“Sit down, Kaliq,” Parker said. I had been pacing for hours. It’s been twelve hours since Caitlin was taken. Maddy was taken to the hospital after her parents picked her up. They agreed not to tell the hospital what happen. Thank god, Maddy was okay, but my daughter was still out there. “You’re gonna wear yourself out.”
“I can’t sit,” I whispered, more to myself then to them. I hadn’t spoken much since I called Parker. It took all my strength to tell Riddle. She went crazy and by the time Parker arrived I had asked my neighbor who’s a doctor to sedate her. Now, he watched both of us like a hawk.
“Kaliq, your father’s right. You need to sit and rest.” Doctor Singer said.
“How am I supposed to sit still when my daughter is out there!” I yelled which got Parker’s attention. It surprised me even, it was the first time I had lashed out since I found the note. “Why aren’t you doing anything!” I yelled at Parker and started to sob, and break down. “Why isn’t anyone doing anything to find her.”
“I am.” Parker answered, calmly. He’s been calm since he showed up and took control of the situation. Though I can tell you he’s holding it all in now. His eye glistened with unshed tears. Yet he didn’t let his emotions lose control, he kept a professional front – even if it was a farce. “I’ve called some buddies in Bridgeport to round up Pan Hart. I’ve tapped your phones, and I’ve done background checks on everyone in the building.”
“Wha-huh?” Dr. Singer’s mouth dropped. “Don’t you need a warrant or something for that?”
Parker laughed, “Oh the innocent single minded civilians. Nah, man. SIA can pretty much do anything, like background checks, without the need of a warrant. As long as we are looking into a person of interest, we do what we can to flush out the bad guy from the innocent. Right now everyone in this building is a threat – well, was a threat. I didn’t find a single damn thing out, well pretty much.” He smiled at Singer and I didn’t even want to know what he found on the good doctor.
Parker laughed at the shocked look on the good doctor’s face. “Parker’s retired.” I told him.
“Semi-retired,” Parker corrected.
“What!” This time it was me who had the stunned face. Parker swore to ma that he officially retired. It was the one stipulation she had if he wanted to be with her. “But you told ma –”
“I know what I told her!” he barked back, clearly this was an ongoing issue. “I’m not taking any field work. I just do little tasks here and there for them over the internet. I don’t even leave the house when I work. I’m not suicidal – Hana would kill me if she even suspected I was going on a mission.”
“Ma would have you six feet under before anyone suspected you were missing,” I laughed.
“So if you’re semi-retired and can’t go out in the field, how do you expect to find Cait?” Dr. Singer asked.
“Finding Cait isn’t field work, I’ll tell you that right now, Doc. These fuckers will get what’s coming. No one messes with my family, and they certainly don’t kidnap my grandchildren and live.”
I smiled. I knew I did the right thing by calling Parker. I watched as my hero went back to work on his laptop. I began to pace again and Dr. Singer sat there and watched me closely.
It was maybe an hour later when I heard Riddle’s voice coming from the door of our bedroom, “Kaliq?” Her voice was unstable and just by the look of her she looked like her eyes were ready to pop out they were so red and swollen. Tears stained her precious cheeks. My heart broke just looking at her.
I took hold of her in my arms and held her, “I’m here, Riddler. I’m right here.” She held me with a death grip. I kissed her and kept her in my arms. We were both living a hell we never even dreamed of, and I wanted this pain to end for the both of us. Where was my Caitlin?
I kissed the top of her head, and listened to her stomach growl. When was the last time she ate? When was the last time I ate? “Riddler, would you like me to make you something to eat?”
She shook her head, “I’m not hungry.” Her stomach betrayed her. “I can’t eat.”
“Come on, Riddler, we need to keep our strength up. I’ll just make us a couple of sandwiches to hold us over. You don’t have to eat much, but we can’t just starve because of Cait.”
