So here it is…the final installment of "Beautiful in Time". It's been an amazing journey but all things must come to an end.
Thank yous will be in the chapter's end notes because I got all sentimental and wrote more than I probably should have. Lol!
Ok…no more stalling…Enjoy!
"Rhiannon, get your ass in gear!" Stacy yelled through the door. Even the fact that we were in a church didn't take the potty out of Stacy's potty mouth.
"Stacy Reid!" my mother scolded as she fluffed my dress. We heard her giggle and then the sound of her heels as she walked away.
I laughed and rolled my eyes. Stacy really could be a bitch but I wouldn't have her any other way. She'd been extremely vital to helping me make it to this day: mine and Jackson's wedding day.
After I'd moved and gotten settled in L.A. I relied on Stacy and my mother to help me through the bouts of homesickness I'd always have when Jackson was working. I travelled a lot with him at first but when I'd gotten a job at the Los Angeles Times, the constant trips had to stop. Soon after he proposed to me, he'd cut down a lot on how long and how often he'd have to be gone. It definitely helped to have him home and it helped even more when my family would come to visit us, which they did often.
I got regular pictures of my gorgeous nephew and with each photograph he reminded me more and more of my brother. He was going to be a heartbreaker just like his daddy. He'd even started babbling as I found out when Mia called one night all excited over it. She'd put me on speaker phone so I could hear him.
I felt another wave of nausea hit me and held on to my mother for support.
"You ok, hun?" Mom asked as she looked at me worriedly.
"Yeah," I answered breathlessly. "Just feeling a little sick."
My mother beamed at me and kissed my cheek.
"That's just part of it, I'm afraid," she said wistfully. "Have you told Jackson yet?"
I shook my head quickly.
I hadn't had a chance to tell Jackson because I had only discovered it myself last night…
"Rhi, you've barely drank anything," Stacy complained after I turned down the shot of tequila she ordered me.
"I'm sorry," I told her. I didn't know why I couldn't seem to drink tonight. "I just don't feel well."
"Yeah, you look like hell." Stacy appraised me and shook her head. "Do you want to look like shit for your wedding day?"
I sighed in exasperation. Yes, of course that's what I wanted; to look like shit on the day I was marrying the love of my life. I couldn't help it that for the last few days I couldn't seem to get enough sleep or that every waking moment I was suffering from either nausea or a headache. I usually felt like this when I was getting ready to start my period…
Oh fuck, I thought. My period…
"Stacy," I said as the realization hit me. She heard the worry in my voice and immediately came to my side.
"What is it?"
"I'm late." I looked at her to gage her reaction but she just looked confused.
"For what?" she asked.
Just then Carlie, Natalia, and Mia returned from the dance floor.
"My period," I hissed as the other girls sat down and ordered some drinks. "I was supposed to start like five days ago. I guess I've been so busy with the wedding plans that I didn't realize it. "
Stacy's eyes grew about three times their original size and her mouth dropped open. After she had somewhat composed herself, she grabbed the beer that was sitting in front of me and moved it out of my grasp.
"No more of that for you until we get you a pregnancy test," she stated, successfully getting the attention of the other girls.
"What?" Mia gasped, looking between me and Stacy. The other girl's expressions mirrored Mia's and I found myself getting really self-conscious at the attention my little revelation was getting.
"Rhiannon's period is late and she's been feeling sick," Stacy explained. "Mia, you're the only one of us that's been pregnant. What do you think?"
"I think we should get a test," she answered flatly.
Carlie and Natalia squealed and jumped up and down. They talked excitedly about how beautiful the baby was going to be but I couldn't figure out exactly how to feel about the situation. The whole ride to the drug store, I picked at the cuticles on my nails and punished my bottom lip with my teeth. When I finally tasted blood, I stopped.
Too nervous to even move, Stacy went in to get the test for me and then we sped back to her house. At that moment I was really glad Jackson and I had decided to have our wedding in Baton Rouge. There was no way I would be able to handle doing this without my friends and family.
