Pres was insistent that he and Sofia get married as soon as possible. But she wanted to make her own wedding dress and Perry's parents, Phil and Rhonda, had just left Perry and Lalique's house to return to their home on Hilton Head Island. Obviously, Sofia wanted to leave them enough time that they could come back for their wedding.
The guest list was small; besides Phil and Rhonda, his kid brother, Parker and whoever he was currently dating, Perry and Lalique, and Sofia's sister, Thalia, and her housemate, Jerri. They had worked the date around so Phil and Rhonda could attend and stay with Dion during the honeymoon, but unfortunately that meant her youngest sister, Anneliese, could not be there as she was taking a vacation in Greece. It looked like Pres' third brother, Prince, would be a no show. He didn't seem to be at his home and had left no word with anyone. Not really an unusual thing for him to do, he often took long weekends at exotic locales, but ordinarily he did try to make himself available at big and important family affairs. Pres left message after message but Prince was either not answering or his phone was out of range.
"Probably on some tropical island with three women," he joked to Parker, nudging him. He could afford to laugh since he would soon be on a tropical island with his own woman. Who needed three when he had Sofia?
"What's wrong with that?" Parker grinned wickedly.
Pres shrugged as a smile tugged at his lips,
"I'm tellin' ya, kid, one of these days his outrageous behavior's gonna get him in hot water...I mean, like boiling water. Whatever you do, don't take after him."
Dion had no thoughts on any wedding, but he was surprised and pleased to have his father in the house with him all the time. Pres had been working on getting a "daddy" out of him that was actually understandable.
The day of the wedding dawned clear, bright and hot, which was good since they had planned a wedding outdoors in the side yard. Sofia had been having qualms about it all through the preparations and was still concerned.
"What if it rains tomorrow---what if it just pours?" she asked her sister, Thalia, who was helping with every aspect of the wedding.
Thalia had accepted Pres into their family to everyone's surprise. She'd always liked him, really, up until she found out about the existence of Arlene Jankowski, compounded by Sofia's pregnancy. But once Sofia had explained everything and was now so happy to be with Pres Thalia decided to just forget the bad stuff and give him another chance. If he didn't make her happy this time, though, watch out. Besides, the truth was she loved her nephew way too much to give grief to his father now that they were a family.
"Honey, be happy; everything is good; everything is in control," she advised Sofia now, hugging her, "Your wedding will have your favorite colors, pink and rose, just about everywhere--it's gonna be beautiful. The dress you made is gorgeous--Pres will flip over it when he sees it. His parents got in yesterday and are over at Perry's house. Rhonda brought a beautiful dress that blends right in with yours," Thalia assured her, "By the way, your new mother-in-law is just the sweetest thing I've ever met--except for you, of course, 'Fia."
As far as both her sisters were concerned, Sofia, although the middle child, was treated more like the "baby" sister.
Parker kept Pres away from the house that morning; having him shower and dress at Parker's apartment. Now Pres stood at the bower of flowers and watched while Sofia emerged from the house and walked slowly toward him.
She wanted to remember every moment of this day. As far as she was concerned her dream had finally come true. It had taken longer than she had originally hoped, but it was all the sweeter for that. When she stood across from Pres she was amazed to see tears in his eyes.
"You've never been more beautiful, baby, never," he whispered, taking her hand.
They spoke their vows and Pres placed the ring on her finger and she did the same for him.
After they kissed briefly the small group of people burst into applause and Thalia broke rank and sang out,
"Way to go, Sofia! All right!"
On the patio under the shade Dion played with his ring stack toy while Pres and Sofia enjoyed several more kisses. And then the guests started looking longingly toward the refreshment tables where there was plenty of chilled champagne to slave the powerful thirst worked up in the hot sun.
Toasts to the bride and groom were barely finished when, of course, it started to rain. Thalia quickly enlisted everyone's help in moving the tables and food, chairs and gifts into the house and Rhonda scooped up Dion and his toy.
"I should have decorated inside just in case," Thalia muttered as she carried the cake in and put it on the counter, "Oh, well, my bad."
The bride cut the cake and, as traditional, gave the groom the first piece. Of course, Sofia had a custom pink and lavender cake that she'd ordered from "Take the Cake Bakery" in Bluewater Village.
