"Miss Swan?"

I stand and approach the silver-haired man who beckons me with a come-hither gesture.

"Yes?"

Placing his hand over the small, wireless microphone that is attached to his lapel, he bends towards me and speaks in a low voice. "Just thought I should mention I have another wedding to officiate in barely over an hour. Do you have any idea when, or if, the groom plans on turning up?"

"N-no." My answer squeaks feebly around the expanding lump inside my throat.

He gazes at me in pity before glancing down at his watch. "I'll wait ten more minutes; it's the best I can do."

Tossing my bouquet onto the front pew, I take a seat, toe off my heels, and stretch out my legs; resigned to the fact that this whole thing has just become my worst nightmare. It's my wedding day, and I can't believe I've been left standing at the altar.

Fuck.

Feeling heartsick, I drop my head and try, unsuccessfully, not to cry in front of everyone. When loud sobs escape, I feel a comforting arm wrap around my shoulder. The moment I turn to my right, to thank my bridesmaid for the support, I realize this is a nightmare, and I don't mean figuratively. Violently shrugging out of the side-hug, I wipe my tears away with the back of my hand.

"Aw, no. Not now," I grumble at Mrs. Cope. "Please. Not another wedding related nightmare."

I slap my arm and then my cheek as hard as I can. "Wake up, Bella. Wake up! Wake up, dammit! Fuck my fucking fucked up psyche."

Mrs Cope tilts her head to the side, studying me. "They say the first sign of madness is talking to yourself, you know."

"So I've been told before. Why are you here? You're not one of my real bridesmaids. And what in the blue hell are you wearing?"

In this dream, my four supposed bridesmaids – Rosie, Leah, Ali, and Mrs. Cope – are all in dresses that are exact replicas of the dress I wore to the senior prom.

While the teal, velvet, halter-neck dress I wore was stylish enough for the mid-nineties, three other girls (and the school's only trans-gendered guy) also turned up wearing the same dress – just in different colors – red, gold, royal-blue, and hot-pink. If we had dared to stand together instead of avoiding each other like the plague, we'd have looked like a bunch of Power Rangers; not that it all mattered in the long run.

An hour into the evening, my date, Liam (the first boy to show any interest in me beyond friendship) threw up on me. After cleaning most of the vomit off my dress and from between my cleavage, I phoned Dad and asked him to come and get us. We waited outside the venue for half an hour, only to be picked up in the police cruiser. On the way home, we stopped twice to allow Liam to vomit again, and Dad accused him of being drunk. Then, to my absolute horror, he forced my date to perform a sobriety test on the sidewalk in front of his parents' house – in front of his parents.

As it turned out, poor Liam had contracted mono, and since we'd shared our first (and only) kiss on the way to prom, I also came down with it some weeks later. Until the day Amazon dot com inadvertently revealed my first vibrator purchase to my co-ed roommates, the night of the disastrous senior prom had been number one on my list of 'life's most mortifying moments'. Needless to say, Liam never asked me on another date, and I burned the bad luck dress.

As I continue to slap and pinch myself in a fruitless effort to wake up, Leah, Ali, and Rosie sit to the left of me on the pew, and they observe my actions in amused expectation.

Turning back to my right, I notice Mrs. Cope is giggling hysterically while throwing sprays of confetti into the air. "Yay! We're getting maaaaaarried!"

While attempting to catch bits of confetti on her tongue, Mrs. Cope loses her balance and falls off the end of the pew. On hands and knees, she giggles and then crawls underneath a pew on the opposite side of the aisle.

"God; she's so weird," I complain.

Rosie shakes her head in wonderment at Mrs. Cope's antics and says, "Don't blame her; this is all your doing."

"How do you figure that?"

"It's the Valium," she explains.

"And the cheese," Ali chimes in.

Leah rolls her eyes at Ali. "It's not the damn cheese!" She, too, turns to address me. "In case you haven't worked it out yet, Bella, you took consciousness-altering substances in order to get to sleep, so to quote Nancy Reagan, 'I'm here for the drugs.'"

Rosie stands and points an accusing finger at me. "And in the words of Hunter S. Thompson, 'You took too much man, too much, too much!'"

"Oh, right." I sigh in resignation. It seems I'm here for the duration. "So, where's Libby?" I ask, realizing she's nowhere to be seen.

They all look at me like I'm mad and shrug. It appears as though Rosie is about to say something, when we hear a yelp from the other side of the aisle.

"What in the hell?" a man's voice yells from the other pew, and four men wearing kilts suddenly stand up.

"Och! You're a real Scotsman, aren't you!" Mrs. Cope giggles.

"Who are they?" I ask, staring in fascination at the backs of the thighs of the person who is bending down to pull Mrs. Cope out from under the pew.

"Oh, they're just the groomsmen," Leah says nonchalantly.

While I can only see them from the back, I know they aren't Emmett, Jazz, or Carlisle because they are also shirtless.

The man, who is holding Mrs. Cope 's wrist tightly, turns and drags her towards us. My mouth drops open in shock. "Oh my God."

"Does this belong to you?" Ewan McGregor asks, shoving Mrs. Cope at me forcefully, causing her to fall at my feet. "If so, I think you need to keep her on a tight leash."

"Ooooh. A leash. How kinky, Obi Wan," Rosie purrs, seductively crossing one leg over the other and revealing some thigh. "I have a Princess Leia slave costume, you know." She winks.

Ewan and I just glare at her.

Looking back to Ewan, I try to apologize without ogling. "Sorry. Mrs. Cope can't help it. She gets a bit out of control sometimes. I think it's early onset dementia."

Speaking to me again, he asks, "Any idea when this wedding is going to get started?"

I shrug and sigh. "I don't think it's going to happen – at least not in this dream anyway."

"Pity." Putting his thumb and forefinger to his lips, Ewan whistles to capture the attention of the other groomsmen. "Show's over fellas – let's get out of here."

The three men turn and walk over to stand with Ewan, and that's when I discover their identities. They are Alexander Skarsgård and Stephen Moyer from 'True Blood', and David Beckham – ex-soccer player and underwear model.

"Dayum!" Leah drawls, looking like a horny bitch in heat.

"I wonder what's underneath their kilts?" Ali muses aloud.

"Wouldn't you like to know…?" Stephen smirks, revealing a single pointy fang.

