Christian must’ve arranged it with Charlie Tango’s pilot beforehand because the rotor blades are motionless when Taylor escorts Mia and me onto the helipad so it doesn’t mess-up our outfits and hair. Taylor introduces us to Frank who will be flying us today as I carefully clip myself into the harness thinking that it’s the first time I get to do it, Christian always takes way too much pleasure from the task to ever let me have a turn.
Mia helps me put the protective headphones on before the blades start whirring loudly. We grin at each other, excited. I wonder what Christian has in store for us. Even though we can talk through the headsets with a Madonna-style mike we remain silent, choosing instead to take in the scenery through the bubble shaped windows.
My heartbeat is a frantic gallop as an electrifying anticipation swirls around us, amping up the slow turn of nerves in my belly. The late afternoon sun is low and golden, colouring everything in a warm hue that settles it all with a hush of romance.
We touchdown on a grassy field and wait for the blades to come to a standstill before we exit the Eurocopter. Taylor opens an icebox and hands me a stunning bouquet of creamy lilies threaded with trailing ivy leaves. The straight line of his mouth an ever present reminder that he still hasn’t forgiven me. The challenge he presents only makes me more determined to show him that this time I’ll do better.
The Red Rock setting is simply breathtaking. The sun is almost kissing the horizon of a gently tinkling stream, reflecting flickering gold sparks, the backdrop of mountains with their fiery red cliffs, in spite of their distance, makes the outdoor setting feel private, contained. Next to the water, on the grassy bank our wedding party beckons; the air pregnant with the promise of a happy-ever-after.
Closest to our landing spot I see Ray looking dapper in a beautifully tailored tux standing beside an arch that’s decorated with flowers and crystal strings. They sway slowly in the light breeze making them seem luminescent as they catch the last light of the dipping sun. Beyond that, a walkway strewn with petals leads to a small grouping of white chairs that is already occupied by our very intimate number of guests. It flanks a path leading to a gazebo where a heart-stoppingly handsome Christian is waiting for me with our son at his side.
Ray’s expression is warm when he embraces me, whispering encouragement before he offers me his arm. Mia’s taken up a seat next to Grace who beams me a smile, tendering a much longed-for welcome. On the other side of the isle my mom is clutching a tissue to her chest, overcome but smiling through her slipping tears of joy. Bob is beside her, offering his quiet support. She waves and winks at me as I walk past and I can’t help stopping for a sentimental hug before taking up my place beside my groom.
Christian and Chris are both dressed in matching tuxedos. Where Chris looks adorable in his, Christian fills it with a body made to worship, giving the suit angles that has my mind running on a single track. The heat in his summer storm gaze confirms equal parts of love and desire, my skin tingling with racy goose bumps as I shiver in anticipation.
After another hug from Ray he shakes Christian’s hand and takes a seat on the other side of my mom. Christian holds out a hand to me, palm up it beckons me into our new future and I take it using both mine to let him help me up the two steps. The symbolism isn’t lost on either of us – me grabbing hold of our union with both hands and his eyes turn darker, ceaselessly conveying his own investment in our fated, irrevocably intertwined lives.
He leans in and kisses me gently, his sensual mouth hovering close as he breathes me in before his lips find my ear, “you are a stunning vision Anastasia; I hope I’m not dreaming.”
He hears the catch in my breath and pulls away with a crooked grin; I’m so caught up in him, blinking and shy and thoroughly seduced.
His smile widens, eyes glowing warm with love, “breathe,” he mouths at me.
The world around slowly returns and I bend to press Chris to me, his face as serious as I’ve ever seen it, even a four year old grasps the gravity of the moment. I love him more for being so wise, emotionally attuned.
I already adore this wedding, casual enough to stop and hug a family member but with all the romantic trimmings a girl-heart yearns for. Christian, as usual, has outdone himself. A sweeping unworthiness threatens my happiness and I quash it quickly, I’m going to soak it up and enjoy every beautiful detail because that’s what he’d want me to do – simply accept it as something he wants to share with me.
After a steadying breath we face the Reverend who starts the ceremony talking about what it means to work on a marriage. I feel every word, hear every nuance as I try to internalise the sage words of advice he preaches. I’m so deeply absorbed that I’m surprised when he announces that it’s time to exchange our vows.
Considering the incredibly short notice I’ve had I didn’t prepare anything specific but there was something I was keen to say so I figured I couldn’t do much better than to speak straight from my heart.
We turn to each other and Mia lithely rises to take my bouquet so I can grasp both of Christian’s hands. Lifting my head to look up, into his familiar face, I feel my own turn tender with feeling.
