You already knew that, didn’t you?
We’ll never be the best of friends, but from here on out, the one or two times a year I have to see him will actually be okay with me.
Have faith in yourself—it actually is possible to learn from your mistakes. I did. And this time, when I was on the spot, I didn’t screw up. I believed in Kate, trusted what we have, and did the right thing. Fucking finally.
Now let’s get to the part you’ve been waiting for:
Matthew, Jack and Steven, my parents, James and I, arrive at St. Patrick’s Cathedral right on time. Although they rarely close the church to the public, for our event—and to accommodate the thousand-plus guests sitting in the pews—the powers that be agreed to do just that. The hefty “donation” I gave didn’t hurt either.
I keep an eye on my son as he runs up and down the aisle, stopping occasionally to bask in the attention of an adoring guest. Then I shake hands with Father Dougherty, the priest who’ll actually be doing the deed.
“How are you feeling this afternoon, Andrew? Are you ready?”
“I was born ready, Father.”
“That’s good to hear. Your bride’s limousine has just arrived, so you can take your place at the altar.”
There’s no anxiety—no nervousness or fear that I’m making a mistake. No cold feet. The only thing I feel is . . . excitement. Impatience.
My mother retrieves James and they head back to the vestibule. My father and I walk up the side aisle, toward the altar.
About halfway there, he stops me with a hand on my shoulder. His blue eyes, so much like my own, are filled with emotion. “If I haven’t told you before, I want to make sure you know—I’m so proud of you, Son. You’re a good man, you’re an amazing father, and I have no doubt you’ll be an outstanding husband. I’m so very proud, Drew.”
Then he hugs me. Tight and secure, the kind of embrace that tells me even though I’m married and a father—he’s still my dad and I’ll always be his son.
“That means a lot, Dad,” I say gruffly. “Thank you for being the best example of what a father, a husband, is supposed to be.”
We pat each other’s back. Then he taps my biceps. “Now get up there before Kate changes her mind.”
I smirk. “Highly unlikely.”
He shrugs. “Better to be safe than sorry. I didn’t think your mother would try backing out, either.”
Haven’t heard that one before. “Mom balked at marrying you?”
He slaps my back again. “That’s a story for another day, Son. Go get yourself married—and enjoy every second of it.”
With that, he walks to the back of the church. I meet Matthew and Steven at the altar. “You got the rings?” I ask Matthew.
He taps his pocket. “Safe and sound.”
When the pianist begins playing the prelude—“Angels Watching” by the O’Neill Brothers—Steven announces, “That’s our cue.”
Matthew grins my way and imitates the Terminator: “I’ll be back.” They both walk down the side aisle to the back of the church.
I’m left standing alone. Waiting.
I nod to the watching guests. One hand rests at my side, the other is folded across my lower back. I inhale a deep breath and blow it out slowly.
The string quartet in the orchestra bay begins to play Canon in D by Pachelbel.
It’s game time.
The first to appear in the doorway are our parents. My father looks distinguished as he stands in the middle, my mother, wearing a plum gown, on one arm; Kate’s mother, in deep blue, is on the other. All three wear beaming smiles as they proceed down the aisle. Before my mother enters the pew, she blows me a kiss. She used to do the same thing when I was a kid, as I ran out the door to school—before I was old enough to ask her to stop.
I smile back at her meaningfully.
Next are my sister and Steven. Alexandra looks gorgeous in the strapless, burgundy bridesmaid gown Kate chose. An ivory shawl demurely covers her shoulders: her blond hair is pinned up and curled, not a strand out of place. Her arm rests comfortably, confidently, through Steven’s. They glance at each other and I just know they’re thinking of their own wedding. When they reach the altar, Steven kisses Lexi sweetly, then they part and stand on their respective sides.
Jack and Erin follow, arm in arm. Jack winks at a female guest as he strolls down the aisle and Erin smiles joyfully. Brightly. If you ever wanted a good example of how a no-strings-attached hookup should be done, Jack and Erin are it. No bad feelings, no awkwardness, just friendly, physical attraction.
After they reach the altar, it’s Matthew and Dee-Dee’s turn—the best man and matron of honor. Wearing the same gown as my sister—instead of one of the whacked-out ensembles she typically dresses in—Delores looks really good. She holds Matthew’s arm and sways her h*ps in time with the music, making him laugh at her silly exuberance. When they reach the altar, she looks me up and down—then gives me a thumbs-up.
I nod at her silent compliment.
Delores stands beside my sister, and Matthew takes his place to my left.
One more couple to go before Kate makes her entrance. This couple will steal the whole f**king show. I knew it, Kate knew it, and neither of us minded at all.
Mackenzie and James.
The flower girl and the ring bearer. The gold mine of every wedding photographer who ever worked.
Mackenzie’s dress is white lace with cap sleeves. Her long hair is pulled up at the sides with white daisies woven into the crown of blond braids. She’s old enough to be called beautiful but still enough of a kid to be called adorable. Her blue eyes shine as she waves to me from the end of the aisle.
I wave back.
She takes my son’s hand and together they make their way to me. James looks impressively lovable in his own custom Armani tux. He’s surprisingly well behaved—keeping pace with Mackenzie, holding his ring-bearer pillow straight, grinning for all the cameras taking their picture.
When they reach the altar, James drops Mackenzie’s hand, ditches his pillow, and runs straight to me. “Daddy!”
I scoop him up and look into his big, brown eyes.
“Is good?” he asks.
“You did great, buddy.” I kiss his temple. “Go sit with Grandma and Pop now, okay?”
I set him down and my parents receive him into their pew.
Then I straighten up. The starting notes of the “Wedding March” fill the cathedral. All the guests stand and turn toward the closed double doors.