I walked her over to the dining table where Parker was working hard on the laptop. I placed her in the chair next to him, and started to round up what I needed to make some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
“Hey baby,” I heard Parker say to Riddle. “How you holding up?” Riddle shrugged and slumped over onto Parker’s shoulder. I couldn’t hear what she said, but Parker responded, “I’m working on it. Don’t you worry, I will find her. I promise.”
A knock at the door startled all of us, Riddle screamed. Parker was up on his feet, armed and ready. He answered the door briskly, allowing three men into the apartment. Two of them were in black and it appeared that Parker knew them, the other was handcuffed and being dragged into the room, muttering curses and idle threats about suing them.
“Where do you want him, boss?” The blonde asked Parker.
“On the couch,” Parker pointed.
Riddle grabbed me from walking over to where dad and the three guys were walking, “What’s Pan doing here?”
I looked at the scrawny guy and I immediately saw red. So this was the guy that took advantage of my Riddler. Parker wasn’t taking any chances. Anyone was a suspect, and I was betting that Parker had his number one sitting across from him. I turned to Riddle and whispered into her ear, “I’m assuming Parker thinks he took her, and if I’m a betting man I’d put my money on him too.”
Riddle’s eyes went wide, “How-how-how. . .”
“I dunno if he knows, Riddler. I just know that if I were in his shoes I’d be praying for my innocence.” Even if he was innocent in taking of Cait, he was still not leaving this apartment without a blacken face, I was counting on that. No way would I even let him leave without getting some revenge I held for the man.
“Just promise me that Parker or you won’t rearrange his face?” She must have saw that daggers I was throwing at Pan because she held me tight and looked at me with a pleading look. “Please, Kaliq. It’s done. We have an amazing daughter because of him. Nothing can take that away from us.”
“Should have been my daughter,” I whispered through gritted teeth.
“She is,” Riddle gave me an assuring kiss before we both walked over to where Parker had already started his interrogation.
Pan was screaming obscenities to Parker, demanding his freedom and that he was going to sue us for everything we were worth while Parker just waited till he could get his first question in. “You done?” Parker asked when Pan stopped screaming and yelling, realizing he wasn’t going anywhere.
“”Who the fuck are you!”
“Name is Parker, and you’re Pan Hart.” Pan looked terrified. It doesn’t take much to be terrified of Parker though, one look at him and you want to piss your pants. “Oh, I know all about you Mr. Hart. You’re a player that only thinks with the smaller of his two brains. You take advantage of girls when you can’t win them over.”
Pan’s eyes widen in horror and he looked over at Riddle. “Whatever that bitch said, is a lie. She wanted it! She begged me!”
It took Parker and his two buddies to hold me back right then. Riddle ran into the bedroom crying. “You sonofabitch! I’m gonna kill you when this is done!” I growled.
“Calm down, Kaliq. Think of Cait.” Parker whispered. “Let’s just get her back and then we’ll take care of that after, okay.” I agreed and they let go of me. Parker walked back to where Pan was and glared at the man. “You’re very lucky Mr. Hart, a comment like that any other time would have gotten you more than a few loose teeth. As it is, right now I don’t care about your relationship with Riddle. All I care about is my granddaughter.”
“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about old man! Let me go! If your granddaughter is as easy as Riddle, than she probably deserved it.”
That did get a slap from Parker. Pan’s face turned and you can see the bruise start instantly from that blasted metal arm of his. “She’s five months old you fucker! She’s missing and I suspect you know where she is, and if you don’t I’m betting you know who does.”
“Why would I want to take your granddaughter?”
I walked over towards him and yelled, “Because you are the fucking father!”
Pan’s face turned from pale to ghostly white. He looked around as if he wanted to throw up or die. “Shit, dad is gonna kill me. I. . . .I. . . I. . . I can’t be. No. No way. I can’t be a father!” He started to sob uncontrollably.
“Don’t worry, that’s been taken care of, asswipe. You may share her DNA but there is no chance in hell that you will ever be her real father. I’m her father, I will always be her father!” I explained in a very rough tone.
