Sandy opened the loft door.
They thread their way through Jacob’s old apartment to the long stairwell. Sandy held up the bottom of her dress and Jill began her descent. Reaching the landing, she slipped on her Louboutins and turned left into the main Castle living room.
Jill stopped so fast that Sandy ran into her. All of her friends, Jacob’s friends and their friends stood to create the borders of a small pathway. Each person held a cream colored long stem rose.
Sandy nudged Jill forward between the people. She walked past her friends from Pete’s Kitchen. As she passed, they gave her their well wishes, congratulations and hugs with their cream colored rose. Risto, the beefy cook who broke up Jacob and Jill’s second kiss, had tears streaming down his face. He gave Jill a bear hug which caused the crowd to cheer and clap.
Rosa, the housekeeper who took care of Jill and Katy that summer, stood with Sarah and Scooter. The dogs had cream colored roses in their collars. The dogs barked and wagged at Jill when Rosa gave her a hug. Rosa’s sons stood in their Lipson Construction shirts behind their mother. The men waved to Jill as she continued on.
Valerie’s publicist, Jennifer and, her designer friend, Ramon, hugged Jill. Ramon whispered that he set up the chapel just for her. Jennifer added that the flowers were Ramon’s idea. Thanking them both, Jill took her roses and continued walking to the chapel.
Continuing through the tunnel, Jill passed her old work friends from Ashforth construction. Darla, Ashforth’s office manager, whispered that she would start working in Lipson Construction’s acquisitions department tomorrow. Jill laughed. When her hands filled with cream colored roses, Sandy took them from her.
Jill moved toward Alex Hargreaves standing between her husband John Drayson and her twin brother. Alex winked at Jill while the men kissed her hand. Paddie, his father, Colin, and mother, Julie Hargreaves stood across from Alex and John. Paddie leapt from his father’s arms into Jill’s. The little boy rubbed his face against Jill’s neck. When Colin pulled the child away, Julie gave Jill their three roses with their congratulations.
She saw the Denver Zoo volunteers who helped them when Katy was stung by the bee. Shirley, Edward and Mary gave Jill their roses. Their lined, wrinkled faces beamed with joy.
Molly, who managed Jacob’s rehabilitation business along with Jill’s new decorating business, her husband, Pete and their three kids stood next to the zoo volunteer. Flustered, Molly wasn’t sure if she could or should hug Jill. Jill hugged her. Molly kissed Jill’s cheek. Pete gave Jill their five roses.
As she crossed into the Castle kitchen, she saw a bunch of people from Lipson construction standing in rows two deep. Many of them she’d seen before but didn’t know. Each person gave her a rose.
For protection from the coal dust in the tunnels, Sandy helped Jill into a long overcoat. Together, they went down the stairs where Lipson Construction employees filled the entire coal tunnels. They screamed, clapped, and hooted for Jill. Dozens of roses were passed forward for her.
Turning toward the Castle Chapel entrance, she saw MJ with Honey riding piggyback. Honey’s small head peeked over his broad shoulders. He held her legs with his arms.
“You’re not coming in?” Jill asked.
“Got to keep the natives quiet. This riff raff….” Honey pointed to the Lipson Construction employees who cheered. “Need a little management.”
“Go on,” MJ said.
MJ’s partner, Sergeant Margaret Peaches and the rest of MJ’s team stood near the hallway to the chapel. Every team member brought their wife or partner. These military people said the nicest things to Jill.
Samantha Hargreaves and her boyfriend, Art Rasmussen, stood near the entrance to the Chapel hallway. More than most of the people here, Samantha knew Jill’s long journey to marry Jacob. Samantha kissed Jill’s cheek then started crying herself. Jill gave her a teary hug then entered the hallway.
Senator Patrick Hargreaves and his wife stood near the entrance talking to Valerie, Megan, and Jill’s mother. When they saw Jill, the Senator and his wife oohed and aahed over Jill and her gorgeous dress. After Sandy helped Jill out of her overcoat, Valerie and Megan collected all the roses and took them into the chapel. The Senator and his wife left the hallway to give Jill, her mother and Sandy a little privacy.
“Mikheil will come to get you,” Jill’s mother, Angelika, said into Jill’s ear as she held her close. “Bless you Jilly. You’ve always been the very heart of me.”
“I love you, Mama,” Jill whispered.
“Your Papa is inside with Claire and Ben. He won’t be able to stay, but wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
“No tears, my dear.” Angelika let go of Jill. “Sandra? Will you work your magic?”
Sandy pulled out her supplies from her fanny pack. While Angelika straightened Jill’s dress, Sandy put the finishing touches to Jill’s hair with a comb and a portable curling iron. Anglika checked Jill’s makeup then gave her a lace handkerchief.
“My mother gave me this when I married your Papa,” Jill’s mother said.
Jill moved to hug her, but her mother stepped back.
