A/N: Thank yous to Team Spiderward for all you do. xx
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. The NHL owns anything that sounds familiar. I’m here having fun.
/ /\ (oo) /\ \
At her growing smile, my eyes are drawn instantly to her enticing lips, knowing I’ve been warned they’re in the no-zone until we kiss during the ceremony. They’re one of those darker colors in her bouquet, and more than anything right now, I want to kiss the hell out of them. She chuckles, as if she can read my mind.
The need to touch her overwhelms me at the sight of the soft waves in her hair, trailing over her shoulders and down her back. The sides are twisted with a thin-jeweled vine and gathered away from her face to reveal dangling pearl earrings.
My gaze travels lower over her long-sleeved lace dress. Underneath the cutouts, there is a nude-colored lining that is almost the same color as my suit. Between the random patterns of lace at her shoulders, her heart tattoo of my fingerprint and number peeks out. At my lingering perusal, I can’t contain my smile, as her dress clings to all my favorite curves, but especially the one where Pumpkin grows.
There’s a train spread out behind her, but Bella shifts, pulling away the hem of her dress. She reveals a pair of cowboy boots with embroidered flowers in the same colors from her bouquet. As my eyes return to hers, I can’t believe I’m about to marry the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, standing in front of me and offering me the world.
How did I get so lucky?
“What do you think of the boots?” Bella asks, as if I can respond in any way other than a caveman-style grunt. “They’re comfortable and a little piece of home. Oh—check out the back of my dress.”
Once she turns, that’s the moment I know I’m toast.
There is no back to her dress.
It’s all Bella—a feast for my eyes of silky smooth skin my lips worshiped earlier this morning. Below my favorite dimples, the material clings to the perfect curve of her ass.
My brain can no longer remember the boundaries of the no-zone, and I reach out, covering the small of her back with my hand. I’m beyond curious what she’s wearing under—
“Worth the wait?” Bella looks over her shoulder, as if she doesn’t already know the answer.
In a daze, my head bobs with a dominating thought that I have to express. “Wow. Just . . . wow.”
She grins victoriously.
“I want to kiss you,” I state.
Bella giggles, sending my heart rate soaring. “Go for it.”
“Was your shoulder off-limits? At this point, I can barely remember my name. Luckiest man in the world seems to fit.” I wink.
More giggles are the only encouragement I need.
After leaning close, I press a kiss against her lace-covered shoulder, then my other hand drifts lower. Shifting my position, I kneel on one knee in front of her, leaving a kiss for Pumpkin before my eyes travel over her once more.
“You’re . . . extraordinary.”
“Remember that thought when I’m at my wit’s end for any minor inconvenience in the future,” Bella warns with a chuckle.
As if I could ever forget this captivating moment.
I hold her hand with mine. The overwhelming emotions coursing through me make it difficult to get out the words stuck in my throat. My eyes prick with tears threatening to form.
“Bella . . .” She’s better than everything I thought I ever wanted.
Releasing my hand, she holds my face between her hands and her eyes search mine. “I love you. You’re not the only one in this room who feels lucky.” Without an ounce of hesitation, she kisses my lips intently. Once Bella pulls away, her eyes travel over my surprised expression and she smirks. “Not my rules. And I wanted to kiss you too.”
I grin. “Such a rebel.”
“Maybe that will tide you over for a little while.”
“Doubtful. There’s no putting that genie back in the bottle.”
Her eyes shift lower, then return to mine. “I like the bowtie.”
I nod. “I chose something different from what I normally wear.”
“It’s perfect and you know how I feel about you in a suit—any suit.” She raises a challenging eyebrow. “Are you ready to get out of here?”
“Yeah, but I should warn you. In that dress, it will be impossible for me to keep my hands to myself.”
“And how is that different from every other day?” Bella teases.
/ /\ (oo) /\ \
After gathering everything we need for the afternoon and evening, the hotel concierge guides us to an alternate exit. Sage didn’t want to take any chances of someone recognizing me by departing through the main lobby. Even if no one knows who I am, it’s obvious the way we’re dressed what we’re doing. Any random photos could show up on social media where the right people would be able to identify us before we’re—or Bella is ready.
