Battle-Hardened, War Weary Ch. 08BbyMimiRose©
Author's Note: Hello again!
This is the second half of Chapter Eight.
I am going to put this story on hold for a while. I want to complete both "Skin To Skin" and "Choosing Your Battles" first (ever since both tales are going to short stories) before I'll start up with this story again.
In regards to my health, I am getting better. My migraines have disappeared and my fatigue is...wavering. But, I am optimistic about my health.
Without further ado...
Saturday, June 16th, 2001
Kali was pulled from her trip down 'memory lane' by the sound of another person's voice. She was in the process of thinking about the night that Ryan propose, when she heard the familiar voice. Once she were fully aware, she realized where she was standing and what she was doing before she began to daydream. She stood in front of a floor-to-ceiling length mirror. She was in the process of slipping on her wedding gown. She still held the top half of her dress close to her bosom.
"Kali, honey, are you feeling alright?"
Kali turned away from the mirror and she turned her attention to the dressing chamber's entryway. Her eyes focused on the vision of feminine beauty that stood in the threshold. Kali noticed that her grandma didn't wear something that was the stereotypical-"Mother of the Bride"- attire: the embellished jacket with the matching skirt and the ornate hat. As her eyes took in the elegant and regal-looking beauty, she understood why Jack chose to be with her.
Maryland "Mare" Richardson stood in the doorway. For this day, she wore a floor-length, Grecian-inspired chiffon dress. The soft material embraced her voluptuous, 36-25-43 inched figure while the ornate sash that was tied around her narrow waist made her waist appear even smaller. The dress' mauve color complimented her sienna-hued skin tone. The dress' low collar and the thigh-level split showcased some of Kali's grandmother sex appeal. A pair of yellow gold, Indian earrings graced her earlobes while her long neck was adorned with a clunky, yellow-gold necklace. There were gold bangles on left wrist. Kali was surprised to see her grandmother dressed in such manner. Under normal circumstances, Mare wore jeans and baggy sweatshirts along with a pair of Keds sneakers. For today, Kali thought her grandmother looked like a queen.
If Mare was a queen, then her black, waist-length dreadlocks was her crown. Her dreads were styled in a fancy up-do that made her oval-shaped face and long neck appeared even more sophisticated. Her makeup was minimal: her wide-set, prominent eyes were lined with black eyeliner and mascara, her wide and plump lips were decorated with lip gloss. Her cheeks were coated with a thin layer of blush.
Kali's grandmother stood in the doorway of the dressing room with a dark green shawl in her hands. She took note of her grandmother's demeanor. Mare's hands fiddling with the shawl while her dark brown eyes darted around the dressing room. The younger woman sensed that the older woman was remorseful. She knew why her grandmother felt this way and she knew that she was the cause of it. She felt guilty.
"Hi Mama," she greeted her grandmother.
"Hello baby," Mare returned her greeting. The woman had entered the large and lavish closet just by taking a few steps. Kali noticed that Mare's left thigh was revealed whenever she took a step.
'Oh my...' thought Kali as gazed at her grandmother's 'peek-a-boo' thigh. 'Yeah, Jack and my grandmother are definitely doing it.'
"Do you need help with your dress, honey?" Mare inquired. Kali saw the pleading expression in her grandmother's eyes. She knew that her grandmother wanted to be in her company.
"Yes, I need your help," Kali explained. "I have a zipper that is in the back—
"Oh, sure honey, I can help you with that one!"
Kali heard the relief and the joy in her grandmother's voice. She left out a deep breath as she felt tension seep out of her shoulders. She turned around and had her back faced towards her grandmother. She gazed into the mirror. A few seconds later, her grandmother's reflection joined hers. The older woman stood behind Kali's slightly taller form. Kali stared at Mama's reflection. She felt her grandmother's fingers touch and gently pull on the fabric. Then, she felt the dress go from being slacked to fitting her curvy body. She turned her head to the left and glanced at Mare from over her shoulder. She thanked her grandmother. Kali then stared down at wedding gown.
Kali thought that her wedding gown was gorgeous. The floor-length, soft matte satin dress was the color of ivory. Her fingers ran down the A-line skirt portion of the gown and she enjoyed the way the material felt against her hands. Her fingers ran across the beaded work that covered the spaghetti straps of the dress. Her fingertips traced the intricate details that decorated the waistline of the dress. The dress did a wonderful job flattering her pregnancy. Kali enjoyed staring at the sight that was presented before her. She knew that she looked beautiful.
