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Reaching For Family: The Wedding

I Am Your Family

Jenna couldn’t stop smiling. The alpacas and llama were roaming the field with Jedi wandering the group. Zilla grazed with the Voyager alpacas as she and the young Naomi had become fast friends.

Zilla, the old goat who’d hated everyone, not only loved Noah, but had latched onto one of his alpacas. She and Khan had even come to an uneasy truce that meant they ignored each other whenever possible.

Dragon didn’t like the crowd of humans clustered on the property Jenna shared with Noah so the goose sat near the fence, making sure no one meant any harm to Jenna.

A hand landed on Jenna’s waist but she didn’t flinch. Her body had been aware of Noah’s approach. She leaned into his side and he kissed her hair.

“What are you thinking?” His rumbly voice had her good parts reacting.

She turned to face him. “I was thinking how happy I am. How happy the animals are. How wonderful life is.”

His grin widened with every word. He kissed her lightly. “And it’s about to get a whole lot better. Everyone’s here. Flora wants you to meet her in your barn first.”

Excitement rippled through her and she kissed him back. “I’ll see you soon then.”

His eyes darkened and his voice deepened. “Can’t wait.” This kiss was deeper and full of all the things Jenna had never believe would be part of her life. Love. Acceptance. Belonging. Family.

When they broke apart, Noah smiled at her shiny eyes, probably reading her mind again. He whispered. “I love you. See you in a few.”

Then he kissed her forehead and strode off.

With a deep breath, she straightened her wobbly knees and moved to the barn.

Inside, she found her two other family members waiting for her. Two of the small group in on the secret reason for the party.

Flora wore a creamy-pink dress trimmed with slightly darker pink roses along the hem, belt and collar. Of course, in true Flora style, there were matching shoes and more roses swinging at her ears.

Hilde’s gown was a much deeper rose color with layers of matching lace over the skirt.

Jenna clapped her hands. “All you two need are wands and you would be perfect fairy godmothers. Actually, you don’t need the wands. You’ve been perfect fairy godmothers since I was just a kid. Thank you both for everything you’ve done for me.”

She rushed forward to hug them both, but Hilde pointed an imperious finger at her. “No tears. Not if you’re going to look your best for your young man. It’s an important day for you. I told you he was going to rock your world.”

Laughing, Jenna hugged them both. “You did and you were right. Again. I can’t believe I’m getting married.”

Flora squeezed her. “You’ve found a wonderful man and a reason to believe in love and happiness. We’re so happy for you. Now, we have a surprise for you back here.”

Jenna tucked her arm through Hilde’s as they made their way to the small room at the back. The room no longer needed a lock as her father was in jail for years to come.

The room held so many fond memories. Her first home. The first place she’d felt secure on her own. Thanks to Noah and so many people in this town, she no longer had to hide out here to feel safe.

Inside the room, Hilde moved to a dry cleaning bad hanging on the wall. A bag Jenna certainly hadn’t put there. “What are you two up to?”

Jenna sincerely hoped it wasn’t one of Hilde’s ballgowns or Flora’s flower dresses, but if it was, she’d wear it. She would do absolutely anything for these two women.

Flora laughed and patted her shoulder. “It’s not what you think. You don’t have to brace yourself to deal with it.”

Hilde slid the zipper down, revealing white material.

Flora continued. “If you don’t like it or want to wear it, we won’t be offended. Not even a little bit. This is your day and we want you to do only what makes you happy. But we thought we’d give you an option.”

Hilde slid the dry cleaning bag off and revealed a stunning soft white wedding dress. The top was lace layered over a sweetheart neckline. Tiny pearl buttons led from the dip in the neckline to a satin sash that wrapped around the waist. The skirt flared out from there. Not to the floor, but a knee-length dress. An absolutely gorgeous knee-length dress.

Jenna blinked back tears as Hilde’s hands stroked gently over the fabric.

“Mama? Is Mama here?” Hilde turned questioning eyes to her sister.

