One Year Later…
A year could make such a difference in a man's life. About a year ago, Eddie sat under the same oak tree and asked the woman he fell so deeply in love with to be his forever and she agreed. Today they both stood hand in hand surrounded by the people in their lives that meant the world to them, as they pledged their love to one another.
Pastor Bruce McDonald stood to one side and Nick and Owen stood not too far from Eddie's right.
If someone told Eddie he'd be married three years ago, he'd call them stark raving mad. Never in his wildest dreams did he ever think he'd be keen to settle down, let alone be so eager about it. Right now all he pictured was Janet's blue eyes and all he wanted to feel was her presence by his side.
Ikey who sat off to the side, began playing his guitar to the tune of 'Lucky' by Kat Edmonson. Eddie looked down the aisle to find Janet being escorted toward him by her brother, Jonah. That was a grin of a proud brother, if ever he saw one. His mind flickered to Danny and he smiled ruefully before he snapped his attention back to Jonah and Janet who now stood before him waiting expectantly. Jonah cleared his throat.
"Oh!" Eddie leaped forward to take her hand from Jonah's arm and the crowd stifled a chuckle, "Sorry baby," he smiled apologetically.
She smiled up at him and squinted to keep the rays of the sun out of her eye, "It's alright," she whispered and looked down. Eddie wondered why she was behaving demurely until he saw the cute blush creep up her neck and flood her cheeks. He chuckled and tugged her towards him. Relief swept over him to know she was as nervous about doing this in front of everyone as much as he was.
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today...," the pastor began in a resonant voice that echoed around the gardens.
The service floated by and Eddie prayed he'd given the correct responses, though he couldn't be entirely sure he had. Before he knew it he was sliding the simple gold band on Janet's finger and she did the same for him. Janet's nearness and the fact that she'd soon be his wife had him addled more than he thought possible.
"Mr Latekka?" the pastor's voice pulled him out of his daze, "Sir?"
Heat rushed up Eddie's neck as he realised he'd missed whatever he'd been asked, "Yes. What am I supposed to say next?"
The pastor's grin lit up his jovial face and he chuckled, "Nothing. Just kiss your bride." A low chuckle was emitted among the audience but was quickly hushed down as Eddie tipped Janet's face up and lowered his lips onto hers.
Janet sighed against him as their kiss deepened and lengthened. He placed his hands on her waist and drew her closer, wanting to stay exactly where he was forever.
An elbow caught him in the ribs and the familiar voice of one of his best men brought him out of his trance, "Hey man, you have the rest of your life to do that. Let her come up for air so we can get some cake!"
Laughter broke the solemn moment and a smattering of applause erupted as the pastor faced the crowd, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Mr and Mrs Edward James Latekka."
Eddie let out an exultant whoop and his friends soon followed as they thumped him on the back and kissed Janet's cheek. Eddie turned to his new wife and swept her into his arms, kissing her nose, "Mrs Latekka. Has a nice ring to it, you reckon?" She could only respond with jubilant laughter.
Phil clinked his glass and quieted down an otherwise noisy banquet hall, "Thank you. Uh, for those of you who don't know me, my name is Phil Farmer. I'll be delivering the best man speech because Eddie couldn't just do the normal thing and pick one best man. So since Nick and Owen called dibs on the alter, I figured the next high-profile role was the speech. So here I am."
The crowd chuckled and Janet and Eddie looked at each other and laughed.
"Uh, I think being a best man can be a very nerve wrecking experience. If there's one person here this evening feeling nervous, apprehensive and queasy about what lies ahead, then it's probably because you've just married Eddie."
"Watch it Phys," Eddie warned playfully over the bubble of laughter.
"Eddie and Janet have finally gotten hitched for better or worse. This is pretty accurate I think since Eddie could not have done any better and Janet," he smiled at Janet, "you could not have done any worse. I would like to thank Roxy the Maid of Honour, and Hannah Jane the bridesmaid for looking fantastic throughout the day, and for performing their role outstandingly. It couldn't have been easy dragging Janet to the chapel, especially considering she knew what the outcome would be."
Eddie threw his head back and laughed as he pulled Janet closer to him with one hand while the other held his wine glass, "You better watch it."
Phil relaxed some at the reception he was getting and decided to push it some more, "I think it's now time to give you all a quick run-down on the guy who has tied the knot today. For those who already know him well, you've got my sympathy. The rules state that I should sing the praises of the groom, and tell you all about his good points. Well, I can't sing and I'm a terrible liar."
The room boomed with raucous laughter again and Phil held up a hand to quiet everyone back down.
"Now all joking aside, you should know over the years Eddie has been one of the coolest…calmest… badasses that ever lived. And he's always been loyal, strong in character and generous. All in all, one of the best buddies a man could ask for, and I speak on behalf of the rest of the groomsmen as well. It has been an honour and a privilege to be best man number three today. Thanks again for letting me have the job, and I honestly couldn't wish for a better friend, to be best man for. We've had some great times together, and I know we'll both look back at these times with fond memories.
"I do have to say how lucky you are Eddie. You will leave here having gained a wife that is warm, loving and caring. A wife who is funny, and who radiates life where ever she goes. And Janet, how lucky you are as well – you leave today having gained a gorgeous dress and a lovely bouquet of flowers. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who is here sharing in Eddie and Janet's special day."
