It started out the same as any other morning. That is to say, it started out perfectly. Jake awoke wrapped around Callie’s warm body. His arms tightened as he became aware of the sensation of her soft skin pressed against his muscular chest. He still wasn’t used to the incredible feeling of waking up next to her every single day.
Sunlight peeked in through a gap in the heavy lined cream drapes that covered the bedroom window.
“Mmm good morning, future husband,” Callie mumbled, still half asleep.
“Morning, Gorgeous,” Jake replied. His heart grew even larger at her words. Instead of ‘hot bartender,’ Callie had changed his nickname to ‘future husband,’ and he could not love it more. She would always be ‘Gorgeous’ to him, but he was eager to make her his gorgeous wife. Thankfully, only a few more hours stood between him and that moment.
Unable to resist the temptation of her sweet, naked body nestled into his embrace, Jake began to stroke up and down her side. Starting at her hip, he swept a trail with his fingers up to the side of her breasts and back down, as he pressed soft kisses to the back of her neck and shoulder.
“If you keep doing that, we’ll never get out of bed on time,” Callie said. She now sounded more awake, but also very aroused.
“Yeah, but we’ll be a hell of a lot more relaxed for the rest of the day.”
Jake’s voice was teasing, but the sentiment was a valid one. The last few months had been stressful for them both, as they juggled work, their relationship, wedding planning, and the drama that continued to come their way courtesy of Callie’s parents.
Callie had not spoken to her parents since the day she cut ties with them, as a result of their actions following the horrible hostage situation she was caught up in at the hospital where she worked. Still, Jake kept tabs on Laura and Philip Scott by checking news headlines, mostly to ensure Callie wasn’t going to be blindsided by any more lies. So far, the older Scotts had made acceptable excuses for Callie’s absence in the media. Jake only hoped they would continue to keep their distance. She hadn’t talked much about her parents in the last while and he knew that she was trying her best to move on from their dysfunctional relationship. Still, he worried that now their wedding day had arrived, she might regret the fact that her parents wouldn’t be there.
Slowly Jake eased Callie onto her back and propped himself up on his elbow above her. He gazed down at her tenderly and threaded his hands through her hair as he leaned down to kiss her.
“I am the luckiest man on this earth, Callie soon-to-be Evans. I swear to you that I will spend the rest of my life loving you. And, I am so damn glad we decided to ignore the bullshit tradition of not seeing each other the night before our wedding. Waking up next to you, today of all days, is the best way to start our life together.”
Callie’s eyes grew damp at his heartfelt words. She wrapped her arms around his neck and tugged him back down into a tight embrace.
“Nothing could keep me away from you today. I love you, Jake.”
Seized by the constant need to feel her, Jake rolled over until she was on top of him, her legs straddling his. He groaned at the sensation of her warm center where it cupped his rapidly hardening cock.
“Every time I touch you, it feels like heaven,” he said.
Callie responded by grinding her hips over his, then reached down and began to stroke his cock. Without another word she lifted her hips up and slid herself down onto his rigid length. They both moaned at the perfect fit of him inside her. Their bodies were made for each other. Jake’s hands found their way to her hips, as he moved with her. He met her rise and fall with thrusts of his own, angling himself to caress her inner walls in the spot that would send her flying. Moments later he could feel her sex clenching him, and his cock swelled impossibly harder in response.
“Oh god, Jake, yes, that’s so good,” she said in a breathy moan.
He knew what she needed to push herself over the edge, and he delivered with a throaty growl.
“Let go, Gorgeous, let go for me now.”
He never tired of watching Callie orgasm. Her face was upturned with the rapture of climax, a sheen of sweat on her brow. Her muscles shuddered slightly as aftershocks worked their way through her body. A dreamy look filled her eyes when she came down from the high and she draped her body over his. This was something he would happily experience every day for the rest of his life.
Jake marveled at the fact that no matter how many times they made love, every time was perfection. His passion for her, their connection, the adoration he felt for this woman had not faded in the slightest. She was everything he could have possibly dreamed of, and this time tomorrow they would wake up, married.
With a contented sigh, Callie turned onto her side and looked at Jake. He was still breathing heavily, with his eyes closed as he lay on his back. She reached out one hand to lazily trace his tattoo, following the lines and swirls as she had done so many times before. She had memorized the pattern, but something about the act of tracing it with her fingertips was equal parts calming and arousing. Even now, just moments after a spectacular climax, she could feel her desire mounting again. As if he sensed her energy, Jake opened his eyes and turned his head towards her.
“You’re insatiable,” he teased. His eyes were darkening to the molten chocolate color that meant he was just as turned on as she was.
“I can’t help it if I’m addicted to you.” The heat inside Callie was growing, from the steady smolder that was always present thanks to Jake, to the raging inferno that could only be quenched by his love.
“Then I had better give you your fix.”
