Unforgettable, My Love Has Come Along, page 18
Alaine responded in an English accent. “She is here sir, almost ready to go!”
Laughter erupted in the salon.
“Ah yes! There she is! So beautiful!” Orane said exuberantly.
“Yes, here I am.” I giggled, participating in this bit of melodrama.
“I will wait for my queen in the foyer.” Orane bowed like a knight of days gone by, then withdrew, amidst sustained laughter.
“Nice gentleman, Miss Annalisa!” Alaine giggled.
“Totally!” I grinned.
An hour later, Orane and I arrived at Maydine’s home.
“I am so glad that your coughing has subsided,” he said, breathing a sigh of relief.
“Yes, me too. Thanks so much Honey.” He stared at me with knitted brows. “I appreciate all that you’re doing.”
“You are welcome.” He smiled at me, and our eyes stayed lock for a moment.
“But, how are you really doing?” I asked, touching his hand.
“I’m good but a little tired. I’m trying to wrap up loose ends so that we won’t be disturbed on our honeymoon.” He chuckled loudly. “We cannot be disturbed.”
“No disturbance!” I giggled.
He eyeballed me. “Mrs. Conway, are you ready for all things new?”
My heart skipped a beat. “Mrs. Conway! That has a nice ring to it Mr. Conway.” I lightly brushed his cheek with my hand. “You know I am.”
“Hmmm!” he murmured with contentment and we both chuckled softly.
“How’s the nuptials speech coming?” I asked.
“It’s coming! I’m still working on it.” His expression softened and he reached for my hand and kissed it. “I love you.”
“I love you too Honey.” I lifted my hand to his jawline and gently traced it then kissed him lightly, something he did not expect. “O…kay!” I murmured, pulling slightly away from him. “We will pick up on Saturday night.”
He exhaled deeply. “Yes. Be gone woman before I take you away,” he said, caressing my arm.
I smiled softly and untangled myself from him. “Okay, if you insist.”
Orane accompanied me to the front door and greeted Maydine.
“I have a surprise for you both!” Maydine grinned. “Life size surprise!”
“What?” I asked suspiciously as Orane looked on.
“Come out surprise!” Maydine yelled, looking towards the living room door.
“Idalyn!” I screamed and hugged her.
“So glad to see you,” Idalyn said. She had arrived from Tampa, Florida earlier that day.
“This is my Orane!” I beamed.
“Orane!” Idalyn hugged him.
“Nice to meet you Idalyn,” he responded. “Let me guess, you are sister number five.”
“Sister number four. Natasha is number five,” I informed him.
“I see this will take a while,” he drawled.
“You have not yet met Verona. She is the sixth sister,” Maydine said comfortingly. “But don’t worry, take it in stride.”
Shortly after that, Orane left and I chatted with Idalyn until midnight as she took on the task of making alterations to two of the bridesmaids’ gowns. I hoped that the gowns would look great and classy on all the bridesmaids.
CHAPTER 29: GREAT CHOICE
Orane whistled exuberantly, as I made my way down the “catwalk” towards him. He was leaning against his car in Maydine’s driveway. In a smooth sweep of one hand, he locked me in a warm embrace. My heart pounded against my rib cage as he stared down at me.
“You look very elegant!” he said softly, adding butterfly kisses to my cheek. I was decked out in a white sleeveless scoop neck dress with pleats. A bow accent at the waist added to my feminine flair.
I kissed him gently. “Thanks. I feel fabulous. You’re not looking too shabby yourself.” He was wearing gray pants, a long sleeve burgundy shirt and gray dress shoes.
He tickled my side and I giggled even more. “Look at you Mrs. Conway!” he smiled, leaning toward me with one hand on either side of my hips. “Ready to roll?”
I tenderly caressed his face. “Yes Honey,” I said, not too steadily.
He winked at me; his eyes were filled with excitement. I smiled, watching as he hurried around to the driver’s side and hopped in.
