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Chapter 44


It was dark when I opened my eyes... my wedding day. I lie in bed without moving. Marcus was spooned against my back, his arm across my chest. His breathing steady; he was still asleep.

My thoughts traveled back to the day we met, like they had many times before. I remembered the moment I looked into his eyes after I ran headlong into him. The look of concern and care he showed a complete stranger, as he helped me to my feet. And then as I babbled through the stress of my life, he fixed on me as if no one else existed. Those amazing cobalt blue eyes...

Suddenly, Marcus pulled me closer. Kissing my ear, he snuggled in.

"Good Morning, my love."

"Happy Wedding Day."

"How long have you been awake?"

"Just a couple of minutes, I was thinking."

"About what?"

"Nothing... Just being a little sappy... "

"What a surprise. Please share."

"I was thinking about the first time I saw your eyes. Those beautiful eyes... "

"Yeah, kinda sappy... but so you."

Marcus gently turned my face towards him. He looked into my eyes and then started to kiss me.

"I think I need to brush away morning breath." I smiled.

"Okay, you have less than five minutes to meet me back here on the futon." Marcus grinned.

We both ran for the bathroom. As I was brushing my teeth, Marcus gave me a hip check, knocking me away from the sink. He grabbed his brush and started to squeeze the toothpaste. I gave him a shove with my shoulder and quickly finished up at the sink. I gave him a smile and dashed back to the office and the futon.

I couldn't wait to be able to sleep in our own bed that night, the first night in the new house. This day would be filled with beginnings.

Suddenly, all thought left my mind as Marcus walked towards me. He was wearing nothing but a grin. Even though we'd been together for a year, he still took my breath away. Tall, dark, and handsome, that horrible cliché, Marcus was all that and more. But more importantly, he had the biggest heart.

When you looked at him, he blew you away. When you got to know him, it was easy to fall in love. When you knew he loved only you, there were no words. How was it possible? I really was the luckiest man alive.

Marcus moved towards me. He knelt on the futon. Then he put a hand on either side of my head and bent down to kiss me. He hovered over me, barely grazing his lips on mine. I tried to deepen the kiss but he pushed himself away. I gave him a look and a sigh; he smiled and leaned back down to kiss me.

He bent towards me, moving just his elbows. Suddenly, our tongues were fighting for control. The duel continued as he lowered himself on top of me. Finally, I had the full body contact I craved.

He broke the kiss and grinned.

"Are we doing this, Babe?"

"Well, old man, I was hoping you and I were going to christen the new house on our wedding night. Do you think you'll be 'up' for it later if we do this now?"

"I'll show you old man... and I'm going to hold you to that thought... christening the new house is going to happen, but since you've activated the launch sequence here... we are so going to do this right now."

"Quit talking about it and sta... "

Marcus resumed kissing me. He moved my arms above my head and slowly traced his fingers down my left side. When he reached my hip, he reached around behind me and pulled me into him. He turned us onto our sides, as he continued to lavish me with kisses. I went to move my hands down, but he stopped me.

His left hand traced a path from my right nipple to my hip. He grabbed my cock in his hand and stroked it ever so lightly and slowly. Again, I tried to move my hands, but he shook his head slightly as he continued to kiss me. I moaned.

"I need to touch you. Please let me use my hands."

He smiled. His eyes lit up.

"Okay, but just so you know... My brain is way ahead and my dick isn't going to take much coaxing to explode. Just thinking about you being my husband ..."

"Well then, maybe I need to take the lead?"

I moved quickly so I was kneeling between his legs before he could react. He got a surprised look, but those blue eyes narrowed, full of lust. I pushed his knees apart and ran my left hand up his thighs. He moaned as I continued up his body to nipples. A slight tweak of his right nipple caused his cock to leak.

I used my thighs to push his legs even further apart; slowly I inserted a lubed finger and then a second. When I was sure Marcus was ready, I slowly entered him. His moans assured me I was doing the right thing. Slowly, I moved in and out. Marcus started thrashing beneath me.