After everyone had enjoyed the food and the cake, Thalia put on some
soft romantic CD's and Pres pulled Sofia out to the makeshift dance
floor while there was, again, applause and the women sighed, "Awww".
Parker, who had not brought a date after all--decided he, as the only single man there, should offer to dance with the two unescorted women; Jerri and Thalia. Both were quite attractive but a bit tough looking compared to the usual type of woman Parker was attracted to. It was a shame Prince wasn't here to help even things out, but Parker was sure he was man enough to tackle the job alone if he must.
Lalique and Perry, being technically still newlyweds themselves and barely back form their own honeymoon, got up to dance next. Rhonda looked around and saw her husband in the kitchen, sneaking another piece of cake. She grabbed his hand and dragged him out on the floor for a dance, too.
Parker actually danced about three times in a row with Jerri who seemed eager to get to know him, and was an attractive woman except for the way she dressed. Then he decided he would no ask Thalia for a dance or two since she was just sitting there watching the other couples enjoy themselves. Actually both women were older than him; Jerri by about 5 or 6 years and Thalia by about 10. He knew she was several years older than Sofia, with a gap between the two sisters kind of like between him and Pres. However; he was not only chivalrous; but also unused to being around single women without trying to charm them. So he'd been flirting outrageously.
When he escorted Jerri back to her chair her eyes were shining and he thanked her then turned to ask Thalia if she'd care to dance. He was astounded when Jerri jumped to her feet and then hauled off and bitch-slapped him. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Thalia quickly get out of the line of fire. Before he could even speak Jerri started telling him off and saying that he was a tease and a cad, that he led her on, and did he think he was better than she was?
"Look, Jerri--" he began.
With that she socked him in the eye with her fist and he saw stars; it felt like that side of his face blew up. He was brought up NEVER to hit a woman so he was at a real disadvantage, he still thought he could get her to discuss this calmly.
"I didn't mean--" he tried again, but she cut him off when she plowed her fist into his mid-section and he bent double. What was she some kind of Ninja lady?
"Pssst!" Thalia was stage-whispering, "Shut up, honey-boy, don't try to talk!"
So Parker just stayed quiet, trying to straighten up, blood running down his chin from the split lip she'd given him when she slapped him wearing her heavy rings.
All he'd done was dance with her a couple times. He did not know she was an undercover cop and used to having to fight off tough guys, he just knew that she was a friend of Pres and Sofia. He looked for his brother hoping for help or at least an explanation, but Pres was dancing with his new bride, looking deeply into her eyes. He hadn't noticed a thing.
Others had, though, and it put a real damper on the proceedings. Jerri glared daggers at him, retrieved her purse from where she'd flung it and stomped out of the house. Climbing on her motorcycle she beat it out of there. The rest of the wedding guests began getting ready to leave.
"Great wedding, brother of mine," Perry put his hand on Pres' shoulder and grinned, his other arm around Lalique, "You're beautiful, Sofia, take good care of him. And now I think there's a very good chance Parker should go to the hospital. We'll take him there."
Pres had no idea what had happened but it was starting to sink in when he got a look at Parker's red and rapidly swelling face. He just didn't know why it happened. Was Jerri having PMS? He started to ask Parker what the deal was but Sofia pulled gently on his lapel and said in a very low voice,
"Don't ask, Pres, please. I don't want to be in the middle of a fight at our wedding."
"Yeah," he agreed, "Let's have a quiet evening and get Dion settled with my Mom and Dad."
Thalia was clearing the tables and Rhonda was washing Thalia's fragile china she had loaned Sofia for the wedding, while Phil loaded up the wedding gifts and put them in Sofia's sewing alcove upstairs.
"I've never seen Jerri like that," Thalia confided in Rhonda, "She's tough but she doesn't have a hair trigger; I'm the one with a bad temper. And I've never known her to be jealous. I was afraid she was gonna take a swing at me next and I would have made it an even worse public spectacle by punching her lights out.
"My boys do seem to have a devastating effect on women," Rhonda said and then paused and asked fearfully, "Doesn't she live with you? Aren't you afraid to go home?"
"No, by the time I get home she should have calmed down."
