Bryan paced nervously in the living room of their apartment. They were getting married in two days and he was scared out of his mind. He had waited two years so Bella could make sure he was what she really wanted. He had given her enough time to get out. It was overwhelming how devoted she was. She had given him two years, waited patiently for him to say he was ready to set a date. She understood his fear, his anxiety and apprehension. He didn’t deserve her, to wake up to that beautiful smile every morning or her soothing words every night. She was always there when he needed her, willingly giving him her body and her heart without question. He ran his fingers through his hair.
“Bryan stop pacing honey.” Her soft voice sent his heart into overdrive. He froze, his eyes colliding with her across the room. She was standing in the kitchen doorway, her hip against the doorframe as she sipped mint tea.
“I’m sorry.” Was all he could say and he sat on the couch, staring at the clock that hung above the TV.
Bella crossed the room and sat down next to him. She set her cup down and grabbed his hand in hers. He turned his attention to her and she smiled sweetly. He swallowed, his breath catching in his lungs. She laid back against the arm of the couch and pulled him close. He rested his head on her chest and wrapped his arms tightly around her waist.
“Just take a breath love. Everything is going to be great. You’re going to look so handsome in a tux.” She kissed the top of his head.
“I have so much anxiety over our wedding. All of your friends will be there and I have none. I have a few relatives and then there’s my parents. I sent my mother an invitation and I know if she comes then so will he. I’m terrified of seeing him again.” He felt like crying, but held back his tears. He did enough of that when he woke from a nightmare. “I’m also nervous about my vows. I’ve been working on them really hard and I’m worried you won’t like them.”
She had to laugh at that. “Oh honey, I’ll love whatever you have to say. I know how you feel about me. You’re more nervous than I am. Isn’t that strange?”
“Yes, very strange. Then you have your bachelorette party tomorrow night that your friend Wendy is throwing for you. Your dad offered to throw me a bachelor party, but I declined. I don’t want to be around strippers.”
“Hush now, our wedding is going to be amazing.”
“I hope so.”
“I know so.” He looked up at her and she smiled. He cupped her cheek and brushed his thumb over her skin. She was soft and warm, driving away everything that made him want to scream.
“How did I ever get so lucky?” He asked in a whisper.
“I’m the lucky one. Without you I might not be here today to tell you how much I love you. I would be at the bottom of a lake, lost forever.”
“I love you so much Bella, you are so beautiful.” He kissed her softly, his fingers tangling in her hair. He wanted to stay like that forever and not have to worry about anything. He had work to do tomorrow though, so he had to get to bed. He stood and lifted her in his arms, carrying her into their room and laying her on the bed. He curled up next to her, his head on her chest as he drifted off to sleep.
Bryan hid under his bed, curled up in a ball. He could hear his father’s footsteps moving down the hall. He watched as a shadow obscured the light seeping under his bedroom door. The door opened, no he never came in at night. He felt tears stinging his eyes as he watched his dad cross the room. He was suddenly jerked out from under the bed and hit in the face. He screamed as his father beat him then threw him on the bed and told him to stay there. He cried, his hands gripping tightly to his blanket.
“Bryan wake up baby.” Bella shook him. He was squeezing her so hard she was sure her ribs would bruise. His eyes flew open and he sat up, looking around the room, confused and afraid. He turned his haunted gaze to her and her heart seemed to shatter into a million pieces. “It’s okay, you’re safe.” She pulled him down into her arms and stroked his hair.
“I hate these nightmares. Last time I left bruises on your arm from gripping it to tightly in my sleep. Where will I find them next?” He said sadly.
“It’s okay, I don’t blame you. You’re not leaving them on purpose.”
“I shouldn’t be leaving them at all. I don’t like seeing them on you. What if people think I’m abusing you?”
“No one thinks that. The last ones were gone fairly quickly, no one even had time to see them except my dad and he knows you would never hurt me. I even told him before he asked that they were from a nightmare. It’s okay.” He hugged her close, being as gentle as he could. He started crying without meaning to, tears dripping onto her chest. She moved down so she was face to face with him and kissed him softly. She slid one hand over his chest and down over his abdomen. He moaned into her mouth when she stroked him, making him grow hard. “I need you.” She whispered and he moved so he was between her legs. She wrapped them tightly around his waist and he tangled his fingers with hers as he slid into her, filling her so she gasped his name.