It was an exceptionally cool and scenic Wednesday morning and we were off to meet with Reverend Fuller. I smiled happily at Orane and he returned the smile. Some days just seemed to begin right, specially sent to us, holding warmth, promise and potential. This was one of those beautiful days.
Our final premarital counseling session covered finances, children and parenting. We also examined our commitment level to our marriage and reviewed our long-term plan of action to keep our marriage alive.
Later that day, Orane and I dined at Abernay, a fast food establishment while I waited for Melissa to continue wedding planning.
“Hope I’m not disturbing anything.” Melissa beamed.
“Hey Mel! I did not see you come in.” Orane and I were playfully gazing at each other.
“How could you?” Mel grinned as we hugged.
“Good to see you Melissa,” Orane chuckled and hugged her.
“I’ll see you both later,” Orane said, pushing his chair under the table.
I gently touched his face as he kissed my cheek. “See you later Honey,” I whispered.
“See you in a bit Orane,” Melissa smiled.
I opened my purse and took out a notepad. “We pretty much have everything covered,” I said to a smiling Melissa.
She leaned forward animatedly. “Are you ready?”
“Ready! Ohhh yes. I’m so ready.” I giggled. “I’m going to walk the aisle as if it was custom made for me.”
“I bet you will.” Melissa grinned at me. “Just don’t start crying.”
“Crying!” I dramatically rolled my eyes to the sky then pursed my lips, before saying, “That is not a part of the plan.
“I will be the happiest bride in the whole wide world. I’m leaving the crying to my family.”
“Imagine the tears as baby sister walks down the aisle.”
“Baby sister!” I exclaimed. “I am so far from baby age.”
“Stop pretending! You know how your sisters feel about you.”
“Yes. My fabulous sisters! I am so blessed to have them in my life.”
“The most amazing thing is that you’re all so close.”
I smiled at her. “Mama and Papa would not have it any other way.”
“Yes.” Melissa agreed.
“Mel, you do know that we consider you a real sister.”
Melissa nodded. “Yes. I get that feeling.”
“Yes Mel, you are our sister.” I looked at her seriously. “My relationship with you and Simon means a lot to me. In fact, your whole family means a lot to me. Orane and I are forever grateful…” Melissa raised her hand to protest and I knitted my eyebrows. “I am not finished. Can’t you tell that I’m giving a speech? Anyway, as I was saying, thank you for setting a great example of a Godly marriage. Orane and I love…” My voice cracked and I paused to get my emotions under control. “We love and appreciate you and Simon very much.”
“See all this emotional stuff. You’re getting teary eyed already.” Melissa smiled as I winced. “The feeling is mutual,” she said quietly. “Simon and I wish you and Orane all the very best. We are glad that you both know the Lord and we are confident that your marriage will be all that God has ordained it to be.”
“Thanks. Orane and I are very optimistic and confident about our marriage.”
“Simon seems quite comfortable with your choice.”
My lips curled in a smile. “Yes. I remembered how scared he was when I decided to accommodate Orane at home.”
Melissa chuckled loudly. “Yes. He was so concerned.”
I raised one eyebrow. “So he’s no longe
“Of course, he has concerns,” Melissa laughed mischievously, “for Orane.”
“Oh, it’s like that. Simon has no loyalty. You tell him I said so.”
“He knows how it can be when two people love each other.”
“Raging passion!” I smiled knowingly. “As you know, Orane and I wanted to honor the Lord by waiting.”
“Thank God that you are both on the same page,” Melissa exclaimed, throwing her hands in the air.
“It’s been a struggle but we are holding on.”
“I understand,” she nodded, pursing her lips.
“We put that on the table from the beginning. According to Mr. Conway, he wants to give his testimony with a straight face.”
Melissa smiled perceptively. “I realized his deep commitment to God the first time I met him.”
“Yep! He’s committed,” I concurred.
