“A wedding?” Fergus said, peering at the white and silver invitation. “I don’t get it...I thought Annyiah’s parents already were married?”
I chuckled. “It’s a vow renewal. The twenty-fifth anniversary is a pretty big deal, so they’re celebrating it with like, a wedding redo . Apparently their real wedding was kind of a rush job.”
“Rush job? Why?”
I rolled my eyes up and rocked my head from side to side. “I’m going to take a wild guess and say it had something to do with Annyiah’s twenty-five year old sister.”
“Why?” Fergus asked, then looked to the side, getting an answer I couldn’t hear. “Oh. Why would they have to get married just because she was pregnant? Unmarried people have kids all the time.”
I smiled, able to see how it wouldn’t make sense to a child brought up around all kinds of parental dynamics. “In some families, having children out of wedlock is frowned upon. But clearly it worked out for them, they seem to really love each other.”
Fergus chuckled. “Yeah, Nyiah says they kiss all the time and that it’s gross. Okay, are we going to this ‘wedding redo?’”
“Well, sure,” I said, checking the date on the invitation. “Looks like it’s pretty dressy, so we’re going to have to buy you a suit.”
Fergus wrinkled his nose. “A suit ? Seriously?”
“ Seriously ,” I shot back, mimicking his tone of voice. “And I’ll bet you anything Nyiah will expect you to dance with her, so, be ready for that.”
“ Dance ?!” Fergus squawked. “But I can’t dance!” His eyes moved back to his side and he scowled. “Yeah, but, not in front of people ,” he groused in response to whatever Jamie had said.
I chuckled, writing out our RSVP. There was a space on the card for a plus one , but I ignored that. Fergus and I could just be each other’s date.
“I don’t see why not,” Fergus said to Jamie. “Sassenach? Jamie wants to know if he can come. He’s curious about what a vow renewal wedding is like.”
“Of course he can,” I said. “But...he knows I...can’t…”
My phone lit up, and I looked at it.
“I ken ye can’t acknowledge me there, Sassenach. Dinna fash.”
I smiled apologetically in his general direction, then instructed them both to get ready, because we were going suit shopping.
The vow-renewal was held in a botanical garden across town. There were rows of chairs on the grass, and just beside it all was a large tent set up for the reception.
Fergus was quiet and solemn as we were shown our seats, unused to being in such a “fancy,” as he put it, atmosphere. I felt a little awkward myself, not knowing anyone else there but the couple of the hour and their youngest child.
There wasn’t a seat left empty beside us, and I felt badly that it meant Jamie would be forced to stand somewhere, just watching. It made me feel a pang of sadness, that I hadn’t been able to put his name on that RSVP and walk proudly into the ceremony on his arm.
The ceremony was short and simple, but beautiful, performed before a backdrop of flowering trees, and a gorgeous sunset.
Tasha and Dominic’s four children stood on either side of them as they recited their vows. They weren’t the traditional ‘wedding’ vows of a future of love, but promises to keep the same love, trust, and commitment that had been keeping them going strong for the past 25 years, on into the next 25 and beyond.
It brought tears to my eyes, seeing the adoration written into their faces as they gazed at each other, even after over two decades of their lives. How lucky they were, how fortunate, to have found something that strong.
“Hey, Fergus!” Annyiah exclaimed, running toward us at the reception.
“You look beautiful, Annyiah,” I said, admiring her flowing lavender dress, then elbowed Fergus in the side. “ Doesn’t she?”
Fergus gave me a look. “Uh...yeah.”
Annyiah grinned bashfully, no matter how begrudging his compliment had been. “Thanks!”
I gave Fergus another meaningful look, and he sighed. “Do you wanna dance, Nyiah?” He asked.
Annyiah frowned and looked back at the dance floor where couples were swaying to a slow song.
“No,” she said, her nose wrinkling. “Can’t we just wait for the Cha Cha Slide like normal people?”
Fergus perked up. “Yeah!”
Annyiah looked around. “Is Jamie here?”
Fergus nodded, then laughed when Annyiah jumped and swatted at her head, presumably because Jamie had pulled one of her curls.
“We can’t eat any cake till my parents cut it,” Annyiah said. “But there’s cupcakes! Think Jamie would help us swipe some?”
Fergus looked at Jamie, then at me, and I got the distinct impression that all three of them were imploring me for permission.
I chuckled. “Go for it,” I said, grinning as they darted away.
Without Fergus there as my buffer, I was forced to meander around, trying not to look too out of place. I felt a touch on my waist, and I smiled, catching sight of Fergus and Annyiah again, sneaking victoriously away from the dessert table with their bounty.