"Babe, you are flipping amazing. Oh, fuck... You are going to make me cum... "

I stopped moving. I rested fully encased in his ass. He used his hands to try to move me, but I held still. He moaned again, but in frustration this time. I bent down and kissed him.

"You know if our positions were reversed you would hold still for hours." I smirked.

He moaned, "You are evil. I would never... "

"Oh, I seem to remember at the beginning... oh fuck, I can't... "

I began to thrust again. A few strokes later and Marcus exploded on his stomach and chest. The contractions around my cock pushed me over the edge. I collapsed on Marcus.

"Babe, you are amazing. That was amazing. What an incredible way to start the day."

"Yeah, I'm not sure how we can top that tonight, but I bet we'll think of something... "I grinned.

"Oh, yeah... But we do need to get started. You are supposed to meet Jen and Jon for breakfast and I'm due at Jamie's in less than an hour.

"I hope your mother has calmed down a little after last night. I should call and apologize, again."

"I don't think you need to worry about my Mom. She has more patience than anyone I know, but your mother did push her to the edge last night. I thought she was on board with the wedding. What the hell was her problem last night?"

Marcus lowered his head. "Actually, that was nothing. At both my brothers' rehearsal dinners, she went bat-shit crazy. Of course, she and my father were paying for things so she got some leeway from the family. Last night was mild for her, but totally unacceptable. I will make sure she calls and apologizes to your parents."

"No, don't make her do anything. If she doesn't do it on her own... Well, I don't think my Mom will care. It takes a lot to get my mother flustered, but your mother managed to do it."

After a shower, we got dressed and started to pack up the remaining things in the condo. I thought about last night...


The rehearsal dinner started quietly enough. Mindy, the owner, created a beautiful space upstairs in her restaurant. The wooden walls were stained a deeper brown than the main restaurant. The bar was set on the left hand side of the room; the buffet table to the right.

She used "our" blue linens and added silver decorations. Centerpieces on each table radiated light from inside simple geometric shapes. We had our own bartender and a staff of four to manage the buffet. As soon as I entered the room, my mouth began to water from the smells.

"Mindy, the place smells amazing and looks incredible." Mom smiled. "I love what you've done with the room. The accents are beautiful."

"Thank you, I hope you enjoy the evening. If you need anything don't hesitate to ask for me or Chef Paul. We are at your disposal. Randy is your bartender tonight, and the rest of the staff is our best. I hope you enjoy yourselves. I think Chef Paul's creations are almost ready."

Dad spoke up, "I'm sure everything will be amazing. I can't wait to dig into the food."

"Uncle T, did we do okay at the rehearsal? I didn't know we haveta stand up there the whole time. We never been in a wedding before." Josh tugged on my sleeve.

I bent down to talk to him. "You did awesome. But remember tomorrow at the real wedding you'll have to stand still even longer. Do you think you'll be able to do it?"

Stephen shot me a look with his hands squarely on his hips. "Of course we can Uncle T! When we stand with you and Uncle M tomorrow, you'll be doing the vows. You know Dad and Uncle Nick have a bet to see who chokes down first. I don't know what it means but they thought it was funny."

"Seriously," I laughed. "First, I think they meant choked up."

"Oh, yeah... "

"Second, you can tell your father and Uncle Nick, no I'll tell them. Jamie... Nick... Just so we are clear... I don't want to know how the betting lies, but all proceeds from this bet... I expect to see a big deposit in my godchildren's college accounts. Understood?"

Jamie and Nick looked guilty. Jamie glared at his oldest twins and then suddenly Marcus's brothers burst out laughing.

Jamie finally stopped laughing long enough to say, "Well, the bet didn't have a dollar figure attached to it. It was more of a... I don't know a... which one will lose it first and who will he take with him.