“Christian, the love I feel for you is not something I can describe, something I can define or make small with words because it’s not just a feeling, a known and named emotion but it has become a part of me, the very nature of my being and without it I am less. Less happy, less brave, less me. You are the part that fills me into a complete and healthy whole. I commit to open myself to you, to share my life with you – the secrets, the dreams, the fears so that you can know me in every way. I want to share in yours, to be exactly what you need me to be at any given moment. I trust you completely, knowing that your love will always put me and our child first and for this I will obey you as a wife who has every faith in her husband’s sound judgement and loving intentions.” I blow out a long, quiet breath, having laid my world at his feet.
Christian’s eyes grow large, becoming impossibly dark before he closes them, breathing deeply he tips his head back as if revelling in an exquisite sensation. He squeezes my hands, almost hard enough to hurt before he finds my gaze. It’s clear that he’s had a powerful reaction to my words; I feel it vibrating off him and he pulls me close, kissing me senseless long before the traditional “you may kiss the bride” bit.
Our guests gasp along with the Reverend who clears his throat at Christian’s unconventional timing – no one but the two of us really understanding the true significance of my submission. I’m thrilled that I’ve managed to move him so deeply, to give him a gift that can compete with the immeasurable joy he’s given me.
When our lips part a pleasing serenity settles over his features, I slip the ring that Chris just passed me onto his finger. His smile is something to behold, a potent mixture of love and joy that overpowers my senses and I relish basking in the brightness of it.
Oh my! How did I ever convince myself to walk away from this?
Still holding my hand Christian nods to the Reverend who hands him the wireless microphone he has in his hand. Christian looks down and takes a breath before his soulful eyes find mine. He lifts the mike to his lips and, to our utter astonishment, begins to sing, an old song by Depeche Mode called Somebody. No music, just his voice – a cappella song as a vow, impossibly romantic.
I want somebody to share
Share the rest of my life
Share my innermost thoughts
Know my intimate details
Someone who’ll stand by my side
And give me support
And in return
She’ll get my support
She will listen to me
When I want to speak
About the world we live in
And life in general
Though my views may be wrong
They may even be perverted
She’ll hear me out
And won’t easily be converted
To my way of thinking
In fact she’ll often disagree
But at the end of it all
She will understand me
I want somebody who cares
For me passionately
With every thought
With every breath
Someone who’ll help me see things
In a different light
All the things I detest
I will almost like
I don’t want to be tied
To anyone’s strings
I’m carefully trying to steer clear of
But when I’m asleep
I want somebody
Who will put their arms around me
And kiss me tenderly
Though things like this
Make me sick
In a case like this
I’ll get away with it
And in a place like this
I’ll get away with it
I’ve never been more grateful for Candy and her insistence of double strength waterproof mascara, there’s simply no hope in staying the tears that fall so freely at his phenomenal display of love and commitment. It effortlessly obliterates every voice that tells me otherwise, every thought that sows doubt.
His warm gaze doesn’t waver for even a second, keeping me entranced, spellbound. Where his voice catches on a word, the emotion too strong I feel my heart squeeze with love so much it hurts.
This song, this man, this moment couldn’t be any more perfect, more poignant. It explodes with joy, holding more than any one time should reasonably be able to.
My wide smile pushes so hard at my cheeks that they begin to ache a little, I’m sure I look silly, goofy even, beaming at him with not only my mouth but with my whole soul.
When he ends the song he bends to get my ring from Chris and I take the opportunity to rip the flesh coloured band aid off before his attention is back with me. Gently he takes my hand, raising it between us with his eyes firmly fixed onto mine. Without looking down he slides it up my finger and just as I think that he’ll miss it he looks down.
His head lashes up, shock quickly making way for laughter as he throws his head back, chuckling deeply as he enjoys the ring tattooed onto my finger. After a second he palms my wedding band, throwing my hand up for all to see. Our families laugh along as they shake their heads, amused.
He presses my hand to his lips, kissing the fresh red edges of the tattoo and then gently guides the ring into place. I love that I could surprise him like this; given the time frame I don’t think he expected anything and it amplifies the gesture, making it extra special – just like all the beautiful, wonderful things he always does for me.
The Reverend starts on the last and most important line, “I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may…”
Christian wastes no time, in an instant he has me plastered against him, one hand pressing firmly on the small of my back the other on my jaw as his hot mouth covers mine, the kiss – only just the right side of decent. My hands curl around the solid ridges of his straining biceps, holding on for the wild ride of his possessive kiss.
When he’s done I answer his elated grin but my head is spinning, reeling from my overheated blood and brimming happiness. I’m thrilled when he picks Chris up, slotting him onto his hip to involve him fully in our jubilant occasion. We turn, Christian securing me to his free side to face our guests as Mr and Mrs Grey once more.