Two fingers pinched my hand, guiding me to bring it behind my back, palm up. Something small was placed there, and I glanced over my shoulder to see that I was now in possession of a contraband mini-cupcake.
Snickering, I turned away from the crowd and hurriedly ate it.
“I saw that,”
Jumping, I turned around only to be faced with Dominic’s father, giving me a stern look before it quickly melted into a jolly grin. “I already stole three!”
The boisterous elderly man ended up convincing me to dance with him, and I giggled as he spun me enthusiastically on the dance floor. After that, I found myself feeling much less of a stranger with the bride and groom’s family, even though I danced, quote, “like a white girl.”
Fergus made his way back to me as dinner was served, and I brought him with me to offer Tasha and Dominic our congratulations.
The couple did the traditional “first” dance, (or first of this quarter of a century, as it was teasingly called,) and even a father-daughter dance between Tasha and her dad. Dominic danced with each of his three daughters, to everyone’s delight, and then the DJ announced it was time for a mother-son dance, and all mothers and sons were encouraged to participate.
I grinned as Tasha took the floor with her nineteen-year-old son, and then after a few moments of letting them be the center of attention, women gradually started bringing their boys up for a dance, boys both young and old, (including Dominic and his eighty-year-old mother.)
I felt a nudge at my side from Jamie, and then glanced down at Fergus, who was watching the dance floor with a blank expression.
Biting my lower lip, I echoed Jamie’s nudge on Fergus. “Well? I know you don’t really like to dance but…”
Fergus looked up at me in surprise. “...Really?”
I shrugged, not wanting him to feel pressured. “Well, yeah. If you want to.”
Fergus shrugged too, looking a little embarrassed. “Do you ?”
Jamie nudged me again, and I understood. Grinning, I grabbed Fergus’s hand and led him to the dance floor, letting him blush and look like he was being dragged, even though I could see the happiness shining through his eyes.
Annyiah beamed at us as she watched us take the floor. And even though Fergus and I could barely keep rhythm through our giggles, and I was unused to dancing with someone half my height, it was honestly the most fun I’d ever had.
And the most love I’d ever felt.
By the time we made it home, I was still mildly buzzed on wine, and Fergus was in a cake-coma. Judging by the way his arm levitated and he shuffled toward his bedroom like a zombie, I guessed that Jamie was leading him there to tuck him in. I didn’t peek in, though I wanted to, imagining Jamie gently removing the boy’s shoes and kissing his forehead before pulling the blanket to his chin.
I smiled, leaving them to it, and went to my own room to remove my jewelry and dress. I wrenched my arm behind me, but this particular dress - a form-fitting, dark blue sheath dress that made my ass look amazing - had always been a pain to unzip at the end of a long night.
“Jamie?” I called quietly, watching my door slowly creak open through the reflection of my mirror.
“Don’t do that,” I chuckled, smiling so he knew I was teasing. “It’s creepy when doors open like that. Could you please unzip this?”
I waited a moment, then felt the ghost of a touch on the back of my neck. My zipper lowered as slowly as the door was opened, but it was considerably less creepy.
It was cold with my back exposed, but I felt what I thought was his finger trail down my spine, leaving goosebumps in its wake.
“Ye looked sae bonny, dancing tonight,” he whispered in my ear, making me shiver. “I ken it meant th’ world tae Fergus.
I wanted to know why he could only speak to me in these quiet, intimate moments, but I was a little afraid that if I brought attention to it, he’d stop.
I pulled off the dress, able to feel his eyes on me, from my legs encased in black thigh-highs, the black thong I wore to prevent panty-lines, to the servicably plain but matching black bra.
“It meant a lot to me, too,” I said as quietly as he. “I only wish I could have danced with you, too.”
I hand touched my shoulder, gently turned me around. Hands lifted mine, leaving one to rest on an invisible shoulder, while the other remained safely in a palm.
Jamie started to sway, gently back and forth, to a song as unheard as he was unseen.
A hand left me to reach over and switch off the overhead light, leaving only the illumination of my bedside lamp. The hand returned to my waist, so big his thumb brushed my shoulder blade, and in the shadows I pretended that I could just make out the shape of him. And really, I’d touched him so many times, I felt like I really could see him in a way.
I leaned my head against his shoulders, catching my reflection in the mirror. There I was, dancing by myself in the middle of my bedroom wearing only my underwear. But instead of feeling silly, I smiled contentedly at my reflection, thinking how I’d never seen myself look quite that happy.
“I love you,” I whispered.
There was a pause, and I almost tensed in uncertainty, but then his answer filled my mind and heart, if not my ears.
“I dinna ken much about what I am, or what will happen. I’ve only ever known two certainties; one is that I will do anything for Fergus. The other is that I love you.”