“I think you should join us for dinner.” Lacey said to Kaden. “That way I can make sure you haven’t tainted those fish in some way.” She said, teasingly. Kaden made a face and said, “Who, Me? Never!” Teasing her back. “But seriously, I doubt Amber and Bill would mind. You ARE neighbors, after all. What better way to get to know your neighbors?”
“You really think they won’t mind?” Kaden asked.
“Of course not! They are very kind, outgoing people. I seriously doubt Amber has ever met a stranger. Besides, it’s not like you’re a complete stranger, Amber went to school with us too! They will love it, I’m sure! Plus, I’m sure they’ve been wondering what’s going on between us. I bet the curiosity has been killin’ em!” Lacey giggled.
Kaden thought about this a moment, and then agreed. He held out his hand and began to walk her back to Amber and Bill’s house.
When they got there, they began preparing dinner for Bill and Amber. Kaden insisted on cleaning up the fish and put them all on a sheet of tin foil; stuffed slabs of butter and lemon slices inside of them, and then dashed some spices on top. Amber watched him as he did so, pleased that he seemed to know his way around a kitchen. None of the men she had been involved with before seemed to want to be bothered with cooking, and it always fell upon her. This was a nice surprise, she thought. Once Kaden had the fish seasoned to his satisfaction, he folded the top of the tin foil over them like a bubble, and set it aside. Then he began preparing some asparagus and then took it all out back to grill it. Lacey grabbed a few potatoes, cut them up put them all in a frying pan with lots of butter and garlic. She busied herself with keeping them from burning and seasoning them while Kaden was outside grilling the fish and asparagus. When the potato chunks were nice and brown on the outside and tender on the outside, she threw in some parmesan and shredded cheddar cheese for good measure. Placed them in a bowl and covered them; then stuck them in the microwave to keep warm.
Lacey set the table, and had just finished when Amber and Bill came home. They were all smiles when they saw that Lacey had made dinner, but even more so when Kaden came in the house, carrying a platter of grilled asparagus and fresh caught fish.
The four of them sat down to eat and talked about days gone by, when they were young. Each of them telling funny stories to Bill about all the stupid things they had done when they were kids. When they finished, they all went out on the back deck and Bill and Kaden built a fire in the pit, while the ladies prepared smores. Bill made everyone some mix drinks and they visited well into the night.
When Kaden decided it was time to take his leave, he pulled Lacy aside to tell her goodnight.
“I am really grateful, Lacey, that you have allowed me to spend this time with you.” He said. “I sincerely am. This means a lot to me.”
“You’re welcome.” Lacey said. It was all she could say. She felt happy inside, and also a little sad that the night had to end.
Kaden kissed her sweetly on the lips. “Remember what I said. I will be waiting for you every day, down at the lake. If you want to see me, I’ll be there.”
When she went back into the house, Amber and Bill teased her, but she knew they were happy for her too.
“So, what now?” Amber asked.
“I’m not sure.” Lacey said. “I mean, I’m only here for about another week, and then I’ll have to go back home. He said he wants to see me as much as he can while I am here. But…I came to see you guys.” Lacey looked down at her empty glass in a far-off manner, trying to decide if she wanted one more before bed.
“About that.” Amber chimed in. “We were trying to figure out how to tell you this, because we were feeling a little bad about it; but they are starting the work on the new guest house on Monday. We obviously want to get it started and finished as soon as possible, but didn’t want you to feel like we were ignoring you either, or like you were in the way. You are more than welcome to stay on for as long as you want here; and spend all the time you want with Kaden. Then we don’t have to feel so bad about being preoccupied with the building project.”
Lacey smiled at her childhood friend. “You really are the best, you know?”
Amber waved her off. “It’s nothing! That’s what friends do!”
Lacey went up to the spare room and found peaceful slumber.
When Lacey woke the next morning, she could tell that even though it wasn’t Monday yet, the project was already needing much attention. She heard Bill tell Amber how they needed to front load the project by getting things ordered and delivered as soon as possible and there was much preparing to do.