Flora smiled. “Mama’s not here. But we’re showing Mama’s dress to our Jenna.”

The confused lines on Hilde’s face smoothed out. “Jenna. Our Jenna. You look happy today. That bad man isn’t shouting today?”

Jenna hugged Hilde and swallowed hard. “No. The bad man isn’t shouting. He’s far away from here and won’t bother us again. And, you’re right, I am happy. I love you so much.”

Hilde’s arms wound around her and Flora joined in the hug.

After a few deep breaths, Jenna stood back. “Your Mama’s dress is beautiful. Do you think I could try it on?”

Hilde nodded. “Of course, dear. That’s why we brought it.”

The dress had a lace back and more of those pearl buttons down the back. Jenna didn’t think she’d ever seen a dress she’d loved more.

She didn’t have a full length mirror in the tiny space, but Flora took a photo for her to see. “It fits. I’m so happy it fits. Are you sure it’s all right if I wear it.”

Flora smiled. “Of course. We’re thrilled to keep it in the family.”

Hilde nodded. “Our little Jenna. Mama will be happy you like her dress.”

Jenna twirled and felt like a princess. “All right, Fairy Godmothers. Time to get married.”

Make It So

Noah smiled at Flora’s text. Here comes the bride.

He nodded at Scott and Nathan. They were the only other two in on the secret wedding. Everyone else thought it was simply a thank you party. So many people had helped him and Jenna out over the past few months, they did want to thank them.

But they also wanted to get married casually. This was the best way to do that.

Neither of them wanted to spend money on a fancy wedding or clothes. And Jenna wasn’t always comfortable in the spotlight. This way, they could celebrate with their closest friends and keep it all fun.

As the officiant, Scott had needed to know and they’d included his partner Nathan in the loop. The two men quickly grabbed the pots of flowers that they’d scattered around and placed them in a semi-circle.

Noah took his place at one side and Scott moved to stand in the middle. With a grin, Nathan worked his phone until the traditional wedding march played through the speaker loud enough to grab everyone’s attention.

Heads turned in all directions until almost everyone was focused on him and Scott.

“You’re getting married?” Lil LaChance’s voice broke the silence. “Now? That’s fantastic!”

A cheer went up at her words and then everyone turned to look for Jenna.

It only took a moment before she turned the corner of the barn with one arm linked with Hilde and the other linked with Flora.

He’d thought Jenna was going to be wearing the pretty yellow dress she’d ordered online. They were keeping it casual but he was suddenly glad he was wearing new jeans and his best hat.

Jenna was always beautiful, but right now, she was glowing. Flora had warned him she had a happy surprise prepared and now he knew it was the dress. A real wedding dress for his bride.

The dress was white and lacy and swung around her knees. She’d never tried on the other dress in front of him so he’d never seen her in a dress and the sight filled him up.

The kid who’d shown up here at this farm would never believe he would have this future. An incredible woman he loved with every part of his being loved him back. They had careers they loved and a future that shone brightly.

He was a lucky man.

The trio made their way over to where he and Scott waited. He heard people calling out, heard the music and the background sounds of the animals, but he only had eyes for Jenna.

He was grinning like a fool when they finally reached him. He managed to yank his attention away from his bride to take Hilde’s hand and bow over it the way she liked. Then he kissed her cheek and repeated the process with Flora. “Thank you, ladies. For so many things. For being a safe harbor for Jenna, for helping me remember William and Suzanne, for being family.”

Then Flora squeezed him hard and walked with Hilde to the seats Nathan had placed for them beside the flowers.

Finally, Noah was able to take Jenna’s hands. “You’re beautiful.” Then he kissed her to the cheers of the crowd.

Scott was grinning as they broke apart. “I’m glad to be part of this happy day. You both spent time here in Bloo Moose as kids, although not at the same time. You’ve both told me that being here was the best part of being a kid. And now, you not only moved back, but you’re building a new life here together. A life full of love and peace and promise. Something you both deserve.”