"Look, Tony, don't get upset. We just know the two of you and honestly, we don't expect many dry eyes in the house when you get going... It's not a bad thing. You two are pretty incredible together. You bring out the best in each other. I don't think there's anyone expecting to keep their composure when you recite your vows."

He walked over and put an arm around my shoulder. He whispered in my ear.

"Please, you are so going to lose it when you start to talk about my brother, and you are going to bring him down with you. Don't even try to deny it."

I cuffed him across the head and then gave him a hug.

"We shall see how it goes. I have every intention of keeping my composure. Just you wait and see... "

"Are you trying to convince me or yourself?"

I grinned.

"What kind of a place is this? Barbeque? Seriously? Whose idea was this?" Marjorie gripped as she climbed the stairs.

"Could this place be any tackier?"

Immediately, I went to say something to her, but my mother beat me to the punch.

"Marjorie, how lovely of you to join us... I'm really looking forward to the dishes Chef Paul has prepared tonight. Can you smell those amazing aromas? When the boys had us taste food with them, this place just blew us away. We all loved the food. You should have joined us that day and you would know just how good it will be."

"I'm sure it will be lovely dear." She patted my mother on the arm.

Mom flinched ever so slightly. I think only Dad and I noticed it.

"What did you think of the rehearsal? I think the ceremony tomorrow will be just beautiful."

"It was different. I'm not sure about a female pastor. It just seems wrong."

"Did you talk to her? She really is a lovely woman and so spiritual. I really like our pastor, but I'd love to attend services with her every Sunday if I could."

"Yes, yes, a lovely woman. Are they setting up a buffet?"

"Absolutely, we didn't want anyone to have to decide on just one thing. We want folks to try a little of everything."

"Oh, sounds just great. Excuse me for a moment, please. Marcus, could I have a word."

I went to say something and my mother grabbed my hand and led me towards the bar.

"I need a glass of white wine. A big one... "She smiled. "And could you make sure whenever the other groom's mother needs something you jump right on it. Here's a little thank you in advance."

She slipped him a bill. I couldn't see what it was but when the bartender's eyes lit up, I gave my mother a sideways glance.

"He was going to get it later anyway... this will give her less to complain about I hope... "

"Before I forget to say it, thank you for this... I love you so much."

I hugged her, hoping to convey my love.

She leaned back and put her hand on my cheek.

"Baby, your happiness just fills my heart with joy. I'm so thrilled this day is here. Enjoy every minute, and don't let anything or anyone... " She glanced at Marjorie. "Just be happy."

Marcus returned from his mother's summons with a downcast look.

"I'm sorry. She's being a pain in the... butt. I'm going to ask one of the staff to serve her food when it comes out. Hopefully, it will be one less thing... Please don't let her... "

"Don't worry about your mother. Just make sure you enjoy yourselves." Mom patted Marcus on the arm and pulled him into a hug. "I'm sure we can get someone to take care of her."

Mom and Dad had six tables set up in a rectangle. Marcus and I sat at one end with my mother and father on my right, and his father on his left. Everyone else arranged themselves around the tables. Marjorie was forced to sit between her daughters-in-law, at the opposite end.

The staff started bringing out food. Mom and Dad ordered a slew of mouth-watering delights. BBQ chicken smelled and looked incredible to me, leg and thigh portions were layered with a honey based sauce. The next dish out was pulled pork with a slightly acidic vinegar tinge to it. Beef brisket was placed in the steam table; the aroma alone had my salivary glands in overdrive.

Next dish was salt potatoes with all the fixings to make them loaded. The corn bread and the lobster bisque joined the other dishes. Then, Paul and Mindy personally brought up a strawberry and blueberry laced salad. Marcus and I immediately headed for our host and chef.

"Wow, this all looks so amazing. I can't wait to dig in." I exclaimed.

Marcus added, "Tony is right. You guys have out done yourselves here."

