully to avoid the other glasses and plates, I slowly pulled the dress from the box.
A floor length silk dress hung in my hands and I could feel the tears stinging my eyes as I thought about my husband. Just when I didn't think that Jeff could know me better – he would pull off something like this. I had never been the type of girl who liked big romantic gestures, I didn't like the idea of getting married in a huge puffy dress and I sure as hell didn't want to have a huge diamond ring on my finger in fact we had purposely gone for subtle gold bands that we wore on chains around our necks instead of on our fingers.
"Oh wow – Suzie that is beautiful," Claire said stepping forward to look at the dress.
"It really is," I replied fighting back the tears that I knew were threatening to come.
I had only given birth a month ago so I was still emotional – overly emotional that I hated. I wasn't the girl who screeched at the slightest thing, I wasn't the girl who got excited over weddings and dresses and I sure as hell wasn't the girl who needed huge romantic gestures but this – this was – Jeff had outdone himself right now.
"Oh my God its a Valentino!" Brittany announced from the other side of the dress and looking at the label on the plunging back.
"What?" I literally choked.
Great Jeff – get me an expensive dress that I will more than likely end up ruining after only having the thing on for about 5 minutes. I was clumsy – Matt liked to say that I was vertically challenged because I would always end up tripping over something or falling down something. It was my nature and I couldn't help it.
"Yeah look at the label sweetie," My friend told me.
Slowly turning the gown round to reveal the sexy plunging back piece, I looked to the hem and saw the Valentino signature inked on to the label that my friend had been talking about. Passing Claire the dress as my eyes literally begged her to take it, I moved back to the box and checked the inside of it to find a personalized letter from the designer.
I hope that everything goes your way on your big day. And I hope that your husband to be did a good job in designing your dress. I wish you all the best for your future.
Gulping down I looked to my friends as I handed them the note while I grabbed a glass of champagne that waited for me. Jeff did this – he designed this dress? And he had gone to Valentino to get it made when he knew that I adored the famous fashion designer cloths – his female range was about the only thing that I liked that was girly.
Looking at my friends as they looked back at me shocked and clearly stunned by what Jeff had done. God this dress alone was probably worth more than I made in a year at the local Psych ward. Suddenly I was shaking out of control, what if I ended up really damaging it?
What if I tripped when wearing it?
Oh God what if Willow threw up on it?
"Mom there is this too," Corey announced coming back in to the room, having clearly slipped away when the attention was on the box that he had given me. But now he was stood in front of me with 2 paper bags – one from Jimmy Choos, and another from an expensive realtor based in LA – where Jeff had been for his last wrestling match.
Placing the bags on the island, I started to open the one from Jimmy Choos and pulled out a pair of beautiful white heeled shoes with satin white straps that would snake around my ankle. Placing them to the ground, I opened the next bag from the expensive store in LA and pulled out another box which was smaller than the one that held my dress and was greeted to the sight of a black faux fur wrap to go around my shoulders.
"Well no one can say that Jeff doesn't know you sugar," Matt chuckled.
I had made the comment that I had wanted a black and white theme if we were to get married. Black was my favourite colour and I always had something black on me every day. It was just who I was and I was more than flattered to see that Jeff had clearly been listening to everything that I had ever said.
It wasn't that I didn't think that he loved me – I just knew that he would never have married me had he been given the option. Jeff just didn't believe in marriage and that was his right but sometimes I would have that question in my head that asked if he would still be with me if we weren't married? Nodding my head, I gently took Willow from her Aunty Brittany and made to head up the stairs before anyone could see the tears forming in my eyes.
"Where are you going?" Corey asked in a commanding tone.
"To have a bath – "
"Then you can wait until I have ran it for you – "
"Corey this is silly – you don't need to – "
"I do otherwise, Dad won't be happy with me," Gently brushing past me he headed up the stairs so I moved back in to the living room alone and felt the tears stinging my eyes now that I was alone.
Jeff and I had been married for about 3 weeks when one of his ex girlfriends had shown up at his door. There had been a huge arguement, Jeff had told her that he loved me and he had made his decision, she however, hadn't seen it that way and she had literally spat that I had trapped him, that I was silly little girl trying to play in the big leagues with an older boyfriend. Jeff refused to listen to anymore of her poison as he called it and shut the door on her face after telling her that if she didn't get off our property then he was calling the cops on her.
