Keeping Faith by Cindy Bradford (serial 53)
Chapter 19 Part III
The wedding was small, simple and beautiful, with the little church filled with well-wishers, friends and family. Carol was a stunning bride, but it was just as she had predicted; Hannah upstaged everyone. Every few steps, she stopped to curtsy to the wedding guests, blowing kisses. She almost dropped the basket of petals. After the ceremony, Nancy said, “I promise Carol; I don’t know where she got the idea. I feel so bad.”
“Nance, I loved it. How could I not? She is precious. I told you she would take everyone’s heart. Besides you now have her potty trained, do you not?” Carol said laughing. “Now let’s get dressed for the reception. Patrick is waiting, and I’m curious beyond hope about what Marc and Freddy have done. You know they would not let me see anything after ten o’clock this morning,” she said, rolling her eyes.
Carol met Patrick in his office. “We’re finally married, Mrs. O’Brien,” as he smothered her in kisses.
“I almost can’t believe it. Shall we go see what Freddy and Marc have done to our place?”
“I’m not sure,” Patrick said with a wink. “This could be dangerous.”
As they drove up to the house, they saw twinkling lights and candles illuminating the entire back yard.
“Is it on fire or are those decorations?” Patrick teased.
“I’m not sure, but be ready to call the fire department just in case.”
“It really is gorgeous, Patrick,” as they walked through an elaborate twig arch, with fuchsia, tear drops and Baby’s Breath spilling over. “The fragrance is heavenly, isn’t it?”
“Yes, I’m amazed, Carol,” he said, as he ducked slightly to miss hitting his head on a branch.
The crowd cheered and clapped as the couple entered the back yard. Hannah ran to Carol, hugging her as Carol bent down to greet her.
“Did I do dood? I haf on pantwees.”
“I know Hannah. You were precious and I’m so proud of you. Have you found the cake?” But Hannah was gone, looking for the cake as soon as the question had been asked, Carol supposed.
Patrick found Fredrico and Marc; “You guys did a terrific job. This is unbelievable. Thank you so much.”
“We loved every minute of it. Have you tasted any of the refreshments?”
”No, but I am on my way.”
“Carol, can you believe these decorations?” Nancy asked.
“No this is even more beautiful than I ever imagined. And the food is just as pretty, but I am too excited to eat. Look at those tables!” she exclaimed.
The first table was completely filled with hot hors d’oeuvres: crispy shrimp wontons with sweet and sour dipping sauce, crab cakes with a plum tomato salsa, tiny spinach and artichoke pizzas, fried mozzarella, cheese scones and smoked salmon rolls, fish fritters, and roasted red peppers with garlic.
The second table held any number of cheeses, spicy Mexican shrimp cocktails with avocado, cold meats and a pasta salad.
Serving as the centerpiece for the next table, a traditional wedding cake was surrounded by dishes of lavender ice cream, a spiced molten chocolate cake, lemon crème brulée tart, a chocolate mascarpone cheesecake and a spiced walnut cake with lemon sorbet, honey and mint.
The final table held two elaborate punch bowls on either side, one with champagne, another with harbor breeze punch made of grapefruit and cranberry juices and vodka. In the center was a carved ice sculpture with pear martinis flowing through two entwined wedding bands.
“Dad, have you ever seen anything like this food in your life?” Patrick asked, putting his arm on his dad’s shoulder.
“No son, your mother would be so proud for you.”
“I know Dad. I miss her so much. Are you having an okay time though?”
“Yes, these are all nice people. There is a mixture here for certain,” he said with a smile.
Patrick smiled back. “You noticed, huh?”
Patrick made every effort to involve everyone as he went among the crowd greeting people from his church and thanking them for attending. He made his way to Carol’s parents to thank them again for sharing their daughter. Her mother hugged him with tears in her eyes and her father stiffly shook Patrick’s hand.
“We are happy for both of you. I understand you are leaving late tomorrow for Vienna. Nice choice! Bring Carol to see us when you can. She has not been as good about that as we would like,” his new father-in-law commented.
“I’ll do my best, sir. He looked around to be sure everyone was having a good time.
At 10:00 p.m. only a few people had left and most of the guests were lingering and enjoying the food and view. Although it was long past time for Patrick and Carol to make their exit for the hotel, they agreed that they were having too much fun to leave.
“It may be awhile before we see some of these friends again,” Patrick said. “If you want to stay later that’s fine,” he said, handing her another glass of champagne.
“I really would like that. We can certainly sleep on the plane tomorrow night, but I’m afraid Hannah may finally pass out, and I would like to toss my bouquet to her, so I’ll go ahead with that.”
The crowd came together when Patrick’s brother John asked for their attention. “We need to have a few toasts before the bride and groom escape.” Carol’s father was next to toast, and finally Patrick said a formal thank you to everyone, toasted Marc and Fredrico and then the crowd. “Normally we are supposed to leave, and I know you are ready for us to go, but we are having too much fun with you. So Carol is going to toss her bouquet,” he said, winking, “and we are staying a bit longer. So enjoy! Marc and Fredrico assure me they do not mind cleaning up late tomorrow!”
Hannah was ecstatic. She ran around showing her bouquet to anyone who would look, but it was not long until Nancy found her curled up in a chair asleep with Peri.
At midnight, Patrick and Carol finally departed for the hotel.
“Patrick, I have something special for you when we get to the room.”
“Oh,” he said with a smile, “I didn’t know you had been holding back. This should be a really wild night. Why didn’t you tell me? I would have left before the reception,” he joked.
“Not that,” slapping him lightly, “A present.”
“You really are going to jump nude out of a cake, aren’t you?”
