They had left the big black sedan off and Agent Gold personally gave them a ride to a car dealership that a friend of his worked at. It did not take long for David to pick out a white Cadillac with low mileage and a red leather interior. He had Monica sit in both the driver’s seat and the passenger side. “Can you see out okay?”
Monica nodded and then whispered, “This is pretty fancy. Can we afford this?”
“Little Lady, I will sit down with you and show you my bank balance as soon as possible, so you will know that we are not going to go broke any time soon. I have a fair bit of money saved up and I am still on the payroll for the next couple of months while I use up my vacation and then I will be getting my retirement.” David’s voice was amused.
“Sorry, I just never spent this much money on anything before. It sounds like so much.”
“I thought it would make a nice wedding present. We didn’t have time to get you a pretty white dress but I thought a pretty white car would sort of make up for that.”
Monica nodded and tried to smile, but she found her lips trembling again. And she found herself wrapped up in his strong warm arms, held close in that one place of safety that felt solid and real. His voice was low and reassuring, “Shhh… pretty girl, we will slow down soon. Don’t worry about the car. It’s a good deal. I have enough money to buy it and I needed a car. Let’s just get through today and then we’ll take a little time to ourselves. No rush. We don’t even need to go to Salem for a few days.” Monica sighed and wrapped her arms around him, holding on to him like he was the last solid thing in the universe.
They stood together like that for a long time before she took a deep shaky breath and pulled away, “Thank you. I just get scared sometimes. I’m sorry.”
David’s big hand ruffled her hair and he spoke gently, “Don’t be sorry, Pretty Girl, as long as I get a nice hug like that, I can put up with it.”
The little civil ceremony was a blur. Agent Gold was there with a woman that Monica thought was his fiancée but she wasn’t sure. Monica wore the jeans and white blouse she had put on that morning. David wore what he had been wearing all day. Someone had brought a small bouquet of yellow roses and she held them clutched in her hand. Somehow David had a small gold wedding band that fit almost perfectly to slip onto her finger when the man said to do it. Monica had nodded and stuttered yes when asked but had no memory of being declared man and wife or kissing David at the end.
There was a bewildering whirl papers to sign and some hugs and handshakes with people she didn’t really look at and then they were in the car driving somewhere. Monica felt numb and exhausted and sat wondering what the hell had happened. She looked down and was shocked to see that she was still holding the little bouquet and was slowly, methodically plucking the petals off the roses. There was a small scattering of yellow petals across her lap and the red leather seat. Carefully she put the flowers down and clasped her hands together in her lap.
David drove away from the city heading south and then out toward the coast. Neither of them spoke much; each seemed to be lost in their own thoughts. Monica looking out the side window at the rain soaked world. When David pulled into a small restaurant, Monica sat in the booth and looked over the menu and ordered a hamburger and a small side salad instead of French fries, he sat across from her and softly said, “I’m sorry.”
Again she found her lips quivering, fighting down tears, “It’s okay… I guess, I mean it will be okay. It was all just a little fast and not what I expected. I am just tired.”
He reached across the table and took her hand, “Pretty Girl, I spent a lot of time and energy telling myself that my love for you was wrong. That it was just an old man’s foolish, lonely heart wishing for what could never be. Even when I knew you loved me back, I tried to convince myself that I was mistaken, or that it would never work, or that you deserved a better life than I could give you. And then you would not take no for an answer, all of a sudden it was possible. Somehow I think I rushed you through this because I was a little afraid that you might come to your senses and change your mind.” He paused and took a deep breath, “Monica, Pretty Girl, it is not too late to change your mind. If you want, I will take you back to Junie’s house or anywhere else you want to go.”
Monica looked up in shock and fear. She whispered furiously, “No, you promised. You promised to never leave me!” She gripped his hand tightly, almost jerking on his arm in her fierce determination.
“And I am a man who keeps his promises. I am sorry, it was just you looked so sad.”
“I am just tired. I will get over it.” Monica forced herself to smile. “I am sorry if I looked sad. I’m happy.”
David looked at her, his eyes sharp and measuring. “Pretty Girl, don’t try and fool this old lawman. I have way too many years questioning bad guys to have a pretty little thing like you pull the wool over my eyes. I can tell you are tired and I certainly can tell you aren’t happy right now.”