Offering him a seductive smile in response, Leah replies, "Yeah, I know I would. I really, really would."

"Too bad. Without a wedding ceremony, there's no real reason for us to hang around here, and besides, I need a drink." Clapping Alexander on the shoulder and gesturing to the door with a sideways nod of his head, Steven says, "I noticed some pure blonde long necks on the way in. What do you say?"

"Sounds like a plan," Alexander replies, giving Stephen a toothy-fanged grin in return. They both turn to leave.

Considering this is a dream, and they are actors who portray vampires on TV, I have no idea if they are planning on partaking of the long-necked bottles of 'Pure Blonde' (the Australian low-carb beer) or actual blonde people with long necks.

"Don't go just yet," Ali begs. "Edward still might turn up."

"But we're bored," Alexander whines.

"How about a game to pass the time?" she suggests. "What if we take bets? If we can correctly guess what's under the kilts, will you wait a bit longer?"

To my surprise, the men agree.

"Take a seat, Ewan," Leah says.

"Why?" he asks.

"Far be it from me to suggest you are predictable, but I'm pretty sure there are as-of-yet undiscovered tribes in the heart of the Amazonian jungle who know you aren't wearing anything underneath that skirt. We've seen it all before, and we have no idea when Bella will suddenly wake up, so-"

Mrs. Cope interrupts, "Plus, I already poked at the snake when you were over there." She indicates to the pew on the other side of the aisle and giggles.

"Okay, okay you've made your point, but it's a kilt, not a skirt! It only becomes a skirt if you wear underwear," he snarls. "Isn't that right, Becks?" As though realizing his blunder, Ewan gives himself a facepalm and shakes his head in embarrassment.

"Good one, dickhead," David says derisively. "You just gave the game away."

"C'mon Becks. Lift up your skirt and show us your tighty whities," Rosie taunts.

David flips the front of the kilt up to flash a pair of olive-green boxer briefs at us – the briefs that starred in the Guy Ritchie directed H&M underwear campaign. The same ad campaign I may or may not have watched on YouTube a few times. (Okay, quite a few times).

"My turn now," Mrs. Cope announces enthusiastically. "I'll pick 'Cock-socked Hunks' for $1000."

The minister, who I now realize is Alex Trebek from Jeopardy says, "This actor won a Scream Award for the 'Holy Shit! Scene Of The Year' category in 2010 for a scene that was titled 'Twisted sex'. You have thirty seconds; good luck, player."

Suddenly, an unseen church organist starts playing the Jeopardy thinking music.

"Who is Stephen Moyer?" Mrs. Cope asks, flapping her hands excitedly.

"You are correct," Alex Trebek announces. "And here's your prize."

We all turn to look at Stephen in expectation. With a smirk, he reaches up underneath the kilt, and after fiddling around for half a minute without revealing the goods, he pulls out a signed, beige colored cock sock and tosses it towards us. The cock sock hits Rosie in the face before falling to land on her ample bosom. Flailing like a woman in the middle of an arachnoleptic fit, she flicks the offending article away in much the same way one would get rid of a hairy spider.

The cock sock lands on her knee and she gags. "Get it off! Get it off! Get it off! Ew. That's just nasty."

I grimace, thankful that even though this is just a dream, it didn't land on me.

"Can I have it?" Mrs. Cope's voice asks from under the pew. In all the excitement, none of us noticed that she must have crawled under the pew we are seated on.

"Please, be my guest," Rosie says, shuddering in disgust as Mrs. Cope's hand reaches up to grab the cock sock.

"What are you going to do with it?" Ali asks, also looking grossed out.

"She's gonna put her weeeeed in there," Leah says, mimicking the stoner voice of Rob Schneider from the classic SNL skit. Leah, Ali, and Rosie all giggle.

"Wow. It's much smaller than I thought it would be," Mrs. Cope complains, tossing the cock sock back at Stephen. We all burst into laughter, and he glares at us.

"And why in the fuck are you laughing?" Stephen asks Alexander, smacking him upside the head. "At least I have a dick to put into a cock sock. You're as anatomically correct as Barbie's plastic boyfriend, Ken."

In response, Alexander's face turns beet-red.

Leah whimpers. "You mean there's nothing there but a plastic mound? Please, say it isn't so."

"I guess now we know the real reason he doesn't wear a cock sock," Mrs. Cope surmises.

Just as Alexander is about to lift his kilt to reveal all (or nothing) I hear Edward's voice. "Bella!"

I turn around on my seat to see Edward running up the aisle towards me.

"Edward!" I smile in relief and stand up to greet him. "What took you so long?"

I freeze halfway down the length of the aisle when I notice what he's wearing. He's in a flight suit, and it has an embroidered patch on the sleeve. The emblem on the patch depicts a wolf in sheep's clothing with the word 'INCOGNITO' underneath. It's the emblem for the British SAS 8 Flight Army Air Corps. Over his shoulder is a bag. It's the large, black bag that contains all the clothing and protective gear a soldier will need while on deployment.

In an attempt to change the dream to my own preference, I try to imagine Edward shirtless wearing only a kilt. Sadly, it doesn't work. Clearly, the stupid part of my brain is in control of this dream.

"Why are you in uniform?"

"We don't have much time. I'm about to head off to the Middle East," Edward replies. He offloads the heavy bag onto a nearby pew.

"But… what about the wedding? Our honeymoon?"

"Can we talk about it after the ceremony? Let's just get married before the minister leaves."

"Okay," I reply, and I grasp his hand in mine as we walk back up the aisle to take our place in front of the pulpit.

"Dearly beloved," Alex Trebek begins, "we are gathered here today to witness the union of Edward Anthony Cullen and Isabella Marie Swan in holy matrimony, which is an honorable estate that is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently and soberly. Into this estate, these two persons present come now to be joined. If anyone can show just cause why they may not be lawfully joined together, let them speak now or forever hold their peace."

"Hold their piece," Leah says, snickering. "That's what she said."

"I don't get it," Mrs. Cope whines from under the pew.

"I'd like to hold Ewan's piece," Rosie confesses in what she thinks is a stage-whisper – but isn't.

Leah and Ali start giggling hysterically.

"Will you please shut up!" I hiss at my bridesmaids.

"I'll take 'Bella's ex-fiancés' for $2000, Alex, and the answer is – 'Who is Eric?'" a voice shouts, and I turn to see Eric striding down the aisle towards me.