Of course he had assured me that he didn't feel that way – he loved me and he was happy that we were having a baby and nothing could or would ever take him away from me and he had been right. Not once in the 10 years that we had been together had he strayed, he had never asked for a divorce, he had never treated me badly and he had never even muttered that he wished he hadn't married me in the heat of the moment.
But sometimes, I would look at the life we had, I would see the way girls would scream for him and the way the older ones literally threw themselves at him regardless of whether I was around or not and I would think that I had taken so much from him – I had piled so much on top of him and I always worried that he might end up hating me because of it.
Looking up at my friends as they moved in to the living room where I was sat worrying about things that Jeff had promised would never happen but I couldn't help worrying. It was something that seemed to come so naturally to me that I worried I would end up giving myself an ulcer then of course I would worry even more – it was a vicious cycle that I couldn't seem to get out of. My friends knew me and knew the signs of me thinking about things that I truly didn't need to be thinking about and they clearly wanted to be there to reassure me when Jeff couldn't be.
I knew that I led a charmed life, I had the love, the support and the friendships of so many great people that I felt bad about worrying about all that I did.
Was this just usual wedding day jitters?
How could they be when it was something that I seemed to worry about all the time?
Refusing to let it spoil the day when it was apparent that everyone was doing everything that they could to make it as special as they possibly could. I never wanted to offend people and the least of all I hated the thought of offending the people that I loved and cared for as if they were Family.
Half an Hour Later;
God I was nervous – not because I didn't want to do this but because I was worried that somehow things wouldn't come off right. I had spent 2 months organizing this for my wife. I had spent nights on the phone with the designer, I had spent every free moment with wedding planners and Claire and Brittany trying to get every detail to match the things that the girls had gotten out of her. I had, had to be sneaky when it came to organizing this wedding because the slightest hint of something big she would have backed away and refused to even attend.
Looking at the recent photo of me, Harley, Corey and Willow and I couldn't be more grateful for the Family that I had. I couldn't love them more than I did – they were everything to me; I would live and die for them, I would fight for them. They were the sole reason that I existed and I dare anyone to try and tell me differently.
I remember the first time that I met Harley – it had been her 16th birthday and I was 21; she had been celebrating with some friends at the bowling alley. We had literally bumped in to one another when I had watched her the whole night, and moved so that I could bump in to her at the Cola machine. We got to talking and it was then that I found out how old she was. I tried to distance myself but she had me, she just needed to look at me and I would give in and forget that I shouldn't be with her. Every time, I tried to push her away she would just come back for more, refusing to give up. Her pure determination had drawn me to her in ways that I had never felt before.
Things had been so hard for us in the beginning because her Parent's refused to let her see me but we remained together, out of sight of other people other than our friends. We'd meet at the park late at night, we'd meet at my place, we'd meet at the end of her street where there were no street lamps or we'd meet at the bowling alley then head out to one of the surrounding towns. Deceiving her Parent's wasn't something that she wanted to do and she wasn't proud of it but at 16 she had been one of those girls who knew her own mind and just wished that her Parent's could see that in her. We even found our own song that reflected all that we were facing – it was a song that we both adored and listened too a lot but when we lost our home last year we had lost everything from our cloths and Jack down to the memories we had of our ten years together – songs, photos, memorbilia of places that we had gone together and little tokens of love that we gave one another from notes, to artifical flowers to paper drawings or poems – all of it went up in smoke.
Things between us had turned sexual really quickly, she hadn't been a virgin when we met so it wasn't like I was pushing her in to doing something that she didn't want too. I don't know, and I guess I never will but there had been something exciting about the fact that we were literally running around in the shadows and that we were basically told that we were not to see one another. Maybe that had been the initial attraction but now 10 years on I loved her more than I had ever thought it was possible to love another human being. When I looked at her, when she was by my side – I felt complete, I felt like I had been given a real chance at love and nothing could have changed that for me, nothing she did, nothing she said would ever change the way I loved or felt about her.