He took her slowly, loving the way her eyes widened when he thrust a little harder and a little deeper. Her loud cries filled the room and she blushed. He knew she was worried about waking the neighbors, but he loved how loud he could make her. He tipped back so he was sitting and she was in his lap. He gripped her hips, lifting and lowering her, his mouth finding hers in a loving kiss. She threw her head back, eyes closed as she orgasmed. He tipped her back onto the bed, his forehead pressed against hers as he finished with a loud moan. He kept his eyes closed, afraid she would see the tears starting to form there.
“It’s okay love.” She said, her voice warm with understanding. He untangled their bodies and lay next to her, his head pillowed on her chest. He glanced at the alarm clock. The sun would be up soon. The best thing about working for Nathan is that he could work from home. All he did was read manuscripts all day. There were times he would have to go in because Nathan wanted him at meetings, but for the most part he could go wherever he wanted and as long as he had his laptop he could work.
“I don’t think I can go back to sleep.” He replied.
“Lets get up then. We can take a shower then I’ll make some coffee and cook some breakfast while you get an early start on reading today.”
“I love you.” He kissed her neck and then raised his head to smile at her.
“I love you too.” Bryan carried her into the bathroom and sat her on the counter he started the shower and lifted her into the tub. He stepped in after her, washing her and then himself. They rinsed and he dried them both. She pulled on one of his shirts and a pair of panties. He grabbed a pair of shorts. His lap top was waiting for him on the coffee table. He yawned as he flipped it open and powered it up. He had a feeling this was going to be a long day.
Bella brought him cup of coffee as he read the potential book. He made notations where he needed to for an editor to review. The story was well written, but the author seemed to be in such a hurry that he had some spelling errors. It was nothing that couldn’t be fixed. “Thank you beautiful.” He said as he took a sip of the hot liquid.
“I’ll have breakfast ready soon.” She smiled and disappeared into the kitchen. The smell of bacon drifted into the living room making his mouth water. He sat his cup down and went into the kitchen. He wrapped his arms around Bella’s waist from behind and rested his chin on her shoulder.
“Smells good.” He said as she used a fork to turn the bacon. He liked his extra crunchy.
“I hope so. You can’t really go wrong with bacon.” Some grease popped up onto her hand and she flinched.
“Let me do that, you’re getting burned.”
“It’s just a bit of grease, nothing bad. It’ll wash right off.” She flashed him her brightest smile and then pulled the bacon out of the skillet and put it on a plate. “I have to get eggs sweety.”
He reluctantly let her out of his arms and leaned against the counter while she cracked and beat eggs. She drained some of the grease out of the pan then sat it back on the hot burner. She dumbed the eggs in, letting them soak up the rest of the bacon grease. He liked his eggs this way, it made them extra delicious. She stirred and flipped them then used the spatula to chop it into smaller chunks.
“Can I help?” He asked.
“Make some toast please.” He found the bread and toasted them two pieces each. She finished the eggs and they made their plates then went into the living room so he could keep working while they ate together.
“This is the best breakfast in the world.” He said with a satisfied smile.
“You say that about all my food.” She smiled back.
“That’s because it’s all good.” He took a bite of toast, a bit of butter staying at the corner of his mouth. She leaned over and licked it off and he blushed.
She laughed and he sat his plate down. He took her plate and sat it down then held her down and tickled her. She screeched and bucked, trying to get away from him. She managed to get off the couch and took off running. He was close behind and grabbed her around the waist, lifting her off the ground and carrying her into the room. He tossed her on the bed and jumped on her, pinning her arms above her head and tickling her some more.
“Please, I can’t breathe.” She said as she laughed.
“Are you going to be good?” He asked as he slipped his hand between them, tickling her thighs until she was laughing so hard she had tears in her eyes.
“I promise, please.” He stopped and she gasped for air. He kissed her, making her heart hammer harder in her chest. “I thought we were supposed to be good.” She said against his lips.
“I said you had to be good.” He smiled and kept kissing her. He slipped his hand into her panties, his fingers rubbing her then sliding into her so she moaned into his mouth. He brought her to the most earth shattering orgasm, leaving her legs shaking and her breath coming out in rapid gasps of pleasure. “Thank you for breakfast.” He said softly, nibbling at her earlobe.
