Here is the final chapter. Thank you all so much for reading and commenting along the way! Enjoy! :)
Betty's dress was an ivory-colored Vera Wang asymmetrical strapless mermaid gown with a full ladder-draped organza skirt and she carried a large round bouquet of multi-colored roses.
Hilda wore a watermelon-colored Oscar de la Renta strapless tea-length gown with ruching at the waist and a peplum ruffle along the skirt and carried a smaller version of her sister's bouquet. Alexis wore the same gown in black and had a corsage that matched Hilda's dress.
As Betty walked toward Daniel, she remembered how hard she had fought to resist him, afraid they wouldn't make it. And here they were, pledging to spend the rest of their lives with no one else.
"Hey," Daniel smiled, taking Betty's hands as they stood along the gorgeous ocean view of Capri amongst their closest family and friends.
"Hey," Betty smiled.
"You ready for this?" he asked.
"It's a little too late, now," she joked.
"You look amazing," he brushed her hair out of her eyes as a light breeze blew over them.
"So do you," she kissed his palm.
"We are gathered here today in the presence of God to join this man and this woman in holy matrimony. Betty and Daniel have requested to recite their own personal vows. Betty, would you like to begin?" the priest asked.
Betty took a deep breath and started.
"If I had listened to myself, a year ago, I wouldn't be here today. But I didn't - I listened to my sister, and it was the best advice she's ever given me. She made me realize that I wouldn't be losing a friend, I'd be gaining a lover - and she was right. Daniel, you are still the one I go to when I've got great news or when things get rough. You're still the one who I can laugh or cry with, who doesn't care how crazy I can be. But now, you're so much more than I ever imagined. You're the one whose hand I want to hold, whose lips I want to kiss, the last person I want to talk to at night and the first I want to wake up to in the morning. You're the one who I want to have a family with, and the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. So, I promise to always be your best friend, to always stand beside you through whatever happens, to always love you, and to never take advantage of everything we share together," Betty vowed and slid the platinum band on Daniel's finger.
"Betty, I'm thankful every day that you changed your mind. And I guess I owe Hilda a lot for that," Daniel smiled at her sister.
"A red Ferrari would work," Hilda winked, knowing Daniel's surprise for Betty.
Daniel and Alexis smirked and Betty nudged her.
"Whaaat? I'm just sayin'!" she defended.
Daniel turned his attention back to Betty.
"I never thought I'd love anyone as much as I love you. You're not just the love of my life – you're the best friend I've ever had. You push me to exceed my potential, you believe in me in a way no one else has, you make me laugh, and you pick me up when I'm down. I've never met anyone like you before and I'm so glad I did. It took me four years to realize just how much you mean to me, but I'm grateful you gave me a chance to show you. I promise to always be your best friend, to always stand by your side, to always love you in good times and in bad, and to be the best husband and father to our future children that I can be – oh – and to stop leaving empty milk cartons in the fridge," he joked, placing the platinum diamond band on Betty's finger.
Betty laughed and squeezed his hands.
"By the power vested in me by the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit, and by the jurisdiction of Capri, I now pronounce you husband and wife," the priest said.
Daniel happily kissed his new wife and spontaneously carried her back up the aisle as everyone cheered. They drove to the reception in a red Ferrari California with a JUST MARRIED sign on the back. Random people on the streets stared and cheered for them along the way.
"I can't believe you did this! I feel like a princess or a celebrity," Betty giggled.
"You are, Mrs. Meade," Daniel smiled.
"Tell me this is just a rental, right? You didn't actually buy this – I mean, there's no way – we have a new house, and we don't even need a car in the city –" she started to freak out.
"Daniel!" she berated him. "You did not just buy a $200,000 car!"
"Technically, no," he answered. "I sold my old one in New York, plus, I had money from a condo in Vermont that I knew I'd never use."
"So this is yours?" Betty tried to let it all sink in.
"No – it's ours – well, this one's on loan. We'll pick up ours when we're back home, but yeah," he clarified.
"Oh my god! This is insane – we could do so much more with this money than drive a car that's worth two years of my salary . . . but, I guess when you count how much we already spend on transportation it's not so bad . . . I love it!" she clapped her hands with glee.
"Good," Daniel chuckled. "Besides, we'll have a use for our garage now."
