Following the engagement, there was party after party. James and Elle agreed to plan each other's bachelor and bachelorette party. It was an interesting gamble, but both of them did a great job. Elle hired a cute dancer, but made sure she wasn't too cute. Although Elle was sure she had nothing to worry about, she didn't want to makes James feel too bad about the life he was giving up.
Likewise, James hired a male dancer but made sure he was well-known around town for being legitimate and not sleazy. He wanted Elle to be flattered that James trusted her, but not drooling all night over some imaginably handsome man.
All in all, they each had a fun time. Elle was the most unaccustomed to drinking, and soon she stripped the costume James had bought her (another joke they had exchanged) and was dancing around in her underwear. Jared Frio, who had crashed her bachlorette through a friend of a friend, slid up to her as she chugged a beer with Justine.
"Hey Elle," he purred, placing a hand on her warm hip. "Wanna give me a little present? Your last night in freedom, after all," he crept closer, the smell of rum turning her stomach. She was already feeling slightly ill, and the sight of Jared's slightly parted mouth coming towards her was enough.
"No," she snapped, putting a hand on his chest, but he pushed closer. She forcefully pushed him back at the same time Justine rushed over to shove him away and escort him out. She came back to a tearful Elle, and instantly Justine knew James and Elle were a perfect match. They truly cared for each other deeply.
James had a calmer night, but he and the boys had their fair share of jokes--especially when Gage snuck off to Elle's old bedroom with the sexy maid dancer.
After they both enjoyed their respective nights, Elle and James reveled in their pre-wedding love. Never before had they felt this close to each other. They both took a week off from work and lay languidly in bed all day, making love, watching movies and ordering Chinese.
Christmas slowly seeped it's way in to their lives, as it often does, and they decided to throw a huge bash for all their family and their friends on Christmas Eve, to exchange gossip, stories and presents. It was nothing short of amazing, from the igloo James and Elle built to sharing in the warmth of the season's spirit together.
After Elle showed the last guest out, she turned to find James standing behind her, and her eyes sparkled. "I love you so much," she whispered, "I'm so thrilled to spend our lives together. Thanks for tonight." James held her hand, tracing patterns into the skin with his thumb. He gently touched her cheek with his other hand, tilting her chin up and pointing.
"Mistletoe, it's truly our one year anniversary," he said with a chuckle, leaning in for a kiss. They spent the night in the igloo, a unique experience that they both agreed should become a tradition.
As Christmas came to an end, and spring was on the horizon, something happened to Elle that threw a wrench into her lifetime plans. It started when she woke up one morning, smelling hashbrowns with onions, usually her favorite. Instead, it made her stomach squeeze and a cold sweat broke out on her forehead. Naturally, she ran for the toilet.
This continued for weeks until Elle finally realized she was a few periods behind, and the double line on the pregnancy test she took was unforgiving. After calculating the math in her head over a cup of herbal tea, she cursed herself.
The baby would be due in the late summer, right when their wedding was scheduled. Elle swallowed nervously, cupping her hands around her mug. She had spent the past few days devising the perfect way to tell James.
Coming home from a hard day of work was always a nice relief for James. Now that he worked in the lab, social interaction was a little bit stilted. He ruffled Jack's fur as he called out, "Babe, I'm home!" He heard Elle reply from upstairs, so he walked up the steps. Lately she had been working on a project in the spare bedroom, James suspected it was her wedding planning domain, and sure enough, she was leaving her old room as he came up the stairs.
He swept her up into his arms, showering her with kisses. Elle pulled away slowly, leading him into the room. "There's something I want to show you..."
James stepped into a nursery. He was stunned. The walls were now half-wooden in a cream color with yellow walls, cream carpet, and the sweetest furniture. It was uni-sex, and James grinned. "I can't believe this," he said, playing with a wooden elephant hung on the wall. "I can't wait until we start talking about having kids," he continued tactfully, turning around. He wasn't sure if this meant Elle wanted to start trying right away, but when he saw her hands placed delicately on her slightly swollen stomach, hidden under a baggy shirt, and an expectant look on her face.
"Holy fuck," James breathed, walking over to Elle and placing a tentative hand on her stomach. She looked up at him with tears.
"This will ruin the wedding," she admitted with a bitter chuckle.
"Of course it won't," he insisted, kissing her cheek. "We'll move it up a few weeks and let your dress out. Everything will be perfect."
The next few weeks passed at top speed. James and Elle began preparing for the baby in full force, Elle even finishing a demure beach painting for the unborn baby. With each passing week she threw herself more and more into the wedding plans, she and James often discussing their futures until late in the evening.