Once she had found out that she was pregnant, we had figured that the conception date had to be around the first time we had given in to what we were feeling. I can still remember the fear in her when she had told me, how she was scared of telling her Parent's, how she was terrified that she was throwing her life away by going through with having the baby but she had no other option because she wouldn't have been able to live with herself had she had an abortion, how she was worried that my Family and friends would think that she had purposefully gotten pregnant to trap me.
That was of course ridiculous – my Father had fallen in love with her bubbly spirit and the way she catered to his ego so happily, my brother was just happy that I was happy but as the years had gone by he had gotten to know her better and confessed that she was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Shannon – my best friend and the only friend whose opinion mattered to me, had always gotten along with Harley from the get go – they had the same goofy sense of humour and they were close like best friends. I was more happy about that than anything else considering the amount of times he had hated my girlfriends before I met my wife.
When we had told her Parent's they had insisted that we get married if she was determined to keep the baby. There had been no preperations for the wedding – no big white dress, no one to pamper her on the morning of her wedding and there had been no big celebration. We were marched to the City Hall, where her Father paid the fee, we were married in 20 minutes and then it was home and left to settle in to life together. It had been a huge adjustment for her to make considering she was an only child and had never had to share anything before but we had made it work. Of course we argued – that was perfectly normal for any newly wed couple but we had remained honest with one another through it all and I had a strong belief that, that was what kept us as strong as we were.
I didn't neccessarily believe in marriage – I didn't need to have a piece of paper to say that I was in love with her because she knew that, I knew that, our children knew it and our friends and Family knew it. No one else mattered. But as I stared at the photo of our Family – I came to the realization that Harley had sacrificed a lot to be with me. In the beginning she had gone against her Parent's wishes to be with me, which meant she had ran the risk of losing them, she had stuck to her guns when she became pregnant and refused to have an abortion – she had lost out on a lot of things because of that decision. There had been no prom for her, there had been no nights out with her friends when she turned 21 and there had been no hanging out in general because she had taken on the responsibility of our Family with a fierceness that I admired.
There was absolutely no one on this planet who could say that Harley wasn't a good Mother. It had come so instinctively to her when Corey was born that I realized – she had definitely been born to be a Mother. Growing up our son had wanted for nothing – he had been showered with love and affection, he had never experienced a time when his Mom wouldn't drop everything just to be there for him. Of course I was the same, I loved my Family to bits, I loved Harley to bits for giving them to me.
Now we were facing the job of starting to raise a little girl – my Willow. I had been so excited when Harley told me that she was pregnant again because it had always been something that I wanted – a little girl to complete our Family. Willow was everything that I had hoped for and more – a carbon copy of her Mother when she had been born I knew that she would grow up to look just like my wife.
From the minute that I had laid eyes on my wife – she had captured me. With a free spirit and a beautiful grace about her, when she wasn't being clumsy, she had literally torn my heart right out of my chest and claimed it as her own. I had watched her the whole night in that bowling alley – captivated by her resenating smile, addicted to the dark shimmer in her eyes and lost to lust over her curvious body. The sound of her laugh evaporated in to the air around me then seemed to curl in to my mind and be forever imprinted there.
"Hello?" The sound of Shannon's voice tore in to my thoughts of the past as he let himself in to the home that me and Harley shared.
"Yo dude, what are you doing here? – I thought you were told to go up to Matt's this morning?"
"Yeah I just came from there – its pandimonium up there right now – "
"Why? – What's wrong? Has something happened?" I panicked instinctively as I reached for my phone.
"Woah buddy – calm down. Everything is fine, Harley is good, Willow is happily lapping up the attention of the people coming and going and Corey is being the man that you taught him to be and keeping everything together in the right time schedule, so you need to calm down and take some deep breaths ok?"
"Fucking hell Shan – don't do that to me, you nearly gave me a heart attack!"
"I can see that," He chuckled softly. "Corey asked me to give you this," Going through the pocket in his black suit, he pulled out a CD case and handed it to me.
"What is it?"
