A/N - Happy Tuesday! I seriously could not stop writing, yesterday! I'm having way too much fun writing these chapters! I hope you're all enjoying them, too! Thanks for reading!
Chapter 717 – A New Life
"Oh, I love this, Rana, thank you," Angie said. It was a gift from Austin and Rana. She'd brought a basket full of sparkling ciders and champagne; each with a label to celebrate a first in her and Ben's marriage. First Christmas, first anniversary, first home, first baby and first fight.
"Very nice idea," Chelsea said, taking the basket from Ang and setting it aside. I scribbled it down for her. As the maid of honor, I got the job of keeping track of gifts so Ang could send thank you cards. I felt honored to help. Not being in town with her, I felt like I had missed out on a lot, so this made me feel useful.
So far, Angie had cashed in with great gifts for her new life with Ben: bubble baths and creams, cookware, recipe books, Mr. and Mrs. towels and a set of beautiful monogrammed pillows, an A and a B. Chelsea had given Angie a beautiful leather bound bible, as a gift from both her and Stephen. I could tell how touched Angie was.
"This is from the Cheney family, honey," Ben's mom said, passing Angie a box. I had liked her immediately. She was round and short and happy, always laughing. "We can't wait to welcome you into our family. You are already such an important piece of the pie."
I smiled as watch Angela flip through the family album that Ben's family had put together. There were photos of Ben as a baby, a child, a teenager. Family photos and candid shots of him with his big brother. And then a ton of new photos of Ang and Ben together: studying, watching TV, rollerblading. At the end of the album after the photos of Ben's proposal, was the wedding invitation.
"This is beautiful," Ang said, beaming. "Thank you. I'm so lucky to have you all." We were both lucky, I thought. Not only had we found great guys to marry, but our in-laws were just as fabulous.
"Here, Ang," Corin said. "This is from me and Kenna."
"Aw, thank you girls," Angie said, hugging her baby sisters. She tore open the paper and giggled. It was a tool belt, but the pockets were filled with towels, a toilet brush and a feather duster. "It's for Ben to help out with the chores."
Everyone laughed. This was so much fun. I lifted Kenna up to sit on my lap and kissed her cheek. I had missed this baby girl.
"Here's mine, Ang," I said, passing her the gift I had bought for her in Chicago on the Magnificent Mile.
She leaned over and kissed my cheek. "You're my gift."
Everyone awed and we both wiped tears from our eyes as she tore open the package. It was a beautiful brown leather cross body bag that I thought would be perfect for shopping and walking hands-free on her honeymoon in Disneyland.
"It's from Chicago," I said. "Which isn't your official Chicago souvenir. I'll give that to you later."
"Oh, Bella. I love it."
"Good. Open it."
She laughed and opened the bag. I had a couple of wrapped boxes inside. The first was a pale blue silk chemise and matching robe. "You know, for night two of the honeymoon," I whispered. We'd already picked out her wedding night lingerie back in September when I'd come to help her pick out her dress.
She flushed and smiled. Inside the second box was a ruffled blue garter accented by a row of diamonds. "Something new and blue," I said, smiling. "I know you have old and borrowed, your late granny's bracelet."
She pulled me into a tight hug and kissed my cheek. "I love it, Bella. So much." She giggled. "Are there panties that match the nightie?"
"Nope," I said and laughed with her. "I don't think you'll need them." She smacked my arm and then opened the third box. A white tank top with the word 'Bride' in sequins across the front.
"That's so cute," Chelsea said.
"I'm going to wear it all day tomorrow," Ang said. "Thank you. I love you."
"Of course. I love you, too, bestie."
"Okay. Apparently, I've only been to bachelorette parties and not bridal showers," Nikki said. Ang and I both laughed. I was not surprised, but Angie's mom look nervous as Ang started pulling things out of the gift bag.
"Massage oil," she said, smiling. "Fuzzy leopard print handcuffs; panties that say 'Hot Wife.'" We all giggled at that. I was going to have to get a pair of those to surprise Edward on our own honeymoon. "Oh, and a coupon book."
Angie passed it to me, cheeks bright red. I flipped through it. Free naked massage; five minutes of kisses; shared bubble bath. It was cute. "It's not dirty stuff. It's romantic," I told her. "You can look."
Angie got up and gave Nikki a hug. "Thanks, babe. I love it."
"Thank me later," she said, winking.
"Alright ladies," Chelsea said. "I thought we could all do a project before we take the tour of the butterfly atrium."
"She really wanted to do a craft," Ang whispered in my ear.
I smiled. I remembered Chelsea making jewellery with me and Ang when we were thirteen. I gave my second mom a hug and she kissed my cheek. "I picked out blue stones and silver fastenings. The wedding colors. I thought you girls could make earrings."
"I think that's a great idea." I kissed her cheek. "I love you, Chelsea."
She smiled and wiped her eyes. "I love you, too, Bella. I can't tell you how much it means to me, to all of us, to have you home for a couple days."
"I wouldn't have missed it. For anything."
And so, decked out in our new handmade earrings, the women of Angie's shower took a tour of Butterfly Wonderland. Makenna held my hand as we walked through the rainforest. "Look," Corin said, pointing at a large leaf. "It's the Two Tailed Swallowtail. Arizona's state butterfly."
I ran my hand over her pretty hair. "That one was always my favorite," I said. "I like the little bit of blue at the bottom."
"I like it because it's yellow. It's my favorite color."
Corin took Angie's camera and went to take pictures of the butterfly. Ang wrapped her arm around my shoulders. "Why are the butterflies making me cry?"
"They're a symbol of rebirth, fresh starts, a new life."
"Oh, god, Bella. That is so sad."
I smiled. "No, it's not. It's exciting. You are marrying the man of your dreams. He's sweet and funny and smart and has a heart of gold. He's going to make you happy for the rest of your life. He's going to hold your hair when you puke, hold your hand when you cry, hold your eyes while he makes love to you, hold your babies in his arms." I laughed and wiped my cheeks. "I'm making myself cry."
She giggled at me. "That could have been a perfect maid of honor speech."
"The puking thing might not go over well while people are trying to eat."
We laughed and I pulled her close to me in another hug. "Make sure you're always happy, Angie. You deserve it."
"I will, Bella."
"Hey, girlies." I smiled when Nikki wrapped her arms around us. "What do you say we stop the tears and go out and celebrate?"
"Celebrate how?" Angie asked.
"Let's go dancing." I looked at Ang and she looked at me. I raised my eyebrows and she nodded. "All right," Nikki screamed. "It's your last night as a single chica. We're going to party."
So, after all the goodbyes, goodnights, thank yous and see you tomorrows, Angela; Nikki; a nice girl named Blair from Angie's nursing program; one of her cousins, Laney; Ben's sister-in-law, Rana, who sent her sleeping baby girl home with Ben's mom; and I all piled in Nikki's Hummer to go dancing.
"I got it in the divorce settlement," she said and then screamed. "God. I'm not calling down marriage. Just find a guy that can keep it in his pants."
Angie laughed. "Done."
"Whoa. Wait. Are you guys…?"
"Ah. You haven't…?"
"Oh, god. How excited are you for tomorrow night?"
Ang giggled. "Very. And not just for the making love part. But, I get to keep Ben, forever. He'll be mine. My husband."
"Are you going to phone us the next day?" Nikki asked from the driver's seat. "Tell us what you think?"
"No," Angie said, laughing. She leaned over to whisper in my ear. "I'm phoning you, though."
I smiled. I loved being the best friend.