WARNING: THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS SOME STRONGLY IMPLIED SEXUAL CONTENT.
"Yay, Mommy and Daddy!" Isabella and Delilah cheered for us, running up to hug me around the waist. Connor unwound his arms from around me as I bent down to embrace our daughters.
"Congratulations, you two." Eunice smiled brightly, glancing between me and my new husband with her sparkling brown eyes. She looked wonderful in her light purple dress, her black hair just barely touching her shoulders.
"Thank you, Eunice. Thank you so much for coming here." I hugged her tight, much like I would my own sister had I ever grown up with one.
"Sweetie, I wouldn't miss this day for the world. And I gotta say, your choice of groom ain't that bad." She gripped my hands affectionately as she leaned closer to whisper conspiringly in my ear. "I got a pair of handcuffs you can take on the honeymoon." The former redhead smiled, raising her eyebrows suggestively as I did my best to keep from bursting out in laughter.
"No, I don't think we'll be able to let go of each other for the rest of our lives." I briefly looked behind me to see Connor trapping Murphy in a playful headlock, laughing in celebration. We momentarily locked eyes, sapphire against emerald, and he flashed me that boyish grin that sent my heart pumping, his gaze filled with adoration as I beamed in return.
Murphy managed to free himself from the headlock as Baylee O'Shea came to join his side. She was an attractive woman, about seven or eight inches taller than me, with dark eyes and long mahogany hair stopping near the middle of her back that contrasted against the ebony color of her dress.
I turned my head the other way to see more in my good eye. Izzy and Dee were hugging Annabelle in delight. The happiness flowed through me as I felt Eunice squeeze my shoulders warmly, saying that she had to use the ladies' room.
Looking around at the crowd of people, I saw everyone chattering and smiling, making conversation amidst the wonderful occasion. As I played with the ribbons tied about my waist using my fingers, I felt a pair of strong arms enfold themselves to encircle me in their tender hold. Soft lips kissed along my exposed neck, not caring that we were in public and in a church nevertheless.
"Ya look indescribable, me love. I've never seen anyone so angelic in me whole life." Connor's deep brogue purred in my ear, his hands gently resting on my flat abdomen.
"You don't look so bad yourself, Mr. MacManus." I only turned my head to face him, looking into his blue eyes. "I see you even shaved." My hand raised itself to stroke his smooth cheek, my fingertips gently running down his jaw.
"Don't worry. In a week or so, it'll grow back." My husband chuckled deeply before stepping around me to stand in my frontal vision. Finally, I noticed he was wearing a white button-down shirt and an open black vest. Honestly, he looked as striking as ever. "How do ye feel? Ya feel alright?"
"Yeah, I feel okay. I've been feeling pretty good for the past few days." A wide smile formed on my lips as I wrapped my arms around Connor's neck, still holding my Irish bouquet in one hand.
Our foreheads pressed together as my husband grinned down at me, folding his safe arms around my waist in a way to silently communicate that he was also fine, physically and emotionally.
Everyone ended up outside the church, enjoying the weather before the reported rain returned to force us all back indoors. My system became used to the new foods and drinks of the Irish culture, but I avoided any alcoholic beverages due to my pregnancy. In the meantime, Eunice couldn't stay much longer, so Daniel's father William drove her to the secret location where her private plane would pick her up and take her back to her hideout on the outskirts of East-Jesus-Nowhere.
The customary first dance between me and Connor went smoothly; thank the good Lord, since I hadn't really slow-danced since my senior prom in high school. The song selection for our waltz was the classically infamous "Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues. Despite a few crude lyrics, it was the perfect song for the occasion being it the beginning of December and me being a part of the wily, unpredictable and wonderful MacManus clan. Connor was especially careful not to twirl me around too much or too fast so I wouldn't risk having an embarrassing nausea attack.
Pretty soon, everyone else ended up dancing with us, couples and children swapping with one another. The girls took turns in between their father and uncle as I did a brief dance with Father Sibeal, giving me the opportunity to thank him for all his help. As the hour wore on, my husband came to claim me back into his arms once again, his flaming blue eyes alight with the fire of boyish delight.
"Its about time fer our ride to be here, love. Ya think we oughta tell the wee lasses goodbye?" His hands grasped my shoulders in a comforting way, making me feel better about leaving our daughters for a whole week.
"I…I don't know, Connor. I haven't really been away from the girls for very long before. And it makes me so nervous after everything that's happened." I whispered to him worriedly, not absorbing the fact that other people were around us.
"Danielle, they'll be fine, I swear. Murph an' Baylee will take good care of 'em. An' I made me brother promise to behave himself with her in front o' Izzy and Dee." His fingertips slowly made an invisible path down my cheek, quietly reassuring me. "An' we gave 'im our hotel phone number just in case."
"Okay…that does make me feel kinda better." I chuckled my distress away, not wanting to ruin the evening with anxiety. Then, I felt a tiny tug on my dress skirt.
