Disclaimer: SM owns most of it. The rest belongs to Ninadoll and me!
Thank you so much to Ninadoll for being an awesome beta, friend, and supporter! She is truly amazing and very patient with me! If you haven't yet, please check out her stories, Rest of Forever, How Wonderful Life Is, Now You're in the World, and How the Mighty Fall. You will love them! Trust me!
Thank you as well to my friend Shojioxlow! We are anxiously waiting to purchase our Water for Elephants tickets!
This takes place way before the Epilogue in Love You for Always. It takes place about two months after the birth of Cullen Clearwater, in June. I hope you guys enjoy! Please check my webs and blog for pics!
LOVE YOU MADLY
Prologue: The Meaning of My Life
"As for me, to love you alone, to make you happy, to do nothing which would contradict your wishes, this is my destiny and the meaning of my life." ~ Napoleon Bonaparte
Every fairy tale starts out with the same beginning, "Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away, there lived a princess in search of her prince, blah, blah, blah, blah." Well, I myself was never a fan of fairytales really. I didn't think it was fair that a boy always had to rescue the girl, or that the wolf was punished because Little Red Riding Hood was wandering the forest all by herself and happened to stumble upon a pretty damn smart wolf, if I may say so. Besides, really, who lets a kid just traipse around the forest with a basket of muffins and a flimsy red cape? No, those fairy tales were not for me. However, I have always believed in Prince Charming, in a way, I guess. Not as someone to save the princess from a high tower or wake her from a coma with a sloppy kiss. I believed in a Prince Charming that truly loved the princess, that saw her as his equal, but would willingly give his life for her protection. Maybe the reason I only believe in that part of the story is because I've always had my Prince Charming. Just like the books, he was tall and handsome and willing to fight for my honor. But, unlike the books, he didn't have a sword or a noble steed. There were no dragons to slay or witches to defeat. No, my Prince Charming was a werewolf.
No, that doesn't sound right. No, he was, he is…he's a guardian…a protector…a warrior. He just happens to be able to transform magically into a wolf to do all those things. And he was mine. My guardian, my protector, my warrior, my friend, my lover, that was him, that was my Prince Charming.
I was two years old the day that I met my Prince. I knew, that day, that I would marry him. I knew that I would be his wife, his equal. He would be my family and I his. I may have fawned over the occasional rock-n-roll star or hot actor, but while other girls practiced their signature by adding on the name of the newest "IT" boy, I only had one name to practice, Ateara. I wasn't girly really, but when I was about ten, I had a whole notebook devoted entirely to my future name. Claire Ateara; Claire Elizabeth Ateara; Claire Elizabeth Munholland-Ateara. It is a beautiful name, if I do say so myself. And today, after years of waiting, I would marry my Prince Charming.
"Are you nervous?" my Dad asked as he hooked my arm into his.
"About marrying Quil?" I asked. That truly had to be the most preposterous questions ever. There was no one I loved or trusted like I loved Quil. There was no one I ever imagined marrying but Quil. I had been practicing for this day for years. I used to spend hours using my Mom's good lace tablecloth walking around my bedroom pretending to be a bride. And in all those hours, in all those years, there was only ever one man waiting for me at the end of the aisle.
In my playtime, I hadn't really considered all the other things that went into a wedding. I just thought about the dress and the groom. In reality, it took a lot to get from the dress to the groom. While most people had flower girls, I was part of an extended family (a pack, if you will) that seemed to produce only XY-chromosomes. Therefore, I had more than one ring bearer. My Aunt Emily's son, Remy Uley, stood next to Liam Clearwater in little black trousers and white shirts. This was a casual wedding. I believe I had actually called it "vintage casual." Aunt Emily, who was planning the wedding with the help of my mother, didn't seem too impressed with my whole scheme. The girls wore black Audrey-Hepburn style dresses with bouquets of white anemones, while the groomsmen looked freaking hot in black pants and white shirts, san ties. I hadn't seen my groom yet but I knew he was going to put all the men to shame.
"Let's get this show on the road," Aunt Emily clapped her hands like a wedding planning pro.
I felt myself grip onto my Dad a little tighter and watched while Emily lined up my future mother-in-law and Luka. Anna Ateara looked towards me as the doors of rec center opened, and winked. I think she had been waiting for this day even longer then I had. It was almost surreal to watch her, in a light yellow dress that seemed to match the sunlight that billowed in from the park outside, and then watch her turn her head and walk out of the rec center.
"Calvin, get your mother," Emily gripped my brother and moved him to stand in the spot that had just become vacant. My brother did as he was told and linked Mom's arms with his.