Pres and Sofia would be sleeping downstairs on the sofa bed that night so that Phil and Rhonda could have their bed and when Pres and Sofia left at the crack of dawn they wouldn't have to wake up his parents or Dion. Thalia had volunteered to Rhonda and Phil to help out with Dion any time they might need it while the bride and groom were on their honeymoon.
"Some wedding night," Pres wrapped his arms around Sofia, his chest against her back, and whispered in her ear, "We'll make up for it when we get to Twikkii!"
To be continued...
Friday, May 10, 2013
"Isn't that highly dangerous?"
"It can be somewhat dangerous, but most police work is risky."
Sofia looked at him doubtfully and he admitted,
"Okay, yeah, it is a bit more dangerous, but then again a cop walking his beat can get involved in a family trouble call or walk into a convenience store and get hurt or killed. I'm good at what I do, baby, I don't take unnecessary chances."
Sofia nodded, but a worry frown still puckered her forehead.
After supper Pres watched, fascinated, as Sofia gave Dion his bath and got him ready for bed.
When they came back downstairs to, ostensibly, watch TV, Pres soon had his arm around Sofia. It wasn't long before he pulled her onto his lap, kissing her hungrily.
He paused after a few moments,
"Will you give me another chance?" he asked.
Sofia, who was breathless by then, whispered,
"You've always had more than a chance with me, Pres. I never stopped loving you."
When they made the move up to Sofia's bedroom, Pres saw that she'd decorated it just as she had her bedroom in her mobile home. The room was quite a bit larger but looked just the same and so it felt like home already to him. He'd spent many happy hours with her in that tiny pink trailer.
Over the next couple weeks Pres was over every chance he had, especially on his days off. He stayed at Sofia's on those days. He loved bathing Dion at night, getting him up in the morning and playing with him any time of day. His son was a happy child and he knew he could thank Sofia for that. Intelligent and inquisitive Dion asked many questions and Pres was glad to be able to answer most of them. Occasionally Dion said a phrase or two here or there that left Pres mystified, one eyebrow raised, and at those times Sofia or Auntie Thalia acted as translator.
"You'll learn Dion-speak soon enough," Sofia laughed, "Besides we need to gently correct him no matter how cute it is so he'll learn to speak clearly."
Because Pres was with Dion so much Sofia was able to put extra time in on her sewing and got caught up with all her orders.
A neighbor who had befriended Sofia, Elle Lomax, came by one day when Pres happened to have the day off. She was married to Dr. Courtney Lomax and owned an Art Gallery in Bluewater Village. The couple had a daughter just about Dion's age and Elle and Sofia were planning some play-dates for them and Sofia invited her to stay for lunch.
Elle and Sofia had been friends from just after the time Dana left so Elle had never met him and Sofia had not really mentioned him. In fact, she had only recently confided to Elle that Pres was Dion's father. So Elle assumed he'd been in the picture all along, although she was confused as to why he was not living there full time.
While all three of them were visiting in the living room Elle looked up at the composite photo of Dana and remarked with a smile,
"You told me you have a younger brother, Sofia, but said he's in upstate New York going to school right now. Is that picture on the wall of him?"
"I...you...he...no, that's a friend of mine," she looked quickly at Pres, "I mean, a friend of ours."
"Wow. Nice-looking guy," Elle raved, "I mean, woof! I have a single friend or two that would be fascinated by him."
Pres smiled really wide,
"Yes, he's very available. Sofia can probably tell you his phone number and address--I forget stuff like that."
He looked slyly at Sofia who now sputtered,
"Well he...you know...he," and she gave up, "Yeah, okay, but first I need to find out if he's interested in being set up with an unknown woman, of course."
"Oh, honey, he's a single guy of course he wants to meet women. Especially pretty ones as I'm sure Elle's friends are," Pres almost laughed. If Dana was busy with another woman, that would be fine with him.
Sofia looked back and forth between Pres and Elle and ventured,
"I don't think he likes real forward women though, so your friends might just need to go to the bar, I mean the restaurant, he hangs out in and hope to strike up a conversation with him rather than just call him up and ask him out."
Pres looked pointedly at the picture of Dana and then excused himself to go get Dion up from his nap. They were in the process of Dion learning a nursery rhyme.