Betty lightly smacked him then happily rested her head on his shoulder.
"You know you'll have to learn how to drive on the left side of the road, right?" she reminded him.
"Oh, crap!" Daniel's eyes widened.
"It's times like these when I love you even more," she smirked and shook her head.
After Daniel and Betty returned from their lengthy honeymoon, Lindsay stopped by Betty's office to congratulate them.
"I'd like to give the both of you a belated wedding present of sorts . . . and a token of my gratitude for your awareness of Victoria's misconduct," Lindsay said, handing Betty an envelope. "However, please let there be no misunderstanding that I would bestow this upon you if I did not have the utmost faith in your abilities."
She carefully opened it and squealed, jumping up and down with excitement.
"What? What is it?" Daniel said, the suspense killing him.
"It's an invitation to The Royal Wedding!" she grinned.
"Are you kidding? How is that even possible?" he exclaimed.
"The press is allotted a slight number of invitations. Since Dunne is the largest publishing company in Britain, we are allotted three, along with photographers," Lindsay explained.
"Not to seem ungrateful, but why us?" Betty asked.
"Well, Daniel will technically be your guest. However, I believe the both of you together can produce a spectacular spread for your magazine," he replied.
"But we're not even from here. Won't people criticize our take on such an important part in British history?" she wondered.
"Perhaps. However, I believe the fact that you and Daniel are Americans living in the UK will give you an advantage. You will be able to perceive the event from a different perspective without being too subjective either way," Lindsay told them. "Plus, I believe your take will be equally unique due to the fact that you, Betty, are more similar in age to the prince and Ms. Middleton than most of our other EICs."
"Wow . . . this is incredible! Thank you, Lindsay!" Daniel said, shaking his hand.
Lindsay modestly smiled.
"Yes, thank you so much – we won't let you down!" Betty promised, giving her boss an enthusiastic hug.
"You're . . . quite welcome, my dear," Lindsay replied, awkwardly patting her back.
"You'll get used to it," Daniel chuckled, remembering how overwhelming Betty's affection had been to him at first – and he wasn't even as reserved as most citizens in this country.
But it wasn't long before her attitude became infectious. She was just like that – somehow getting every person who met her to better themselves in one way or another. Even Marc, Amanda, and Wilhelmina had become less bitchy by the time Betty had left MODE. He smiled with pride knowing this amazing woman was now his wife.
"Daniel? Hello . . . Are you still dumbstruck?" Betty waved a hand in front of his face after Lindsay left.
"Huh? What?" he jumped.
"I can't believe you're as excited as I am about this. I mean, you should be used to these things, right?" she assumed.
"Not exactly. I mean, I didn't even get one of those 'Eggvites' to Hartley's annual charity event – and that was in New York," he said.
"I would've thought your father would have been invited to Charles and Diana's wedding, being the head of MEADE," she guessed.
"No, he and some of the editors were in the city, but didn't have inside access. I think they only reserve that for media of their own country," Daniel replied.
"Oh," she remarked. "Then I guess this is really big for you, too."
"Yeah, it is," he agreed. "But the best part of it is that we'll be able to share it with each other."
Betty smiled and slowly put her arms around him.
"I can't believe we're actually here! We are at William and Kate's wedding!" Betty squealed as Winston dropped them off as close as he could get to the event.
"Betty, calm down. I don't think you were this excited at our wedding," he chuckled.
"Yes I was – you just didn't know it. I drove Hilda nuts," she defended. "Besides, this is a prince,"
"Well, what does he have that I don't?" he complained. "At least I still have all of my hair – well, most of it, anyway."
Betty rolled her eyes.
"You have a full head of hair, Daniel. And don't worry – you'll always be my little prince," she patronized.
"Little!" he protested.
"Daniel, I was kidding! Why are you being like this?" she demanded.
"I'm not 'being' like anything. Go drool over your big, macho, balding prince and I'll just enjoy the atmosphere!" he brooded.
"Oh my god! You were just as excited about this a week ago – drooling over Kate and Pippa. But I make one innocent comment about the Prince and now you're jealous? The man's getting married today, Daniel. Not that any of this matters anyway because A. I'm not attracted to him, B. I have a husband whom I'm crazy in love with, and C. he doesn't even know I exist. Now will you please get over your ego-driven moment and take all of this in?" Betty pleaded.