Everything was a huge surprise to them, but they both took it in stride. "When you've met your soul mate, whatever happens next is all a matter of time," James told Elle one evening while she stressed about money. Between the wedding and the baby, they were really pinching pennies. Despite Elle finishing three books, and getting royalty payments, she wasn't contributing much. They were also looking at getting a new house, in a safer neighborhood, but those plans would have to wait.
The wedding was scheduled for the late summer, but due to the pregnancy they decided to bump the date a few weeks up. By the spring, Elle's flat stomach had the slightest hint of the bump. With each week that the wedding inched closer, Elle's baby bump also gained inches. She had to let her wedding dress out slightly, but the bump was well-hidden. It's not that they were worried about telling people, they just wanted to keep it between them for the first few months.
The day of the wedding came. They stuck to old traditions and slept in seperate houses, promising to see each other down the aisle. James got dressed quietly in Geoffrey's spare bedroom, his hands shaking. It was only a few years ago that he left Bridgeport and came to this small town, looking for success and love. He stared at himself in the mirror, allowing a small smile. He had found both. Soon, he'd have a beautiful child to carry on his new legacy. He refused the luxe life his parents promised him, and he hoped to impart his small pieces of wisdom onto his child.
Swallowing nervously, James started to walk to the beach. It was a little far, and he had two hours to kill before the wedding ceremony. Truthfully, the time away from Elle and out of the house was doing him wonders. He needed to clear his head and relax, everything was happening so quickly. He loved the life he had created, but there was more pressure on him than ever to provide for his family.
James walked up to the beach, admiring the designs that Elle had picked out, with his approval. They went for simple and beautiful, with blue and yellow as their colors. The sun was almost about to set, and he saw a few early guests mingling, including Chelsea and Gage, flirting up a storm.
He took his place at the arch, and when the wedding march began and Elle walked down their make-shift aisle his heart seemed to stop and pick up again at double speed. She was breathtakingly beautiful. The slight breeze pushed her dress against her baby bump, making James grin. This was his family now. As Elle met him under the arch, he noticed her resting her hands on her belly.
"You're so perfect for me," he whispered to her with a grin. They exchanged romantic vows, but with tinges of humour.
"You're my everything, Elle. I couldn't imagine living a day without you in my life. I once thought my life was perfect, but you've shown me what perfection truly is. You make me want to be the best man I can be, because that's what you deserve. You've also shown me that pancakes don't have to be boring, and yes, Nutella, chocolate chips and bananas are acceptable additions," he added with a grin.
Wiping tears from her eyes, Elle squeezed his hand. "I love you James. When I met you, I knew in my heart that you were going to be my husband some day. I'm so excited to start my life with you. The thing that shows our relationship at it's best as you admitting my pancake skills," she finished with a tearful laugh, as the audience chuckled.
They exchanged rings and came together in an embrace. The audience clapped politely, but Elle's baby bump did not go unnoticed. Before they left the arch they held hands and looked out onto their friends faces. "Yes, we're pregnant!" James shouted, squeezing his wife and planting a loving kiss on Elle.
The night went on and on, but in one of the best ways possible. They took pictures together as a newlywed couple, cut cake and shoved it into the other's face, chatted with friends and slow danced under the stars. Everyone remarked how lovely they were, and they ended the night cuddled up on the beach, consummating their marriage and sipping drinks (virgin for Elle) until the sun rose. Finally they walked home, hand in hand, into their house, ready to face their first day together as husband and wife.
Elle's pregnancy grew more cumbersome as summer came to an end. She worked non-stop on her writing, and her friends came to her with autobiography requests often. They were easy ways to earn a chunk of money, and she even managed to finish a drama novel that hit the New York Times Best Selling List--a rom-com about two girls who fall in love with each other's man, bringing a new friendship for the both of them but uncovering dirty secrets. They described Elle as a "small town author who has some hits, but more misses" which wasn't the most flattering, but her paychecks started to prove otherwise.
On the other hand, James was continuing to do well in work, and he had been given a small raise along with more responsibility. He had a lot more to learn, switching tracks in his career, but he was content because he felt like he was on the right track in his life.
They were discussing moving more and more, but nothing popped up on the market that caught their interest. Despite both their promises to never become the suburban couple they mocked when they were out drinking, now their priorities had shifted.
"I think you're right honey," James conceded after a discussion, "maybe we should just buy a fixer-upper. We can make it our own."
Elle nodded, kissing his cheek. "Perfect. Ever since we almost got robbed, and then all those car thefts recently... the beach will always be ours, but for our family's safety..." she trailed off softly, petting Jack as he panted in the afternoon heat.
