I have to admit, I don’t remember too much of the service. I was in a daze and thought I must be hallucinating due to all the wonderful things that had happened in the last twenty-four hours and were also happening right now. I was definitely on cloud nine.
I do remember that when it came time for the placement of the ring, I was very embarrassed, because I didn’t have a ring for Daphne. I was about to tell the preacher to skip that portion of the service when Tom touched my shoulder and handed me a simple gold band for the ring finger on Daphne’s hand. I let out a sigh of relief and gave him a smile while mouthing the words, “Thank ya.”
Daphne smiled and gave me her hand for the formal sacrament of commitment. I momentarily was confused because I remembered she had carried a bouquet when she came down the aisle, but it had disappeared. I quickly looked at the bridesmaid and saw that she held both hers and Daphne’s bouquets. I shook my head and thought, “When did that exchange happen?”
Disregarding this trivial matter, I slipped the ring on Daphne’s petite finger and marveled at her delicate and lovely appendage. Then I looked into her eyes and repeated the pledge of my love, following the preacher’s prompting of the formal declaration.
However, I added a vow at the end of the regular pronouncement, “I shall love ya for ever and ever.”
She had tears in her eyes when she nodded, smiled at me and said, “And I ya.”
I think that Daphne had to repeat some vows that the preacher repeated for her to utter, but they were pronounced quickly.
Lastly, the preacher asked us to kneel. I and Daphne’s bridesmaid helped get her dress situated so she could join me as we knelt in front of the pastor. Placing his right hand on Daphne’s head and his left on mine, he bestowed his blessing on us, gave thanks to God, and led us and the congregation in the Lord’s Prayer.
Once he had finished, he told us to rise. Getting Daphne to her feet wasn’t easy due to the vastness of her dress and petticoats. However, the task was accomplished with the minimum of effort.
When we were once again facing the minister, he smiled and said those words I had been waiting for, “I now pronounce ya man and wife. Ya may kiss tha bride.”
I believe that Daphne and I had really been waiting for this moment, because we grabbed each other furiously and kissed so passionately that the congregation cheered. Our kiss lingered to the point that the preacher uttered a brief, “Ahem.”
We finally parted and laughed to the chagrin of the pastor and the delight of the audience. Turning back toward the auditorium, we interlocked arms and strode down the aisle to the back of the church.
For some reason, I felt a dark presence when we entered the small foyer at the entrance to the sanctuary. Quickly positioning Daphne behind me, I retrieved a Colt from my belt as my gaze swept the small room, but to no avail. Then suddenly, I had a brief glimpse of a green and turquoise spot no bigger than a hand in front of the right entrance door. Abruptly, the door swung open of its own accord and the ethereal illumination disappeared. San Cirr Ray had made her presence known and had reminded me of my vow to do the aliens’ bidding, whatever that was going to be.
Daphne grabbed my arm and urgently whispered, “What’s wrong, Jim?”
I reinserted my Colt in my belt, and taking her hand in mine while looking in that angelic face, I assured her, “Nothing Darling. I just had a feeling that something just wasn’t quite right in here, but I must have been mistaken.”
I guided her back to my side and asked, “Where do we go from here?”
She smiled broadly and announced, “We’re going to tha hotel for a reception.”
In a disheartened voice I asked, “Right now?”
That made her laugh, and nodding, she added, “Yep, right now!”
“How long will that last?” I asked gloomily.
“Oh, a couple of hours, I guess,” she answered while trying to keep a straight face.
“Ya know that ya’re torturing me,” I declared.
That brought a hearty laugh and she asserted, “Well, traditions must be upheld.”
“Traditions be da…!”
That was all I got out of my mouth before she put her index finger over my lips and said in a sultry voice, “Don’t rush it, my Darling. Tha wait will be worth it.”
All I could do was take a big gulp of air and marvel at the suggestive smile that had suddenly transformed this prim and proper 19th century bride into the promise of a passionate lover.
All I could do was nod my head, which felt like it had been hit with a sledge hammer, and stammer, “O, O, okay.”
Whereupon she took me by the arm and directed me out the front doors of the church to her waiting carriage, which had John Lee ensconced at the driver’s station.