"You look beautiful baby," Kali heard her grandmother say.
The younger woman turned around and gazed at Mare. "Thank you, Mama. You look beautiful today too."
Mare smiled. "Thank you."
There was a silence between the two of them. Both of them felt awkward. Each woman tried to deal with the weirdness by focusing on their clothes. Mare picked imaginary lint off of her dress while Kali pretended to straighten out the strands of beads that covered the dress' straps. After a moment, Kali, then, walked away from the ceiling-to floor length mirror and made her way over to the island counter. Her head was bowed just a little and she played with her fingers. There was a source of humility that bloomed inside of her.
"Um..." she hummed. Kali glanced at her grandmother. "Mama, I want to say something to you..."
She pressed her lower back against the edge of the counter. She continued to stare at the older woman. Her fingers continued to move erratically for a few more seconds.
"... I want to apologize to you. I—
Mare shot out her right hand in front of her to let her granddaughter know that she should stop speaking. She held her hand out for a few seconds before she returned it back to her side. "Please don't apologize, baby. I wasn't mad at you for saying—
"But I was disrespectful towards you and I was wrong—
"But I didn't take what you said to heart though. I just chalked it up as you being upset about seeing me with Jack. And you were absolutely correct, in regards to being angry at me. I deserved it. If I was in your shoes, I would've been angry too. I would've been mad if I had seen my grandmother with a man that was not my grandfather," Mare explained.
There was a significant time of silence between the two women. Kali was the first person to talk. "From what I've seen on that day, Jack makes you very happy. He is a great guy—
"He is a great guy," Mare pointed out.
"And I know Pop-Pop wouldn't have wanted you to live out the rest of your life alone. He would've wanted you to move on—
Mare nodded her head. "Yes, he would've wanted me to continue to live my life in the best way that I could."
There was more silence. Kali pushed her pregnant frame from off of the countertop. She made a glimpse at her grandmother. "I will admit though..." She frowned up her face. "...it is icky and weird knowing that you and Jack are bumping uglies like a bunch of horny teenagers." Kali shuddered.
Mare laughed at her granddaughter's antics. "And how do you think I felt, when I had to listen to you and Ryan for the past two days?"
Kali felt a strong blush creep into her face. Her eyes widened and her jaw had gone slacked.
"And I know that he had snuck in here last night, even though he wasn't supposed to see the bride!" stated Mare with a toothy smile.
Kali covered her face with her hands. "Oh my God," she said with a muffled voice. "I knew that we were too loud!"
Mare let out a hearty guffaw that echoed in the opulent closet. She walked over to Kali and placed her right arm around her granddaughter's shoulders. "There is nothing to be ashamed of! It is perfectly natural. Besides, it is quite obvious that you're sexually active." Then Mare stared at protruded surface that was Kali's tummy.
"I know," groaned Kali. "But it is still embarrassing," stated Kali. Her hands still covered her mouth. Her voice was still muffled. Mare laughed, in response.
The jovial moment came to an end when the wedding planner and a photographer entered the room.
Melanie Matters, the person that Ryan hired to plan the wedding, was a gorgeous and vivacious woman. Even though Kali and Ryan saw the professional side of this woman throughout the planning process, the mother-to-be had an instinct that this woman was a firecracker. When Melanie entered the closet, Kali surveyed the wedding planner's attire and she concluded that she was correct with her assumption. Melanie, like Mare, chose not to wear conservative style of clothing. The petite-statured woman wore a crème top that was off of her shoulders and form-fitting. She wore a tan, leather belt that was wide and thick. The belt reminded Kali of the corsets that Ryan liked to wear from time to time. An A-line, brown skirt covered her fit legs and a pair of tan, patent leather high heels graced her feet. Her blond hair was styled in a messy, French roll.
"Good afternoon, ladies!" the woman greeted cheerfully. She held onto a clipboard and there was a hearing device in her right ear. Both Richardson women thought that the wedding planner's energy was enthusiastic. She stared at the each of them. "Both of you look absolutely beautiful!"
"Thank you," Kali and Mare collectively said to the smaller woman.