Chef Paul spoke first, "Thank you. I hope you all enjoy it. Please let me know if there are any issues."

"If there is anything else you need, don't hesitate to ask." Mindy added.

"I'm sure it will be delicious." Marcus smiled. "And do me a favor... Please ignore anything my mother might say about the food or anything else. She's a bit of a contrary person."

"A BIT?" I yelled and immediately covered my mouth with my hand. "You're kidding right? Seriously, she can be difficult. Make sure your staff is prepared."

Mindy sighed, "I believe we had a little taste of that downstairs. Not to worry, but thanks for the heads up."

"Jamie, I am not a child. You don't have to make up a plate for me."

"I know Mother, but I thought this would be easier for you. You seemed a little unhappy about the buffet. Can I get you a beverage?"

"Of course, and hurry please."

At the same time, the bartender walked over with a full glass. I saw a small grin on my mother's face.

Marjorie was slightly caught off balance. "Oh, thank you. Jamie set my plate down here. You don't mind if I sit between my sons do you Sarah? You two can sit on the other side of your husbands."

Sarah gave me a forced smile and moved her and twins down a seat. I mouthed thank you to her and she nodded.

Everyone filled their plates and sat down. It got very quiet.

Dad spoke up, "I'm guessing the food meets your approval. You could almost hear a pin drop in here."

Stephen started to answer with his mouth full, "Grandpa W., this stuff is yummy. The potatoes are so good with all the stuff on them."

"Stephen Taylor, where are your manners? We do not talk with our mouth full."

"Sorry, Grandma, but did you taste the potatoes? They are super good."

"They are just salt potatoes. And that is no excuse to forget your manners young man.

"Oh, I don't know. The lobster bisque could go a long way for me to forget my manners." I said quietly.

"Really?" Marjorie glared.

"Oops, did I say that out loud? Sorry, but this food is unbelievable." I stammered.

Marjorie stormed into the bathroom and slammed the door.

"Oh no, I'm sorry. I should... "

"Never mind, I'll go see what the problem is now." Marcus said.

Mom jumped in. "No, I'll go. Just keep eating."

It only took a couple of minutes and both women returned to the table. My mother had the same look on her face I remember from my high school days. It was that "I shouldn't have to tell someone how to behave in public" look.

Marjorie started stabbing at her food. She downed her drink and waved her glass at her son. The bartender dashed over and left a new one at the table.

Marcus's father leaned over towards my mother.

"What did you say to her? That was a quick conversation and she seems right on the edge of an explosion."

"I just reminded her that tonight wasn't about her. It was about our sons. And tomorrow is even more important and she should try to remember it. It didn't go over well but she came around."

"I'm impressed. But I'm not sure how long it will last."

"We can cross that bridge later. I just needed her to think about what this weekend it about, mother to mother."


"Babe, are you there?"

"Sorry, I was thinking about last night. Maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought. Actually, everyone except your mother enjoyed themselves. The food was brilliant and the company even better. Knowing my mother, she's over the whole thing."

The door bell rang and in walked Jamie and Nick.

"Slight change of plans Bro... We decided to drive your car over to the house and then go to Jamie's to get dressed. Jon and James are here to get Tony to do the same. We arranged for one of the limo drivers to stay through the reception and bring you guys home. So wrap up the chit chat and let's get this show on the road." Nick grinned.

Jon burst into the condo. "What is the hold up? We are on a schedule. We have a wedding later, in case you've forgotten. I need one of the grooms to follow me now. Grab the tux bag and move."

I stammered, "But... "

"No, it's time. You are about to declare to friends and family your love. You have the rest of your lives to be together and chit chat. Right now however, it's time to get ready. No more dawdling... Where is the tux?"

I shook my head and grinned. I grabbed the bag hanging in the front closet, put my sneakers on, and walked over to Marcus for a kiss. He smiled.

"I will see you at the chapel. I love you, Babe."

"I love you more."

Jamie pulled me away from Marcus.

