Lost and Found pt12 (Final)
Houston looked in the mirror and sighed deeply, before wrenching loose his cravat and trying again.
"Having problems bro?" His cousin Will asked as he walked into the room and watched with amusement as his cool, unflappable big cousin muttered to himself and tugged the pale blue silk garment left and right, before tying it into a bow that only the Mad Hatter would have been proud of!
"Don't say a word Will!" Houston growled as again he pulled the cravat loose and in frustration threw it on to the bed, before sitting down next to it and looking forlornly at his reflection in the mirror. "It's no good, I need CJ!"
"Ho ho, nice try Mattlock !" Will chuckled as he walked across the room, pulled Houston to his feet and turned him to face him before reaching down and picking up the offending item. "So impatient! You only have another couple of hours or so and the two of you will be walking back down that aisle together as Mr & Mrs, and poor CJ will be stuck looking after you for the rest of her life! I mean, it's not exactly as if you've rushed in to this, so what's another couple of hours…and there done! Easy when you know how!" He stepped back and admired his handy work
Houston grinned as he said "You'll make someone a great wife one day Will!" and chuckled as his cousin punched him gently on the arm before studying himself again in the mirror. Silently Will passed him his Morning Coat, smoothing the back into place across the shoulders as Houston adjusted his waistcoat and took a steadying breath
"You ok big guy?" Will asked softly
"Better than ok Will. It's finally happening, I finally get the girl of my dreams" Houston turned to look at his cousin and added softly," I love her ya know, I mean REALLY love her!"
"That obvious huh?"
The two cousins laughed as Houston blushed a fraction before looking again at Will. "You know what's weird, we decided to, well, not spend the night together after the wedding rehearsal, you know, give us each some space to spend with friends and get ourselves sorted, but I tell ya Will, been the longest ten days of my life!"
"Not to mention longest nights aye!"
Houston grinned before asking softly "Do you think I deserve her?"
Will went to laugh but saw the slight uncertainty in Houstons eyes. "Where's this coming from big guy? "
"Well, CJ is kinda special ya know! Smart, funny, kind…sexy as hell! So, can't help but wonderin' why she is marryin' a dumb ole cowboy like me!"
This time Will did laugh, he couldn't help it. "Oh boy, who would have thought a tough guy like you would be so nervous on his wedding day!"
"I'm not nervous!"
"Sure you are Houston! Otherwise you wouldn't be asking such dumb ass questions and talking such rubbish! Yes, CJ is smart and kind…"
"Yes, funny…and she sure is sexy as hell…"
"You asked…I'm just agreeing! I'm also telling you that you're dumb!"
"I mean dumb to ask if you deserve CJ, of course you do! And it's obvious she loves you just as much as you love her, so ya see it was all meant to be! It's fate, destiny…whatever you wanna call it! Me? Well I just think you are so perfect together that this day was always gonna happen…EVENTUALLY! And, I can guarantee that unlike with most other couples you guys will never be bored, somehow I think CJ will never cease to surprise you…just remember your wedding rehearsal last week!"
