Since the age of 10, Jolene Morrow has known that there would only ever be one man for her. Jackson Teller was the object of her affections and she pursued him with a singleness of purpose and mind.
Jax Teller, on the other hand, after years neck deep in an unhealthy relationship, had allowed his life to spiral out of control when his first love left Charming. Despite the loving and close bond he had with Jolene, Jax believed he only cared for her as a little sister.
But as Jolene started to grow up, Jax had a difficult time reconciling with the truth of his feelings for her. It was only after a very bold (and slightly inebriated) Jolene took matters (and a certain part of Jax's anatomy) in hand that Jax started to realize that there was something uniquely special about her. But even then, Jax believed that it was her transformation from grease monkey tomboy into a beautiful young woman with a tight body and killer ass that had drawn him in. Jax felt blindsided as he quickly fell in love. He had no idea that theirs was a love 15 years in the making and that he had been using women and booze in an effort to keep himself from realizing that he couldn't live without her. That the most perfect old lady on the planet had been in front of him all along.
After almost losing the love of his life twice—once to a would-be assassin's bullet and then to his own warped need to protect her from himself—Jax was determined to make sure that Jolene—and the rest of the world—knew that she belonged to only one outlaw.
Jolene Morrow would always be the Property of Jax Teller.
A/N: This is the last chapter of this story, but I am currently working on another prequel, "He Just Doesn't Know It Yet," as well as the third and final sequel to CWKS, "This Charming Life". I hope you enjoy the SAMCRO Royal Wedding of Jackson Teller and Jolene Morrow. I am hoping for an EPIC AMOUNT OF REVIEWS! So please, DON'T disappoint! :D
We should have just run off to fuckin' Reno!
That was the thought that coursed through Jolene's mind as she was trapped in Wedding Planning Hell.
Like it's not enough that I have lessons to plan and papers to grade, a new home to close on, a rental to clean and pack up, a child to raise and a man to love, I have to spend every damn night on this wedding shit.
Jolene held her head in her hands as she heard the "wah, wah, wah" noises emanating from her soon to be mother-in-law and her Matron of Honor. Across the dining room table, Gemma was sitting comfortably in a chair with a pair of reading glasses perched on her nose, a cigarette in one hand and a guest list that seemed to be twenty pages long in the other, while Donna was quite happily tapping away on a laptop, steadily entering in names for the final guest list.
Gemma had promised her that she would plan everything for the wedding and yet, somehow, Jolene found herself dragooned into participating. Her best friend, who should be supporting her in her efforts to get away from the nightmare, had instead joined Gemma with all the happy enthusiasm of a mental defective on crank. Donna, who got to enjoy what Jolene considered to be a dream wedding in Reno, did not understand Jolene's reluctance to participate in the festivities in which she was to have the starring role.
But Jolene knew that her reluctance came from the part of her that was having a hard time believing that marrying the man of her dreams would actually happen. That nay-saying superstitious part of her that said that, after everything she and Jax had been through, not taking the opportunity to go off to Reno and marry right away had all but guaranteed that they would never make it down the aisle. That in spite of Gemma's best efforts to put together a kick-ass wedding in less than four weeks, Jolene would never get the chance to finally be Mrs. Jackson Teller.
By the time she was six years old, Jolene had already lived a hard enough life to realize that fairy tale endings were not meant for girls like her. She had quickly come to understand that there would be no happily ever after and no Prince swooping in on a white horse to save the damsel in distress. It was only when she came to Charming that Jolene realized that having a family that loved and cherished her was not a fairy tale, but something every child had the right to enjoy. That even though evil witches like Valentina existed, there were also knights in shining armor like her father and Uncle Elvis and that she could have her own Prince Charming in the form of Jax Teller.
However, after the events of that horrible day at the Clubhouse when Jolene decided that destiny had other plans for her and Jax, it was difficult to believe that it would all take place according to plan, no matter how much Gemma stressed over each little detail. Jolene's A-type personality was too fixated on the fact that just too many things had conspired against them at the end of their relationship over four years ago, making it almost impossible for her to hope that this wedding would really go off without a hitch. Something was bound to go wrong. Her father would suddenly go ape-shit on her, some other gash from Jax's past would pop up, this time with a baby in tow no less, proclaiming herself as her old man's newest baby momma. Or worse.
So Jolene tried her best to stay out of the whole wedding planning drama as much as possible, not wanting to get her hopes up. Yet here she was, trapped like a fly in honey and there was absolutely nothing she could do about it.
Jolene rose to her feet and went to the kitchen to get another bottle of wine.
If I'm going to sit through this I need to be seriously drunk.
Returning to the table with an open bottle of Pinot Noir, Jolene had intended to pour herself a large glass, but decided that the glass just wasn't big enough. Drinking straight from the bottle, Jolene swallowed several large gulps.
"Thirsty, are we?" Gemma countered sarcastically.
"No, just trying to drink myself unconscious." Jolene replied as she took another swig.
Donna reached over and grabbed the bottle. "No more for you. You should be having fun planning this. It's your wedding."
No it's not. Jolene shot Donna a look like she had three heads.
Jolene had realized that the moment she and Jax announced they were finally tying the knot, her wedding had officially become Gemma's wedding. Gemma quickly took steps to assert her authority, declaring that as the mother of both the bride and the groom, she alone had veto power on any and all of the wedding details, no matter how minute.
Subsequently returning to Charming after a long absence with Jax's 3-year old son, Jolene knew that she was going to have to do some major penance for her sins and this wedding was going to be it. At this point, all Jolene wanted was for it to be over and done with already, but there were still weeks of preparation ahead, a dress to find, and bridal and bachelor parties to plan to coincide with the arrival of out of town charters and their old ladies before the actual main event.
Gemma was in her element 110%. Watching her stepmother bully florists and caterers over the telephone while simultaneously bullying her and Donna, Jolene realized that Gemma had missed her true calling. Forget wedding planning. Gemma would have made one hell of a Drill Sergeant. She was planning this wedding like most Generals would plan for battle. Gemma was determined that the union of Jackson Teller and Jolene Morrow would go down in history as the biggest, baddest biker wedding Charming has ever witnessed and no expense would be spared in order to make that happen.
Making a mental note to pack a flask of tequila for the next marathon wedding planning session, Jolene only hoped she survived Hurricane Gemma with her liver and sanity intact.
Jax and Jolene lay in a naked and sweaty heap on their California king-size bed. Pushing the strands of her dark hair from across her forehead, Jax tenderly kissed his old lady. "So, did that ease the tension?"
"Oh, God yes. I really needed that." Finally catching her breath, Jolene snuggled up against her man. "Baby, did I ever tell you that your mother's crazy?"
"All the time, darlin'." Jax smiled. "What was it tonight?"
"Oh my God, okay, get this." Jolene sat upright in the bed to look down on her man. "Not only did Gemma order like 500 million wedding invitations, but she insisted—and I thought she was going to kick the printer in the nuts when he looked at her funny—on invitations with little reapers on the front and black envelopes." As Jax tried to stifle a laugh and was unsuccessful, Jolene punched him in the arm. "It's not funny. I'm glad she's planning the wedding, but a line has to be drawn somewhere before she goes off the deep end!"
"And the Reaper on a wedding invitation is not the deep end?" Jax laughed.
"I am so glad you feel my pain, baby. What would I do without your support?" Jolene said sarcastically as she flopped back onto the bed.
"Aww, I'm sorry, darlin'," Jax practically rolled on top of Jolene as he kissed and nuzzled her neck. "Just tell me what I can do to help and I'll do it." He practically snarled against her throat as he grazed her skin with his teeth.
"How about helping me find a dress she'll like? I'm not going through another fitting just to have her cancel my dress again."
Now it was Jax's turn to sit upright on the bed. "Gemma canceled your dress?" He growled.
Jolene sighed as she covered her eyes with her hands, realizing too late that in her haste to vent she had shared just a little too much. "Baby, it's no big deal. I—"
But Jax cut her off. "How is that not a big deal?" He asked as he pulled her up and into his arms. Looking into her beautiful eyes shining with love for him, Jax felt a tinge of remorse. "Darlin', you should have been my first and only wife and because I'm an asshole, I can't give you that. We're finally there, baby and I'll be damned if our day is not perfect the way you want it. Where does she get off canceling your dress?"
"She didn't like the color." Jolene explained wearily. "I feel silly wearing white, so I picked an ivory dress and she wasn't happy with it."
"You know what I'm gonna say, right?" Jax started and Jolene's lips curled in a half-smile. "Her happiness is not my responsibility. Yours is, darlin' and I don't give a fuck what she wants. Did you really want the dress?"
Jolene thought about the ivory charmeuse sheath she had fallen in love with and nodded. "Yeah, I did. I loved that dress."
"Then re-order it. If Gemma has anything to say about it, trust me, I'll take care of it."
"Because you're my big and scary outlaw biker?" Jolene teased.
Jax dipped his head and kissed her tenderly, but thoroughly. "Because we're not even married yet and you already have me in a bowl covered in pussy whip."
Clay simply was not going to do it.
Rubbing his face with his hands, Clay walked into the Clubhouse looking for his daughter. Surprised, he spotted Jolene sitting at one of the small tables across from the bar with Piney, who currently had an unexpected, but welcome visitor in his lap in the form of his grandson. On the table were several old cigar boxes, each with dozens of old pictures, some color, others black white, representing more than 30 years of SAMCRO heritage.