“If I get that every time I make you breakfast then I am definitely marrying the right man.” He laughed and kissed her nose. “Would you like me to return the favor? Feels like you need it.” He brushed his thumb over her lips and she caught it between her teeth.
“Oh yes, most definitely.”
Bella sat behind Bryan on the couch as he worked. She rubbed his back and neck, helping to relax him more. He finished with his third manuscript, deciding this one shouldn’t be published. He sent an email to her father so he could send a letter to the author. He hated rejecting people, but he knew that not every book could be published. He sighed and closed his laptop, rubbing his face in exhaustion. She kissed his shoulder then rested her head against his back.
“Are you okay?” She asked and he turned to look at her.
“Yes, just tired and still stressed even after all that fun.” He winked and she blushed a bright red. He kissed her, his fingers running through her hair. “I love these lips and what they do.” He said and her blush covered her from head to toe. “What do you want to do for lunch?
“I don’t know. We could go to City Sub. I love their sandwiches.” She answered.
“Sounds good, we can walk. We’ll get there at noon.” She nodded and they went to get dressed.
He stared at her when she bent down to step into her jeans and pull them up. She grinned at him and slipped on a tank top. She liked the way his eyes moved over her. “You should probably change into something other than shorts.” She said and he blinked as if he had been hypnotized. He quickly tugged his shorts off and it was her turn to stare. He dressed quickly, smiling at her eyes on him. They pulled on socks and shoes then grabbed the keys and left.
They walked happily hand in hand, talking happily about the next day. She could tell he was still a little nervous. They made it to City Sub right at noon and ordered two pastrami sandwiches with everything and two italian sodas. They paid then sat down at one of the tables outside, staring into each others eyes as they waited. Heir sandwiches were brought out with their drinks and they ate happily. He was a little sad she would be away from him tonight, but she deserved so alone time with friends. She spent every day with him.
“Why don’t you hang out with my parents tonight?” She said as if reading his mind.
“I’ll be fine at home.” He replied.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes of course. I want to be there when you get back.”
“Alright, it’s up to you.”
They finished eating and threw away their trash. They decided to go to the lake where they had met. They walked slowly, his arm draped over her shoulders and her hand tucked in his back pocket. The lake was placid, the sun shining down on it and warming the water. She slipped her shoes and socks off then rolled up her pant legs and dangled her toes on the water. He sat behind her, a leg on either side of her and his arms wrapped around her waist. He rested his chin on the top of her head and they just enjoyed the peace and quiet. She had made this place so much better. He was very thankful every day that he had been there when she fell through the ice. He checked his watch and sighed. He had to get her home so she could get ready for her party.
His eyes widened when she stepped out of the room in the thigh length strapless black dress and four inch heels. Her hair fell around her face in curls. He swallowed, his skin growing hot. He rubbed his palms against his jeans and she smiled as she crossed slowly over to him. “Do you like what you see?” She asked and he nodded.
“You are far too sexy.” His voice sounded strangled.
“I’m glad you think so. I’ll be back around midnight. Apparently the girls have a lot planned. If you need me, call me. You won’t ruin my night.”
“Okay, just be careful please.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and then pulled back to kiss him. His heart gave that familiar little flutter, the one that told him that she was and always would be the one. “I love you.” He said.
“I love you too, very much.” There was a knock on the door and she got up and pulled it open. It was Wendy and one of Bella’s male friends named Cole. He wondered why Cole was going to a bachelorette party, but didn’t say anything. He stood and hugged Bella from behind then kissed her neck.
“You take good care of my girl.” Bryan said and Wendy rolled her eyes then smiled.
“I would never let anything happen. I promise she’ll be safe.” Wendy said excitedly.
“I love you sweety, have fun.”
“I love you too.” He let her go, closing the door behind her. He felt so alone, the apartment felt empty. He sighed and lay down on the couch. He switched on the TV, not caring what he watched, just wanting some noise. His eyes drifted closed and he was asleep before he could stop himself.