I groan and palm my face. "Oh, brilliant, just… fucking brilliant. This nightmare is going from bad to worse by the minute."

"Fuck that!" Edward says angrily. "Stay here, Bella. I'll deal with this."

I nod and watch as Edward turns away from me and heads up the aisle. Knowing this is a nightmare I can't seem to wake up from, I half expect Edward and Eric to kiss and then gaily leave hand in hand as they skip off into the sunset, leaving me all alone.

"Remember, this is just a dream. This is just a dream. None of this is real," I chant under my breath.

To my surprise and delight, Edward grabs Eric by the throat and drags him to the exit. He knees Eric in the nuts, punches him in the face, and then tosses him out of the building through the large double doors.

({'}) That's so hot!

I look around, but can't see her anywhere. "Libby? Where are you?"

({'}) Look down.

I do as she asks, and what I see makes me scream. Covering the lower half of my wedding dress is a huge, pink, puffy vagina. "What are you doing there?" I hiss.

({'}) What? You didn't think I'd miss this, did you?

"Go away!"

({'}) Hell no! Edward needs to know what he's marrying.

Edward shakes his hand in pain as he strides towards the pulpit again. "Can we just speed things up a bit?" he asks.

Alex Trebek looks at his watch and shrugs. "Fine by me."

Edward looks around nervously as though he's expecting someone else to interrupt the proceedings. I know the exact moment he sees the front of my dress – and Libby.

"Erm… Bella?"

"Yes," I squeak.

"I hate to tell you this, but your vagina is showing."

"I know. This is a nightmare I'm having, so let's just ignore it and get on with the ceremony."

({'}) Humph. Just try to ignore me.

Edward and I both turn to face Alex.

"Edward will you have this woman to be your wedded wife, to love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, forsaking all others for so long as you both shall live?"

"I will," Edward replies, putting a gold band on my left ring finger. With its unusual flashing symbols, the ring looks suspiciously like one from the 'Lord Of The Rings' trilogy.

"And Bella," Trebek continues, "do you promise all the same vows I just mentioned to Edward, only substituting all the female words for male ones?"

({'}) You bet your ass!

"Shut up!" Alex Trebek looks at me in confusion. "Sorry, I didn't mean you. Yes. Yes, I will promise all the same things to Edward." I pick up the ring and slide it onto Edward's finger. It gets stuck halfway down his ring finger and won't budge. I decide to place it on his pinky finger instead. With the ring in place, we turn to look at the minister again.

"We who have come here today have heard the willingness of Edward and Bella to be joined in marriage. In our presence, they have declared their love and commitment to each other. They have given and received a ring as a symbol of their promises. Therefore, by the power vested in me by the state of unconsciousness, I declare them husband and wife. For the daily double, you may now kiss your bride."

Puckering up, I wait for Edward's kiss… and then I sneeze, right in his face.

"Bless you," Edward says, taking a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiping his face.

"Sorry. Let's try that again," I say with a slight sniffle.

"Okay." Edward leans in for another attempt.

"Achoo. Sorry."

"Never mind."

"Achoo. Shit." I must be coming down with a cold or something. Edward hands me the handkerchief, and I blow my nose. The sound echoes loudly around the church. The acoustics in this place must be really amazing.

Taking my face in his palms, Edward stares at me intently and squeezes my nostrils so I can't breathe through my nose. He moves in to kiss me, but rather than kiss my lips, he sticks his tongue in my ear. I giggle at the odd sensation.

"Meow," he says, and then he starts to purr and rub his face against my neck.

"Edward?"

"Meow."

"Hey, what the fuck?" The places where Edward touched and licked start to burn like venom on my skin. "Edward? Stop licking me. Achoo."

On opening my eye – the one eye that can pry open – I'm met by a pair of green eyes, and they aren't Edward's.

"Oh, shit," I wheeze, my voice sounding like a geriatric pack-a-day smoker. I attempt to rub at my insanely itchy eyes in an attempt to verify that there is indeed a big, black cat sitting on my chest, and from the looks of it, it's Mr. Whiskers, Shelly Cope's tom cat. He's got me trapped beneath the quilt in Edward's old bedroom in the Cullen's home.

"Meow." Before I can stop him, Mr. Whiskers leans in to bunt affectionately against my forehead.

"How the fuck did you get in here? Achoo. Shit! Shoo!"

I first learned of my allergy to cats within days of Eric moving in with me. His Chinchilla cat, Monty, caused me a raft of symptoms such as watering, itchy eyes, wheezing coughs, hives, and a constantly itchy throat. After a trip to the doctor, I was advised that I was allergic to cat saliva and dander – a very common allergy. I gave Eric an ultimatum – it was either the cat or me. Subsequently, Monty went to live with Eric's friend (and later fuck-buddy) Alistair.

"Shoo, cat!" I start wiggling my body beneath the quilt, in an attempt to destabilize the cat so he'll get off me. Taking the hint, Mr. Whiskers stands and arches. He then turns around to present me with a charming view of his butt hole. Just when I think he's going to step off me, he sits down on my pelvis. "Go away, tuna breath!"

Ignoring me completely, Mr. Whiskers thrusts a leg in the air and starts to lick his balls, probably because he can.

My face feels as if it's on fire. Tired of playing nice with the cat – from beneath the quilt I manage to get my hands under the cat's butt – and I launch the arrogant fur ball off the bed. With a hiss and baleful glare over his shoulder, Mr. Whiskers exits via the open bedroom window as I race to the bathroom.

"Arrrrghhhhhhhhh!" I scream, when I see my reflection in the mirror.

"Bella?" I can hear my mom's voice.

"Mom? Help me!"

"Bella?"

I'm shaking. In the mirror, I can see my face is covered in angry-red welts where Mr. Whiskers rubbed against me. My nose is running, and my eyes are red – in fact, one of them is swollen shut.

"Oh, God, no!" There's no way I can get married today – not when I've got a face like Quasimodo.

"Bella!"

"Mom, I look hideous. I can't let Edward see me like this! My wedding day is ruined!"

-oo0oo-

Saturday, 6th July - 9:50am – The Cullen Home – Boston Harbor.

"Bella! Bella wake up! Now! It's time to get ready!"

"Wha-? Huh?" Struggling to swim to the surface of consciousness, I open my eyelids, and I'm instantly greeted by my mom who is insistently tapping me on the forehead.