“Have you packed for the honeymoon?” Melisa’s pursed her lips and her eyebrows rose to their maximum level. “Saturday night is approaching.”
“Oh yeah! Victoria’s Secret lingerie will be on display,” I said dramatically.
“Nice, very nice,” she said in hushed tones and we burst into girlish giggles.
Suddenly, Melissa grew quiet. Something was brewing. “We have a surprise for you,” she said nonchalantly.
“We? What’s the surprise?” I eyed her suspiciously.
“Some of the ladies who are attending your shower tomorrow…,” she paused and playfully rolled her eyes, “your final shower, pooled…”
I giggled loudly. “Final? You’re all trying to get rid of me.”
With arms folded across her chest, Melissa asked, “Three bridal showers? Who does that?”
I chuckled softly.
“Anyway,’ she continued, “we pooled our resources and we are giving you a spa treatment, manicure and pedicure.”
My eyes bulged with excitement. “Wow, that’s so nice! Thank you.”
“Let’s get out of here. We are heading to the spa right now before we go to the hair salon.”
Great choice ladies!
Almost three hours later, I stood in the foyer of Crescent Day Spa feeling rejuvenated and relaxed in mind, body, soul and spirit. I was treated to a superb upper body massage utilizing essential oils with long soothing strokes and therapeutic techniques to relax my muscles and improve my circulation.
My manicure and pedicure included exfoliation, moisture mask, massage and polish. For the first time…drum rolls please…I wore acrylic nails.
At Reflections Beauty Salon, Alaine applied different shades of make-up to my face and successfully discovered the best color combination to use for my big day. After that, we reached a consensus on my hair do and she styled my hair.
Orane picked me up from the hair salon and we made our way home.
“Thank you husband-to-be,” I said as Orane pulled up at Maydine’s home.
“You are welcome wife-to-be,” he responded smiling. “I must tell you again. You look beautiful.”
“Thank you Honey. Are you packed and ready to roll?”
“Packed? Who needs clothes?” He threw back his head and laughed loudly.
I knitted my brows and playfully slapped him on his shoulder. “Naughty man!”
He reached for my hand and kissed it then placed it back on my lap. “I’m packing tomorrow when you are having your third bridal shower or is it your fourth?”
“Ah, my third, but I’ll take a fourth.”
“If I might borrow your phrase, ‘look at you’!” He chuckled. “What time should I take Aunt Joy to the shower?”
“7:00 pm is good. Are you sure you don’t want to attend?”
“Positive!” He grimaced. “Permit me to sit this out.”
“I heard that you declined to go out with the guys too.”
“Yes. I need to rest and get myself ready to handle the challenges of having a wife.”
“Funny!” I said, poking his side. “Consider this. Having a wife is a good thing, plus, you will obtain favor from the Lord. Isn’t that something?”
“It sure is.” He exhaled softly, relaxing against the seat. “You are my wonderful gift from God.”
“You are my wonderful gift…”
He chuckled. “Babes, I’m going to start charging you. You can’t just use my lyrics.”
“No lyrics,” I said tenderly. “It’s the truth.”
Our eyes locked knowingly. I swallowed hard as he smiled and tenderly caressed my face, rubbing my cheek with his fingers. My lips parted under his hand and I closed my eyes. It felt good…so good, that I zealously wrapped my arms around his body and pulled him closer. His strong fingers traveled up the small of my back and I could feel his breath on my face. As our bodies merged, I kissed him and he responded in kind, deeply and passionately.
“I love you,” he said, shuddering softly as he buried his head into my neck.
I choked back a whimper as I felt warmth quickly rising within me. “I love you too.”
Breathing heavily, Orane turned me to face him. Streams of shivers rolled down my spine as I gazed into his incredible dark brown eyes. “You are beautiful,” he said, mustering up all of his self-control.
Help me Lord! I looked away from him as I valiantly attempted to control my desires. “Thanks Honey!” I murmured breathlessly. “We will honor God.”