Houstons eyebrows went skywards as he smiled broadly and nodded. "Oh yeah!" he muttered as his mind went back to the wedding rehearsal dinner that CJ had decided to liven up , egged on and assisted by her Maid Of Honour, Dr Carol LeMaster-Dewitt! Houston and CJ had agreed to allow Murray to organise the rehearsal dinner, a way of acknowledging how much they had come to see him as a friend as well as trusted colleague, they had expected it to be formal, but not AS formal as their friend had made it, even going as far as insisting the event be black tie! At the end of the sumptuous meal Murray had stood up and made a lovely speech, at least the first ten minutes had been lovely! Then he had introduced the live band who played a selection of Murray chosen love songs. Houston had noticed Carol prodding CJ several times, as well as pouring more and more champagne into his fiancés empty glass. Finally with a triumphant shriek Carol had leapt from her seat and walked over to the band. Five minutes later and the band paused long enough to introduce a guest lead singer. His jaw had hit the floor when he watched CJ stand up and slowly make her way up onstage, bowing shyly as their guests cheered and stamped their feet
CJ had blushed before saying quietly into the mike "Don't expect too much guys, been a while since I've done this!" Then slowly she turned to Houston and whispered, "This is for you cowboy!" And with that his heart had melted as CJ softly sang one of his favourite love songs The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. As the last perfect note faded Houston had jumped from his seat and run to the stage to pull her down and into his arms for a passionate embrace, laughing as the loud applause that had broken out for CJs singing became bawdy cheers as the two kissed. He had stepped back and looked at her in amazement, with CJ laughing at the tears in his eyes. The guests had started chanting for more, and Carol was up on stage in a flash yelling for CJ to join her. In the next thirty minutes or so Houston had watched open mouthed as Carol and CJ sang duet on Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves and Tell Him, which Houston noted with pride had Carol struggling to keep up with CJs powerful vocals, and sure enough, after that Carol had stepped aside to sing backing vocals as CJ belted out Hearts song Alone, followed by several classic torch songs and one or two country toe tappers. The guests kept calling back for more but finally CJ had stepped down crying out she had run out of songs and needed a drink, but the band had now abandoned Murrays play list and soon had the guests dancing the night away whilst Houston had kept CJ hugged tight to him as he asked her why he hadn't known she could sing like that. She had had looked at him and smirked, whispering in his ear "Oh there is SO much you don't know about me cowboy…so, so very much!" And his heart had flipped as he growled softly and nipped her ear playfully.
Someone had yelled out jokingly "GET A ROOM!" and with that CJ had taken his hand and lead him sneakily out of the rehearsal dinner and up to the hotel reception desk. She had casually asked the clerk if they had a room free, winking at Houston as she filled in the guest card and handed over her credit card to pay. Houston had snatched the key from the clerks hand before CJ had a chance and had passed him a $50. "Anyone asks, you didn't see us ok?" The clerk had smiled and nodded as he pocketed the tip and wished them good night, though neither heard as by then they were already in the elevator and locked in a passionate kiss, with CJ giggling as Houston had whispered. "Sing it again for me slick!"
"Ground control to Houston!" Houston shook his head a fraction and realised that Will was looking at him smiling madly. The two looked at each other and chuckled before Will added. "C'mon cuz, time for one last drink as a free man with the other guys! Ready?"
Houston took one last look in the mirror and with a quick nod turned to put his hand on Wills shoulder as they walked to the door. "You got the rings right?" Houston asked casually, stopping in his tracks as Wills hand shot to his waistcoat pocket and his mouth dropped open. "No!" he gasped
"Ha ha…gotcha!" Will giggled as he stepped out of the door and ushered Houston through and on his way
CJ stood in front of the mirror and sighed deeply as she looked at her reflection and then across to her white gown hanging on the wall behind her. She swallowed hard and took a steadying breath, this wasn't exactly the wedding day she had imagined her and Houston having, she had never been one to dream of the big gown and tiara, the bridesmaids and flowers. Nope, she had always thought it would be her and Houston in the meadow of his ranch, in front of a few family and friends with Houston in his dress jeans and pristine white shirt and her wearing a soft pastel dress, lilac maybe…or pink! But Houston had surprised her by saying he wanted to marry in Church and that he wanted as many of their friends to join in the celebrations. So here she was, ready to be centre stage in one of the biggest society weddings of the year, and she was terrified! She closed her eyes and took another couple of deep breaths, opening her eyes as she heard her hotel door open. She smiled as her Maid of Honour come bustling in, two champagne glasses in hand. Gratefully CJ took the offered drink and took a big gulp to empty the glass in one go, hiccupping slightly at the bubbles. "Thanks pal, needed that!"
Carol smiled as she sat on the edge of the bed and asked. "Nervous?"
"What gave it away?"
"Oh I dunno, the fact the champagne barely touched the sides, or that your eyes look as big as saucers, maybe it's the fact you are practically hyperventilating…or it could be that you're shaking. Maybe it's cos…"
"Ok, enough already!" CJ giggled. "So I'm busted! YES, I'm nervous! Weren't you?"