“No mussing,” Angelika said. “It’s time.”
Angelika kissed Jill’s cheek, wiped the lipstick off with her thumb then turned into the Chapel. Jill and Sandy stood together.
“Bend down,” Sandy said.
Jill bent over so that Sandy could a fluff of tulle with cream roses attached to the comb in her hair.
“Nervous?” Sandy asked.
“I’ll be right there. I love you, Jill.”
“I love you, Sandy,” Jill said.
Sandy touched one last curl, then went into the Chapel. MJ, with Honey on his back, where the last guests through the door.
Jill stood alone in the little hallway. Staring at the door, Jill’s mind flashed to standing at the top of the escalators waiting for the Seawell Ballroom security to notice her. She met Jacob again that day. Her life, her really good life, started the moment she stepped off the escalator.
At the time, she only saw the part of her life that was ending – her soul mate marrying some other girl. Jill stroked the script “Soul Mates” tattoo on her wrist. She’d asked Jacob if he’d like her to have the tattoo removed. Of course, Jacob just laughed. He said that like Trevor, the “Soul Mates tattoo” was a part of her. He loved every part of her.
Jill smiled. She touched the button that had been her friend, life force, and constant companion since she stole it from Jacob the wizard’s jacket. Jacob had it made into a bracelet so she could always have it with her. Her finger traced the barely visible bumps.
Jacob is waiting for me. Her entire face lit up in a smile.
Mike came through the door with a bouquet of six cream colored roses wrapped in cream ribbon.
“You look happy,” Mike said.
“Ready?” Mike asked.
“I wondered if you might want this as well,” Mike said.
He held up the ribbon he’d wrapped around the rose he’d given her for Trevor’s engagement party. Jill laughed.
“Guess not,” Mike said. He stuffed the ribbon into his pocket. “Here we go.”
Jill placed her hand on his elbow and they stepped into the Chapel. In the dim early morning light, the chapel glowed with in the warmth of hundreds of cream colored pillar candles. On the front table sat an enormous vase filled with the dozens of cream colored roses Jill had collected in her journey to the Chapel. Each pew had a large cream colored bow with two cream colored roses in the center. Standing at the front, Delphie wore a gorgeous lavender colored dress.
“Please rise to welcome our bride,” Delphie said.
The room was filled with everyone she loved. Her brother and sisters, their partners and children, her precious mother and her husband, Claire Martins, her husband and all of their children, Blane, Valerie, Sam and in a row, her best forever friends – Tanesha, Heather, and Sandy. Sandy was tucked under Aden’s arm. Noelle and Nash waved to her from beside Aden. Jill’s eyes went from smiling face to smiling face.
Until she saw him.
Wearing the black tux and tails she bought for him, Jacob’s entire being radiated with his happiness. Their eyes caught and Jill all but floated the rest of the way to him. She felt the brush across her cheek from Mike’s kiss, but her mind and soul were focused on the beautiful man in front of her. Jacob took the bouquet from her and gave it to Valerie. He took her hands into his own.
“You may sit down,” Delphie said. “Who brings this man into this marriage?”
“We do,” Valerie, Sam, Blane and Aden said.
“His mother and I as well,” Delphie said. “Who brings this woman into this marriage?”
“We do,” Megan, Tim, Steve, Candy, Mike said in unison. Megan’s kids joined in with giggles.
“Her parents do,” Angelika and her husband followed her siblings call.
“Me too!” Katy jumped up and down in her seat beside Mike.
The crowd chuckled at Katy’s exuberance.
“Before we begin, who here is against this marriage?”
Her question was met by silence.
“Who here is for this marriage?”
“We are.” The chapel resonated with their voices.
“Yes, it’s about time,” Delphie laughed. “You may begin Jacob.”
The crowd fell silent. Jill’s entire attention was held by Jacob’s deep hazel eyes.
“I dreamed of you,” Jacob said.
“When I was a child,” Jill said.
“But life had other plans,” he said.
“For me” they said in unison.
“And I forgot my perfect dream.” he said.
Jill’s eyes welled with happy tears. Without letting go of her hand, his finger tips stroked her cheek. He nodded to her.
“I saw you at,” Jill said.
“The very moment that,” Jacob said
“I was ready,” they said together.
“To remember,” she said.
“My dream,” he said.
“Life together.” They said at the same time.
“Now that I’m here,” he said.
“I won’t ever,” she said.
“Forget you,” they said in unison.
There was not a dry eye in the Chapel when Jill finished their poem.
“Jill, do you come to this marriage of your own free will?” Delphie asked.
“I do,” Jill said.
“Jacob, do you come to this marriage of your own free will?”
“I do,” Jacob said.
“Will your love survive the harsh fires of change?” Delphie asked.
“It will,” Jill and Jacob said.
“May your home be filled with warmth,” Delphie led their audience in saying.
“Will you love survive the ebb and flow of feeling?” Delphie asked,
“It will,” Jill and Jacob.