Sage confirms our itinerary with the waiting drivers for the rest of the day, then our wedding party separates into two vehicles. Despite the extra space in our limousine, he takes Scout and Shadow with him, while Dianna rides with us, hoping to take some candid shots. Before departing, Sage reassures that since he called ahead, we shouldn’t have to wait in line at our first stop, which will make our visit to the Marriage License Bureau as discreet as possible.
Until it isn’t.
After entering through a nondescript door, we are led along a hallway, then step into an office. The older woman’s eyes light up, moving over me appreciatively, and she grins.
“I know you. I’m a Vegas season ticket holder, and I’ve always been fond of goaltenders.” She winks, eliminating any doubt, then her gaze lands on my beautiful bride. “Isn’t this a treat? What a gorgeous dress!”
Bella smiles. “Thank you.”
“In a hurry, Edward?”
“Absolutely. Can you blame me?” My eyes linger over Bella for a moment before I lift her hand in mine, leaving a kiss on the back. “We’re chasing the sun today and you’re our first stop. I hope you can help us.”
The woman’s grin widens at my words and she looks between us lovingly. “You’ve come to the right place. Let’s take care of business, then you’ll be on your way. I’m happy to help.”
Once we complete our paperwork, the woman requests a photo before we depart. I’m about to agree when Bella shoots me a look that says hell no, and I politely decline her request. With our marriage license in hand, I’m ready to call the minister to meet us early and skip straight to the ceremony. But Bella only shakes her head at that idea, and we ride hand-in-hand to our next location.
It’s a beautiful day with comfortable temperatures and clear blue skies, making the outdoor museum a perfect choice for our impromptu photoshoot. Shadow emerges from Sage’s vehicle wearing a floral crown, which I’m positive won’t last long, while Scout sports a new bowtie collar. He could have been wearing it earlier, but I was too captivated by Bella to notice.
With their leash in one hand and Bella’s hand in the other, Sage directs us along the dirt path to a private area of the museum’s lot, full of rusted, weathered, and long-forgotten casino and other business signs. Once we arrive at the Lady Luck Casino sign, Dianna scans the area, taking over, and directs us while we pose for a variety of photos.
Sage provides us with sunglasses to wear for some and hats for others. His scrutinizing eye never falters as he straightens, smooths, and tweaks whatever needs attention, perfecting every detail of our desert chic, as he calls it. We take shots together, which I love; apart, which I don’t; and every combination with Scout and Shadow imaginable. Those could be my favorite, knowing our entire, immediate family is in every shot.
As our time winds down, Bella gets my attention as she quietly requests a bottle of water and a few crackers or something from Sage before we depart for the ceremony site. When her gaze meets mine, Bella maintains that she’s fine and they are precautionary, but I watch her closely, unsure if that’s actually the case or not. Sage is well-prepared when he returns to where we gather at a shaded table. He offers bottled water with appropriate snacks for everyone, which makes him Scout’s new best friend, and Shadow only slightly more accepting of Sage.
Finishing my granola bar and water, I’m good to go and pleased the short break restores some of Bella’s energy since our next stop is the most important one of the day. As Sage locates a small makeup bag to do touch ups before our departure, I seize the opportunity and steal a couple of quick kisses from Bella’s smiling lips, prompting a return of my favorite giggles.
Before we leave the museum, Dianna suggests that Scout and Shadow ride with us while she offers to ride with Sage. It’s an easy decision, wanting to spend a little time alone with them before they return to the suite after our ceremony. When Scout realizes he’s riding with us, he jumps in ahead of me to take my spot next to Bella. After a little nudging and encouragement, he moves reluctantly to another seat across from us, and Shadow curls up against him for the ride—her floral crown missing.
With Bella’s hand in mine, we listen to the soft music playing during our hour-long trip as we attempt to leave the city behind. Traffic is stop and go until we’re farther away with the desert landscape on the horizon growing closer and dominating the view. I’m not surprised when Bella leans her head against my shoulder. Eventually, she closes her eyes for a little extra rest as the sound of the road lulls everyone but me to sleep.
I zone out during the ride, letting my mind bask in the welcome peace of our little family taking this next step together. It’s a moment that fills me with pure joy and adoration for the woman who has enriched my life in so many ways. For anything I’ve lost with my dad, I’ve gained two-fold with Bella, Scout, Shadow, and especially, Pumpkin. I can’t imagine being without any of them, and I can’t wait for the day when Pumpkin finally arrives, holding him or her in my arms will be another one I will never forget.