Carol stood up and draped her arms across CJs shoulders. "Sure I was…sick with nerves dontcha remember? Cos I do…! And I remember what my super smart Chief Bridesmaid said to me on the big day, don't think about any body else watching, just look straight ahead at the man waiting, and everything else just fades away."
"Sounds like your bridesmaid was full of…"
"NO CJ! You were right, really you were! I mean yeah, I was still nervous, but I had you there to watch my back, my dad to hold me steady, and the man I love waiting to share the rest of his life with me. It was a perfect day, and this will be to honey, just as soon as we get you in your dress!"
CJ smiled and muttered. "Might make the wedding pictures interesting huh?" she looked again at her reflection and the white strapless bra, matching briefs and garter belt.
"Well yeah…but this would make them even more interesting!" said Carol as she pointed at CJs side before winking and adding "And I have something else to, should put an even bigger smile on Matts face, once he has got over the shock of your Bachelorette party souvenir!" Carol went and grabbed a small box she had hidden earlier and passed it to her friend.
With a delighted laugh CJ pulled the delicate pale blue and white silk garter out of the tissue that held it and looked at her friend as she saucily wiggled it around her finger
"Just returning the favour" Carol said as she snatched it back and crouched down to pull it over CJs foot and push it up to CJs thigh were CJ grabbed it and deftly twisted it around to a comfy position. "Gotta say Nick was very grateful!" Carol added with a wink as she walked over to the side table and the open bottle of Brandy and poured out two glasses, but before they had a chance to take another sip the door burst open, and a mini whirlwind bustled in
"What is this?" the older woman who had burst in stopped and looked open mouthed at the two women with the glasses in their hands. "I send you in to get her to eat and instead you get my CJ drunk! Shame on you, shame! And you a doctor..aye aye!"
"Mama" CJ said softly, "I'm really not hungry, but a little drink may calm my nerves!"
Rosa Noveli shook her head and waved her hands dramatically. "No no, is no good to drink on empty tummy, especially today, too long a day too many things to do to have no food…wait" she turned and bustled out of the door, stepping back in seconds later with a plate laden with sandwiches, "I make you favourite…toasted Mozzarella and Watercress!"
CJs eyes bulged at the mountain of food, but she smiled weakly as she reached to take one knowing it was futile to argue with the Italian matriarch
Mama turned to look at Carol and offered the plate to her. "You to smart cookie, you gonna look after my girl all day you need to keep your strength up!"
Dutifully Carol reached out to take the offered food, biting into it as Mama turned and walked over to the bed, she sat on the edge and smoothed down the floral housecoat covering her wedding outfit then patted the mattress indicating for CJ to sit next to her. "You come talk to your Mama Rosa"
"Should I leave?" Carol asked with a giggle
Rosa thought for a second but shook her head. "No," she said eventually, "you are the married woman now, it is okay for you to hear what I have to say! CJ, come, sit next to Mama" CJ exchanged a puzzled look with Carol as she made her way over to sit warily next to her. Mama reached over to clasp CJs hand before sighing and saying softly. "Now CJ, your mother should be having this talk with you, but I am honoured to step in and take her place, after all…you are like a daughter to me!"
CJ smiled and whispered "Thanks Mama, feel that way to!"
The older woman nodded and patted their joined hands. "Good, that's good!" she sniffed slightly then carried on. "Today CJ, is your big day. Today you become a wife…but tonight, tonight you become a woman!"
CJs eyes went wide as she looked sideways at Carol, who had her fist pressed against her mouth trying not to laugh. "But, Mama," CJ stammered
"Shoosh shoosh" Rosa patted her hand again, "I know, it feels wrong to talk of such things when you are hours away from walking down the aisle to stand before the eyes of God…but there will not be time to talk to you afterwards! Ah, I should not have left it so long, but you and Houston you rush these wedding plans and boom, the day is here before we know! I know the two of you are friends a long time but CJ all brides are more nervous of the wedding night than they can admit…am I right Doctor Carol?"
Carol smirked. "Oh yes…absolutely!"
Rosa missed the amusement in her voice and smiled at her as she turned back to CJ. "So…let me tell you what to expect, then…when I'm done you can ask me any questions…anything you like! Ok?"
