My eyes jerked up to his. A tear slipped free, and he reached up and wiped it away.
“Do you forget anything?” I asked, my voice cracking.
Rip leaned in closer to whisper. “I ripped the page out of the magazine and have had it ever since. I had a jeweler in Johnson City make it out of my great-grandmother’s band.”
This man. Lord, this man.
Once the pastor had declared us man and wife, we kissed. Then I took my flowers and Calamity Jane’s leash, and we made our way back down the aisle with a quick stop to ring the chapel bell. Our family and friends cheered as we walked out of the door.
The plan was to stay and take pictures while the wedding guests made their way up to the main house. It would give me and Rip a few moments alone together before we partied the night away with friends and family.
“Come here,” Rip said, taking my hand in his.
Shannon followed our every move, snapping pictures as we walked across the grass to our tree. Rip held onto the swing as I sat down on it. He leaned his mouth to my ear.
“Je t’aime, Chloe.”
“I love you, too.”
His French made my stomach pull with desire. Would anyone really miss us at the reception if we didn’t show up?
Pulling back, Rip let the swing go. I lifted my boots and laughed as I felt the breeze flowing through my hair. I had worn it half up and half down, knowing how much Rip loved my hair down.
“Stop the swing and kiss her, Rip!” Shannon said, snapping pictures as she spoke.
Rip stopped the swing, took off his cowboy hat, and hid our faces as he kissed me.
Shannon and I both laughed. The small flutter in my stomach told me this baby already thought her Daddy was so romantic and so funny.
RIP AND I walked hand in hand down a little alley in Paris. I should have known he was taking me to France from all his little hints. Talking to me in French at the wedding was one big tip off. Although he would often speak to me in French, especially when he was making love to me. I had never gotten the chance to study abroad, so this was Rip’s way of making up for that lost trip.
We had been here for one week and had another week planned. Rip’s wedding present to me was a set of beautiful earrings that we had found in an antique store here in France. I still had my gift to give him. Which I was about to do.
“It’s so beautiful here,” I said, taking in a deep breath. The weather had been perfect. Not too hot, and not too cold.
“It is,” Rip agreed as we made our way out of the alley and stopped in front of a stunning park.
“Oh my gosh, look at the flowers!”
“Stunning. Look, there’s a wedding about to happen! Let’s go watch.”
“Rip, we cannot go watch! It’s someone’s wedding.”
“But we’re dressed for a wedding in a park. And if they didn’t want people to watch, why have it in a park?”
I glanced down at my soft pink sundress. Rip was dressed in jeans and a pullover. With a giggle, I said, “Okay! Let’s go peek.”
As we got closer, I strained to see what the groom looked like. From behind he looked exactly like Mike.
“That looks like…”
My voice trailed off as we drew closer.
“No! Are you kidding me?” I cried out as Mike turned and faced us. I rushed over to him and hugged him.
Rip was laughing behind me as he said, “We totally pulled it off!”
Mike returned the laughter and nodded. “That we did!”
“You’re here! Where is Alyssa?” I asked, looking around. There was a small building off to the side where Mike pointed.
“She’s in there, waiting for her maid of honor.”
I screamed like a little silly school girl and took off toward the small building.
“Chloe, be careful running!” Rip cried out.
Throwing open the door, I came to a stop. There was my best friend dressed in a stunning chiffon gown holding a large bouquet of flowers, with a smaller one held out to me.
“I thought you were going to make me late to my own wedding.”
Hugging her, I clenched my teeth to keep from crying. When I pulled back, I saw she was doing the same.
“We always said we wanted to go to France together. The four of us. When Rip presented us with the idea to just run off and get married and spend a week in France with y’all, we couldn’t say no. We told our folks the plan, and they paid for this instead of the big fancy wedding in Oak Springs.”
“I can’t believe you’re here. Will you stay longer than a week?” I asked.
“After y’all leave to go back home, Mike and I are going to Tuscany for a week.”