Parker looked at Pan who was still crying. “So, you didn’t know about Caitlin?” Pan shook his head. “And if you had known, you wouldn’t want anything to do with her?”
Pan looked at me and shook his head no. “No, never. I didn’t know Riddle was pregnant, and I definitely didn’t want to be a father. If you want her, you can have her. Just please, let me go.”
Parker uncuffed Pan, “I’m letting you go, but until we figure this out you are staying here. Understand?” Pan nodded and stayed seated.
Parker took his two buddies and walked over to the computer and talked to them. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but they were serious. One of the men jumped on the laptop and started to work while the other grabbed his cell and started to dial.
Parker walked back over to me, “They’re working on background checks of the Hart family, and Riddle. We’re checking fan mail and SimFace fan pages. Checking fanfic, and anything that has to do with Riddle or Pan.”
“That could take forever,” I whispered just as my phone rang. Everyone froze.
I grabbed my phone and waited. Parker was quieting the silent room. He put on some headphones next to the laptop while his friend started the trace. When they were ready, Parker signaled for me to answer the phone.
A robotic voice came on, “Hello Mr. Rain, I have something here that belongs to your girlfriend.”
My stomach turned, “What do you want?”
“I want to speak to the father of this beauty.”
“I AM THE FATHER, ASSHOLE!” I yelled.
“You and I both know that’s a lie, now put on the daddy, before I have to do something to this little one.” In the background I could hear a soft cry, and my gut wrenched. Oh god!
It took all my strength to hand that phone over to Pan. I didn’t want my daughter to be killed, because of my big mouth. Pan took the phone with shaking hands. I glared at him and before I let go of the phone I said in a threatening tone, “Don’t fuck this up, or I swear to god that my father will look like a kitty compared to me!”
Parker looked at me and held a smirk. I wasn’t sure if he was laughing at what I said or if he was just proud at my gusto. I’m sure he’d tell me later.
Pan answered the phone with a very shaky and weak voice, “H-hello.” He listened over the phone and answered quietly when he needed. “Yes. . . okay. . . But. . . No. . . Okay, okay. . . “ Pan handed me the phone back after the caller hung up. Pan’s face was just pure white at this point. “H-he w-wants m-me t-to b-bring $200,000 a-at t-the o-old w-warehouse.” He gulped. “I don’t have that kind of money.”
“Doesn’t matter,” Parker stated proudly. “The trace worked.” I watched as Parker and his friends started to load their guns. Parker changed out of his shirt and pants and grabbed some gear out of his duffle he had brought with him. He passed out some black caps and the three put them on their forehead, ready they started for the door. The three looked deadly.
Parker walked over to me as the others started to head out of the apartment. “Listen, Kal, this is dangerous. Always is, got that.” I nodded. “Now, I want you to do something, if I am not back in five hours I want you to call this number.” He handed me a business card for a pizza place. “Ask for a pepperoni pizza with no cheese. When asked for the access code, read this number off and ask for Curtis. Tell him everything, he’ll know what to do.”
“And then what?” I held my breath tight.
“Just hope that I am alive. This only works when my eye is open and there’s a heart beat.” He took out a contact lens and slid it onto his eye. I started to tear up. This was Delta Nine, and I was terrified for him. This was no longer fiction in one of my books. This was my father, going into action to save my daughter. “Don’t worry, these things have saved my life more than once.”
As Parker started to walk towards the door I ran to him, “Dad!” I hugged him, “Just bring her back. Bring my daughter back.”
“I will.” He held me tight, “Don’t give up, Kaliq. I will get her back to you. You have my word. I love you, son.”
“I love you, too.” I allowed a tear to escape. “You’re my hero.”
“I’m nobody’s hero, not yet at least.” Then he was gone. Gone to get my daughter back. Gone to fight my fight. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. I needed his strength to keep me going for the next five hours. Then if the time comes, I will cry, but not yet.
Four hours later. . .