Dumbly CJ nodded
"Good ok! So…what to expect…"
Houston took another deep swig of the chilled beer and closed his eyes contentedly
"You aint told us where you are taking CJ on your Honeymoon yet!" Vince Noveli said good naturedly as he to drank happily from his chilled beer
"Nope, I haven't!" Houston grinned and looked sideways at him
"And you aint gonna right?" Vince asked. Laughing as Houston just winked at him. "Well, at least I'll know that you'll be in good hands on you first night together!" this time it was Noveli who winked
"First night? Vince, what are you on about?" Houston looked at his friend puzzled by the amused look on his face
Noveli chuckled as he told him "Mama told me last night that she was worried for CJ, her having no mother to advise her on a wifes duties on her wedding night shall we say! So she has decided to talk to CJ before the wedding, put her mind at rest about what to expect from married life!"
Houston choked on his beer." She what?! Seriously?"
"Mama is having THE talk with CJ…? Today?"
Houston stood and thought for second before chuckling softly. "Oh boy, I'd pay to see that!"
And with big smiles on their faces the two clinked their bottles together and took another large swig of beer. Houston leaned over to briefly check his friends tie, winking when he had checked it wasn't a clip on.
"So you see CJ" Mama was concluding, "There is nothing to fear. Where there is love there is happiness, and although it is a wife's duty to ensure her husband is kept happy in every way when the love you have is as strong as the love you and Houston have for each other it is not a duty as much as a joy! Ok?"
Again CJ nodded dumbly, her mouth slightly a jar, her eyes wide.
"Ah bella. I can see I have scared you a leetle yes? Too much information eh? Ah CJ, I didn't tell you to scare you…I tell you so you won't be afraid when you and Houston are alone…it is all so natural il mio bambino timido, la mia bella bambina. I am so proud of you…so proud. I have given you a lot to think on si? Perhaps it best if I step out for a little while, let you think on things…talk to your friend here, after all she is a married woman and a doctor, she could answer almost as many questions as I yes?"
"I'll do my best!" Carol said seriously, smiling as Rosa stood and stroked CJs cheek before rushing out of the room, sniffling loudly as she closed the door behind her.
"Wow!" CJ muttered before looking at Carol, the two of them bursting into laughter at the same time
"A wifes duty!" Carol muttered
"Don't be afraid! Man, if I followed her instructions me an' Houston would just be confused!" CJ gasped before stopping and looking at the door, tears suddenly springing to her eyes
CJ sniffed. "That was so sweet of her to do that though wasn't it? She really does love me like a daughter!"
Carol came and sat next her hugging her shoulders. "And I love you like a sister, Chris and Butterfly see you as a sister to I know that…you got quiet a family going on here my friend!"
CJ gave her a watery smile and nodded. "I'm lucky, I know. And today I get to marry the man of my dreams don't I?"
"You sure do, just as soon as we get you in to that dress! Now c'mon! You ready?"
With a huge smile breaking across her face CJ nodded. "As I'll ever be!"
Noveli patted Houstons back as he walked towards the waiting car to join Hoyt. "See you at the Church pal!" he grinned before closing the door and waving as the car pulled away. Houston waved turning a fraction as Will came up behind him and rested his hand on his shoulder. "Ready?"
Houston grinned. "You keep asking me that, I've never been more ready for anything in my life! I've been ready for this moment from the first time I met her."
Will chuckled. "I know, should have been doing this years ago" he said as he signalled to the waiting driver to bring the Limo over. "So c'mon big guy, let's get this show on the road! Finally!"
The two climbed in and settled down for the ride. Houston closed his eyes and took a deep breath, his mind happily wandering back to the first time he had met his best friend and bride to be.
"Will!" Houston said with a grin as he switched the engine of the convertible off, "Stop singing, people are looking. We're here, Lake Taho!"
Will pushed himself up until he was sitting on the top of the passenger seat. "Wooohoo, hottie central, gonna be a good spring break cuz!"
With a slight shake of his head Houston climbed out of the car and grabbed at the small hand luggage and beach towels from the back seat. "I'm here for the sport Will, and to relax before finals!"
