They had been through so much. So damn much, and then for it to get to this point and her not want it anymore? She couldn’t have cold feet. She’d had him, she’d lost him, she’d gotten him back, and here she was, about to be married to the one guy she loved the most in the world and all she wanted to do was run. She had proposed to him! She wanted this so much. But right now it felt as though the walls were closing in and there was no room to move, no air to breathe.
“Jo.” She could hear Allison say her name, feel her smooth her hair back. She could tell Allison was trying to comfort her, but she couldn’t stop shaking. She needed to escape. “Jo, are you okay?”
“Air. I need air.” She got it out in a strangled gasp. At that point she sprung up from her tightly coiled crouching position. “I need to go. I need to go outside.”
“But the…” Allison began, but then she looked to her husband, who shook his head. “Okay, Jo. I’ll have them wait.” Allison left the room, leaving just her and Carter.
“Let’s go for a walk,” Carter said, reaching over to put an arm around Jo’s shoulders. Carter was strong and solid, dependable and comfortable. He was her best friend. He was the man she had asked to give her away, and he was the one she trusted most right now. “Just you and me, okay?”
“Okay, Carter,” she said. She hadn’t gone for the big poufy dress. She’d gone for something simple, something that was nice but more her. She wouldn’t have to pick up a heavy train to go walk with Carter. She slipped off her heels and then moved out from under his arm, looking around for the shoes she had come into the vestibule wearing. They were combat boots, left over from her days in the Army. She didn’t care that she wasn’t wearing socks with them as she slipped them on. “Let’s get outside.”
He nodded, and the two of them took to the hallway. Carter didn’t say anything as they made their way out of the church and over to the parking lot. He let her lead, and when they got to her car she sat down on the hood and he joined her. “You okay?” he asked when she was settled.
“I love Zane. I love Zane so much it hurts sometimes,” she said slowly. “And I know I’m the one that asked him to marry me. But right now, I just think it’s too fast. It’s too much. We shouldn’t do this.”
“Shouldn’t get married, or shouldn’t do it this way?” he asked gently.
“I don’t know. Both, maybe?” She looked at him. “I’ll break his heart if I chicken out.”
“You have to think about your own heart, Jo. Is this just cold feet or genuine regret?” He reached over for her hand, and she grasped it tightly. It was comforting to have him close, to have him there and talk her through it.
“I think it’s just cold feet. I hope it is. I don’t want to lose him over this.” She was going to say more, but she heard the door slam and her eyes went wide. “Oh, God, what if it’s him?” she asked panicking.
Carter stood up. “If it is I’ll handle it,” he said. He dug into his pants pocket for his car keys. “Go sit in the Jeep while I check. Don’t want him seeing you in your wedding dress if you do decide to marry him.”
“Thank you,” she said gratefully, taking the keys from him. She let herself into the back seat of the Jeep and watched. It was Zane who had come out, with Allison behind him acting frantic. He watched Carter talk to the both of them, and then Zane shut his eyes and Carter began leading him to the Jeep. The panic rose again as they got closer and Jack opened her door. He didn’t say anything while he reached inside to unlock the passenger side door. “Carter! What are you doing?” she hissed.
“He just wants to talk,” Carter said. He opened the passenger side door and after a moment guided Zane in. “I’ll be right over here if you guys need me.”
“Thanks, Carter,” Zane said quietly. Carter shut the door and moved over to the side. “Do you want to call off the wedding?” he asked after a moment.
“I don’t know,” she said with a nod. “I love you, I do. I really do. But I don’t know if we should do this. Or at least do it right now. I just…I don’t know.”
“We can wait,” he replied. “Because I’m thinking we’re kind of rushing it too.”
“Really?” she asked, surprised.
“Yeah. I mean, six months isn’t a lot of time to be engaged. And it’s not like you want to break up, right?”
“No. I don’t want to lose you again.”
“I don’t want to lose you either, Jo-Jo. So…we just call off the wedding. Thank everyone for coming, tell them it’s just too soon and hope they come back when we do actually go through with it.”
“But what about all the money? The reception and all of that?”
“Allison hasn’t had a baby shower yet, right?”
“Then we just tell her she gets two. One today, and one with gifts later.” He turned in her direction, eyes still shut but with a grin on his face. “We’re not breaking up over this. I mean, who knows? Maybe in a few weeks or a few months we’ll decide we don’t want to go through this hassle again and we’ll elope. Maybe we’ll decide we want a bigger wedding, or a different one. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I can wait a while to make it legal.”
Jo relaxed, for the first time since she’d woken up this morning. She was quiet for a moment, then leaned forward and pressed her lips to his. He reached over and touched her cheek gently as he kissed her back. “I really don’t deserve you,” she said when she pulled away.
“Nah. I don’t deserve you. And we can have this argument for days, and I’ll win every time. You make me better. I don’t know what I do for you.”
“You love me. That’s enough.” She pulled away a little more. “You might as well open your eyes, Zane. If we do it again later I’ll probably get a different dress.”
He opened his eyes and took the sight of her in, leaning over the seat more to get a better look, and the grin got even wider. “Sexy dress and combat boots? You really know how to impress a guy.”
She laughed and swatted at his shoulder slightly. “Maybe I’ll keep the dress and you can take me out of it later.”
“We do still have those tickets to Hawaii,” he pointed out. “Unless we want to give those to Carter and Allison too.”
“Hell no. We’re going to Hawaii, Zane. We need a break from Eureka.” She opened her door. “Come on. We have a church full of people we need to go talk to.”
Zane opened his own door and when they both got out he reached over for her hand. “We’ll do it together, okay?”
“Okay,” she said with a nod, squeezing his hand. She’d gotten lucky, she knew that. And she was going to make sure that when they were ready, really ready, they’d go through with it. But right now she knew that she had everything she wanted, even if it was going to be a while until it was legal. She loved him, and he loved her, and they’d get through anything together. She just had to remember that.