Chapter 25- The Epilogue chapter
AN: Words truly cannot express how much fun your reviews made writing and sharing this story. THANK YOU. I am humbled and grateful. I only hope that I did your expectations justice for the epilogue. Again, my sincere gratitude. With lots of love, Kricket....
Derek woke up in the big bed of the honeymoon suite they shared a year ago. He glanced at the clock: 8 am. The sun was just over the grape fields in Napa. He was too excited to sleep; today was a big day, they needed to be up early anyway.
"Wake up, sweetheart," he said, giving Penelope a kiss on the top of her head.
"Don't look at me. Quickly rise and walk your cute butt out into the hall, but whatever you do, don't look at me."
"Baby, I don't believe in superstition."
"Are you looking?" she asked, her face in the pillow.
He shook his head. There were certain things he couldn't convince her of, regardless of how many times he tried to logically explain it. "No, I'm not looking."
"Go off to Hotch, please. JJ will be here any moment," she said, her voice still muffled.
"Alright," he said, laughing lightly. "I love you, baby girl."
"I love you, too, handsome," she said. "Now go."
Hours later, Derek was sitting in his tux, sans his coat and tie, next to Palmer, Parker, Reid, Hotch, and Rossi. Bubba, the last groomsman, was getting drinks for them to have. Derek wasn't nervous, but he was looking forward to all the waiting to be over.
Yesterday was the big rehearsal dinner and a travel day for everyone to meet at the resort. Uncle Irwin forked over the cash to fly out the majority of the guests. A lot of people from the reunion showed, as well as Derek's family, and the BAU team. It was nice to see everyone together.
As he looked over the landscape, the rolling hills and lush green vines, he thought what Penelope said before was right. It was a magical place.
"Hey, cuz," Bubba said, handing him a silver flask with booze in it. Each of the groomsmen had one, it was a gift for being at the wedding. "You nervous? You're kind of quiet."
"Nah," Derek said, smiling. "Actually, I'm eager."
Derek certainly didn't have cold feet. If anything, he had hot feet; he wanted to be married to her a year ago.
"Actually, you would not be out of the norm on that, Morgan," Reid popped in. "Statistically speaking, most grooms are eager to be married. It is a fallacy, a dreaded 'stereotype'-"
"Good God!" Rossi interrupted. "Someone stop him. When he starts doing those air quotes, I want to shoot him!"
"Gentlemen," Molly said, coming over to see the group. She was Penelope's attendant. "Just letting you know you have an hour left. Pen's getting pictures done." She stared directly at Derek. "I am supposed to tell you; no looking."
Derek fought rolling his eyes. Were all women superstitious about that? It was ten hours since he last saw his baby girl, and he missed her something fierce. They were together almost all the time, unless he had to be out of town. It seemed very unfair that she was at the same resort, and he couldn't see her.
He wandered over to sit on the balcony overlooking the grape fields. The early afternoon heat had calmed into a delicious warm evening. Perfect night for a wedding. Then again, any night would be perfect for marrying his goddess.
"Morgan," Hotch said, putting his hand on his arm. "It's not long now. Hang in there."
"I'm not nervous-"
"I know you're not," Hotch said. " You just miss her."
Derek looked at him quizzically. He was the first person who didn't tease about cold feet. "How'd you know?"
Morgan expected him to say something about being a profiler and reading emotion, but he didn't. Instead, he gave a melancholy smile and said, "I've been where you are; I know."
He met Hotch's eyes. Aaron smiled then, a sincere warm smile, and gave his arm a shake.
"You're a lucky man, Derek; cherish this time," he said seriously, then smiled. "It's not everyday a man marries his best friend."
"Damn straight," he said, grinning. They both stood and wandered back to the group.
Penelope's face was getting sore from smiling. She had to smile so many times for the photographer, it was scary. All of the other girls in their eggplant purple bridesmaid gowns were saying the same thing, however they were only in half the pictures that Pen was in.
In a half hour, she was going to be Penelope Morgan. It still seemed like a dream to her. Since the first time he called her "Baby Girl," she had that vision of him being hers. Now, the day was here.
The past year and planning turtled by. She couldn't believe how fast the time was going now. It seemed like she just woke up a minute ago. She was nervous, but she was also excited. She couldn't wait to see Derek; she wondered how busy his day was.
It started with all the women coming into her room, laughing in their pajamas. Bea jumped up on the bed next to Penelope, and the other women sat on the edge. "Excited yet?" Bea asked.
Penelope smiled at her cute little cousin. "Of course, honey."
"Relax, Garcia," Prentiss said. "It's only Morgan."
"I think he's a great catch," Desiree said. "Even if he is my brother."
Penelope smiled. She was able to spend a lot more time with Derek's family this past year. They went to Chicago for vacation and Christmas. It was a blast spending time with his mother. She was as accepted and loved among the Morgans as Derek was with the Carsons.
They all made it down to the spa at the resort, where they had manicures, pedicures, and their hair done. Each woman had an updo. The dresses were strapless; the neat chignons and French twists accentuated their necks and shoulders.
Penelope bought each woman an amethyst heart necklace and matching earrings to go with the dresses. It was a gift given in sincere gratitude, although each woman felt honored to be there with her.
Penelope was putting on her own string of perfect pearls and her earrings. There was something so elegant about it, like Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn. Derek knew her thoughts on that; he gave her the set just before they flew to Napa.
She smoothed a hand over her dress, then put a hand up to touch her hair. The curls were all pinned in place still, as far as she could tell. She smiled over at JJ. "Everything look alright?"
"More than alright," JJ said, walking over and putting her hands on Pen's shoulders. "You look exquisite."
"Thank you," she said, her eyes misting. "I am so glad you are here. All of you." She looked over at her beautiful bridesmaids.
Penelope got a warm smile from all the women. There was no lack of love in the room.
"Time to line up, ladies," Molly said, popping her head in the doorway.
Pen smiled at JJ. "Let's do this."
The vineyard was a spectacular setting for the wedding. The marble columns surrounding the gathering area were decorated festively. There were many flowers, interspersed with grapes and vines, and the string quartet was playing elegant music.
However, the natural splendor of the land far outshone any decoration that could be had. The sun was setting in the distance over the rolling hills of the grape fields, giving the warm, brown earth a gentle glow. It was temperate, beautiful, almost heavenly in appearance.
Derek stood at the end of the gathering rows, waiting for the appearance of his bride. His groomsmen stood nearby in stoic silence. The strains of Pachebel's Cannon in D began, and the entire assembly stood.
Holding Aaron Hotchner's arm was an angel come to earth. She was worth every moment he waited for her. Resplendent in an ivory silk gown with diamante stars at the bodice, she floated down the aisle, every inch the goddess he knew her to be. He swallowed; for the first time that day, he felt nervous. He simply did not feel worthy of her.
Penelope glanced down the aisle at Derek. All the nerves she was feeling that day simply left her. There was no doubt in her mind the man at the end of the aisle loved her. There was such love in his eyes, along with a good amount of wonder. She set out to do what she wanted to do all day. It was a simple task. She didn't want to just look her best for him. That wouldn't be enough. Instead, when he saw her, she wanted him to see her love.
One look at her hot stuff and she knew; she succeeded.
As she reached the end of the aisle, she held his hands and squeezed gently. The love they had for one another spread warmly though her and reverberated back through him. She smiled up at him, he returned his trademark grin, and they turned to face their future together.