Finally… A Light Mage Wars Short Story

Brunswick, Georgia

May 9

Everything was ready.  All they needed was the bride.

Mary Ross Waterfront Park was decked out in style. Twin rows of six-foot candlesticks topped with fat, white candles marched toward the water. White roses and pink, blue, and lavender spring flowers wreathed the candles’ bases. Between the rows of candlesticks, a white runner marked the path to an archway set on the wide, concrete strip that bordered the grass by the narrow inlet known as Oglethorpe Bay.  The flowers decorating the archway matched those on the candlesticks. 

The white folding chairs on the grass were full, all but the two reserved for the bridal couple’s mothers and the one for the bride’s dad.

Off to the side, a string quartet played a mix of classical music, jazz, and show tunes  The strains of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue drifted across the narrow bay. A soft breeze fluttered the white ribbons on the candlesticks, and the afternoon sunlight gave the scene a bright mood.

Stefan Harper, the groom, waited behind the big, white, house-like structure at the corner of the park, near the water. He brushed back the stray lock of dark hair that kept falling in his face. Then he shot his cuffs. Marc Wagner, waiting to perform the service, smiled. His mop of brown hair had been tamed for the occasion, and his blue eyes were warm behind his wire-framed glasses.

Stefan’s other companion, tall, dark-haired Griff Dare, the best man, gripped Stefan’s shoulder.  “You did that two minutes ago,” Griff said.  “And two minutes before that.  Cuffs are fine, bro.”  He waited, still holding on, until Stefan looked at him.  Softly, Griff said, “She’ll be here. It’s all good.”

“Yeah. It’s just…”  Stefan took a deep breath and blew it out. “It took us a long time to get to this point.”

Griff nodded and clapped him on the back.  “But now it’s here. Maybe you should’ve prescribed yourself something,” he teased.

Stefan shot him a withering look.  Mel’s job as an FBI agent meant she charged into danger with no magic to protect her. If Stefan could live with that, he didn’t need drugs for wedding nerves.

Griff smiled, unperturbed. “Relax and go with it.”

Marc raised an eyebrow. “As you did on your wedding day?”

Griff scowled at him.  “My jitters cleared up as soon as I joined my bride to walk her down the aisle.”

Marc grinned.  “So true, but—”

“Was that a car?” Stefan demanded. His head came up, listening. “It’s almost four.”

“I’ll check.”  Griff walked around the fake house to the driveway that led to the street.  He waved to someone before walking back to Stefan and Marc.

“It’s the limo,” he confirmed.  “Val will take everyone into this weird not-house and steam out any wrinkles from the limo ride. Shouldn’t take but a minute.”

And if a touch of magic made the process go faster, only Val and Stefan’s sister, Annie, had the magical gifts to know it.

Stefan nodded. Soon, he and Camellia “Mel” Wray would pledge themselves to each other. It couldn’t be soon enough. They’d gotten together when he was in med school and she was an undergrad.  He hadn’t been able to tell her he was a mage because she hated anything  she considered woo-woo. So when he was out of town, studying with a mage doctor, she thought he was having an affair.  Because he hadn’t been able to tell her the truth, they’d broken up. Spent nine years apart.  Until the murder of her former mentor brought her to Wayfarer last year. Then they discovered that they’d both changed enough to have a chance at forever.

Not that it had been easy. Mel had taken a long time to come to grips with the knowledge that he was not only a doctor but a magically gifted one who regularly went into combat against the ghouls that were the mages’ deadly enemies. And he’d had to deal with the danger she faced as an FBI agent.  But they’d each somehow found a way to deal.

Now here they were.

Val came onto the back steps of the fake house in her long, blue bridesmaid sheath. Sunlight glinted on her tawny hair. “We’re ready,” she said before ducking back inside.

Stefan nodded to his dad, who signaled the string quartet’s conductor. The music ended.  A moment later, “If Ever I Would Leave You” from Camelot, a favorite of Stefan’s and Mel’s, began. That was the signal for seating their mothers. 

When the women were seated, Marc said, “Time, y’all.”  He grinned at Stefan. “Don’t worry. I’ll tie the knot good and tight.”

“You better,” Stefan said. He and Griff followed Marc to the archway and took their places.

The bridal party filed onto the grass at the rear of the seats and sorted themselves into their walking order.  Mel stood at the back with her dad, a tall, burly man who looked as uncomfortable in a tail coat and an ascot as Stefan felt.

Mel’s cascading bouquet matched the floral decorations. Her gown hugged her trim, athletic body but flared below her hips.  Lace adorned the hem and accented the skirt flares and the ends of the snug sleeves.  She’d chosen not to wear a veil. Pearl and crystal combs, a wedding gift from him, held her shoulder-length, dark hair back at the sides.

Stefan’s throat closed, and his chest burned.  “So beautiful,” he murmured.

And she was about to be his.

Their gazes locked.  Her gray eyes filled with love. That and her smile rocked his world. He couldn’t look away from her.

Griff nudged him, and he realized the selection from Camelot had ended. The musicians started Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, and the ushers stepped forward.  Mel’s short, stocky brother-in-law came first. Stefan’s brother-in-law followed.  The tall, broad-shouldered blond winked at him.  Behind them walked Will Davis, a friend close as a brother to both Stefan and Griff. Clean shaven, he’d abandoned his usual scruffy look for the occasion. His shaggy brown-and-blond hair was neatly combed, and the cutaway jacket, vest, and other elements of his formal attire were perfectly correct.