When we got to Stacy's the house was empty since Eddie had joined the rest of the guys for the bachelor party. Lord even knew what they were up to. I tried not to think about it too much. Stacy pulled out a few bottles of wine and told the girls to busy themselves while I took the test. Mia refused and insisted that she go upstairs with us. I didn't mind. Carlie and Natalia were my friends, that's why they were bridesmaids in the wedding, but Mia and Stacy were like sisters to me.
"Do you want me to come with you?" Stacy asked as I grabbed the plastic bag containing the test and headed to the bathroom in Stacy's room.
I looked at her with adoration. She never ceased to amaze me with how easily she could tell when I needed her the most.
I nodded and smiled. She rose from the bed and told Mia we'd be back with an answer in just a few minutes – literally.
We went in to the bathroom and I opened the box, pulling out one of the two test sticks it came with. I reached in the box and grabbed the information packet and unfolded it, my hands shaking the entire time.
"Here, let me," Stacy offered and took the paper out of my hands.
She skimmed over the directions as I removed the wrapping on the test stick I had selected.
She began to read the contents of the paper aloud to me while I sat down on the toilet.
I followed the directions carefully expecting to have to wait the three minutes for an answer. I had just set the test down on the counter and began to wipe myself when I noticed the little hourglass on the display had already stopped flashing. I shot a panicked look over at Stacy and noticed she was looking at it too.
"That was fast," she murmured and looked at me.
I pulled my panties and skirt up. I then took a deep breath and leaned in closer. All of a sudden I freaked out.
"I can't," I whispered and looked at my friend. "Would you…?"
My heart pounded in my chest as I watched Stacy nod once and then lean in closer to the pregnancy test that was sitting on the sink.
She blinked a few times and then…she smiled.
"What? What is it?" I asked, picking the test up so I could see it clearly. I felt sure that I was going to hyperventilate as I read the display:
My eyes filled with tears and I placed the stick carefully back down on to the sink like it was going to explode or something. I stumbled back to the wall and slid down it until my ass was on the floor.
Stacy came to me and crouched down in front of me.
"Why are you crying? This is fucking amazing, Rhi!"
I shook my head violently as the tears flowed continuously from my eyes. Mia knocked and asked if I was ok, saying she'd heard a thud. Stacy told her to come in and talk some sense in to me. I watched through blurry eyes as Mia entered the bathroom, read the test, and then turned to look at me. Her expression was confused as she made her way over to me and sat in the floor beside me.
"What's wrong, Rhiannon? Talk to us," Mia said softly as she rubbed my arm soothingly.
"I-I don't kn-know," I cried. "What if J-Jackson isn't r-ready for this? W-What if he l-leaves me?" My heart ached in my chest at the thought of losing him.
"Rhiannon, you know I love you but that is the dumbest thing you've ever said," Stacy declared a little angrily. "You're marrying this man tomorrow and even after all the two of you have been through, you still can't trust his love for you? Unbelievable."
"It's n-not that," I argued, beginning to get a little pissed at Stacy's lack of sympathy. "I know he loves me. I'm just s- scared of how he'll react, that's all." I wiped away my tears and attempted to slow my breathing.
Mia cleared her throat and shook her head.
"I have to agree with Stacy on this one. The time for insecurities has passed. You say you know he loves you?" she asked. I nodded and sighed impatiently. "Then you should know that he's not going to leave you because you're pregnant. If he didn't want kids with you, he wouldn't be marrying you and it's as simple as that."
Stacy laughed and nudged me.
"Yeah. What she said."
We all laughed and my fear slowly subsided. For the moment at least…
"When do you plan to tell him?" my mother asked, bringing me back to the present.
"Soon," I assured her and watched her as she ruffled my dress some more. "I wanted to tell him last night but his phone kept going to voicemail. When I finally got a hold of him this morning, things were too hectic to really discuss it."
"Honey, what are you afraid of?" My Mom was an incredibly perceptive person. Not to mention the fact that she knew me better than anyone else on this planet.
"I don't know," I admitted, feeling ridiculous. It's not like we hadn't discussed the fact that we wanted kids but I was just nervous that he wouldn't be happy since the timing was all off. He was about to go on a major US tour with 100 monkeys as well as all the promoting he was going to have to do for the next installment in the Twilight Saga films, "Breaking Dawn Part 1". If that wasn't enough, he was also going to be hitting the road with 100 Monkeys again towards the end of the year for their first European tour. We had discussed the fact that I would accompany him to as many places as I could and then when things calmed down a bit after the European tour, we'd start trying for our first child.