"Not a clue – he just said to listen to it and tell you that he knows it ain't much but he wanted to give you and his Mom something memorable to walk down the aisle too,"
The panic started to subside as I moved to the stereo and slipped the CD in. The opening bars of the song that had been 'our' song started to play and I could feel my heart lighten. When the fire had claimed our house – it had claimed all of our memories as a Family too and all of the things that reminded us of the past had been lost too. We had tried to recreate some of the things but what had been unable to replace were the photos, the little momentos of dates, little notes that we left one another stuck to the fridge, the little poems that we wrote for one another.
Our song had been lost in the fire too – we had tried to find it again but to no avail. It had proved to be one of those songs that few people had heard so it wasn't popular to download. Harley had checked a lot of the online music stores to try and find it too but unfortunately there wasn't anything out there. The song had been from one of her favourite movies – The Commitments.
People thought that it was a slightly morbid song but it had reflected the way we had, had to live when we first started dating one another – it had the raw emotion in the singers voice, it had the sentiment of all that we had overcome to be with one another and it was almost like it had been written specifically for us. I could already hear Harley commenting on how amazing it was to hear it again and I couldn't wait to see her.
"How did she look when you were up there?" I asked leaving the disc to play as I moved towards the kitchen with my old friend following on behind me.
"She looked good – maybe a little nervous – "
"Nervous? – Like she doesn't want to go through with this?" I whirled to my friend to glare at him.
"Jeff – sit!" My friend ordered me as he moved to the liqour cupboard and grabbed the bottle of Jack Daniels that Harley always had in the house and poured me a healthy shot. "You need to calm the hell down man – Harley has already married you once, I don't think that there is anyway that she would back out of this,"
Nodding my head, I knew that he was right. Harley loved me as much as I loved her there was no doubt in that. I just knew that with everything that we had been through it must be hard for her to remember all that she had given up to be with me and my planning for today – all of today was my way of saying thank you to her for putting up with me.
When my career had taken me away from her more often than I was at home, she didn't complain, when I had to run out in the middle of the night to be with my brother or my Father she never said a word other than to support me and that was the kind of woman that I knew I wanted in my life. Nothing about her wasn't what I didn't want. From the top of her head to the tip of her toes – I loved her with everything that I was and today I would prove that to her. Over the years I had made the effort to get to know her Parent's and try my hardest to get along with them because whether I liked them or not, they were her Family and I would never want to put her in the position where she had to choose between me or them.
The door bell started to ring and caught both Shannon and I off guard for a second while I downed my drink and placed the glass on the island in the middle of the kitchen. It amazed me that Harley had managed to find the time to sit down with the architect to describe the kind of home that we were looking for and she had even sat with him and helped him design it all.
"Jeff!" Harley's Father greeted me curtly as he walked in to the home when I opened the door.
"Arthur – you're early!" I stated sighing as I closed the door.
Even though, Arthur and June – Harley's Parent's – and I made a big show of getting along when Harley was around; I knew that they both still had their reservations about me. Sure they had complimented me and praised me for stepping up to the plate when I had found out that my wife was pregnant but they had made it abundantly clear that they didn't think I was good enough for their daughter. They had always wanted their daughter to marry a lawyer or a doctor or someone else who was equally as important.
Hell it didn't bother me because sometimes I would look at her, watch her with our kids, or see the way she would fuss around everyone, letting her natural motherly instincts take over and I would wonder what in the hell she saw in me. Maybe that was a side effect of hearing her Parent's telling me that I wasn't good enough for her for as long as I had been or maybe it was something else completely, either way I knew that I was the luckiest man on the planet.
"Well I wanted to come and see you today before I went up to your brother's house – "
"You wanted to see me? – For what?" I asked leading the way in to the kitchen. "Shan do you mind going out and checking on Presley for me?" I asked my friend referring to Harley's new black and tan German Shepherd puppy.
"Sure!" Shannon smiled and greeted my wife's Father. "Hey Arthur – are you all ready for today?"
"Ready as I'll ever be kid," Arthur replied resting against the large fridge/freezer with his arms crossed over his chest.
Shannon nodded and gave me a weak smile before heading out the back door to go check on Harley's 3rd baby, as she called Presley. My friends and my Family knew the hassles that I had, had with Arthur and June in the past – they all supported me of course and even Harley did. Many a time she had gotten in to a blow out with her folks because of the way they were treating me.
