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“I’ve been waiting all my life for you to come back to me. And you were so worth it.”
“KIERA,” OLIVIA SAID THE following day as she got ready in her childhood bedroom. “Can you go down the street and give this to Tyler, please? Tell him to give it to Alexander right before he enters the church.” She handed her a small envelope. “It’s his wedding present from me.”
“What did you get him? This is just a card.”
“The present is in the card,” Olivia replied, nervous energy coursing through her entire body as she contemplated Alexander’s reaction.
“Okay. I’ll be back in a few.”
Kiera left and Olivia returned to stare at the girl in the mirror. She looked the same as she did over a year-and-a-half ago, but she felt so different, like a huge weight had been lifted. She was no longer just going through the motions, trying to survive. She had something to fight for. She had Alexander. She had a family. Finally.
“KNOCK, KNOCK,” KIERA CALLED out, walking into Alexander’s house. Hordes of people were milling about in the large living and dining areas, waiting to head to the historic church down the street.
“Hey, baby,” Mo said, wrapping his arms around her. “It’s our turn next, ya’ know.”
Kiera grinned, excited about marrying him the following year. “Where’s Tyler?”
Mo gestured with his head toward the dining room. “He’s in there, talking with Olivia’s grandparents.”
“How’s Alex doing?”
“Good. Excited. He just wants the wedding over. He wants to marry that girl something fierce.”
Kiera laughed. “And I want to marry you something fierce.”
“Then let’s go to Vegas next weekend! Come on, baby…”
“Jack, both of our families would kill us. It’ll be the crime of the century anyway, an Italian marrying an Irish woman in Boston.”
“You’re right about that,” he laughed.
“I gotta run. I’ll see you at the church.” She planted an affectionate kiss on his lips and went in search of the best man. “Tyler!” she yelled, half of the house turning to look at her. “Whoops.”
Tyler simply shook his head and walked over to Kiera in her deep green tea-length bridesmaid dress. “You sure do know how to make an entrance.”
She laughed. “I know.” She handed him the envelope. “I’ve been instructed by the bride to give this to you. You are to give it to the groom right before he goes into the church and not a second before. Do you understand?”
He scrunched his eyebrows in confusion. “What is it? It just looks like a card.”
Kiera shrugged. “Hell if I know. Bitch hasn’t told me anything.”
“Okay. Well, here.” He picked up a shirt-sized box from the dining room table. “Give this to the bride. She can open it before she leaves.”
“Got it.” Kiera grabbed the gift and left just as people began filing out to make their way to the church. She hurried back to Olivia’s house to finish getting ready.
“It’s about time you got back,” Bridget remarked when Kiera walked through the front door.
“Sorry. I got held up. Is she ready?”
“Yeah. I helped her into the dress. I had to hook all those buttons by myself, thank you very much!”
“It wasn’t that bad. I’m just giving you shit.”
Kiera laughed. “Bitch.” She ran up the stairs, busting through the door to where Olivia was getting ready. She looked at her best friend and tears began to well up in her eyes. “Oh, Libby. You look beautiful.”
Olivia met Kiera’s eyes, becoming rather emotional all of a sudden. “Stop it, Care Bear, or I’m going to cry and smudge my eye makeup.”
“It’s okay. I used waterproof.”
“Good, because I’m so going to need it.” She eyed the box Kiera had clutched in her hands. “What’s that?”
“Oh. This is from Alexander. He said you can open it now. Do you want some privacy?”
“No. You can stay.” She grabbed the box and slowly unwrapped it, gasping when she pulled back the tissue paper, exposing her gift.
“What is it?”
“I can’t believe he still had this…” Olivia looked down into the box. There was a frame around the picture she drew for Alexander on his first day of school. “I was so mad at him for leaving me and starting school,” she explained to Kiera. “I cried and cried that day. Then my mama told me that Alex wouldn’t be very happy if he came over after school and I was still crying. She told me to draw a picture to give to him. I drew this.” She looked at the old drawing of stick figure versions of Alexander and Olivia eating ice cream. Her heart swelled and she desperately wanted to get to that church and marry her best friend.
“NERVOUS?” TYLER ASKED AS he drove Alexander to the church.
“No. I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.”
“You’re not leaving this one at the altar, are you?”
“Ha, ha. Very funny.”
Tyler pulled the car into the parking lot and the two brothers got out, heading toward the front door of the church. “Wait. Before you go in, Olivia wanted you to have this.” He handed him the envelope.
“Alex, dear!” his mother called from the front steps. “We need to start! Olivia’s here and the girls are all ready. We just need the groom. Tyler, you’re on my shit list for taking him to a bar on the way here, young man!”
“Coming, Ma.” Alexander laughed, opening the envelope as he walked into the church. He stopped dead in his tracks when he looked at the fuzzy black-and-white picture mounted on a piece of card stock.
“What is it?”
Alexander’s heart started racing. He couldn’t believe it. “I’ll tell you later. Let’s get this show started.” He was so excited that his hands were shaking. He wanted nothing more than to see Olivia at that moment. He wanted to wrap his arms around her and kiss her and never let her go again.
He took his place at the altar and the processional began. The guests laughed when Runner emerged onto the aisle, trotting toward his master with two shining rings attached to his green collar. “Good boy,” Alexander said, grabbing the dog’s collar and handing the rings to Tyler.