When the laughter died down, Phil turned to the newlyweds and pressed on , "I would just like to say that we all wish you both, nothing but the best for the future. You are a unique and perfectly matched couple, and I hope all your dreams come true, and that you may have a long and happy life together. It gives me great pleasure to invite you all to stand and raise your glasses in a toast to Eddie and Janet, the new Mr and Mrs Latekka. May your mushrooms always be sautéed, and your onions always be grilled."
"Here, here!" the room echoed and everyone clinked their glasses in concurrence.
Owen walked up to the mike and took it from Phil who was now hugging Eddie, "And now, Ladies and gentlemen, a big hand please as we welcome Eddie and Janet onto the dance floor for their first dance together as husband and wife." Owen gestured to the dance floor and Eddie stood up and downed the rest of his wine. Owen ran up the stage steps and stuck a hairbrush into the mic-stand while Nick did the same. Phil took up his racquet and Ikey took his place at the drums. Nick pushed the play button on the sound board and reclaimed his spot.
Taking Janet's hand he lead them to the dance floor and wrapped a hand around her waist as they waited for their song to begin. The initial rift to 'Better Together' began to play and Nick and Owen mouthed the words into their hairbrushes.
Janet laughed and Eddie shook his head realising what they'd done, "Dorks."
"Aw I think they're cute," Janet said smiling.
They'd only been dancing a minute when the sound tripped and a new beat began to play. Janet and Eddie recognised it immediately and laughed out loud. The band members dismounted off the stage and grabbed their wives and girlfriends and began dancing vigorously to 'Saturday Night'.
Eddie pulled away from Janet and began flailing his arms about while Janet did the hustle. They laughed again and he pulled her back to him. Tipping her face upward he kissed her deeply, "I love you," he mouthed.
"Right back at ya," Janet responded and there she stayed, in his arms until the song was over.
"Eddie, is this how I find out that my husband is even higher maintenance than his own wife? Because that's a sad day for us all," Janet called towards the bathroom door.
Their flight had landed in North Pole a mere two hours ago to commence the start of a two week honeymoon in Alaska and though they were both exhausted, the last thing on either of their minds was sleep.
"All good things take time, Janet. Now park your butt on the bed and stay put," he called back.
"Should I at least get out of my woollies?" she inquired swaying her bare feet like a pendulum from side to side.
"No," he responded after a moment's pause.
She scooted upward and rested against the headboard, feeling the softness of the sheets beneath her for the first time. She quickly turned down the bed and scooted under the covers, the fur of her hoodie tickling her nose. They'd set the thermostat to toasty warm when they arrived but it was taking time to heat up to her satisfaction.
The lights of the room suddenly went dim and Janet looked around in alarm, "Eddie! We need to call reception. Something's wrong with the…"
The beginning rift to Let Me Blow Ya Mind by Eve began to play and silenced Janet. A bare leg stuck out of the bathroom door and wrapped itself around the doorframe. Janet looked on in surprise. Suddenly Eddie came into view wearing just his boxers and red suspenders with socks. Janet burst out laughing.
Eddie walked saucily towards the bed as though performing a cabaret act. He shook his behind at her which only egged her on to laugh more. She clapped gleefully and he looked over his shoulder enticingly.
"Get over here you goofball," she demanded grinning at him from ear to ear.
"What's the magic word?"
"Now!" she growled smiling, "And take those silly suspenders off. You look like the Nick at Nite version of Steve Urkel."
The charade stopped and the good 'ol Eddie mischief returned to his eyes as he turned around to face her. He cocked a brow and flashed her a lopsided grin, "I'll trade ya."
"Your clothes for these suspenders."
Janet giggled, "Fine. Have it your way." She raised up on her knees and got out of bed, holding out her hand expectantly.
"You first, Mrs Latekka," Eddie said walking around the bed to her.
Suddenly the humour left her eyes and the shy doe-eyed girl he saw at the alter returned. Her cheeks burned a rosy blush and she looked down then back up at him.
She reached up and undid her first button of her coat before he reached out and assisted her with the next and the next until they were all undone. His eyes roamed her torso and grew darker by the second, "Janet…," he whispered. He reached out and took her hand. Turning the gold band on her ring finger he bobbed his head down and kissed her tentatively at first to put her at ease, then trailed kisses along her jaw and down her neck until he reached the swell of her. He eased the coat off her shoulders and with each layer of clothing he whispered words of praise and awe, taking her in as he did, relishing every moment. Shaking out each article of clothing he tossed them on the chair nearby. Finally, his breathing deep, his eyes fierce, he lifted the sheets off the bed. She stood bare before him, he swept his arm under her knees and kissed her deeply.
She climbed into bed radiating from inside out, heart full and every nerve quivering. He made quick work of his own clothing, suspenders swinging, articles flying.
He joined her in their bed, and though the cold mountain air whistled around their cabin and snow collected around its corners, neither were touched by their icy presence.
The End (for real this time;)
[Note: A couple of things about this epilogue – I got a good response for Sam's speech so I decided to make Phil's a humdinger. I hope you were not too bored. Most of this chapter, I researched for. Like the place they chose for their honeymoon for instance… who would have thought there was a place actually called North Pole? I tried to keep the final scene as clean as I could. Hope no one was too disappointed.]