A wave of stubborn anger shook through Monica, “Well you are wrong. I am happy, damn it. I got what I wanted. I wanted you and I’ve got you now.” Her voice was tense and just a little shrill. “I just need some time to get used to the idea.”
David began to chuckle, “Pretty hard to get around that idea isn’t it, Pretty Girl.”
“No not really! Any pretty girl in the world would be thrilled to be in my shoes. Whirlwind romance, surprise wedding, carried off in a beautiful white carriage, and… and…” Monica started to giggle along with him, “I am the princess bride.”
“Well, damn, I never thought of myself as a prince charming.”
“You are not a prince, you are the wise and gentle king who has lost his heart to the maiden he rescued from the evil monster. You are my champion.” With these last words, Monica’s silly smile softened and grew more genuine as she realized for the first time why she loved this man so much. He was her champion. “And now you are carrying me back to your kingdom and I feel shy and afraid that I may just suck at being a queen.”
“You will do fine.”
“I hope so. I liked what you said about taking a few days to relax.”
“Let’s find a little hotel soon and then what do you think about heading out to the coast and finding a nice place and staying there until we get tired of long walks on the beach and sunsets, then driving south? This honeymoon can last as long as you want. When we get south as far as Salem we can make a detour inland and get whatever you want. We can pack up and ship anything you want to take to Louisiana.”
Monica could feel some tension drain out of her and she nodded. “Long walks on the beach sound wonderful.”
Monica was surprised that she was suddenly ravenous. She ate her whole hamburger and salad. She could not remember the last time she had managed to finish a whole meal. She reached over and stole one of his French fries.
As they pulled into the hotel, David looked at her a little nervously, “Pretty Girl, how do you want this? Do you want a room of your own?”
Monica shot him a shocked look and shook her head violently.
“Okay, I hear that. Do you want two beds?”
“I want you beside me. I want you to hold my hand all night.”
“I can do that.”
Outside the door to their room David stopped and made her put her little bag down. Monica squealed in surprise when he swept her up into his arms. He grinned and looked down at her, “Pretty Girl, there are just a couple of things a man does not get to do very often in his life and carrying my beautiful bride over the threshold is just too good to pass up.” He playfully dropped her on the bed and then went and got their bags as she bounced on the bed giggling.
Monica looked at him standing there with the bags in his hand and she felt a wave of nervous shyness. She wondered how she had been so bold before when she had tried to kiss him and then brazenly pulled her nightgown off in front of him just the day before. Perhaps it was because she was sure he would not touch her, sure that he would remain the perfect gentleman he had always been before. But he had made it clear that they had to be married before he would touch her like that. And now they were. She repeated his reassuring words inside her mind, “Let it happen, not make it happen.”
She looked at him and when their eyes met, she realized he was as nervous as she was. She slipped off the bed and took her little bag from his hands. “I think I will take a bath, if that would be all right.”
“That would be fine.”
When she came out of the bathroom, David was sitting up in the bed under the covers, watching the news on the television. He was wearing his white undershirt. Monica smoothed her little white nightgown and smiled nervously. Turning off the television, he held out his hand and whispered, “Hard to hold hands from that distance, Pretty Girl.”
When she got close to the bed he held up the covers and took his outstretched hand, he pulled her under the covers and it seemed perfectly natural to slide up close and snuggle up under his arm. She could feel the length of his leg against hers and she shivered a little when the hair on his leg tickled a little. “You okay?”
Monica giggled a little, “Yeah.”
He gave her a little squeeze, “Remember that we are not rushing things here. We need to take our time. One thing we need to work out ahead of time is birth control.”
Monica jumped at the thought and gasped, “I had not even thought about that.”
“Do you want to have children?”
“Oh god, I don’t know. It seems too hard to think about now. Before… before…” She took a deep breath, “Before I was hurt, before all this, I wasn’t even sure about having babies. Then afterwards, when there was all the pain and surgeries and they kept talking about if I would be able to have children or not, and all I could think was, it was silly, there was no way I wanted to have a baby. Do you want children? You didn’t have any children with Irene.”
