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Though it came as no surprise to any of us, Jo’s wedding was shaping up to be a grand affair. The backyard was completely reformed to look like the purple Garden of Eden scene that Jo imagined. I wasn’t too thrilled about the white poufy bridesmaid dress I was expected to wear but I don’t think any bridesmaid in history has ever liked their dress. Jo certainly loved hers. She had it custom-dyed to be just the right shade of lavender that she wanted so it could match the lavender flowers she had planted in our yard around the wedding arch.

1777

Some of our out of town guests were going to stay with us until after the wedding like Johanna’s friend, Maya, and my Uncle Ayden and his daughter Kirsten who arrived without Aunt Leni since she was unable to get time off before the wedding and was going to come the day itself. Kirsten is my little spitfire cousin who gave me a hard time during my last stay in Windenburg. She was now a teenager and I bet still the same rude brat she was as a kid.

1778

Of course, she acted friendly towards Johanna and her fiancé but I caught her glancing at me a few times with this look of disdain. Pssht. I don’t know what her problem with me was but now she was in my house so she better not misbehave with me in any way. Aunt Leni is such a sweet person. How she managed to have a daughter like her, I’ll never know!

Since some of the wedding guests were staying with us, Dad thought it would be a good idea to have a rehearsal dinner since the wedding was the following day. Some of the wedding guests attended including Cyrus. I made up my mind to talk to him that night as I couldn’t go another day without telling him how I felt. If he ended up rejecting me, then, well, at least people will think I’m crying tears of joy at Jo’s wedding and not tears of sadness.

In spite of my issues with Cyrus, our family had never been happier. I think Jo’s wedding helped brought us all closer since we all helped out in some way with the planning. It would be our first family gathering with Addie as our Dad’s wife. I knew she was excited about it and so was he. Jo was going to be his first daughter to get married. The first one he would get to walk down the aisle. He would most likely get his first grandchild from her and I knew he couldn’t wait for that day.

Unfortunately, fate had something else in store.

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1781

We were so busy listening and laughing to whatever stupid story Terrance was telling that we didn’t realise what was happening until it was too late.

Dad’s time was up!

I was devastated. Why? Why did the Reaper take him away from us so soon? Izzy wasn’t even home as yet, she was still at work. Johanna’s wedding was tomorrow. Couldn’t he have waited until after that?

1782

I knew it was the Grim Reaper’s job to take people when their time was up but….he already took Mum from us too soon, why did he want to take Dad from us now of all times?

Addie ran into the room when she heard us bawling. When she saw Dad on the floor and him standing over him she dropped to her knees and begged.

“Please, please spare him for one more day!” She cried. “Just one more day, let him spend one last day with his family!”

1783

He ignored her pleas and swiftly took Dad away from us leaving behind an urn with his remains.

Dad was gone.

We all remained in the hall surrounding his remains as we mourned him. Isabel came home early from work after Jo sent a text telling her what happened. I was so grateful that Cyrus was there. He held me close as I just cried into his shoulder. He didn’t say a word he just let me get it out. It was the best thing he could have done for me in that moment.

1784

But I was so consumed with my own grief that I forgot all about Gabriel. He was just a kid so he would feel it worse than the rest of us. Poor thing. Dad was his best friend and his only parent.

“I’m sorry Gabe.”

“Why is he gone, Vee?”

“It was his time.”

“But he wasn’t that old.”

I smiled a little. Children and their innocence. “Yeah Gabe, he was.”

1785

“I miss him already.”

“I miss him too. But he’s at rest now. He’s in a better place and he will always be around no matter what because he’ll still be looking after us. Okay?”

He nodded and then went off to play with his toys. Children were so resilient. I wish us adults could be more like them in situations like this.

1786

Later that night after our guests went to bed I overheard Johanna and Terrance talking with Isabel about whether or not they should postpone the wedding. My sisters and I were so sad and so were Addie and Gabe that none of us were in any kind of mood for a party but since all the arrangements were made and we had out of town guests that were here for the wedding it made sense to go ahead as planned.

None of us were happy about it but as I told Jo later on, getting married to the man she loved would only bring her joy and it would help bring the rest of us out of our depression.