Jenna squeezed Noah’s hand and smiled up at him.

Scott continued but the words faded into the background as he watched the future in her eyes.

You're My Only Hope

“Jenna, would you like to speak first?”

She nodded at Scott’s question. Nerves had bounced in her belly earlier in the day, but seeing the love so obvious in Noah’s eyes settled her. As did the family and friends surrounding her.

“When I was little, I didn’t believe in happy ever afters. I didn’t believe in a lot of things. Then I stumbled into the cleanest barn I’ve ever seen and met the ladies who would become my family.”

She sent a watery smile to Flora and Hilde who held hands with tears sparkling in their eyes. “I can’t thank you enough for everything you did for that little girl. You taught me that the world held wonderful people and that love and happiness were possibilities. Even for me. I love you both so much.”

She turned back to Noah, whose eyes were glistening right along with hers. “If it hadn’t been for Flora and Hilde, I would have never found the courage to believe in myself enough to finish school and start my own business. Because of their love and support, I landed here in this amazing town and on the piece of property you so desperately wanted.”

Noah grinned and there were several chuckles from the audience.

She smiled. “I didn’t think I could ever be this happy. I didn’t know it was possible. But I am and I know that this bone-deep contentment will be with me for the rest of my life because of you. You’re an amazing man, Noah Washington. You’re so strong and brave. Your determination to preserve this land for William and Suzanne is just one of the many things I love about you. I love you and I promise to love you forever. May the Force be with us.”

She watched the joy light up Noah’s eyes and the laughter helped to dispel the tears. He leaned down to kiss her.

When he straightened again, his voice was strong and confident. His eyes remained locked on hers and her cowboy filled the land with his words. “Bloo Moose has been incredibly good to both of us. Flora and Hilde, William and Suzanne. Four incredibly kind people who taught us all the important things in life.”

She watched him swallow hard before he spoke again. “William and Suzanne would be glad to know we’re here, that this town and our families brought us together. They would love the alpacas, Khan, Dragon, and Jedi. They’d be thrilled to see that Goatzilla has finally found a friend. Mostly they’d be happy to know that I figured it out. Figured out that it’s love that makes everything else worthwhile.”

He lifted her hands to his lips and kissed them. “You’re the most amazing person I know, Jenna. Brave and resilient beyond belief. I love you so much it fills me up. I will love for all the years and decades we’re granted. I know we’ll live long and prosper.”

Laughter and groans came from the audience and Jenna was laughing with them as she reached up to kiss Noah.

Scott’s voice carried over the kiss. “By the powers invested to me by George Lucas, Gene Roddenberry, and the state of Vermont, I pronounce you husband and wife. Keep kissing the bride.”

Insurrection

Noah grabbed one of the coolers he’d prepared earlier and motioned to the other guys to grab the rest. The tables were all set up on the front lawn and he wanted to get the party moving.

Not that he wasn’t having fun, but he wanted his wife to himself.

His wife.

That phrase made his chest puff out and anticipation run through his veins.

His wife.

Jenna came from the house with a tray in her hands. She caught his eye and smiled and moved directly to him. She bounced up to kiss him lightly before putting the tray on the table.

Peanut butter. Bananas. Apples. Loaves of bread. It might not be traditional wedding fair, but this was their meal.

Hilde appeared at their side. “Is Suzanne here? She loves peanut butter and banana sandwiches.”

A sharp ball of emotion clogged his throat and he had to swallow hard. “She really does love them. I’d never had one before I met Suzanne.”

Jenna wrapped her arm around his waist and squeezed. “And then Noah introduced them to me. Would you like one, Hilde?”

They had also ordered in pizzas from Fortinis, but almost everyone made themselves a sandwich. Noah wasn’t sure if it was because everyone loved them or if was an act of solidarity.

After a few minutes, Darby Banks carried over a cake box that had been in yet another cooler. “Now I know why you guys wanted this specific cake.”

