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For The Strength of Youth

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Submitted by Steven ODell on 9 July 2007 - 12:19am.

Chapter 32

The wedding took place the very next day as Denise had promised, after all parties had gotten a good night’s sleep. It was a small wedding—and it was also a hurried one. Denise had decided that she would wait no longer to be married to Ron and had called her mother to explain that she would see her after the honeymoon. Denise had regrets her mother would not be there, but the emotional urgency of the situation demanded action. She simply would not wait—could not wait to marry Ron. It was meant to be and she knew it in every cell of her body.

Both Ron and Denise agreed that a Justice of the Peace and their few intimate friends were all they required. She was afraid that something more might happen to stand in their way and insisted she would not risk that at any cost. All of their friends were there—all that had meant so much to them both over the past month. Barb, Paul, Hunter, Mose, Jonathan and Bill. They were more than just friends to Denise now-they were more like family. Denise knew now what Ron had meant when he had spoken of those who had proven themselves in trial. These were folks who had done just that.

Denise excused herself from Ron a moment and approached Bill. “I want to thank you for caring enough about us to want to be there and protect us. That is about the most selfless thing I’ve ever heard of. I know it wasn’t any easier on you than it was on us. Thank you, Bill-from the bottom of my heart.”

Bill looked a bit humbled at this and just replied, “y’welcome, ma’am.”

“I’m glad to know you’re the kind of man that would find it hard to shoot anyone-even a skunk like Ted.” It was evident that no love was lost on him. “In my book that makes you an exceptional human being. I now know why Ron has such a respect for you. You have a good heart. You’re ‘good people.’”

He smiled appreciatively in an ‘aw shucks’ sort of way and remained silent.

“I’m just curious, though. How long were you following and keeping an eye on us?”

“Pert’ much the whole time after y’left the cabin,” he stated matter-of-factly.

She nodded her understanding and then suddenly thought of the cold bath she had taken behind the rock in the river and her mouth dropped open. “Then you saw me….” Her words went no further, but her eyes begged the question of him. Bill began to blush and looked hurriedly down at the floor in his embarrassment. Denise felt a temporary sense of violation, but she recovered quickly. She could not help but have a strong surge of gratitude for his selfless concern. “Never mind, Bill. I admire your loyalty. After what we’ve all been through, it was worth it.”

He looked surprised as he raised his head to meet her gaze. With a small twinkle in his eye that could not be hidden even by his continued blushing, he replied, “Yes ma’am; t’was.” His guard had been let down momentarily, but he now became acutely aware of how offensive this might have sounded to Denise and he hurriedly said, “S’cuse me, please, ma’am,” making a quick retreat to go talk to Paul, leaving her with her mouth hanging wide open a second time. A left-handed compliment, but a compliment nonetheless. As he arrived at his destination, Bill shot a furtive glance back at Denise to check her mood. He was rewarded with a bright, red-faced giggle and an energetic shaking of her finger as though she were scolding a naughty child. All was forgiven, he knew and he relaxed visibly. What a classy lady, he thought. He felt privileged to call her a friend.

Ron and Denise stopped before the door to their hotel room. It was finally real. It was finally coming true. He reached out and took hold of the door handle and pushed gently, then turned to Denise and kissed her first on the forehead, then the cheeks and lastly on the lips. He then bent, placed his arms in just the right position to lift her lightly from the floor and stepped across the threshold. “Welcome to our room, Mrs. Jameson.” His eyes spoke volumes to her. His gaze melted her heart and she could not help but smile there in his arms with her own draped about his neck. There was suddenly no one else in the entire world but the two of them. Even as the bellboy set their bags in the room and wisely left without waiting for a tip, they were totally unaware of anyone but themselves.

Ron stopped before the bed, setting her gently to the floor. “I hope you don’t mind this, Denise. Tomorrow we will be in Hawaii, but for me paradise is here and now with you—and I just couldn’t wait any longer.” He winked at her meaningfully and his fingers began deftly to undo the buttons on the front of her dress.

She smiled sexily back at him and answered simply and perfectly, “Well, it’s about time, Mister.”

With another kiss, Ron took full possession of his priceless treasure—this pearl he had wanted and denied himself for so long. Denise was now his and he was completely hers. She kissed him back—with all her heart, body and soul—and the world around them disappeared. There remained none but she and her Knight in Shining Armor.

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