"It's about time, Sleepy Head; I didn't think you were ever going to wake up." Mom sweeps a wayward lock of hair off my forehead and smiles at me warmly. When she smiles, the skin around her pale-blue eyes crinkles and a small dimple appears on her left cheek.

I sit up and embrace my mom in a bone-crunching hug, relieved to have escaped from yet another wedding-related nightmare. A huge gust of breath escapes my lungs, and I laugh in relief. "Thanks for waking me. I was in the middle of a horrible nightmare."

Mom chuckles and hugs me in return. "I half expected you to be up at the crack of dawn from the anticipation of getting married, but you've slept the morning away. I blocked your nose and even gave you a wet willy, and even then you wouldn't wake up."

"Ew, Mom!" I protest, and I push her away from me so I can reach up to wipe at my ear."

"Just kidding. My finger was dry." She grins and rolls her eyes at me.

I flop back down to the mattress and yawn. Thanks to my bizarre dreams, I'm tired and feel utterly drained of energy. "Mom?"

"Yeah, honey?"

"Was I dropped on my head a lot as a baby?"

I expect her to laugh; instead, Mom pauses to consider my unexpected question. "I guess it depends on your definition of a lot."

"Mom!"

She finally chuckles. "You weren't dropped on your head, per se, but you were incredibly clumsy as a kid, and you hit your head quite a few times. At age two, you got your first pair of black eyes when you were running without watching where you were going and bumped the bridge of your nose right on the edge of the dining table. When you were five, you jumped out of a tree, broke your arm, and knocked out both of your top front teeth. You knocked yourself out cold when you were six-"

"Okay, okay; I think I get the picture." I stifle another yawn. "Hey, what's the time, anyway?"

"It's nearly ten. As I said, I've been trying to wake you for the last five minutes. I take it you didn't sleep too well after last night's antics?"

"What?"

"From what I've been told, it seems you and Edward got up to some mischief." Mom raises an eyebrow at me in question.

"Someone in this house has a big, fat mouth," I complain with a roll of my eyes. Mom laughs. "I couldn't get to sleep, so on your suggestion, I took some Valium; too much apparently."

A small V appears between Mom's brows as they furrow with concern. "How much did you take and when?"

"Ten milligrams – somewhere between one and two this morning."

Mom shakes her head. "Far out. No wonder you slept like the dead all morning. Normally, I only take half a pill." A knock at the door interrupts our conversation.

"Morning, Sleeping Beauty," Esme calls out.

My three bridesmaids and Esme file into the room. Rose is carrying a tray piled high with assorted breakfast pastries while the others hold cups of steaming hot coffee.

"Wow. I didn't expect breakfast in bed," I say in surprise and turn around to rearrange the pillows so I can sit propped against the brass bedhead.

"Yeah, well we got hungry waiting for you," Leah complains. "So we decided if Mohammed wouldn't come to the mountain, then the mountain must come to Mohammed. Here's your coffee."

"Thanks." Gratefully, I take the cup from Leah and place it on the nightstand to cool. I pick up a pastry from the tray as the women all find a place to sit on the large bed. Before I can take a bite, I have to stifle a yawn and shake my head to clear the lingering fogginess.

"My God, how can you still be tired? You've been sleeping for ages," Ali says.

"Valium. I had trouble getting off to sleep last night, so I took one of Mom's sleeping tablets." I yawn again.

"Nice dark circles under your eyes, Swan. You'd make a panda jealous with those. I'm gonna have my work cut out making you look good today." Leah sighs.

"I have faith you can perform miracles, oh great one."

"Just be grateful she doesn't have any hickeys," Esme says, chuckling.

While we eat our late breakfast, Esme fills everyone in on last night's drama, and informs me that for now, Clara the gun toting nun is still alive and kicking, and is about to undergo a procedure to implant a small defibrillating device in her chest. Throughout the conversation, I keep yawning, and my eyes occasionally droop. When the doorbell rings, Mom and Esme exit the room, taking away the empty plates and cups, leaving me in the company of my three bridesmaids.

"I think she's gonna need more than coffee to wake up," Rose says with concern, taking my half-eaten chocolate-filled croissant out of one hand. Ali reaches out and takes the almost-empty cup of coffee that's threatening to spill onto the bedding from my other hand.

"Yeah, I agree," I say, stifling another yawn. "Just let me have a li'l nap first. All I need is one more hour." I slink down underneath the quilt and pull a pillow over my head.

"Bellaaaaaa!" Ali screeches in protest.

"Oh, no you don't." Rudely, Leah steals the pillow from me while Rose pulls the quilt off my body. "Come on; let's get you into the shower."

"Noooooo," I whine pathetically, and I curl into a fetal position.

"Bella, we don't have much time," Ali scolds. "We need to leave in under an hour to make our appointment at the salon."

"But I'm so tired." Against my body's wishes, my three bridesmaids haul me off the bed. Slinging my arms over their shoulders, Rose and Leah struggle to shuffle-walk me towards the bathroom.

Trailing behind us, Ali snickers. "Watching you three is like watching a scene from 'Weekend At Bernies'."

Even though I'm still wearing my chemise, Rose and Leah unceremoniously dump me on the shower floor, and Ali turns on the water.

I scream in shock when the cold water hits me. They must have turned off the temperature presets.

Sadistic, evil wenches.

"Okay, okay, bitches; I'm awake!" I sputter, and my three bridesmaids turn and walk out.

-oo0oo-

Boston Harbor Marina – 4.00pm.

"Oh, don't you all look absolutely stunning! The boys are gonna die when they see you wearing that," Athena Kavanagh says jokingly as we approach La Serenità.

"I know! Don't we look faaaaaaabulous?" I joke in return, doing a silly curtsy.

Once the necessary photos had been taken back at the house, we quickly changed into our regular clothes, and the photographer left along with Mom, Esme, and Sue to meet with the guys at Gallagher Cove for their own photo session.

During yesterday's rehearsal, my bridesmaids and I discovered that walking from the Cullen's home to the marina in our wedding attire was a bit challenging. In kitten heels, I had to hitch my dress and petticoats up to my knees to prevent the hem and train of the skirt from dragging through the dirt. Then, we also surmised it would be too difficult to board the boat, descend the companionway ladder, and freely maneuver around the cabin, especially if I needed to use the head. As a group, we decided to forgo wearing our gowns for the sake of comfort until we near the entrance to the cove. So for now, I'm slumming it in an old pair of denim shorts, a button-fronted blouse, and flip-flops. My bridesmaids are similarly dressed in casual summer clothing.