"Enough sappy for now, time to move... I have one set of twins chomping at the bit to get this ceremony going, and another set being fed and napped on a tight schedule so they can be a part of it too. This is a very precisely choreographed operation." He laughed. "Seriously, we need to get moving now."

I gave Marcus another kiss, grabbed my tux, and followed Jon out to the car.

"I'm bringing you directly to our house. James is bringing your car to the new house where Jen is picking him up to come back here. The four of us have until the limo arrives at one o'clock.

"So, are you excited, nervous? Are you ready for this?"

"Yeah, I'm ready. More than ready, I can't believe this day is here. I've been doing a lot of reminiscing along with the preparations. Some days I can't believe it's happening; other days I can't believe my luck. So, yeah I'm ready. Actually, right now I'm wicked hungry." I chuckled.

Jon laughed, "I have brunch ready, including mimosas. You won't get the chance to eat much at the reception."

"We planned for that. Amy and Fran are making the grooms a care package for later. I think Chef Stefano might throw something together for us as well."

"That's good, but that's hours from now."

"Where is Matthew?"

"Matthew is with James moving your car. Did I tell you we have him seeing a therapist now? It seems to be helping with his incredible mood swings. He doesn't go from Jekyll to Hyde as quickly or as often. I know it's just a start, but considering what he's been through... I'll take any progress."

"Well, you know better than most it might take years."

"Of course, but like I said any progress is good. Most times he is such a loving kid. Amazingly loving considering the hell that was his life. Anyway, as soon as James, Matthew, and Jen get here, we can eat."


After brunch, we all got dressed for the ceremony. I was in front of the mirror fidgeting with my tie; Jen came over to straighten it out.

"Relax, quit messing with it. You look amazing."

"Thanks. So do you... I think reality is starting to catch up to me. Can you pin the rose on, please?"

She shot me a look and slapped my hand as I went to adjust the tie again.

"I told you to leave it alone." She smiled, "By the time we get you to the chapel, I'll have to re-tie the damn thing.

"Tony... "

"Ugh, here it comes."

"Anthony Michael Wallace, I get to have this moment with you. So, shut up and listen.

"If you told me four years ago I would be standing up for you at your wedding, I would have looked at you like you had two heads. But, I'm so thrilled to be a part of this day. I love you. You are such an incredible person. You deserve this happiness more than anyone I know. Don't ever forget it.

"I'm a little... wistful, in a way. Marcus is so lucky. I know you think you're the lucky one, but trust me... Marcus is."

A tear started to form in my eye. She brushed it away.

"No tears. There will be enough of those later.

"But, Marcus isn't the only one. I'm lucky to have you in my life. I think everyone who knows you would say that. Enjoy this day. Celebrate the love. And then, be prepared for an amazing adventure with a man who loves you more than anything. Even in life's toughest times, hold on to the gift you found with each other."

She smiled and pulled me into a crushing hug. Tears rolled down my cheek.

"I love you, too. Thank you for being in my life."

Jon tapped on my shoulder, "I hate to break this up, but we need to get moving and I haven't had my chance yet."

Jen released her grip on me and then kissed my cheek.

"Bring the boutonniere to the chapel. All these hugs are going to wreck it.

"So, I'll keep it short and sweet. You are an amazing man. You deserve amazing happiness. You never know what twists and turns life is going to take."

He glanced over at James and Matthew. James was trying to take Matthew's picture, but he wouldn't stay still.

"So, don't take anything for granted. But, Jen is right; we are all lucky to have you in our lives. You enrich everyone you are around.

"My wish for you is simple; May this be the beginning of an incredible life together with Marcus; always together...

"Now, the limo is waiting. We have a wedding. Let's go."

I looked at him and grinned.

"James and Matthew, I need you over here for a hug before we go down to the limo."

The four of us embraced. I gave Jon an extra squeeze.