When they arrived at the door of the honeymoon suite, Patrick leaned down to lift Carol. “Here we go,” he said, carrying her to the bed. Kissing her, he whispered, “I have a present for you also, but it can wait.”
He began undressing her as soon as he laid her on the bed, smothering her in kisses. As he bent over her, she reached for the clasp on his pants and then slid her hand inside.
“You’re driving me crazy, Mrs. O’Brien.”
Soon their nude bodies melted into each other. It was almost two o’clock when Patrick turned to look at the clock. “Time flies when you’re having fun!”
“I want to just lie here beside you forever,” Carol whispered, curling her fingers in the hair on his chest.
Patrick kissed the curve of her neck and began running his fingers down the small of her back.
“I said lie beside you,” catching his hands and holding them. “I want you to open your present.”
“I just did,” he said, stealing a chance for another kiss.
“Okay, but you are so sexy, I can’t help myself,” he whispered, trying one more time to rekindle her passion.
She stood up, naked, the light from the lamp illuminating her tall, slender body. He watched as she slowly put on her robe. When she went to find his gift, he pulled on his briefs and took a small package from his suitcase. She came back and he was sitting on the bed, waiting, looking like a little boy at Christmas. Then he handed her a box.
“You first,” he said. Inside was a tiny frame with a note: “Any art or photo of your choice from Vienna, Venice or Florence. I couldn’t think of anything else. It’s not very creative.”
“It will be fun for us to look together; this will be our first art together. I can’t wait to look for just the right piece.” She paused, “Your turn!”
When he opened the box a tiny porcelain object and silver disk fell onto the sheets. He picked them up and looked closely. It was a tiny porcelain Irish setter with a tag that read, “Pat’s Irish Shamrock,” and when it hit him, his face lit up. “Could this possibly be what I think it is?” he asked, hopefully.
“Yes, when we get home from the honeymoon, he’ll be six weeks old and we can take him from his mother. I decided to name him so they could have his papers ready. I hope that’s okay.”
“Sure, I’m going to call him, ‘Rocky.’ This is terrific; I haven’t had a dog since I was a teenager. She was a mutt, but I truly loved her. She was killed by a car and my parents never let us have another one. My mother said she had too many kids to take care of anyway, without a dog. I guess we weren’t too good about feeding and cleaning up.” A familiar longing filled his thought. “Her name was Boots. I remember I was ten,” he said brusquely, and Carol saw the look in his eyes that she had seen before. The look that told her he was alone in his world.
The next morning Patrick woke before the alarm and eased out of bed, gently closing the bathroom door before turning on the shower. As he came out of the bathroom and started for the door, she said softly, “You running out on me already?”
Turning, he smiled, “I was trying not to make any noise. I’m going to get coffee.”
“I’ve been awake since you went to shower, just lying here thinking about yesterday and last night.”
He leaned down and kissed her gently, “Yesterday, last night, why? What happened?” he teased as he sat down on the bed.
“What time is it, Patrick?”
“Seven o’clock. I’m going to see if anyone is in the coffee shop. I told Stefano we needed to leave at 11:00 a.m. I’m going to try to tell Dad good-bye before he, John and Joey leave.”
“I’m getting up now and I’ll be ready anytime after 8:30. I’d like to go by the house to see if Marc and Fredrico are still there and say good-bye to Peri.”
“I’ll be back in about thirty or forty minutes. Would you like a Danish or something?”
“Yes, anything, a muffin would be fine, but don’t make a special trip back, just bring it when you’re finished seeing everyone.”
When Carol was dressed, she decided not to wait for Patrick and headed for the restaurant where she found him talking with his dad and brothers and her dad and David.
“Is Nance awake yet?”
“Yes. I think she’s just helping Hannah, and then they’ll be down.”
“I’ll go check.”
Hannah and Nancy were just coming out of the room when Carol turned the corner.
“Wook Arol, your fowers,” Hannah exclaimed, holding up the bouquet.
Carol smiled down and lightly patted her on the head. “That means you are next to be married.”
“Ugh!” Hannah frowned.
Carol looped an arm around Nancy’s. “Thanks for being my matron of honor. I’m going to miss you. I don’t know when I’ll get back to the city.”
Nancy looked around at the harbor that was the backdrop for so much of the little town. It was serene, filled with boats begging to be released for the day. Some people were already making their way down to the docks and it wouldn’t be long until it was a frenzy of activity.
“I guess this is really home for you now,” she said, a touch of sadness in her voice.
Although it was only 10:00 a.m. Carol was surprised that Marc and Fredrico were already gone. She walked in the kitchen to find the cabinets and table covered with gifts that guests had left.
A note was taped to the refrigerator: “We decided to work after everyone was gone. Finished up about 6:00 a.m. Full of caffeine, so heading back to NYC. Have a wonderful honeymoon. Love to you both! Freddy and Marc”
“They are such dears. I couldn’t ask for better friends.” Looking around, she added, “Can you believe all these presents? We don’t have time to open them all. We’ll have to wait until we return. Here is something else from Carmella and Stefano. I thought the wine and glasses were our wedding gift.”
“I did, too. Go ahead and open it. It looks like a painting.”
Tearing off the paper, Carol unveiled a landscape painting of the Tuscan countryside, framed in antique gold. The card said: “So you will not forget us. Love, Stefano and Carmella”
“As if we could ever forget them; the colors in this are so soft, yet crisp and detailed. It is beautiful, Patrick. I know just the place for it.”
“I don’t want to rush you, but we need to go.”
“Okay, just let me kiss Peri,” she said, stroking the cat’s long hair. “You be a sweetie. Jean will check on you.”