***Elvis’s Little Chapel of Luv, Las Vegas***
Jack shifted nervously under the bower of fragrant flowers. He had no idea what they were and honestly did not care. As long as she liked them. He wanted this day, this moment, to be perfect. For her.
Damn, when had he become such a pussy-whipped bastard? But that answer was almost too easy. If that Sunday morning outside the church was not enough, then it was inevitable his transformation was complete the moment he had sunk his hard cock into that virgin tight cunt. Okay, maybe he wasn’t completely sappy and pussy whipped after all.
But he had given the poor woman at the front desk nightmares. She was probably more accustomed to couples coming in and just going with the ‘usual’ trio of songs, Love Me Tender, Can’t Help Falling In Love With You, and maybe Teddy Bear. Though Jack had toyed with Can’t Help, it was certainly appropriate. In the end, he had chosen the seemingly out-of-place Always on My Mind as the groom’s song. He figured it was the least he owed Abby, the beginning of his life-long apology for all those years and burdens that she had shouldered all alone.
Would it have made a difference? If he had left the Rangers sooner? If he had come home and accepted his Fate, rather than running and hiding? It could not have been easy, caring for the woman that had raised you through a terminal illness. Watching her grandmother slip away. And if he had? Would his grandfather still be here?
Those and a thousand other what-ifs had been playing through his mind since he kissed her and left the hotel. Should he have done that? What if she did not show up? What if she got cold feet or had second thoughts? Even if she meant what she said at the Lucky Wolf on Monday night, he knew that she doubted him, was uncertain of his motives. And she had every fucking right to.
But if she ran, he would chase her. Find her. Jack wanted to believe he would woe her with flowers, chocolate, and sweet words. But that wasn’t him. He’d probably do something stupid like throw her over his shoulder and carry her right back here. Or use that incredibly responsive curvy body against her until Abby Jean was his mindlessly obedient ‘good girl.’ Not that he thought she would object to that too much. Just enough to satisfy the whole ‘feminist’ sisterhood and satisfy that brat he was going to love conquering too.
Damn, why didn’t he wear a watch anymore? Was she officially late? He reached for his phone in the pocket of his leather jacket to check the time. And perhaps text her.
He had debated what to wear for the most important event of his life. He considered a suit, but that was not him. Hell, he did not wear those to the board meetings with the elders. His uniform was out. Not only had he left it in the closet in the Sebida, but that man was dead and buried with most of his Ranger buddies.
The truth was that he lived in t-shirts and jeans, an old flannel shirt on top if it got too cold. In the end, he had opted to go with that and spruce it up just a bit with a leather jacket. A bit of gel in his hair, and he fit perfectly with this fifties-themed wedding. Like he stepped right out of Grease. So, where the fuck was his Sandy?
“Shitpisscockcuntmotherfuckinsonsofbitches,” the Elvis officiate looked at him. And the upbeat tempo of Pledging My Love started. The double doors at the back of the small chapel opened as the lyrics began, “Forever my darling, our love will be true. Always and forever, I’ll love only you….”
After carefully listening to a dozen or more Elvis songs and driving that poor woman insane, the rest of the words faded from Jack’s mind. She was the only thing he had eyes for. The only thing he heard or smelled or cared to feel. And most definitely wanted to taste. For hours, between those creamy, smooth, thick thighs. He’d be happy to die with his face buried in her cunt.
But sweet spirit was she spectacular. Her dress was that off-white, cream color with a sweetheart neckline. Yes, he knew entirely too much about women’s fashion of that era. And this dress checked all his boxes. If he had had time to shop, this would have been the dress he chose for his bride. Its full skirt came to just below the knee, and her petticoats gave it the perfect flounce as she walked the short distance. Damn, the pillbox hat with the short side veil, the elbow-length satin gloves, the Mary Jane pumps with the diamante clasp on them that matched the belt about her waist, and the pearl necklace and earrings. Abby was his walking wet dream.
She dropped those magnificent eyes to the white rose and baby’s-breath bouquet that he had chosen for her. “May this fire in my soul dear, Forever burn,” their Elvis finished the song with a hip flourish that made Jack want to deck the man. Elvis could keep his fucking eyes off her cleavage that swelled out of that neckline. Jack cleared his throat, and the man met his gaze. He must have gotten the message in Jack’s eyes because he dropped his stare to the red carpet. “Please join hands.”
Abby half-lifted her eyes to his as he brought a gloved hand to his lip and kissed the very spot that would shortly wear the ring that would forever close the circle between the Greywolf men and Monroe women. “You’re perfect.”
She smiled, though he saw the doubts and fears in those eyes. He would set all those to rest soon. Maybe he should have before this moment, but he could not risk it. He wanted her bound by law to him. Then he would work on binding her heart and soul to his. He knew he already had that lush body.
“We are gathered here today to witness the vows between Andrew Jackson Greywolf and Abigail Jean Monroe,” Jack had learned that one reason he could not remember a different last name was that Miss Myrtle had made certain there was not one. Adopting her granddaughter legally and giving her the Monroe name.
“To join Jack and Abby in Hellish, I mean Holy Matrimony. This is where I’m supposed to say…If there be any suspicious minds present in the audience doncha think it’s time to speak now or never – their love won’t wait. Or Just shut the heck up. But I guess that isn’t necessary. Because Abigail, Jack wants you to know….”
“Maybe I didn’t treat you, Quite as good as I should have. Maybe I didn’t love you, Quite as often as I could have….”