Mom turned and mouthed, "I love you," one last time before she followed Anna.
"Almost time," Dad whispered into my ear. My heart sped up and I felt my breathing change. More than anything though, as everyone moved up to their spot, I felt the familiar tug in chest and in the pit of my stomach. It was pulling me towards him.
Emily shut the doors and I resisted the urge to howl because dammit, I wanted to run out the doors to my Quil. "You look really pretty, Claire," Remy said as he and Liam ran past me.
"Thanks, Rem," I said to his back.
Remy and Liam stood next to each other, each given a black and white pillow with the letters C and Q monogrammed on them. I wasn't sure it was good idea to give our wedding rings to two little boys to carry on a pillow but I had been assured it would be okay and so far they both seemed to be taking their responsibilities rather seriously. Petra and my sisters, Calista and Cascia, lined up directly behind them, side by side. At least I'd been smart to cut down time by having them all walk out together. Petra was a newlywed herself. She'd been smart and eloped. I was slightly jealous of her and that decision right now, knowing that she didn't have an aunt that was channeling her inner-General Patton, to boss her around.
"You okay, baby girl?" Dad asked. In all the movies, at the happily-ever-after, you never hear how the king and queen felt giving up their only daughter to marry the man who saved her from a life of solitary confinement in a tower, or anything like that. I could see how my Dad felt though. He knew that I loved Quil and that Quil adored me (probably a little too much, he said) but the tears that were welling up in his eyes told me more than anything that this king was definitely going to have a hard time letting his princess go.
"I am, just ready to get out there and get hitched," I joked. My attempt to lighten the mood failed miserably though.
Dad sighed loudly. "I should be used to that by now, you wanting to get away from your old man to run off with Quil. I'm not though. I feel like I had two years with you, where I was your hero and the only guy you loved. But you haven't really been mine in over sixteen years. Seems like today I won't have any part in who you are."
"That's not true, Dad," I said, holding on tighter to his arm. "I may be a lot of things but one of the things I'm most proud to be is your daughter. You will always be a part of me, part of Quil is a part of you, and knowing that you guys get along so well makes this easier for me. Cuz trust me Dad, I'm excited but I'm pretty damn scared."
Dad chuckled at me. "Not my Claire, she's not scared of anything. That's cuz she can do anything and she'll kick anyone else's ass if they try to stand in her way."
"Damn straight," I nodded.
Emily had Ava ready to go at the door and Ava smiled and blew me a kiss before making her departure. Then the tug got stronger and I felt like a little girl trying to walk her giant Labrador Retriever, pulled this way and that but knowing exactly where I needed and wanted to go.
"Show time, Claire," Aunt Emily smiled and shut the doors again. Dad pulled me towards the spot where all the others had stood. He took a deep breath and I followed suit as Aunt Em walked over to me. "You look absolutely amazing. I never would've thought I'd see this day seventeen years ago when one little look…" She stopped and looked up at me.
"Showed me my destiny," I finished for her and leaned to kiss her cheek. "Thank you, Auntie Em. For everything."
"My pleasure," she giggled. "Now go get your wolf."
It literally was like a scene in the movie as the rec center doors opened onto the small park area outside. The sun was shining, reflecting off all the white chairs. But like a fairytale, it was almost as if a ray of light shone to the place where I felt compelled to almost run to.
"Quil," I whispered to myself. I was supposed to wait for Dad to take the first step but I pulled him as I started to briskly walk up the aisle, ignoring the chuckles around me until I was right in front of him.
"Couldn't wait to see me, Claire-bear?" Quil whispered as he took my hand, then shook my Dad's and locked eyes with me. I wondered if it were possible reimprint on someone because at that moment, I felt a stronger connection than I ever had with Quil. Even during sex, there wasn't this feeling, this intense, crazy love.
He led me up the steps of the gazebo to stand in the middle, our eyes still together. I saw something then that captivated me. I loved Quil, I always tried to do what I could to make him happy and let him know what he meant to me. But looking at him, I literally got how much he loved me, how much he was devoted to me. His eyes said it all. We were surrounded by the people we loved but we only belonged with one another. And as the judge jabbered on about love and commitment and blah, blah, blah, I made my own vow to Quil. It was an unspoken vow but it was still there.
Everyday, until the day I take my last breath, I will do whatever I can to keep that look on my Quil's face. I would spend my whole life making sure that he never questioned my love or devotion to him. I would do whatever I had to make sure every day was the best day of his life. I would slay a thousand dragons and fight off the worst witch to make sure he knew it.
He was perfect. He was mine, and at that moment, I believed nothing could ever change that.