He was quiet for a moment before saying, “Yes, we will.”
“We are going to make it. We can do this,” I reassured him gently, pushing my hair away from my face.
“Babes,” he looked at me apologetically. ‘I’m…”
“Don’t say a word,” I said softly, caressing his cheeks. “Let’s ask the Lord to help us.”
With that we held hands and sought the Lord in prayer.
He heard our cries.
CHAPTER 30: DREADFUL NEWS
I woke up to the warm rays of the morning sun across my bed. Time was drawing nigh. I threw my hands in the air and burst into girlish giggles then rolled out of bed to my usual routine. The scent of pancakes greeted me as I entered the dining room.
“Good morning everyone.”
“Good morning,” responded Maydine, Bella and Idalyn.
“Here comes the bride, here comes the bride,” Bella sang as I took my place at the breakfast table. “Are you nervous?”
“Oh nooo, no wedding jitters.” I shivered and everyone laughed.
“You are in a great mood,” Maydine remarked smiling.
“I feel great and I feel blessed to be surrounded…(my voice broke) by family and people who love and care for me. Thank you all so much. Words cannot express how much I appreciate all that you have done and continue to do.”
“Stop! You’re going make us cry,” Bella said. “You know that we cry for everything in this family.”
“Yes. But no crying at our wedding, please,” I told her.
“You heard that?” Bella playfully pointed at Maydine.
“Did you hear that?” Maydine responded, threatening Bella with her eyes.
I threw my hands in the air. “It’s a happy time. A time of celee…bration.”
“Ce…lebrate good times, come on!” Bella sang.
“O…kay! Are you going to sing about everything?” I slapped Bella lightly on the shoulder. “Stop it.”
She chuckled and began to sing. “I sing because I’m happy.”
“No you didn’t!” I said, eyeballing her.
Maydine and Idalyn joined in. “I sing because I am free. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know.”
“Yes I know,” Maydine sang in soprano.
“I know,” Idalyn echoed in alto.
“Yes, I know,” I sang in high pitched soprano.
“He watches over me,” we sang in unison and clapped enthusiastically.
The phone rang and I could hear Mr. Mohan answering. He called out for Maydine to pick up.
“Hello!” Maydine answered joyfully. “I can’t hear, w
We became extremely quiet trying to make sense of the conversation and waiting for Maydine to conclude.
Well, that’s what we should have done.
Instead, we eyed Maydine impatiently.
“What going on?” we asked loudly. Bella pushed her ear next to the phone as Maydine continued the conversation with Harriett.
“Stop!” Maydine said to Bella. “Wait a moment Harriett!” Maydine turned to us. “A couple of students who attends Harriett’s school were in an accident while traveling in a taxi. They all died.”
Sounds of sharp intakes of breath, followed by “Oh no! No! No!” shattered the air and we groaned at different level! A wave of sadness enveloped the room as we grieved for the parents who heard this dreadful news.
Maydine informed us that Harriett, as the school’s principal would have to deal with the students, parent and media along with other personnel, so Bella and Idalyn needed to help with the preparation for my shower. Maydine then walked to the verandah to finish her conversation with Harriett.
Later that day, I called Harriett at home to offer my condolences. She was still in tears from the painful experience. “Annalisa, no parent should have to bury a child. I cannot imagine what these parents are going through.” As the day dragged on, we managed to revive our spirits with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
CHAPTER 31: SHOWER ME
I looked superb, very much like the bride to be in a hot pink Calvin Klein empire cocktail cotton/spandex dress with a scoop neck, ruched panels at the fitted bodice and a slightly flared skirt.
The cool evening air greeted me as I step out of Maydine’s Toyota RAV4 at Harriett’s home. As we walked up the driveway, I could hear music, soft chatter and laughter.
And other screams of delight rang out as I entered the living room to attend my final bridal shower which was organized by my family, wedding coordinators and bridal party. I ran around the room yelling words of endearment as I hugged everyone.