Amber made breakfast for them all, and they sat down and talked about the project. Amber was very excited about it, and Lacey liked seeing her friend so happy. They told Lacey they were sorry, but they needed to go into town to pick up some lumber, tools, and other supplies. Lacey smiled and told them it was perfectly fine.
Lacey went upstairs to shower and put on a green button up cotton shirt and a pair of jeans. She already knew where she was going as she grabbed her hiking shoes and tied them. She wondered if Kaden would really be there, like he said.
When she went down to the lake, she did not see him. She then headed up the trail to “their rock.” Kaden was there. This time, he was the one asleep. She bent down and picked up some tiny pebbles and crept quietly towards the rock. She crouched behind it so Kaden could not see her and started tossing them up in his direction. Not sure if any of them were making contact. Then she heard him stirring above her, and tried to stifle a giggle as Kaden whispered to himself, “What the?”
Then she looked up, and Kaden was standing there, towering over her. “Oh, that’s real funny, Lace! I guess I deserved that. You got me!”
“Yep. Turnabout is fair play!” She giggled again.
Kaden extended his hand to her and helped her upon the rock. He had a blanket spread out on top of it, and the two of them lounged there watching the clouds together. They would point out different formations they saw, and asked if the other could see it too.
They talked about their lives and how things had unfolded for each of them. Kaden told Lacey about Kerry, and Kerry number two, and three. How he had lived with Kerry number one for a few years, and then they parted ways. Then he married Kerry number two; but he had gone home for lunch one day to surprise her and take her out to lunch, and caught her cheating on him. Kerry number three he had been with a couple years, but it just didn’t seem to be jelling. He broke things off with her when he found out he was going to be deployed to Afghanistan.
“Not to bring up a sore subject, but I have to ask. Was your last involvement with a gal named Kerry too? You know, the gal you were seeing when we…did what we did?” She grinned in a teasing manner, but she really wanted to know.
“Actually no.” He chuckled. “Her name was Jan. Which is probably why it didn’t work out!” He nudged Lacey.
“Well, when you think about it, I think it’s the opposite. It would seem to me that since it never worked out with any of the women named Kerry, you should probably stay away from women with that name!” She winked at Kaden.
“You may have a point.” He said, smiling back at her.
Kaden had brought another lunch for them of fried chicken, wine and potato salad and they visited all day long. That evening, he asked Lacey to come to his place for dinner.
She got out her cell phone, and was thankful she had service. She checked in with Amber to make sure they had not made big plans in expectation of her being there and Amber had told her they were delayed in town and it would work out great. She and Bill would grab supper in town.
He grabbed her hand and they walked around the lake into a heavily wooded area, until they came to a clearing. There sat Kaden’s log house. Lacey smiled. It was small, but perfect for someone on their own. There was a garden off to the side, and a garage that was bigger than the house. On the front porch hung a two-seated wooden swing.
“Oh! I love these!” Lacey ran up to it and quickly sat down. “Come swing with me, Kade!” She patted the seat next to her. Kaden smiled and walked over to her, then took the seat next to her.
“You like it, huh?” He grinned.
“Yes, I love it!” She said. “The house, the porch, the swing, the garden; everything is…perfect!” She beamed.
“Well thank you.” Kaden said. “I built it all myself.” He added.
“No way?” Lacey looked both astounded and very pleased.
“Yep.” Kaden smiled. “I even made this swing.”
“I knew you were amazing.” Lacey smiled and squeezed his hand. “I knew it.”
They went inside and Lacey was greeted by a big grey dog wagging her tail. “Her name is Ahnah.” Kaden told her. “She’s a mutt, but we’re pretty sure she’s mostly a shepherd breed.” He added.
“She’s gorgeous!” Lacey replied, as she knelt down and rubbed Ahnah’s neck.
“And you’re a good girl, too. Aren’t you Ahnah?” Lacey said to the dog, as the dog continued to wiggle and squirm at the excitement of making a new friend.
Once Lacey and Ahnah were done getting acquainted, Lacey stood up and looked around the home. She was even more amazed. Inside was a huge living room with wooden floors made of pine and sealed with a clear coat. Everything was light, bright, and airy. The ceiling was high, and as she looked up, she saw a loft with small wooden steps coming back down to the living room along the side wall.
