Mild nudity and very picture heavy.
The day was perfect. Much better than she’d hoped for, let alone expected. Egyptian weather was a bit of a hit or miss in the springtime but they’d been lucky. It was a balmy 78 degrees.
Matt was half Egyptian on his mother’s side and Eva had thought it would be a nice to have a destination wedding.
She stood in front of the mirror and smoothed down her dress. It was a bit unorthodox but so was she and Matt. They’d gone through so much, today was about having fun and celebrating life, their life together.
She turned at the sound of a sob and saw her mom standing by the door, tears in her eyes. “Hi mom.” She did a little twirl for Rae.
“You look beautiful.”
“Oh mom, don’t cry. You’re going to make me cry!” She walked over and hugged her mother. To say they’d grown closer in the few months it took to plan this day was a gross understatement. They’d gone dress shopping, her mother had been there for the cake tasting, helped with the menu planning, the seating chart, everything.
Not to be outdone, Connor had stepped in and gone tuxedo shopping with Matt, and done all the things a dad was supposed to do for their son. It had effected Matt on a visceral level to finally have a man in his life he could call dad.
Just thinking about it made Eva tear up.
“Oh, don’t mind me, El. I came here to fulfill the traditions.” Rae handed her daughter a pair of blue earring studs. “These were my grandmother’s. She wore them on her wedding day, so something old and blue.”
“They are beautiful mom.” Eva sat down and tilted her head so her mother could place them in her ear.
Rae looked down at Eva and smiled. “She was a queen, you know. I wish you children had gotten a chance to know that side of the family.” She patted Eva on the shoulder. “Anyway, I have one more thing for you.” She showed Eva a matching bracelet and Eva raised her hand so her mother could fasten the piece of jewelry on her wrist.
“Thank you, mom.” She was stunned at the beauty of the gifts.
“Yes, well. Something new, right? It was your dad’s idea. And something borrowed. This is on loan from Cape Verde, your cousin Demi brought it with her.”
Eva’s eyes widened. It was the most beautiful tiara she’d ever seen. “Mom, it’s perfect!”
Smiling, Rae led her to the vanity and told her to sit. “Let me help you with your hair and we’ll put this on, okay?”
Holding back tears, Eva nodded.
A few minutes later, she checked her appearance one more time and decided she was ready. It was nice to have her mother help on one of the most important days of her life and she thought back to all the years they’d missed out on because she’d been unable to forgive. It was so silly now that she thought back on it. Her mother loved her – there was no question about that. And one thing she’d learned from Matt was that love was not an explosive thing, it burned hot but low. It was always there, simmering in the background, waiting to warm your heart but knowing when to die down.
She’d been looking for passion and fire and yes – love could be all those things – but mostly, it was just there. A constant – something reliable and soothing. Love shouldn’t burn you.
Turning to look at her mother, she announced, “I’m ready.”
Eva stood in the back of the room with her father, watching as her family filed down the aisle. First her mother, then Al. She gripped her dad’s arm but didn’t turn to look at him.
Matt’s mother couldn’t make the wedding because of an emergency with Jaime. Eva had offered to postpone the wedding but both Matt and his mother had shot that idea down. She’d been secretly pleased, though. She was so ready to do this.
When Matt had proposed, she’d been excited, ready to start this new part of life with him. They filed all the paperwork, had even moved into the house he’d bought. But then, Matt had become weird, distant. Planning the wedding had promised to be fun, a chance for them to bond and strengthen their strained relationship. Instead of getting closer, however, they had drifted apart. Eventually, she’d stopped asking him for his input and as a year of excuses turned to 2, turned to 4, turned to 6, she’d just stopped planning.
His sudden need to visit his parents had been shocking, to say the least. But now she understood. He’d needed to be reassured that she was walking into this with both eyes open.
“Stop worrying princess. One step in front of the other.” Connor took her hand and gave it a squeeze. “I’ll see you on the other side.” Then he let go and walked down the aisle too.
She stood alone and watched as Steph followed her father. She was next. Looking up, she tried to catch Matt’s eye but he was watching their daughter walk towards him. She could do this. This wasn’t a big deal. People got married everyday…right?
Finally, the music changed and it was her cue to start moving. As she made her way to the front of the room, she looked around to see all her friends and family. She passed Jack and his wife, Amber, and gave them a nod. Next to them sat Dre and Ariany. Eva wasn’t quite sure what that situation was all about, but she was the last person to judge her brother’s relationship decisions.
On the opposite side was Alistair, who was sitting with his girlfriend Arianna and his best friend, Eden. It was nice of them to come all the way to Egypt to celebrate with her family. She smiled and winked at Steph, now in her seat of honor up front. She was amazed at how much they both had grown. Soon, Al would be graduating and heading off to college and Steph would be picking out a high school.
She turned and smiled at her parents and her uncle Caleb, his wife Callie and their daughter Izzy. She was so glad they could make all the way out to Al Simhara for the wedding. But then again, Uncle Caleb was always there for her family.
Reaching the front of the room, she looked up in search of Matt’s face again. Seeing all her loved ones together had calmed her jittery nerves but she needed to see Matt.
He returned her stare and she faltered under that intense gaze. It will be okay.
She smiled at him, suddenly eager to reach his side. She was marrying her best friend today.
When she stood next to him, he smiled down at her and whispered, “You look amazing.”
“Thank you, so do you.” She smoothed down his lapel, suddenly feeling shy.
“Are you ready?”
As a nod to Matt and his family’s traditions, they’d written their own vows. He stepped closer to her and tilted her chin up so she was looking at him.