"Alec!" Athena yells, "Come and help the girls get on board." From the open companionway hatch, I can hear Alec moving about in the cabin. "Maybe you should all pass me your flowers," she suggests, "and Alec can take your garment bags."

"Good thinking," I agree, and we all pass our bouquets to her.

"Wow, these roses smell wonderful," Athena says enthusiastically. She buries her nose into one of the bridesmaid's bouquets and takes in a deep breath. "They smell like… something spicy, and the colors are exquisite. These dark purple ones; I've never seen anything like them before. Are they real or dyed?"

"They're 100% real," I assure her. "The dark ones that smell like cloves are the Ebb Tide roses and the pale lavender ones are called Sterling Silver."

"Hello, ladies!" Alec's face appears at the companionway. His excited smile beams at us as he exits the cabin and moves toward us. Standing on the ama, he holds his arms outstretched and takes the three garment bags from Ali, Rosie, and Leah. When Ali places a silver umbrella on top of the pile, he looks at her oddly, as anyone in their right mind would do.

The umbrella is actually a photography umbrella, and it's meant for light control rather than protection from the rain. Ali insists it was the only one she could find that comes close to matching the color of the bridesmaid's dresses.

"Are you expecting rain or taking pictures?" he asks.

"I had a dream," she replies haughtily. "I'm certain it's going to rain."

"Ooookay then..." The expression on Alec's face is priceless, and he looks to me as if to say, "Is she for real?" I just shrug my shoulders in response. As predicted, today's weather is warm and perfect.

Alec turns to follow Athena, who has already entered the cabin and is waiting below for the garment bags and umbrella to be passed down to her. Alec returns and reaches out to take the garment bag my Dad is cradling in his arms; the one containing my wedding gown and veil.

With Dad's help, we step across, one after the other, from the pier to the ama to the trampoline until we are all safely standing in the cockpit.

"You all look stunning," Alec announces, thoughtfully placing greeting kisses on the backs of my bridesmaids' hands. Although we are dressed casually, we're in full wedding make-up, and my bridesmaids are wearing dainty wreaths of cherry blossoms in their hair. My own hair, currently free from the veil, has been lacquered with enough hairspray to enable it to deflect speeding bullets.

As the girls make their way inside the cabin, I hear Rosie muttering something about needing her own dose of Valium in order to stop herself from freaking out. It's her first time sailing, and she's already taken something in case of nausea, partly because she still suffers from regular bouts of morning sickness, but also because she wants to avoid sea-sickness as she intends to read to distract herself during the trip.

"Thanks so much for skippering today, Alec." I give him a hug.

"It's my absolute honor, dear," he says giving me a gentle squeeze before releasing me to speak to Dad. "Hey, Charlie. You're lookin' sharp." Dad and Alec shake hands in greeting. Dad really does look great in his midnight-blue suit; very distinguished.

"Thanks, Alec. Need some help launching off?"

Alec shakes his head. "Athena and I have it all under control. Why don't you head into the cabin and relax? There's food and champagne set up in there. For Rosalie, there's juice or soda, and a few beers for you."

"Aww, that's so thoughtful of you guys; you didn't have to go to that much trouble." I'm touched at the effort they've gone to in order to help make our wedding day perfect.

"Athena thought it would be nice to have some pre-wedding drinks to help calm the jitters," he jokes.

"Excellent." Dad rubs his hands in anticipation and heads for the ladder. "You comin', Bells?"

"I'll be down in a minute; you go on ahead and open the champagne."

Dad nods and enters the cabin.

"Is the wind going to hold up?" I ask.

Alec looks up at the mast. "Not a cloud in the sky, light north airs, and waves barely to one foot. I predict we'll be going at about five knots most of the way. Even if I have to resort to using the outboard to get us there, we'll make it on time; I guarantee it."

"When we get to the mouth of the cove, can you let us know so we can change into our dresses?"

'Will do." He smiles.

I take a seat in the cockpit opposite Athena, and I watch as Alec starts the outboard and maneuvers La Serenità out of Boston Harbor Marina. Within seconds of the sails being hoisted, we catch the wind, and Alec walks back to the helm seat to take the tiller. Athena and I then head down the companionway ladder to join in with the others as we sail to Gallagher Cove at a leisurely clip.

-oo0oo-

One hour later…

"This book is a load of bollocks!" Rosie announces loudly, shaking her head in disgust. She closes the protective case on her Kindle and slams it onto the saloon table we're sitting around.

"What were you reading?" Athena asks, dipping a cracker into the bowl and scooping out the last remains of hummus.

"'Sixty-Nine Ways To Sunday'."

"Never heard of that one. What's it about?"

"I heard it's mommy porn, and that it was written by a man," Leah says around a mouthful of brie and water cracker.

"No one knows if the books are written by a man or a woman because the writer uses a nom de plume," Ali corrects.

"If anything, I suspect it was written by a virgin. I can't believe they actually published such rubbish – and even worse – that I stupidly forked over money for all three books! Have you read them, Bella?" Rosie asks.

Widely lambasted on most book review sites for its excessive use of purple prose and terrible plot, the erotic trilogy seemed to be selling by the truckload, but they didn't interest me in the slightest.

I swallow down the last mouthful of champagne before answering. "No, I haven't; but that's because I actually have some standards."

"Did you hear they're going to make a Sixty-Nine Ways movie?" Leah asks, momentarily turning her head towards the TV where the game is on with the sound muted. "They announced it on E News the other night."

"You're kidding…" The incredulous expression on Rosie's face is hilarious as Leah turns back and shakes her head to confirm she's not joking.

"I warned you it was a big load of hype, but did you listen to me?" Ali asks in a know-it-all tone without looking up from her phone. She's playing level 347 of Candy Crush.

Bitch.

I'm still stuck on level 79.

"What's wrong with these books, exactly?" Athena asks Rosie.

"The writing is just appallingly amateurish. The characters are so shallow, and there's hardly any story to it. All they ever seem to do is boink like rabbits."