I had started to pace as the clock ticked past the three hour mark. Pan looked even more nervous, and couldn’t keep his foot still. Riddle was given another sedative after Parker left the apartment. She was having a complete meltdown. Doctor Singer wanted to put me down as well, but I flat out refused. I was the only one that knew what needed to be done at the five hour mark. He ended up leaving soon after, and telling me to call him if we needed him.
“I’m sorry,” Pan whispered so quietly that I had to stop and ask him if he said something. He repeated the apology a bit louder.
“For what I did, what I said.” I lifted my brow in confusion. What the hell was the guy talking about. “For what happen between Riddle and I.”
“You mean your sorry you raped her?” I asked with a very dry mouth. Riddle may want not to say it, but it was rape. Pan kept his silence but slowly nodded his head. “I’m not the one you should apologize to. You’re lucky she didn’t call the cops. You’re lucky I’m too damn worried about my little girl that I don’t want to kill you right now.”
“Will you?” his hoarse quiet whisper told me he was afraid, very afraid.
“I haven’t decided.” I stopped pacing and faced Pan. “You’re a fucked up, spoiled, little brat. You ruined a young woman’s life. She almost lost everything because of you and your damned reputation. She couldn’t go to the cops. Her celeb status and your rep would have killed her career. She had no one, at least she didn’t think she had anyone. I’ve loved her since I was ten, and when she told me what you did, all I’ve wanted to do is kill you.
“So, here’s the deal, I won’t kill you if you promise to never come back into our lives after tonight. I’ll forget all about you and what you did, if you don’t ever claim that my daughter is yours by blood. No paternity tests, nothing. You just go on living your crappy lifestyle, and stay as far away from any Rain you ever meet. Got it?”
Pan swallowed hard, “Got it.”
I looked at the clock again, four hours and ten minutes. Fifty minutes, my dad had less than an hour to show. I paced again. Pan bowed his head and started to pray. I wasn’t much of a praying man, or religious, but looking at Pan I knew it couldn’t hurt. I got down on my knees and started to pray myself.
“God,” I said out loud. “I know I don’t talk much to you. I swear up a storm and I may not even know if I am doing this right, but I need you now. My baby needs you, I need you. Give my father strength. I know you’ve given him so much so far, but I need you to get him through tonight. I need you to get him to my baby girl. Please.”
“Amen.” Pan whispered. “Your dad will get her.”
“I hope your right.” I whispered back to Pan.
Four hours and forty-five minutes. . .
“Fifteen minutes.” I mumbled. I had stopped pacing was now looking out the window. Pan had given Riddle the sofa after she woke and moved away from her per my request. (Like I’d allow the man that raped Riddle anywhere near her!) Riddle was in a ball on the sofa crying. “Come on dad, hurry.”
“He’s not coming,” Riddle cried. “Kaliq call the cops.”
“No cops. I have my orders.”
“He’s dead, and Caitlin may be dead.”
I turned and went straight to her. I looked her dead in the eyes, “She is not dead, Riddle.” I wasn’t going to believe it, not yet. Not when I still had. . . Thirteen minutes. “Riddle you have to believe that dad will get our daughter back, that he will save her.”
“This isn’t like one of your books, Kal,” she started to sob.
“No, its not, but he still is Delta Nine. Those books were inspired by his heroism. If it wasn’t for the real life man, the story wouldn’t be half as interesting. Riddle, dad will get the job done. I promise you, dad will get her back for us.”
Four hours and Fifty-seven minutes . . .
“Three more minutes, Kaliq.” Pan whispered. I was biting my nails and holding onto my cell. “Maybe you should just -”
The front door flew open and the three of us jumped. There the two guys that were helping dad came walking in. The dark one was carrying in the blonde who was groaning and screaming. The man was in pain.
“First aid!” The guy yelled.
I pointed towards the bedroom, “Bathroom.” He threw the blonde on the sofa, who screamed in agony and started to swear at the other man, and headed for the bathroom. I started to yell out, “Where’s my. . .”