It pained me that she was always being put in that position with them but she assured me that it didn't bother her because if they ever made her chose they would be the ones who came out worse. That thought hurt me more than I could ever express to her – she shouldn't have to chose between her husband and Family and her Parent's.
"So what can I do for you Arthur?"
"Jeff, I know that June and I haven't made things very easy for you and Suzie – " He started and as I opened my mouth to interject he raised his hand to silence me. "I want to get this out son – June and I both know that we haven't made it easy for you both and we wanted to say sorry for that. We have been extremely unfair on you Jeff, we judged you by what you looked like rather than who you were on the inside and that was wrong of us.
We always tried to raise Suzie with the type of morals that we had enforced on us when we were younger. But she met you and it was like we lost our little girl and we just weren't ready to let her go but you came along and you – you could have quite easily walked away but you didn't and I have to admit that I respect that,"
I could hardly believe what I was hearing – Arthur; the man who had given me a wide berth for the past 10 years except when we had Family gatherings was paying me a compliment?
Had the world stopped turning?
"I can see you are shocked by this," He chuckled softly. "If it makes you feel better, I still don't appreciate you knocking up my daughter when she was 16 years old,"
"Actually – that does make me feel better!" I chuckled holding up the bottle of JD and he nodded his acceptance. "I just never thought that you would come around – "
"I never said that I came around – I just said that you have proved yourself to us. I didn't think that you would last – I thought for sure you would try to find a way out of the marriage; leaving my daughter with a son to look after alone but you stepped up and you did the right thing. So now here we are 10 years later getting ready for a second trip down the aisle – and I am – June and I were talking and we would like you to give Suzie this – " Reaching in to his pocket he pulled out a black padded box which he handed to me.
"What is it?" I asked taking the box but refusing to open it as I looked in to the eyes of the man who had weathered over the years. Long gone was his youthful features replaced with a man who had seen and lived through tough times.
Instantly I knew that, that was down to me. I had gotten his daughter pregnant when she hadn't even left school, I had married his daughter at his request but he had obviously been worried about me leaving her on her own. But then if he had given me a chance, if he had just talked to me once – then he would have seen that there was never any chance of me leaving Suzie alone – even if the marriage hadn't worked I would have been there for my son and I would have supported them both.
"Its my Mother's wedding ring – I have had it for years and I was going to give it to Suzie when she got married but – "
"When she married me you didn't know if it would last?" I finished for him and he nodded slowly.
"For whatever its worth Jeff – I am truly sorry for doubting the way you feel about my little girl," He said finishing his drink in one go, slapping my shoulder in a friendly manner then walking out of the house without saying another word.
I stared after him for a few moments before looking to the box in my hand and gently lifting the lid. It was a beautiful ring and I knew that Suzie preferred things that had history as opposed to new and shiny. Antiques were something that she liked to have around and as I looked at the clear diamond set in the gold band, I knew that without a doubt this would make the final gesture in an otherwise perfectly planned day. I could always keep the wedding ring that I had bought her for a later date but in that moment, I knew that this was the one I was going to present to her today.
Shannon came bounding in the back door with Presley at his side who looked up at me, barked once as if to ask where his Momma was and sat down staring at me as if to say I want answers and I want them now.
I couldn't help smiling, Suzie loved animals and in turn they loved her. We couldn't go to Matt or Shannon's house without them literally clambering over the top of one another to get to her and in turn she lapped up the attention and showered it back on to the babies as she called them.
There was absolutely no doubt in my head that Suzie was born to be a Mom – it was just built in to her DNA and it was something that she couldn't ignore no matter how hard she had tried. Corey had wanted for nothing when he was growing up – love, attention and patience had come so easily for my wife and it was what made them as close as they were today and I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that Willow would receive the same attention growing up.
Pouring Shannon another drink, I leant back against the counter and folded my arms across my chest trying to think why Arthur had come here today. Not that I didn't appreciate it but I knew my wives Parent's – when they thought they were right they never backed down. As I talked to my oldest friend about it, he mentioned that maybe they figured 10 years was long enough to hold me at arms length – because it was clear to anyone that I loved Suzie and I would do anything for her. I wasn't completely convinced however, maybe he was right, maybe he wasn't but right now I had more pressing matters to take care of.