“May your life together be filled with love.” Delphie led their audience in saying.
“Will your love survive the times of stillness and restriction?” Delphie asked.
“It will,” Jill and Jacob said.
“May your union be strong,” the audience said with Delphie.
“Will your love survive the clear light of day?”
“It will,” Jill and Jacob said.
“May your marriage be blessed by the light of every new dawn.”
“Katy? You may come forward now,” Delphie asked. Instructing the audience, she said, “Please take each other’s hands.”
Katy ran to Jill and Jacob and held out her hands for them to take. Letting go of each other, they formed a circle of hand with Katy. Their friends and family held hands. When Katy jumped up and down and Jill picked her up. Jacob retook Katy’s hand.
“The Rings of Marriage serve many purposes,” Delphie said. “As rings are never-ending circles, they are a symbol of the never-ending commitment of marriage. As permanent fixtures on your left hand, they are a reminder of the one person to which you have sworn your devotion. And as jewelry, they enhance the hand, just as one life, through the joining of marriage, enhances another. Jill, Jacob and Katy, did you bring rings?”
“We did,” Jill and Jacob said.
When Jill bounced Katy on her hip, Katy said, “Oh, me too.”
“Jill and Katy, will you repeat after me?” Delphie said, “We give you this ring as a symbol of our love for you. As it circles your finger, let it always remind you of our eternal love, surrounding and enfolding you day and night.”
Katy dug around the pocket in her dress until she found Jacob’s ring. She gave the ring to Jill. While her eyes held his, Jill slipped a satin finished titanium wedding band onto Jacob’s finger.
“Jacob, please repeat after me,” Delphie said. “I give you this ring as a symbol of my love for you. As it circles your finger, let it always remind you of our eternal love, surrounding and enfolding you day and night.”
Jacob slipped a band onto Katy’s right middle finger. With tears in his eyes, he slipped a thin gold band on Jill’s ring finger. The wedding band set perfectly against the Marlow beauty.
“These rings are circles,” Delphie said. “Each represents the full circle of a life, as one is given into the care of the other.”
Jacob took Jill’s hand and Katy’s hand again.
“Friends and family,” Delphie continued. “You represent the community that will surround and support this marriage with love and friendship. No partnership exists in a vacuum. It is beholden upon each of you to honor and respect this union. Will you support this union?”
“We will,” the chapel echoed with their voices.
Jill’s mother and Jacob’s father came to the front of the room. With Delphie’s help, Angelika and Sam lit cream colored taper candles.
Delphie motioned for Jill, with Katy on her hip, to stand on her left side. She motioned for Jacob to stand on her right.
Angelika gave Jill her taper candle.
Sam gave Jacob his taper candle.
“I bring you the warmth of my heart,” Jill said.
“And mine too,” Katy said. Whispering to Jill, she added , “I forgot what I was ‘sposed to say.”
Jill kissed her cheek.
“I bring the light of my love,” Jacob said.
Jill and Jacob lit a large cream colored pillar candle set in front of the roses on the table. While they lit the candle, Delphie said:
“Above you is the vast universe, below you is the deep soil and stones. Remember always, like the universe, your love should be vast and constant. Like the Earth, your love should be solid and deep. Be understanding and patient, for storms may come and go. Be free always in giving affection and warmth, for it is the currency of a happy marriage.”
Jill, Katy and Jacob returned to their positions in front of Delphie.
“May the warmth and light of your union be blessed. May you know the best of fortune, and your life together be one of joy and prosperity. Do you swear to keep sacred your vows?”
“We do,” Jill, Katy and Jacob said.
“Please seal your promise with a kiss,” Delphie said.
Jill set Katy down. While they had promised no grand gestures and no tongue, Jacob took her breath away by leaning her back into his arms. His kiss was hard, insistent and left her lips tingling. Jill and Jacob bent to kiss either side of Katy’s cheeks.
“I now pronounce you – husband, wife and family.”
At that moment, the sun flashed through the stained glass windows. The Chapel lit up in the morning sun.
Their friends and family cheers and hooted. With Katy between them, Jill and Jacob ran out of the Chapel. They were pelted with rice from the Lipson employees waiting for them in the tunnel. Jacob picked up Katy and up the stairs they went into the Castle where they were pelted with more rice by everyone waiting in the kitchen. Jacob continued toward a hallway off the main Castle living room. Leaning against a panel, he clicked the hidden sliding door and they were in a private sitting room. There was a bottle of champagne, roses, chocolates and candles.
Katy bounced up and down for him to let her get the chocolates. He set Katy down and she ran to the table. Turning to Jill, he encircled her in his arms.
“This is the best day of my entire life,” he said.
“I love you.” They whispered at the same time.
“Any regrets?” Jacob asked.
“Only that we didn’t do this sooner.”
Denver Cereal continues next week….
This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.