Authors Note: This is the ninth and final story in a series using the same main characters. The others in order are: Wolf Creek Pass, Silverton, Canyon Trilogy, Las Vegas Nights, Amarillo by Morning, Hello New Orleans, Country Roads and Annie's Song. I suggest you read the previous stories for background of these characters.
We didn't get back to the coach until very late that night, but with good reason. First, my sister had thrown a dinner party to celebrate Mickey's birthday, then my proposal to her.
Carol had immediately started to plan our wedding. Her friends in the New Orleans's society had already decided that it should be a "Grand Affair" (you could almost hear the capital letters in their voices).
Henry and I adjourned with the rest of the male guests to his study. This was part of their private quarters and a mixture of Victorian architecture and modern conveniences. Henry went into a cupboard and pulled out a bottle of brandy. "Gentlemen, this occasion calls for something special."
As he poured I noticed that it was one hundred year old brandy. Jerry Miller, one of the guests raised his glass in a toast. "May you be always be as happy as you are now."
We all raised our glasses for the toast, and then conversation turned to more mundane things. We joined the ladies once again, and the party started to wind down. After all the guests had left after many more congratulations, Mickey and I made for our bed as well.
We opened the door to find that Trouble, Mickey's kitten had made herself busy with the roll of toilet paper in our absence.
"Damnit, Trouble! Just look at the mess you have made!" Mickey was clearly irritated. For her part, Trouble did peer out from under the pile of paper before she ducked back in to shred some more of it.
I surveyed the mess then turned Mickey toward me and gave her a kiss. "Go and get ready for bed, sweetheart. I will take care of this."
She smiled back and headed into the back of the coach. I pulled the kitten from the pile and held her so she was looking directly at me. "Well Furball, I think you ticked your mistress off. You had best be good to get back in her good graces." I sat her down on the couch where she watched with keen interest as I stuffed all the pieces of paper into a bag. She must have thought it was amusing to see a full-grown man in a tuxedo on his hands and knees picking up shredded toilet paper. After all the evidence was cleaned up, I put a new roll in the bathroom and headed for bed myself.
Mickey was already under the sheet. She was on her side, once again examining the ring that adorned her left hand. She looked up at me with her eyes brimmed with tears. "You can't believe how happy you made me... Dave. I was so happy to just continue to stay with you. I had always dreamed of marrying someone kind and sweet, and now it will come true."
I laid my pants over the back of the chair and crawled in beside her, taking her in my arms. She snuggled up close and laid her head on my chest. "You have made me a very happy woman tonight. I had hopes of this soon after we met, but I was always afraid that you wouldn't want someone so young and inexperienced."
"And I was always afraid to ask because I thought you might one someone more your own age."
She pushed herself up on her elbow to look me right in the eye. "Dave, I was with a few other guys, ones that were my age. They were self absorbed, petty, and in bed they only thought of their pleasure. Then you found me and showed me that I didn't have to settle for something like that. I knew from the first that you were the one I wanted to spend my life with. I was content just staying with you for as long as I could. Now I know that all my dreams are coming true."
I felt a tear fall onto my shoulder. There were no words to express how I felt about her right then so I pulled her down and thoroughly kissed her. We were both exhausted from the day's events so we feel asleep in each other's arms content in the thought that we would never be apart again.
The following weeks were filled with Carol and Mickey (with Kait's help) planning a wedding that would be a social event to rival all others. I would have been happy to just have a small ceremony and then leave for a honeymoon, but I figured I owed it to Mickey.
Since I did not have to be involved except to agree with their ideas, I spent a large amount of time playing with my soon-to-be niece. Annie was a joy to be around. She never cried without reason and was content to be held or played with. I quickly learned to change diapers and to burp her after Kait had fed her. The rest of the time, she would stare at my face and react when I talked to her.
I was doing just that one afternoon when Kait walked out into the back yard where we had adjourned to get away from the confusion that was deciding on the wedding colors.
"I swear - you are going to spoil her rotten Dave." Kait said with a grin.
"I thought that was what uncles were supposed to do." I replied without looking away from the cute little face that was watching me and moving her lips.
"I suppose so." Kait then set down next to me. "You are so good with Annie. Do you and Mickey plan on having any of your own?"
"Well Kait, we really haven't talked about it. I know that I would like to have children. My first wife couldn't carry to term so after a while, we quit trying for any. But it really will be up to Mickey."
"Then you probably will have a bunch. Mickey loves kids." Annie started to fuss a bit, so Kait took her from my lap. "I bet this little one is hungry. I'll just feed her." She stood and headed into the house. I sat back and took a sip of my beer. Even with the preparations that were going on, I felt relaxed. I know there was supposed to be some 'pre-wedding jitters' but I didn't feel anything other than peace that we were going to be together.
I finished the beer and went through the kitchen to deposit the empty in the recycle bin, and then out to the coach to do a bit of work.
The wedding date had been set for August 18. I was not sure of the reason, but I decided that as long as it happened, it was fine with me. The ceremony would be in the main hall of Henry and Carol's house. One of the judges that Henry knew well would perform the ceremony, and since Kyle and Lisa were going to fly in, I convinced Kyle to stand as my best man.
Kait was to be the Maid of Honor with Carol and a few other friends Mickey had made as bridesmaids. Other than that, it was up to them to finalize the plans. My part was to set up a honeymoon. I made all the arrangements, but kept it a close secret as to what our destination was.
One afternoon during the height of the arrangements, I was on the back deck in my usual chair reading a novel. Mickey had come out to ask my opinion on some matter about what we should have for the reception dinner. When I answered for the fourth time that day "Whatever you want is fine with me.", Mickey sat down next to me.
"You aren't all that excited about this whole thing are you?"
"Honey, I am very excited about having you as my wife. As long as I get that, all the rest is just dressing."
"Would you rather just elope?"
I reached over and laid my hand over hers. "Mickey, I really think you should have a fairy tale wedding. After all, every woman deserves the wedding of her choice, and you most of all."
She leaned over and gave me a kiss. "I was afraid that you were getting tired of all the commotion."
"Not at all. You just go ahead and get it all set up. If there is something I feel strongly about, I'll let you know. Otherwise, it is your day. You set it up like you want."
She leaned in for one more kiss (that turned into several) and she went back inside to continue the plans.
We had one spot of trouble late in July. I heard the doorbell and went to answer it. Standing on the steps were two women. One was tall and thin while her companion was short and rather 'dumpy' for lack of a better term. Both were dressed well in a business style.
When I asked their business, the stated that they were from Child Protective Services and they had a complaint that a child at this address was being neglected and abused. I immediately called out for Henry and Kait who both arrived at the same time, Kait with Annie in her arms.
Henry started the conversation. "Just what is the basis for these complaints?"
The taller one did the talking. "We received an anonymous complaint that this child was being neglected. Accusations were made that the child was being left alone, as well as some vague suggestions of abuse. We have to check any complaint so here we are."
Kait was outraged, but held her tongue. The women checked Kait and Annie's room, took all the names of everyone in the house for background checks, and then asked to take Annie to a doctor to check for any kind of abuse. While they were looking around, Henry called Brenda Taylor, the lawyer that had helped Kait earlier in a custody suit. She arrived just before we left for the hospital to have Annie checked.
.... There is more of this story ...