Our small party stand and clap their accord to our new union as we step down into the circle of their congratulations.
To the far side of the gazebo I notice a pergola sunken into the end of a grassed terrace that leads close to the edge of the stream. A lush green creeper trails up the fat pillars to weave a dense canopy over the wooden slats of the roof. Underneath a long table is set, decorated in silver and crisp white. A mood setting chandelier hangs low, creating a gorgeous ambient glow as the sun finally sinks away. The floor is strewn with a thick carpet of white rose petals, their exquisite scent mingling with fresh grass and rushing water – a smell that makes you happy to be alive.
I drink in the beauty and the fragrance as Christian leads us to the table where we all take a seat together. I notice that everyone carries a camera and I realise it’s so that we’ll have captured images from each loved one’s point of view – such a lovely idea, it eliminates the need for an official photographer but still gives us glossy paper memories we can pour over to remember our day.
Again the nature of the small gathering strikes me as special. Our family members are relaxed and happy, chatting animatedly like they would around the dinner table at home. Christian catches me watching them, his loving glow still fixed in place, “tell me what you’re thinking about Mrs Grey?” his low voice is sexy and hearing him say my new name makes me melt.
I can’t help smiling, it seems like my mouth is pinned into the grinning position, “Mr Grey I have to tell you that I’ve never been happier. That was so thoughtful and beautiful. Thank you for making it so precious.” I brush my fingertips gently down the side of his face before leaning in for another taste of his inviting lips.
The popping camera flashes drag me away from him and our heads swivel to our snap-happy guests, both of us smiling sheepishly making them all chuckle. When their attention is drawn back to their respective conversations we face each other once more.
“You’re most welcome Mrs Grey,” his voice is velvet, stirring and sensual. He drops his gaze to my left hand and takes it in his, “I love this,” he says and kisses my tattooed finger, the raspy quality of his tone has my toes curling in my shoes. “And I loved your vows,” a naughty glint sparks in his darkening eyes, “you do know that I’ll be keeping you to them.”
The butterflies in my belly suddenly take flight, causing my breath to hitch before I reply. Speaking to him with my lips almost touching his, I mirror his cheeky look, “Oh I hope so Mr Grey, I hope so.”
When his mouth opens in surprise I take advantage, gently biting then hungrily kissing him. A low hum vibrates in his chest sending hot shivers over my entire body. “I wanted us to have our first dance before the starter but now it’ll have to wait.” He breathes husky words beside my ear.
Perplexed I look at him, my teeth finding my lip – now a little swollen from moulding to his. His watch drops to his lap and my eyes follow, delighted to see the thick ridge outlining his desire. I blush and giggle, feeling like a schoolgirl.
Grace places a hand on his arm and starts to ask him something so I resume watching our families interact. I love how they get along and how Chris is being passed from one to the next; never left alone and enjoying the attention he’s getting from his adoring grandparents and aunt.
Our starter is delicious, a light salmon mousse with an avocado and orange segment salsa that compliments the outdoor setting perfectly. That is soon followed by a beef fillet medallion, topped with an amazing truffle and peppercorn jus. The fillet rests on a bed of sweet potato and parsnip mash, beautifully presented with droplets of sauce scattered in dark pearls around the plate.
After the main is served Christian’s chair scrapes back as he stands raising a golden glass to me, “my bride, you’ve made me the happiest man alive. Thank you.” The tender mix of pride and warmth I see in his face curls through my veins, engaging all my senses in its wake. As the delighted flush steals over my features his loving gaze deepens.
For a moment our stares fuse and we’re lost in each other before he remembers himself. He flashes our guests a lopsided grin and shakes his head, like me – taken aback by the intensity that’s brewing between us. “Thank you mom, dad, Ray, Carla, Bob and of course my favourite sister, Mia for coming along to share this day with us.”
“I’m your only sister!” Mia pipes up, giggling adoringly at him. A gentle ripple of laughter follows. Christian rewards her with an indulgent smile while lifting Chris into his arms, he continues, “yes, that too.” He winks in her direction. “It’s been awesome having you here champ,” he rubs Chris’ arm before pulling him close for a hug. I watch Chris’s arms slide around Christian’s neck and a tranquillity settles over me – all is right with the world right now. Their embrace is so sweet I can’t resist joining their hug.
Apparently our families agree because six faces are watching us – beatific smiles proclaiming of their shared rapture.
“I have an e-mail from Kate and Elliot that I’d like to read and then I’m taking my stunning bride for a dance.” He shakes out the fold of a single sheet of paper.