"You don't need to worry, love," Mom soothed me. "Jackson loves you and he's going to be thrilled."
"I hope you're right," I said and forced a smile, determined not to let my fear take over again.
My mother stepped back from me and her hand flew to her mouth as her eyes filled with tears.
"Mom, what's wrong?"
She shook her head and removed her hand from her mouth, displaying a beautiful smile.
"Nothing," she breathed. She motioned for me to turn around, so I did. I looked at myself in the full-length mirror in front of me. My dress was ivory in color and made of satin. The back was almost completely out, save a small zipper just above my ass. The straps were thin and the fabric bunched up around my stomach with a small group of rhinestones located right at the bust line. The cathedral train flowed out behind me and wasn't the easiest thing to manage. Thank God it was detachable; otherwise the reception was going to be a disaster.
The hair framing my face had been swept up in rhinestone pins while the rest hung down in loose curls. I'd opted out of a veil just because I didn't see the use or need for one. My make-up was kept simple and we'd made sure to get the waterproof mascara, seeing as how it was inevitable that I would cry at least once during the course of the day.
I smiled at my mother through the mirror as she wiped the tears from her eyes.
"You look absolutely stunning," she said as she placed her hands on my shoulders. "Your brother would be very proud of you."
I smiled again and wiped the tears that had escaped my own eyes.
My mother went on to tell me how proud she was of me and how much she loved me. She cried some more while going over the something borrowed and something blue part with me since she was giving me some things she'd worn when she married Tom. A few minutes later, Randee came to check on our progress. She cried as soon as she saw me and made me promise to always be good to her only son.
Finally, it was show time. My mother walked with me down the hall and to our place behind the door, holding my hand the whole way. She kissed me on the cheek and then went to stand beside Chris, who would be walking her to her seat.
Jerry graciously agreed to be the other usher and our wedding party consisted of Graupner as the best man while Jerad, Ben J, and Eddie were groomsmen. Stacy was my matron of honor while Carlie, Natalia, and Mia were bridesmaids. It was absolutely perfect.
I took my spot next to Tom who would be walking me down the aisle. Although mine and Mark's relationship had gotten a lot better, Tom was still the only man I wanted to give me away on the most important day of my life. He'd always been there for me. He loved me unconditionally and sacrificed so much to see that I was always safe and taken care of. Mark was my father and I loved him but Tom…he was the man who saved our family and picked up the pieces of my mother's broken heart. There would never be anything I could do to repay him.
I took a few deep breaths as the nerves descended upon me again.
You can do this. Jackson loves you. You love Jackson. He is the one. The only one.
I'd given myself that pep talk for the last week any time I'd get nervous or freak out about the wedding. It wasn't that I was doubting my decision in Jackson. He was everything to me. I just couldn't believe out of all of the women on this planet, he chose me. My mind drifted to the night he proposed…
"Jackson, are you home?" I called as I shut the front door behind me. Jackson had been gone working on various projects for a week and my new job prevented me from being able to go with him. I was really excited about my job at the Los Angeles Times but, after only working there for less than a month, it wasn't in the best interest of keeping that job for me to ask off.
"Upstairs baby," he answered. I got all giggly and excited to see him as I placed my keys on the table, took off my jacket and shoes, and began to climb the stairs in search of my man.
As soon as I reached the top of the stairs, the breath was knocked out of me at the sight before me. Placed along the baseboards on both sides of the hallway were votive candles in clear glass holders. The hall light was off allowing the lit candles to cast a dreamy glow.
I walked slowly down the hall marveling at how romantic and thoughtful this had been for him. He was the one that had been gone. I should've been the one to surprise him with something amazing like this.
When I made it to our bedroom door, it was open and there were more votive candles lit and strategically placed all over our bedroom. Jackson was standing there with a bouquet of lilies in his hand and a gorgeous smile planted on his face.
"Welcome home, Rhiannon," he said and walked towards me, leaning in to kiss me on the lips. My knees literally went weak as he kissed me and wrapped his free arm around me. When he broke away, he was still smiling but there was something different in his eyes. He almost looked…nervous?
