Sunday, 12 October 2014

Epilogue: The Lighthouse

Kaci looked at the man before her and the nervous flutterings in her stomach immediately stopped. It had been two years ago to the day that they had begun the journey that led them here and while they had faced some difficult times in between, they had stuck together and they always pulled through. She'd awoken that morning to sounds of her two best friends screaming as they ran into her hotel suite and jumped on her bed screaming excitedly. For a few hazy seconds she'd thought she was a student again, in the house they had shared for the last five years, but reality soon came back and realising where she was, she jumped for joy with them. Now as she stood on the beach, about to take the biggest step of the next chapter in her life, she couldn't have been happier.
"Does the best man have the rings?", Malcolm looked around, frantically feeling his pockets, but then his face broke into a sly grin, "Just kidding", he said, holding the box up and winking at the guests. Kaci laughed and shook her head, forever the joker but she loved him for it.


Malcolm threw the box to Mortimer and yelled "Touchdown!" when he caught it. Taking a bow, he smoothly lowered himself on to his seat. Mortimer shook his head and laughed "Wait until your wedding day, just wait", making the guests laugh again. He turned to face Kaci, his own nerves non existent. He was too happy to be nervous. Sliding the ring on her finger, he watched as her eyes filled with tears and fought the knee jerk reaction of his own starting to form.



"Don't make me cry, it will ruin my make up", he joked. Kaci laughed, dabbed the tears from his eyes and then slowly slid Mortimers ring on to his finger.


Her tears were mostly happy but there were a few tinged with sadness. She wished more than anything that her Mom could have been there to witness her big day, to see her take such a big step. She felt as though she was, Kaci had asked her as soon as she'd gotten engaged if she could wear her wedding dress and Claire had tearfully obliged. Now, as she stood under the wedding arch, wearing the beautiful dress, she glanced up at the cloudless sky and knew her mom was there in spirit.
"You may now kiss your beautiful bride", the Vicar said, Mortimer wasted no time, as cheers and confetti erupted all around them.  Sandi looked across at Troy as happy tears streamed down her face, "Troy, are you. . . crying?" she teased, nudging him playfully. "What?! No!", he exclaimed, "Sand in my eye", he sniffed. "Whatever Tellmer", she laughed.


Kaci looked around at all the people there and her heart swelled to know that there were so many people who genuinely wished them well. They had even invited Sam, after a long discussion with Mortimer they'd both agreed to lock away the last chapter and start afresh. He couldn't make it, he was away, working in Shang Simla but he sent them his best and thanked them for their kindness. They hadn't invited Bella for obvious reasons, the last they heard, her dad had somehow found out the truth about what really happened with Troy and had disowned her, offering a personal apology to Troy himself. Since then she'd left the Valley but no one knew exactly where she was, rumour had it she'd moved into the city. As Kaci scanned the crowd, her face focused on someone in particular and her breath caught in her chest as a fresh set of tears began to fall.



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"Can I have the bride, groom, best man and maid of honor please?" The photographer asked, they assembled themselves and he took the picture.


"You guys are next", Mortimer teased Sandi and Malcolm. "Will you stop putting idea's in her head, I'm not there yet!" Malcolm joked, truth was he'd have married her in a heartbeat, he was just waiting until she was ready. "Ok, can I have one of you guys and your bridesmaid?", the photographer asked. "Sure", Kaci called Darlene over, interrupting her conversation with her date. It hadn't looked like a happy one to be honest. He looked slightly uncomfortable and Kaci felt he was way too old for Darlene but she'd kept her opinions to herself. Darlene would have to find out for herself if he was worth it, she reasoned. The five of them lined up, "Okay. . . one, two, three, Cheese!" *FLASH*, the camera clicked capturing the five of them, frozen in time.


"Guys, I can't believe you did it! I'm so proud of you!" Sandi exclaimed, hugging them both tightly. "Okay, I have to go before I start crying again, damn you!" she laughed, wandering across to the dancefloor. Darlene, for once, was at a loss for words. It was all she could do to smile. She turned and followed Sandi, wiping tears as she went. "Women", Malcolm scoffed, but Kaci and Mortimer heard the crack in his voice, they laughed as he pointed after the girls and followed them, unable to speak any more. "What would we do without them?" Kaci asked, smiling as she watched the three dancing wildly on the dance floor. Mortimer sighed happily, "I honestly don't know".


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"OK, Guys? Can I have your attention?" The photographer called again, "I'd like a picture of the entire wedding party, so if you could just position yourselves around Kaci and Mortimer that would be great", he smiled. The couldn't fault the guy, they'd told him they wanted him to capture their entire day and that was exactly what he'd done. It was dark now, bellies were full and everybody was happy so he'd taken the moment before their first dance to get a few group shots.