Elle told Sofia a bit about the two women she was thinking of siccing on Dana and then she had to leave to get back home and relieve the baby-sitter.
Sofia felt protective toward Dana, like she would with a brother. While she hoped he'd meet someone who could love him the way she could not, she did not want to send some maneater of a woman after him. In addition she had not missed Pres' eagerness for Dana to get involved with someone, anyone. She hadn't seen Dana in a few months and for all she knew he was actively dating someone. Evidently Pres was jealous of him and this brought up another problem she would have to address.
She was almost done fixing supper and Pres had just finished work and come over.
"That picture of Dana," he said slowly as he undid the top three buttons on his shirt and unbuttoned his sleeves, rolling them up three-quarters, "I guess you're partial to it."
He should have gone upstairs and put on a pair of shorts and a tee shirt he'd left there, it was a hot day, but he was too anxious to get this subject out of the way. He'd been thinking about it on and off for days.
Sofia said nothing, just waited for him to continue. She put the food on the table and sat down and he joined her.
"I realize the guy was really there for you when I wasn't and you and Dion were tight with him but, all things considered, can we put his picture somewhere else? It's like he's watching me."
Sofia looked distracted,
"Oh, sure, yeah, I'll put it away for now and make sure that he gets it."
Pres look down and frowned and she said hastily,
"I mean I'll have Thalia make sure he gets it."
Pres nodded and went back to his steak.
"Pres," she said tentatively, "I get why you would rather I didn't see him, but you have to understand that he was everything to Dion for a while there and he's been asking about him. Dana hasn't been here in a while and I think it's because he's heard you and I are together. I feel bad cutting him out of our life especially since Dana and I were never more than friends."
She grew bolder,
"So I want to invite him to come over and see Dion and you can be right here with me."
Pres was quiet, he had always, since she'd known him, taken time to listen carefully to her, but this time it was making her a bit nervous as to his reaction. He finished his meal in silence.
"You're right, honey," he finally looked at her and spoke slowly, "Truthfully I need to thank him personally for all that he did for you and for Dion. I have no right to tell you what to do anyway."
"Yes, you do!" she blurted, "I mean, well, I don't want you to be miserable about this."
He reached for her hand,
"I guess I'm touchy about Dana for a couple reasons. One, I missed two years of Dion's life and I'm jealous that Dana got to have them, even though I know it was a good thing he was there. And two, I know that even though you were not in love with him; he definitely was and is in love with you. I'm feeling a need to solidify things in my life. That means you and Dion and me."
"I'm not in love with Dana present tense, either," Sofia corrected him, her full lips curling in the sweet smile he loved, "But you know you can visit here any time at all. You can spend as much time with Dion as you want and can spare."
"No, baby, I don't want to visit. I want you and our son to be in my life every day, I want to take care of you and be there for you. What I'm trying to say, in my awkward way, is that I want to marry you and i want us to make a home for Dion together."
He stood up and pulled her to her feet and rested his hands loosely on her hips.
"I know I don't deserve another chance but you just hafta give me one. Please. I love you both so much."
By the look on her face Pres could see she was still worried that the one he loved was Dion and so he would take Sofia in order to have the boy.
"Sofia, honey, I was in love with you before I even knew Dion existed. It's not just that I need to be a real father to Dion; I need you and your love so much it's killing me. Please, I gotta have you; I found out that without you I just don't work right."
With that he wrapped his strong arms around her and crushed her against his chest, bending her back and kissing her over and over. And Sofia had always been a fool for his kisses.
He lifted his mouth from hers and demanded, "Say it. Say you'll marry me."
One more scorching kiss and Sofia murmured in her breathy voice,
"Yes, I'll marry you, Pres."
He gave a deep sigh of relief and then a big smile came over his face,
"You just saved my life, honey."
The decided they would have a fairly small wedding--not as small as Perry and Lalique's, but it would be in Sofia's diminutive side yard. Meanwhile, Pres moved in with her and Dion and put his own smaller house on the market. He would put the money into new real estate as soon as possible. Pres was sure it wouldn't be that long until they would need a bigger place.
The Brothers Everhart Ch. 19 Sofia's Dream Comes True