After weeks of preparations - dress fittings, discussions about menus, flowers, music, a bridal shower and meetings with Reverend Butterfield – the big day was almost here. The day Scott Lancer would wed Delia Abbott. The ceremony would be held at the church in Spanish Wells and the reception at the hotel down the street. A plan to hold the wedding at Lancer had been considered and then ultimately discarded. It wasn’t centrally located enough and since Scott and Delia would be catching the stage early the following morning, being in town made more sense. For their honeymoon, they would spend several days in San Francisco before heading east to visit Boston…and Scott’s grandfather.
Delia’s last dinner as a single woman was spent listening to Mrs. Swenson - the woman who ran the boarding house - reminisce about her own nuptials which had taken place almost forty years ago. Anticipation had Delia’s stomach in knots and everything tasted like sawdust so she eventually pled fatigue and excused herself, heading upstairs to the room where she’d lodged since coming to Spanish Wells. She closed the door and slumped against it with a deep sigh. Alone for what felt like the first time in ages Delia finally, finally, felt like she could breathe.
She changed into her nightgown and hung her dress in the wardrobe, next to the one she would wear tomorrow. Her wedding dress. Teresa, suffering from a severe case of wedding fever, had suggested an elaborate white gown, drowning in lace and seed pearls and bogged down by a ten-foot train. Like something in one of the romance novels she was always reading.
Being of a more practical mind, Delia had gently suggested a dress that could be worn again afterwards rather than languishing in the back of her closet after just one use.
Scott had been somewhat blasé about the whole matter. “It’s your wedding, Sweetheart, wear whatever you want,” he’d told her. “You could walk down the aisle a potato sack and you’d still be beautiful to me.”
Thus, a disappointed Teresa had acquiesced to the bride’s wishes and Delia would wed one of the most eligible bachelors in the valley wearing a dress in a shade that could best be described as icy aqua. The color suited her dark hair and pale complexion while the deep flounces and pagoda sleeves satisfied her future sister-in-law’s flair for the dramatic.
Yawning, Delia sat down at her dressing table and stared at herself in the mirror. I'm getting married tomorrow, she thought. By this time tomorrow I will be Mrs. Scott Lancer.
Her reflection stared back at her with a kind of rueful panic on its face. It had no words of wisdom to offer. With a shrug, Delia took down her hair and brushed it out. She was just tying off the end of her braid when she heard something go plink against her window. She paused, her fingers going still on the bit of ribbon as she stared at the window with narrowed eyes. It couldn't be…could it?
The plink noise came again, and this time she saw the pebble rise into view and strike the glass before falling away. It was all too absurd for words and Delia rolled her eyes as she got up to investigate. When she looked out she wasn’t the least bit surprised to see Scott standing in Mrs. Swenson’s rose bushes, poking at the ground with the toe of his boot as he searched for another pebble to throw.
She opened the window. "What on earth are you doing?" she hissed down at him. He looked up at her with that amazing, flutter-inducing smile that had made her fall in love with him in the first place and asked, "Can I come up?"
The obvious answer to this was “No, you lunatic. Of course you can’t come up. Mrs. Swenson will hear you and we're getting married in fourteen hours”, but somehow he’d scrambled up the trellis and clambered awkwardly through her window, nearly tripping over one of her hatboxes in the process. She struggled to contain her laughter as he reached out to steady himself. She took his hand in hers and when he looked up… They were suddenly very close, staring into one another's eyes. Scott was still grinning like an idiot but there was a quiet sort of terror in his eyes.
"I can’t believe we’re actually getting married tomorrow," he confessed in a whisper. "It’s sort of daunting, isn’t it?”
Biting her lip to stifle a slightly hysterical giggle, Delia nodded in agreement.
Ducking his head like a little boy, Scott gave her a sheepish smile and said, "I had to know if you were as nervous as I am."
With that admission she just had to kiss him and one thing led to another. After a few pleasantly hazy minutes they fell into her bed together, clinging to each other with a kind of terrified ferocity. Tomorrow they would pledge themselves to one another until death do they part but at this moment Delia was too busy undoing the buttons on his trousers to worry about that.
Scott's nimble fingers made quick work of the buttons on her nightdress and he settled between her legs, his body heavy and solid above hers. There was a moment of hesitation and, sensing that he was waiting for something - she whispered her consent into the warm space between his neck and shoulder. In return he murmured promises of love and devotion - oaths no less real than the ones they would make in front of God and everyone tomorrow - and when he thrust into her she thought, I now pronounce you man and wife.
He snuck out before dawn the following morning, rumpled and cheerful, to return to the hotel where he and the rest of the Lancers were staying for the duration. Delia leaned out the window and watched him go. She knew that anyone could see them and didn’t care a lick. They were getting married today, and at that exact moment she could’ve cared less about what was respectable or proper. Let the tongues wag.
At breakfast, Delia had a smile as wide as the San Joaquin on her face. She tried to contain herself because, in addition to being a light sleeper, her landlady was no fool. But she couldn't seem to control it and after awhile she gave up trying. She beamed at the older woman across the table which prompted Mrs. Swenson to declare with a wink, "No pre-wedding jitters for you I see."
No. No pre-wedding jitters for her. Delia had nothing left to fear because she already felt married. Vows had been exchanged last night in the intimacy of a darkened room and tangled bed sheets. And the ceremony that would be taking place in a few short hours? Well, that was nothing more than a formality.