Once we pass through the entrance for Red Rock Canyon, my phone vibrates with a text from our officiant. She shares that she is at the overlook, sending a fresh surge of excitement through me. I let her know that we’re close, then shift my attention to my bride.
Patting her hand lightly to wake her, I whisper, “Hey, beautiful.”
At breaking our comfortable silence, Scout’s eyes open and Bella sits up, looking out the window.
“We’re here?” she asks.
Bella gives me a sleepy grin, then watches out the window while the driver makes the final turns toward our ceremony location. We’re both quiet with anticipation until she clears her throat.
“While I was getting ready, Sage suggested we move each other’s engagement rings to our right hands before the ceremony, giving our wedding rings their time in the spotlight.” She holds out her left hand. “Do you want to move mine?”
“It’s a little snug,” Bella warns. “I guess my fingers are expanding, like the rest of my body. Or maybe I’m just hot.”
“Oh, I know you’re hot.” I wink.
“Edward.” A smile teases at the corners of her lips.
With a slight twist and tug, I switch her ring to her other hand, then she does the same with mine. My gaze shifts to beyond the window, and I recognize the waiting officiant from her website. Once we’re parked, our driver slips from our vehicle, then waits by my door for indication we’re ready.
Sage and Dianna’s car pulls into a spot nearby, then they exit immediately. Dianna readies her cameras while Sage waits with Bella’s bouquet.
Releasing a steady breath, I nod, unsure about our plan from here. “How are we doing this? Do you want me to join the minister and you walk by yourself . . . or we can go—”
“I vote together.” She reaches for my hand, tightening her hold. “Let’s do this together. Everything together. From here on out, you’re stuck with me.”
“I can’t think of a better place to be.” Leaving another kiss on the back of her hand, my eyes find hers. “Bella . . . I’ve had a lot of good days in my life—a handful of great ones. But today?”
“I think this is the best day of my life.”
“Edward.” Bella blinks away the tears threatening, smiles, then nods as she struggles to respond further.
I lean close, bury my nose in her hair, and fill my lungs with her addictive perfumed scent. Releasing a contented sigh, I press a kiss against her temple, then ask, “Ready to make it official?”
“Yes,” she whispers.
“Okay, let’s do this.”
With a quick rap on my window, the door opens and I slide out first. Bella hands me Scout’s leash. After clicking it into place, it takes a few encouraging words before he joins me, then she nudges a reluctant Shadow out next. I secure her to Scout’s harness, then with their leash in my hand, I hold out my other for Bella to join us.
Once she exits our vehicle, I tuck her hand into the crook of my arm, and Sage hands over her bouquet before he fixes the train of her dress. When he gives us the green light that she’s ready to move, we walk toward the minister along the dirt and sandy path, lined with rust-colored rocks and muted gray-green grasses.
The woman waiting smiles at our approach. “Edward?”
I transfer the leash to my other, shaking the woman’s offered hand. “Hello, I’m Edward Cullen.”
“And you must be Bella—Dr. Swan.”
“I am,” Bella confirms.
“Hello, I’m Biannca, and it’s a pleasure to meet you both.”
After they shake hands, Biannca asks, “And who is this?”
“Scout and Shadow,” I reply.
Biannca nods, then pets each lovingly. “Awww. They’re adorable. Are you ready to begin?”
She has no idea how ready I am.
I turn toward the radiant woman by my side, who nods, then answer for us.
“Wonderful.” Biannca opens a small black book, takes a moment to focus on the page, then looks between us. “We are gathered here on this beautiful day to unite Edward and Bella in marriage.”
Me to Bella.
I can’t believe we’re actually doing this.
Or that I have somehow successfully convinced Bella to marry me.
Clearly, I’m living a dream.
“Do you Edward take Bella to be your lawfully wedded wife . . .” There’s no containing my grin at the thought of calling Bella my wife. If I’m dreaming, don’t anyone wake me up. “To live together in matrimony, to love her, comfort her, honor and keep her in sickness and in health, in joy and sorrow, to have and to hold from this day forward, for as long as you both shall live?”
My eyes shift Bella’s. “I do.”
Biannca smiles. “Do you Bella take Edward to be your lawfully wedded husband . . .” The thought of Bella calling me her husband sends another surge of happiness through me. “To live together in matrimony, to love him, comfort him, honor and keep him in sickness and in health, in joy and sorrow, to have and to hold from this day forward, for as long as you both shall live?”