The group laughed as Darlene made him wait until her hair was perfect, even though it hadn't moved all day, then they laughed harder as she protested when he caught her 'fixing' it. Bessie looked across at Kaci and her friends and her heart swelled with pride and little nostalgia, "Remember our wedding day?", she whispered to Buster. "Like it was yesterday", he whispered back, smiling as he squeezed her hand gently. 




"And I'd do this all over again if I knew for certain it would be with you", he said, kissing her cheek as a tear formed in his eye. She wiped it away and leaned further into him. Everyone aw'ed at their rare display of affection as Bessie shushed them away, a smile on her face.



Things hadn't been easy for them in recent years, seeing Claire's health decline had taken it's toll on them and they felt as though they had lost another daughter all over again. That coupled with their son being arrested and sentenced to 25 years for drug smuggling had nearly finished Buster off. After he'd continued to blindly defend him when he'd been sentenced, she'd told him about the role Xander had played in their daughter's death. At first he was in complete and utter denial, but when the shock wore off and the depression sunk in, Bessie had been worried. She felt that deep down, a part of him had always known, but that he'd chosen to ignore it because he didn't want to believe the worst. When Buster had stopped visiting, Xander would call and hurl abuse at her down the phone, now he didn't call at all and Buster never mentioned him. It was as though he'd never existed. But now, as he stood looking at his adopted Granddaughter, his heart swelled with pride and he hoped they'd both be around long enough to see Kaci's own children grow up if she had any. For now, they just looked forward to enjoying the rest of their lives together. 



Connor smiled at the beautiful woman standing next to him. It hadn't gone amiss on Mortimer and Kaci that they'd been almost inseparable all day. With her bright purple hair and sky high heels she wasn't his typical type but they were just glad to see him smiling again. When Ayesha had died during the line of duty, Connors world had been shattered, twice. A post mortem revealed she'd been pregnant at the time. He'd tortured himself over and over again but the words of wisdom he needed came from the most unlikely place. His brother. Jared had really redeemed himself in terms of their relationship, he'd let Connor grieve in his own time, at his own pace and when he felt he needed advice, he'd given it. It was a shame that it was too late to fix his relationship with Kaci. Connor had warned Jared years ago that if he didn't do something then, it would would be irreparable but Jared had been too young and arrogant to listen. He was paying the price now, Connor had seen it in his face that morning when he'd left for Kaci's wedding. Too little too late. Cornelia smiled at him and he felt her relax slightly as they smiled for another picture. He didn't read too much into it until she hugged him a little tighter to her, both of them smiling at the prospect of new beginnings.  



"Are you okay sweetie?" Cyran asked, hands wrapped around her delicate body. "Fine", she nodded, fighting back tears and grateful to the big man upstairs for allowing her to be there. She'd come late, waking up in the morning with every intention of going but her body said otherwise. She'd made Cyran go without her, promising she would come when she felt well enough. She'd got there just as they began saying their vows and slipped into the seat behind Cyran and next to Nancy and Christopher. Her friend's eyes had filled with tears when she'd realised Claire had made it and they'd both watched the rest of the service wiping their eyes and trying to quiet their sniffles. She wouldn't have missed this for anything. Seeing Kaci get married meant the world to her and the look on her daughter's face when she spotted her had been more than enough to get her through the day. She'd tell her everything later, but not here, not yet, today was her day.



Troy looked at over and Malcolm and winked, relishing the fact that Malcolm couldn't do anything while they were posing for pictures. He pretended to lower his hand on Nancy's back and mouthed the word "Cougar", keeping a straight face as Malcolm eye's bulged out of his head, shooting daggers in his direction. Mortimer wasn't helping the situation as he clearly whispered inflammatory remarks in Malcolm's ear. He shook his head and laughed as Malcolm and Mortimer did the same.


Troy loved how whenever they saw each other, which wasn't very often these days, it was like they were back at college. Somethings just didn't change. As he watched two of his best friends beginning the rest of their lives together, he couldn't have been happier. When they'd graduated he'd moved back to New Simgland and rented a house with Tia when he'd been signed by the Simgland Steelers. After one season he had been head hunted and offered a new place on the St. Claire Stallions, he couldn't say no, he'd be playing in the major basketball league and it was the city that took him in when no one else would. He went and took Tia with him. She'd been by his side ever since, he didn't know how he'd managed before her. He remembered when he'd been so low, he contemplated giving up on life completely, now he was grateful he hadn't. He'd been given a second chance in life and he was grabbing it with both hands. 

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"How cute are they", Sandi sighed, looking over at her best friends as they slow danced together. Malcolm didn't answer her, when she looked back at him, he was staring at her. "What's up?" she laughed, "Have I told you how beautiful you look today?", he asked. She blushed and shook her head. It made her smile to think that he was still able to turn her into jelly with a single look..



