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|Music of the Soul(Runaway Train #2.5) by Katie Ashley|
Marion had worked quite a transformation with my makeup. It was softer than she usually did it for the shows, but it was also dramatic enough to bring out my eyes and highlight the peaches and cream complexion I’d been blessed to inherit. My hair, which was pulled back on the sides with sparkly combs, hung in curly waves down my back.
“You look…” my mother’s voice choked off. Tears once again filled her eyes, and she bit her lip.
“Just like an angel,” Mia finished with a smile.
“Which will make Jake so very happy,” Lily added.
Mom nodded. “Yes, you do look absolutely angelic, sweetheart.” She drew me into her arms to hug me tight. “I can’t believe you’re all grown up. It seems like just yesterday you were a baby in my arms.”
Instead of telling my mother to stop with the over the top emotions, I just hugged her back. I knew that after today, everything would change between us. I would always be her little girl, but I was going to be Jake’s wife. Someday in the future, I would be starting my own family. “I love you, Mom,” I said, as I squeezed her.
“I love you, too.” When she pulled away, she smiled. “No matter what, I’m so very happy for you. To love and be loved is one of the greatest miracles in life. You’re truly blessed.”
I smiled. “I believe I am.”
After smoothing her hand over her pale pink suit, she nodded. “Well then, I think it’s time we got you married.”
Allison appeared with my bouquet. I brought the fragrant mixture of pink roses and white lilies to my nose. The blush-colored flowers brought out the deep pink hues of the bridesmaids’ dresses while the stark white lilies were in memory of Susan, Jake’s mother. Her favorite flowers had been lilies.
I drew in a deep breath and then made my way out of the bedroom. Mia and Lily trailed behind me making sure my train didn’t get caught. When we got out onto the porch, I could hear the strains of the string quartet playing the pre-ceremony music. Mom hugged me one last time before she went on to be escorted to her seat by Eli and Gabe.
Glancing down below me, I saw my father. At the bottom of the stairs, he paced around on the landing. Outfitted in his best suit, he looked so handsome. But the sadness on his face was palpable, and my chest caved with pain. I knew he hadn’t taken the news of my engagement well, and I guess he had hoped we’d have an even longer engagement than we had. I was his only little girl, his baby, and I imagined he felt like Jake was stealing me away. At the same time, he had always treated Jake with love and respect, and I was so thankful for that.
The moment he saw me, he forced a smile to his lips. “There she is. The beautiful bride,” he said.
Clutching my enormous bouquet, I carefully made my way down the narrow, stone stairs. When I finally reached him, he pulled me into his arms and gave me a tight squeeze. “You look absolutely breathtaking, sweetheart.”
“Thank you, Daddy.” I pulled away to smile at him. “Ready to give me away?”
He shook his head. “I could never do that. I may walk you down that aisle and consent for Jake to marry you, but I’ll never fully give you away. You’ll always be my little girl.” His hand came to his chest. “You’ll forever remain right in my heart, Abigail.”
“Oh Daddy,” I murmured, as tears stung my eyes. When I glanced back at the girls, I expected them to chide me on crying and potentially wrecking my makeup. Instead, their eyes were shiny with tears as well.
“So sweet,” Mia murmured, as she quickly wiped her eyes. From her expression, I knew she was thinking of how hard it was going to be for her own father at her wedding in a few months.
The wedding coordinator appeared wearing a headset and carrying a clipboard. “Okay, I need the flower girl and ring bearer to line up followed by the bridesmaids.”
After handing her bouquet to Mia, Lily bent down to straighten Jude’s shirt and tie. “You know what to do, right?”
I could tell he was fighting the urge to roll his eyes at her. “Yes, Mommy. I walk down the aisle holding the pillow, and then stand next to Daddy. I’m not a baby, you know.”
With a smile, Lily patted his chest. “I know, sweetheart. I just wanted to check.” She then turned her attention to Melody. After she fluffed out Melody’s frilly dress and adjusted her headband, Lily asked, “And what about you, Miss Priss? Do you know what to do?”
“Throw the flowers!” she cried with a grin.
I laughed at her enthusiasm while Lily shook her head. “No, you’re not supposed to throw the petals. You need to gently toss them on the sand. Do it just like we practiced. Okay?”
Melody bobbed her head, but in my mind, I didn’t think she was totally onboard with the whole “gentle” thing. Lily rose up to give me a tight smile. “Don’t worry. I’ll be right behind her in case she goes crazy or something.”
“It’ll be fine,” I reassured her.
The wedding coordinator motioned for Jude and Melody. Just as they started around the chairs toward the aisle, the string ensemble started playing Ave Maria. As Jude and Melody started down the aisle, Lily followed close behind them. Then Mia went followed by Allison, who I had asked to be my maid of honor. There were friends in my past I could have asked, but Allison was about to become my sister-in-law. It felt like the right thing to do. And regardless of how Jake felt about his father, he truly loved his little sister with all his heart.