“That’s the Master bedroom.” He said. He grabbed her hand and took her up the stairs. The room was large, but there were places she had to watch her head. She laughed as she nearly bumped it. Off to the side was a small bathroom and a good-sized closet. The windows were big and let in a lot of light. The views are simply amazing, she thought.
Kaden took her hand once more and they went back down the stairs. The kitchen and the living room were separated by a breakfast bar and four wooden stools. She looked at Kaden.
“Yep. Made those too.” He said grinning, because he knew what she was thinking.
Lacey smiled back and looked around in amazement. They walked beyond the open kitchen area and off to the left was another bathroom, and then next to that, the entry way to another small bedroom. Kaden had a bed, a desk, and shelves of books lined the wall. In the corner sat a Gun safe, and boxes of ammo and a couple of pistols sat on top of it. Above it hung an antelope head. “The first thing I ever shot.” Kaden said, looking up at it.
“Anyway, this is the uh, spare room, slash office.” He said. “I don’t need a lot of space.” He shrugged.
They exited the room and continued on towards the back of the house, where there was a small laundry room and a mud room by the back door.
“It’s perfect.” Lacey said. “It’s you.” She said beaming. She thought that she herself could not have picked a more perfect home to live in if it were her.
They walked out the back door, where Kaden had built a small deck. Off to her left was a barbeque grill, a table and some chairs. The land was groomed and looked like a meadow to her, and the place was surrounded by dense trees.
“This is practically heaven on earth!” She exclaimed. “So amazing!”
“I think so.” Kaden shoved his hands in his pockets and looked at Lacey. “I’m glad you like it. I’m glad…that you would…maybe…one day…be happy here too.”
Lacey blushed and moved over towards one of the chairs to sit.
“Why don’t you sit there and rest a minute while I get us something to drink?” He started towards the door. “Do you want wine? Something stronger? I don’t have a full bar, but I have a decent selection.” He stopped and waited for Lacey to answer.
“I would really love a glass of wine.” Lacey beamed up at him.
Lacey sat in the chair and looked around. Off in the distance, she saw a doe and her fawn leap through the tall grass and then back into the safety of the trees again. She smiled in her heart.
A few moments later, Kaden returned and handed her a glass of wine.
“I just saw some deer!” Lacey exclaimed.
“See them all the time out here.” Kaden smiled. Taking pleasure in her obvious delight. “They drive Ahnah nuts!” He chuckled.
“I bet they do!” Lacey said. “Does she chase them?” She asked.
“Yep. Hasn’t caught one yet.” He shook his head. “Don’t think she would know what to do if she caught one anyway, the silly girl.” It was obvious to Lacey he loved that dog.
Almost as if on cue, Ahnah appeared with a big purple ball in her teeth. She brought it to Lacey as if asking her to throw it, and Lacey did. Ahnah was fast and nearly caught the ball before it even landed. Lacey clapped her hands with glee. “Good girl, Ahnah! Good girl! Bring it back! Bring it here.” Ahnah was all too happy to oblige her. She came running and brought the ball back, dropping it at Lacey’s feet.
“You relax and I’ll make us something to eat.” He said.
“What are you going to make?” Lacey asked.
“I was thinking Mac and Cheese.” He chuckled and Lacey laughed too.
Lacey sat and enjoyed her surroundings as Kaden came out with some steaks and put them on the grill. They chatted about how long he had been there, and how long it took him to build everything, while Lacey simultaneously played fetch with Ahnah. Lacey was more enamored by him than ever.
“You sure you don’t want some help with anything?” She asked; feeling a bit guilty.
“I got it.” He said. “Just relax.” He smiled. “Besides, Ahnah needs her exercise. She’s been feeling a bit neglected lately.”
He went back into the house and a few moments later, returned with two spears full of vegetables; peppers, small onions, and tiny potatoes. He placed them on the grill with the steak.
“All four food groups!” He chuckled.
“It looks and smells amazing.” Lacey told him.
