The chapel was beautiful. The flowers were perfect, expertly draped all over the place and filling the air with a sweet perfume that could only be described as "love". Everyone she knew and loved from New York and Peshtigo were there in their best, dabbing their eyes with tissues. The music from the organ filled the room, introducing her as though she were a queen to her coronation.
As she walked down the aisle with her dad by her side and her mother sniffling in the front row, she felt like the whole world was right. Even if her dress was impossibly long and she feared it would get caught on something. But it fit her perfectly and everyone had told her how amazing she looked in it.
Randy, her soon to be husband, stood by the altar grinning broadly at her, as though he had been waiting for this day for an eternity. With the history that they had, it almost was an eternity. Caroline met his eye and smiled meekly at him. She couldn't bring herself to match the intensity of his joy. Because something just didn't feel right. She didn't know what it was, but something was different.
She was... unsettled. But in a good way. But, at the same time, in a way that made her feel as though the foundations of her life could come crashing down at any minute.
Stop it, she scolded herself, you're getting married. Finally. This is just nerves. She was merely expecting something to happen. Something always happens. With Del, it had been the sudden realisation that they weren't meant for each other and with Richard...
No, she scolded herself again, you are not going to think about Richard. Not on your wedding day.
Although she'd never admit it out loud, or even to herself, there wasn't a day that went by that she didn't think about Richard. She had been so sure that he was the One. The love you never questioned, and she didn't. He had been everything to her. But it was over. It had been for over 6 months. He had his own life in Rome now, with his son. Probably with Julia. Or some sweet, sensual female artist that he met at one of his shows and fell madly in love with. A girl so perfect for him that he probably didn't even remember-
"Caroline." Her father whispered, nudging her. They were at the end of the aisle now. It was time.
She smiled reassuringly at her father and let go of his arm, stepping forward to take her place beside Randy. He was still grinning, and so she mustered a smile back. Her heart was pounding in her chest. Something was coming, she knew it.
Something other than the actual marriage, obviously.
The music stopped and everyone sat back down on their pews. The chapel was silent. This was it.
"We are gathered here today..." the priest began his introduction into the ceremony, although Caroline was barely listening. Her heart was now pounding even harder than before, her blood rushing through her veins, filled with adrenaline. Almost as though she were preparing to run. But she wouldn't. This was her wedding. To Randy. Who she loved. She thought.
"...please speak now..."
Caroline had to resist the temptation to roll her eyes. She didn't see why this was even used in weddings anymore- nothing ever happened. It's not like-
The echoes of a baby crying sliced through the silence of the chapel, and almost everyone jumped at the sudden noise. Caroline's brow furrowed. She was positive that none of the guests had a baby... if they did, she would have to send Annie out immediately for baby food and a high chair.
She gathered her skirt and stepped down from the altar, scanning the chapel for a friend trying to soothe a baby.
Then she realised. The cries weren't coming from the pews. They were coming from the balcony. She looked up.
In that moment, her heart came to a halt. She never thought she'd see his face again. That pale face which bore the marks of almost constant frowning but had the capacity to produce the most amazing smile she had ever seen. The deep, soulful eyes that peer through (rather cheap) glasses. The face was looking down at a crying baby, soothing him with the love that could only be shared between father and son.
Richard looked up from the baby and gave a small wave.