Forever Now(83)

By: Ruth Cardello

Love wasn’t about having to choose.

Just before the carriage stopped, they passed a line of their immediate family. Everyone was smiling and waving—everyone except Ian. Annie gave Kade’s hand a squeeze when she saw his expression change as he noticed a lack of enthusiasm from that particular brother.

“He’ll come around,” Annie assured him.

Kade nodded once, then his smile returned. “Alessandro says love heals all wounds.” He kissed her gently on the lips. “I can’t argue that. Do we know anyone with the balls to take him on?”

Annie was momentarily lost in the sensation of his lips once again grazing over hers. When he raised his head and her ability to think coherently began to return, she snapped her fingers and said, “Claire!”

As Kade helped Annie out of the carriage, he glanced from her friend to his brother and back. “She’d definitely call him on his shit.”

Annie clapped her hands together. “Are you up for a little matchmaking, Kade?”

“I can’t imagine Ian would want me to get involved with his private life.” A slow smile spread across his face. “Let’s do it.”

Annie followed her heart and kissed him soundly, not caring they had an audience. “Do you know how much I love you, Kade Thompson-Barrington?”

He swung her around, kissing her deeply and getting himself tangled up in her train. “Can’t be as much as I love you, Mrs. Annie Thompson-Barrington.”

With a blush, Annie looked around and confessed, “Is it wrong I’m enjoying today? I mean, I would have been happy with anything. I know the whole fairy tale huge wedding is over the top, but it’s also . . .” She struggled for how to put it into words. After a lifetime of thinking the day would never happen, having it be so magical somehow fit.

“Somehow right,” he finished, knowing her almost better than she knew herself. “We’ve worked hard, Annie. We’ve made sensible, good choices, and always tried to do for others before we did for ourselves. No, life isn’t a fairy tale, but if we do it right, it might be better than one.”

In the circle of his arms, surrounded by family and friends, she said, “Amen to that,” and hugged him tightly. He hugged her back with the same intensity.

No, theirs had not been the easiest of roads, but if she could go back and do it all over—she’d want it to turn out the same way.

They were lovers as well as best friends.

And they had their forever now.