"You may now kiss the bride," the priest announces. He bends down and places the softest, sweetest, most passionate kiss I've ever seen on his wife as the rest of us cheer and clap.
He's married. Embry Call is now officially a husband to Mrs. Misha Drake-Call. The ceremony was so beautiful; small and simple, but beautiful, just like the couple. I sigh; I wish I had something like that.
As if some alarm of my wariness went off Quil is right by my side. He's been hanging around my house more often, ever since my thirteenth birthday. Quil's always been around to look after me, protect me, and make me happy. It would've been romantic if it wasn't so flippin' annoying! I want Prince Charming, not a sidekick that constantly follows me around asking, "You good, boss? You okay, boss? You're the best, boss!" like that little dog in the Looney Tunes cartoons.
"You okay Claire-Bear?" he asks, concern in his voice.
"I'm fine." I look in his eyes and I can see that he needs more assurance, "I was just daydreaming about what my wedding day would be like, if I ever get married."
He sighs in relief and says, quite patronizingly, like he was talking to a child who missed something so obvious, "Oh Claire-Bear, of course you're going to get married!" He chuckles before ushering us back to the car. "C'mon, we're all meeting up at Embry's for dinner."
As soon as we get there I spot a car I've never seen before. It's an old Rabbit. This obviously means something to Quil, since his already smiling face gets even wider.
"No way! JAKE!" he shouts before running into the house.
I go after him, wanting to meet this 'Jake.' I go through the house and make my way to where everyone is congregated in the backyard. Quil and Embry are embracing a man who I'm assuming is 'Jake.'
"Hey guys, long time no see," Jake laughs at them.
"Long time no see, do you hear that Embry? Pft, what the hell are you doing here? We were glad to get rid of your sorry ass!" Quil jokes.
Jake and Embry chuckle, "Well, I couldn't miss my best friend's wedding now could I?" he asks.
"Dude, you kind of did," Embry points out, flashing him his wedding ring.
"Shit, you're right," he says.
"Doesn't matter, you're here now!" Quil says while bouncing on the balls of his feet.
While they're catching up, Seth, Sue, and Billy come into the room. I don't know if Billy or Seth was more excited and shocked that Jake was here.
"OH MY GOD! JAKE! YOU'RE HERE!" Seth squeals before launching himself at Jake.
Yep, Seth is definitely more excited. God, he looks like one of those fan girls who get to go on stage and hug one of the Jonas Brothers. The guy would not let go of Jake, even as he was attacking him with questions.
"I thought you were with the Cullens! Where are they? How is Edward? And Emmett? And Carlisle? Oh, and of course Nessie! How are they? Where are they? What have you been? Why didn't you call? Or write? Have you seen Leah?" Seth asks all at once.
Jake disentangles himself from Seth's monster fan-girl grip, and answers his questions. "Yes, I was with the Cullens. Last time I checked they were fine. Edward says 'Hi', Emmett says to 'Watch out.' And that he's been practicing. Carlisle hopes that you're well, and Ness was fine the last time I checked. Everyone is fine, including your sister. I haven't had a chance to call anyone, Seth. Don't worry, I didn't forget you, things just got complicated with the Cullens. I needed time to sort some things out, but now I'm back!"
Everyone swarms around Jake, asking him how he's been when Quil makes his way over.
"Who exactly is Jake?" I ask him.
"What? Oh, I guess you were too little to remember Jake and the Cullens. You actually had a few play-dates with their kid Nessie," he shakes his head. "Anyway, Jake is an old friend. We haven't seen him since you were four years old. He went with his friends, to help take care of their kid."
"So he's been gone all this time and now he's back? For good?" I ask.
"I don't know," he confesses with a furrowed brow. "He might have just come for the wedding."
"Well, then you should spend as much time with him as you can," I tell him.
He looks at me with a mix of gratitude, happiness, and apprehension in his eyes. "Are you sure you'll be alright, Claire-Bear?" he asks, for what must the thousandth time today.
"Yes! Now go catch up with your friend," I order him with a smile on my face. In reality, Quil is really just a huge little-kid. He's always looking for permission and praise; it's so cute.
While Quil's catching up with Jake, I go and talk to Aunt Emily. She's pregnant again, with twins, and she looks like she's going to pop any day now. Uncle Sam is always by her side, getting her food, water, something to hit him with whenever she's mad. When I see them together, I see the love that emanates through their gaze, but, somehow, I feel like there's something missing. Like it's not real, that someday the bubble's just going to burst and leave nothing in its place.
All of a sudden Aunt Emily squeals and tries to get out of her chair, which was a huge struggle considering how pregnant she is, yelling, "Leah! Le-ah! LEAH! LE-AH!"
I turn around and sure enough, there's my Aunt Leah. It's been a long time since I saw my Aunt Leah, but we've kept in touch through phone calls and emails. She's the only female adult that I trust completely, and she's here. Oh my God! She's here!
"OH MY GOD! AUNT LEAH! YOU'RE HERE!" I squeal at her before running and attacking her like a fan girl at a Jonas Brothers concert. I have been hanging out with Seth way too much, but right now, I don't care because Aunt Leah is here.
"I've missed you so much, Aunt Leah," I mumble against her.
She hugs me back, "I've missed you too, Claire. How have you been? How's school? God, look at you," she puts her hands on my shoulders and appraises me. "You've grown so much! Oh, I've missed you, Claire!"
We hug for quite a while before we're ripped apart by Aunt Emily who, though pregnant, crushes Aunt Leah in a hug. Aunt Leah looks around, trying to spot someone to save her from the hug, but finds no one. She settles for patting a now-crying, Aunt Emily's back and muttering, "There, there, Em. It's okay. Shh."