"You're welcome! Okay, ladies," she announced with a clap. "Joel, here..." The wedding planner used her right index finger to point to the man that stood a few feet behind her.
Mare and Kali glanced behind Melanie to take a glimpse at the man who was standing behind the petite woman.
"... He is the photographer for the wedding. He will be taking pictures of you, Kali. His photos are candid shots, so you won't have to pose and all that. Plus, you don't have to hide from him today." There was an American Southern dialect littered in her tone of voice.
Kali and Mare laughed.
"We also have two videographers and another photographer on the premises. Also you don't have to worry about any paparazzi infiltrating the property. I know that Mr. Whittler was very concern about that happening. There are eleven security guards on the premises and they are here to make sure that none of this is leaked to the press. Also, I have three assistants who will be standing by every entrance with a list of the guests' names," Melanie informed the bride.
Purple eyes widened while their owner listened to the wedding planner. Kali was surprised to hear the news that there was a chance that paparazzi would crash their wedding ceremony, in order to take pictures. She wondered what type of individuals would be interested in her wedding. She was aware that Ryan was considered to be famous amongst the New York City socialite scene and in some of the social scenes in foreign places like London, England. Despite that bit of knowledge, she assumed that no one would care about their wedding ceremony.
It was only a few months ago, when Ryan's name was no longer implanted in American gossip rags, society section of magazines, newspapers' gossip sections and other publications. When his name was mentioned, he was always portrayed as being a 'bad boy-pompous-arrogant-party boy' that was the grandson of a billionaire, real estate mogul. On some occasions, there were pictures of Ryan as he exited different nightclubs and the homes of other rich people, as well as, a few of Hollywood's popular figures. It wasn't until a few months ago, around the time he reconciled with Kali, when his name was no longer mentioned.
When news broke that he was engaged to a woman that wasn't rich or famous, his popularity sky-rocketed again. According to several news pundits, he had behaved 'too much like a rock star' to even settle down. Ryan received word from one of his acquaintances that worked at a New York City-based newspaper that a picture of his fiancée was highly desired and editors were willing to pay a lot of money to any photographer, in exchange for one photo. To avoid Kali from being harassed, Ryan hired the guards to keep the photographers from being a nuisance.
"Don't worry, sweetheart about any of your wedding pictures being shown in the papers. When it comes to the guards, we have the best of the best," Melanie reported.
Kali felt relieved. She gave the wedding planner a smile. A hand touched her right arm and she glanced at Mare, who stood beside her. "Everything is going to be fine, honey," her grandmother stated. Kali nodded her head. She believed in what her grandmother said.
"The ceremony is going to begin in thirty minutes. Right now, your guests are downstairs and they are enjoying beverages and chatting. Also, a..." Melanie developed an expression of bewilderment on her face. "...card game is going on right now at a table full of older gentlemen."
Mare and her granddaughter laughed due to an apparent private joke. Melanie continued to stare at the two women with confusion. Her reaction made the moment feel funnier to both Mare and Kali. Mare didn't want to appear ruder towards the other younger woman, so she explained. "It is well-known in our family that playing cards is a staple for every family function. If you were to ask some of our family members, they will tell you that it is mandatory. In our family, there is a joke that states that you can recognize a Richardson anywhere because if we are invited to a function where there's food and liquor, it is guaranteed that a card game will start up."
The wedding planner nodded her head. "Oh," she sighed.
Both Mare and Kali knew that the woman did not sense the humor in the situation.
"Okay ladies, the wedding ceremony is going to begin in twenty-eight minutes..." As Melanie talked to Kali and Mare, Joel the photographer was snapping photos with his camera. Every once in a while, the three women heard the sounds of the camera's flash popping. The flash lit up the closet. "...My assistants and I have to move the guests into the courtyard and then I have to wrangle up your Uncle Davis. I would say, in about fifteen minutes, you can come downstairs, okay? Miss Richardson, do you have any questions for me?" inquired Melanie.
"Yes, I do" answered Kali. "How's Ryan doing?"
Melanie smiled and then her face emitted a glow. She turned her attention away from the bride and her grandmother. Kali watched the woman stared down at her clipboard. A few seconds, she produced a rectangle-shaped, velvet jewelry box that was navy blue in color. On top of the box, there was a folded up paper. She handed both items to Kali.