"You look so pretty, Mommy!" Isabella smiled up at me with her adorable dimples, her sky-blue eyes matching perfectly with her dress.
"You too, Daddy." Delilah pointed up at her father as he took ahold of her small hand in his much bigger one.
"Thank ya, lil' darlins'." Connor laughed happily at our beloved offspring, bending downward to kiss them both on the cheeks. "Yer ma and I are about to leave fer a few days. Yer Uncle Murph is gonna stay with ya at the house. Is that okay with ya?"
"Yeah! Can Uncle Muffy let us ride the horses, Daddy?" Dee nearly begged both of us with innocent hope.
"Only if he's with you both. I don't want you around the horses by yourselves." I interjected before Connor could answer, placing my hands in front of my belly.
"Yer mother's right, girls. We know you'll behave fer yer Uncle Muph, aye?" He used a deep, paternal air to his voice that was still new and intriguing to my ears.
"Yes, Daddy." They both answered at the same time, a subtle reveal that they were twins that knew everything about one another.
Suddenly, the faint sound of hooves clopping on the asphalt of the nearby street made me alert to our transportation arriving…
A genuine horse and carriage set to take us to the Galway Inn, near the edge of Clifden's town borders…
"Bye, Mommy. Bye-bye, Daddy." Isabella and Delilah hugged us both separately, allowing us to say farewell only for a few minutes' time. It took a bit of courage to pull away and make my way to the carriage, which was being driven by a professional horseman.
"Are ya ready, me love?" Connor held up his arm for me to take it so he could lead me to the coach like a real Irish gentleman.
"Yes." I answered softly, taking hold of his arm as the crowd of guests behind us started to cheer in congratulations.
"If he drives ya nuts, call me!" Murphy's voice yelled out over the shouts of departure. Annabelle and Baylee waved to us, smiling widely as the girls began picking their favorite flowers out of my bouquet, waving in our direction.
We were both inside the carriage before I was even aware of it, Connor setting his strong arm upon my shoulders, tickling my upper arm with his fingers. "It seems we get a few days to ourselves, Danielle. Just you an' me."
I looked up into his eyes in response before leaning forward to give him a kiss, a sneak preview of what I imagined would happen when we arrived to our glorious suite of paradise.
However, once we finally arrived to the doorway of the suite with our luggage, I started to feel pathetically tired. I did my best not to present my weariness to my husband since this was our wedding night after all, something every girl fantasized about from the time they were sixteen. Granted, Connor and I had our share of many passionate nights in the weeks leading up to the actual ceremony. And now that my pregnancy with another baby was out in the open, he was more careful with me than ever before…and I couldn't help but appreciate it.
Connor set down his bag, along with my suitcase, by the door, turning around to face me. "Well, here we are, Dani. Do ya feel ready to be Mrs. MacManus?" His hands held mine in an unbreakable grip, daring anyone to pull me away from him.
"I don't think I've been more prepared for anything else." A tear made its way down my cheek, one of longing and happiness in this moment.
My husband sighed out in one long breath, not wanting to say his feelings with mere words. Instead, he reached out and opened that door, still holding my hand with one of his.
"Well, prepare yerself to get the royal Irish treatment, me beautiful wife." A playful growl escaped from him as he carefully positioned his arms against my back and under my knees, carefully scooping me up in the way he had carried me numerous times before, in both blissful and scary situations. This time, his arms were more loving than ever in the way he held me to his chest, my arms enfolded naturally around his neck and shoulders. He walked across the threshold, watching his step in order to not risk tripping and dropping me. Most likely, he was being cautious due to our vulnerable baby forming within me…
"You know, I never really understood this part of the tradition, carrying the bride across the threshold. You'd think the doorway was on fire or something." My voice was filled with a calm sarcasm as Connor began walking to the queen-sized bed to lay me down on it.
"Well, regular legend has that the threshold o' a newlywed couple's house is infested with evil demons, so the groom protects the bride by carryin' her so she won't be snatched up by those wicked bastards." The Irishman slowly set me down onto the bed, close enough to the pillows that I could lean on them. "However, me love, ya know that I'll protect ya from anyone that tries to harm ya. I know yer smart an' strong, but I'll never be able to take that night back."
He silently reached over and placed his fingertip on the top of my distinctive scar. Now I understood what he was talking about…
"If I could give ya the other half o' yer sight back, I sure as hell would, but I can't. In exchange fer that loss, I'll never take another day with ya fer granted again, Danielle." He climbed over on the other side of the bed and took my tired form into his arms.
"I know you won't, Connor. You never have taken advantage of me in any way. And now that we're married, we can finally see how far love can take us." I lay my head on to his shoulder, allowing my eyelids to droop as I freed my feet of my ballet slippers. "Honestly, I don't think I've been this happy in years. One thing that would've made everything perfect is…that I wish my parents could've seen me. Like meeting you and Murphy under different circumstances, us falling in love…" I trailed off as I tried to imagine what could've happened if I hadn't lost my parents or been raped by an evil scumbag.