Jack saw the tears welling in her eyes. He knew that the words were getting to her. He tightened his hold on that hand, afraid that she might make a run for it. Yeah, they should have probably had ‘that’ talk before the wedding. But he was a chicken shit. At least when it came to losing her. But he would straighten it all as soon as this was over. Because the truth was that little girl in the swing had always been…
“If I made you feel second best, Girl, I’m so sorry, I was blind. You were always on my mind. You were always on my mind.” At some point, while he walked the strip and pull his head out of his ass today, Jack had recognized the truth that had been staring him in the face.
He had gone through every other woman in Sebida and a few others while carefully avoiding this one. Because he had known the truth all along. Since the night he pulled Tad Meadows off her and beat the shit out of the boy. Since she had pressed that innocent sixteen-year-old woman-child body to his, Jack had been running. Every other woman he had been with was him trying to recapture that feeling. He never stood a fucking chance. It took him more than a decade to realize it, but he finally had.
“Tell me, tell me that your sweet love hasn’t died. Give me, give me one more chance to keep you satisfied…” It was all he needed. He would not fuck up again. He was determined on that.
Abby’s head was still mostly down, carefully studying that damned bouquet. He could not stand it anymore. He had to know. Had to see the truth in her eyes. This woman, his woman, could not hide shit in those eyes. He reached out with his other hand as the cheesy Elvis finished his rendition of the song. Jack could tell from the way the man stumbled over the lyrics a couple of times that it was not one he sang very often.
He smiled into those cloudy eyes, “Look at me, Abby Jean. This is real. It’s happening, baby girl. And I want, no, I need to know that you mean every word.”
She nodded her head, but her tear-filled eyes never left his as Elvis began, “Do you Abigail take Andrew Jackson Greywolf to be your Husband, and do you promise to love him tender, love him sweet, and never let him go?”
She nodded her head slowly and almost whispered, “I do.”
Elvis turned to him and nodded. It was another deviation from their standard ceremony. Well, sort of. He has selected his vows from another page in that book he had pondered for over an hour. He smiled at the woman who was both their witness and doubled as the receptionist. He’d have to tip her well for this.
But right now, he had other things on his mind. He took the bouquet from Abby’s trembling fingers and passed it to the woman, “Hold this, please.” Then he lifted both of Abby’s gloved hands and placed them over his heart as he spoke.
“I take you, Abigail, to be the wife of all my todays and tomorrows, to be the mother of my children, to be the companion of my home. We shall face together whatever our lives may encounter and share together our riches of goodness and plenty and love.”
“Abby, you and I are beginning a new chapter in our life together. As husband and wife, I want us to enjoy today, to experience what this moment has to offer, to drink deeply at the fountain of love. But I also want us to experience our future together, to gather wisdom from all our shared adventures, to discover the joy of loving more deeply as the years pass. I want us to be inseparably bound by the thousands of events we will live together. I want us to build a past rich with laughter, love, and enthusiasm – a past we can always remember with fondness while bravely and happily facing our future.”
He had memorized every line. It might not be as flashy as shifting into a stallion or Ryan’s golden gut. But his eidetic memory had come in handy a few times. And this was one of them. He would never forget this moment as he bent and kissed away the tear that spilled from those eyes. As Elvis once more broke into song…
“Hold me close, hold me tight. Make me thrill with delight. Let me know where I stand from the start. I want you, I need you, I love you, With all my heart….”
And he would. As soon as this was over, he would make damned sure they both knew where they stood. And whether she meant those three little words or not, he had just bought a lifetime to win her love. This time he would succeed. There was no other option. No surrender. Except to her love.
He pulled the glove from her left hand and then released it, just long enough to reach inside the pocket of his leather jacket. He managed to flip open the lid and slip the ring onto his pinky finger without releasing his hold on her other hand.
“Never leave me alone, ’cause I die every time we’re apart. I want you, I need you, I love you with all my heart.” Elvis got those words clearer since that song was part of their traditional offering. He cleared his throat and reached for the glass of water on the small table next to him. Then he turned back to them, “You have the ring?” Jack nodded.
He lifted Abby’s bare hand as he stared into her eyes. “One Greywolf man made this ring before either of us were ever born. For the Monroe woman he loved his whole life…and probably beyond.” He wasn’t even sure if she had known about their grandparents, but something in her smile and the slight nod of her head told him that she had.
“Theirs wasn’t a happily ever after. But I like to think that today we close that circle. That this ring brings blessed closure to their love as much as it symbolizes ours. We are not our ancestors, though they live on through us. We can and will write our own happy ending in the stars.”
He pushed the ring into place and was surprised to see that it fit perfectly. Of course, he had not even considered until that moment that it would not. He brought her hand to his lips and sealed that pledge with a kiss over that symbol.
She was so cute the way she bit her lower lip, “I’m sorry, Jack. I didn’t think. I don’t have a ring….”
“Oh, sweetie, don’t worry about that. Your ring is through his nose and other places,” laughed Elvis.
“Just remember there is no return to sender, and sometimes a little less conversation a little more action can solve all your problems,” Elvis winked at them as the woman passed the bouquet back to Abby.
Jack reached into his pocket for the crisp new bill that he placed in the woman’s palm. “Thank you.”
The older woman turned to Abby, “I’ve never in over twenty years working here ever seen a groom so worried about getting the ceremony perfect. You got a good man there, sweetie.” She turned and winked at him, “But he sure looks nice dressed like a bad boy.”
Jack was almost sure he blushed as Elvis laughed again, “By the powers vested in me by the state of Nevada, I now re-pronounce you, husband and wife. You may kiss your bride.”
He did not need to be told twice as he drew her against him. He thought of that other kiss, or half kiss. She had been just a child then. Those almost eight years between them seemed so insurmountable then. He regretted so much the way he had treated her that night. But this was their fresh start. The first day of the rest of their lives as husband and wife. He was making this one good.