I was renewing my vows today and I wanted to go over my vows one last time before things started to get hectic. I had asked the Preist if it would be ok for me to write my own vows and he had agreed saying that it just made the day that little more personal. Unfortunately I didn't want Suzie to know that I was doing that, so she would have to go with the traditional. I just hoped that was ok with her.
Later That Night;
God I don't think that I have ever felt this nervous – not even on our first wedding day. Hell, I hadn't even had time to think about us getting married the first time around because we had been frog marched all the way to City Hall before our feet could even touch the ground. I had hated my Parent's for doing that to me – because it wasn't what I had wanted at the time. Sure I wanted to be with Jeff but marriage was a huge thing and I didn't know if I believed in it or not. However, I hadn't been given the chance and as I stood here looking at myself in the full length mirror, I knew that it didn't really matter anymore.
Jeff and I were a strong couple with our Family growing. We didn't need a piece of paper, we didn't need to hear how much we loved one another because we knew it deep down – hell we wouldn't have lasted this long had we not. But it was a nice, beautiful gesture from Jeff to do this for me – for us. In the beginning it had been tough, it had been hard to adjust to being married when I had to go to school every morning. The rumours, the pointing and whispering had often left me running home crying because I had all but been shunned by my friends. Jeff had been my rock – he soothed me, he made me laugh, he loved me and he restored my self confidence without so much as an effort. When he was home he would take me to and from school, ensuring that I was never alone. When he was on the road he sent me letters and wrote poems to let me know how much he loved me and wouldn't change what we had for anything in the world.
My friends never did come round – after school finished for good, I never heard from them again. Thankfully, I met Claire and Brittany when they started dating Shannon and Matt. They were the friends that I depended on now, they were the ones who I cared about and loved as if they were my Family.
The sound of Willow gurgling in her little swing tore my attention away from the past and back in to the present. Moving across the bedroom, I knelt in front of my daughter and I just basked in her beautiful little features. People said Corey looked like me but Willow was all her Dad – the same beautiful green eyes, the same smile that adorned her features was like looking at the baby pictures of Jeff that the Legend had shown me.
The Legend – Matt and Jeff's Father. There was no one on this planet like him. From the minute that Jeff had introduced me to him – he had welcomed me with open arms, he looked after me as if I were his real daughter, he looked after me and the kids when Jeff was on the road and I loved him as if he were my real Father. Hell he had been more than supportive of me and that was why he was walking me down the aisle today along with my own Father.
"Hey baby girl, you hungry?" I cooed rocking the little swing back and forth for my little girl as she gurgled again and smiled happily. Calling Brittany in to the room, I asked if she could feed Willow while the hairdresser finished my hair for me.
I watched as the 2 made their way out of the room and I couldn't have been more blessed than I was right in this moment. Jeff had arranged everything down to the letter, he had been maticulous and secretive about his plans. Telling me that we were getting married at sunset just like I had always wanted – was the only part of the plan that he had divulged to me. I don't know why he insisted on torturing me because he knew that he was driving me out of my mind with curiousity. I hated surprises and he knew that but he still wouldn't budge on the details.
For the next hour the hairdresser styled my hair in the way that I had asked when she arrived. It had been weird to me to have someone pampering to my every need but Jeff had arranged it all so that I wouldn't have to lift a finger and as much as I appreciated that it felt weird to have no input on my own wedding day.
Once the hairdresser left, I stood alone in front of the mirror looking at my reflection in the Valentino dress that Jeff had designed. It fit my body like a glove would but where as that normally wouldn't have bothered me – I still felt as if I were carrying around some of the baby fat that lingered after giving birth. Everyone assured me that I wasn't but I could see it – maybe it was pyschological; after carrying Willow past her due date, I was still seeing things that had been looking back at me in the mirror – I didn't know.
"Suzie – its almost time!" My Father called up the stairs to me.