"I woulda loved to have met yer folks, Dani. Hell, I'm sure yer Da woulda hated me at first, but I guess all fathers feel that way 'bout men who sweep their lovely daughters off their feet." His chest vibrated with a deep laugh as he kissed my forehead.
"My mom would've loved you, though. With your irresistible accent and Irish charm and chivalry." I lightly skimmed my nose with his in a playful manner.
"I'm sure yer Ma an' Da are watchin' over ya in Heaven, love. You've overcome so much in yer life an' you've managed to keep yer kindess and courage to help other people." He ran his tattooed hand along the width of my clothed thigh, causing shivers to travel down my leg. "Do ya feel hungry or tired at all?"
"Not really, right now. But…I was thinking of having a bath later. If you wanna help me, you can." I whispered that last sentence, enjoying the way his fingers pulled the tiny bands out of my braids, allowing my hair to hang freely loose and comfortable.
"It'd be me pleasure to aid ya with anthin' ya need, love. Just like I vowed to ya, there's nothin' I won't do to make ya happy an' secure." Connor's fiery eyes burned with truth as he said those words to me, his Veritas hand moving from my thigh to my belly, rubbing it with care. "I'll do whatever it takes to keep me family safe."
My handsome lion laid his head to rest upon my stomach as I leaned further into the soft pillows, taking these moments to bask in the silence of being truly alone together and anticipate the following hours of our first night as husband and wife.
Incidentally, the bathroom only included a stand-in shower chamber with a sliding door, much like the one in my bathroom from when I had first met the boys. I still hadn't changed from my wedding dress, with only the flower-wreath absent from my head and my feet bare from the shoes. As for supper that night, I ate everything from biscuits to bananas and cookies. Basically, many different kinds of food groups that were bizarrely mixed together… Connor found my appetite both humorous and quite strange as he'd watch me run back and forth around the kitchen, carefully making sure I didn't trip over the rug and hurt myself.
Now, all I really wanted tonight was a nice, hot shower to calm my nerves and to fall asleep in the arms of the man I loved with everything I held dear to me. I knew Connor was on his way to join me as I turned the knobs of the shower and activated the water. Steaming liquid rained down from the shower-head, calling me to provide it with a human body to cleanse.
I stood completely naked before the mirror above the sink; my arms wrapped myself in an attempt to shield my skin from the breezy chill. The sound of footsteps entered my ears as I heard him clear his throat, the bathroom door creaking open as he came up behind me. I first felt the fabric of a tank-top against his torso, his arms enfolding around me in their warmth.
"Danielle…" His voice said my name in that familiar way I knew with him, as if I were the one thing that could keep him sane in that moment. "I honestly don't think any Shakespeare verse could describe yer beauty right now."
"That's a shame. I was looking forward to some MacBeth or Hamlet tonight." A nervous laugh exited my mouth as I briefly felt the cold metal of his belt buckle linger on my lower back.
"Do ya…do ya want me to just stand outside the shower an' make certain ya don't slip, or should I join ya?" His tone of voice indicated that he was giving me a choice and whatever I decided, he would accept without argument.
Rather than answer him verbally, I turned around to fully face my husband and pressed my lips to his. My fingers grasped onto the straps of his wife-beater, leading him into the shower. We both managed to fit inside with enough room to move around with careful steps as long as we stayed close to one another.
Pretty soon, I threw that damn tank top off him, exposing his chest and that amazing tattoo of the Savior Christ along his back. The water sprayed all around us as he gently washed my body with his hands, his lips and tongue alternately savoring every single inch of me. Not many words were said in that session in the shower, even though it was definitely more than I had ever imagined how my wedding night would proceed. My husband made his actions speak for him, never showing a hint of aggression or domination, showing that we were equals in this relationship, no matter what disagreements we had in the past.
However, despite the erotic sensuality of that evening, we didn't actually make love right away in the shower. We supposed that all we wanted to do was show how much we cared for each other, the extent of how much we treasured one another.
Soon enough, we were under the covers of our warm bed, arms holding each other, clothed in pajamas since it was December, after all.
"I guess this means we're not like other couples since we didn't have sex on our wedding night." I said to him quietly in the darkness. "Just wait until I get bigger with the baby. You're not even gonna want to see me without clothes on."
"Don't give me that, lass. Yer talkin' about me wife, ya know." He teased me good-naturedly, giving me a kiss on the shoulder. "I'm sure there were other bastards in America who wanted ya in me absence."
"Yeah…sometimes I wonder what happened to those guys." I giggled as I heard him growl mischieviously, his arms pulling me closer to him.
"C'mere, you. Let me show ya how much a man can truly love a woman." His words and voice caused me to contradict my earlier assumption about staying abstinent for tonight. We did quite the opposite, pleasuring ourselves and each other in more ways than one.
After all, we never knew how precious the ones we loved really were until they were nearly lost from us forever…
AN: Okay, I believe this chapter sucks royally, but I hope everyone enjoys it, nonetheless Please, please review… Pretty please…? Thanks and have a great week.