"Oh me to, Matt, me too!" Will grinned wolfishly as he stopped and openly stared at two bikini clad babes who wiggled and giggled their way passed them. "Wow, oh yeah!"
Again Houston shook his head and turned to walk away, heading across to the Log Cabin he had rented for the week. He and Will had driven in alone having spent the last week at football training camp, their two friends would be joining them later that day. He knew that they were as loud and excited as his cousin, but that was fine with him, it meant he didn't have to keep him company! He had done his bit, driven him there. Now he could sit back and relax, go horse riding, walking, rock climbing, maybe hire a jet ski, and looking out over the glistening Lake a few good hours swimming would be heaven. He was to busy taking in the scenery to look were he was going until too late.
"Oof! Wotchit!" came the irritated voice as Houston collided with a soft female form.
Instinctively he grabbed out at her arm to steady her. He looked up, straight in to the most amazing eyes he had ever seen. He swallowed and stammered "Sorry! Was admiring the view!"
The woman looked over in the direction Houston had been facing, a small frown playing across her face. "Typical!" she muttered before trying to pull her arm free
Houston glanced across and blushed as he saw two rather buxom and almost topless females lying on sun loungers at the side of the Lake. "No, uh no!" he stammered, "not that, not them! I really was admiring the view. Never been here before, country boy at heart and kinda miss it…thinking how inviting the water looks to!"
The woman stopped trying to yank her arm free and studied him thoughtfully. "Not that it matters but as it seems to worry you, I do believe you ok? Now, could I have my arm back please?"
"Oh, right, yeah!" He stepped back a fraction and held his breath, she was stunning. Long soft curly brown hair, perfect figure in a tasteful bikini, warm smile and those eyes, oh yeah those eyes!
She looked back at him and raised her eyebrow, he looked down and realised he was still holding her arm. Quickly he let go and blushed. She saw the colour spreading and let out a soft laugh, before smiling brightly at him. Houston felt the breath leave him as she hit him with that mega watt smile. "Well, ok…enjoy your swim cowboy! Buh-bye!" and she turned to walk away
She stopped and turned back to him, her smile still dazzling him. "How did ya know I'm a cowboy?" he asked
She laughed as she stepped back to him. "You're from Texas right? Me to! And you aint City folk, can see that in the way you look at the scenery, so country. And as for cowboy, well takes one to know one!"
His eyes went wide. "You're Texan?"
"And you ride?"
He looked down and scuffed the floor slightly. "So, uhm, think you might wanna go riding with me sometime this week" he asked shyly
Her eyes crinkled at the edges as she chewed her lip a fraction. "Which Cabin you in Texas?"
Houston looked at the key fob in his hand and scoured the number panels on the edges of the nearby group of cabins. "Uhm, that one!" he pointed to the door on the left of them.
"Uh huh!" she nodded, "Well neighbour, why dontcha gimme a call sometime, and I'll think about it. Ok?" And with that she turned and started to make her way up the set of steps that led to the entrance of the cabin next to his.
"Houston!" he called out
"What?" she stopped to look at him. "Oh, is that where you're from?"
"Nope, that's ma name m'am. Mattlock Houston, well….Matt, but everyone calls me Houston"
She smiled and went to walk in the cabin, stopping to look back at him and wink before saying. "I'm CJ. CJ Parsons, nice to meet you…Houston!" and with that she was gone.
He stood staring at the doorway for a few seconds before being rudely brought back to earth by Will slapping him on the back and smiling as he muttered. "You old dog Houston, not here five minutes and you land yourself a HOT hottie. She got a friend?"
