Calla and Jax were next, and of course they were absolute perfection. With Calla’s long blond hair and his darker features, they were like night and day, the perfect complement.
Then there was Jacob, looking as freaking smooth as always as he came down the aisle with his boyfriend. I’d met him the night before, and he was the exact opposite of Jacob—quiet, a bit more reserved, but it was so obvious those two were in love.
Jacob joined the bridesmaid, and even though he was in a tux that matched the guys, he looked damn good standing there.
The final addition to the wedding party was Brock “the Beast” Mitchell, which probably made Cam’s fanboy heart soar. I had no idea Cam had gotten to know Brock that well or if it was a favor to him. Obviously Brock was out of the sling, but he hadn’t come back to the academy full-time yet. There had been complications in his recovery.
I didn’t recognize the super tan chick with him, and I was kind of disappointed that he wasn’t there with Jillian. I don’t even know why I wished for that. I hadn’t seen Jillian since the day in the supply room. As far as I knew, she never came back to Lima Academy after that.
Once the bridal party was in place, the bridal march began and Avery appeared. She was a beautiful bride. Her long red hair hung in smooth waves around her freckled face, and even from where I sat, I could see the sheen of tears in her eyes. Her dress was simple Grecian style and perfect for her.
I couldn’t believe she’d had a baby a handful of months ago, because she looked amazing as she glanced up at the man beside her. It was the guy who earlier had talked to Cam’s mom and then held Ava. Now I knew the answer to who he was.
He escorted her down the aisle as we rose. Before she reached her soon-to-be husband, Avery stopped and cupped little Ava’s cheek, bending to press a kiss against the top of her head. The baby gurgled happily in response.
“And there goes my heart,” Roxy sighed. “Gone. Along with my ovaries.”
I pressed my lips together to stop the laugh from escaping as Avery’s father handed her off to Cam. It would’ve been a strange laugh—part humor, part sob. As I watched Cam’s mom turn Ava so she was facing her mother and father, the ache returned, piercing my chest, and I had to remind myself that it was okay. Someday it would happen.
Nick squeezed my hand, and when I glanced at him, his gaze searched mine intently, and I knew he felt where my head had gone. I gave him a smile, and he tugged me against his side with an arm curled along my back.
The ceremony began, and the words were really just a blur as Cam Hamilton and Avery Morgansten finally tied the knot. It was beautiful, and I had to fight back tears more than once.
“The rings?” the officiant requested.
Ollie stepped forward, and in his hands were two tortoises. One had a pale blue ribbon around the shell, the other had a black ribbon. Rings were secured to both. I had no idea where he had the turtles the entire time, and God only knew with Ollie, so I didn’t want to give that too much thought.
“Oh my Lord,” I murmured, grinning.
“I want turtles at my wedding,” Roxy whispered to Reece.
Someone, I’m assuming him, choked.
Gasps and giggles gave way to laughter as Ollie lifted the tortoises and then walked them over to where Cam and Avery stood. They couldn’t keep a straight face as they retrieved the rings amidst laughter, and then Ollie returned to where the groomsmen stood. He’d bent, placing the tortoises into something I couldn’t see. Then he wheeled back around and gave a flourished bow. On the other side of him, Brit rolled her eyes.
Cam’s hand shook as he slid the simple band onto her finger. “Will you spend forever with me?”
Avery’s voice trembled as she spoke, sliding the ring onto Cam’s finger. “I will spend forever with you.”
Tears filled my eyes, and I looked over at Nick. Our gazes collided and held as a tear snuck free. Without saying a word, he smoothed his thumb under my eye, chasing the tear away, just like he had chased away all the pain and guilt, and opened a future I hadn’t necessarily planned for but eagerly anticipated.
The officiant was speaking again, but I didn’t hear the words. I barely registered the cheers as Nick lowered his mouth to mine, kissing me softly, and in that kiss were all the words I had so desperately wanted him to speak all those months ago.
Tell me that you still want to be here.
Tell me that you still see a future for us.
Tell me that you love me.
Nick had spoken the words before, many times in the last couple of months, but they were also promised in that kiss, and that promise spelled forever.