Miserable At Best: Chapter 30
A/N: Here's the last chapter! I'l spare you the sappy concluding author's note-I had one written. Instead, just read, enjoy, and don't forget to tell me what you think!
In the years that followed our wedding, I wouldn't be able to recall the minor details—the exact color of the seed pearls I'd picked to be placed into my bouquet, the number of people in the pews, or the shade of my mother's dress. One thing I would never forget however, the only thing I would remember with certain clarity, was the way Ezra looked in his black tuxedo and midnight blue tie, the warm light of the fading sun highlighting the brightness of his eyes. He was smiling so radiantly and so tenderly that I nearly forgot that the pace of my steps down the aisle was supposed to be even and smooth—the only thing that kept me from rushing towards him was the heavy weight of my father's hand upon my arm. And I'd never pegged myself as the type that cried at weddings, I'd never been the sentimental and emotional one, but by the time I choked out my "I do," I was in tears.
There was also a very good chance that when we were pronounced man and wife I forgot how to breathe. My focus was on much more important matters, like the feel of my husband's lips upon my own and the strength of his arms as he crushed me against him. In all, the ceremony lasted just under twenty minutes, and inevitably my fear that things would blur in the rush of the moment became reality. However, those few important things—those details that mattered most—were imprinted in my mind for eternity.
"I love you, Mrs. Fitz."
I grinned as Ezra said my name. He'd said it before, but now that we were actually married, the sound of the syllables rolling of his tongue was sweeter.
"And I love you, Mr. Fitz."
He chuckled and leaned down to brush his lips against mine softly one more time, before taking my hand and tugging me down the aisle. "Come on, you're mother looks like she's about to hug you again, and we have an hour before the reception starts. I want to spend it with you—not, as much as I love all of them," he cast a furtive glance towards his family and mine, "weeping relatives."
I giggled and waved a quick goodbye over my shoulder towards my parents. "Lead the way."
The minute the door to my former makeshift dressing room clicked shut, Ezra had me in his arms, the his fingers splayed across soft lace that covered my lower back. "You look beautiful."
I grinned and loosened the knot on his tie. "You don't look half bad yourself, although I am sort of sad that you refused to wear the vest I picked out."
His lips quirked apologetically and the bright light in his eyes dimmed a bit.
"I'm kidding." I rolled my eyes and stretched up on my tiptoes to kiss his chin. "Haven't you figured me out yet?"
He chuckled quietly and toyed gently with a small curl tucked behind my ear. "Nope. I've got a whole lifetime to do that, remember?"
Before I could respond, his lips had dropped to my neck, the kisses he pressed against my cool skin sending my pulse racing.
"Mhmm. We have years and years and years."
His dark gaze met mine and I smiled warmly, before arching up as tall as my petite frame would allow and wrapping my arms tightly around his neck. "And we have years to do this." I kissed him tenderly, all the restraint I'd guarded so carefully during the ceremony crumbling away as passion overtook decency. I broke away only when his fingers found the buttons on my dress and beginning slipping them out of their loopholes one by one.
"Later." It was both a sigh and a promise.
He nodded and redid the few fastenings he'd managed to undo. "Later."
I pulled away from him and turned towards the mirror, carefully removing my veil and laying it across one of the tables. "That was the most uncomfortable thing."
He grinned and tucked a stray bobby pin back into the twist of hair at the nape of my neck. "I like the buttons by the way; of course I hadn't planned on there being so many."
"Well, don't worry. I'm changing before we leave the reception. One of the girls will be stuck with undoing all of them—not you."
"Ahh—well in that case, I love the buttons. And more importantly," he hugged me from behind and pulled my back flush against his chest, "I love you."
"I don't think I'll ever get tired of hearing that." I giggled and gripped his arms tightly, letting my head fall back onto his shoulder. "Ezra?"
"Since we're married now, and you said that you'd tell me after the wedding, and it's technically after the wedding—where are we going for our honeymoon?"
He laughed. "You're too curious for your own good, you know that?" Releasing me, he moved towards the other side of the room and grabbed a small wrapped package off of a desk.