Taking a deep breath as I placed my feet in to the shoes that Jeff had purchased, I took one last look at myself in the mirror and took another deep breath before letting myself out of the bedroom and headed down the stairs to where my Father and Father in law were stood dressed smartly in suits, waiting for me. My Father teared up almost instantly as The Legend moved towards me.
"Well damn girly – you scrub up nice!" He grinned at me as his hand reached for me to help me down the last step.
"Thanks Dad," I smiled back and hugged him tightly – breathing in his familiar scent of tabacco and Old Spice. I felt safe whenever I caught that scent – Gil; the boys Father had always been supportive of me, he had been there when my own Parent's had been too ashamed to look at me let alone talk to me and that was why I wanted him by my side when I walked down the aisle today. "You scrub up good for a old man!" I giggled.
"Hey now!" He chuckled placing a light kiss to my cheek before moving to the kitchen to give me a few moments with my real Father.
"Daddy?" I asked remaining where I was stood. Caution told me to remain distanced while my heart screamed that I just wanted a cuddle from my Dad on my wedding day.
"You look – Suzie you look beautiful," He choked out as he moved towards me and enveloped me in to a Fatherly hug where I just caved in to him, holding him tightly for the first time since I was 15 years old.
Stood there for what seemed like an eternity, I basked in his attention, never wanting to let go. It had been so long since I had my Dad hold me like that. When I delivered the news about being pregnant, all I had ever wanted was a hug – for him to tell me that it was ok but he hadn't been capable of that; neither had my Mother. So I had faced it all with just Jeff and his Family and friends being by my side. It was something that I could never repay them for. It was something that I was so utterly grateful to them for but at the same time there was nothing like having your real Father hold you in his arms and tell you that it would be ok.
But today wasn't about the past – it was about the future that Jeff and I wanted to have with one another and our children. It was about us having made it 10 years when most people had written us off as being over within a week. We had beat the odds and there was nothing that I was more proud of in my life than my husband and our Family.
"One for the road kiddo?" Gil asked walking in with 3 glasses of JD in his hands.
"You're a life saver Dad, I swear – I thought they had hid the JD from me!" I smiled finally letting go of my Father and wiping the tears from my eyes and thanked God for waterproof mascara.
By the time we had finished our drinks, the sun had started to set and we were ready to go. With each man on either side of me, we moved to the back doors that led to the back of Matt's garden. My eyes fluttered at the sight before me. Fairy lights were placed down a long aisle, around the arch at the head of the aisle and the surrounding chairs, and trees of the area. Lillies and roses were placed everywhere, the aisle was scattered with red rose petals and at the head of the aisle was Jeff dressed in a black suit with a white shirt; his hair was down just the way I liked it and he was watching me with what could only be described as love and admiration in his beautiful tiger green eyes.
As we moved to the top of the red carpet that led down the aisle, the start of our song started and my head was snapping back up to look at Jeff who pointed to our son by his side and smiled. Corey had found it – the one song that reminded Jeff and I of the past – the one song that had reflected all that we had faced in the early days of our relationship.
At the dark end of the street
that is where we always meet
hiding in shadows where we don't belong
living in darkness, to hide alone
You and me, at the dark end of the street
You and me
I know that time is gonna take it's toll
we have to pay for the love we stole
It's a sin and we know it's wrong
Oh, but our love keeps coming on strong
Steal away to the dark end of the street
You and me
They're gonna find us, they're gonna find us
They're gonna find us love someday
You and me, at the dark end of the street
You and me
When the daylight all goes around
And by chance we're both down the town
Please meet, just walk, walk on by
Oh, darling, please don't you cry
You and me, at the dark end of the street
You and me
By the time I made it to the alter, I knew that Jeff and I had beat the odds, where we had once been forced to live in shadows and hide from my Family, we finally were ready to step out of the dark and in to the light. Happy and in love, we stood facing one another and as I looked in to those eyes, I smiled – happy that we had made it this far.
Out of the shadows, out of hiding – we broke free from the dark and vowed that we would never go back there again.
R/N - THANK YOU guys for all the support you have given me in the past and I hope that you will let me know what you think of this little one shot that came to me when I was listening to the above song - The Dark End of the Street' is courtesy of the movie soundtrack to The Committments. Love you guys and it will be back to Shattered tomorrow.