Jake pushed her onto her back, and slowly tormented her by kissing his way down her body. The tease was torture, but revved Callie’s arousal into high gear. His soft lips pressed into her stomach, as his hands found their way between her legs. When he moved to settle there, she let her knees fall open with a soft sigh. His fingers gently parted her folds, as he moved his mouth to her mound, and swept his tongue up her slit. Her hips arched up to meet his mouth, and her hands wove into his hair, anchoring him in place. Jake slid one finger, then another, in and out of her molten core, mimicking the thrust of his cock when they made love. When he curled his fingers and found that magic spot that he knew would send Callie flying, he added in his tongue, lapping up her sweetness. His other hand reached up to caress her breasts as she moaned and writhed under his touch.
When she couldn’t stand any more of his attention, Callie let go of his hair to grasp the sheets beside her. “Jake, please, I need to…” Her voice trailed off in a sigh.
“I know what you need, Gorgeous,” was his only reply. He attached his mouth to her clit, sucked gently and rubbed his fingers inside her. The combination of sensations sent Callie into a love filled spiral as she exploded into her orgasm.
With a lusty growl, Jake rose above her and in one move, thrust his aching cock inside her. Her shriek of arousal turned into a moan as he filled her, then dropped down to his elbows so he could kiss her. When he began to rock his body into hers, Callie could feel her next peak building already, even without fully recovering from the last release. They were in perfect rhythm with each other; they knew how to move, how to react, what to do to drive each other wild. It was a level of knowing, of intimacy, that Callie had never even dreamed could exist. A partner who knew her so well, he could anticipate her needs and deliver an earth-shattering climax every time.
“Fuck, Callie, I can’t hold back,” Jake groaned as he powered in and out of her.
She grabbed his shoulders, and with her head thrown back in ecstasy, she replied, “Never hold back. Never.”
With simultaneous cries of release, they let go together. Jake lowered himself slowly to the side of Callie’s body, before pulling her into his arms. She went willingly, and wrapped her arms around him, her head resting on his chest. She could feel his heart pounding beneath her ear and, as she often did, found great joy in knowing his heart beat for her.
Their tender moment was interrupted by Callie’s phone, beeping with an incoming text message.
“Ignore it,” Jake rumbled, pulling her closer in an attempt to stop her from reaching out for the phone.
“I can’t, what if it’s important?” she replied with a smile. She picked up her phone, looked at the screen, and laughed. “It’s Reagan, she says we had better get our butts out of bed, she’ll be here in twenty minutes to start getting ready.”
With a groan, Jake stretched his arms. Callie shamelessly enjoyed the view as the blanket slid down his torso, showing off his sexy body.
“Fine, we’ll get up. But only because I want to get this day moving. The sooner we’re ready, the sooner I can marry you.” His voice may have sounded petulant, but the look Jake gave Callie was filled with love. He swung his legs over the side of the bed, then looked back at her with a smile. “I’ll put on some clothes and head over to Ryan’s place. Next time you see me, I’ll be in a suit, impatiently waiting for you.”
Callie leaned over to wrap her arms around his shoulders. She pressed a kiss to the middle of his back, then leaned over his shoulder so she could reach his face. “I’ll be the one in the white dress.”
Jake grabbed her arms and pulled her around and onto his lap. She wrapped her legs around his waist, bringing their bodies close enough that she could feel his bare cock hardening between her legs. “Jake, we don’t have time,” she chided.
“I know Gorgeous, I know.” He stood up with her in his arms, then turned around and placed her on her feet. With a gentle smack on her ass, he walked over to the closet and teased, “It’s not my fault if you never stop tempting me.”
As Callie wrapped her silk robe around her body, she replied lovingly, “In just a few hours, I’ll be yours forever. Are you sure you want a lifetime of temptation?”
“There’s nothing I want more.”
A few short hours later, Callie was standing nervously at the back of the church, waiting to walk down the aisle to her man. The weeks leading up to this day had been busy and so full of love. A soft, romantic energy infused the air around her.
Her best friend Reagan was about to lead the processional down the aisle, so Callie found herself in a moment of quiet solitude.
“How are you doing, honey?” Jake’s father, Jerry, walked up to take his place beside her, a warm smile on his face. When he had offered to walk her down the aisle, Callie had eagerly accepted. This man had been more of a loving father figure to her over the past year than her own father had been for her entire life.
“I’m okay, Jerry,” Callie paused, knowing that was not the entire truth. “It does feel a bit weird to be doing this without my parents.”
She quickly put her hand on Jerry’s arm, not wanting to hurt his feelings in any way. “You and Elena are amazing, and it means so much to me to be welcomed into your family. I just can’t shake the feeling that I should have told them I was getting married.”
Jerry turned to face Callie and took both of her hands in his. “Callie, listen. You are an incredible woman, who is making my son one of the luckiest men I know. Because of that, I will do just about anything for you, my dear. So, if you can tell me that your parents being here is something you want for you, not for them, I will put this whole darn event on pause and go and get them here. However, if there is even the slightest chance that their presence would put a downer on your big day, then I flat out refuse to entertain the idea.”
Callie must have still looked conflicted, because Jerry took in a deep breath and let it out on a sigh. “Answer me this. Do you think they should be here because you want them here, or because you feel it’s what you should do to be a good daughter?”
Callie closed her eyes, unable to meet his searching gaze.
“I don’t know,” she replied softly.