Dad sputters on his mouthful of beer, and Leah, Ali, and I snicker. When she makes her appearance, pregnant Rosalie sans her verbal filter is entertaining to watch. Oblivious to my Dad's proximity and obvious discomfort, she continues to rant.

"… not to mention the plot holes that are wide enough to drive a lorry through. One minute, Astrid, the female protagonist, is a 21-year-old innocent virgin who's never been kissed, and in the next minute, she's getting drilled all day and all night long, in every imaginable position and hole by Logan, who is a controlling billionaire douchebag with mommy issues whose only redeeming feature is that he's devastatingly handsome and has a huge willy."

"Aaaaaand I think that's my cue to leave." Dad passes me the TV remote and swiftly moves out from his position at the saloon table. Doubling back, he grabs his bottle of beer and heads to the ladder.

"…then in every single sex scene, Logan commands Astrid to come, and instantly she has multiple squirting orgasms on demand; like that's even remotely realistic."

"Oh, Christ," Dad says, shaking his head in disbelief. Mumbling under his breath, he ascends the ladder to make his escape. "Jesus. Is that the shit Suzy's been reading?"

Leah giggles. "Yeah, no way that would ever happen. Hell! If Jake started commanding me to come during sex, I'd bust a gut. He even struggles to get our dog to take his command to 'come' seriously while putting him out of the house at the end of the night."

We all giggle at the thought.

"The whole book was just so preposterous," Rosie continues. "Logan's supposed to be in his late-thirties, but somehow he's got the stamina of a 17-year-old. Within two minutes of coming inside her mouth, he's hard as steel and up in her business, making Astrid scream his name again and again and again... and again. And don't get me started on the constant talking during sex. I mean if Emmett even said half the shit Logan says to Astrid while going at it, I'd have to tell him to shut up because he'd totally make me lose focus on my Gerard Butler fantasy."

At that revelation, we all burst into gales of laughter.

"Seriously, what was that with the name screaming thing?" Ali asks. "If I called out Jazzy's name during sex, he'd be like, 'What? What did I do wrong?'" We all laugh again. "I'm certain 'Sixty-nine ways' was written by a woman. I mean, what man on God's green Earth refers to a woman's cooch as her 'core' and her clitoris as her 'bundle of nerves'?"

"I know, right? And if I have to read about Logan referring to her eyes as 'aquamarine orbs' again, I will scoop out my own blue orbs with a rusty spoon to save myself the agony. Ugh. I just wish I hadn't wasted my money by buying all three books at once," Rosie grumbles.

"At least you have the good sense to stop reading after the first book. Stupidly, I read all three. I kept thinking to myself that the writing would get better, but it didn't."

"We're nearing the mouth of the cove, girls," Dad announces, ducking his head inside the cabin.

"Okay, thanks Dad. Can you close the hatch, please?"

"Show time!" Ali announces excitedly, bouncing in her seat once the hatch has been closed.

Above, I hear the sound of Alec's footfalls as he moves to drop the sails. We all stand up and attempt to find a place to get ready, grabbing our garment bags that have been hanging from the handles of the overhead cabinets. Rosie and I head for the forward berth to change while Leah and Ali stay and start to undress in the saloon. Athena moves to stand in the galley, and she offers to take care of our flowers. We've had the stems sitting within glasses of water to keep them fresh.

"It'd probably be wise to use the bathroom one more time before we get into our dresses," I call out to everyone as Rosie fastens the hook and eye closures of my strapless, backless torsolette to a tighter fit. The single glass of champagne I drank earlier has gone straight to my bladder, and I'm already dreading when I inevitably have to go to the bathroom in my wedding dress.

"Pregnant ladies first!" Rosie dashes past me to get to the bathroom before anyone else can.

My plans to relieve myself before getting laced into my dress (which will further reduce my bladder size) are momentarily foiled, so I sit on the side of the bed to pull on my stockings. The pre-wedding nerves have finally started to kick in, and I fumble with shaky hands as I try to attach the suspender fasteners at the back of my thighs. After a few minutes, Rosie returns, but I'm informed there is now a line to go to the head. I stay put and help Rosie into her dress, so she doesn't ruin her hair or makeup.

Once again, wearing her platinum, floor-length dress, Rosie looks stunning. The satin and chiffon fabric drapes her figure beautifully, and the one-shouldered, sleeveless design, coupled with the cherry-blossom hair wreath, makes me think of an ancient Greek or Roman goddess.

"It's all yours," Leah announces, poking her head into the room. She's also dressed and carrying her silver, kitten-heeled sandals in one hand and the bouquet of mixed purple roses and baby's breath in the other.

I smile at seeing her. "Okay, thanks."

Once I've checked Rosie's hair wreath is secure, I walk towards the head with my make-up bag and lock myself inside.

-oo0oo-

After washing my hands, applying more deodorant and perfume, and giving my hair and make-up a quick touch-up, I turn to open the door.

"What the-"

I flick the latch to the lock, but it won't budge. Without ruining my manicure, I try to wiggle the latch back and forth, but it's stuck fast. I grab the door handle and try pulling it up and down a few times while turning the latch, but it's not moving.

"No. No. No, no, no. Don't do this to me now," I mutter under my breath as mild panic starts to set in.

({'}) What's wrong?

Using the flat of my palm, I bang against the door. "Help!"

Through the closed door, I hear the girls laughing at me.

"Very funny, Bella," Ali quips. "Now come out and put your dress on; we're nearing the dock."

"Yeah, you're not supposed to pull 'an Ali' now. You're meant to wait to get the cold feet on your wedding night," Leah jokes.

"Shut up," Ali's voice snaps.

"Ow. Was it really necessary to slap me?"

"I'm not trying to be funny, guys. Seriously, I can't get out." I jiggle the handle again and pound upon the door with my fist.

({'}) Get us out of here!

"I don't think she's joking," Athena, the voice of wisdom, says from the other side of the door. The handle wiggles in my grasp, and I realize Athena must be pulling on it too.

"Have you tried flicking the latch?" Ali asks.

"Oh, of course! Duh, why didn't I think of that?" I reply sarcastically. "Can someone please get Dad or Alec?"

After a minute, the handle wiggles again. "Bella?" Dad asks.

"Dad! There's something wrong with the door; I can't get out."

"Have you tried flicking the latch?" he asks.