"Hey, what's all this?" Clay asked as he strolled up to the little group. "I didn't know my favorite grandson was here."
Abel threw his little head back and laughed. "Hi, Papa. Look at this!" Abel picked up a black and white photo and handed it to his grandfather. "Guess who that is?"
Clay smiled. "Why don't you tell me?"
"That's the First Nine, Papa. See," Abel pointed to each of the riders on their bikes. "That's Uncle Piney and that's my other grandpa, Daddy's daddy. That's you and that's . . ." and Abel went down the line, naming each of the members of the First Nine.
"I tell ya, Clay, we got a smart one here. He must have taken after Jolene." Piney smiled, picking up his shot glass and downing the contents. "A true Son in the making who knows his heritage."
"Well, why wouldn't he? His mama raised him right." Putting his hand on Jolene's shoulder, Clay said, "Baby girl, come with me to the Chapel for a minute. We need to talk."
Bending over to kiss his grandson on the top of his head, Clay headed to the Chapel, pulling a wary Jolene by the hand.
Looking at his grandfather practically yank his mother into the Chapel, Abel asked Piney, "Is Mommy in trouble?"
"I hope not." Piney said. Grabbing another picture from the pile, Piney asked, "Now, who's this?"
Clay dropped heavily into his chair at the head of the table and sighed.
Jolene quirked an eyebrow at her father. "I don't like the sound of that, Dad." She took a seat in her old man's VP chair. "What's going on?"
"Baby girl, I need your help."
Jolene's eyes narrowed. "What's the problem?"
"I'm sorry, but I can't do it." Clay ran his hands through his thick salt-and-pepper hair. "It's the wedding. You're gonna have to cancel—"
Jolene jumped out of her chair so fast that it crashed onto the hardwood floor. "No! I am marrying Jax and there's nothing—"
"No, no, baby girl. For God's sake calm the hell down." Clay nearly shouted.
"Then what the frack are you talking about?" Jolene practically shouted in her father's face, her nerves already frazzled and fried.
"We've have to cancel the reception at Oswald's and I can't do it. I just can't face that woman." He replied, referring to Gemma.
Jolene took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "Okay, why don't we start this conversation over?" She picked up her chair and sat back down. "You don't want me to cancel the wedding. You want me to cancel the reception?" She queried.
"Not the reception, just the location. Look," Clay reached out and put his hand on top of his daughter's. "You know I don't usually mix business with pleasure and I prefer keeping things vague between us, baby girl, but I have to make an exception in this case."
Jolene's eyes were intently focused on her father as his internal struggle over how much to tell his daughter played out on his face. Whatever favor he was going to ask of her, Jolene could tell that it had caused him a sleepless night or two. He looked tired, as if he were carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, and had bags under his eyes.
"Daddy, we never talk business and, if it makes you uncomfortable, we don't have to start now. I trust you with my life, with my son's life." Jolene stated emphatically as Clay nodded with a hint of pride in his half-smile. "I only need you to tell me as much as you think I need to know. No more, no less, and I will do whatever I can to help you out." Besides, Jolene's deal with Jax regarding full disclosure while she was naked was still in effect. Her old man had no choice but to give her a heads up that they may have a few unexpected guests to their wedding from across the pond.
SAMCRO had recently been advised by McKeavey that the Irish Kings felt slighted by the fact that they had not received word that John Teller's boy was marrying Clay Morrow's daughter. Weddings were apparently a big deal in Ireland, especially when they involved the progeny of two of the men responsible for forging a more than thirty-year relationship between the MC and the RIRA. Clay had no choice but to contact Declan Brogan, Peter Dooley and Brendan Rourke, the Irish Kings, and personally invite them to the wedding. Never taking into consideration for one moment that they would actually accept, Clay was shocked as shit when they had.
"Sweetheart, this is your wedding. I can't ask you for what I need without giving you the whole story." Clay started and proceeded to recount his dilemma with the Irish Kings.
"Okay, so they want to come. No problem, we'll just order a few more tables. There's no need to change the venue." Jolene thought about all the drama involved in trying to secure the Oswald Estate for the wedding and reception in the first place.
According to Gemma's in-bred Martha Stewart, it was painfully obvious that not only was the Clubhouse way too small for an event of such magnitude, but it was inadequate to serve as a backdrop for the SAMCRO Royal Wedding. Conspiring with Donna, Gemma had approached her old schoolmate and long-time friend of the Club, Elliott Oswald and asked if they could use his estate.
Elliott, caught off-guard at first by Gemma's request, had no problem with SAMCRO and could never deny the Queen of Charming anything. His wife Karen, however, had no problem voicing her strong objection and only relented when her husband had promised to take her and their daughter Tristan away for a posh vacation in the South of France. Gemma was over the moon and now her father was asking Jolene to burst his wife's happy bubble.
Clay quickly intruded on Jolene's thoughts. "Baby girl, you don't understand. The Irish Kings are very private and suspicious of people by nature. The ATF and a host of other government agencies would love to be able to find out who they are and better yet, snatch them up while on U.S. soil, which they would be able to do easily enough, especially on Oswald's private estate. The only way I can personally guarantee their safety is if we move the whole shindig to the Wahewa reservation." As Jolene's wide seafoam green eyes got even wider, Clay continued. "As a sovereign nation within the United States, there is no way that any federal government agency or police force could step foot on the reservation and grab them."
"I take it that since the Irish Kings are packing their bags as we speak that having the wedding at the Wahewa Rez is all but a done deal?" Jolene asked.
"Afraid so, baby girl." Clay replied.
"So basically, you just need me to fall on the sword, so to speak, and break the news to Gemma." Jolene stated and her father flashed a cheesy grin.
"You do realize that in order for there to be a wedding there needs to be a bride, right?" Jolene asked rhetorically. "Gemma's going to flip out and I may not survive the encounter."
"Maybe, but I wouldn't ask you if I didn't need to keep this on the down low. If I do it, you know Gemma, she'll start asking questions and if she doesn't like the answers, well, let's just say that Mama Bear is not always a joy to live with." Clay explained. "She gives you grief, all you have to do is go all Bridezilla on her ass. Just get all weepy and give her the 'I want to wed my old man in the open air with the birds and shit' and she'll cave. Do it for me, baby girl? Please?"
Jolene sighed dramatically. "I'm too old for this conspiracy crap."
Carrying a large stack of bath towels, Jolene nearly fell as her foot skidded on a small rectangular object. Righting herself quickly, she looked down to see one of Abel's toy cages lying on the carpet.
"Abel," Jolene called out ominously. "What did I tell you about leaving your toys lying around?"
Sheepishly, Abel peeped around the edge of his bedroom's open door to see his mother standing on the landing with her arms full. "I sorry, Mommy. I forgot." Quickly running towards her, he bent down to pick up the small yellow sports car.
"Baby, you need to be more careful. Now put that away in your toy box. Have you finished packing your books?"
Abel nodded his head. Even he was doing his part for the big move.
"Then go downstairs and see if Daddy needs any help."
Abel carefully negotiated the short set of stairs to the first floor and than ran around the maze of boxes towards the living room and his father.
Jolene carried the last contents of the hallway linen closet into the master suite and dropped them on the bed where Donna was packing boxes. "Girl, for a rental, I can't believe how much crap I've managed to collect in just six months."
"That's what happens when you get a new place." Donna said as she wiped the sweat from her brow. "Suddenly, the stuff you had is not good enough for the new place and you buy more stuff. Now you're moving again and what didja do? You went on a shopping spree and bought more stuff. It's an endless cycle."
Donna's right, Jolene thought, but as she had enjoyed every minute of it, it made no sense to complain about having to pack it up now.
Jax and Jolene had finally closed on their dream house last week, which when she thought about it, hadn't taken nearly as long as house hunting should. Now that the former owners had moved out, the Teller-Morrow family would be spending the entire weekend packing and moving into their new home.
Not only did they have to pack up all their belongings from the townhouse, but they had stuff from Jax's dorm and their first home that had to be moved, as well. There was even a storage unit that Gemma had of more of Jax's stuff, including some items that had belonged to his father. Jolene still refused to set foot in what she called the "Ho House," so it was up to Jax to pack up the rest of his belongings and a bunch of Jolene's items that she had left behind.
Gemma volunteered, along with the Prospect, to go over and give Jax a helping hand. She reported back to Jolene that the house had been horrifying in the extreme, looking like one of the houses she'd seen on those hoarder shows. The filth had been so bad that Gemma had called a cleaning service from Stockton to come in and gut the place. As the Queen of Charming, she was too embarrassed to let the locals know that someone associated with the MC had lived like that.
But come Sunday night, all nonsense regarding ho houses and ex-wives would be forgotten as Jax, Jolene, and their son spent the first of many nights in their new home.
Jax sighed contentedly as he cuddled with his old lady in their bed in their new master bedroom. Looking at the open French doors leading to the balcony, Jax noted the large beautiful arrangement of fresh flowers sitting on the small table at the edge of the doors.
"Hey, darlin', where did those flowers come from?"
Jolene snuggled deeper under the deep wine colored comforter. "They're from Britt. A 'welcome to your new home' gift. Nice, huh?"
"Those are some big-ass flowers." Jax replied.
