Kara and I spent part of the day discussing wedding plans with Eros, although how he managed to bulldoze his way into the conversation, I had no clue. In the end, we left the whole thing in his hands, with orders that he keep it small, intimate, and not outdoors. As much as we wanted to get married in the national park as we had originally planned, I didn’t want to risk something happening like the last time.
Because Eros would be busy with all the wedding details, I needed a new best man. And there was only one person I even considered asking. I went to the God Complex, strolling through the lobby to Dark Sparks, where I found Nike talking to Cara about a delivery they had just received. “You and I need to talk, young lady,” I said sternly.
Nike blushed and looked a bit embarrassed. “I’m sorry for interfering, Ares,” she said, “but I only had your best interests at heart, I promise.”
“Would you excuse us a moment, Cara?” I asked, grabbing Nike’s hand.
“Of course; we’re done here anyway,” she replied. She gave Nike a look of concern before walking away.
I led Nike over to a table, pulling a chair out for her. After she was seated, I took the chair across from her, flipped it around, and sat down. “I will admit to being a little annoyed that you called Eros,” I began. “You couldn’t have called Aunt Demeter or Hestia instead?”
“Aunt Demeter would have stormed over there and demanded that Kara marry you. Hestia would have been a better choice, as she would have calmly talked to Kara and her mother. But Eros is the God of Love, and he seemed to be the perfect choice to help you.” She looked at me with her big brown eyes. “Besides, it all worked out perfectly. You two are getting married!”
“Which is why I’m here to talk to you. Eros has taken on the role of wedding planner, and I’m praying that he doesn’t go overboard. I think Kara will be able to keep him in line. But it has presented me with a problem: I have no best man.”
“What about Hephaestus? Or Dad?”
“I’m not sure Heph is talking to me right now, and do you really think Dad would stand up for me? We’ve done nothing but argue lately. No, I have someone else in mind.”
“Who?” she asked curiously.
She looked shocked. “Me? Really? Are you sure?”
“Absolutely. I want my favorite person standing beside me to make sure I don’t run off before I say ‘I do.’”
Nike launched herself out of her chair and threw her arms around me. “Oh, Ares, I would be honored to be your ‘best person!’ Thank you so much for asking me!”
I hugged her tight. “You’re welcome, little one.” She let go and returned to her chair. “Now look, Kara and I agreed we don’t want to have any kind of parties before the wedding. We’ve been there, done that. All we want is to get through the wedding without anything happening. I’m going to have some men posted discreetly through the venue.”
“I can ask my brothers and sister to patrol outside if you’d like.”
“I would hate for them to miss out on the festivities.”
“They won’t mind,” she assured me. “And I’ll make sure to save them some cake.”
We talked about the wedding a bit longer, then about how business was going for her. She seemed happy, which was important to me. Of all my siblings, Nike was the one who held a special place in my heart, and not because she was the Goddess of Victory. I always felt she was the one who needed protecting the most, but lately, she had grown into a strong woman with a son of her own. I was very proud of the woman she had become.
A week later, I once again found myself standing in front of the mirror, straightening my tie. Eros had decided that the safest place to hold the wedding was in my own building. Despite my concerns about an outdoor wedding, he had converted the training area in the back into a beautiful garden venue. Reginald had been recruited to help him, and the two of them had made sure that no one went out to the area while they redecorated everything.
A knock at the door interrupted my thoughts. “Come in,” I called out.
Nike opened the door and stuck her head inside. “Are you decent?”
“All clear,” I chuckled.
She walked in, closing the door behind her. She looked beautiful in an ivory tuxedo with gold trim. Her raven hair was curled, cascading down her back. “You look gorgeous,” I said.
“I thought about wearing a dress, but I decided that since I was the best man, I should wear a suit instead.”
“I told you to wear a dress if you wanted to,” I reminded her.
“I know, I know,” she replied. “I’m just nervous.”
“Well, there’s no reason to be; you’re not the one getting married today.” I grabbed the velvet boxes on my dresser and handed them to her. “Here are the rings.”
Nike put them in her jacket pocket. “I think it’s sweet that you’re honoring the mortal’s tradition of exchanging rings.”