I roll my eyes in frustration. "How stupid do you think I am?" Before he can answer that particular question, I implore, "Someone needs to unscrew the door handle. In the cabinet, under the saloon table, there's a small tool box. I think there may be a rechargeable screw gun in there. Can you check?"

"Okay."

After another minute, there is a knock. "Bella?"

"Did you find the tool box and the screw gun?"

"Yeah, I found it, but the rechargeable battery pack is dead. This door handle has Phillips-head screws, but there aren't any Phillips-head screwdrivers in the tool box – only a couple of slotted ones. I'll have to see if I can make do."

"Okay." Resigned, I take a seat on the closed lid of the toilet and wait.

I hear the sound of metal scraping on metal and a grunt or two from Dad. "That's one," he says triumphantly, after what seems like forever, and I start to feel hopeful of being released from my little prison in time to get married. "Five more to go."

"Five!" I exclaim.

A bead of sweat starts to trickle down the side of my neck. It's getting rather warm in here, so I open the small porthole near the ceiling to let in some fresh air. That's when I hear voices outside over the sound of the slowing outboard motor, and I realize we must be approaching the dock.

"Dad, you need to hurry," I urge.

"Believe me Bella, I'm trying my hardest." There is a thud against the door, and something falls to the floor with a clatter. "Arggghh, shit, damn."

"Charlie!" Athena cries out.

"What's wrong?" I call out in alarm, and I smack my hand against the door to get someone's attention.

"Here. Take this and wrap it around your hand," Leah's voice says shakily.

"Stay back, ladies," Dad commands, "I don't want to get blood all over your pretty dresses."

"Blood!? DAD!" I can hear a commotion going on in the cabin, but no one is telling me anything. I bang my fist against the door repeatedly until someone answers me.

"Bella?" Leah says in a tone I know is intended to keep me calm. "Not to worry you, but your dad just had a bit of an accident."

"What did he do?"

"He's sliced his hand with the screwdriver through the skin between his thumb and forefinger. It's um… bleeding quite a bit. Is there a first-aid kit in here?"

"Look in the cabinet under the sink."

"Found it," she calls out. "Charlie, I think you'd better sit down. You don't look too good. Ali – can you let Alec know what's happened? I think this is going to take more than a simple bandage."

"Oh no." Feeling anxious for my dad, I plunk my ass down heavily on the lid of the toilet, reconciled to the fact I'll be stuck in the head for a while longer. Through the small porthole above, I can hear Ali speaking to Alec, and she's asking if there might be any doctors or nurses among the wedding guests. Alec mentions Jeff, one of the guys from the Breaking Dawn crew, is a General Practitioner who might be able to help. Immediately, I stand on the lid of the toilet and yell. "Alec!"

"Yeah, Bella?" he replies. He moves closer to the porthole to speak with me.

"One of my colleagues, Doctor Gerandy, should be here along with his partner, Doctor Jean Snow. I believe she's a Plastic Surgeon. Can you please ask if Jean is here? I think she'd be the most qualified to examine Dad's hand. Also, can you get Edward for me? He might know how to get me out of here."

"Okay."

Standing in front of the mirror, I check to see if my make-up is starting to melt, and I pull the top of my torsolette away from my body so I can run a damp wash cloth across my boobs and around the back of my neck to cool down a bit.

({'}) This could only happen to you, ya know…

Shut up.

({'}) I've got a bad feeling about this.

Why?

({'}) 'Cause this kind of reminds me of that scene in Star Wars when Luke, Leia, Han Solo, and Chewie were in the trash compactor.

How so?

({'}) I believe the walls are starting to close in.

Shut up. They are not!

({'}) No, really… I mean it! I swear that wall just moved about an inch.

You're becoming paranoid.

"Bella?" The voice I've wanted to hear all day speaks to me from the other side of the door as the handle rattles.

({'}) Eddie!

"Edward! Oh, thank God!"

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine; just starting to get a little stir crazy in here. How is my dad? Is there a doctor with him?"

"Yeah, he's getting checked out now. They've taken him into Connor's house, and your colleague is collecting an advanced first-aid kit from his car. His partner said if the wound isn't too complicated, and he hasn't cut through the median nerve, she'll stitch him up here instead of carting him off to the hospital."

"Okay. That's good, I suppose. Are you able to get me out of here, or should we just call the celebrant over and start exchanging vows and rings through the porthole?"

He laughs. "Of course I can get you out. Just gimme a sec." Through the door, I hear Edward muttering as he works. "What on Earth was he doing?"

"What's wrong?" Rosie asks.

"I'm just wondering why Charlie was trying to use a flat-head screwdriver tip instead of one of the Phillips-heads. No wonder he hurt himself."

"Charlie said the battery for the screw gun with the Phillips-head was flat, and there weren't any Phillips-head screwdrivers in the tool box," Leah explains.

Edward's sighs and I can hear his frustration. "The screwdrivers have reversible tips – flat-heads on one end and Phillips-heads on the other. If he'd pulled the tip out and turned it around, he would've had a better chance at freeing her, unscathed."

I huff at the stupidity of the situation.

In less than five minutes, Edward has removed all the screws, and the door handle falls off. Instantly the door opens, and I'm met by his burning green gaze.

({'}) Holy… *gargle*

Libby is drooling, and I don't blame her one little bit.

Edward 'sex-in-a-black-wool-satin-trimmed-tuxedo' Cullen is drool-worthy. I mean, I've seen him in plenty of suits before, but this one is like whoa! The online picture he showed me months ago didn't do the suit justice. Actually seeing him wearing it deserves its own theme music.

({'}) Edward done goooooood.

I'm so glad I entrusted Edward to find his own wedding outfit. My only stipulations were that it should co-ordinate in some way with the color of the bridesmaid dresses and absolutely no bow ties. The platinum colored vest and matching tie, worn in a half-Windsor knot, makes him look elegant, sleek, and dangerously hot. I honestly couldn't have picked anything better.

"Good job, Cullen. She's free. You can leave now," Leah says, interrupting my ogling.

The screwdriver falls out of Edward's hand as he takes a step towards me, and that's when I remember where I am, why I'm here, and what I'm wearing – which isn't terribly much – and what day it is.

"Close your eyes, Edward, or at least turn around. Don't look at me, it's bad luck," I exclaim in a panic.

"Yeah, bye bye, Ed," Ali says.

I swear I hear him emit a low, sexy growl.

