With a soft braid draped over River’s shoulder in a white lace fitted dress, Bliss held the hands of the future Mrs. Bliss. Standing in front of the Justice of the Peace, River’s hazel eyes glowed bright as tears collected in them. Bliss couldn’t have asked for better timing. The sun was setting and the evening’s golden light shined in between the buildings of downtown Klamath Falls, OR and cloaked River in light, setting off her burnt hair and ivory skin. His heart drummed in his chest loudly. No one was there excepted for him, River, the Justice of the Peace, and River’s neighbor, Mrs. Barham acting as witness.
Excitement with a drop of fear for the unknown touched Bliss’ veins. Bliss was joining his life forever more to the woman of his dreams and he couldn’t believe what a lucky man he was. Dressed in his dress khakis, Bliss heard the Justice of the Peace somewhere in the back of his mind. All his focus was on the stunning woman before him. River gazed into his eyes and he saw a love so real and so deep he knew she would make him a better man. He pulled in a ragged breath, squeezed her hands, and gave her a wink. He knew he would rise to every occasion simply to see that beautiful smile of hers greet him at the end of every day.
River’s chocked voice met his ears and the backs of his eyes started to burn.
“I, River Connelly, take thee, Maddox Bliss, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge myself to you.”
River’s delicate fingers slipped the large white gold ring on to this ring finger. A knot formed in his throat as he looked down. The ring looked good there on his hand. Tears collected in his eyes. He would remember this moment forever. His gaze lifted and locked on River, tears streaked her rosy cheeks. His heart stopped.
Next it was his turn.
“I Maddox Bliss, take thee, River Connelly, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge myself to you.”
Bliss glided River’s wedding band up her finger. It fit perfectly there on her hand. A single tear slipped from his eye and River wiped it away and then cupped his face tenderly, she pressed her soft lips to his. Her flowery scent embraced him and he grinned.
The kiss was soft and gentle. She stoked the fire inside him. He gathered her into his strong arms and he unleashed his passion for her. River wrapped her arms around him and gave herself over to him. Bliss loved that with him she could be carefree even if it was only for stolen moment here and there.
A throaty sound came from the Justice of the Peace and River pulled back and shimmed her dress down back to her knees and then she wiped her lips grinning from ear to ear. Damn. His heart stopped again. She was so damn beautiful with passion in her eyes, and her cheeks flushed. If he didn’t have Mrs. Barham to drive home he would drag this amazing woman to the truck and have his way with her. But Bliss stopped himself. No there would be plenty of that for the rest of his life. A warm rich-silky feeling welled up inside him. He was a married man now. He had a wife to take care of and a family to make. Life couldn’t get much better.
“Thank you Sr. for fitting us in before you closed,” said Bliss to the Justice of the Peace.
The older man grinned and shot out a hand for Bliss to take.
“Anything for a man who serves our country,” the judge said gratitude in his gray tired eyes.
Bliss took the man’s hand and gave it a shake. Mrs. Barham approached from the back corner looking bright in her large floral print dress.
“That was some kiss,” she said, giving him and River a wink. “That’s the stuff books are made of.”
River blushed and took Bliss’ hand after the Justice of the Peace released his hold on Bliss.
“Yes. Yes it was. Let’s go home and started packing the house,” River said to Bliss.
“What you’re not staying here?”
Bliss, River and Mrs. Barham walked out of the office, marriage license sticking up out of Bliss’ back pocket.
“No, Bliss and I’ve decided to sell my house and we’ll live in Mathews. I can work anywhere although I’ll miss you terribly.”
Mrs. Barham waved River off and Bliss smirked. The little old lady was something, funny, sweet, and tough. He liked her.
“Don’t go worrying about me. I have books to write and I’ll come visit.” Mrs. Barham patted River’s hand and scooted to the truck. She stopped at the cab door.
“Sonny, you’re going to have to give me a boost.”
On the ride home River molded against Bliss’ side. Every now and then she would lift her hand and stare at her ring. Then she would smile and melt into him a little more. His wife was amazing.
When they reached the house River kissed and hugged Mrs. Barham before Bliss helped Mrs. Barham home. He could tell they would miss each other. He would make it a point to make sure they got to see each other at least once or twice a year.
As he walked Mrs. Barham to the front door of her home she stopped, turned, and hugged him.
“You take good care of that girl. She needs your love. I can see it.” Then she slapped him on the cheek hard. “Don’t you every hurt her or I’ll come after you. Hear me,” she said, shaking a finger in his face.
Mrs. Barham disappeared into her home and Bliss rubbed his cheek and walked back to River’s house. When he walked in there was one of River’s high heels. Half way up the stairs was another. A smile split his face and he took off running.
River laid on top of the bed naked waiting for Bliss. As she laid there her attention was drawn to the brown flattened boxes leaning against the wall with packing tape on top. Anxiously she peered around at the door. She bit her lip then sprang from the bed. They only had three days until Bliss had to be back to work. That wasn’t much time to pack. She opened the box at record speed, grabbed the tape and taped the bottom of the box. She then tossed it onto the floor. She grabbed another, taped it, and started on a third. She had all the boxes opened and taped, ready for items to be entered when she noticed Bliss leaning against the frame of the door, arms folded over his chest watching her with a wide smile on his face. He raised a dark brown brow at her and she straightened. There in his uniform it reminded her of the day she’d gone to the Unit with Logston. How far they had come between then and now, granted their situation wasn’t ideal for newlyweds with the bar to run, the house to sell, and another move. River couldn’t be more at peace with her life.
“Mrs. Bliss, what are you doing?”
“Getting boxes ready for packing,” she said, smiling weakly.
“I run all the way up the stairs excited to see what I would find with your clothes thrown all over the place and this is what you’re doing!”
She threw herself onto the bed and laughed as he rushed her and laid across her body. Her senses came alive. He ran a finger over her cheek, staring into her eyes. Her toes curled. Bliss had the most amazing eyes. Slowly she caressed his back and her body became hot.
“I want you to remember this moment,” Bliss said, whispering into her ear.
“I want you to remember that on our wedding night you started packing boxes naked because you’re impatient.”
River laughed. That wasn’t what she’d been expecting to hear. But he was right.
“Let me make it up to you,” she said, beginning to unbutton his shirt.