A/N: So, here's the final part for anyone who wants it! :-)
(For disclaimer, etc. - see chapter 1)
Part 3 of 3
"Well, Caroline, you finally did it" Richard teased her with a smile, "You bored them to sleep" he told her, gesturing to the two youngest children, Marissa dead to the world at her father's side, and Joey curled up next to his mother, lightly snoring.
"Don't listen to him, Mom" Parker rolled her eyes, "I think it was beautiful"
"Yeah, pretty cool" even Stefano agreed.
Though it was clear he'd been less than thrilled to be dragged into storytime with his brother and sisters, he'd actually enjoyed hearing how love had conquered all and led to the marriage of his Dad and the woman he had always known as Mom.
"Okay" Caroline sighed as she reached over and dropped a kiss on the top of Parker's head, "I think maybe you should tidy up this little mess we have here" she said quietly, as she lifted her sleepy son up into her arms, "Whilst your Dad and I put these two to bed" she said, gesturing for Richard to follow her lead and bring Marissa.
"Well, if we're done with memory lane, I kind of have a date" Stefano admitted as he too got up from his seat and followed his parents out.
"Who's the lucky girl, Stevie?" Caroline asked him from halfway up the stairs as he pulled on his jacket in the hallway.
"Just a girl I know from school" he shrugged nonchalantly, though the grin on his face and look in his eyes suggested it was a lot bigger deal than he was making it out to be, "Who knows? Maybe she's my sincero amore or whatever" he winked as he swung out of the front door, calling over his shoulder that he wouldn't be too late home.
"He jokes, but you never know" Caroline said as she hugged Joey to her and looked further up the stairs at Richard who smiled.
"That's true" he nodded in agreement, before turning around and carrying Marissa up to her room, his wife following.
They split off into the kids rooms, getting them re-dressed for bed and settled in for the night. They emerged at more or less the same moment into the hallway and shared a hug and brief kiss.
"You know you're still just as handsome as on our wedding day" Caroline smiled up at the man she loved, and had done for more years than she could count, perhaps even from the first moment they met, though she hadn't known it then.
"I wasn't exactly dressed the occasion" he rolled his eyes as he recalled the day, "And I'm fairly certain Randy's family were less than impressed I was there at all!"
Caroline had to agree with that part. It was very awkward having so many friends and family of the groom present, when that groom had just walked out leaving his bride to marry another man! Still, Caroline and Richard barely noticed anything but each other and the preist who joined them in holy matrimony. It was still their day, with Annie as maid of honour, Charlie as an unlikely best man, and an awkward looking Del left holding the baby! It was those friends of theirs that helped make the day special for the couple who had been parted too long and came together so unexpectedly on what should have been her wedding day to another man.
"I will admit, that was one day I was glad to have Annie around" Richard smiled, "especially at the Reception"
"She did do a wonderful job" Caroline agreed, as the couple began to sway almost instinctively to music that existed only in their own heads, as they both recalled their wedding day and what happened after the ceremony.
*FLASHBACK to 1999*
"I still don't get why I wasn't the best man" Del continued to whine as he escorted Annie into the hall for the wedding reception.
"Because Richard didn't choose you" she reminded him, "He chose Charlie... Which still has me wondering if he's had a knock on the head lately" she said with a concerned look as the bride and groom both turned to look at the couple behind them, "What, it was a weird choice?"
"Actually, it wasn't" Richard pointed out, even as his best man skated over to the refreshment table too fast, almost knocking a punch bowl flying, "If not for Charlie showing up in Rome and telling me about Caroline getting married, I might not have been here in time to make a difference" he said, as he kept one arm around his new wife, the other cradling his sleepy son.
"Well, yeah, okay" Del nodded, "but you still could've picked me" he pouted like a big baby, at least until Annie grabbed him and planted a kiss on his lips.
"Hey, I chose you" she reminded him, "That ought to be enough" she said with a look that made him agree in an instant.
The little gathering was interrupted as Charlie skated over and told them that they might want to deal with the band. Apparently, they were about to start playing the song for the first dance and since that song had been chosen by Randy, it was now hardly appropriate.