Dear Christian and Anastasia
We know that the road to this moment wasn’t always easy or clear but we do know that you belong together. We’re delighted for you and wish you love and trust, patience and kindness, joy and respect as you make your way through life’s journey. As a family you will be stronger, safer, happier and we relish sharing in that bliss with you.
We‘re sorry to have missed your day in person but know that we’re with you as we carry you in our thoughts and hearts.
Our love and support to you always,
Elliot and Kate Grey
Except for the song Christian sang during the ceremony, I’ve been able to swallow the numerous lumps from swelling into tears in response to the strong emotions this day has brought but now, my resolve wanes as the touching letter crowds along with all the other sentiments swirling in my heart. Big fat tears brim then slide over my cheeks as I get swept away in the current of my emotions. I’m just grateful that it’s happy tears.
I adore that Christian anticipated my reaction and pulls me close, his strong body and beautiful mind a constant support for me to rely on. His thumbs carefully brush away the tear tracks then he hauls me to the small dance floor right beside the table.
As I recognise the first strains of Amazed by Lonestar I nestle into him, my head under his chin I hear his heartbeat, feel his vitality and find my inner peace – my subconscious, my inner goddess and I all in total consonance.
How I love this man!
Christian takes a turn with Grace, Mia and my mom while I do the same with Carrick, Ray and Bob. It’s wonderful to see their happiness for us and for the time being the dark danger of our threat is pushed into a corner of my mind where I can ignore it.
Over our decadent dessert, a trio of chocolate mousse, I hear my mom and Grace negotiate a schedule for looking after Chris over the next two days. Christian squeezes my hand as he tunes into the same conversation, “I’m sorry we can’t stay longer. I’ll take you on a proper honeymoon once this whole thing blows over.” He makes a vague gesture with his hand and his eyes cloud, the weight of worry never quite leaving him.
I look into his eyes and smile a shy smile, “I don’t need a honeymoon. I just want to be with you. This wedding has been a big enough gift.” I lace our fingers together and bring his hand up to my face, brushing the back of it against my cheek before kissing it.
He half smiles, enigmatic then runs his nose along mine, “you happy for Chris to stay with the grandparents tonight?”
Immediately my blood ignites, pulsing through my veins at the mere thought of the rest of the night. “Yes,” I blush deeply and swallow. “I think that will be best.” I look at him through my lashes and wonder if he can hear the freight train that is my heart.
A sexy, knowing smirk tugs at his lips while he trails a finger along my jaw, “then if it’s all the same to you, I’d like to get into those panties now.” His husky rasp and naughty words have me squeezing my thighs together in a useless bid to relieve the desperate ache that’s suddenly spawned there.
A second later I feel his hand under the skirt of my dress, the satin softly rusting as I look around for curious family eyes. They’re all delightfully engaged with each other and I try to focus on keeping my breathing even. Christian leans even closer, “I’ll bet anything that you’re soaking and ready for me.”
If anyone bothered to look at us right now my scarlet flush and parted lips would be a dead giveaway. Christians hand skates over the naked flesh of my leg then gently rims the lace on my inner thighs that I part for him, “hush baby, I won’t let anyone see,” he says in response to my stiffening body.
“Aahh!” I suck in some air as he pushes straight through the delicate lace, easily slipping a digit inside me because wet doesn’t begin to describe my condition. I hear his quiet, appreciative growl, still keeping my eye on our guests though I’ve stopped caring for now. Just as I begin to relax, wanting more, he stops and sits up, the adventurous hand curls over his mouth and under his nose – like he’s thoughtful about something but he takes a deep lungful.
Our gazes are locked as he smells me and I whimper, feeling my belly make a full turn inside my hungry body. “You better go hug your son; you’re going to be very busy over the next two days.” He flashes me a wicked grin, dripping with erotic meaning.
With my heart slamming into my chest I push myself up on quivering legs, the ache inside escalating to a raging torrent of need for him.
We both make the rounds amongst our loved ones, hugging and thanking our way to the waiting helicopter. Lastly I pick up my little boy and hug him tight, “I love you so much! Thank you for being such a good boy today. Will you be okay staying with gran tonight?”
His happy grin and keen bobbing head is answer enough, “bye mommy. Thank you for my new daddy.” He kisses me and throws an arm around my neck, thrilled but his words strike me like a blow. It’s my fault that he only got that daddy now.
Past my constricting throat I choke out an answer for him, “you’re welcome buddy, I’m sorry it’s taken so long.” I clutch him to me, in a way trying to make up for it by loving him more.