She unboxed the cake to show a moose dressed as Leia and another as Picard. It was a match to the shirt he’d had Emmy make for Jenna when he’d asked her to marry him. Instead of the word Engaged, they’d Darby to add the iconic words from both Star Wars and Star Trek.

Live long and prosper.

May the Force be with you.

Darby held out the knife. “After Lil snaps some photos, you guys make the first cut.”

“Wait.” Scott and Nathan called out together. Then they jogged to their truck and came back with two boxes.

Nathan handed the larger one to Jenna and Scott gave him a smaller box.

Jenna’s face flushed. “We said no gifts.”

Nathan smirked. “You’re going to love this one. Open them at the same time. Three, two, one. Go.”

The boxes hadn’t been wrapped so they only had to lift the lids. Noah was laughing before he’d fully opened his. It was full of toy phasers, the weapons from Star Trek.

As he was lifting one out, he heard the distinctive sound of a lightsaber powering up. Jenna was laughing as she swished it up in the air.

There were at least a dozen of each weapon and soon the crowd was playing and Lil was snapping pictures.

Best wedding ever.

I Know

A few hours later, the sun had set and the lightsabers provided most of the light for the group. Flora and Hilde approached Jenna where she was watching her friends play with the toys and dance. Flora hugged her. “We’re going to start the parade out of here.”

Hilde nodded. “Time for that man to rock your world again.”

A laugh sputtered out of Jenna as she took Hilde’s arm and turned toward their car.

Hilde smiled her sly smile. “I told you he’d rock your world and that your happy ever after was coming.”

“You sure did, Hilde. You were right, as usual.”

Flora helped her sister up into the truck and tucked her gown around her feet. Jenna waited until Flora was in the driver’s seat before speaking again through the open window. “Thank you both for everything. I love you both so much.”

“We love you, too. Now, get on and shoo these people out of here.”

Flora tooted her horn and waved on her way out.

When Jenna turned around, she realized Flora had done exactly as she planned. The group was working hard to clean up the area and pack away the tables. Lightsabers and phasers were boxed up and brought to the farmhouse. The food had been packed away earlier, so there wasn’t much to do.

As they trooped away, everyone hugged and congratulated them again.

Once the last tail lights were gone, the quiet and peace settled around them. She was tucked under Noah’s arm and for a long moment, they simply watched their friends drive away. “Should we check on the animals?”

He nodded and took her hand. Together, they walked the field and talked to the animals, making sure none of them had been upset about the party and all the humans near their space.

Khan had routinely patrolled the fence, making sure the unfamiliar humans didn’t get too close, but now he was settled with the Next Generation crew.

When they turned back to the house, Jenna sighed happily. “I love it here. It’s beautiful and peaceful and all kinds of wonderful.”

Noah squeezed her hand and then swung their arms as they walked. “Me too. I was so pissed off that first day when I found out you owned the barn. Now, I’m so glad you were squatting on my land.”

She laughed. “Is insulting your wife really the way you want to go.”

Noah snagged her other hand and twirled her into a dance across the field, angling them toward the farmhouse. “Nope. Insulting isn’t at all what I have in mind.”

His hand trailed up and down the buttons along the spine of her dress, causing shivers to run over her skin. “Was there anything you did have in mind?”

He grinned down at her. “I’ve got several things in mind. Just need to decide where to start.”

“I’ve got a few ideas of my own.”

“I look forward to them.” After a few turns of the dance, he tugged her into a quick walk. “This reminds me of a similar walk.”

Her skin flushed at the memory of the first time they’d made love. They’d raced to the house until Noah had scooped her up so they crossed the threshold together. “I loved everything about that walk.”

He grinned. “Me too. I love you.”

She grinned up and quoted one of her favorite Star Wars moments. “I know.”

His laugh boomed into the night. “Turning the tables? I like it.”

Then he scooped her up and moved to the steps. “Let’s get started on that future.”

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this bonus scene to the Bloo Moose Romantic Suspense series!

 

The next book in the series, Reaching For Home, spotlights Nia and Jaz.

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