Will grabbed the key off Houston and let himself in to the cabin, whilst Houston stood a minute longer, waving in embarrassment as CJ walked back out on to her porch, glass of orange juice in hand and a friendly smile on her face as she spotted him still rooted to the spot. He grinned to himself as he finally followed Will into the cabin and dropped his bag in the small box room he had chosen for himself, mainly as it gave him a view of the neighbours. He listened with a sense of mild annoyance as his cousin went on at length as to how hot the babe that Houston had been talking to was, and how he was sure to try and get a date of her whilst they were there. An hour later when their friends joined them, the first thing he told them was about the hot neighbour, and Houstons blood began to boil. "She's a nice girl Will, not a piece of meat, drop it ok!" he had growled quietly when he grabbed his cousins arm and pulled him to one side
Will had stared a him for a few seconds, not offended, but shocked. His cousin was a playboy, every one knew that…star footballer, rich daddy and no intention of settling down until he had made his own fortune, so why was he protecting some girl he had just met when he sometimes could barely remember the name of the last girl he dated. "Wow!" he had whispered," she must be REAL hot, she's made some impression on you big guy!"
Houston smiled a fraction. "You know what Will, I just get the feeling that she is some thin' else ya know. She's…special, yeah, real special!"
"Man you were right Houston!"
"Huh?" Houston blinked a fraction and looked at his cousin in the back seat next to him
Will pointed out of the Limo window. "I said you were right, good job you told us all to leave early, traffic is really building up out there! We could be here a while! "
Carol finished fluffing out the skirt of CJs dress and stepped back, her eyes glistening as she smiled at her friend. "Wow! Wish I'd looked this good on my wedding day!"
"Are you kidding! " CJ grinned as she took her friends hand, "You looked amazing !"
"Aw honey, so do you…oh so do you!" Caro replied taking CJs other hand and holding them tight. They turned as the door opened
"Oh my God CJ" Chris gasped, "you look…you look…"
"Amazing!" Butterfly finished for her as she pushed her way into the room dragging Chris behind her
CJ laughed as her three Bridesmaids lined up in front of her for inspection, Butterfly giggling madly as CJ marked them all 10 out of 10. "I'm wearing Lipstick" Butterfly whispered loudly," and Chris let me have a sip of Champagne…just to calm my nerves!"
"That was supposed to be our secret!" Chris laughed as the younger girl blushed and swallowed slightly before realising nobody was really mad. "Can you believe the day is finally here?" Chris asked in between giggles
CJ shook her head a fraction. "When Matt said he didn't want a long engagement I thought he meant a year or so, not six months!"
"Well it's not as though the two of you needed time to really get to know each other!" Carol called out as she walked again to the open cabinet to pour another round of drinks, including a very small glass for the youngest attendant. "In fact I'm surprised he waited this long!"
"If we had gone with the wedding I wanted we probably wouldn't have waited, but even for Houston a big wedding like this takes time to organise. Besides, I wanted to be your Bridesmaid first, and I needed a little time, to…to, well, I guess get my feet back on the ground. Had a wild few weeks back there! "
"Tell me about it!" muttered Carol as she passed CJ her Brandy glass. The glass had barely made it to CJs lips when in burst Rosa Noveli. "Geez, can this woman sniff out Brandy at 20 paces!" Carol whispered to CJ as she quickly snatched the glass back and tried to hide it. Too late, Rosa had spotted it.
"Tsk, CJ…you drink your toast without me!" the older woman said with a big grin as she reached over to take Butterflys glass off her and turned to CJ. "Salut!" she said with a grin, before downing the contents in one.
"Salut!" replied CJ, Carol and Chris who all did the same, Butterfly looked on and sighed
"My Vincenzo, he call to say Houston and Will are on their way, he say traffic is heavy so they will be about half an hour to Church, all on time si?" Rosa told them as she walked over to the cabinet and brought back the Brandy bottle, and an empty small glass, she topped every ones glasses up and poured a small measure for Butterfly smiling as she handed it to her before gently pinching her cheek.
Butterfly took a small sip and grimaced a fraction. She held the glass and thought for a few seconds before asking. "So how come it took you and Houston so long to finally get together ? Didn't you like each other when you first met?"
"Yeah, "Chris sat down next to Butterfly and nodded at her before turning to CJ and also asking "how come it did take you so long? Couldn't just be that you were just being…oh shall we say stubborn!"
CJ shot a narrowed eye glance at her before smirking. Then looking directly at her young friend she told her. "No, no…Houston and I liked each other just fine from the first time we met…it was just…complicated back then"
"How come" Butterfly leaned forward a fraction
"Yeah, " again Chris chimed in. "How come?"