We arrived at the chapel ten minutes later. Jon and Jen shuffled me into my "ready room." Marcus and I decided each of us would have a room to collect ourselves and finish dressing for the ceremony. The plan was to meet at the entrance to the chapel and walk down the aisle together.

Mom and Dad were waiting for me. Mom looked absolutely incredible in her dress. She radiated such happiness. Dad looked dapper in his tux. They smiled and wrapped me in a hug.

"Baby, you look so handsome. Where's your white rose?"

Jen laughed, "With all the hugging, Jon figured it would be wrecked before we actually got him out there."

"You're probably right. His mother is about to start clutching and sobbing any minute." Dad smiled.

"I am not, and so what if I was. I'm the mom; I get to sob and clutch."

Clutching she did, but no sobbing.

"Are you ready? Did you finish those vows finally?"

"I think so. I don't want to read notes so I'm hoping I have them down. I don't want to miss anything."

"I'm sure you'll be wonderful. It will come from the heart. And your heart is so big... there's no need to worry."

Mom grabbed my hand and turned it.

"I never noticed the purple dot on the cuff links. Are Marcus's like this too?"

"No, his are plain. That purple dot is for Grandma. It's the color I always connect to her. We are using her ring, but I needed something. You know... "

I felt a whisper. I know that sounds so strange, but it wasn't a sound. It was a feeling deep in my heart.

"Be happy, Munchkin. Stay in the moment; the future will be what it is. I will always love and watch over you. I wish I could tell you how amazing your life will be, but you need to live it. Always live it to the fullest. Love..."

"Baby, are you okay?"

"I'm fine."

"You zoned out there for a second. You don't have a headache or anything?"

"No, I'm fine, just lost in thought."

I noticed a concerned look on everyone's face.

"Seriously, I'm fine. I was thinking. That's all. I promise. How much longer? We need to get ready."

Jon grinned, "Relax, Tony. We still have fifteen minutes before anyone needs to walk down the aisle."

"Okay, can you do me a favor and make sure everything is set in the other room?"

James jumped in, "I'll go check, and then Matthew and I will find seats."

Jon smiled, "Be sure to poke your head back in and let this groom know everything is good to go, please"


I took a deep breath before reaching for the door knob. I was alone. My parents left the room first, but not before Mom finally did sob and clutch.

As I was about to open the door, the twins poked their heads in.

"Uncle T, we wanted to say hi before we walked down the aisle." "Yeah, we hafta walk soon, but Uncle M told us to tell you 'Suck it up, Buttercup, and let's do this.' He said you would know what it means."

"Come here boys." I wrapped them both in a hug. "I'm wicked glad you guys are helping me and Uncle M get married. You guys are the best. And if you get the chance, tell Uncle M I love him too."

I closed the door again. I tried to calm my nerves. I was so excited to marry Marcus, but I wanted my vows to be perfect. Another deep breath and it was time to go. I opened the door and stepped out of the room. It took me ten steps to get to Marcus. With each step, my heart soared.

He smiled and my heart stopped. His eyes pulled my very soul forward. When I reached him, he stuck out his hand. I grabbed it and pulled him into me. I squeezed him into a hug, pulled back slightly, kissed his lips, and grinned.

"Suck it up, Buttercup?"

He laughed, "I knew you'd understand, but let's do this. I can't wait."

"Me, too."

We turned to face the front. Music began to play and then Danni's voice filled the chapel. Marcus squeezed my hand. We started to walk towards the altar. On the front few pews, the florist put arrangements of white lilies, carnations and roses on the edge of the rows. The effect was beautiful. At the end of every other pew, a lantern sat on the floor and glowed.

We slowly walked towards the altar. I glanced at my mother. She was smiling, but tears were running down her cheeks. Dad was grinning from ear to ear.

Jen and Jon were standing with the twins. Jamie, Nick, Scott and Mallory were together on the other side of the altar. Smiling in the center was Pastor Jill.