"I think she was very happy with her commission, but it was sticking it to Jacob Hale that really made her day." Jolene laughed.
"I'm glad we could help her out." Jax growled sexily as he hugged his old lady to his chest. Any time he could stick it to the Hale family was okay with him.
Actually, now that Jax had settled his score with David Hale, he was feeling pretty secure in his relationship with Jolene. Not that he would ever believe that she had harbored any real feelings for Robocop, but nonetheless, he felt that that door had been closed under no uncertain terms.
As a matter of fact, after their battle royale several weeks ago, Hale had been pretty scarce around town, making Jax wonder if SAMCRO no longer had Deputy Dog to worry about. Unfortunately, Jax had run into Chief Unser about a week ago and he had made a point of mentioning that Hale had gone away for a week or so for a little rest and relaxation.
Jax smiled a little to himself. I bet it was for more of one than the other.
Seeing the little smirk her old man was sporting, Jolene grabbed hold of Jax's goatee and yanked his face towards her. "What did you do?"
Jax's eyes quickly rounded in innocence. "Do? I'm doing nothing but giving my old lady a proper homecoming."
Jolene narrowed her eyes. "I know you, Jackson Teller and that look on your face ten seconds ago had nothing to do with giving me a 'proper homecoming.' It was more of a 'I just whopped your ass' look."
God, she knows me so well.
Jax had managed, with all of the things keeping Jolene busy regarding the wedding and work, to avoid explaining the minor bruising on his face on the night of his re-proposal, and he wasn't about to revisit the subject.
Quickly grabbing hold of his old lady, he stood up and carried her naked and squealing into their new master bathroom shower that had five shower jets.
Looking down at the love of his life, Jax leered, "I think it's time we start the christening."
Jax walked out of the master bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist to find his old lady sitting on their bed almost in a near-panic as she rummaged through her handbag.
"Shit!" She muttered under her breath as she pulled out her daily planner and tossed her bag onto the floor. Flipping through the pages, Jolene stopped when she found what she was looking for and growled in frustration. "No refills." She announced to no one in particular.
"Everything a'ight, darlin'?" Jax asked as he approached her and cupped her face in his hands.
"Yeah . . . No . . . Oh, I don't know." Jolene wrapped her arms around Jax's naked waist. "You haven't seen my birth control, have you? I can't find it in this mess and I have no refills left and no time whatsoever tomorrow to go to the doctor for a prescription."
Kissing her on the forehead, Jax pulled away and went to the drawer of his bedside table. "This what you're looking for?" He held up a dial dispenser in the form of a pale pink pill case.
Jolene's shoulders slumped in relief. "Oh thank you. You're a lifesaver." She went to grab the pills, but Jax held them out of her reach.
"Can we talk about these?" Jax asked as he sat next to her on the bed.
Jolene quirked an eyebrow at him. "Sure, baby. What about 'em?"
"What would happen if you stopped taking them?" Jax flipped open the case, his thumb grazing the little blue pills.
Jolene gave him a half-smile. "I'd probably get knocked up by the end of the week." She exaggerated, but not really.
"Would that be such a bad thing?" He asked, his eyes searching her face.
"It's not a bad thing at all, Jax." Jolene shook her head as she moved closer to him on the bed, their thighs almost touching. Swallowing the sudden lump in her throat, Jolene couldn't help but chuckle nervously. "Do you want us to have another baby?"
"Don't sound so surprised, darlin'," Jax smiled. "But, yeah, I do, and sooner rather than later."
"I just started teaching," Jolene started, but Jax interrupted her.
"I know, baby and this is not me trying to keep you from doing that." Jax explained. "It's just that Abel's getting older and I want him to have a brother or sister to grow up with, close in age and he's already four and I'm almost thirty—"
"Okay, you can slow down." Jolene smiled as she grabbed his hands. "Truth is I've thought about having more babies, too, but . . . I'm just a little scared."
Knowing exactly what had her scared, Jax placed one of her hands over his heart. "I'm healthy as a horse, darlin'. Only been in the hospital once in my life and that was for a broken collarbone."
Actually, Jax had been in the hospital twice, but Jolene knew he was as reluctant as she was about bringing up the night they were both shot. Instead, she took a deep breath as she nodded. "I know."
Jax continued. "Nobody's saying we'll get lucky this time, but I've got a feeling." He flashed her one of his irresistible lopsided grins.
The man she loved, the man she was committing herself to for a lifetime, wanted her to have more of his babies. Looking into his bright blue eyes and feeling her heart melt, Jolene, a great believer in destiny, had to believe that having Jax Teller's children was a part of all that. Taking the pill case from his hand, Jolene leaned over and tossed it into the wastebasket by the night stand.
"It may take a while for the medication to clear out of my system," Jolene started coyly.
"I know." Jax smiled as he watched her slowly inching her bathrobe off her bare shoulders.
"Wanna practice anyway?" Jolene pulled her hair out of the ponytail and let the long dark curls cascade over her full breasts.
Jax licked his lips suddenly gone dry. She's too beautiful for words, he marveled as he watched her crawl across the bed on her hands and knees before propping herself against a multitude of pillows.
"Darlin'," Jax started, his eyes taking in every inch of her, her knees bent and her legs slightly parted. "You know that's like asking a starving man if he wants a sandwich."
Like the calm before a storm, their eyes locked and Jax could see her chest heaving slightly with excitement. Feeling like she was being stalked by a majestic jungle cat, Jolene nearly jumped out of her skin and heard herself squeal before she could stop herself as Jax ripped off his towel and pounced.
I am in the shit big time.
Speeding down the I-22 in her rental car, all Ronnie Armstrong could hope for was that some other catastrophe had happened to take the heat off of her for arriving over two days late for her best friend's wedding.
Ronnie had been relieved to have talked Jolene out of forcing her to be in the bridal party. Even though Jolene's wedding was destined to be a pretty laid back affair, Ronnie had a deep and abiding hatred of the pomp and ceremony associated with formal occasions. She'd had enough of that shit shoved down her throat by her wealthy and social ladder-climbing parents when she was growing up.
Despite her parents' goals for her, Ronnie had managed to forge her own way in the world, living the bohemian lifestyle of an artist and part-time tattooist. Having recently celebrated her twenty-sixth birthday, Ronnie had inherited a huge trust fund set up for her by her grandparents and she was now independently wealthy. Not that it mattered to her in the grand scheme of things, but the money had given her a certain amount of freedom and allowed her to traipse all over the country and world, attending art shows and tattoo conventions and generally enjoying herself for the last couple of months.
But having enjoyed herself a little too much at a convention in New Orleans, Ronnie had missed her plane connections and had been stuck in several airports due to bad weather patterns. She had finally managed to get into Oakland literally hours before Jolene's bridal shower. As if Jolene's stepmother didn't dislike her enough, Ronnie was sure to incur the wrath of Gemma Teller if she disappointed her friend.
The siren that had apparently been blaring for a while, finally made it through to Ronnie's brain.
Shit! Damn! Fuck!
Ronnie pulled the sky blue convertible rental over as a Jeep Wrangler pulled in behind her.
This is just fuckin' great, Ronnie thought sourly. I have to get pulled over by some podunk cop ten minutes away from Charming.
Throwing her cheap sunglasses into the passenger seat, Ronnie ran her hands through her short, spiky blond hair. Looking up at the tall slim deputy, Ronnie was hit with a startling pair of bright blue eyes.
Damn, he's not half bad. Not at all.
Looking down at the driver, Hale was surprised to find a sexy blond woman at the wheel. With her short hair, he had been fooled into thinking she was a guy from behind.
I totally got that wrong. Hale tried not to gawk at the attractive young woman as he asked for her license and registration.
Rummaging around in her dilapidated hobo bag, Ronnie finally retrieved her wallet and the rental car's paperwork.
"You do realize that you were doing 85, right?" However, as he scanned her license he was surprised when he recognized the name. "Veronica Armstrong, daughter of Russell and Cecilia Armstrong?"
Ronnie looked up at the cop. "Do I know you?"
"You might. I'm David Hale."
Ronnie smiled. "Yeah, I remember you. Your mother and mine had the same circle of friends. How have you been?"
"I've been great and you look wonderful." Hale smiled. Remembering how shocked his mother had been that Veronica had been allowed to associate with Jolene Morrow when they were in grade school, he asked, "So, I guess you're here for the wedding?"
"Yep, and I'm two days late. I'm sure Jolene is about to shit a brick thinking I'm not gonna make the bridal shower."
The wedding had been the talk of the town for weeks now. There was no getting away from it, but very few of the town's inhabitants had been invited. Hale was pretty sure that Unser and his wife were going, although he never asked the Chief.
"I'm sure she'll make a beautiful bride. It's too bad they're not getting married in town. It would have been nice to see her." Hale commented and genuinely meant it in a general way. He had moved on and was doing his best to find someone who wanted to be a part of his life.
"I plan on stopping by Nicky's diner before hitting the road out of town on Monday. If you're not busy, maybe you'll join me for a cup of coffee around eight. I'm not the best photographer in the world, but I plan on taking a lot of pictures. At least you'll get to see the bride and groom."
Hale smiled down at the woman. "I'll see you then." He returned her license and paperwork and started to walk away, but caught himself and turned back. "I did stop you for speeding, didn't I? Why don't you buy me breakfast and we'll call it even?"