Then we heard it, the sound that made my heart leap for joy. The sound of a baby’s cry. Dad walked in through the door holding my little daughter. Riddle was at the door before I could even take a step. “Here’s mommy,” dad said to Cait, “There you go angel.”
I ran to dad and hugged him myself, “Thank you. Thank you.” I started to cry in his shoulder.
“It was nothing, son.”
I shook my head in his shoulder and looked at him, “No, it was everything. Dad, you saved my girl. You truly are my hero and I love you. I can’t even express my thanks.”
“You already did, Kal.” My dad hugged me back. “I love you too.”
Behind us, Pan cleared his throat. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I was wondering if I could get going?”
I nodded and we all moved from the door. I would have taken a swing right there, but my heart just wasn’t into revenge at that moment. All I really cared was my family was together. Pan stopped right when he saw Riddle holding Cait. He looked at her for a brief moment, and my thoughts suddenly changed. “She has your eyes.”
“Would you like to hold her?” Riddle asked.
Pan shook his head, “No. I’m glad she’s safe, and I’m just glad she has people who love her.” He turned to me, “Take care of her. Be the best damn father you can be to her. Don’t be like me, or my old man. Just. . . Love her.”
“Already do.” I said, and I shook the man’s hand. “Thanks for helping us.”
“No problem.” Pan left, and was out of our lives. Riddle and I were grateful for him, and would always be. Not because he saved her life by being there that night, but by being the “donor.” It took us years to really be thankful for that, because without his DNA we would never have the daughter we love.
After Pan left our apartment and dad got his friend the medical attention he needed, he sat Riddle and I down for a meeting and debriefed us. “This was a professional job. Cait was better protected than the fucking President. I don’t know who they thought they had, but it was a bitch getting in and out of there.”
“You know who did it?” I asked.
“Not a clue. We managed to get to Cait, and grab her. We didn’t ask a whole lot of questions, if you know what I mean. Something doesn’t feel right though about this, Kaliq. It was as if they expected us to come in the way we did. They were prepared for. . . Well, they we’re prepared for me.” He looked me dead in the eye, “I’m sorry, but I think I’ve just put your family in a whole lot more danger than I realized.”
“What do you mean?” Riddle asked.
“If they knew that I was the one to be rescuing Cait, then they know of me. I’m supposed to be a ghost, Riddle. I’m dead to most, if not all of my enemies. It’s how I survived these last few years. Someone knows I am alive, and if they know you are my flesh and blood, none of you are safe.” Dad turned to me, “I am so sorry, Kaliq.”
“Don’t. This isn’t your fault, dad. You’ve blamed yourself for too much already, don’t blame yourself for this. You got my daughter out of there, you did good dad.” Dad and I held each other’s gaze until he nodded that he understood. It took a while, but I think finally he let the guilt go. “So, what are we going to do?”
“All I know is, that I don’t want you three to live another day in this apartment. They know where you live and they will come after you. My men and I are going to keep watch tonight, but in the morning we are packing you all up and moving.”
I pounded my head on the table, “Not again.”
Dad chuckled, “It’s not as bad as the last time, kiddo. I’ll be there, protecting you and your family. We’ll get through this together.”
“What about my job? I have a television show, Mr. Rain. I’m the biggest name in Hollywood. People will notice me.”
“I’m not saying we are hiding you. We’re just getting away from apartment living. I can’t protect you all in a building that I can’t keep track of who’s coming in and who’s going out. I need surveillance, I need to see every inch of the place. It’s the only way we’re all going to survive.”
“What do you mean, you?” I asked. “You don’t think -”
“I do think, and it’s gonna happen, Kaliq. Meet your new Head of Security.”
“And those two are gonna be our body guards?” I asked about his two buddies.
“No. They still work with the agency. I’ll be hiring out when we move. I had plan on opening a security firm eventually, and now I can see an opportunity here. I can keep my family safe at home and start a new venture in security like I’ve been planning.”