I scanned the other side of the chapel. Marjorie had a blank look on her face. Emotionless, unreadable, and vacant, she was watching us walk up the aisle as if in a trance.

"She's here. It's the most I could expect. You made that happen. I never expected her approval, but she's here. Thank you." He smiled.

I gave her another glance, sighed, and then put Marjorie out of my mind.

As we took the final few steps, I gazed at the floral arrangements. I had insisted upon a fan of white gladiolas with a single purple glad to represent my grandmother. Glads were her favorite flower; there were hundreds growing at my parents' house.

On either side of the gladiolas were smaller pieces featuring the same white lilies and roses, but with blue irises. I was thrilled with the look, but quickly changed my focus.

We took the final steps towards the altar. Pastor Jill stepped forward.

"Welcome everyone. We are gathered together... You know that sounds so formal. These two young men have asked you all here today to help them celebrate love. In front of friends and family, they want to join their lives together in marriage.

"They are very clear on how they want this celebration to proceed. We will begin with the religious part, and then Marcus and Anthony... "

I grimaced.

"I'm sorry. Tony and Marcus will read vows to each other. Finally, we will do the civil or legal part of this. All in all, I expect a very joyous celebration.

"Let us pray... "

At that point I don't know if I zoned out, or was concentrating on my vows, but I don't recall much of the religious part. The next thing I remember, Marcus squeezed my hand. I looked at him and he nodded to me.

I took a deep breath, and completely blanked on the vows I'd written. I panicked. Marcus smiled and squeezed my hand again. I just let the words come from deep in my heart.

"Marcus Lucas Taylor, I love you. For three years, you were my best friend. You helped me grow and find myself. You celebrated my highest highs. Consoled me when I was down; and saved me, both literally and figuratively, from the darkest moment in my life.

"For those three years, your friendship was the best part of my life. And then, my eyes were opened." I nodded towards Scott.

"That first kiss...It wasn't planned, but I still remember the feeling. The world stopped when I felt you kiss me back. It happens every time we kiss. I never want it to end. This last year has been incredible. I couldn't have dreamed such a person as you could love me.

"You are still my best friend. You are my cheering section, my conscience, my champion, and the love of my life. You make me a better person. You make me whole.

"I'm not sure the rest of our lives will be enough time to love you."

I could feel tears beginning to flow. I glanced at Marcus's brothers and grinned.

"Marcus, I promise to love you with every fiber of my being, every moment of our lives."

I took a breath to steady myself. I looked at Marcus and got lost in his eyes for a second or was it an eon. He blinked and grinned. I sighed.

"My love, my life, my heart, my soul... I spent hours reading poetry, quotations and any words that might fit this moment. There are so many beautiful lines and phrases, but nothing captured my feelings perfectly. So, here is a line of my own.

"Because of you, every hope, every dream, everything... Thank you."

Marcus cleared his throat. He squeezed my hands. I heard a sob on my left. My mother wiped at her eyes. She nodded and smiled. I felt Marcus's hand on my cheek. I turned back to face him, kissing his palm.

"Anthony Michael Wallace, Tony... you captured my heart three years ago. Then you opened my very soul with a kiss. Finally, you healed me, and made it whole with your love.

"You are the most loving, giving, and amazing man.

"I'm the luckiest man alive, because I get to spend the rest of my life loving you... "

He smiled and leaned in to kiss my cheek. His lips grazed my ear, and then he whispered.

"Buttercup, never before... only you... always."

Tears flowed. I looked at Marcus and tried to regain my composure. He cocked his head. I smiled and nodded. We turned to Pastor Jill.

"By the power vested in me by the state of New York, I now pronounce you married. You may... "

I grabbed my new husband and pulled him to me. Our lips met and the world disappeared. Nothing else mattered.



Thanks as always to my editor, David. Any mistakes are mine.

To my friend Fitz, thanks for helping my begin this adventure.

And to my husband... I love you.