“I do.” Her confident smile is blinding, undoubtedly matching my own.
“I understand you have prepared vows for one another.”
“Yeah. I’ll go first,” I volunteer, then check with Bella. “Is that okay?”
“Of course.” My beautiful bride grins, probably sensing my nervousness about this part.
“Bella,” Sage says softly, waves for her to pass him her bouquet, then holds out his hand for Scout and Shadow’s leash. “Let me take them too.”
“Okay,” I agree.
Once they’re settled nearby, I turn both hands palms up and Bella joins her hands with mine. After I release a deep breath, she gives them an encouraging squeeze.
“Bella.” I pause, look into her eyes, and gather my swirling thoughts. “Today is about the future—another step in our future together. I never considered what it would mean to love someone forever, but loving you is the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It’s the kind of love that deepens with every new day.
“Since we met, I’m a firm believer that while we have been successful on our own for years, we’re better together. For me . . . I’m happier and more at peace. Our home overflows with positive energy, and that’s because of you. Our connection is undeniable, from our fun banter to our heart-to-heart conversations. I can’t wait to continue our journey together, only now with you as my wife.
“While I may make mistakes from time to time, I promise I’ll never stop trying to be what you need. Your health, happiness, and safety will continue to be my priority. When you feel scared or weak, I will offer you my courage and strength. Without hesitation, I give you my unwavering loyalty and never-ending support. There is no other place in this world I would rather be than proudly by your side.
“Most importantly, your chocolate stash will never be empty.” She giggles, prompting a return of my grin. “I love you. I’ll never stop loving you. If it is possible to love you beyond this realm, I vow to do that too. I’ve been searching for you my entire life, and now that I’ve found you, I’m never letting go.”
I lean forward, kissing Bella’s cheek softly. Once I pull away, my eyes shift to Biannca’s and she nods.
“Bella, whenever you’re ready.”
“Okay. Wow. How do I follow that?” She chuckles, swiping her eyes before Sage offers her a tissue.
“Girl, he’s wrecking us over here,” Sage reveals, then smiles, sniffing away fresh tears. “Oh, pretend we aren’t here. As you were.”
Bella laughs, dabs her eyes, and asks, “How do I look? A mess?”
“Not even close. You’re more beautiful than ever.” Holding out my hand for her tissue, I tuck it into my pocket.
With her focus on me, Bella slides her hands in mine once again, then blows out a steady breath. “Edward, as you mentioned, we are two independent people, who now share one life. As our relationship grows, we’re becoming the best versions of ourselves. A team. You’re someone I’m eager to grow with and learn from. Every day we’re together is a happy day for me. Even when we’re apart, I can always find something, no matter how big or small, that puts a smile on my face because of you.
“Our love is found in the everyday details of our life together. It’s something rare and precious. I vow never to be careless with your heart, always treating you with the kindness, tenderness, and compassion you deserve. Wherever this adventure takes us, I’m ready. I want to laugh together and cry together. I plan to celebrate every moment because each day we’re given is a gift that I will never . . . take for granted.” Her voice breaks on the last word.
Looking up at me through watery eyes, a tear rolls down her cheek. Releasing one of her hands, I remove the tissue from my pocket, drying her tears.
“I love you so fucking much,” I whisper.
Bella nods, then smiles.
Looking between her eyes, I ask, “Okay?”
“Yes. Thank you.” She sniffs before clearing her throat. “One of the keys to why our relationship has been so successful is not only your ability to anticipate my needs, but also our communication. I vow always to be open and honest with you while willing to admit when I’m wrong. Even though I tend to overthink every situation, you put me at ease, creating a safe space for me to be vulnerable and trust you with every part of me.
“Our life journeys led us to one another. At times, we both felt uncertain where we were going, or even if we were on the right path, but this path led me straight to you. So, it can’t be wrong. You’re my rock. My cornerstone in the foundation of this beautiful life we’re building. As our love grows, so will our family. I want you to know that regardless of who comes and goes from our lives, my best days will always begin and end with you, my husband.”
“Oh, Bella.” I release her hands, draw her close, and rest my forehead against hers.
“I love you,” she whispers.
Pulling away for a moment, I smile, brushing away her fresh tears, then press a kiss against her forehead.
“Ready?” Biannca asks, looking between us. At our nods, she continues. “Edward and Bella, you have chosen to exchange rings as a sign of your never-ending love and devotion for one another.”