Ronnie put the car in drive. "Sounds like a win-win for me. See you then."
Jax tapped the screen, hitting "End Call" and shoved his pre-pay into the pocket of his jeans. That was the fourth time in the past hour he had called his old lady's phone and it had gone to voice-mail. She wasn't going anywhere, of this he was convinced, but it still would have been nice to hear her voice as he wondered for the hundredth time tonight, what the fuck am I doing here?
His brothers meant well as they coaxed him to enjoy his last night of "freedom" before the wedding tomorrow. They went as far as to tell him that they would turn a blind eye if he decided to indulge in one last indiscretion before he committed himself to one woman. But the truth was, Jax had committed himself to one woman the moment his eyes had connected with Jolene's in the Visitor's Center in Chino so many months ago. He wasn't about to fuck it all up by giving in to the temptation of cheap pussy. Truth was, in spite of all the nearly-naked porn stars prancing around Cara Cara tonight, Jax wasn't tempted in the least. Having the woman he loved back in his life and waiting to commit to a lifetime with him was more than enough to cure him of his Wandering Dick Syndrome.
Jax, nursing the same bottle of beer since he arrived over an hour ago, walked towards a sitting area where Clay was currently holding court in an armchair as Opie knocked back shots of whiskey on the couch. Plopping himself down next to his best friend and Best Man, Jax took a swig of his beer. All three men sat in comfortable silence as they watched a studio full of Sons, SAMCRO and as well as from other charters, frolic in a field of pussy and booze.
"I think I'm breaking out soon." Jax announced to no one in particular.
Looking at his watch, Clay snickered. "It's barely nine o'clock. What? Baby girl's got your dick on lockdown?"
Jax smirked, about to retort that hers was the only pussy in the world that could keep his dick on lockdown, when a drunk Bobby Elvis staggered into their conversation.
"Please! Kit's had his dick on lockdown since that night in Oak-Town." He blurted, as Jax shook his head and pinched the bridge of his nose.
Yeah, I should've broken out way before now, Jax made to get up off the couch, but Clay stopped him.
"Sit your ass back down." Clay demanded and Jax dropped back onto the couch, Bobby's eyes widening at Jax's unmistakable glare. "When was this and what happened in Oakland?"
Quickly sobering up, Bobby replied, "It was a long time ago, Clay. Not important at all in the grand scheme of things."
"I'll be the judge of that." Clay retorted. "Besides, I think I'm finally gonna hear the story of how my daughter and stepson hooked up."
"Shit, that happened way before Oakland." Opie muttered under his breath, a little louder than he thought as Jax, Clay, and Bobby turned in unison to glare at him.
"You are some dime-dropping motherfuckers, you know that?" Jax said as he shook his head in disbelief.
Clay chuckled. "Good thing I ain't a cop or you'd be in the shit for tapping underage pussy."
"Nah, he's good. I think the statute of limitations ran out on that shit a while ago." Bobby advised with a smirk.
Jax rubbed the hair on his chin, unable to suppress a grin as his mind's eye took him back to that night in Oakland. "Shit, when it comes to Jo, especially back then, bro, age was just a number."
"Maybe I don't wanna know what happened." Clay realized. Although nothing would change his affection for his daughter, there were just certain things a father didn't need to know.
"You most certainly don't." Bobby exclaimed.
"You brought it up, asshole!" Jax laughed.
"Hey, in my defense, I don't know exactly what went down in Oak-Town. I just know what I saw when you came back to the Clubhouse." Bobby started. "And for the first time in your life, the hunter became the hunted and you had no fuckin' clue what to do about it."
"Oh I knew what to do about it all right and, had you not followed us to the dorms, I might be telling a different story." Jax leered. "But Bobby's got a point. This thing between me and Jo, it was all her, bro. At the time, I didn't know what the fuck had hit me."
"I just can't believe you never clued into it, brother." Bobby said to Clay, shaking his head. "Kit's been gunning for Jax since the fifth grade. Told me so herself that one day she'd be his old lady, the only old lady he would ever need."
Sitting forward, his elbows on his denim-clad knees, Jax shook his head. "And she was right."
"Clay may not want to hear it, but I gotta know." Opie stated. "Just what the fuck did happen in Oakland?"
Placing his half-empty beer bottle on the floor between his feet, Jax straightened up and gave his brothers an extremely redacted version of his "talk" with Jolene at the streams and their night in Oakland. Bobby had known about the two rich kid d-bags, Doug and Frankie, who had taken Jolene to a night club and purposefully got her drunk. However, this was Clay's first time hearing about the events that could have ended very badly for his baby girl. Although he was quite pissed, he was also relieved and grateful that Jax had been watching out for her even back then.
Jax may have been the older and the wiser of the two, but Clay had no delusions regarding his daughter. Baby girl had a knack for getting what she wanted. Back in the day, Clay would have said that Jax was downplaying his role in the whole situation by saying that he hadn't known what hit him. But as Clay knew from experience, a good old lady always called the shots. Their men were just along for the ride. He knew Jax was leaving shit out. The barely contained salacious grin on his face as he talked about Oakland and getting to the Clubhouse that night was a dead giveaway.
Whatever. His daughter was home and happy, his VP and future son-in-law was also home and whole, and he had a beautiful grandson.
"You are definitely not telling the whole story, bro." Opie accused.
"Damn straight I'm not!" Jax smiled as he pulled himself up from the couch. "I don't kiss and tell. Besides, all you need to know is that for once, I was totally innocent."
"Totally?" Bobby said skeptically.
"Totally. I'm not saying I put up a fight 'cause I sure as fuck didn't stop her, but I didn't start it either."
"Okay, enough!" Clay bellowed as he waved Jax away. "Get going, if you have to. The last thing I need are word pictures flashing in my brain as I'm walking baby girl down the aisle tomorrow."
The Teller-Morrow house was lit up like a Christmas tree and packed to capacity. With several charters in town for the wedding, Gemma was not only playing hostess during Jolene's bridal shower, she was also playing hostess to a small pack of out-of-town old ladies. The Queen of Charming was representing the mother charter and she had to put her best foot forward and show this ragtag bunch just how a real and proper old lady operates. Gemma was so preoccupied with coordinating her army of resident old ladies, including Donna, that neither had noticed that the bride-to-be had gone AWOL. Last time anyone could recall seeing her was right after Jolene had finished opening gifts and had excused herself to go check on Abel. That was over an hour ago. Trapped in a Martha Stewart-style entertaining hell of her own making, Gemma kept waiting for the window of opportunity to open so she could slip out and drag Jolene's ass back from wherever she had taken off to.
Ten will get you twenty I know exactly where the little heifer took off to, Gemma theorized as she pulled another massive tray of hors d'oeuvres from the oven.
Neeta had outdone herself with the canapés, which included mini-grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, bacon-wrapped shrimp, mini-cheeseburgers, chicken skewers, filet of steak on toast, bruschetta, and mini-crab cakes. The spread she had put out was a hit, but even that wasn't going to save Neeta's hide as Gemma had told her to keep an eye on Jolene. With Jax set to crash at the Clubhouse after the Bachelor party at Cara Cara, Gemma had known Jolene was a flight risk. That's why she had taken her car keys and pre-pay out of Jolene's purse when she hadn't been looking. Gemma needed to get an early start in the morning and she wanted the bride where she could keep an eye on her. In hindsight, taking her cell phone had been a bad move because now Gemma couldn't call and scream bloody murder at Jolene.
With the bridal shower festivities raging at full-blast in the house and in the back yard, Jolene had slipped out through the front to catch a breath of fresh air. Neeta, who had been recruited by Gemma to spend the night as well, caught Jolene on her way out the door, but instead of ratting her out, promised she would keep an eye on Abel. Jolene had no intention of leaving the party, but apparently Neeta knew something she didn't as Jolene stepped outside and found her old man sitting on his bike in the street. Judging from the number of cigarette butts in his immediate area, it was clear that he had been patiently waiting for his soon-to-be wife to make an appearance outside for awhile now.
Jolene skipped down the porch steps and into Jax's arms as he got off his bike and met her half way up the walkway. Hugging him tightly, Jolene looked up into his beautiful and smiling eyes as he came forward and locked lips with her.
"I know your party just got started, darlin' and you can say no if you want to, but I'm here to steal you away." Jax held her face lovingly in his gloved hands.
Jolene beamed up at him. "Jackson, really, when has 'no' ever been a part of my vocabulary where you're concerned?"
Smiling, Jax barely had the chance to drop another kiss on her lips before she broke free and practically ran to Jax's bike. "Come on, before Mother Gemma releases the hounds." Jolene threw her helmet on and tossed Jax his. "Where are we headed? Clubhouse?"
"Or Reno. Your call, darlin'."
"Are you serious?"
"I wanna give you what you want, Jo and I know this big production wasn't it. This is Gemma's dream wedding, baby, not yours."
Just when Jolene thought she couldn't possibly love her old man anymore than she already did, he would open his mouth and say something like that. To even suggest something like eloping the night before the wedding just proved how much he loved her and how important her happiness was to him. If Jolene took him up on his offer, they would have hell to pay and hurt feelings to deal with when they returned to Charming, yet he didn't give a shit about any of that if eloping was what she wanted.
And she did. But she couldn't.
Jolene wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him tenderly. "Thank you."