Kali accepted the jewelry box with trembling hands. Her heart pounded against her chest while adrenaline rushed through her body. She felt honored. She knew that there had to be jewelry inside of that box, from her soon-to be-husband. She wasn't expecting anything from Ryan, except for a wedding band and to hear the words 'I do' come from his mouth. Whatever the item was, Kali deeply appreciated the object already.
"Mister Whittler is doing alright. He wanted me to give you this. He instructed me to tell you to read the note first," Melanie informed her.
"Do you want me to hold the box, baby?" Mare asked her granddaughter. Kali nodded her head and then passed the velvet-lined box to her grandmother. Then, she unfolded the paper and proceeded to read the note.
"I wanted to let you know three things. The first thing is, I love you, baby. The second thing: I wanted you to have something that was blue. And the final thing is: Every night, before I go to sleep, I thank God that I was not able to go on that trip to the Smithsonian, back in '81. I'll see you later, Mrs. Whittler."
"Oh," she gasped as she read the note again. Her right hand reached up to the side of her head. Her fingers clasped on her earlobe and she squeezed the flesh.
She thought back to the day that she met Ryan. They were both assigned to a day of study hall because they couldn't go on the school's field trip to Washington D.C., to visit the Smithsonian Museum. She couldn't go on the trip because her grandparents was notified about the trip too late and they weren't able to gather up the funds. She remembered Ryan's reasoning for being at school on that day. Ryan couldn't go because his mother didn't bother to read his permission slip. She remembered their first interaction. After going through a bit of nostalgia, she felt tears forming.
"Honey, what's wrong?" Mare asked, concerned for granddaughter's well-being. Mare noticed that the sclera of Kali's eyes were pink, as well as, there was a glossy coating over her eyes. "Oh no honey, please do not cry! You'll ruin your makeup! What does the note say?"
Kali couldn't speak at all. She passed the note to the older woman. Kali walked away from her grandmother and Melanie. She walked over to her section of the closet. She traveled over to the chest of drawers that she used to store her lingerie and underwear. She opened the third drawer.
"Oh," she heard her grandmother gasped. "Oh, that sweet boy! I love him..." Her grandmother's voice trailed off and Mare was then heard sniffling.
"Oh my goodness, both of you are going to make me cry," Melanie the wedding planner stated.
Kali silently cried as she searched through the drawer until she found the item that she wanted. The item was the gift that she wanted to give to Ryan. It was wrapped in white lace. The lace used to be a part of a favorite dress that she owned, when she was a child. She planned on giving the gift to him on their wedding night, when he was her husband. But she scrapped that idea after she received her gift. The present was a framed sonogram picture. It was the second framed sonogram picture that she had given him. The first picture was a gift that she gave him almost two months prior. She gave him that picture because she thought he needed some inspiration to continue in his efforts to change. This second picture was more of a surprise for him. She also provided a note to go along with the item. She closed the drawer. She walked back over to where her grandmother and the wedding planner stood.
"Oooh, please do not cry, Miss Richardson! You'll ruin your makeup!" Melanie suggested. The wedding planner produced a blue floral-printed handkerchief from underneath her shirt. She walked over to Kali and dabbed at her cheeks. She gently wiped away the tears that were smeared on her face. "There you go, ma'am. Now, your makeup is perfect again." Melanie stared at Kali's face. "There..." she murmured before she nodded her head once. "Now, you can open your gift."
Kali had totally forgotten about the gift. She considered the note to be her present rather than the piece of jewelry. She turned to her grandmother. Mare passed the jewelry box to her. Melanie traveled over to where Kali stood. It was obvious that she wanted to see what Ryan had given her. The bride noticed and she giggled. Kali opened the box. She peered into the velvet box and gazed at the content. Her lavender eyes bulged from awe and disbelief.
"Oh my God, it's so..." Melanie gasped, her level of awe was evident. "He has good taste!"
"Well," Mare chuckled. She glanced at her granddaughter. "You shouldn't be surprise, after all, that diamond in your engagement ring is the size of a crater!" Then she let out a hearty chuckle.
"Yeah..." Kali gasped. "But Ryan has a way of surprising me," she said to the both of them while she ogled at the lavish, sapphire and diamond encrusted bracelet.