“Can I tell you something?” Jerry asked gently.
Calle opened her eyes and nodded at him.
“You already are a good daughter. By virtue of still considering them, you are a good daughter. By setting boundaries and taking care of yourself, you are a good daughter.” Here he paused, and Callie could see tears form in his eyes as he pulled her in for a hug. “By loving my son, you are a good daughter… to me.”
His embrace was exactly what Callie needed. A solid, fatherly hug, showing her that she was no longer alone. Not only did she have Jake, she had his family, who she could now call her own.
“Thank you, Jerry.” She pulled back slightly, just enough to wipe the tears from her eyes.
He smiled down at her gently, “Now, let’s not keep Jake waiting any longer.”
Inside the church sanctuary, Jake had greeted their guests as they filed in, and was now standing at the end of the aisle with Ryan by his side, waiting for Callie. He looked around at the intimate crowd of family and friends that had gathered and smiled. His mother sat in the front row next to his sister, brother in law, niece and new baby nephew. The church was decorated with simple, tasteful, floral arrangements in shades of cream and lavender.
“You ready for this?” Jake’s best friend Ryan nudged him in the side.
“More than ready. I feel as if I have been waiting for this day for my entire life.” Came his instant reply.
It was nothing short of the truth. Callie was the missing piece to his puzzle. She was the person he never knew he needed in his life, until she was there, and he couldn’t imagine existing without her. Marrying Callie, having that commitment between them, was everything Jake desperately wanted.
When the gentle strums of guitar music, played by their friend Chase, changed to the melody that would bring Callie to him, Jake turned to see the doors at the back of the church open. His vision lost focus as his eyes filled with happy tears, and as he blinked them away, he saw Callie and his father walking down the aisle towards him. His breath caught at the sight of her. She was a vision in an off-white dress that hugged her curves and flowed softly to the ground. It had a lace overlay, and just a small hint of sparkle when she moved. Her blonde hair was swept over one shoulder and her eyes shone brightly at him. When Jake saw how tightly she held his dad’s arm, he smiled. His family had welcomed Callie in as if she had always been there. There was no doubt in his mind that she was meant to be his, forever.
When at last she stood there beside him, his father leaned down to press a kiss to Callie’s cheek, before turning and pulling Jake in for a hug. Then it was just the two of them, standing together in front of the Minister who would bind them together in marriage. Jake felt the world fade away and all he could see, hear or feel was Callie. Her smile, the sound of her heartbeat, and the warmth of her hand in his was all he could sense in this moment.
The next few minutes went by in a blur. Later, Jake would recall every detail with unerring accuracy, but in that moment, he was lost to whatever the Minister was saying to them. Then it was time for them both to recite their vows. Jake knew he would go first, and speaking from his heart he began.
“Callie, I believe I was put on this earth with one purpose. To love you unconditionally, without end. So, that is what I promise to you today. I will make you tea every morning and kiss you every night. I will always have peach ale on tap at the pub and will make you an omelet every time you ask. I swear to you that I will never give you a reason to question my love and devotion, and you will always know how much you mean to me. From this day forward, it is you and me, together until the end of time.”
Callie’s eyes were full of tears and she could feel them spilling onto her cheeks as she listened to Jake. Thank god for waterproof makeup. Summoning all the inner calm and strength she could find Callie took a deep breath and began to recite the vows that she had been practicing all week.
“Jake, you are the man I always dreamed of. You are everything I need, everything I want, and everything I adore. I never knew what love and family could be, until you showed me. I vow to always put us first, listen to you, support you, and not poison you with my cooking. And I promise to never let Fred sleep on your pillow again. Most of all I promise to love you from now until forever.”
The second Callie finished, Jake swept her into his arms and kissed her. In the background she could dimly hear their friends and family cheering, and the poor Minister trying to get them to finish the ceremony. It didn’t matter, they had professed their love to each other. Still, she reluctantly pulled back with a smile.
Jake grinned at her then turned to the Minister and shrugged his shoulders. “Do you blame me?” he asked.
The easygoing Minister laughed, shook his head, and quickly went on. Moments later, it was over, and the Minister spoke his final words.
“I now pronounce you, husband and wife. Now, Jake, you may kiss your bride.”
Jake held her close and caressed her cheek before capturing her lips in a gentle, loving kiss. Callie wrapped her arms around his neck to pull him in deeper. Then, she gasped when he suddenly bent over, dipped her low to the ground and unleashed all his love and passion into their kiss.
As they walked back down the aisle, hand in hand, husband and wife, Callie smiled knowing from this day forward she would have a life filled with happiness, family, and most importantly love.
I left Dogwood Cove as a child eighteen years ago when Ethan Monroe was nothing more than my best friend’s older brother.
Now I’m back and he’s so much more.
Gone is the boy I played hide and seek with, and in his place is the seriously hot, plaid-wearing, scruff-bearing, mayor of the small town we grew up in.
I’ve got trust issues that can’t be fixed easily and I didn’t come back here looking for love, but Ethan is determined to prove that coming home could be the start of the life I’ve always dreamed of.
Could he be the man to put my damaged heart back together for good?