Removing the ring box from my pocket, I open the hinged lid, then set the three rings on Biannca’s open book.
She hums, probably not expecting the extra ring. “Edward, place the ring on Bella’s finger, then repeat after me. Bella, I give you this ring with a pledge to love you today, tomorrow, and forever.”
Reaching for Bella’s diamond ring, I take her hand in mine. After sliding it on her finger, I look into her eyes. “Bella, I give you this ring with a pledge to love you today, tomorrow, and forever. I have one more for you.”
As I reach for Pumpkin’s ring, Biannca smiles, watching as I nestle it against Bella’s wedding ring.
“One of the greatest gifts from our marriage will be the blessing of our children and you as their mother. I’m not asking for a whole hockey team—”
Bella snorts, shaking her head. “Oh my goodness. Yeah, that’s not happening.”
“But I love our start.” I wink.
Bella laughs. “Me too.”
With one ring remaining, Biannca continues. “Bella, place this ring on Edward’s finger, then repeat after me. Edward, I give you this ring with a pledge to love you today, tomorrow, and forever.”
I hold out my hand, watching as my beautiful bride slides it into place, then smiles.
“Edward, I give you this ring with a pledge to love you today, tomorrow, and forever. While I don’t have an additional one for you, I want you to know I will forever treasure you as the father to our child and any future children. They will benefit from your patience, optimism, and playfulness. I have no doubt that your loving example will bring harmony and happiness into our home for years to come.”
Biannca grins. “It’s time for the moment I believe you’ve both been waiting for. By the power vested in me by the state of Nevada, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may—”
Anticipating what she is about to say, I reach out, slide one hand to Bella’s upper back, then my other moves over her hip, easing around to her lower back for support. Bella squeaks with surprise at my unexpected swivel and turn, dipping her in dramatic fashion.
“Oh, my goodness!” Sage exclaims with a gasp.
Grasping onto my arms, Bella’s surprise soon morphs into a smirk as my lips hover above hers.
“Each other,” Biannca adds with a chuckle.
I grin. “You don’t have to tell me twice.”
Looking into my eyes, Bella reaches up, slides her fingers into my hair, then cups the back of my head, guiding my mouth to hers. When our lips meet with a fiery passion, her kiss is full of confidence as her mouth seeks more. Nudging my mouth to open, her tongue teases and lingers, tasting mine until I can barely remember my name. But I do.
It’s the only name that matters.
When we resurface, I can hear Sage’s one-man cheering section. His exuberance prompts Scout to join in on the celebration, letting out a few excited barks, while Dianna captures every moment. With a brilliant smile, I return Bella to an upright position and steal one more kiss from her lips.
“I hope there’s more where that came from.” Bella grins, wiping the corner of her mouth.
I probably have her lipstick all over my lips, but fuck it, I don’t care.
“You have no idea the amount of restraint I’ve been maintaining today,” I say candidly, nestling her against my side.
“Well, definitely not this morning,” she teases with a lift of her eyebrows and a spark of mischief dancing in her eyes.
“You’re going to get it later,” I warn playfully.
“I would hope so. That’s what I signed up for.” Bella laughs.
“What am I going to do with you?”
“Keep me. Forever . . .”
“And ever. Deal.” I can’t resist another kiss.
“Congratulations, Bella and Edward. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to be a part of your special day.” Biannca reaches out shaking our hands.
I nod. “Thank you for being here on short notice.”
“It’s what I do. There’s definitely value in spontaneity. Remember that,” Biannca shares with a knowing wink.
“I think you two will be just fine, and I wish you both a lifetime of happiness.”
“Thank you, Biannca,” Bella says, looking up at me. Her smile widens. “Can you believe it? We did it!”
Scooping her into my arms, my wife shrieks before her laughter joins mine. Cradling her against my chest, I spin us around, pausing briefly to kiss her before watching as the sun begins to set on a perfect day. Once it touches the horizon, Bella reaches up, combing her fingers through my hair soothingly.
“You know, I could get used to having you all to myself.”
“Let’s not go back,” I suggest with a grin, prompting more of her giggles. “That’s not a no.”
“I love you.”
“You have no idea how much I love you.”
“I think . . . maybe I do.”
And I waste no time kissing her smiling lips, because with every opportunity, I plan to show her.