"Oh, no, they can't play that" Caroline said worriedly.
"Well, what do you want them to play?" Del asked, only to be greeted by blank looks from the happy couple.
"I don't know" Richard shrugged, "I don't think we really have a song, do we?" he said carefully, clearly a little worried he might have forgotten a detail that only a woman would remember.
That being the case, this could be the shortest marriage in history, he realised, but thankfully he was right. Caroline quickly but rather sadly agreed they had no particularly special song for their relationship, leading to an even bigger problem. It might be easy enough to tell the band not to play one thing, but when there was no other to replace it...
"I have an idea" Annie said suddenly, a wide grin taking over her face, that made Richard in particular decidedly nervous, "Del, Charlie, you guys are in charge of the baby" she said, pulling the child from his fathers arms and passing him over to the two guys, "It's just for a few minutes and he's sleeping, what can happen?" she asked, though she wasn't sure she wanted to know the answer.
"Annie, what are you doing?" Caroline asked as she was bundled out into the centre of the dancefloor with her equally confused husband still clutching her hand.
"Just trust me" her friend said with a smile, though Richard looked unimpressed still as the brunette climbed up onto the stage, ever mindful of tripping on her long bridesmaids dress.
"Why when she said that did all the hair on the back of my neck stand on end?" Richard whispered to his wife, only half-joking, though she laughed all the same and slapped him lightly across the arm.
"Okay, hello!" Annie said into the microphone, caching the attention of all the guests, "So, it's time for the happy couple's first dance, and to accompany this moment, I have a song I'd like to sing that I think can most definitely be called their song" she smiled down at the couple who suddenly found themselves literally under a spotlight, "Caroline, Richard, forgive me if my piano skills are a little rusty..." she said as she literally shoved the member of the band out of the way and sat down at the instrument that was much more her sister's territory than her own.
Still, she knew what she was doing, she was sure, and at least she had the lyrics memorised...
"If you don't arrive by seven, I'll have to let you go..." she began singing, words to a song that the happy couple immediately recognised, "but before you marry someone else, there's something you should know..."
"May I have this dance?" Caroline asked her husband who looked at her with a smile on his face as he accepted her hand, and the pair went into each others embrace.
A light applause echoed around the hall as the happy couple enjoyed the first dance of their married life together, to a song that some time ago had been a letter that ought to have stopped Caroline's first wedding.
"I have feelings, strong feelings. Meet me at Remos" Annie continued to sing, a grin on her face as she watched the couple dance, a warm glow inside for the sake of their happy ending, "I want to share your laughter, and wipe away your tears, so if you love me, meet me at Remos"
"This isn't exactly how you planned today, is it?" Richard asked his wife, just so happy to know she had that title, as they continued dancing.
"No" Caroline admitted, as she glanced first at Annie, then at Charlie and Del who bounced a now awake baby Stefano between them, "It's not what I planned" she said, her eyes meeting Richard's own once again, "It's better... it's perfect" she said with joyful tears in her eyes as they shared a kiss.
"I want to share your laughter, and wipe away your tears, so if you love me, meet me at Remos"
* FLASHFORWARD *
There on the landing between the bedrooms of their children, Richard Karinsky held his wife, Caroline, in his arms and kissed her with as much certainty of love as he had on their wedding day. So caught up in the moment were the couple, they didn't notice their daughter, Parker, reach the top of the stairs and catch them in a clinch.
The teen ought to have been disgusted by such a parental PDA, but she couldn't be. It was amazing to her that after all these years her Mom and Dad were still so in love, that they had apparently overcome so much to be together. They fought sometimes, everybody's parents did, but it never lasted long and there had never been any doubt in Parker's mind that their family would be one that stuck together always, through thick and thin.
Sliding past the oblivious kissing couple that were her parents, Parker made it to her own bedroom and glanced back at her Mom and Dad with a smile. So many kids came from broken homes, she knew she'd never have that problem. Against all the odds her folks were together and would always be. They had sincero amore, a love you don't have to question, and Parker only hoped she would be so lucky as to find such a thing for herself one day.
- The End -