Disclaimer and rating - see first part.
One year in the future
Clarisse stirred slightly, waking to the new day. The sun was pouring in through the curtains casting a soft glow over the bedroom suite. She smiled as she saw her husband taking up his space and some of hers next to her on the bed. She propped herself up on one elbow, just watching him sleep. She let her thoughts wander for a moment, thinking of all the barriers she had broken down over the past year. She, along with Joseph, had made a conscious effort to put the past behind them. Although a very significant part of them and their relationship, it was important that it be dealt with and put in the proper place. She had finally been able to let Rupert truly rest in peace as she watched the men who were responsible for his and Phillipe’s death be sentenced to life in prison. Contrary to his belief, Paul had not been forever silenced by his employers. He would have a long time in a very small space to think about how he and his cohorts had severely underestimated the Renaldi family.
Her smile continued as she recalled that it was shortly after the verdict and sentencing that she had finally acquiesced to Joseph’s requests that he be allowed to sleep in the buff. She took a moment from her thoughts to admire her husband’s physique. His broad chest was rising and falling steadily as he slept. She surmised that he was exhausted from their celebration at 12:01 a.m. last night when he woke her to wish her a happy first anniversary.
The memories of their lovemaking flooded to the forefront of her mind. She felt a series of goosebumps break out on her flesh. Even after a year together, this man knew how to awaken nerve endings and sides of her that she had never even knew existed. From roses, to melted chocolate, feathers, the list went on; they always found new and exciting ways to please each other. Her body began to respond even now as she thought about their year together. Joseph not only made love to her body; but to her mind and her soul - tying them together on so many levels that she could not imagine one moment of her life being spent without him by her side.
She placed feather-light kisses along his chest in an attempt to wake him. They had decided to celebrate privately, just after midnight, as their day would be filled with a host of celebrations and other activities. No matter how badly she might want to spend the day in bed with Joseph; there was duty to be fulfilled. Her duty today, however, was one she was eager to complete. She didn’t want to be late so she decided to intensify her efforts to wake her sleeping husband. She ran her hand along his chest, over his side; and, slipping her hand under the sheet, caressed his hips.
She yelped as his arms snaked around her and pulled her over on top of his body. “Excuse me, ma’am, but do you have a license to do that?” he teased.
“As a matter of fact…” she paused as she thought about it. “You know, now that I think about it, in fact, I do not.
Joseph! We never got a marriage license…does that mean we were never really married…officially?”
Joseph pulled her face to his and kissed her gently and then deepened the kiss as he felt her body mold to his. He wanted nothing more than to make love to her right then; but knew that time would not permit that this morning. He rolled her over so that he was now on top. “Actually, love, I did some research into the matter shortly after we were married. I decided I wasn’t going to let you off on a legal technicality.”
She smiled at his words and rose up slightly, wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him again. She was hoping to tease him into letting them stay in bed just a little while longer. He finished the kiss and then grabbed her hands and held them above her head. “You little vixen, your ploys won’t work on me this morning. Besides, don’t you want to know if you’re legally married to me or not?”
She decided she wasn’t done teasing; but would let it go for a moment in the interest of learning what information he had. She put on her best “pouting” face before responding, “Yes, please.”
“As it turns out, everyone BUT members of the royal family have to get a marriage license. And, since you were Queen at the time of our nuptials, we are in fact…legal.”
She smiled and rotated slightly in his grasp to separate her legs allowing him to sink into a position over her body that he had become quite fond of over the past year. She wrapped her legs around his and gently rotated her hips.
Joseph moaned, “Clarisse…we don’t have time for this. We can’t be late today!” But as soon as he finished speaking, his lips had found the gentle curve of her neck.
Her moan matched his as the familiar tingle ran through her body at the touch of his mouth on her flesh. “Perhaps if we are quick? We can then shower together…that will save time.” She whispered in his ear.
Joseph chuckled, “Because that’s always worked out so well in the past! May I remind you, dear, that when we shower together…we tend to take longer?”
She knew he was right; but her body was demanding attention. It was, after all, her anniversary. She reminded herself to later fuss at Amelia for planning this event for today. At first it seemed sweet; but now it just seemed to be getting in the way of her celebrating her anniversary the way she truly wanted. “Compromise?”
Joseph had released her arms and was working his way down to the welcoming comfort of her breasts. Before responding he took a taut nipple in his mouth and sucked, eliciting the desired response from his wife as she arched under him and inhaled sharply. He nipped gently before lifting his head to respond, “I’m listening.”
Clarisse caught her breath as he lavished the same treatment on the other side, “Somehow I doubt that! Anyway, we do this and then I promise to bathe and dress quickly.” During her statement, she discovered that she had lost her nightgown and her husband had continued to move his way down her body.
Just as he was about place sweet kisses on her curls, the phone rang. He collapsed on top of her, laughing; Clarisse, however, was not as amused. She answered the phone, trying to keep her voice even, “Hello.”
“Oh Amelia…yes, we’re up.” Joseph started laughing at her comment and she responded by giving him what he had come to term as ‘the Queen look’.
“Yes…Yes…I understand….No, it’s alright. I’ll see you then.” She hung up the phone.
