I'm getting married is one of the worst sentences in the father/daughter language.

I'm getting married means 'I've grown up and no longer need you in my life, instead I've found a better man who can take care of me better than you'.

I'm getting married also means 'dear god I have gotten old, weren't you just a baby in nappies two minutes ago?'

Martin Love had thought he was already prepared for those words. After all Rowan ran off and eloped a couple years ago and they all celebrated with a big garden party when she came back. But that was Rowan she was expected to run off and get married but to forget to invite everyone.

Linn the sensible one who has always had many possible suitors had yet to find a man that she wanted to date for more than six months let alone get married. So how on earth did his little girl, his Ally Pally, find a man and was ready to get married?

It all happened when he wasn't looking. They had only been friends when he was looking but the moment his back was turned they were dating...and then they went back to friends as they moved on and he let out a huge sigh of relief no longer worrying what was happening on those walks to the park...and then suddenly they were back together and getting married.

It was all Melanie's fault, she encouraged their friendship by befriending Billy's mother, she kept insisting on them being in love, and she's stopping him from buying a shotgun so he can make sure this wedding never happens.

"It's a fact of life, sweetheart," she said gently, "boys steal men's little girls and the men have to accept it because they have stolen a man's child long ago. You can't kill Billy for doing something that you did to my father."

"This is different! This is Ally, she's my little girl!" he protested though he knew he was really being silly. And suddenly a great bubble of laughter escaped him and he couldn't stop laughing. "I am being silly," he admitted as he laughed into his wife's shoulder, "after all it is Ally who's wearing the trousers of that relationship, she'll be safe and happy."

"And that's what is important, that she'll be safe and happy, Billy will make her safe and happy," she giggled. "Do you remember the first time Billy came to our house?"

"I believe Ally introduced him as her slave," he said smiling fondly at the memory. His little girl dressed in hand-me-down clothes with long tangled hair and dirt on her face and yet she looked regal as the Queen herself when she introduced Billy as her slave. It was difficult for any of them to keep a straight face. "And Billy just went alone with it and followed her around like a little puppy."

"I think he had been lonely, his sister is a lot older than him and I heard she never spent any time with him like ours spend their time together."

"Ah, but maybe that's a good thing. After all we had to spend a good forty per cent of our time sorting out Linn's and Rowan's arguments."

"Yes but it's a lonely thing," she said.

"I just never expected them to end up together!" he cried out referring to the beginning of their conversation. "I never viewed him as someone who will steal my little girl right under my nose at that!"

"Love is much unexpected," she said calmly. "But sometimes it can be very predictable if you watch carefully with a mother's eye you would have known they loved each other very much before they had even turned nine. They used to hold hands until they were teased endlessly, do you remember?"

"Ally said she couldn't hold Billy's hand anymore because it had cooties," he said laughingly.

"And when Tor was first born, Billy brought flowers over every day for two weeks afterwards-"

"- and yet he gave them to Ally instead of you."

"And then they played Mummy and Daddy with Tor."

"Oh that went on until they turned ten. Started to all change afterwards, they were growing up."

"You know those journals Ally had written for me? Billy wanted to be her first kiss."

"But they weren't."

"No, but Billy still wanted to be her first kiss. They just forgot about their first kiss before."

"They were three and it was on the cheek!"

"It's still a first kiss; our first kiss was you kissing my cheek."

Martin sighed. They could talk in circles about Billy and Ally all night if they wanted to but the wedding was in the morning and it wouldn't do for the bride's mother and father turning up late. His mother in law, Linn, and Billy's mother would kill them. Never minding the fact that Ally and Billy were most likely to be late themselves.

"All right, they been slowly falling in love with each other all their life and I was too blind to notice it. But you do realise what this will mean, don't you?"

"What dear?"

"I'll be watching every male friend Ivy makes very carefully so I won't make the same mistake again."