Kaden had built a beautiful fire pit on the edge of the deck made out of stone and masonry. After they had eaten, he lit a fire and they pulled their chairs closer to it, and it took the chill out of the night air. They continued to tell each other stories and about how their lives had played out over the years.
Lacey told Kaden how she had married right out of high school and her husband had taken to her California where he was stationed at Camp Pendleton as a Marine. How he had problems with alcohol and drugs and was dishonorably discharged for having a hot UA. She was pregnant when this happened, and it was horrible timing. She told Kaden how the child, a girl, was born prematurely and sent to a newborn ICU a state away; and how since they had no money, she had slept in hospital lounges and waiting rooms for four months so she could be with her baby. She explained how she and her husband had gone back to Lander, so he could look for work and was doing odd jobs here and there before the baby was born. Then, while she stayed at the hospital, he would be in Lander during the week, hopefully working, and would drive out to see her and the baby on the weekends.
“Then, one weekend he showed up with a huge hickey on his neck.” Lacey said looking down at her drink. “That was the last straw for me. I just couldn’t do it anymore. We had so many struggles and issues surrounding his addictions…and his temper. I just knew I didn’t want my daughter growing up around that. Especially when she was fighting so hard for her very life while he was off doing what he was….she deserved better.”
“You deserved better.” Kaden interjected. “You had enough on your plate without him adding to it like that. That’s just unacceptable. I didn’t really know him in high school, but I knew who he was, and I knew of him; and not to be mean, but I always thought he was a jerk.”
“Not mean at all.” Lacey said. “It’s true.”
Lacey sighed and looked up at the stars. “It’s so beautiful here. You are so lucky you get to live here, and live this way.”
“Yes, I guess I am.” Kaden shrugged. “Maybe one day you will live here too.”
“That’s a big step.” Lacey said, shaking her head.
“Take all the time you need, Lace.” Kaden squeezed her hand. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“Well, I hate to say it; but I better get back.” Lacey said, yawning. “Do you have a flashlight I could borrow?”
“Don’t be silly!” Kaden started.
“I can’t stay here, Kade! It’s inappropriate!” Lacey interrupted.
Kaden laughed. “What I was going to say was that there was no way I was going to let you walk back there by yourself in the dark!”
“Oh.” Lacey blushed. “Ok.”
Kaden went into the house and came back a moment later with a flashlight. “If it makes you feel better, you can hold the flashlight, though.” He nudged her.
“Give me that!” Lacey laughed, and grabbed it out of his hand.
Kaden walked Lacey back to Amber and Bill’s house and kissed her goodnight. “Remember what I said.” He told her again. “I will be waiting for you.”
Lacey walked up to the house and let herself in as quietly as she could. It was dark and motionless, except for a small lamp in the living room they had obviously left on for her. She walked over and turned the lamp off, and then walked softly up the stairs to her room. Once again, Lacey slept a peaceful sleep.
The next day, and for the next 8 days, Lacey spent her mornings with Amber and Bill, discussing how things were coming along with the project, and then parting ways. Amber and Bill were constantly running to town to pick up something they needed, or were heading over to the new building to work and supervise the hired help. Lacey would walk down to the lake and spend her days and evenings with Kaden.
The two of them spent as much time together as they could, stealing kisses, and being as close to each other as possible. Kaden told Lacey about how he had joined the Army and all the different places he had been, and what they were like. Lacey loved hearing his stories. She genuinely loved his company.
They told each other about old wounds and Lacey told him how it seemed like she could never seem to find a lasting love, and how she had moved around her whole life. Never feeling like she quite belonged anywhere. Never feeling like she was home.
Kaden opened up more about his marriage and how it had fallen apart and other struggles he had in his life too.
They were having to get to know each other again in many ways. Yet, Lacey could still see that boy she loved long ago with long dark hair and blue eyes-his left eye was still half blue and half green.
Every night, Kaden walked her home and kissed her; telling her to remember what he had said. And every day Lacey met him. He was always there, upon the rock, waiting for her.