"Hey!" Rosie protests. "You can't go in there. No!" She's attempting to pull Edward away by his shoulders, but he shrugs her off. "Edward…" she warns.

Undeterred, Edward grips my hips, forcing me to back up. He steps into the head with me and kicks the door closed behind him. The door opens again - just an inch or two, but it hits Edward on the back of his shoulder. He leans back against the door to prevent my bridesmaids from barging in and taking him away.

"I'm going to check on Charlie and bring him back," Rosie announces. "If they start having sex in there, break the door down."

Someone bangs on the door.

"Back off, harpies, and give me a minute here with Bella," Edward shouts.

"I can't say I ever took you for a minute man," Leah says jokingly from the other side of the door.

"Well, with Jake as a husband, you'd know all about that," Ali teases. "Ow! What the hell? Was it really necessary to hit me, Leah?"

"You started it! You hit me before."

"Yeah, but I didn't hit you on the boob!"

As my bridesmaids bicker among themselves, Edward smirks. "So, this is a familiar scenario," he says, reminding me of Wednesday evening's post-ice cream escapades.

"You should get out of here! You know it's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding ceremony."

With a devilish glint in his eyes, he shakes his head. "I Googled that shit this morning, and it's only considered bad luck if I see you in your wedding dress before the ceremony. Fortunately, for me, I happen to notice you aren't wearing one, or much of anything, really." He wiggles his eyebrows, making me giggle.

"How very observant of you. It's lucky you have such keen eyesight."

Smiling wickedly, he traces his forefinger across the top edge of the torsolette, barely touching my skin. Pausing midway, he dips his finger between my boobs and uses the garment to pull me forward. He inhales deeply and nuzzles against my neck. "Right now, I'm feeling very lucky," he says in a seductive voice. "Besides; after what just happened with Charlie's hand, what else could possibly go wrong?"

"Shhhhhh!" I admonish as he starts to kiss my neck. "Don't tempt the fates. You could get struck by lightning and die. Then I'd have to go back to trying my luck on Eharmony."

He stops kissing my neck and pulls back to look at me. "You signed up for Eharmony?"

"No, Alice signed me up for Eharmony, but I had to deal with the aftermath. Then I got banned."

"Really? What for?"

"Apparently some of the men who looked like ex-felons didn't appreciate the brutal honesty in my replies, so they reported me."

"Why, what did you say?"

"I believe I said something along the lines of, 'No way in hell; unless maybe there was a zombie apocalypse, and we were tasked with repopulating the West Coast, and even then, there would have to be paper bags.'"

He laughs and shakes his head at me. Just as Edward leans in, to ruin my lipstick and panties simultaneously, we are jolted out of the moment by the sound of my dad's voice and the rattling door. "Open this door, Cullen, or I'll have you arrested."

"On what charge?" Edward asks, completely unfazed by my father. Dad threatens to have Edward arrested almost every week. It's become a game between the two of them.

"False imprisonment. Corruption of a minor…"

"You do realize Bella's in here willingly and over the age of thirty. She's not a minor; hasn't been for quite some time, in fact."

Dad chuckles and I give Edward the 'you'll-pay-for-that-ageist-remark-later' glare.

"To me she'll always be my little girl, so you'd better haul out of there quick-smart or else, boy."

"Or else what? Are you gonna use your special handcuffs on me? I told you before, Chief, purple's not really my color."

I burst into a fit of giggles as I hear Dad's muffled reply, "That was meant to be a secret between you and me, you smart-ass little shit."

"I'm sorry, Charlie, but Bella and I have a very open and honest relationship… plus she kind of forced the truth out of me."

Dad laughs again. "In that case, I'll guess I'll just shoot your other ass cheek and finish off what the crazy nun started last night."

"Okay, fine. I'm leaving," Edward huffs. "See you soon," he says giving me a playful wink and a pat on the ass. He casts one more longing gaze taking in the sight of me in my lingerie and sighs.

"Take a picture. It'll last longer," I quip.

"Don't mind if I do." Edward pats his hands over his pockets. "Mmm. Damn. Mum's got my phone. Can you wait here for a minute while I get it? Or should I just call the photographer in here?"

"As if. Speaking of photographers, we're keeping everyone waiting. Get out and let me get into my dress before I change my mind about marrying you."

He grins cheekily and moves in to embrace me again. Unfortunately, moving his back away from the door allows Dad enough room to get his arm through. He manages to grasp the collar of Edward's white dress shirt and pulls him backwards out of the head.

The scene is laughable as my Dad single-handedly perp-walks Edward towards the ladder and out of the cabin.

-oo0oo-

"I Edward, take you Isabella to be my wife, my partner in life and my one true love. I will cherish our union and love you more each day than I did the day before. I will trust you and respect you, laugh with you and cry with you, loving you faithfully through good times and bad, regardless of the obstacles we may face together. I give you my hand, my heart, and my love, from this day forward, for as long as we both shall live."

All that's happened today before this moment is now a blur. Everything except the person standing before me has faded into the background. I know that in days to come the finer details will return to me, but right now none of it matters. The one and only thing that matters now is that Edward is here. He's placing a platinum and diamond band on my left ring finger and proclaiming his love for me to the whole world.

"I Edward, give you Isabella, this ring as an eternal symbol of my love and commitment to you."

He's my best friend, my lover, my confidant, my future, my forever; my Edward.

"By the power vested in me by the State of Washington, I now pronounce you Edward, and you Isabella to be husband and wife. Edward, you may now kiss your bride."

Edward lifts my veil, and for the first time, but certainly not the last time, I'm kissed by my husband.


A/N

Special thanks go to Elisha for allowing me to integrate her hilarious facebook status into this chapter regarding online dating sites and the zombie apocalypse.

Remove brackets for the following links to work.

Photo album of this chapter including a picture of the nightmare dress featuring Libby on the front (http)(:/)(/bit.)ly/Chapter151

Hunter S. Thompson quote was from – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. (http)(:/)(/bit.)ly/took_too_much

SNL Rob Schneider weed skit – (http)(:/)(/bit.)ly/snl-skit

David Beckham's H&M underwear commercial (http)(:/)(/bit.)ly/DavidB_HandM

Stephen Moyer accepts the 2010 Scream Award (I love his accent) (http)(:/)(/bit.)ly/2010_ScreamAward