I quirked an eyebrow at him—the box certainly had been there earlier. "Where did that come from?"
He smirked and handed the ivory box to me. "I have my ways."
I peeled away the paper excitedly, tearing it to shreds like a child on Christmas morning. Beneath was a copy of Ernest Hemingway's Old Man and The Sea, and an adorable, and very tiny purple bikini. I studied them skeptically for a moment. Clearly we were heading somewhere warm, and Ernest Hemingway had lived in…Cuba?
"We're going to—Cuba?"
He laughed and took the book from my hands. "No silly, we're going to Key West, which by the way is currently a warm and very sunny eighty degrees."
I nodded and hugged him. "You're amazing, you know that?"
He shrugged. "I know."
I swatted him playfully and held up the swimsuit. "I don't suppose you had a hand in picking this out, did you?"
"Actually, no. That was Spencer's emergency errand this afternoon. I completely forgot to get one for you before we left St. Louis. But," he took the fabric from me and laid it back into the box, "remind me to thank her for her excellent selection later."
His lips met mine again for a brief moment before pulling away. "As much as I hate to say this, we should probably get going. The reception starts in," he glanced over at the clock hanging on the wall, "fifteen minutes."
I smiled mischievously and my lips met his again in protest. "But they can't start without us, can they?"
Much to my chagrin, we were interrupted not three minutes later by a sharp rap on the door and the deceptively sweet voice of Hanna who promised to drag us out of the room if we didn't make an appearance at the restaurant in no less than ten minutes. Reluctantly, I straightened Ezra's hair from where I'd mussed it with my fingers, and smoothed the satin of my blue sash against my waist. "Let's go before she actually does come in here."
Throughout the course of the wedding planning, the girls had continually surprised me—first with the shopping trip for dresses, then with my perfect bachelorette party, and finally—finally with the unassuming and breathtaking elegance of the reception. The inn, which I'd visited several times before, had been transformed into a magical, romantic fairyland of sorts, with twinkling lights crisscrossing the ceiling, and deep red roses adorning each of the cream colored, linen draped, tables.
I turned towards Ezra at his exclamation and squeezed his hand lightly. "Wow is an understatement."
Hanna, Emily, and Spencer entered the room behind us, the three of them sporting smug, and well earned smiles of delight. "What do you guys think?"
I pulled away from Ezra to embrace each of them in turn. "It's amazing! How did you even..."
"We're just good like that, I guess."
The five of us laughed and Hanna pointed out where everyone would be sitting for dinner, the dance floor, and finally the four tiered wedding cake resting on a table in the corner.
"Girls, this is unbelievable. I don't even know how to thank you." Ezra smiled at the three of them and wrapped an arm around my waist.
Emily smiled. "You don't have to thank us, just don't…"
Hanna cut her off. "Just don't break Aria's heart, Fitzy."
Ezra glanced down at me and kissed my forehead. "Not a chance."
The sweetness of the moment was shattered by the arrival of the rest of the guests, all of them eager to congratulate us. Things remained hectic until well after we'd eaten; I'd never been hugged so many times in such a short time. And unfortunately, Ezra and I were inevitably drawn apart—I caught chatting with people I hadn't seen since elementary school, and Ezra surrounded by friends of his that I'd yet to meet.
When things finally did settle down, it was only because Hanna cued the DJ to start the music and shoved Ezra in my direction for our first dance.
He held me gently in his arms, his forehead resting against mine and his gaze soft. "I'm not very good at this."
"Liar." I giggled as he turned me out slowly and then pulled me back in.
Behind us, cameras flashed and the quiet melody played, but I was oblivious to it all. In that moment, the only thing that mattered was the feel of Ezra so close to me, and the warmth of his lips as they ghosted over my forehead. "I love you, Aria Fitz."
I wasn't really sure how long we danced, but all too soon, or at least that's the way it felt, Ezra was pulled away from me by his Aunt and my father swooped in to partner with me.
"You've never looked more beautiful."
I smiled and kissed his cheek softly. "Thank you, Dad."
"And I'm sorry for making this so difficult—it's just hard for a father to watch his little girl grow up so fast."