The day Lacey had to return to Colorado, she was all but devastated. She felt like she was in a world not quite like her own any longer. She wondered if she had been in an alternate universe the whole time. The void inside her was like a black hole, eating away at her. She missed Kaden in her very bones.
They spoke on the phone every day, sometimes three or four times a day. He always had time for her, and if he was busy, he always called her right back. He never made her wait. Never made her wonder. Just as he said, he was always there; waiting for her.
Kaden would come to see her, and after a few visits, she gave him a key to her place. When his flights came in late, or traffic tied him up in Denver, he didn’t want her waiting up for him. She loved nothing more than feeling him lie on the bed beside her on top of the covers, and pulling her tightly to him, as she drifted back to sleep. She took him to all her favorite places in Colorado. To Beulah, where she loved to go for lunch by herself before taking a mountain drive; to her favorite coffee shop and her favorite bakery, and restaurants.
They shared their lives with each other, and let each other in on all their favorite things, their hopes, desires, fears, and secrets.
When they were in Montana, they would spend a lot of time on the lake in Kaden’s little boat. They would fish, or Lacey would read a book while Kaden fished. She didn’t really care what they were doing, as long as they were together.
Of course, they would always stop in to see Amber and Bill. The new guest house was finally complete, and Amber looked as happy as ever. Lacey loved that she did.
Lacey’s job as a social worker was very demanding, so the days were not as hard for her. The nights were always the worst. She’d come home and play with her German Shepherd, Jack; fix something to eat, and do whatever she could to keep busy until time to call Kaden. Her focus was now about not becoming consumed with missing Kaden all the time. Many, many nights she would lie in her bed with tears falling onto her pillow, because she missed him. Many times, as much as she hated it, she couldn’t control her tears as she spoke to him on the phone. Kaden would always console her and remind her that he was there for her; waiting for her; and he wasn’t going anywhere.
One Friday she came home from work after a long week, exhausted. She had nothing on her mind but getting something to eat, hearing Kaden’s voice, and going to sleep.
As she neared the house, she saw a moving van parked outside her house, and wondered if the neighbors were moving. But as she got closer, she saw strange men coming out of her house carrying boxes. She was immediately alarmed. She pulled into the driveway and then she saw Kaden in the doorway. He was smiling and looking proud of himself. He walked over to her car and greeted her with a kiss.
“What’s going on here?” Lacey asked. Still not sure what was happening.
“Don’t worry, babe.” Kaden said. “I have taken care of everything. Even this.”
Kaden knelt down in the driveway in front of the moving men and cleaning ladies he had hired, holding a small box with a ring.
“Lacey, I believe God gave me a second chance with you, and that it was indeed divine providence. There’s no doubt in my mind he blessed me with you, and that you are the greatest blessing I have ever received. I meant it when I said I would always be waiting for you, and I intend to do that for the rest of my life; and yours too. I will wait for you to come home when you leave, wait for you to get ready to go out, to decide what you want to eat, or where you want to go. I will wait for you to come to bed, to wake up, and every moment you are willing to grace me with your presence. I just need one thing from you. Be my wife.”
Lacey looked down at him in shock. This wasn’t what she had imagined as the most romantic proposal ever, but now it was. Tears rolled down her face.
“But…how…how am I just supposed to up and leave?” She asked. “I have a job and a life here.”
“I’ve taken care of the hard part.” Kaden motioned to the movers and the cleaning ladies. “You can get another job there, or don’t even work, if you don’t want to. It’s up to you. All you have to do is say yes.”
Lacey stood there a moment and tried to make sense of it all. The movers walked by, trying not to show that they were listening, but they were. The cleaning ladies were peeking out the windows. Even Jack sat at Kaden’s feet looking up at her, as if telling her she needed to say yes.
“And I’m waiting right now….for you to say yes.” Kaden winked at her.
Lacey’s attention snapped back to Kaden. “Looks like I don’t really have a choice.” She smiled. “Yes!”
She knelt down too, in front of Kaden, and looked at him. “Kaden, when we met again, I didn’t trust you. I didn’t want anything to do with you. But you showed me that trust can be rebuilt. You showed me that there are people I can depend on. You showed me that I can love again. Yes, I will be your wife.”