"Reno?" He asked, his eyes sparkling devilishly.
Jolene shook her head. "Clubhouse."
"You sure? I'm giving you an out, darlin'. I'll tell everyone I kidnapped you."
"And the fact that you would do that for me guarantees you BJs on command for the rest of your life." Jolene smiled as Jax's eyes widened. "But this is no longer just about you and me. I would have preferred something a little smaller and way less formal, but our family, Jax, the Club, Abel, after all we've put them through, this is more for them than it is for us. In my heart, I'm already your wife."
"That's 'cause you are. Have been for a long time, darlin'."
"Yeah, I'm glad to hear it, but that doesn't get you out of making it official tomorrow." Jolene teased. "I've waited too damn long for this day. Hope you're worth it."
"Hey, I told you years ago I wasn't, but you're as hard-headed as your daddy and it's too late now, darlin'. Not only are you wearing my crow, but I already knocked your ass up once. There's no getting away from me now."
"So I can count on you being there tomorrow?" Jolene teased.
"I'm here tonight, I'll be there tomorrow, and I'll be with you for the rest of my life, darlin'." Jax dropped a quick kiss on the tip of her nose. Settling himself on his bike, Jax waited for Jolene to climb on.
"So you're not superstitious at all about spending the night before our wedding together?" Jolene asked as she wrapped her arms around Jax's waist after climbing onto her seat.
"No." Jax said simply. "Honestly, darlin', I was more nervous about not spending the night together. After all we've been through, Jo, no one, not even my evil dictator of a mother will ever keep us apart again."
Although Gemma had been thrown for a loop when Jolene had nixed having the wedding at the Oswald Estate, she reluctantly caved in. Overlooking a small lake, the parcel of land set aside for tribal celebrations was beautiful and with the proper set up suggested by Gemma's event planner, the site was elegantly outfitted for the wedding and reception. It wasn't as fancy or glamorous as what Gemma had envisioned had they used the Oswald Estate, but it was still pretty awesome.
Jolene insisted on the location, which had been offered to Clay by Chief Charlie Horse himself. SAMCRO and the Wahewa Native American Tribe had a long-standing working relationship, with the Wahewa manufacturing top of the line ammunition for the merch sold by the MC. The last thing Gemma expected, however, was for Jolene to go all vegan hippie chick on her and insist on binding herself to her old man as they became one with nature and all that happy shit, but the young woman had been adamant. After canceling Jolene's dress for a second time, thus incurring the wrath of Jax, Gemma decided to err on the side of caution. If Gemma knew her son—and she most certainly did—Jax had every intention of following through on his threat to elope if Gemma didn't back off.
So here she was, supervising a couple of the Prospects as they ushered guests to their seats set up in a beautiful green and purple meadow near a copse of trees. A platform made of sun bleached raw wood was set up where Jax, his Best Man Opie, and Chief Charlie Horse would wait as the bride, accompanied by her father, made her way down the center of two lines of motorcycles set up face-to-face in what was traditionally an aisle for biker weddings.
With less than an hour left before the ceremony, Donna, the Matron of Honor, was getting a little antsy as Jolene was still sitting in the same chair going on for two hours now. It had taken a while, but suddenly and without warning, the Bridezilla had come to life in Jolene as Gina, from Gina's Cut-N-Curl and her daughter Lexie worked on her hair and make-up. For the past four weeks, Jolene had generally managed to keep out of the way while Gemma ran roughshod over half of the town's merchants in her effort to pull together the SAMCRO event of the year. Up until Jolene had pulled a 180 and insisted on changing venues, all she was determined to decide for herself were her gown and how she would do her hair and make up. Gemma got the memo, but in typical Gemma fashion, decided that mother always knew best and convinced Gina to do a full updo instead of the half-updo that Jolene had requested.
Needless to say, the shit fit that, up until this moment, the easy-going bride had thrown was epic and had taken everyone, especially Gemma, by surprise. Jax loved her hair and took advantage of every opportunity he got to loosen it from a ponytail or some fussy hairstyle she'd fashion to make herself look more like a schoolteacher. There was only one way Jolene wanted her hair on this day and that was loose and flowing with ringlets starting at the top of her head and trailing down her shoulders and back.
"How's this, sweetie?" Gina asked, putting down her curling iron and picking up a large hand held mirror.
Jolene took a deep breath and looked into the mirror. Gina, who must have been separated at birth from Dolly Parton, looked on as she fought the urge to bite her pink acrylic nails. Jolene sat stone-faced and scrutinized herself from every angle possible. Finally, putting the mirror down on the makeshift vanity, Jolene looked up at Gina.
"I love it." She smiled happily. "Thank you."
And with that, Jolene noticed Gina's tense shoulders deflate as she relaxed. As a matter of fact, it seemed like the entire room, including Gemma, Donna, Ronnie, and Lexie, let out a collective sigh relief. Realizing this, Jolene felt a twinge of remorse for going off on Gina before. Instead, she should have torn a strip off of Gemma's hide because who knew when she'd get the opportunity again to out-Diva the Diva herself and actually get away with it.
Wearing a white satin robe with "Future Mrs. Teller" embroidered on the back in lilac, Jolene got up from her chair. "I am so sorry for yelling at you before."
Gina smiled broadly and grabbed Jolene's hands. "Don't worry about it, sweetie. Every bride gets a little anxious and short-tempered on her big day. I totally understand."
"Thank you, but I really have no excuse." Jolene embraced Gina. "I directed my anger at the wrong person." She almost whispered.
"I certainly understand that, too." Gina chuckled as the two women separated.
Jolene Morrow had a reputation around Charming for having a steel rod for a spine, but even that couldn't explain how the young woman had managed to keep her cool until now. Gina, who at 67 still had an eye for younger men, would be hard pressed herself to marry the very handsome and very sexy Jax Teller knowing that his control freak mother was part of the package.
"Jo, we really have to get you into your dress." Donna declared, pointing to her watch as Jolene thanked Gina and Lexie again before escorting them to the door.
"Okay, okay." Jolene trotted over to Donna, who was removing Jolene's dress from the garment bag.
"Everything under control here?" Gemma, who was wearing a figure-flattering Roberto Cavalli one-shouldered dark blue silk dress, asked.
"Yep, and if I hurry my ass up, I may have time to spare for a shot of tequila." Jolene smiled.
"Good. I'm gonna go check on Jax now." Gemma opened the door to the trailer set up by the Wahewa for Jolene to use as a dressing room. "I'm glad to see, that after getting your way, you're now in a better mood."
A dumbstruck Jolene turned to look at her two best friends with wide eyes after Gemma left and closed the door behind her. "Is she freakin' kidding me?"
Donna couldn't help the guffaw that flew out of her mouth. "Yeah, Jo, why are you such a bitch?" She teased sarcastically.
"For your sake, I hope Jax is more than just a pretty face, Jo." Ronnie teased. "He better be a phenom in the sack 'cause shit, something has to make all that worthwhile."
"I would say Gemma's bark is worse than her bite, but I'd be lying. She does mean well . . . I hope." Jolene replied. "And for the record, I can cum just thinking about my old man, he's that fucking good."
Ronnie's eyes widened. "See, I knew it. He has to be a multiple-orgasm kinda guy because it's a damn miracle you and your monster-in-law haven't killed each other."
"Yet." Donna snarked. "Day's not over."
As guests continued to arrive, Jax decided to take a break from greeting everyone. Finding a secluded area away from the chatter and the music from the live band, Jax leaned against a tree as he lit a cigarette and watched as his best friend approached.
"Can you believe this turnout, bro?" Opie marveled, accepting a smoke from the pack Jax offered. "There are Nomads here from as far as New York."
Jax shook his head as he chuckled. "I guess it's safe to say that Gemma got the word out, huh?"
Opie nodded as he lit his cigarette. "How you holding up?" He asked.
"It's almost four o'clock and I haven't seen my mother all day." Jax started. "I'd say I'm holding up pretty fuckin' great."
Opie laughed. "I gather you're still tight at Gemma?"
Jax nodded as he took a deep drag. "She's been giving Jo a hard time and I finally had to cut into her last week. Haven't spoken to her since."
"Putting aside your mama drama," Opie flicked the ashes off his cigarette before taking another puff. "I feel like I'm slacking in my duties as Best Man 'cause you seem cool, bro. Too cool, actually."
"That's 'cause I am. I love my old lady," Jax stated emphatically. "And I'm going into this with my eyes wide open, man. No fear, no hesitation whatsoever 'cause I know she's the only one for me, Ope."
"Jo's known that since she was ten." Opie teased.
"So I've heard." Jax smiled. "I'm a dumbass for not seeing it sooner."
"No, I think you timed it almost perfectly. Tapping that before she was seventeen would have been a little too 'Tig' for my taste. I would have been forced to kick your ass then."
Jax was laughing when he suddenly stopped, an all-too familiar scent hitting his nostrils. With narrowed eyes, Jax watched as his mother broke through the foliage surrounding them, joint in hand.
"Wahewa land is gorgeous, but it's a little too earthy for my taste." Gemma complained as she approached her son and surrogate son. "Should have known better than to wear designer shoes." She smiled broadly as she looked at Jax.
Handing her joint over to Opie, Gemma walked up to Jax and immediately started straightening the white button-down shirt he wore underneath his cut. "Wow, look at this. Slacks and dress shoes. How come I can't ever get you to dress this nice?"
