The next days passed in a blur. The kids were going to be preteens soon and I was anxiously watching them to see what kind of children they might be. Fennec was more and more like his biological father daily – harsh at times, but with a sweet streak that caught you off guard, too.
Becca, though… I was worried about Becca. She and Jelly Bean were inseparable – never mind that I never saw the stuffed toy anymore, just Becca prattling on to thin air, hugging thin air, pillow-fighting with thin air.
She was going to be a teen soon. Wasn’t she supposed to be growing out of this imaginary friend business? Whenever I tried talking to Becca about it, she would shrug and say that he would be real soon, anyway, and then I would see.
The morning of our wedding was wet and rainy, but we had a canopy over the arch and seating, so it wasn’t too terrible. It was a very intimate affair – my father was there and walked me down the metaphorical aisle; the kids were there; and my siblings were there. Julian’s parents were both out of country and couldn’t be bothered to return. I didn’t mind – they never made an effort to see us or the kids, which to me was in essence writing us off. Family wasn’t supposed to do that.
I didn’t dwell on that, though – it was my wedding day!
I have never known a love like I felt that morning, standing there looking into Julian’s sweet, open, and caring face.
Insert the groan of two kids who think they’re too cool for kissing.
A tickle-fight broke out – my dad seemed really concerned.
And a dance-off. Julian won, but it was close.
After he wedding, the multitude of pictures began.
Ariana was pregnant, as it turned out. Not only was she pregnant – she was now living with Brayden.
“He left me,” she moaned about her husband, and only then did I realize the missing ring on her finger.
“What?” I demanded, eyes wide. “Why? Why didn’t you tell me?”
She waved it off. “You’re busy, I didn’t want to bother you with it. He was just being an asshole. He took off with some younger redhead and… urg. I mean, I don’t know what to think. Sure, I was having an affair, too – oh, and he’s gone since I got fat,” she added miserably.
I looked at her with a mix of concern and shock. “Ari… why were you cheating?”
She shrugged. “I wasn’t happy.”
“That’s not really a reason to-“
“Hey, Judgemental Judy,” she snapped, “step back and stop harrassing me. I am paying for my mistakes, okay?”
I took a breath. “You’re right. I’m sorry. Look, you can stay with us for a bit. We have more than enough room, and I know Brayden’s place is small.”
She smiled softly. “Well, it would be nice to have room for a crib…”
I nodded. “You’re family, Ari. And this is our home. You’re always welcome.”
The ‘reception’ was really just us kids getting drunk and acting like fools. Brayden and I engaged in our old ‘Shaka Bra’ hand motions and took to speaking in surfer slang for a good part of the night.
Julian and I were a little more refined.
Once Brayden and Ariana left for the night, Julian went upstairs to the bedroom and I took a detour into the spared bedroom bathroom, where I had hidden my surprise for tonight. When I walked into the bedroom wearing some red brocade and black lace, I could tell Julian was impressed with my choice.
Once I was on top of him, I could really tell he was liking it.
We didn’t waste much time. It had been years coming, and now, finally, I was able to enjoy another person’s body, and have them enjoy mine, without having to worry about rape or abuse.
For the first time, I was completely satisfied with my life.