“What about ma?”
“She’ll have to make the choice to either stay in Neverglade or come with me. My priority right now though is you three. I just went through hell saving my granddaughter, and I am never going to do that again. Keeping you alive and safe is and has always been my mission.”
No matter if we tried to argue, dad wouldn’t hear of it. The next day he called a group of movers and had us packed and ready to go. We had no clue as to where we were heading when we left the apartment, but we figured that we weren’t going to stay in Hollywood. It was Uncle Jake that offered his place in Brooklyn Heights for us.
He had come to help pack, and when dad and him started to talk he just offered us the place. “It has a separate apartment.”
“When did you live in Brooklyn?” dad asked.
Jake laughed at dad’s question, “I moved there about five years after. . . Well, after what happened in Bridgeport. I couldn’t return there and I had a few movies needed done, so I moved production not far from Bridgeport. Its a good place. The apartment has stairs that lead to the garage. My body guards used the place for security and shared the apartment. You might have to update the cameras, but the place is set for what you need.”
“You know, I’m sorry about all that, right?”
Jake nodded, “Parker, your dad was proud of you. I’m proud of you. Please, stop feeling guilty about it. Your dad, Claire, they wouldn’t want you to feel guilty.”
I watched as for the first time my dad shed a tear, “Thanks, Uncle Jake.”
“Take care of your family, kid. Do right by the Rain name.”
Without taking a single look at the place, we headed to Brooklyn Heights. We were at the house within a week and I was shocked at what I saw. It was one of the most amazing looking houses I have ever seen.
Dad spent the first week converting the garage into his own private security office. He replaced the old cameras with new cameras all over the outside of the house. Riddle and I flat out refused cameras inside, saying that was an invasion of our own privacy. While he worked on protecting my family, Riddle and I concentrated on decorating and making the place lived in.
It took weeks, but ma (along with Charlie) finally showed up at the house with boxes full of stuff. She agreed to follow dad after hearing his pleas for almost a month over the phone. I still don’t know what won her over, but I think that the thought of living with one of her grandkids was a very big incentive.
The only issue was where Charlie would stay the three months he’d live with us. Scott and ma made the deal, Scott got Charlie during the school year (that way he didn’t have to transfer schools) and ma got him over the summer and holidays. We ended up giving him one of the four bedrooms, and told him he may someday have to share with his nephews.
Our house was almost completely furnished by the time the two showed up, so we sold most of what we didn’t need from her house. However, ma told Riddle and I to sit down and said she had a special box for us to open. “I found it in the garage while Jahi, sorry, Jenny and I were packing.”
I opened the cardboard box and inside Riddle and I found picture frames. I took the first one out, and saw it was a picture of Riddle, Story and I. “Holy crap, I almost forgot about these,” I blurted out.
“Wow, we were so young!” Riddle laughed, “Look at Story and you.” Riddle took a picture of her sister scaring me while we were playing cops and robbers. “Thanks Mrs. C.”
“It’s RAIN!” dad yelled coming inside the living room with another box.
Mom waved her off, “Don’t be. You didn’t know that Park and I went and got remarried. Kaliq probably didn’t even know, seeing how he was too busy getting engaged. When were you going to tell me this?”
Ooops. “Sorry. Kinda been busy, you know with Cait being kidnapped and all. How did you find out?” I apologized. I really meant to tell her, I did.
“Your father has a big mouth.” She teased, and behind me dad stuck his tongue out at her as he walked towards the stairs. “So, any plans on the wedding? When is it? Where? How big? Is it going to be one of those big Hollywood weddings that’s on TV?”
“Hell no!” Riddle, and I said together and laughed. We had both agreed we wanted a simple and small wedding with just our family and Casey and Rose. “We want a small wedding, Mrs. Rain. Small and very private. I don’t want to make it a big deal. My whole life is in front of the camera, for once I want something private.”
“Where you want to get married then?” She asked.