"You're not pussy." Jax replied, giving Gemma a cold, dead-eye stare.
"Humph!" Gemma huffed. "And what's with the stink face? It's your wedding day, for fuck's sake. You should be happy."
"I was," Jax started. "Until about a minute ago."
Gemma narrowed her eyes at her son. She knew Jax and knew how this was going to play out. Inside her tough outlaw biker son lived a bratty, petulant child that he reserved just for her and he knew how to push his mother's buttons. Jax was either going to continue being a snarky asshole or go back to acting like she didn't exist until she apologized. Either way, Gemma couldn't stand being at odds with her only son. This may not be his first wedding day, but it was the one that mattered most to him and, knowing how much he loved Jolene, it was sure to be his last.
"Can you give us a moment, Ope?" Gemma asked without looking away from Jax.
"You know, I was just about to excuse myself." Opie handed Jax the joint with a smirk and took off through the trees.
"What's with the attitude, shithead?" Gemma demanded, folding her arms underneath her chest.
Not what he was expecting to hear, Jax did a double take as he was caught off guard.
"Sucks when you're on the receiving end, don't it?" Jax replied after taking a hit from the joint in his hand. "Just giving you a dose of the medicine you've been shoving down Jolene's throat for weeks now."
"And that's the thanks I get for putting together this whole wedding?" Gemma marveled.
Jax was apoplectic. "No one asked you to! If I remember correctly—and I know that I do—we were happily on our way to Reno."
"So after all you two have been through, Reno was the best you could do for your old lady?"
"Yeah and do you know why? Because that's what she wanted. Do you have any idea how I know that? Because I asked, which is more than you've done in the last month." Jax explained, effectively shutting down any argument Gemma had to make after that. "After four years apart, the last thing Jo wanted was to keep waiting. We could have always had a blow out of a reception afterwards."
"Okay, I get it." Gemma said demurely. "I'm sorry."
Jax shook his head and chuckled, feeling like an asshole for going off on his mom, but he'd be damned before he had anyone accuse him ever again of not being the old man Jolene needs.
"That's great, Mom. Thanks," Jax reached for Gemma and wrapped his arms around her. "But I'm not the one you owe an apology to."
"You can pass along my apology to Jolene, can't you?" Gemma asked as she pulled out of his embrace.
"I could, but I'm not." Jax shrugged his shoulders. "So what are you gonna do?"
Gemma took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I'm going to apologize to Jolene the first chance I get today, okay?" She asked.
Jax smiled. "That's all I ask."
Lovingly running her hand over the lapel of his cut, Gemma smiled. "You look happy."
"I am happy, Mom. I'm just anxious to slap that ring on my old lady and call it a day. I haven't seen her or my son since this morning."
"Abel should be running around here any second now. Your bride on the other hand," Gemma advised. "When you finally get to lay eyes on her, I think you'll agree it was worth the wait."
Suddenly serious, Jax searched Gemma's face. "All bullshit aside, Mom, thanks for doing this for us."
Feeling herself get a little teary-eyed, Gemma cleared her throat. "You know I would do anything for you and your beautiful little family. I love you, Jackson."
"I love you, too, Mom."
Clay wasn't in as much denial as people thought he was. He had eyes in his head and, even though he was growing more and more dependent on his eyeglasses to read, he could see just fine. Clay knew Jolene was a beautiful girl, always had been. Even in her grease monkey tomboy days. But Clay had not been prepared for the vision that was standing before him nervously clutching a bouquet of cream-colored Calla Lilies and Lilac flowers.
Jolene was looking at her father like a deer caught in the headlights, her green eyes wide and shiny. Swallowing the lump in her throat, Jolene finally found her voice.
"God, Dad, please say something." She almost pleaded. Clay blinked his own suddenly-moist eyes rapidly, reluctantly chasing away the image of six year old Jolene on the day they first met from his mind's eye. His little girl, although always precocious, had grown up just too damn fast. "I look ridiculous, don't I? I hate wearing dresses." Jolene grumbled as she fussed with the train of her figure-hugging gown.
Surprised to find himself choked with emotion, Clay cleared his throat, twice, before allowing himself to speak. "You're breaking this old man's heart you're so damn beautiful, baby girl." Approaching his daughter, Clay grabbed her free hand, which was a little shaky and, not surprisingly, ice cold. "I think it's safe to say that I have never loved anybody in this world the way I love you, Jolene. As fucked up as your egg donor was, I thank my lucky stars everyday for letting my path cross with hers. If not, I wouldn't be standing here today, a proud father and grandfather. I'm just sorry I wasn't there for you in the beginning."
Jolene was shaking her head, "But you were. You've been there for me since day one because I only started living when I came to Charming." Feeling herself get overcome with emotion, Jolene tried to throw on the brakes for the sake of her make-up. "You will always be my first love, Daddy, my knight in shining armor." Letting go of her hand, Clay searched the inside pocket of his cut for his bandana in order to dab away her tears, in hopes of diverting attention away from the fact that he was crying too.
Tucking the kerchief back into his pocket after blowing his own nose, Clay grabbed her hand again. He marveled that it was so dainty and small in his own bear claw-sized mitt.
"I already know the answer, but I wouldn't be doing my job as your father if I didn't ask. You absolutely sure this is what you want, sweetheart?"
Delicately swiping away the last of her tears, Jolene beamed up at her father. "I'm sure."
"Jax is a good man and I love him like a son, but you are my greatest contribution to this damn world, baby girl." Clay started. "I may be a little late to the party, but it is clear to me now that you two were meant for each other. You make him a better person and he makes you happy. As a parent, I can't ask for anything more. He just better be good to you. Always."
"He is, Daddy, and I know he always will be."
"You love him a whole lot, don't you?" Clay smiled.
"I can't even put into words how much." Jolene closed her eyes as her father gently pressed a kiss against her forehead. Gathering her composure again, Jolene looked up at her father. "Did you talk to Uncle Elvis?"
Clay shook his head. "Nah, I told him you wanted to speak to him before the wedding. This should come from you, baby girl."
"And you're okay with it?" Jolene questioned, her eyes wide.
Jax was standing on the platform in front of a large group comprised mostly of his brothers from across the country and their old ladies. Also among the guests, numbering in the hundreds, was the Niners' leader, LaRoy Wayne and his brother Antoine and a small army of their crew, as well Tony Cacuzza and his wife and, all the way from Northern Ireland, his brothers from the SAMBEL charter who had been charged with protecting the Irish Kings, who were also in attendance, during their stateside visit. Gemma, sitting in the second chair of the first row with Abel on her lap, clutched the hand of her dear old friend Chief Wayne Unser, who was sitting with his wife Della, a member of the Wahewa Tribe herself.
Just as Jax realized that the standing around and waiting was finally making him a little nervous, two guitarists from the band started playing what was unmistakably the Wedding March. Opie nudged his head in the opposite direction and Jax knew what he was trying to draw his attention to even before he looked. Jax took a deep breath, trying to prepare himself mentally for the sight he was about to behold to no avail. As he turned in the direction of the makeshift aisle, Jax was almost knocked to his knees.
Shit! When she's right, she's right, Jax said to himself, thinking about what his mother had said earlier.
He loved Jolene with a passion he couldn't even understand himself, much less explain to anyone else. No matter where she was, his old lady was always the most beautiful woman in the room. Some might say he was biased, but Jax could see in the faces and body language of other men that he wasn't the only one that was awestruck by her presence.
Today, seeing her in the form-fitting cream satin sheath gown with the beaded embroidered dropped waist and chapel train, Jax was sure he was struck speechless as well. Her dark and shiny hair was adorned with two pearl and crystal combs in a floral motif, allowing her curls to fall about her shoulders and back in long, spiral ringlets. Her eyes were wide and luminous as she lovingly looked from her father on her right to her Uncle Elvis on her left as they guided her down the aisle. Jax had never seen her look more beautiful.
Finally, making contact as their eyes clashed, Jolene felt her heart trying to pound its way out of her chest. She was overwhelmed by the love—with just a touch of lust—she saw pouring out of her old man's eyes. Pulling her gaze away from his, Jolene let her eyes travel the length of his lean, hard body. She smiled to herself as she realized that for the first time in her life she was seeing Jax in something other than jeans or sweatpants and, not that there was ever any doubt, but hot damn, he cleaned up real nice, too!
The world seemed to stop for Jolene as she watched her old man waiting to make her his wife. So intent was she on Jax that all she could hear were the birds chirping in the trees, whose leaves rustled slightly in the warm Spring breeze. She couldn't hear the music playing softly in the background and it took her a minute to register that they had reached the end of the aisle and that Bobby was trying to get her attention.
Jolene felt herself blush slightly as both Bobby and Clay chuckled. After kissing her on the cheek, Bobby gently pulled Jolene into his embrace.
"I love you, Kit." Bobby squeezed her tenderly.
"I know," Jolene planted a big kiss on his bearded cheek. "I love you too, Uncle Elvis."
Turning to her father, Clay nearly swallowed her up in a bear hug that forced a soft squeal out of Jolene, causing a ripple of laughter to spread through the crowd.
"There's still time to make a run for it." Clay teased against her ear.
Pulling away and dropping a kiss on his cheek, Jolene smiled. "Never. I'm done running from my destiny."