Kaden kissed her and pulled her close to him, wincing a bit from being on his knees. Lacey laughed and he put the ring upon her finger. It was a ring made of white gold, and in it was set a dark blue sapphire. She smiled at how he had not been so cliché with a huge diamond, and thinking the bigger the better. She knew he knew her. “Thank you.” Lacey said. “It’s perfect.”
Kaden smiled back at her. “Almost as perfect as you.” He said.
He grabbed her hand and pulled her over to the passenger seat of her car, and she looked at him confused. “Where are we going?” She asked.
“I’m taking you home!” Kaden exclaimed.
“Now?” Lacey asked incredulously.
“Well, I was going to feed you first. But yes, now! Don’t worry. I took care of everything.” He smiled and turned on the engine. Lacey looked in the back seat, and Jack was sitting on top of one of her suitcases. He had even packed her bags for her.
When they arrived back at the lake in Montana, it was evening. Kaden didn’t take her to his house though. Instead he took her to Amber and Bill’s guest house. Lacey was confused, but didn’t say anything. Amber and Bill were outside waiting for them, and welcomed her with open arms and smiles. Amber took Lacey inside the guest house and pulled her towards the small bedroom.
“I have something to show you!” She said excitedly.
“What?” Lacey asked. Trying to imagine what it could be that would have her so excited.
“You’ll see.” She said.
When Lacey rounded the corner into the small room, she saw a beautiful white dress laying on the bed. It was made of satin and lace and elegant. It had bead work on the bodice, and the skirt was long and full of lace. It reminded her of an antique wedding dress, and she loved it. Beside it lay a small bouquet of wild flowers that Amber had obviously picked and made.
Lacey took in her breath, and looked at Amber. “Does this mean what I think it means?” She asked her.
“Sure does.” Amber beamed. “He took care of everything!” Amber said. “I am so glad you found someone so wonderful, Lacey! I am so happy for you!” The two women hugged and cried as Lacey continued to wrap her head around it all.
Amber pulled away. “Now get dressed!” She said. “You have an hour.”
Lacey looked at her and wrinkled her forehead. “Now?” She said, once again astonished.
“Yes, now!” Amber answered and headed back for the door. “I’ve got to get ready too. Now hurry! This is going to be so great!”
Lacey turned around and looked at the dress, the flowers for her hair, and the little white slippers. He really has thought of everything. She whispered. She took a quick shower to freshen up and put on her dress and slippers. Everything fit perfectly. This had to be Amber’s doing. No doubt. She smiled as she looked in the mirror.
Amber came in the door wearing a dark purple satin dress. She had her hair up and looked elegant. “I thought you might want some help with your hair.” She said.
“Yes, please.” Lacey said. She walked over to a chair and Amber picked up the flowers and pinned up Lacey’s hair for her. Placing the purple and yellow wildflowers perfectly in her hair.
“You look so beautiful.” Amber said. Tears welling up in her eyes.
“You do too!” Lacey said back, and trying to blink away the moisture in her eyes as well. “Enough of that!” Lacey said, shaking it off. “It will ruin my makeup, and I’m getting married to the man I love tonight!” She said beaming at the vision of herself in the mirror.
“We better get going.” Amber grabbed her hand.
“Going? Where are we going?” Lacey was yet again confused.
“You’ll see!” Amber said, in a bubbly voice.
Bill was outside waiting for them, and carrying a huge flashlight. Kaden was nowhere to be found. Bill offered Lacey one arm, and offered his other arm to Amber; handing her the flashlight. They began heading for the lake. It was not quite dark yet, but the sun was going down in a brilliant vision of purple, orange, and yellow, just like Lacey’s flowers. When they reached the lake, they turned onto the path that led to the big rock. When they came around the bend, Lacey caught her breath.
The whole area had been cleared and was surrounded by torches that lit the path and all around the rock. There were lights hung in the trees and strings of flowers hung everywhere. Several people turned around and watched as Lacey and Bill and Amber came near. Lacey couldn’t believe it. Two of her best friends were there with their husbands, and a few acquaintances as well. There were only a few people she didn’t know.