I nodded and wiped a tiny tear from the corner of his eye. "Don't cry, because then I will and mascara will be all down my face."
We laughed. "I'm not crying."
We took a few more turns around the dance floor before the song ended. "Aria, promise me one thing."
"When this baby's born, come home to visit."
"Of course. I'm sure your grandson would love to meet you."
He froze and glanced down at me. "It's a boy?"
I nodded. "I just found out the other day."
He laughed and hugged me tightly for a moment before stepping back. "Congratulations. I…" he trailed off and as something over my shoulder caught his eye. "We'll talk about this later. A young man is getting pretty impatient over there."
He inclined his head towards the far corner of the dance floor, and I turned my head to glance over my shoulder. Ezra stood there, a small smile playing on his lips, and his hands shoved into the pockets of his pants.
I met my father's gaze again and hugged him tightly one last time. "I love you, Dad."
"And I love you, Aria, no matter how grown up you get." He walked away, and I headed over towards Ezra.
"What were you two talking about?"
I wrapped my arms around my husband's neck and stepped back into the rhythm of the dance. "The baby—it seems like we'll be coming back to Rosewood this summer. He's in an awful hurry to meet his grandson now."
Ezra chuckled and pressed a kiss to the top of my head. "Funny how things work out for the better isn't it?"
Things began to slow as eleven o'clock drew near, and Ezra and I were whisked away into one of the bedrooms to change into something more comfortable for our flight to Florida. I, with much reservation, gave into the girls' pleas to wear the black yoga pants and hoodie they'd bought me. Printed across the back of the sweatshirt in hot pink letters and glittery white rhinestones, was the word bride. Ezra fared much better, escaping with a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt. Or at least I thought he had until he turned around. There, printed in the same shade of fuchsia as my own, was the word 'groom.'
I couldn't contain my giggles, and ended up nearly doubled over on the bed.
"What's so funny?"
I just smiled and shook my head.
"Come on, Aria. Spill it."
"Did you look at the clothes before you put them on?"
He glanced down at what he was wearing and shook his head. "No, why?"
"Because," I climbed off the mattress and turned him towards the full length mirror, "it seems Hanna got a bit too happy with her bedazzler."
Ezra groaned. "I'm not wearing this."
I shook my head. "You are, at least until we leave here anyways. Just humor them for a bit."
He looked at me skeptically before shrugging. "Alright, but when I stop for gas on the way to the airport, I'm changing."
"Fair enough." I pecked him on the lips quickly before opening the door and leading him back down to the reception.
We said our goodbyes to everyone less than half an hour later, and climbed into the grey sedan that Ezra had picked up from the rental place. "Ready to go, Mrs. Fitz?"
I nodded and interlaced my fingers with his over the console. "Very ready."
He pulled out onto the main road and we lapsed into silence, both of us content with our own thoughts for the moment. My phone buzzed a few minutes later and I smiled as I read the text from Emily. Tell Ezra I took pity on him and there's a plain t-shirt right on top of the suitcases in the trunk.
I laughed and Ezra looked at me questioningly. "What?"
"You should thank Emily too. She put a regular shirt in the back for you."
He smiled. "I knew I liked your friends…well two of them at least." Turning off the highway, he stopped at the first gas station and popped open the trunk. "I'll be back in just a few minutes. Do you want anything?"
"A bottle of water would be great."
He leaned over and kissed me quickly. "Water it is."
I watched his retreating form for a few seconds before settling back into the seat. The glint of my ring in the bright lights of the gas station caught my eye and I twisted it thoughtfully around my finger. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined that the two of us would be reunited, married, and with a baby on the way in the span of just a few short months. Yet, I wouldn't have had it any other way—I couldn't imagine in any other way.
With a happy sigh, and I reached towards the dash board and turned the radio on low, the quiet sounds of mellow music drifting out lazily. My phone buzzed again in the cup holder, and I picked it up expecting another message from one of the girls.
The screen was lit up with a message not from a friend, but from a terrifying and old enemy.
Enjoy the honeymoon, Mrs. Fitz, because when you get back I promise you'll be miserable at best.