Bella sat in the car, watching the world drift by. She was worried about leaving Bryan alone. Wendy drove them to the penthouse Bella’s mother had rented for them. She knew it was supposed to be a fun night, but she was really worried. Wendy grabbed her arm and they walked into the hotel lobby and into the elevator. They went up to the top, Wendy practically bouncing off the walls. The room was full of her other friends who all greeted her excitedly. Wendy had hired someone to throw a passion party with a case full of sex toys. Bella hid her face as the others giggled. What kind of friends did she have? She thought to herself.
Bryan dreamed he was standing in front of their friends and family. Bella looked up at him, her eyes cold and flat. “I’m sorry Bryan, but I can’t do this.” She said and he felt his heart break.
“Please stay, don’t leave me.” He choked out. She shook her head and walked away. He reached for her, but his hand passed right through her. He fell on his knees, tears dripping off his nose and onto the ground. He was alone.
“I told you no one wanted you.” It was his father’s voice, cold and malicious. “No one wants a stupid broken boy.”
The sound of banging shocked him into wakefulness. The nightmare faded away as he opened his eyes. He sat up, wiping at the tears on his face. He was in the living room. The banging was louder and he realized someone was at the front door. He stood and made his way to the door, unlocking it and pulling it open and looking up at Nathan.
“Thank God, I thought I was going to have to break the door down.” Nathan said as Bryan let him in.
“Sir?” He was confused.
“I could hear you screaming and couldn’t get in. The door was locked.” He sat down on the couch and ran his fingers through his hair. “Having another nightmare?”
“Yes, sorry. What are you doing here?” Bryan sat down next to him.
“Karmin made me come and check on you and I’m glad she did. What was it about?”
Bryan looked at his feet. He didn’t talk to anyone about his nightmares but Bella. “She was leaving me and I couldn’t stop her.” He whispered.
“It’s just pre-wedding jitters. It happens to the best of us. You and I both know Bella would never leave you.” Nathan said and patted his soon to be son in law on the back. He flinched a little and Nathan tried not to take it hard. He knew that his daughter could help Bryan become more confident. “Why don’t you call her?”
“She’s at a party. I don’t want to pull her away.”
“Call her and get her home. She’s the only one who can make this go away. I’ll stay here until she gets back.” Bryan nodded and grabbed his cell, speed dialing her.
Bella’s phone vibrated and she quickly answered. “Hey sweety, everything okay?” She asked as she got up and went out on the balcony. Everyone was drunk and watching the stripper, it was too loud.
“I need you to come home. I had a nightmare.” He answered and she could tell he felt guilty for calling.
“Okay honey, give me half an hour.”
“Alright, see you soon.”
They hung up and she went back inside, grabbing Wendy and pulling her to the side. “Hey, I have to go home.” She said.
“Why? You haven’t had anything to drink.” Wendy said, looking disappointed.
“I don’t want a hang over for tomorrow, plus I’m not even legal yet. I have to go, it’s important.”
“Oh fine, I’ll see you in the morning then.” Bella hugged her and left quickly.
She called a cab once she was outside and waited impatiently for it to arrive. She jumped quickly in the back when it pulled up and gave the driver her address. He took her quickly to the apartment and she saw her father’s truck setting out front. She paid the driver and hurried upstairs. She opened the door, worried because her father was there. She was relieved to see them sitting on the couch watching TV.
“Hey dad, is everything alright?” He stood up and hugged his daughter.
“It is now.” Nathan answered and kissed her forehead. “I’ll leave you two alone, see you in the morning baby.” He left without another word.
Bryan was up and pulling her into a hug before the door was completely closed. She felt tears on her shoulder and rubbed his back and neck. “It’s okay now sweety.” She said and he pulled back, his mouth covering hers. He pushed her back against the door, reaching under her dress and pulling her panties off. He unbuttoned and unzipped his jeans, pushing them down with his underwear. He lifted her off the ground and she wrapped her legs around his waist. He speared her, going as deep as he could. He made love to her hard and fast, her loud cries were muffled by his lips. They finished together and he pressed his forehead against hers as he tried to catch his breath.
“Promise me you’ll never leave me.” He finally said her eyes flew open.
“Is that what your nightmare was about?” She asked and he nodded. “I would never leave you baby, I love you. Stop thinking yourself less of a man because you are afraid.”
“I’m sorry, I’m trying really trying.”