Dad would have wanted the wedding to take place anyway.

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The following afternoon all the guests started to arrive and Izzy and I escorted them to our backyard. Izzy saw the look on my face and tried to comfort me.

“It’s what he would have wanted.”

“I know, but it’s not just that.”

1788

“What is it?”

“It’s…well…I don’t know…”

“Jo’s leaving. After today she’ll move in with Terrance and she’ll no longer live with us. Is that it?”

That wasn’t it. Jo wasn’t leaving town, they were going to move into that large house across the street from ours. It will be like she was still living with us. “Yeah, that’s it.”

“I guess it’s a little harder to deal with now that Dad is gone. Jo going will be like one other person leaving us. I keep trying to tell myself that she’s not going anywhere she’s just changing her address but I’m still a little sad about it. We can’t let her know that. Today is her big day. We have to fake it as much as we can.”

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“You’re absolutely right. I’ll try not to look so bummed out.” It will be a difficult task because Jo moving out was not the reason why I felt so down.

The ceremony started and everyone gathered around the arch surrounding the bride and groom.

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They said their vows, professing their love for each other and then exchanged rings. When I saw the way they looked at each other throughout the whole thing it became clear to me. I knew the reason why I was so bummed out. It wasn’t because of Dad’s death or because of Johanna moving out.

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I was bummed out because of me. Because I wasn’t the one standing under that arch with the man I loved. Because I was such a loser that it took me so long to admit to myself that I loved Cyrus and that I’ve done nothing but waste time after that realisation instead of telling him how I felt.

I wanted what Jo had. I wanted it so much that instead of being happy for my sister I felt jealous! Ugh, I’m so selfish to think about myself today but I can’t help it. Everyone else was smiling and gushing over the happy couple and I’m there feeling sorry for myself.

1792

I was done postponing this! I needed to stop pussy-footing and talk to Cyrus!

I pulled him away from everyone to the side of the house where I knew we could talk uninterrupted.

“How are you feeling?” He asked.

“A little better.” I said. I was so nervous, those butterflies in my stomach felt like they had razors for wings.

1793

“You look beautiful.”

“I…I do?”

“You always look beautiful…just today you look really stunning. It’s nice seeing you wear something other than a lab coat and a t-shirt with jeans.”

1794

I blushed at his compliment which actually made me feel more at ease. “Thank you.” There was silence. Not an awkward silence but just a silence like we both wanted to say much more but didn’t know where to begin.

“Cyrus, I love you!” I blurted out. What the hell Ivy! “And not as in you’re my friend and I love you kind of way. I mean, I’m so completely in love with you that it’s the reason why I’ve been so awkward and crazy around you. It’s why I’ve been putting my foot in my mouth. It’s why I’ve been avoiding you. I’m sorry I didn’t say it sooner but I didn’t know if you felt the same way and I didn’t want to jeopardise our friendship if my feelings were one-sided. But the truth is that I’ve been in love with you for a long time and I just need you to know that.”

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His eyes opened wide. He looked like I told him I had a flesh eating virus or something.

“Ivy…I…um…”

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This was what I was afraid of. This was why I didn’t want to say any…

“I love you too.”

I hoped to Watcher I heard that right!

“I’ve loved you for a long time as well. Gosh, you, girl you have no idea how long I wanted to tell you the same damn thing. I was afraid and then you were sending all these mixed signals…I didn’t know what to do but now…Ivy, I love you!”

1796

“Really?”

“Yes, really?”

“I can’t believe we were both so chicken.”

“Yeah, my sister kept pushing me to tell you.”

I laughed. “My sister did the same.”

“So where do we go from now?”

“I think I have an idea.”

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“Was I too forward?” I asked, hoping he wouldn’t say yes.

“Not. At. All. Come here!” He pulled me close and planted a hot kiss on my lips. It was just how I imagined my first kiss to be!

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And just a few days ago I was convinced that I had messed up beyond repair but I was so wrong. Cyrus loved me as well. My sadness was replaced with a joy I had never experienced before. Things could only get better from here on out. I wished Dad was still here so I could share this news with him but I know he’s watching and he’s happy for me.

********************************************************************

 In Memory of Zachary

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