Staring at my reflection in the mirror, my heart skips a beat.
“You look beautiful,” Dr. Hutchison says, wrapping an arm around my shoulder. “You’re the most gorgeous bride I’ve ever seen.”
I take a shaky breath. “Are you sure it isn’t a bit . . . much?”
“Please.” She rolls her eyes. “If a woman can be a little over the top on her wedding day, when can she? Besides, Aiden won’t be able to take his eyes off of you once he sees you.” She wiggles her eyebrows. “If I was a betting gal, I’d guess he won’t even be able to wait till the wedding reception to try to get you out of that dress.”
I gasp at her words and my cheeks flush bright red.
That said, she’s probably right. We haven’t been able to keep our hands off of each other since we met. If he hadn’t kept up his habit of peppering me with questions, I’d think he just wanted me for my body.
I grin to myself. Actually, no I wouldn’t. No man has ever made it more clear that he was madly in love with a woman.
He started by helping me turn the St. Patrick’s Day bulletin boards into April Showers then May Flowers. He didn’t even bat an eye when I told him I wanted to do an end-of-year board while most of the other teachers were clearing their walls.
Instead, he just asked what needed doing and did it. He raised an eyebrow when I pulled out some glitter, but he didn’t complain.
He just made it clear he would be leaving the glitter to my department from now on. I agreed to the terms.
I sigh. “I really am the luckiest woman in the world.”
“You’ve made this luck for yourself,” Dr. Hutchison says, pressing her cheek to mine. “And you deserve every bit of happiness you get.”
My eyes fill with tears. “Thank you for being here.”
“Of course.” Her eyes grow a little misty as well. “I’m so honored you asked me to walk you down the aisle.”
“You’ve been like a mother to me.” I take her hand and squeeze it. “I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else.”
“Oh.” She gives me one more squeeze then pulls back. She fans her face. “We can’t start crying just yet. We’ll ruin our makeup before the ceremony. And we can’t have that.”
Spoken like a true Texas woman.
A small puff of rose tulle flies into the room. I have just enough time to brace myself for a hug from Zoey.
“Happy wedding day!” she calls, wrapping her arms around my neck. “I’m so lucky.”
“I think I’m the lucky one.” I close my eyes and breathe in deep.
“No, I’m the luckiest.” She leans back to smile up at me. “Mommy said so.”
“Oh, did she?”
Zoey nods soberly. “She says I’m lucky because now I’ll have two mommies and two daddies who love me so much. And not everyone even gets one.”
Her words tug at my heart. But now, it’s no longer from the sadness of what I didn’t have growing up. It’s from knowing how blessed I am to have this family.
“I think we’re all lucky.” I press my cheek to her hair because I don’t want to smudge my makeup. I start to say more, but I hear the strains of music coming from the chapel. Giving her another hug, I rise to my feet. “I guess that’s our cue.”
We make our way to stand outside the chapel doors. I stay back, so as not to be seen, while Zoey makes her way down the aisle. My heart pounds in my ears. I take slow, deep breaths to keep myself from bursting into tears.
I’m just so happy.
When it’s our turn to walk, I loop my arm through Dr. Hutchison’s. Gripping my bouquet I take the first step.
And promptly start crying.
Aiden’s friends and family fill one side of the church. The teachers and my students fill the other. There isn’t an empty seat and everyone is smiling.
For so long, I was so alone in this world. Now, my cup runneth over.
Down at the end of the aisle, standing tall and handsome in his suit is the man who taught me how to love.
He swallows hard and beams at me. Based on the heat in his steady stare, I suspect Dr. Hutchison is right. There’s no way we’re getting to the reception without messing up my hair and dress a little.
And I couldn’t be happier.