“Here.” I said with a wide grin on my face. “No one can get on this lot without going through dad, and that includes paparazzi.”
Four months later that’s just what we were doing. Getting married. Or at least trying to get ready for a wedding. I had slept the night before in one of the spare rooms with my best friend as a bunk mate. We were so hung-over from the bachelor party that dad threw for me the night before. Neither of us wanted to get out of bed. . . at all!
The night before, us men went out and celebrated at a bar. We even had a stripper show up. I had fun, got maybe a bit too drunk on the champagne. Casey and I probably drank our weight in liquor. Thank god, dad said he’d be the designated driver. It helps that he doesn’t drink, or at least isn’t supposed to at any rate. Getting a lap dance probably wasn’t the smartest thing in the world, but by that time I was having too much fun. Coke, on the other hand wasn’t too pleased with that. All in all it was the best night of my life. The highlight, though, was Coke’s speech. Out of everything that happened that night it was the one thing I never really want to forget.
“Kaliq’s been like a son to me for almost fifteen years. He walked into my daughter’s life when they were just small children and though their relationship has always been rocky, their love for each other never dwindled. Or at least his love for Riddle never faltered. Kaliq, tomorrow you become my true son. I’ve never been as proud of you as I will be tomorrow when you slide that ring on my daughter’s finger. You two are soul mates and deserve happiness and only happiness from here on out. So, to Kaliq – may you have happiness.”
Of course now waking up, I regretted the drinking. Dad came barging in – bastard – waking us up. “Time to get up!”
Casey groaned, and I moaned, “What time is it?”
“Eight. Guests are arriving shortly, and I need the groom up, bathed, and dress before they get here. Up and at ‘em, big guy!”
Why was he so fucking cheery in the morning? “Case, you alive?”
“Noooooo,” Casey groaned. “How much did we drink last night?”
“Wish I knew.” I sat up and tried to remember how the hell I got up to the top bunk. Had to be dad, just had to be, cause I certainly wasn’t in shape to even walk out of the bar last night.
Casey and I showered, and started to get dress when dad popped back into the room.He was dressed to kill. Seriously, he had the look of James Bond down. I turned and grinned at him, “Well Mr. Bond. . .”
Dad laughed and struck a bond pose. Dork. “How’s the groom and best man?” He asked us.
“Getting there,” I yawned. “You wouldn’t happen to know what I did with my brain do you? My head hurts like hell and I’m thinking part of it fell out last night.”
Dad laughed, “Nope sorry, haven’t seen it. You think you can find it in three hours?”
“You ready for this?”
I thought about it for a moment. Was I ready to marry Riddle? Yes. I think. No, I should know. I know I’ve been wanting this since I could remember, but now I was so damn nervous I wasn’t sure what I wanted. I took a couple of deep breathes to relax before answering with a solid, “Yes.”
I was asked to go downstairs before Riddle. She would be last to come out of the house, or so I was told. Downstairs I mingled with the guests.
Oni –er – Jon had flown from Egypt just to witness this occasion. He was still there working on his digs. He did mention that he met someone there and was thinking about staying permanently even after his few digs. I doubt ma would be too thrilled with his decision, but it was his after all.
Jahi – er – Jenny (why do I keep doing that!), Joe, and Dani showed up that day. Neverglade was six hours away, and Joe had worked until late the day before. They drove all night just to make it to the wedding. I just hoped they could stay awake just long enough to enjoy the party, before heading to the hotel. Tonight we made everyone, and I mean everyone, get a hotel room. Hell, ma and dad were going to take Cait to their hotel room for the night so we’d have the entire evening to ourselves.
Coke and Anya had been at our place for a week helping with preparations. Anya was busy helping Riddle get ready along with my ma. Those three were completely glued to the hip since Anya arrived. This wedding was something the three of them couldn’t stop thinking about. Coke on the other hand was a nervous wreck and I found him talking to his other son-in-law, Ben.