Jax cleared his throat loudly. "Can I have my bride now?" He kidded as he threw a wink at Jolene.
"Yea, Clay! Let her go already! She lives two damn blocks away, for Chrissake's!" Chibs called out cheekily, prompting most of SAMCRO to second the motion with catcalls and whistles.
Clay pointed menacingly at each of his brothers before flipping them the bird. "You bastards just want to get the party started so you can get hammered."
"What's wrong with that?" Tig called out, laughing.
Turning to point at Jax, Clay snarked, "And you, I know what you want!"
"What's wrong with that?" Both Jax and Jolene said at the same time causing more laughter to erupt from the crowd.
Shaking his head, Clay kissed Jolene on the forehead and guided her up to the platform, where Jolene handed her bouquet to Donna, who was standing to the left of Chief Charlie Horse. Shaking hands with Jax, Clay pulled him into a bro-hug.
"Be good to her." He said.
"I will." Jax promised.
As they waited for both Clay and Bobby to get to their seats, Jax took Jolene's hand in his and pulled her towards him. His hands cradling her face, Jax dipped his head and kissed a shocked Jolene.
"Baby, you're not supposed to kiss me yet." She smiled at the devilish look in his sparkling eyes.
"I couldn't help myself. You look amazing, darlin'."
As they pulled apart, Chief Charlie Horse smiled at them with a raised eyebrow. Addressing the guests, some sitting, some standing, Charlie Horse spoke in a deep baritone voice that carried throughout the open meadow.
"On behalf of the Wahewa, I welcome you all onto our land, our home. On behalf of Jax and Jolene, I welcome all of their family and friends from far and wide who have gathered to witness as they embark on this lifelong journey together. Jax and Jolene have asked that we keep their unity ceremony brief and, in the tradition of my people, I will bless their union with the Apache Wedding Prayer before they exchange vows and rings." Charlie Horse started.
Nodding towards Jax and Jolene to join hands, he opened his hands and held them palms up. "Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years, may happiness be your companion and your days together be good and long upon the earth."
"Treat yourselves and each other with respect and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness, and kindness that your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulties, and fear assail your relationship, as they threaten all relationships at one time or another, remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong. In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives, remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight."
On cue, Donna approached Jolene and handed her Jax's ring. Holding his left hand in hers as she clutched the ring to her chest, Jolene looked into her old man's eyes and smiled.
"Jax, I loved you for so long that I can't remember a time when I didn't. Our time apart nearly devastated my will to live and it was only made bearable by the beautiful life we had created together, our son Abel. I love you, Jackson and I dedicate the rest of my life to you as your wife, your lover, your friend, and mother to your children." Without breaking eye contact, Jolene slipped the ring onto his finger and continued. "Let this ring be a symbol of my commitment to you and our life together with me as your old lady."
Turning to Opie, Jax held out his hand.
Slapping his forehead, Opie whispered, "Fuck, bro, I don't have a ring."
"Ha, ha, Ope. Just give me the damn ring."
"Jax, you never gave me a ring." Opie reminded him.
About to unleash a mouthful of expletives, Jax suddenly remembered that he had forgotten to get the custom-made wedding band from Antoine, who was bringing it in from Nevada. Jax had commissioned Marguerite, the same jeweler that had created Jolene's engagement ring to create a band to match.
Jolene was looking at Jax with wide eyes as he searched the crowd for the pimp from Reno. As Jax made eye contact with the big man, it finally dawned on Antoine that he still had the ring and stood up from his seat to dig into the inside pocket of his custom-tailored black suit.
"I'm sorry, darlin'. Just give me a sec." Jax jumped down from the platform. Retrieving the ring, he hot-footed it back to his old lady.
Jolene sighed with mock relief. "I thought you were going to keep running." She teased playfully, as the crowd got another chuckle.
Grabbing her hand, Jax forgot the crowd and spoke only to his old lady and straight from the heart. "We've been through so much, Jo but starting today, whatever lies ahead, good or bad, we will face it together. Distance is gonna test us from time to time, you know this, but I promise to always be faithful to you and our family because I don't know how to live without you by my side, darlin'. You keep bringing me back to life and I will love you forever." Jax was about to slip the ring onto her finger when several of his brothers started clearing their throats and coughing rather loudly.
"You're not done, brother." Opie nudged him from behind.
With a cheeky grin on his face, Jax put the ring on her finger and continued, "And I promise to take care of you like I do my leather and ride you as often as I do my Harley."
The crowd erupted with catcalls, applause, and whistles and, without waiting for the go-ahead from Chief Charlie Horse, Jax pulled Jolene into his arms. Burying his hands in her hair, he kissed his wife for the first time, long and hard.
With the fairy tale wedding of a biker and his old lady at long last concluded, their friends and family could finally get down to the party to end all parties. It was the biker reality of a fairy tale reception.
With the switch from the Oswald Estate to the Wahewa reservation, the reception had received an Extreme Makeover: SAMCRO Edition by the mother of the bride and groom.
Looking at the happy faces of the new couple and their guests, Gemma came to the conclusion that Jolene's decision to switch venues had been the right call to make after all. It had been Gemma's own desire to compete with the social elite of Charming and to outdo them at their own game that had spurred her to use Elliott's home as a backdrop for the wedding.
Looking at the crowd that had assembled to watch the culmination of a love story that had been a long time in the making, Gemma realized that she had been completely wrong. At the heart of it, the MC was all about family, outlaw bikers who were unpretentious, lived their lives and loved their families and it was the simple things in life that defined them.
And you certainly could not get any simpler than a big ol' barbeque in the great outdoors.
But despite the simplicity, Gemma had managed to put her own Martha Stewart-Diva-style spin on the reception.
Working with an event planner based in Stockton, Gemma used the natural beauty of the reservation combined with the design of the wedding ceremony area and reception to create an extremely attractive venue for the SAMCRO Royal Wedding.
Charlie Horse had been a little surprised at the full scope of the plans as they were revealed for the reception, but when Gemma assured him that everything would be removed and the large meadow returned back to its natural state, he was satisfied. Now, Gemma grinned to herself as she surveyed the final product.
Any of those uptight bitches in Charming couldn't have done it better, she thought as she crossed her arms.
Dee Henderson, of Stockton Luxury Events, was the company's top event planner. Gemma wouldn't settle for anything less. The woman, although used to creating dream weddings and events for the wealthy, was able to visualize exactly what the Queen of Charming wanted for her son and daughter's biker wedding and had pulled it off brilliantly.
The "Reception Hall" as Dee had termed it, was a sprawling 8,000 square feet of space and had been placed at the base of the lake. The entire space was set up with a hardwood floor and was covered with a series of tents. The tent poles themselves were held up with tall white columns that had trailing sparkling white and lilac colored lights that were wrapped around them. Those same lights were woven throughout the hall as ceiling lights, and at every twenty feet were joined together to hang stunning black, silver and gold chandeliers, which brightened the space and gave it a seriously rocking edge to the festivities.
The dance floor was situated in the middle of the hall, with a platform on one side where the wedding party's table was situated and on the other side was the large platform where the band was currently performing some easy listening rock tunes.
At the far end of the reception tent, Dee had managed to bring in a gleaming full-size bar that ran the full length of the hall. It was fully stocked with every type of top-shelf liquor and draft beer available. As his little contribution to the wedding planning, Clay had contacted SAMBEL and had arranged for a large shipment of 12-year old Irish whiskey to be brought state side, only to be told by its President that they had already made the arrangements as their gift to the bride and groom.
Gemma took special pride in the set up of the tables. The round tables, with alternating white and lilac tablecloths, were accented with beautiful vases of the same flowers in Jolene's bouquet, Calla Lilies and Lilac Flowers and lit candles. On each place setting was a sterling silver Zippo sporting the Reaper with the bride and groom's name and the date of their wedding underneath.
On the opposite side of the tent was the mother of all buffets. Dee Henderson had contracted Stockton's most famous brewery and BBQ house to prepare the best damn barbeque with all the fixings anyone ever had. The food was being cooked in a separate kitchen tent. Set some distance away from the Reception Hall in order to keep the smoke of the barbecuing meat away from the guests, the food was cooked and then transferred to the main hall. The servers were just waiting for the cue to officially open the buffet for business.
But finally, Gemma, knowing her outlaw Sons well, had a walkway created that circled halfway around the lake. With the walkway covered above with a tent ceiling, with one side facing the lake and the other into the many lush trees and bushes, it provided a measure of intimate areas for those guests who decided to have small private parties of their own.
All in all, Gemma felt that all of her efforts had worked out well and had no problem in accepting all of the compliments and kudos from the visiting old ladies of some of the out-of-town patches, as well as the wives of the visiting Irish.
Clay had stressed the importance to Gemma of making the wives of several of their visitors at home and Gemma had done so, and had received much in the way of compliments as to her planning skills.
Now, with the fruits of her labor of love finally come to fruition and Jax and Jolene finally bound to each other, it was Gemma's turn to kick back with her old man and enjoy the event of the year.
"All right, Abel. Are you ready to do this thing?"
"Uh huh. I'm ready. You think Mommy and Daddy are going to really like it, Uncle Elvis?" Abel asked as he scratched his head. The wig was a little tight.
"I'm telling you, son. They're going to love it." Bobby exclaimed.
Jax and Jolene were sitting at their table, which was set up on a dais across from the band and the dance floor.