“I wanted to make sure her mother was happy with the ceremony, even if she doesn’t approve of the marriage.”
“She’ll grow to love you,” Nike assured me.
I scoffed. “I highly doubt that.”
Eros came busting into the room at that moment. “What are you still doing up here?” he said. “You need to get downstairs, pronto. The bride is waiting; her mother looks like she wants to hold a mutiny. Aunt Hestia and the mortal minister are getting nervous, thinking you’re going to do a runner.”
“We’re ready,” I assured him. “Let’s go.”
Five minutes later, we were standing on the right side of a flower arch. I had to give Eros credit; he and Reginald had done a wonderful job with the decorations. White chairs were on either side of a white silk floor runner. Four vases of white and red roses were at each end, and the arch was covered with similar flowers. My mother, sitting in the front row, smiled at me and blew me a kiss. I didn’t see my father anywhere. I felt a twinge of disappointment. Glancing behind her, I saw several family members, including my Aunt Demeter, who grinned and gave me a thumb’s up.
I looked over at the other side and found Kara’s mother, dressed all in black with a thin, black veil over her face. She raised it slightly and glared at me. My mother cleared her throat, and she looked over at her, her face turning pale when she saw Mother staring at her. She looked away and dropped the veil. I couldn’t help but grin. No one messed with Hera’s children.
Music from hidden speakers directed everyone’s attention to the top of the aisle. Kara stood there, looking beautiful in an antique white lace gown with cap sleeves, and a wreath of daisies in her hair. My mouth almost dropped open when I saw my father standing next to her. He gently took her hand in his and walked her down the aisle to me, then kissed her cheek before placing her hand in mine. He looked at me and nodded, turned, and sat down next to Mother.
Aunt Hestia and Kara’s minister took turns, each reading different parts of the ceremony. My aunt talked about our difficult journey while her minister pointed out that true love had held us together, despite the obstacles put in our way. All eyes turned toward Kara’s mother at that moment, but she ignored the stares.
“I, Katherine, take you, Ares, as my lawfully wedded husband,” Kara began. She started to recite the rest of her vows, then stopped. “Please forgive me, but I’m going off script here.” She took both of my hands in hers and looked me in the eyes. “When I met you, I thought you had a stick up your butt. You walked around like you were the most important person around. But under your tough exterior is the heart of a man who would move heaven and earth for the ones he loves. Life with you hasn’t been dull, that’s for sure. But being with you has challenged me to see myself in a different way, to reach deep inside to find strength and courage I didn’t know I had. You’ve made me a better person, and I cannot wait to be your wife. I love you with all that I have and all that I am.” She took the ring from Nike and slipped it on my finger. “With this ring, I thee wed.”
Nike handed me the small gold ring. “I have been with many women in my long life,” I began, “but there have been none who have made me feel as complete as you do. You accepted my crazy life, put yourself in danger to fight with me side-by-side, even saving my life. I never imagined finding a woman who was a combination of bravery and strength, gentility and love.” I stroked the side of her face. “I cannot promise that things will always be calm in our lives, and I cannot promise that there won’t be danger. But I do promise to protect you and to love you with all that I have and all that I am. There is no one I would rather go on adventures with than you.” I put the ring on her finger next to her original engagement ring. “With this ring, I thee wed.”
Aunt Hestia pulled out a red silk ribbon. “Please hold hands.” We took each other’s hands, and she draped the ribbon around them, tying them in a knot. Then she read the blessing:
May your hands be blessed, may they always be held by one another.
May they have the strength to hold on during life’s storms.
May they remain tender and gentle as they nurture each other in wondrous love.
May these hands continue building a relationship, rich in caring, and devotion.
May you use your four hands to heal, protect, shelter, and guide.
At the same time, they pronounced us man and wife, and I pulled her close for a kiss. “I love you,” I whispered to her.
“I love you, too,” she replied.
Aunt Hestia removed the ribbon and handed it to Kara as everyone began to cheer. We held hands and walked down the aisle to begin a new adventure together.
(The handfasting vow came from weddingceremonypro.com)