Author:Stephens, S.C.

A deep resolution marked Mom’s features, then she smiled. “I guess we better get started on planning this wedding, then?” Her eyes brightening even more, she clasped her hands together. “We could do it in December, after Anna has her baby . . . oh, or in the spring, when everything is in bloom?”

My mind spun as Mom started ticking off things we would need to do between now and the wedding date. She would surely pick out for me: my dress, my bridesmaid dresses, a guest list, invitations, flowers, music, the venue, a caterer, the wedding cake, tuxes . . .

The list went on and on and I put my hands over hers to stop her from continuing to ramble. “Mom, I don’t need anything fancy.” I smiled in a lovesick way. “Kellan and I are already married. We just need to make it legal.”

Mom gave me a blank look, then asked, “Do you want to have it here in Seattle, or back home in Athens? Because all of our family is back there, and making them fly out to you wouldn’t be very nice.”

I sighed. Mom wasn’t going to let this one go. I was going to be dolled up and paraded down a rose-lined aisle whether I wanted it or not. It twisted my stomach into knots just thinking about it.

Wanting to change the focus, I murmured, “I should go talk to Dad, calm him down.” He was probably still a little thrown by the whole sex-tape thing, as well as the marriage thing. Poor Dad. Today was just not his day.

I decided to change into some comfortable clothes before I faced my father. This dress tended to hike up my thighs, and I didn’t want to be constantly readjusting it as he scolded me. It also didn’t allow for a bra thanks to its square, super-low-cut neckline; a perk on my wedding night, but not so great for a one-on-one with Pops.

Mom was perky as she watched me throw on some jeans and a T-shirt; she was still planning the wedding details, going on and on about the ideal floral arrangement. Once dressed, I headed downstairs. Mom’s description of my wedding ceremony never ceased, and her words filtered into my head with each step I took. As I plodded down the steps, I pictured myself walking down the aisle to my husband. When I reached the bottom step, Kellan was standing by the windows, nodding at my father with a solemn expression on his face. I imagined Kellan in a tux and me in a satin gown. In my mind, he was stunning, as usual, and I, for once, was beautiful. The thought of the room full of people made me a little nauseous, so I instead imagined that Kellan and I were alone. Butterflies started to tickle my stomach as the wedding march played in my head.

Kellan looked over at me and cracked a smile. I was pretty sure he wasn’t having the same vision I was having, but the expression on his gorgeous face was filled with just as much love and wonder as mine. Flushing with the anticipation of how wonderful our wedding ceremony could be, I walked over to Kellan and wrapped my arms around his waist. Grinning down at me, he enclosed me in his arms and kissed my head. We were dopily staring at each other when my dad cleared his throat.

I snapped out of my romantic vision as I looked over at him. His brow scrunched in confusion, he asked, “Everything . . . okay?”

I smiled and nodded, and Dad sighed, clearly not understanding how I’d gone from one extreme to another in a span of twenty minutes. I giggled as I let go of Kellan and gave my dad a hug. Mood swings were just a fact of life around Kellan. He could lift me up or crash me to the ground. While I sometimes enjoyed the swings, finding balance with him was something I really wanted. We would need that calm if we were going to maintain a long-term relationship. And marriage was pretty long-term. For me, at least.

When I pulled back to look at Dad, he looked over my shoulder at Kellan. I clearly saw the division in his heart. Dad wanted me to be happy, but he wasn’t thrilled about me being with a rock star. A rock star with a sex tape in his pocket. Leaning in, he said, “Kellan told me about your . . . marriage . . . at the bar.” He frowned and glanced at Kellan. “Are you sure about this, Kiera?”

Smiling bright, I kissed my dad on the cheek. “Absolutely, Dad.”

My response didn’t brighten Dad’s features any. In fact, he seemed to age right before my eyes. Seeing the sullenness in his frown lines, I clutched his arms. “Did Kellan tell you his father was going to come by for brunch?” Looking back at Kellan, I asked, “Did you get a hold of him?”

Kellan lifted the cell phone in his hand. “Just got off. He’ll be here in a half hour.” Kellan’s deep blue eyes sparkled with joy. Positive feelings for a family member were a new emotion for him, and he’d been reluctant to let himself feel it. I think a part of him was still hesitant, like he was bracing himself for the inevitable emotional implosion that was coming. But, for the moment, he was being optimistic about it.