"Babe?" Elle shrieked later that night as she held her hand on her stomach. She had been having contractions for most of the evening, but they had been fairly mild and the doctor told them to wait until her water broke. As she was sipping on an iced tea, playing fetch with Jack, a sharp, shooting pain shot across her stomach and a trickling sensation down her legs.
James ran out and started freaking out right away. What if he wasn't going to be a good dad? What if he messed up monumentally? Elle had taken a couple deep, cleansing breaths and calmed down enough to direct a still panicked James to drive her to the hospital (in the cruiser with the lights flashing). Before James stepped into the car, he reflected as he gazed into the night sky. This was the last night he'd ever have before everything changed.
They had a beautiful baby girl, Brooke, nearly 24 hours later. James and Elle were enamored with her right away. She was spunky and mild-mannered all the same time. She'd often soften James' heart with a coo as he stared at her dreamily. She was perfect, in every way. Elle adapted quickly to motherhood, it suited her well. Becoming parents was tough on their relationship, but it also brought them extremely close together. They would spend hours discussing Brooke's eyes, her giggles, her tears, where they used to chat about work and hosting parties.
The late night feedings became routine. Baby spit up integrated it's way into their wardrobes. Yet, every waking moment they spent thinking of Brooke. No longer were they looking out for the two of them, now there was a little person, who meant so much more.
"You're my perfect angel," James would whisper to her nightly. Elle would fuss over every bit of her, making sure Brooke was neither too hot nor too cold. Was she hungry? Sleepy? What ever it was, Elle could anticipate it.
Years trickled by, as they do when your life becomes consumed with someone. Brooke passed her first, second and third birthdays as the newlyweds settled into married life and raising a child. There was a stunning property on the market that they were debating putting an offer on, and they had been trying for another child for years.
Tragically, Elle had two miscarriages within two years. She was becoming increasingly worried about her health, and if they would be able to have children again. There was a missed period here, spotting here, but Elle promised herself not to get excited. She would wait three months and take a test. If it came out positive, then she would tell James about it.
One hot summer afternoon, Elle had her answer. While making Brooke's birthday cake, she caught a whiff of the sickly sweet vanilla and clapped a hand over her mouth, stomach roiling. Knowing the feeling all too well, she rushed to the bathroom and dropped to the floor, emptying her stomach.
There was a pregnancy test in the medicine cabinet. She decided to take it, finish baking the cake, and see where she was after that.
James spent all afternoon playing with Brooke. They had settled on a family party, just the four of them, and had even bought Jack a bone to celebrate Brooke's fourth birthday. He was nervous because he knew Elle thought she was pregnant. He was hesitant to bring it up for his heart still ached for the two babies they had lost. Luckily they had both been within the first few weeks of the pregnancy, but repairing those wounds was hard.
"The cake is ready you two!" Elle called up cheerfully, and James squeezed his baby tight.
"Come on baby girl. Let's go party," he whispered, squeezing her foot. Brooke cooed in delight as James snuggled her close, walking into the kitchen. The cake smelled amazing, even Jack was sitting patiently hoping for a piece. Jack kissed Elle on the cheek, and leaned over to let Brooke blow out her candle.
Brooke was aging into a beautiful child. She had the dark brown of her father's hair with a flash of her mother's red. Her chocolate brown eyes were exact replicas of Elle's, and her skin was smooth and smelled sweet. Elle cuddled her close, anxiously prodding at her stomach. It was slightly poking out, but it simply looked like she had too much to eat. She was only about two months pregnant (she guessed), so the baby would come in the winter. They didn't have room for another child, and Elle knew she had to tell James right away.
"James," she began, after they had finished their cake and Brooke was playing with Jack contently. James looked up, his eyes sparkling. He couldn't believe how beautiful his wife was. She consistently took his breath away.
"I love you Elle. I love our family," he added passionately, kissing her slowly.
"I'm pregnant," she whispered, in a tone he couldn't quite place. It was sadness, with a disguised happiness and some worry slipped in.
"Seriously?" James asked, his eyes surveying his wife's thin frame. She nodded slowly, and he let out a little squeal, clapping. "Oh honey, this is so great, wow, this is amazing. A miracle!" he rambled, touching her stomach. "We should put an offer on the house. Tomorrow."
Elle tried to contain her excitement, but instead she let it bubble out. She knew James would always support her, but his obvious enthusiasm about the situation helped.
They stayed up late, drinking coffees and making plans for the next few months. James and Elle were both thrilled to give Brooke a sibling, and although Elle wanted many more children, they agreed this should be the last, for Elle's health.
James scooped Brooke up and carried her upstairs, kissing her forehead.
"You're going to have a new baby brother or sister," he told her, grinning.