“I, Matias King, promise to love you, not just in this lifetime but forever. To hold you up when life knocks you down and keep you safe from harm, be it physical or emotional. I promise to cherish our family, to be your faithful partner, and to support your dreams. I promise to be patient – as best as I can – and to help you love this life we’ve built. I give you my heart unconditionally, now and for always.”
Eva had to blink back the tears that threatened to spill. She cleared her throat. “I, Eva Louise Torres London, promise to be your constant friend and faithful wife. To honor, respect and love you through the good times and the bad. To speak up when words are needed, to be silent when they are not and to ask when I can’t tell the difference.” Matt’s smile widened at that. “I give you my heart and pray that I may live in the warmth of yours and always call it home, for as long as we both endure.”
Matt stared down at her for a second, his eyes softened by unshed tears. Then he lifted her chin a bit higher and leaned down to kiss her for the first time as her husband.
Kieran looked over at his mom and Matt dancing. He could tell that she was happy and that eased some of the tension he felt. It was getting harder to separate everyone’s emotions now that the reception had started. Not that they were bad feelings since everyone was falling somewhere between content and joyous on the happiness scale. But still, it was a bit overwhelming to be surrounded by so many people.
Eden said something and Kieran glanced back at him. His friend was telling him about his latest scheme. Eden was always trying to find ways to make money and a lot of the time Kieran had to question the legality of them.
“Kieran, seriously, this is a sure-fire way to make so much dough! You have to get in on this. You’re the only one I know who can tell the worth of painting just by looking at it. Plus, man, I trust you like a brother. What do you say?”
Kieran had no idea what Eden was talking about. “Let me think about it,” he said noncommittally, although why he bothered, he’d never know. Eden would talk him into it, he always did.
Grant reached out to touch Eden and Kieran looked down and smiled at his cousin. “Eden, I’d like you to meet someone.”
Eden shook Grant’s tiny hand and smiled. “Hey buddy, looking sharp in that outfit.”
“Thanks.” Grant said with a slight lisp, making both of the older boys laugh. “Put me down please.”
Kieran gave him a quick squeeze before placing Grant on the floor. He watched as the toddler ran over to his parents, where Riley scooped him up. Kieran couldn’t help but smile. He was looking forward to the day when he could hang out and talk to Gracie.
He’d been confused at first, thinking he’d been wrong – his uncles were supposed to have had two girls. He’d almost given up hope but he’d felt her, saw her aura today for the first time. It was kind of weird, since Grant was the first and only person he’d ever had a premonition about, but he could sense his cousin changing.
He’d decided a long time ago that questioning his magic was a waste of time. All he could do was hope that nothing unmanageable happened. He didn’t want to get so out of control that he killed someone.
He didn’t want to be like Matt.
“I’m going to ask the DJ to put on some fast music, and then I think I’m going to ask your cousin to dance.”
“What?” Kieran was pulled from his morbid thoughts, “Which one?”
“Princess Demi!” He punched Kieran in the arm. “Dude, your family is wicked cool.”
Kieran rolled his eyes as Eden turned away, smiling at his friend. He felt the smile slip as he watched his mother and stepfather dancing. He loved Matt, a lot more than he ever loved his real father.
Did not telling his mother the truth make him a horrible son?
Eva walked into the bridal suite and sighed. The day had been perfect. Better than anything she could have hoped for.
“Hey,” Matt said before pulling her into his arms and kissing her.
“Hey, yourself.” She rested her head on his shoulder and sighed again. They were married. It felt a bit surreal to her, thinking that she was now Mrs. Matias King.
She giggled and Matt squeezed her lightly. “What’s so funny?”
“Just thinking how weird it is that I’m now Mrs. King.”
He pulled away a bit and looked down at her. “Is it? Weird, I mean.”
Her grin softened into a smile and she shook her head. “No, not so much. It’s…wonderful, Matt. It feels absolutely perfect.”
Matt nodded and kissed her again. “Alright, let’s get you out of this dress.”
Eva laughed again. “Am I about to be ravished?”
“One can hope.”
Matt stepped back and began to slowly undress her. First the tiara and her jewelry. Those he placed in velvet pouches and put away. Then he turned her around and slowly unzipped her dress, places small kisses on the exposed skin of her neck and back.
Eva thought back to the first time they’d done this. They’d rushed through that undressing, eager to get to fun part.
Matt turned her back around and she began to slowly undress him. She been so silly back then. This slow undressing was more erotic than anything they’d done that night. This was the difference between lust and love and she was so grateful to have the chance to learn that with Matt.
Matt leaned over and nibbled on her lower lip. “I like your hair like this.”
Eva looked down and laughed. “I was just thinking about the night we met.” She’d been experimenting with hair color back then and now her hair was red and orange again. Maybe she’d keep it and twist her hair again since he liked it so much.
“Hmmm…that was the best night of my life.”
“So far,” she corrected.
His grin got wider. “So far.”
“I love you Mrs. King.”
Eva sighed. “I’m never going to get tired of hearing that, you know.” She reached up and stroked his cheek, feeling his beard rasp against her fingertips. “I love you more, Mr. King.”
“Even if we have only a few years left together, I promise they will be the best years, Eva.”
She frowned and placed a hand on his lips to silence him. Wrapping her legs around his hips, she held him close. Matt wrapped an arm around her, using his left forearm to keep his weight off her. They stayed that way for a while before she said, “You promised me forever and I intend to hold you to that. I love you Matt. Nothing will ever change that. Not illness, not death and certainly not fear.”
She shifted against him and he squeezed her tighter. “You’re amazing, you know that?”
Eva smiled and shook her head. “I don’t know about amazing, but I am yours, for the rest of my life, Matt. Forever.”