"Sorry. I just got a little worried that you were tired of me already," he admitted, embarrassed.
"Baby, how could you possibly think that? You are the only man I'll ever want. You gave me the fairytale wedding that I wanted and you are the man of my dreams. Don't ever doubt that," she promised, fully kissing his lips in assurance.
"Okay," he smiled.
"Good. Wow, look at all these different hats!" Betty observed, putting hers on. "I hope Braeden brought enough memory cards . . . Do you think I dressed okay? Is my hat too plain?"
Daniel adjusted it for her.
"Betty, nothing you've ever worn has been too plain," he snickered.
"Ha. Ha," she lightly smacked him.
"You look beautiful – as always," he rubbed her arms. "You even picked out some Jimmy Choos, which seems to be the trend – except – there's one woman in Leboutins. Hey - that's Victoria Beckham. I'm gonna go say 'Hi'. Come with me."
Betty nervously followed. Now that she ran her own magazine, she was getting more used to dealing with celebrities. But she still couldn't shake being a little bit apprehensive.
"Daniel Meade. What brings you here?" Victoria smiled.
"My wife has the honor of covering the wedding for her magazine. I'd like you to meet Betty Suarez-Meade, EIC of Inspire," Daniel replied.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Beckham. Congratulations on your baby," Betty said.
"Thank you. And call me Victoria . . . You look somewhat familiar, have we met before?" Victoria wondered.
"I used to work for Daniel at MODE," Betty answered.
She squinted her eyes.
"Weren't you the girl who interrupted Wilhelmina Slater's wedding to Bradford Meade?" she asked.
Betty smiled, sheepishly.
"That would be me," she admitted.
"Brava. The woman is a gold-digging bitch who can't bear to have the spotlight stolen from her," Victoria commended. "You look fabulous, by the way. Is that Dolce?"
Betty briefly looked down at her mid-length light-teal fitted dress with a wrap that covered her shoulders.
"Yes, thank you! You look amazing, and I love your hat!" Betty replied.
Victoria modestly smiled.
"Oh! David's calling me," she noticed from behind them. "Betty, Daniel, lovely seeing you. Give Willie my best!"
"Wow . . ." Betty laughed.
"Yeah," Daniel agreed and took her hand. "Come on – we don't want to be late."
"That was so beautiful! I mean, her dress, the Cartier tiara borrowed from the Queen - she really was like a modern-day Cinderella . . . traveling in her cars and a carriage and walking down that long aisle in that enormous church . . . kissing her prince from the balcony, with people from all over the world cheering them on . . ." Betty swooned as they walked back from the celebration to the car.
"Yeah, it was pretty romantic," Daniel agreed. "But those kisses were weak."
"Daniel, they're British. PDAs are practically non-existent for them, so two kisses was a lot – even if they were tiny pecks," she argued.
"I guess. But not wearing a ring? I know he's a prince so everyone knows who he is, but it's the principle of it, you know? Rings are symbols of your love for each other – not just a piece of jewelry or to say you're taken," he said.
"You're right. I feel the same way, but not all men in America choose to wear them either . . . I don't know. I'm just glad you chose to," she fingered his platinum band.
"So, now that you've seen the Royal Wedding, is there anything you would've changed about ours?" he wondered.
"Except for the thirty million-dollar budget they had, I'd say ours was pretty perfect," Betty reflected. "I thought it was very elegant and definitely royal, but Kate's bouquet was more suited for one of the flower girls and you know my opinion about no color. Plus, I definitely wouldn't have wanted the whole world judging my every move. I mean, take the normal butterflies you have before and during a wedding and multiple them by a million."
"Yeah," he laughed. "You think they'll last?"
"I think so. They've known each other for ten years, were together for eight – that's more than most people do before they're married. And she handles herself really well in the spotlight. Plus, Kate's older than Diana was when she married Charles. And she and William seem to truly love each other – like we do," Betty smiled.
"Exactly," he agreed.
"There were so many different traditions than in America. Like the women having to cover their shoulders in the church . . . not kissing each other after being pronounced husband and wife . . . the little flower girls following her – or just the hats. I can't wait to get home and start writing on this! I hope Braeden got some good shots – did you see Harry grin and tell William that Kate was coming down the aisle and William refused to turn around until she got to him – so adorable –" Betty went on.