"Well you do", he said, kissing her softly on the lips. They were quiet for a while as they swayed to the music. "D'you remember when I thought I was pregnant?", she asked, breaking the comfortable silence. "Mhmm", Malcolm nodded. "And how you said you wouldn't mind having a couple of mini you's running around the place in the future", she continued. Malcolm laughed and nodded again. "Well how about a mini you. . . and a mini me. . .", she said, peering into his puzzled eyes. She laughed as the light switched on.



 "Wait, you're not? You are? You are!" he shouted happily, picking her up and whirling her around as he repeatedly showered her with kisses. "Mngh! wait! Shh,calm down, we'll tell people but not here, it's Kaci and Mortimers big day", she whispered, smiling. Grinning, her pulled her close,  "I'm going to be a dad", he said quietly in happy disbelief. Sandi closed her eyes and leaned into him, savouring the moment and wishing for a future filled with many more like it.


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"I'm going to go now sweetie", Claire said, "Okay mom, are you tired?", Kaci asked. "Yes honey, it's been a long day but its been worth every second", Claire smiled as she gently touched Kaci's cheek. "I'm so proud of you, of both you", she smiled. Life meant so much more to her now that she was faced with prospect of losing it. The treatments were no longer working and her doctors had explained to her that it was up to her whether she wanted to continue with them. She hadn't told Kaci, and she wasn't about to tell her anytime soon. She wanted her to bask in the newly-wed glory for as long as she could. Cyran had taken it hard, he wasn't showing it but Claire saw the pain in his eyes every time he looked at her. She was glad he wouldn't have to go through it alone. She knew Kaci would be there for him, just like she knew Mortimer would be there for her. She wanted to enjoy whatever time she had left for as long as she could. She hugged her daughter and held her tightly, savouring the moment, not knowing how many more moments like that she would get.



Claire wasn't giving up, far from it, she was going to do everything in her power to stay alive as long as she could. She wanted to see her daughter have children, and her children have children. She knew it might not happen but she refused to let go of hope. But, if it was her time to go, she was thankful for the life she had lived, the places she'd seen and the people she'd loved and lost. She was glad Kaci had finally met her uncle. They'd clicked as soon as they met like she knew they would. For years Claire hadn't known if he was dead or alive. When Cyran had confessed to contacting her mother, she'd been angry to say the least but she understood his reasons. When he'd told her that her mother had said she was going to visit, she hadn't held her breath. But she'd been surprised, she did turn up. If only to see what she could get from Claire, she hadn't changed. A few weeks later her brother had turned up, looking dishevelled but he was there and that was all that mattered. They'd cried, laughed, and cried some more. He'd settled in Riverview and had been clean for the last six months. It was early days but Claire was so proud of him. When he told her that he'd been in contact with their mother all that time and that she'd told him that she didn't know where Claire was, it hadn't been a shock. She hadn't changed and probably never would. Claire was at peace with that. She squeezed her daughter again, kissed her on the cheek and told her she'd see her soon. Kaci smiled back and unable to speak, nodded. She watched her mom leaning slightly on Cyran as they headed up to the car, the beam of light from the lighthouse washing gently over them like a beacon in the midst of a dark sea. 

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It was beginning to get light, the party had gone on into the early hours of the morning. Sandi and Malcolm were the last to leave, leaving the two lovebirds alone. Kaci's day couldn't have been more perfect, being able to get married on the spot where they'd shared their first kiss had meant alot to her, so when he'd explained that they were able to do that because they owned the beach and the house above it she'd been overwhelmed to say the least. Adding to it that they would be spending their first night as a married couple in their new home left her speechless. He'd hired her favourite interior designer to decorate their new home they way she'd always described her dream dwelling. Hearing this she'd burst into happy tears. She told him that she would have loved to live there but she never thought he would have done something like that. It was, he explained, his wedding gift to her.
 Kaci came up behind him and tiptoed up to kiss him on the back of his neck. He smiled and pulled her round in front him, enveloping her in a tender embrace. She felt him sigh slightly. "What are you thinking?", she asked. "I'm wondering how I was lucky enough to marry you", he replied, eyes closed as he held her tightly.



 Kaci laughed, "I'm the lucky one" she said, staring out at the calm sea. "Can you believe we did it babe, we're married", Mortimer said, sounding mesmerised. Kaci just smiled, deep down she knew she would  never have married anyone else. Mortimer was her everything. He kissed the top of her head softly, savouring the scent of her shampoo. "Are you ready to go home Mrs Goth?", Mortimer asked, arms still wrapped around her. Kaci smiled as the beam from the lighthouse washed over them. It felt like a metaphor for her relationship with Mortimer as she watched it, standing tall, a little bruised in places but mostly unchanged, after all these years, it's light still as bright as ever. "Yes Mr Goth", she smiled up at him, "Lets go home."




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