Ben, along with his son Beckett, showed up. As soon as I saw Coke talking to Ben I headed over there and mingled with them. I met the five year that would soon be my nephew. I asked how Story was and Ben said that she was in the hospital getting what help she needed, but she still had mental problems and they continued to get worse.
As we talked I noticed Chance who finally showed up. Riddle had been hoping her brother would come to the wedding, but we weren’t sure seeing how they hardly spoke to each other in years. I was so happy to see him, that I practically ran to him and hugged him. “Riddle is going to be excited to see that you made it.”
“Thanks, glad that you guys thought of me.”
“Your her brother, of course we did.” I said, hoping to assure him somewhat that we didn’t forget him. Coke came over after seeing the two of us and gave his son a hug as well. We talked until dad came over to tell me it was time.
The guests all sat down and the wedding started.
I stood in front and waited for my bride. First, Dad walked mom and Anya (who was holding Cait) down the isle.
Casey, who’s my best man, walked Rose (who’s Riddle’s stand in for her maid of honor) down the isle. She wanted Story, but seeing that she couldn’t make it for obvious reasons, Riddle asked Rose the last minute.
The moment finally arrived and everyone stood. Cocaine walked Riddle down the isle and I think I forgot how to breath. She was absolutely gorgeous in her white wedding dress. I can’t even explain her beauty, it was just breathtaking.
After shaking Cocaine’s hand and watching him kiss his daughter’s cheek the wedding started. I was to say my vows first, and being the writer I am, I totally blanked when I stood there. I had written a set of vows beforehand, but as I looked at Riddle my mind drew up a blank. That was until Casey slid me a piece of paper, which got the crowd to laugh a little.
I read my vows, “Riddle me this, Riddle me that, where’s the girl that stole my heart at? Answer, right in front of me. Riddler, you stole my heart the day I met you and you ran away with it at every chance you got. When I’m with you I am whole, and when I am away from you, I am barely living. I’ve learned over the years that living without you is something I can barely tolerate, let alone do without some help. Living with you is a whole other story.
“Living with you means, being alive. When I wake in the morning with you at my side my world means something. My heart swells and I thank god that I have you and our Caitlin. Today, I am asking you for your hand in marriage so that I can always live and be without fear of ever losing you again. I vow to love you for eternity, and to be the best husband and father to your children. I vow to stay true to you, and never stray. I vow everything I have and only ask for you in return. I love you Riddle Moss, and will never stop loving you.”
Riddle wiped her eyes of tears before saying her own vows. “Potter breath.” She and I laughed, “That’s my favorite nickname Story gave you. I have always hated the teasing, but when you call me the Riddler I feel loved. The way you say my name, Riddler, makes my heart flutter. I can remember the day I met you and how that moment changed my life. There’s not a childhood moment without you in it, and if there is, then it’s not a happy one. I wish I could say the same for after junior high, but I can’t. Since then most of my memories are without you, or if they have you in it, its tainted. That is, until recently. When I thought my life was over, you showed me that I hadn’t lost anything, I merely gained something. When Cait came into my life, you stepped up. You say you want to be the best husband and father, I already say you are the best father.
I give everything I have to you and so much more. I love you Kaliq Isaac Rain. We share something that’s more than love, and deep down we know this was meant to be. I vow to stop fighting what’s inside, and let life take us to unimaginable places. I love you and never want to be apart from you. So today, I give you me, as a wife, a lover, and a friend.”
Casey handed me the ring after Riddle finished and I slid it on her finger. I mouthed the words, “I love you” to her. She did the same with the ring Rose gave her and mouthed the same words.
Finally it was time for me to kiss my bride. Everyone cheered as we kissed. I looked at my bride then and there and my heart melted. I was married, and to Riddle Moss no less. We had gone through hell and back, and somehow we managed to get to this point. Life couldn’t be more perfect.
Author’s Note: Parker Rain’s tale on the rescue can be found here, or by clicking on the picture.
Also Pan Hart is from Home is Where the Hart Is by Deeds.