“We wanted children. Irene wanted children more than anything. She couldn’t carry a baby to term. We lost several babies before they were born and the doctor’s told her to stop trying, that her health was in danger.”
“You didn’t adopt?”
“By the time she gave up trying we were getting older and she decided to focus more on her job. She was a teacher and it seemed like it was enough. We both just sort of accepted it.” He shrugged, “It seems to me that I am kind of old to be a father now. I don’t think it would be fair to the kid, I am 51 now, and I am pretty set in my ways. And it does not sound like anything either of us wants at the moment. So we need to figure out what kind of birth control you want to use.”
“I used to take the pill. I guess I can call my gynecologist’s office and have him call in a new prescription.” Monica giggled, “I think that he won’t make me get an examination first, he has been looking up there plenty in the last year. He knows how hard it is to get me up on that table.”
“Okay, you do that. I don’t want you to feel pressured or anything, I just wanted to make sure we were prepared when the right moment comes along.”
Monica snuggled up close and whispered, “I do want to make love to you. I just start to feel all afraid when I think about actually doing it.”
“That is pretty natural, pretty girl, you were pretty badly hurt. To tell you the truth, I am pretty nervous about hurting or frightening you too.” Then he took deep breath, “And I am a little scared about maybe disappointing you too. I haven’t had much experience with women. Irene was the only woman I have been with and we sort of grew apart after she found out that she couldn’t have children, it’s been a lot of years since I’ve made love to a woman.” He paused for a few moments as if thinking back, “…more than twenty.”
Monica bit her lip and fought down the urge to giggle, “I guess we both have a lot of… um… learning to do. I need to figure out how to feel safe and what I can and can’t do with my reassembled parts. And you need to remember how to do it at all.”
David laughed and tickled her, “Oh, I have not forgotten.”
Monica shrieked and giggled, pushing his hands away. “Oh god, I had forgotten how ticklish I was.”
He hugged her tight and then yawned, “You know, little lady, you are not the only one that has had a big day. Let’s just fall asleep in each other arms and then head for the beach tomorrow.” He reached over and switched off the light.
Monica caught his yawn and yawned back, “Sure, tomorrow could we stop by a department store? There are a few things I need, underwear and stuff like that. It shouldn’t be too expensive.”
“Of course we can do that. Pretty Girl, are you always going to worry about money?”
“Probably, every time my Mom bought me anything it was quite a production. She was always broke. She kind of made me worry about that kind of stuff a lot.”
“Okay, I guess it could be worse. You could be the opposite, extravagant and wasteful.”
Monica giggled, “Yes, I could have married you for your money.”
“Instead of my good looks?”
“I think you look good.” Monica lifted her head and whispered, “Could you kiss me good night?”
His voice was teasing as he whispered back, “I don’t know if I remember how. Maybe you should remind this old man how it’s done.”
Inch by inch she worked her way up from his shoulder until she was looking at his face in the dim light cast by light coming from the bathroom. Softly, almost a butterfly’s touch she brushed her lips across his and then more boldly she pressed her lips to his, for the first time opening her lips and urging him to open his. Slowly he let her in, her tongue delicately reaching to meet his. An electric shock at that meeting made her catch her breath and she sighed and slipped her arms around his neck. A shiver of sensation ran down her spine as she felt his hand lightly stroke her back. When she lifted her mouth from his, her voice was breathless, “Do you remember now?”
“I don’t know. It seems familiar but I might need to try that a few more times before I am sure.”
The next kiss was just as sweet and Monica was thrilled to feel a flush of heat starting in her body and a soft throb in her vagina as she felt the tissues start to swell. She had not felt that soft sweet aching need in so long she had wondered if that part of her still worked. She found herself pressing her body tightly against his.
This time it was David that broke the kiss. His voice was husky, “Okay, I remember. You are going to corrupt my resolve to not rush things.” He gave her a gentle shove down so her head rested on his shoulder.
Monica smiled secretly to herself. She could feel it. She savored the sensation of want and squeezed her legs together. It was going to be okay. She sighed and snuggled up close and whispered, “I love you. Good night.”
“I love you too, pretty girl.”