Will was halfway to the front when Val Dare stepped into the aisle.  If Griff was Stefan’s brother of the heart, Val was a sister.  She was helping Mel feel welcome in the tight-knit circle of Stefan’s friends. To his surprise and pleasure, Mel had asked her to stand up with them. Val’s smile proclaimed her joy at being part of this moment.

Stefan’s actual sister, Annie, came next.  Her dark hair and brown eyes matched his, but everything about her look was more naturally elegant.  Behind her came a slender redhead, the wife of one of Mel’s FBI colleagues.

Mel’s sister, Lily, the matron of honor, turned to smile at Mel before starting forward.  Stefan’s gaze shot back to his bride. A suspicious sheen glazed her eyes, and his throat went tight again.  Maybe she was having as much trouble believing this was finally happening as he was.

Lily reached the front, opposite Griff and Stefan, and turned.  The moms stood. Behind them, everyone rose as they all turned to face the aisle.

Mel and her dad started toward the front, and Stefan’s heart pushed into his throat.  He blinked to clear his stinging eyes.

Her dad was escorting her, not giving her away.  When they reached the pavement, Stefan stepped forward. Mel’s dad kissed her cheek, placed her hand in Stefan’s, and walked back to sit with her mom. Stefan scarcely noticed. Mel’s hand was warm in his as they faced Marc. 

They really were going to do this.

#

Mel’s heart beat fast as she handed Lily her bouquet and listened to Marc Wagner’s opening remarks about the nature of marriage.

In a few minutes, she and Stefan would belong to each other.  She hadn’t let herself admit how deeply or how long she had yearned for this. Or how afraid she’d been that something would derail it.

But here they were, and Marc was looking at Stefan, asking if he took her as his lawfully wedded wife. Stefan looked at her with his heart in his eyes and answered with a strong, firm “I do.”  As Mark asked her the companion question, Mel swallowed the remnants of tears so her voice could be clear and strong as she claimed the man who held her heart.

“I do,” she said, looking at Stefan. Coming to terms with the secret world of the mageborn and his place in it had not been easy, but he was worth the effort.  More than worth it.

Smiling, Marc said, “Repeat after me.” He led them through the traditional wedding vows. Then he said, “Mel and Stefan have additional vows to share.”

These were the mage vows, though few in the gathering would know that. She and Stefan faced each other and clasped each other’s hands. “Mel, my beautiful Camellia,” he said, his face solemn despite the light in his eyes, “through the years ahead, we’ll share the fruits of the earth and of our bodies.”

“Through the years ahead,” she repeated, “you and I, my wonderful Stefan, will also share our deepest joys and the sorrows that bring us tears.”

“So shall it be,” they said together.

Marc blessed the rings.  As Stefan accepted Mel’s from him and slid it onto her finger, everything inside her trembled with delight and excitement.  Her hands, though, were as steady as his.  When she slid his ring onto his finger, the golden lights danced in his eyes.  In their depths, she read triumph that echoed her own.

Holding their clasped hands in a warm grip, Marc announced, “Stefan and Mel have consented together. By the power vested in me by the State of Georgia, I declare that they are husband and wife.  Whom God has joined together, let no one put asunder.”

Smiling at them, he added, “You may kiss your spouse.”

Stefan’s mouth was warm and sweet and familiar on hers. They’d agreed not to go with a get a room kiss, but they clung to each other for several seconds.  When the kiss broke, Stefan grinned down at her, shook his head, and drew her in for another tender, firm kiss.

Their friends and families laughed and clapped.  Mel reclaimed her bouquet, tucked her left hand into the crook of Stefan’s elbow, and swept back up the aisle at his side.

They had done it. For the rest of their lives, this was her place, beside him.

#

The photographs were done.  The wedding party piled into cars.  Stefan found himself alone in the back of the limo with Mel. The bridal attendants were riding with others to give them a moment alone before the reception.

The limo rolled out, heading for Old City Hall a few blocks away. The private moment wouldn’t last long.

He slid his right arm across Mel’s shoulders, and she snuggled against him. “Did I tell you,” he asked, “how beautiful you are?”

“Several times, thank you.” She reached over to take his left hand in hers. “I’ve felt beautiful all day.  Even when my insides were going vibrato.”

He smiled at the musical term. “Mine, too.”

“I love you, Stefan,” she said softly.  “I don’t think I ever stopped.”

“I don’t think I did either.  Deep inside, even though I didn’t acknowledge it, I never stopped missing you. Now we never have to miss each other again. We’ll be together, even if it’s only over the phone when one of us is away.”

She tilted her face up, and they kissed.  He deepened it—couldn’t help himself—and reveled in her instant response.  But they broke apart in consideration of the driver. Mel snuggled into Stefan’s side again.

He  looked down.  Their plain, gold wedding bands, his a little heavier than hers, gleamed in the late-afternoon sunshine.  Little rainbows refracting from her diamond solitaire engagement ring danced over her white skirt and the bouquet in her lap.

“What are you thinking, newly minted husband?” she asked.

“I like that word, husband. And its companion, wife.”

Mel grinned at him. “Me too.  So what are you thinking?”

He gazed into her eyes. Feeling grateful and relieved and maybe still a little astonished, he said, “Finally. I was thinking, finally.”

Her face softened.  She lifted her left hand to stroke his cheek.  He caught and kissed it.

“Finally,” she agreed. “Finally and forever.”

The End

Dec 18 2018, 2:33 pm No Comments

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