Christian joins us and takes him from me, swinging him into the air. Chris chortles, his eyes sparking with delight; seeing them together goes some way to appease my guilt.
I’m amused that it’s Carrick who comes to take him from Christian. I always respected him but found him a little distant, formal. Now I get to see a whole new side of him, enamoured with Chris he’s the picture of the doting grandfather. I delight in how well it suits him and smile warmly at the pair of them.
“Thanks dad, we’ll be in touch. Maybe we should all get together for lunch tomorrow?” he shakes Carrick’s hand before they hug – man style, slapping each other on the back.
“I’ll set it up,” he winks at me and strides off to the table and his wife.
Christian pulls me to his side, his arm sliding around my waist he kisses my temple, “I can’t wait to get you naked Mrs Grey.”
“Mmhh, two whole days of your undivided attention?” I look up to find a lustful glint in his darkening gaze, a payload of promise behind them.
I shiver in spite of the heat radiating from him and my core, delicious lashings of anticipation making me long for even the slightest touch. I feel it building between us as we fly back to the Bellagio, as we are driven to the front door of our villa.
Christian doesn’t make any move to touch me again, instead of talking his eyes feast on me, roaming over every curve, he let his heated watch linger on the swell of my breasts and then on my feet; clad in the sexy sandals as I cross my legs and squirm in the backseat.
“Pull up your dress Anastasia, show me your legs.” His low voice is quiet, just for me to hear but loud in my head, making me burn for him. I can tell that he’s stripping me in his mind, his own desire naked and fanning mine to levels I didn’t know existed. Slowly I pull up my dress, up to my knees then look at him, my teeth sinking into my lip to stop me from moaning. Even my own touch is arousing me.
Without words he tells me to reveal more, his head gesturing up, his fingertips rub against each other as he restrains himself from touching me. I drag more of my dress along my legs, up to the middle of my thighs. I watch as he licks his lips, his eyes fused to the exposed length of my tanned skin, his breath coming in shorter bursts. He loosens his tie and pops the top button of his dress shirt. I’m thrilled seeing him getting turned on.
I want him so badly that I’m beginning to feel his hands on me even though he was keeping them to himself. When the car stops in front of the villa I sigh in relief, half afraid that I was going to come without the benefit of his expert stimulation. I watch him stalk around the car, his predatory body language conveying his carnal intent very clearly.
He didn’t even wait for Taylor to open the door for him; he strides over to my side and helps me to my feet before he scooped me up. I squeal, my breathless giggle eliciting a hungry look from him. I band my arms around his neck, pressing against him as much as I can; I kiss and lick along the prickling skin of his neck and jaw drawing a low groan from him that rockets my need into hyper drive.
Miraculously all the doors are open as he carries me to the privacy of the villa lounge, kicking them closed as we go. He sets me down and finally kisses me – deeply. His ravenous mouth easily coaxing mine open for him, moulding, licking, biting, tasting. I get lost in the sensation, letting my hands drift over his back and delectable behind, drawing him as close as possible to me.
He breaks our sensual contact, leaving me blinking up at him, uncertain whether I could stand without him holding me up. His gorgeous smile reaches through the fog in my head as I find my breath, pulse racing.
“I. Want. You. So. Much.” His finger is tracing slow circles over my rapidly rising chest then he dips his finger down the edge of the strapless bodice – almost but not quite extending to my straining nipples.
I mewl, staring into his smouldering eyes, transfixed and dissatisfied with the sudden physical distance between us, “so take me then.” I push myself up onto my toes tilting my head back, offering my mouth to tempt him into another kiss. My hands bracket his hips, ready to feel him against me again.
He chuckles as his lips brush mine lightly, teasing, “I think you should go and get dressed.” The timbre in his voice betrays his need, confusing me with his request.
“I thought you wanted me naked.” I nip at his bottom lip, my body screaming for his amorous attention.
“Mmhh, I do but first, I want to unwrap you.” He purposely maintains the chasm between us, driving my desire ever higher.
The contents of the box springs to my mind, images of me in the champagne lace of the garter and the beautiful matching balcony bra that will push up my breasts in the most enticing way tantalise me just as I know will tantalise him. The sheer stockings that will end mid-thigh, leaving an alluring length of exposed skin for him to feel and kiss steers my will to the bedroom.
I give him my most coquettish smile and turn to leave but he catches me around the waist, “don’t be long,” he growls, sweeping my hair to the side he drops a kiss on my shoulder while he eases down the zipper of my dress. He holds my hand to help me step out of it then smacks my behind, leaving a hot handprint behind as I scuttle off to get ready. I’m careful to hide my delighted smile, Master Grey might be back sooner than I was expecting.
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