"Isn't that supposed to be my line cowboy?" I teased him.
He smiled wider and shrugged, holding out the flowers to me.
"I remember you telling me that you liked lilies," he said as I took them from him and breathed in their heavenly scent. I wasn't a huge fan of flowers. Lilies were the only exception to that rule. Once the flowers weren't covering his hands anymore I noticed that they were shaking.
What is going on with him? I wondered.
"So what is all this?" I asked him as I laid the flowers down on the dresser.
"Can't I woo you without you wondering why?" I turned to see the amused expression that was on his face but it didn't escape my notice that he kept fidgeting.
"Woo me?" I laughed. "Baby, you've got me. You don't need to woo me."
"But I don't have you. Not completely, anyway." His fidgeting got worse as he moved towards the bed and motioned for me to follow him.
I walked over to the bed and sat down, Jackson taking a seat beside me.
"So explain," I demanded. "What do you mean you don't have me completely?"
He laughed nervously and grabbed my hand; bringing it to his lips and kissing every finger before laying it back down on my lap. His breathing sped a little and he wasn't making eye contact with me.
"Jackson?" I asked and ducked my head to look him in the eyes.
He looked up at me and the look on his face confused the hell out of me. Yes, he was definitely nervous about something. He even looked a little sick. Before I could say anything though he took a deep breath and spoke.
"I know I have you, baby. Call me selfish but I want you in every way possible."
Oh my, I thought. Every way possible, huh? I could get in to that…
I smiled seductively at him and leaned in to kiss him but he stopped me.
What the fuck?
"Wait," he said and held his hand up. "Just let me say this."
I huffed impatiently but backed off.
"I love you, Rhiannon Amelia Grey. I can't imagine my life without you." He locked his eyes with mine but he was still visibly shaking. "I meant what I said when we got back together. There will never be anyone else for me."
He slid off the bed and on to his knees in front of me. It was in that moment that the realization hit me. All at once I understood why he'd been so nervous and what he'd meant by wanting me in every way possible.
I gasped as he took a small black box out of his pocket and opened it. Nestled in a bed of cream-colored satin was the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. The middle diamond was round and there were two heart-shaped diamonds on either side in a vintage setting. I was speechless and I'm pretty sure my eyes were bugging out of their sockets.
"I want to spend the rest of my life with you, Rhiannon. Will you marry me?"
Of course I'd said yes and then we'd made love all night. We literally hadn't fallen asleep until the sun was up. That night I couldn't imagine being happier.
I felt Tom grab my hand and heard the music change.
"You ready sweetheart?" he whispered in to my ear.
The doors opened and I caught sight of Jackson. Every bit of fear and apprehension melted away as I looked in to his beautiful eyes and saw the love in them.
"I am," I whispered to Tom, never taking my eyes off of Jackson.
Tom kissed me on the cheek and we began our walk down the aisle. The closer we got to Jackson the more I felt like sprinting the rest of the distance. All I wanted was to be in his arms.
I hadn't realized that I actually had sped up until I heard Tom chuckle lightly and noticed he was slightly behind me. I slowed my pace so that Tom could catch up as the heat colored my cheeks. There were quiet laughs here and there throughout the sanctuary.
I looked up at Jackson and saw his smile and the tears that were filling his incredible eyes. And again, all I could see was him.
Finally we reached my very soon-to-be husband and he took my hand.
Suddenly it felt as if there was a bubble that formed around us. The voices of the preacher and Tom sounded so far away as Tom was "giving" me to Jackson. I was completely consumed by this unbelievably amazing man standing before me. He had always had me. From the very moment he'd introduced himself in Eddie's living room, he'd had me.
"I love you," he mouthed to me.
"I love you too."
A mere 20 minutes later, the ceremony was over and we were making our way to the car to be taken to Stacy and Eddie's house for the reception.
We stepped out of the back door of the church where Jackson had said the car would be waiting for us but I didn't see a car. There was only a long black limousine parked in front of us.
The driver was standing by the back door smiling at us. I looked at Jackson questioningly.
"I don't know baby," he answered my unspoken question. "I was told it would be a car."
"This is compliments of Mr. and Mrs. Reid," the driver informed us.