Daniel put a finger to her lips.
"You're adorable," he grinned and pressed his lips to hers. "I think we should go to our own reception, since we're all dressed up and weren't invited to the others. There are a couple of parties I heard were going on close by – Adele is throwing one and I got us an invite."
"Shut! Up!" Betty playfully shoved him. "I know Marc and I got her to perform for my YETI project which turned into your wedding, but you managed to get an invite to a party she's hosting?"
Daniel nodded proudly.
"I knew there was a reason I loved you," she flirted, throwing her arms around him.
"Oh my god! Daniel, get in here!" Betty yelled from the family room, as the news of Osama bin Laden's death interrupted the show they had been watching.
"What? Baby, what's wrong – are you hurt?" he panicked, rushing out of the bathroom, practically tripping over his half-pulled-up pants.
"Look!" she pointed to the screen.
"Oh god. It's finally over," he said, slowly sitting beside her.
She handed him the hand-sanitizer off the end table.
"Yeah, well at least the biggest terrorist is gone. I wish the entire war was over," she sighed.
"Me, too. Where were you . . . when it happened?" Daniel asked.
"I was on a senior fieldtrip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island - we were doing reports on immigration for History. We were on one of those ferries, when we saw the planes coming. It was the most horrifying thing I'd ever seen in my life," she recalled, blinking back tears. "Where were you?"
"I was outside of the Starbucks near MEADE, about to get into the town car. I was supposed to be taking a prop over to the UN for Dad. HUDSON was having a photo shoot there and the Features editor running it had forgotten it - Alex was on a business trip at the time. I was home from partying with Becks in Long Beach. Dad told me to not to make any pit stops, that they needed it immediately, but I didn't listen. And for once, he was glad I didn't," Daniel remembered.
"I'm glad you didn't, either," she shook her head. "Can you imagine what would have happened if either of us had been caught in it? We never would have met . . . might not even be alive . . . To think of all of those victims and their families – it's terrible," Betty softly cried.
Daniel pulled her close to him and kissed the top of her head.
"It doesn't change what happened, doesn't bring their loved ones back, but at least they have some relief knowing that the evil bastard's finally dead. That's some justice," he said.
"Yeah," she nodded.
"And I'm so grateful to have you – I can't imagine what my life would have been like if you weren't in it. I love you so much," he told her.
"I love you, too, baby – more than anything," she confessed. "Promise me we'll never take each other for granted?"
"Promise. We're lucky to have each other and I don't want to waste another minute of our lives together," he said, earnestly parting her lips with his own.
As they broke, he pulled her off the couch and towards the foyer.
"Where are we going?" she asked, puzzled.
"Out. We're celebrating!" Daniel announced, gently shoving her out the door and down the steps.
"Anything specific?" Betty inquired.
"The victory over terrorism . . . us . . . life in general . . ." he clarified, raising his other hand.
"You're on!" she high-fived him. "You know, I think I'm going to add a piece to the wedding issue about this. About celebrating love instead of hate and how one tiny decision in your life can affect the rest of it, using 9-11 and our stories as examples."
"Great idea. It really makes you think, doesn't it?" Daniel agreed as they walked down the streets of London.
"Yeah . . . Like what if I hadn't given us a chance when you came here? What if I had left you at that café and we never spoke again?" she contemplated.
"Okay, a little analysis is good, but l think we should just be grateful that you came to your senses," he teased.
"I came to my senses?" she repeated, irritated.
"Yeah . . ." he grinned, boyishly.
"Okay, for that, you're buying me the most expensive thing on the menu," she playfully demanded.
"No problem, babe – a five-star restaurant won't let us in, so pick whatever you want . . ." Daniel smirked.
"Well, maybe I'll force you to take me shopping at Harrods first?" she smiled, deviously, walking ahead of him in that direction.
Daniel caught up with her, attacking her from behind.
"Come here, you!" he demanded as he spun her around.
"What?" she giggled, feigning innocence.
As he looked into her beautiful brown eyes under the dim street lights, he didn't care anymore.
"Nothing," he whispered, kissing her for no reason, aside from a spontaneous urge.
Life for both of them, at that moment, couldn't be any more perfect.