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07.03.2019

The wooden doors open. And the air rushes from my lungs.

Because she’s breathtaking. More stunning than I’d imagined—and my imagination is pretty f**king active.

Kate’s a vision in white—strapless, a sweetheart neckline with just a teasing taste of cle**age, fitted around the middle, accenting her tiny waist. Lace covers the delicate swell of her hips, flaring out behind her in a majestic train. An Irish-lace veil adorns her head, and her hair falls in shiny, dark waves beneath it. Her makeup is light, just enough to emphasize her flawless skin, full lips, and those big, dark eyes that captivated me the moment I saw them.

She swallows hard and gazes around the crowded cathedral, looking uneasy. Anxious. Until she sees me. At the altar—waiting for her.

She holds my eyes for a second, then slowly, surely, she smiles.

And it’s perfect.

My view of the world blurs, and I don’t give a shit if that sounds pussified. It’s true. And deserved. My chest tightens with tenderness, with the sanctity of this moment.

The music soars as Kate holds George’s arm, and he escorts her down the aisle. I can’t take my eyes off her, and her gaze never leaves my face. When they finally arrive, I shake George’s hand and he moves into the pew next to Carol.

Kate offers me her hand, and, as I did the first time we met, I bring it to my lips and kiss it reverently.

“You’re exquisite,” I tell her softly. “I . . . have no words.”

Her smile doesn’t falter. “I guess there really is a first time for everything.”

It’s as if everyone else, the whole damn church, just fades away. And there’s only the two of us. I cup her cheek and smooth her lip with my thumb. Then I lean forward and kiss her—softly and slowly and brimming with feeling.

After a few seconds, Father Dougherty clears his throat. Loudly. “That part comes later, son.”

I end the kiss and turn to the priest, still holding Kate’s hand.

Kate blushes and the guests’ laughter echoes off the walls.

I clear my throat. “Sorry, Father. Patience has never really been my strong suit.”

“Well, in this case, I don’t blame you.” He focuses on Kate. “You look lovely.”

“Thank you, Father.” She passes her bouquet of white daisies and roses to Delores.

“Shall we get on with it, then?” Father Dougherty asks.

From the first row, James yells, “Ready, set, go!”

Again, laughter ripples through the congregation.

Father Dougherty says, “I’ll take that as a yes.”

The wedding ceremony proceeds without incident—the prayers, the readings, the lighting of the unity candle. Then the moment you’ve all been waiting for arrives.

Father Dougherty asks, “Andrew, do you promise to be true to Katherine in good times and bad, in sickness and health? Do you promise to love, honor, and cherish her until death do you part?”

In a clear voice, I pledge, “I sure do.”

Kate’s eyes hold mine and her smile is so bright—so true—as Father Dougherty asks her, “And do you, Katherine, promise to be true to Andrew in good times and bad, in sickness and health? Do you promise to love, honor, and cherish him until death do you part?”

Tears well in her beautiful brown eyes. “Yes. Yes, I do.”

It takes everything I’ve got not to pull her to me and kiss her again.

Matthew passes me the rings and Kate holds out her hand. My throat tightens as I place her ring on her finger. “I give you this ring as a token of my love and devotion. I pledge to you all that I am, all I’ll ever be. With this ring, I marry you and join my life to yours.”

Kate holds my hand for an extra moment. Then, tears slip down her cheeks as she slides my own ring on my finger, saying in a voice choked with emotion, “I give you this ring as a token of my love and devotion. I pledge to you all that I am and all that I will ever be. With this ring, I gladly marry you and join my life to yours.”

Then Father Dougherty declares, “I now pronounce you husband and wife. What God has joined together, let no man pull asunder. You may kiss your bride.”

Without hesitation, I sweep Kate up into my arms. She laughs and wraps her arms around my neck, and our mouths fuse hot and heavy. The kiss is long and thorough and totally inappropriate for church.

Applause and whistles erupt, the church bells ring, and the musicians belt out “Ode to Joy.”

Finally, reluctantly, I set Kate on her high-heeled feet and we walk down the aisle side by side.

Hand in hand.

Husband and wife.

We take a thousand f**king pictures, in a variety of locations and every conceivable combination. James holds up like a trouper—doesn’t get cranky once. The photographer had to ask Kate and me to stop making out so we could smile for the camera. Apparently, my hand on her ass is not an acceptable pose for a wedding portrait.

But I think he’s just flat-out wrong about that.

Once we all pile into the limo, Matthew passes me a bottle of champagne. I pop the cork, spewing bubbles everywhere. Some splashes on my face, and Kate leans over and slowly licks it off.

Delores whistles.

“Mmm . . . ,” Kate hums to me. “Champagne tastes good on you, Mr. Evans.”

I laugh. “I can think of a few other spots it’ll taste even better, Mrs. Evans.”

She giggles. “Make sure we have a bottle in the honeymoon suite tonight, then.”

“Way ahead of you, baby.” Her body puts Waterford crystal to shame.

I fill glasses and pass them around the limo. Steven gives Mackenzie a sip from his, and her face scrunches up adorably with disgust.

James climbs onto his mother’s lap and rests his head against her chest.

Kate strokes his dark hair. “He’s not going to last.”

I take a drink from my glass. “The way you look in that dress? Neither am I.”

“I thought your favorite dress was the one I’m not wearing?”

“This one is the exception. Although, I should reserve judgment until I see you out of it.” I kiss her ear, then whisper into it, “After a long, exhaustive perusal . . . I’ll make my preference abundantly clear.”

She gazes at me tenderly, with soft adulation shining on her beautiful face. “I’m so happy, Drew.”

Mission accomplished.

“Me too.”

I stroke James’s back and pull Kate close with my free arm. She nuzzles my neck and rests her cheek against my collarbone. With our friends’ raucous laughter all around us, we savor the moment.

❮❯