"I-I-I'm ju-just s-s-s-so h-ha-h-happy you-you're ba-b-b-ba-back!" Aunt Emily blubbers. Finally, Uncle Sam takes Aunt Emily away from a grateful Aunt Leah and sets her down on her chair again.
"Hormones," Aunt Leah says to me.
"You should have been here last week," I shudder.
"That bad?" she asks.
"Oh yeah," I inform her.
Just like with Jake, Aunt Leah is passed around from person to person, lingering with Sue, Seth, Embry, Quil and Jake.
Seth, for the second time that night, latches himself onto Jake and Aunt Leah, afraid that either one would try to leave again. I help by attaching myself to Aunt Leah's hip for the whole night.
Finally, Embry and Misha get up after dinner to have their first dance as a married couple. They look so happy together, like they belong. Still, (I don't know why), but I feel that there should be something more in their eyes, some spark, or glint that all Disney movies and romance stories talk about.
After the newlywed couple's first dance, everyone else grabs a spot on the dance floor. Well, it's not really a floor, more like grab a patch of grass in the newlywed's backyard. Seth dances with Sue, Kim with Jared, Paul with Rachel. Aunt Emily and Uncle Sam just SWAY on the spot, since Aunt Emily gets tired easily, and Aunt Leah and Jake dance together.
Quil came to stand next to me and grabs my attention from the dancing couples by asking me if I wanted to dance.
"Sure," I agree.
I continue to observe the dancing couples while Quil and I danced. Aunt Leah and Jake stuck out the most. Her arms were on his shoulders, his were wrapped tight around her waist and their foreheads were touching. They were barely moving side to side, more content with just holding each other. Every time Aunt Leah shifted, Jake shifted with her, following her every move so that they are never apart. He'd whisper something in her ear and she'd either giggle, blush, or both.
Every single time they look at each other, it's like time stops and the only people left in the room is them. They only concentrate on each other's wants and needs. It's similar to what Aunt Emily and Uncle Sam have.
It's the same how both can't seem to tear themselves away from each other. How they can't seem to not smile at each other, and how every time the other walks into a room, or anywhere near them, they smile this dazzling smile. Like they can't wait for the other to come and join them. Whenever they are together, they are always touching each other, be it holding hands, brushing shoulders, or Jake wrapping his arm around Aunt Leah's waist.
Yet it's different from anything I've seen here. Yes, they can't get enough of each other, but they act like a couple. When Jake stole a strawberry off her plate, she smacked him and told him to, "Fuck off and get his own if he was that damn hungry!"
He responded by saying, "Stop being so fucking uptight Leah! It was one strawberry! Calm down! Psycho."
She kicked his shin and he left the table. He came back with a plateful of strawberries for Leah and told her, "I'm sorry. You're not a psycho. Strawberry?"
They fight, and yell, and curse at each other, but even when they do, they have this look in their eye; a look that says that they'd rather be fighting than not saying anything to each other at all. That they would rather spend their lives hating each other than not knowing the other. That they would sacrifice everything just to know and love each other.
It's the purest, most passionate, most beautiful, real thing I have every seen. Aunt Emily and Uncle Sam, as perfect as they are, don't look at each other like that. They don't love each other to that degree. This is something more than love. This is unexplained passion and devotion. One that's greater than the romance stories. Greater than the true romance of Romeo and Juilet.
I sigh, "I want that," I tell Quil.
"What?" he asks.
I gesture to the couple beside him, "What they have. The love they have."
He looks around. "Who? Sam and Emily? I can tell you, 100%, you'll have someone to love you like that," he assures me.
I shake my head. No, I don't want that. I want something real, something true. Something like what Aunt Leah and Uncle Jake have. I try to tell him this. "No. I mean, yeah, what Uncle Sam and Aunt Emily have is great, but I don't know. I guess I want something more. Like what Aunt Leah and Uncle Jake have."
"What? Jake and Leah? But, but, they're not even together!" he splutters.
Why can't he see it? I shake my head and turn his head to look at Jake and Leah closely. "Look at them! How they respond to each other, how they're always touching each other! That's an example of true romance."
Quil looks closely at Jake and Leah. Jake whispers something to Aunt Leah that makes her laugh. She grips Jake's shoulders for support as she laughs. He looks at her while she laughs with pure adoration and love in his eyes. They look at each other and he pulls her closer so that their bodies are flush. Aunt Leah giggles and whispers something to Jake, he nods his head and they go and walk up to Embry and Misha.
Jake says something, must have been good news, since Embry's eyes widen and his smile grows. Overwhelmed and excited he asks loudly, "Really?"
"Yeah man," Jake tells him. Embry looks to Aunt Leah for confirmation and she nods. Misha smiles and hugs Aunt Leah, and Embry pulls Jake into a bone crushing man-hug.
Soon after, Embry clears his throat and demands everyone's attention.
"Could I have everyone's attention please? HEY! SHUT UP! Okay, thanks. Well, I'd like to say thanks to everyone for coming and celebrating Misha and mine's special day," he gazes down at Misha, "And I'd also like to continue this special day with some news from our returning family," he gestures to Jake and Aunt Leah.
Embry continues, smiling at Aunt Leah and Jake, "It seems like when we were all worrying about these two, they were perfectly fine. So fine, that –"
"For the love of God, Embry!" Aunt Leah interrupts, "Jake and I are married and I'm three months pregnant."
As soon as she said pregnant, the smile on Jake's face widens, and Aunt Leah's smile looks like it's going to split her face in half. They look so happy, the three of them.
"Took you long enough!" Billy shouts.
Sue bursts out crying and bawls, "I'm finally going to be a Grandma!"
Everyone then starts to shout their congratulations to the couple and all I can do is smile.
Jake pulls her in for a passionate kiss that just screams love and something more. Something like…
"A true romance," Quil says.
I smile, because it's true.