“Rise and shine!”
“Huh?” Melanie groaned sleepily.
Her eyes fluttered open, but when the bright light of the morning sun hit them, she closed them tightly shut once more. “Five more minutes?” Mel muttered against the pillow.
Faith laughed, sitting on the edge of the bed. “Come on, sleepyhead. It’s almost noon… And tonight’s the big night!”
Oh my God… She suddenly remembered. It is! Melanie felt a sudden excitement rush through her at the thought.
She finally sat up, smiling. “Okay, okay… I guess that’s worth getting up for.” She teased. “Wow…” Mel sighed, shaking her head in amazement. “I can’t believe it’s finally here!”
“I know!” Faith grinned.
Melanie looked around at the familiar bedroom for a few moments. Sean had let the girls use the old house to have a “girls’ day” and get ready for the wedding that evening. It felt a bit strange, but also comforting, somehow, to be back in her old childhood home on such an important day in her life. It made Mel feel close to her grandmother again. She smiled at the thought.
“So…” Faith continued, breaking the silence. “How’s the future Mrs. Ainsworth feeling this morning?” She teased.
Melanie thought for a moment. “Excited! And happy, of course… But a little nervous.” She confessed. “About the reception, I mean. Remember the first time?” Mel smiled wistfully. “It was just you, Sean, Christian’s mom, him, and me…” She sighed. “I’m pretty sure I don’t even know half the people on the guestlist this time around…”
Her friend just shrugged. “Well, don’t forget that your future in-laws are funding this thing. They’re pretty influential people around here… Not to mention loaded…”
Melanie slapped Faith’s arm lightly. “Oh, stop!”
“Hey, it’s true!” Faith laughed. “They can afford to have half the town come to this thing… But we both know that’s not what it’s really about.” She said seriously. “Today’s all about you and Lucas starting a new life together…” Faith paused, and Melanie could see the faint sparkle of tears in her eyes. “I’m so happy for you, Mel.”
“Oh no… Don’t start or you’ll get me going.” Mel laughed, managing to keep her own emotions in check. But it meant so much to see how happy her friend was for her.
“And I know Christian would be happy, too.” Faith continued softly, draping an arm over Mel’s shoulders and giving her a soft squeeze.
“Thanks, Faith.” Melanie smiled. “I think you’re right.” She gently pulled away from her friend’s hug, stretched her arms over her head, and got to her feet. “In fact… I think I owe him a visit today.”
I’ve gotta make this quick… Lucas thought to himself as he crossed the sidewalk around the side of the church. The sun was already starting to set, and he had less than three hours before the ceremony. His friends had kept him busy all morning and most of the afternoon – he’d only just managed to slip away.
He looked down at the grave in front of him. It was the first time he’d ever visited on his own before, and he couldn’t help but feel a little nervous.
“Hey, Christian.” Lucas began uncertainly. “I… I don’t know if you can hear me right now… You’re probably not there anymore… Not like Ev was…” He paused for a moment. “Um, that reminds me — if you are, y’know, up there somewhere and you run into a girl named Evelyn Magee… Please, tell her I miss her… and I think of her every day…”
Lucas cleared his throat before continuing. “Anyway… I guess you should know that Mel and I are getting married today… Or maybe you already knew that.” He shrugged.
“I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am. You made her so happy… I don’t think she’d be the same person she is today without you – and that’s the person I fell in love with… So thank you.” He said sincerely.
“She misses you so much. You have no idea.” He sighed. “I know that I can never replace you… And I don’t want to. But you know Mel — she’s got such a big heart. And I feel like… Like maybe there’s room for both of us in there…” Lucas paused for a moment. “So I hope that’s okay with you… Because it’s okay with me, too.”
“You’re gonna be a tough act to follow…” He smiled. “But I’m gonna try my best. And I’m gonna take good care of her, okay? For the rest of my life…”
Unseen in the shadows, Melanie blinked away the tears from her eyes and glanced up to the heavens. “He’s pretty great, huh?” She whispered, smiling.
I hope you understand… It’s time to move on. But I’ll always love you, Christian. And I won’t forget you… I promise.