I nervously stood in front of the door, waiting for Kara to answer. We would be married in a few hours, but I wanted to see her one last time before the ceremony. I mean, it’s not like I was having second thoughts…I wasn’t. But I wanted to make sure she wasn’t.
At least, that’s what I was telling myself.
The door opened, but instead of my blushing bride-to-be, I came face to face with my daughter-in-law. “Clio, what are you doing here?”
“I’m the maid of honor. I’m helping Kara get ready. What are you doing here?”
“Clio, who is it?” Kara said from behind her. “Ares, you’re not supposed to see me before the wedding!”
“That’s just a superstition,” I replied. “You don’t believe that, do you?”
“After everything we’ve been through, I’d rather not tempt fate.”
I chuckled. “I think the worst is behind us.”
Clio shook her head. “You really shouldn’t tempt the fates that way, Ares. It’s just asking for trouble.”
Leaning forward, I kissed her on the forehead. “Everything will be just fine, my favorite daughter-in-law. How are my adorable grandchildren?”
“Just fine. When are you going to come to spend some time with them?”
“When we get back from our honeymoon, I promise.”
Kara shook her head. “I’m too young to be a grandmother,” she said.
“I’m too young to be a grandfather.”
They laughed. “Okay, you’ve seen her,” Clio said, pushing me backward. “Now go on and get ready yourself. And don’t come back here! You’ll see her when she walks down the aisle.”
I looked at Kara. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Fifteen minutes later, I was back in my apartment, located on the top floor of my office building. Eros was sitting in a leather chair, reading a book. “Where have you been?” he asked as I tossed my jacket on the back of another chair.
“I went for a walk.”
“To Kara’s house.”
I shrugged. “I just wanted to see her, make sure she wasn’t having second thoughts. I didn’t get the chance to ask her, however. Your lovely wife was there.”
“Are you sure it’s not you who’s having second thoughts?” he said.
“Why would I?”
He shrugged. “Perhaps because you’ve never been married before?”
I walked over to the bar, grabbed a glass, and poured two fingers of whiskey. “I was in love with your mother for centuries,” I said, taking a sip. “Of course, we could never get married for the obvious reason.”
“Yeah, her being married to Uncle Heph did put a damper on things,” Eros remarked dryly.
“And then there was Cassie,” I continued, ignoring his snide remark. “For years after I lost her, I never thought I’d get involved with anyone again. Then this woman walked into the lobby of my building and fainted in my arms. Now, mere months later, we’re getting married.”
“Love is a funny thing, Dad. There is no rhyme or reason, no timetable for when it happens or how long it takes. I’ve heard stories of mortals who were engaged a week after they met, married three months later, and lived happily ever after. It does happen.”
“All that time without Clio, was she worth what you went through?”
“Absolutely. I might change a couple of things in the middle, but the end result is all that matters.”
I walked over to the window and looked out. I could see the national park from where I stood. We had decided to get married there, at the same spot I proposed to her.
“What are you worried about?” Eros asked as he came to stand beside me.
“Who says I’m worried?”
“Please, I’m your son. I can feel the anxiety coming off you in waves.”
I took another sip of whiskey before answering. “What if I screw this up?” I said quietly. “I don’t know anything about marriage. It’s not like our family has had a lot of luck in that department through the years. You know?”
“Saying I do doesn’t mean everything is going to be just fine. Every marriage goes through ups and downs. No marriage is perfect, either. Don’t go into this thinking that you have to have this wonderful, carefree life with no problems. You know life doesn’t work that way.”
“Ain’t that the truth?”
“But you have to be willing to put in the time and effort to make it work. Tell her you love her every chance you get. Reach out and hold her hand when you’re together. Keep the lines of communication open, which is going to be a challenge for you. Whenever you’re upset, you tend to shut down. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Given what you two went through last fall, I think it’s safe to say that there’s nothing she can’t handle. She’s a wonderful woman, Dad. You’re a lucky man.”
“Yes, I am, aren’t I?” I said.
“Love isn’t all you need, but it’s the most important thing,” Eros said.
“You would say that. You’re the God of Love.”
He grinned. “Come on, let’s get ready. We can wax poetic about the joys of marriage when you get back from your honeymoon.”
I nervously stood by the lake, tugging at my midnight blue tie. Members of both families were there, more than I expected to see from my side, to be honest. I guess they wanted to make sure I was really going to go through with it.
“Quit messing with that,” Eros said, standing in front of me. He straightened my tie and took a step back. “I got a peek at the bride a few minutes ago. She looks beautiful.”
“Clio always looks beautiful.”
“You know what I mean.” Eros looked around before glancing back at me. “No more second thoughts?”
“Good. Do me a favor.”
“Don’t give me a little brother or sister right away.”
“Seriously? That’s what you’re worried about right now?”
“Well, I mean, you’re a little old to be a new dad. On the other hand, I think it would be really funny to see you trying to deal with a dirty diaper.”
I shook my head. “You…I…”
“The look on your face is priceless.”
“Just stand behind me and hush.”
My sisters had done a beautiful job of setting things up. There was a white satin aisle runner with chairs on either side. Candelabras were set strategically along the path, giving the whole scene a soft glow. Fireflies fluttered over the water, their lights blinking off and on, just as they had done the night I proposed. It was simple and elegant, just like Kara. Her mother hadn’t been pleased when we told her our plans for the wedding, but we made it clear that it was our decision and not hers. Any goodwill I had garnered for rescuing her daughter went out the window after that evening. But the most important thing to me was that Kara got what she wanted.
Eros was my best man, and Clio was Kara’s maid of honor. I had agreed to let Kara’s minister perform the ceremony. He was a very kind gentleman, and we had gone to a few counseling sessions with him. It was his stipulation to do the wedding. I glanced over at him, and he smiled at me before turning his attention to the other end of the aisle.
I followed his gaze and saw Clio walking toward us, wearing a long blue gown and carrying a bouquet of wildflowers. She smiled at me before looking over my shoulder at her husband. I felt a sense of pride watching her. She was a wonderful woman and a huge blessing to my son.
My eyes widened when I saw Kara, and I felt my heart beat faster. She was wearing an antique white lace gown, the long sleeves covering her slender arms. Her raven hair was pulled back into a chignon, and a crown of white daisies rested on her head. She carried a bouquet of white daisies and red roses in her hands.
“I told you she looked beautiful,” Eros whispered in my ear.
Kara paused for a moment at the top of the white satin runner and smiled at me. Any doubts that I had entertained left at that moment. This was the woman I wanted to marry, to go on adventures with, to love every single day. She smiled at me and started to walk slowly down the aisle.
A sudden rush of air blew down the aisle, extinguishing all the candles. Kara’s eyes looked up, and so did I. A winged horse was flying straight down at us…no, not at us.
“Kara, run!” I yelled as I moved toward her.
She hesitated for a moment, and that was all it took. The horse went straight for her, and I saw a muscular arm reach out and scoop her up.
I ran down the aisle, Eros on my heels, but we didn’t reach her in time. The winged animal soared into the sky and disappeared over the treetops.
“Well, I’ll bet this isn’t how you pictured how your wedding was going to go,” Eros said.
No, I didn’t imagine my bride being kidnapped before we could even say I do.