I smiled big and grabbed Jackson's hand, pulling him toward the limo.
"After you Mrs. Rathbone," the driver said as he opened the back door.
Mrs. Rathbone…I like the sound of that.
"Thank you," Jackson said as he climbed in next to me.
"My pleasure, Mr. Rathbone." The driver smiled at us and then shut the door.
I was having a mini freak out as we pulled away from the curb. This limo had everything! The seats were leather, there were all sorts of little snacks to nibble on, we had our own radio, and sitting in a large silver bucket was a bottle of champagne with chocolate-covered strawberries sitting around the bottle in the ice. There were two beautiful glass champagne flutes and upon closer inspection I noticed they had our names on them and the date of our wedding. Stacy had gone above and beyond to make this day unforgettable.
"Jackson, look!" I squealed and showed him the glasses. "They have our names on them."
"'Jackson and Rhiannon Rathbone'," he read aloud. "'May 21st, 2011.'" He finished reading it and smiled. "So what do you say we break them in?" He reached for the champagne but I put my hand on his arm.
"I can't," I told him, my nerves resurfacing because of what I was about to tell him.
"Why?" His face was a mixture of confusion and amusement.
"Well..." I began, fully intending to tell him that pregnant women really shouldn't be drinking alcohol but instead, I allowed the fear to paralyze me. "Maybe we should wait. For the reception, I mean."
He looked at me questioningly so I conjured the best smile I could, hoping it would convince him. Thankfully, it did and he just pulled me to him, kissing me deeply.
I was mentally beating myself up for being such a coward but I allowed his glorious lips to distract me until we pulled up at Stacy's house.
Inside there was soft music playing, candles and lilies everywhere, and tons of people gathered to celebrate our day. As soon as we were sighted a chorus of claps rose from the crowd as Jackson grabbed my hand and led me in to the reception area.
Stacy smiled and gestured for everyone to settle down. She then grabbed the microphone from Eddie and announced us.
"Ladies and gentleman, it is my pleasure to present to you Mr. and Mrs. Monroe Jackson Rathbone the fifth."
The crowd erupted in claps and encouraging shouts. I blushed fiercely as Jackson twirled me around and then kissed my hand.
We made our way to our seats at the table reserved for the bride and groom and our parents. It seemed like an eternity of endless "Congratulations" and "We're so happy for you" as just about everyone came by our table. Finally, a waiter came around with drinks in small glass flutes, much like the ones Stacy had made for us. He sat a glass of champagne down in front of everyone at our table, except me. Instead, my glass was filled with sparkling water.
I looked up at Stacy and she winked at me, giving me her brightest smile.
"What's this?" Jackson asked me, gesturing to my glass that obviously didn't have the same contents as everyone else's. I glanced around nervously, hoping that for once luck would be on my side and I'd be able to confess without everyone listening in on the conversation. Surprisingly, luck appeared to have given me a break seeing as how our tablemates seemed to be lost in their own discussions.
"It's sparkling water," I finally answered him. I looked up quickly to see the confusion on his face and then settled my gaze in to my lap. "I'm not allowed to have alcohol in my condition."
"What are you talking about, your condition?"
I looked up at him and placed both my hands on my stomach, rubbing it tenderly. His eyes lowered to my stomach and then back up to my eyes, then back down, and finally back up.
"Are you…?" his voice trailed off before he could finish his question.
I nodded and said, "I'm pregnant. I just found out last night. I would've told you sooner but I couldn't get in touch with you last night and then this morning it was so crazy…" I had been looking down at my hands as I rambled and when I looked back up, Jackson was sporting the most heart-breakingly beautiful smile I had ever seen.
"We're gonna have a baby!" he exclaimed and then laughed with pure joy.
A collection of gasps broke out throughout the room but I was more aware of the tearful smile I was receiving from Randee. Papa Rathbone was smiling as well and I watched as Randee came over to us and pulled me to my feet. Jackson stood up with me, keeping a firm grip on my hand. She looked at both of us and then wrapped her arms around us, squeezing us tightly as a sob escaped her lips.