In front of her and to the right, there stood Lacey’s three girls, Giovanna, Amorette, and Delaney. In front of them sat Jack, who was wearing a little pillow strapped to his back. He was obviously the ring bearer. Lacey giggled. The girls were wearing dresses made of satin in shades of purple, pale yellow, and light orange. Giovanna wore purple, Amorette wore Orange, and Delaney wore yellow. Together, they reminded Lacey of the sunset. They were each holding small bouquets of wildflowers and smiling back at their mother.
Next to Jack, sat Ahnah, who was wearing a string of flowers around her neck and on her tail. Lacey thought she looked so sweet, and was glad that she and Jack would now have a friend to play with.
Directly in front of her, Lacey’s eyes then went to Kaden. There he was standing in front of the huge rock, waiting for her, like he had done so many times before. He was wearing a black suit and had his hands in his pockets as he watched her intently with a smile. To his left, stood whom Lacey could only assume were Kaden’s son and daughter. Each were also wearing a dark suit, but his daughter’s suit was cut beautifully for a woman, and she worse a lavender shirt beneath the jacket.
As they walked up closer to Kaden, it was all Lacey could do to hold back the tears. She was so completely overwhelmed with so many emotions. He had planned this, and many of these people had put it all together for her. She knew that her girls had probably been there a day or two before, and had helped Amber and Bill with all of this. More than likely Kaden’s kids had helped too. Amorette winked at her as she walked by.
When they reached the rock, Bill handed Lacey over to Kaden, who was now offering her his arm. Then he took his place next to Kaden’s children as the best man, and Amber took her place with Lacey’s girls as Maid of Honor.
When it came time to say their vows, Kaden made Lacey cry.
“It took us over thirty years to get here.” He said. “But I would like to think that like wine, with age, we have only gotten better. You are more beautiful to me now than you ever were when we were young. …But don’t get me wrong!” He interjected. “You were a hottie!” Everyone chuckled. “I believe this is our time. That what has gone before us has only made us stronger, and better able to love and appreciate each other now. I believe you are my gift from God, and I thank him for you every day.” Kaden paused. “I promise you Lacey, that I choose you above all others, and I will continue to choose you every day, for the rest of my life.”
Amber handed Lacey a tissue before it was her turn to speak. She was so unprepared for this, that she had not had time to prepare anything. She wasn’t sure what to say.
“Kaden, you once said that you would wait for me every day, and then you did it. At first, it was right here on this rock. This rock has been a significant memorial to you, to me, and for us. Now this rock also signifies something else. Now YOU have become my rock. My refuge from life. My safe place. I am finally home, because YOU are my home. I waited for you in my heart for years, and then you waited for me. My heart chose you long ago, and it has chosen you again. I will always choose you, my rock, the rest of my life.”
Then, without thinking, Lacey began to sing to Kaden; even though she didn’t remember all of the words. She was, in that moment, unaware of the people around her, the flowers, or the dogs. It was a song she had heard by Steven Curtis Chapman, and cried over many times, because she never had anyone who made her feel like they loved her that much. Nor had she ever had anyone she knew she loved that much.
Tomorrow morning if you wake up, And the sun does not appear; I, I will be here. If in the dark we lose sight of love, Hold my hand, and have no fear Cause I, I will be here.
I will be here when you feel like being quiet When you need to speak you mind I will listen and I will be here when the laughter turns to cryin’ through the winning, losing and tryin’ We’ll be together ‘cause I will be here.
Lacey began to cry again and could not finish the song. She didn’t remember the next verse anyway. She heard sniffles all around her, and Kaden’s eyes were moist.
After the little ceremony, everyone headed back to the shore of the lake. All the men carried the torches and brought back small tables and chairs from Amber and Bills house on a small hand pulled cart. Amber had even made small bouquets for each of the little tables, and the men built a fire pit for everyone to make smores. Toasts were made, and people laughed. Those who did not know each other got to know each other better and good times were had by all.
The people began to dwindle down and said their good-byes and congratulations to Kaden and Lacey. Lacey’s girls and Kaden’s daughter were staying in Amber’s guest house, and Kaden’s son, being and outdoor type, had pitched a tent near the lake.