“I know you are and I am so proud of you.” He carried her to the bathroom and lowered her to her feet. He switched on the shower and pulled his clothes off then helped her undress. They stood under the water holding each other for a few moments before breaking apart and washing each other.
“You dad called it pre-wedding jitters. He said it was normal.” He rinsed the soap from her skin then let her do the same to him.
“See, it was just a nightmare brought on by the biggest day in our lives.” She smiled warmly up at him. “My mom is going to pick me up in the morning so I can get in my dress and she can do my hair and makeup. Daddy’s going to come over with your tux so you can change here.” She ran her fingers through his hair. “Wear your glasses tomorrow okay. You look hot in them.”
“Okay, I think I can manage that.”
He dried them both then carried her to bed. His nightmare had really shaken him. He lay down with her and found his spot. She ran her fingers through his hair and across his temple until he became drowsy. He held tightly to her as he slowly began to drift off. “I love you.” She whispered and it was the last thing he heard as sleep took him away. The next morning the sound of the alarm clock woke them. He wanted to make love to her again, but didn’t have time. He gave her a swift kiss before they climbed out of bed and pulled their clothes on. She made breakfast while he brewed a fresh pot of coffee. They ate quickly then went and brushed their teeth. At seven Karmin showed up and took Bella away. His heart thundered in his chest. He started pacing when they were gone, his mind racing.
Nathan showed up at seven-thirty already in his tux. He handed Bryan the bag with his in it and he went into his room to get dressed. He grabbed his glasses off the nightstand and put them on. He looked at himself in the mirror, fear reflected back at him. He had to keep telling himself everything was going to be okay. She wasn’t going to walk away from him. He went into the living room and Nathan could tell he was still worried.
“Let me tell you something son.” He said and Bryan’s eyes jumped to his face. “I married Karmin because she was pregnant with Bella and I wanted to do the right thing. The day of our wedding I was standing at the end of the isle, scared out of my mind. Was I making the right choice? Could I make her happy? Would I be a good father? Then I saw her. She was so beautiful and looked so happy that all my anxiety was swept away. I mean it was gone just like that. Twenty years later and marrying her was the best decision I ever made. Just stand up there and be nervous and I guarantee the moment you lock eyes everything will be fine.”
“Thank you sir.” Bryan said, feeling a little better. They went down and got in his car. Nathan drove quickly there and Bryan hurried inside to take his place in front of the pastor. He searched the audience, his eyes settling on his mother, his father was nowhere to be seen. The music started and Cole and Wendy walked in first followed by the other bride’s maids and groom’s men. He took a deep breath and that’s when Bella walked in on her father’s arm. His heart stuttered in his chest and she smiled, her eyes staring into his. Just like Nathan had said all his fears vanished. He smiled back and her father winked at him as he gave his daughter away. She handed Wendy her bouquet and held his hands. They listened to the pastor speak, but barely heard a thing. They were lost in each other’s gaze.
The pastor asked Bella to recite her vows first. She said, “You are the sweetest, most loving man I have ever known. You make me happier than anything in my life. I am glad to have you as my best friend and proud to have you as my husband. Thank you for putting up with my adventurous spirit. I love you with all my heart.”
He turned to Bryan and he took another deep breath. “Bella, when you found me I was nothing. My heart was a mess, it had been broken into a million tiny pieces that I never thought could be put back together. With your compassion and your love you have proven me wrong. You are my light and my life. My heart beats for you and only you. Thank you for bringing me back from the darkness. Thank you for loving me.”
He could see tears on her eyes as they exchanged rings and then the pastor told him to kiss her. He pulled her into his arms, dipping her and making people both laugh and clap. They walked back down the isle together, hand in hand. They had reserved a building for the after party where they cut the cake and smeared icing on each others face. They opened gifts as everyone ate, thanking them for everything. Bryan hugged his mom and she left soon after. Next they threw the boquet which Wendy caught with an excited screech. Then they did the garter which Cole caught with a slight blush. They danced together and Bryan had to ask, “Why was Cole at the bachelorette party?”
She looked up at him and started laughing. “Oh no I forgot to tell you didn’t I? Cole is gay. I’m surprised you didn’t notice on your own.”
“Oh.” He started laughing too.
“So are you happy?”
“I’m the happiest man in the world.”
“Good.” They smiled at each other and let the music take them away.