Joseph had rested his chin on his hands as they were crossed over Clarisse’s abdomen to watch her while she talked. He knew the playtime was over. The Queen needed her grandmother; and her Grandmother would not shirk away from either her duty or her granddaughter. “So we’ll pick this up later?”
She sighed, “I’m sorry, Joseph. I started this and now I can’t finish it. Forgive me?”
He moved up and over, so he was now lying beside her. He placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. “Of course, my love, now off to the shower with you. Amelia needs you.”
“I love you. Happy anniversary, my soul mate.” She returned his kiss before getting out of bed and walking towards the bathroom.
Joseph watched her naked body sway as she made her way to the other room. Whether she was in an elegant ballgown or without a stitch on her body, she carried herself regally and in a way that commanded attention. He willed his body to calm back down as she closed the door behind her. He pulled the covers over his head…it was going to be a long day!
About four hours later
Joseph watched as his beautiful wife walked towards him. Every eye in the building was on her as she made her way to the front. The soft lavender gown complimented her skin tone beautifully. He smiled as he noted she had chosen to wear his anniversary gift with her gown. The pear-shaped ruby stone hung on a gold chain that was long enough to allow the stone to rest comfortably in her cleavage right at the swell of her breasts. His thoughts started to wander to her wearing just his gift; but before he could take that line of thinking too far, she was at the point that he was to meet her and escort her the rest of the way.
He offered her his arm as they finished the rest of the journey together. As they arrived at the front, he gave her a sweet, quick kiss before they separated to go to their respective places. The focus moved from the former Queen and her husband to the back of the church as Mia made her entrance. She was dressed in a beautiful white wedding dress that had been created especially for her. Joseph could have sworn he heard Nicholas inhale sharply as he drank in the sight of his bride walking down the aisle to join him at the front of the church.
She didn’t stop this time and made her way, at a reasonable speed, down the aisle to where her groom and the Archbishop waited for her. She turned to her Grandmother who gave her a kiss on the cheek and a quick hug before taking her bouquet for her.
A hush fell over the church as the Archbishop began, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are gathered here today in the presence of God and these witnesses to join these two in holy matrimony.”
Flashforward: Five years in the future
Joseph paced outside the room in the hallway. It seemed as though they had been in there for hours. The doctor had been in there with her for at least the last hour; he was sure. Why hadn’t they told him anything? If anything had happened…what would he do? How would he cope? His entire world was behind that door…he increased his pacing. If he was a smoker, he would definitely have needed one right now. He heard a cry come from behind the door. He immediately placed his ear to the door, “Clarisse?! Clarisse?! Is everything alright?”
Her voice sounded somewhat strange as she replied, “I’m not sure right now, Joseph…”
His fear level rose and he was more afraid than he had been in his entire life. Just when he thought he was going to lose it completely, Charlotte and Shades joined him with his pacing. Shades gave him a comforting squeeze on his arm and then moved aside for Charlotte to pull him into an embrace, “It will be ok, Joe. We just have to be patient.”
He tried to be reassured by her words and draw from their strength. “It’s been so long, though. I don’t recall it ever taking quite this long.”
“Well, we’ve never experienced anything quite like this, have we?” Charlotte offered. “She’ll be alright, Joe…she has to be.” Her final words weren’t as comforting as her initial statements and Joseph began to worry even more. He sat down and put his head in his hands.
“Charlotte, if anything happens to her. I don’t think we will recover.”
Charlotte sat down next to him and put her hand on his knee as a comforting gesture, “I know, Joe. I know.”
It was about two hours later when Joseph heard her cry. “Joseph!!”
He needed no further prompting, he rose from the bench and made it to the door in only one step. He almost knocked poor Charlotte onto the floor as she had been leaning up against him while they waited. He threw open the door and ran to the bed that was surrounded by people.
They moved aside to let him near her. It took him only a moment to see that everything was alright. He found her face wet with tears that were still running down her beautiful cheeks.
Her voice was choked with emotion as she spoke, “Joseph, I’d like you to meet your grandchildren, Joseph Philippe Renaldi Deveraux and Julia Clarisse Mignonette Deveraux.”
He looked from his wife’s face to the woman lying on the bed, obviously drained from her efforts over the past several hours of giving birth to twins. “And how is the Mother?”
“Oh Joe, she is very tired. That took forever!” Mia replied in exhaustion.
“She did wonderfully, Joe. She was absolutely magnificent, as always.” Nicholas chimed in as he stroked Mia’s hand.
Joseph chuckled, “I’m afraid you get the difficult deliveries from your grandmother. Your father proved quite a challenge for her as well.” He grew solemn as he continued, “I feel honored, Amelia, that you chose your father and me to name the child after.”
Mia’s eyes were closed, but her sense of humor was still present, “Well, we wanted someone we could call Joey!”
Laughter peeled throughout the room. Joseph leaned down and kissed Mia on the forehead and then moved to stand behind his wife as she was sitting next to Mia on the other side of the bed holding Julia in her arms. He looked at the painting of Rupert and Clarisse on the wall on the other side of the room; then to the familiar faces around the room-Mia, Nicholas, and Clarisse; and finally to the new faces of Joey and Julie being held by their grandmother and mother. They had come full circle and the story was now complete: the past, the present, and the future. All was well in Genovia and he firmly believed that they would live…happily ever after.
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