Amber and Bill returned home, and Kaden and Lacey sat and watched the fire slowly turn into embers and fade away into darkness. Kaden held out his hand to Lacey. “May I escort you home, my lady?” He smiled.
Lacey smiled back and took hold. “Why thank you, my Lord.” She curtsied in front of him.
When they reached what would now be Lacey’s new home, Kaden picked her up and carried her into the house. “I have to carry you over the threshold.” He told her.
“Why do they do that?” Lacey asked giggling.
“I have no idea.” Kaden said. “Maybe it’s so they can’t change their minds at the last minute and run away.” He teased.
Once inside, Lacey reached behind him and shut the door. Kaden did not put her down, but instead carried her up the stairs and to what would now be their bed. He had decorated the room with vases of flowers everywhere and strewn rose petals all over the bed. Lacey looked up at him and smiled; then he kissed her.
That night, Kaden had reclaimed her completely. He had reclaimed her heart, her body, and she gave every fiber of her being to him. What had started out as a trip for Lacey to reclaim her own heart and heal, was now something more magnificent and far more healing. She had reclaimed him, and he had reclaimed her.
The next morning, Lacey woke to Kaden coming up the stairs carrying a tray of food for her with a single purple rose laying on it. She smiled at how he knew it was her favorite. She ate hungrily as he watched her.
“Quit watching me eat!” She said, blushing. “Why aren’t you eating, anyway? Aren’t you hungry?” She said with a mouthful of food.
“Oh, I’m hungry all right; but not for food.” Kaden looked down at her. “And I’m not watching you so much as waiting for you to finish.” He grinned.
Lacey blushed even more as she stifled a laugh and almost choked on her food.
“Well, in that case.” She said wiping her mouth with a napkin. “I’m finished.” She put the tray aside on the nightstand. Kaden leaned over to her and kissed her. Then he took her, and reclaimed her once again.
A while later, they heard engines outside, and Kaden jumped out of the bed. “That must be the movers. Guess we have to get up and get dressed now.” He said, throwing on a T shirt and jeans. Lacey got up too, and threw on a pair of jeans and a pink T shirt. They both went down stairs and opened the door just as the man driving the moving van got out. He came up to Kaden and handed him the keys and then got into a car that had followed him in, and they drove away.
“The kids will all be down here later to help us unload and unpack everything.” He said.
“Where in the world are we going to put it all?!” Lacey said, shaking her head at the huge truck. “We don’t have room for all of it, and a lot of it we have no need for either.” She continued.
Kaden quieted her with a kiss. “It doesn’t matter.” He said, then kissing her again. “I have everything I need right here.”
Lacey kissed Kaden back, and then he picked her up and took her back to her new bed again; tossing her down upon it with a laugh. “I changed my mind.” He said, pulling his shirt off over his head. “We don’t need to get up and get dressed right now at all.”
Lacey pulled him to her and unzipped his jeans, and then took off her shirt as well. “I married a very wise man.” She said, and she gave herself to him again.
Kaden kept his promises to Lacey and she kept her promises to him as they grew old together. They spent the remainder of their days exploring each other, discovering new things together, and reclaiming each other over and over again.
Delaney closed the leather-bound book in her hands and ran her fingers along the embossing. Her long dark hair falling over her face as she looked down at it.
“Is that the end?” Amorette asked, her big green eyes full of wonder.
Delaney looked back at her sister with her almond shape eyes, dark and full of tears.
“Yeah.” She said. Still looking down.
Giovanna walked over to Delaney on the other side of their mother’s room, where Delaney was sitting in a used, beat up easy chair their mother had found at a second-hand store. It was green and had dog hair all over it, and even a few stains, but Lacey loved it all the same.
“Can I see it?” Giovanna asked, reaching her hand out to Delaney.
“Sure.” Delaney said, handing their mother’s diary to her.
Amorette lounged on their mother’s bed and rested on her elbows. “So, who was this guy?” She asked. “Who do you think he was?”
To be continued. 😊