There had been a steady stream of guests who had approached the couple with wishes of happiness and gifts, which they graciously and happily accepted. But now that the buffet had been opened and their guests had strapped on their feedbags, the newlyweds finally had a moment alone. With the love of his life sitting on his lap, Jax was actually starting to enjoy his reception, oblivious to the fact that it was only going to get better.
Simultaneously kissing and sucking on his old lady's neck, he had Jolene purring like a kitten, a sure sign that he had gotten her motor running. Reaching up to nibble on Jolene's ear, Jax whispered, "Let's take a walk over to your trailer, darlin'. I've been dying to see what you've got hiding underneath that gown from the moment you started walking down the aisle."
"Not much." Jolene giggled and ran her hands through his hair as Jax growled against her neck. "Think we can get away without being noticed?"
Jax was about to reply when he noticed his Best Man walk up to the platform where the band was performing and motioned for the mike. Suddenly the band stopped playing their rendition of "Mustang Sally" so that Opie could speak.
"I've been asked to introduce a special treat for the new Mr. and Mrs. Jackson Teller that has been in the making for the last couple of weeks. Please put your hands together for Bobby Elvis and Abel Teller performing "Jailhouse Rock", dedicated to Jax in the hopes that he may never end up there again."
Jolene's heart nearly jumped in her chest when from behind the columns on either side of the bandstand came her Uncle Elvis and her precious baby, both wearing pompadour wigs and matching white sequined jump suits and holding microphones.
"Holy shit!" She hollered happily as Jax wolf-whistled over the roar of the crowd.
Bobby belted out the first verse.
The warden threw a party in the county jail
The prison band was there and they began to wail
The band was jumpin' and the joint began to swing
You should've heard those knocked out jailbirds sing
Pointing his finger at his sidekick, Abel jumped in for the chorus, his little voice soaring above his uncle's.
Everybody, let's rock
Everybody in the whole cell block
Was dancin' to the Jailhouse Rock
When the potbellied biker started to shimmy and shake and Abel matched him step for step, the crowd got up on their feet to dance and cheer them on.
Finally belting out the last chorus lines together, Abel ended their rendition, kissing the palm of his hand and throwing a kiss to the entire crowd.
"Thank you and good night!"
The applause was almost deafening as Abel leaped off the stage and ran into his mother's open arms. Picking up her son, Jolene squeezed him within an inch of his life.
"Was I good, Mommy?" Abel smiled wide.
"Baby, you were so good."
Wrapping his arms around both mother and son, Jax bent over to kiss Abel on the top of his head. "I think you were better than the King himself." Jax smiled at a beaming Abel. "Definitely got his booty-shaking skills from his momma." He teased.
"Whatever, Teller." Jolene laughed. "I don't care if you do have two left feet. You still owe me a dance."
"Just as soon as we take that walk to your trailer," Jax kissed her lips. "And pigs fly out of my ass." He smiled, barely dodging Jolene's balled up fist.
Clay, who had been sitting at a table near the dance floor with the Irish Kings, was beaming with pride as the crowd settled down and everyone turned their attention back to drinking and partying.
"You have a beautiful family, Clay. God bless." Declan Brogan raised his glass of whiskey before the men sitting at the table downed their drinks.
Brogan, in his mid-50's, was the unofficial spokesman for the Kings. Although members of the RIRA and directly responsible for raising funds for the Cause, the Irish Kings were Belfast's version of old fashioned New York mobsters. The Redheaded Godfathers, as Clay called them, ran a syndicate of organized crime that, in addition to arms dealing, included gambling and prostitution, all in the name of a united Ireland. In their custom-tailored shirts and expensive designer suits, the Irish Kings made Michael McKeavey, a high-level leader in the RIRA, seem like a lowly foot solider.
"I am a lucky man," Clay started. "Especially since I have only one daughter. Who knew they could be such handfuls?"
"Ah, who you talkin' to, my ol' friend? Between us," Brogan laughed, indicating his counterparts Peter Dooley and Brendan Rourke. "We have fourteen daughters."
"I feel your pain." Clay said solemnly as all men shared a laugh.
Catching Jax's attention, Clay motioned for his VP to join him at the table.
Leaving his new wife and son on the dance floor, Jax made his way over to Clay and their guests from across the pond. He shook hands with each man before Brogan pulled Jax towards him and stuffed an envelope bloated with cash into the inside pocket of his cut.
"Just a small gift for you and your beautiful bride." Brogan slapped Jax on the shoulder as he shook his hand.
"Thank you, Declan." Jax smiled. Taking a seat on Clay's right, Jax accepted the shot of whiskey Dooley poured for him.
"It's a shame Michael couldn't be here today, but duty called him back to Belfast sooner than expected." Brogan started, referring to Michael McKeavey. "He speaks very highly of you, Jackson."
"He should." Clay interjected. "Jax was the brain behind several ventures which have proven quite lucrative for the MC as well as the Cause."
"Like father, like son." Rourke declared. "John was a savvy businessman himself."
"Yes he was." Brogan replied. "Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, the Cause is not suffering for money at the moment, but we have had several set backs in recent months."
"So we heard." Jax said, remembering the conversation they had with McKeavey only two days before. "Trouble within the ranks."
Brogan shook his head sadly. "That's what happens when the ranks have been bloated with young men who have joined the Cause for all the wrong reasons."
"Recruitment is down. The average age of active members twenty years ago was 28. Now it's nearly double that. With the old guard getting old, there's no telling where our organization is headed in the next ten years." Dooley commented.
"The young blood recruited nowadays have a skewed perception of the organization. It's not about making fast money, as many have been promised by unethical recruiters, but is rooted in the firm belief and desire for a free and united Ireland." Rourke explained.
"Sounds like you have an internal problem." Clay commented.
"Yes, we do. Fifteen is the average age of new recruits and our casualties have almost tripled in the past year. Dishonesty in recruiting and lack of training are to blame." Brogan continued. "The High Council is rightly concerned that the Cause will suffer the backlash of a concerned citizenry who do not want a whole generation of young men wiped off the face of the earth, especially when they no longer care to understand what we are fighting for."
"And that is where the danger lies, my friend. Once money becomes the reason to take up arms, you're dealing with an army of mercenaries." Clay advised.
"Which may not be a bad thing if you have an never-ending cash flow," Jax added. "But once that tap runs dry, loyalties will shift."
"Absolutely, and we've already experienced the shifting of priorities first hand," Brogan said. "But that's for the High Council to deal with. Right now, we are here to celebrate. Cheers!" He raised his shot of whiskey to Jax.
"Cheers!" Raising their glasses, all the men simultaneously drained their shots as Jax made a mental note to discuss with his President what impact, if any, the RIRA's troubles could mean to SAMCRO.
Jax was sitting with a group of his brothers and some members of the Devil's Tribe, including his Uncle Jury. Instead of heading to Indian Hills on a run to deliver a shipment of merch, Jax was delegating some of his duties to Kozik and Happy, both on loan from Tacoma. As far as Jolene was concerned, the plan was for the newlyweds to spend the night in Charming, with Jax and the Club hitting the road early in the morning. Under the impression that their honeymoon was postponed until school let out for the Summer, Jolene had no idea that Jax had made arrangements to spend the week not in Nevada, but in Tahoe, just the two of them. With Clay staying put in Charming in order to enjoy his uninterrupted time with Abel, Jax was satisfied that Opie was ready to take lead during the run.
It had been a long day and Jax could see from clear across the reception hall that his old lady was fading fast. Deciding to steal his bride and head home instead of to the trailer, Jax said good night to his brothers. Heading towards the bridal table where Jolene was engrossed in a conversation with Ronnie and Donna, Jax first made a pit stop at the bandstand, slipping the lead singer a hundred dollar bill after a quick and discreet conversation.
Perking up as her old man approached, Jolene jumped up from the table and wrapped her arms around Jax's neck.
"What time are you hitting the road in the morning?" Jolene asked as Jax pulled her flush against him.
"Eight a.m." He smiled, prompting Jolene to quirk an eyebrow at the mischievous look in his eyes.
"Can we go home then? I want some alone time with my husband before he leaves me for a week."
"You just read my mind, darlin'." Jax grabbed her hand and led her away from the bridal table and the exit.
"Jax, the exit is this way." Jolene pointed with her free hand.
"I know." He replied simply, not stopping until they reached the middle of the dance floor. Jolene was looking at him with wide eyes as the band started playing Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing."
"Oh my God." Jolene almost whispered as Jax pulled her towards him, wrapping an arm around her waist while holding her right hand with the other.
"Yeah, yeah," Jax smiled as he first pressed a kiss then his cheek against her sweet-smelling hair. "I can dance. I just choose not to."
I don't want to miss one smile
I don't want to miss one kiss
I just want to be with you
Right here with you, just like this
I just want to hold you close
Feel your heart so close to mine
And just stay here in this moment
For all the rest of time
I don't want to close my eyes
I don't want to fall asleep
Cause I'd miss you babe
And I don't want to miss a thing
Jolene closed her eyes, her head resting against his chest, and inhaled his familiar manly scent of sandalwood and leather. "I can't believe you're doing this, Jax."
"Only for you, darlin'." Jax nudged her chin up and kissed her tenderly on the lips as they swayed to the music.
Life can't get any better than this.
To Be Continued