"I love you both so much," she said and then kissed us each on the cheek. After her came another wave of people congratulating us. Even Jackson's fellow band mates seemed thrilled with the news. I expected Graupner to have something smart to say about it but he seemed to genuinely be happy for us, insisting that he would be called "Uncle G".
After things had once again calmed down for the moment, Jackson pulled me to him and kissed me deeply. When he'd successfully made me tingly all over from his kisses, he pulled away and pressed his forehead to mine, whispering, "I love you. I love you so much."
"So I take it you're happy then?" I asked him.
"Of course I am," he answered and sat back to look at me. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"I was just worried that you wouldn't be happy because the timing is all off," I replied.
"Rhiannon, I don't give a shit about the timing," he assured me as he took my hands in his. "We have made a life together." He removed one of his hands from mine and placed it on my stomach. "I couldn't be any happier right now."
I couldn't stop the tears that filled my eyes or the stupid smile that spread across my face.
Our lives were going to change drastically but I couldn't feel anything but happiness.
"I love you so much Mrs. Rathbone."
"I love you Mr. Rathbone. Always."
**3 months later Jackson and I found out we were having a girl. We also found out that Stacy and Eddie were expecting their own bundle of joy and not long after, we were informed that it would be a boy. Stacy and I joked about our kids dating but even though it was all in fun, I really did wonder if somehow it would be possible for them to end up together. I couldn't imagine anything more perfect. While Stacy and I planned our children's futures, Eddie and Jackson bonded over the horrifying stories of our hormones and the ridiculous shit we craved.
**The guys got Abolish Luck back together with a new lead singer…Mia. Turns out she was a pretty great singer. They wrote all new songs but made it a tradition to perform "Abolish Luck" at every show in honor of Evan. After recording with Mia they hit the road with 100 Monkeys. The crowd really loved them and I got to see Mia and little Evan more…that is when my mother brought him to a show. She pretty much cared for him while they were on the road.
**Mom and Tom did a lot more travelling and even made regular visits to us and Jackson's parents. Slowly but surely my mother made it back to her old self. She still cried from time to time but she was too happy about her grandchildren to let her grief control her life as much as it used to.
**After the baby was born, I decided to take a risk and try writing a novel. It had been a dream of mine for so long and it would also allow me to work from home so I could take care of our baby girl, who we'd named Alyson Claire Rathbone. Jackson and I affectionately called her Aly-Claire.
Before everything was said and done, we had 2 more kids, both boys. We moved to the outskirts of Los Angeles where it was more rural and where we actually had a yard for our children to play in. Jackson continued to work hard but when he was home, he devoted all of his energy to me and the kids. I published my first novel right after our first son was born and it hit the New York Time's Bestseller list in its first few weeks on the shelves. I continued to write, finding the career I actually belonged in.
Jackson and I definitely didn't have the perfect marriage. We had fights just like every other couple but we never forgot how much we loved each other and the family we'd made. Our lives were our own personal version of Beautiful and it suited us just fine.
I warned you all that this A/N would be long…so here goes.
To my wonderful Beta, Lilaea…I can't even begin to thank you enough for all of your help. You began as a pre reader and one of my biggest cheerleaders. I look forward to working with you a lot more in the future and I hope you're ready for it. Crazy shit is a-coming! I love you girl!
Mindy…my pre reader extraordinaire. There will never be enough I can do to thank you for all of the chats we had where I'd bounce ideas off of you. I would still be stuck if it wasn't for you. Thank you for all of your hard work and support. I love you!
Starchick7003 is the reason this story even exists. #Truestory. I was way too self-conscious about my writing to ever publish anything. She read the Teaser and first Chapter of this story and demanded more. She stayed on my ass to continue it and has remained on my ass all the way to the end. There were times I wanted to yell at her but writing this story…well, just writing in general has brought so much happiness in to my life. I owe that happiness to her. So thank you Britt…from the very bottom of my heart, thank you. I love you!
To all those who stuck by me throughout the course of this story with all it's crazy ups and downs…I adore you all. The reviews have meant the world to me and I have enjoyed getting to know you guys a little. Without the support of all of you, I would've had no one to write for. I hope y'all will continue to read my stories because I really don't want to say good bye to you. Thank you all so very much!
I hope the ending was all you hoped it would be. Again, thank you for reading!