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Beautifully Damaged(126)

By:L.A. Fiore

Kelly, Chelsea, and Victoria had been in earlier to help me dress but now I stood alone thinking about Trace and our journey together. Though it wasn't a particularly long one, it was certainly a very colorful one. To imagine living a day without him, I couldn't. From the very beginning he appeared like some kind of mystical hero and I was lost to him. Maybe it was fate or destiny or maybe it was just two unlucky souls finally getting a bit of luck.

The soft knock at the door pulled me from my reflection as I called for my dad to enter. He pushed open the door and a big smile spread over his face.

"Ah, Emmie girl, you look exquisite."

I spoke the words that had previously only been spoken in my heart. "I wish mom was here."

He moved to me as he reached for my hands to hold in his own. "She is Ember. She is here with us and I know that she's smiling as she watches us. Her baby girl is getting married to a man who is very worthy of her, the man who grew from the child for whom she died trying to save. Life works in mysterious ways, Ember, and the secret is to not think too hard on the why of it or the how, and to not mourn what is no longer, but to appreciate what is and to live: live hard and love hard. Your mom would want that for you, both of you."

I kissed my dad as tears filled my eyes.

"Your name will change today but you will always be my little girl."

"...and you will always be my daddy."

He wiped at his eyes before reaching for my hand and pulling it through his arm. "...let's go get you married."

The chapel was small with wooden pews lining the sides. The long, center aisle reached from the back of the church down through the nave and standing on the altar next to the priest was Trace. As soon as my dad and I stepped through the doors, Trace and I locked eyes and as I approached the altar, I saw tears in his and knew that he would see the same in mine. The entire service flew by and before I knew it, the priest had announced us husband and wife. Trace's hands framed my face as he lowered his head so that our lips were almost touching and then he whispered, "My beautiful wife."

"My beautiful husband."

And then he kissed me.


I have been Mrs. Trace Montgomery for three weeks, two days, nine hours and seven minutes and am deliriously happy. Thanksgiving is coming up and Trace and I are having everyone over. Trace, Chelsea and I are doing all of the cooking and this year, it will be eighteen for dinner including Hank, Dougie, Jimmy and Jerry. Well, actually it will be nineteen since I am playing matchmaker; there was something in the way that Vincent spoke of Victoria and I sensed there could be something between them.

Trace invited Charles and Vivian to Thanksgiving. I remember the day when Victoria walked into Charles' office; the man actually cried. Who knew that there really was a heart beating in his chest. I still don't like him and I know that Trace doesn't either. The man knew what was happening to Trace and Chelsea when they were kids and he chose to stay quiet. There was nothing he'd ever be able to do to make up for failing them so stunningly. He will never be welcomed into our family but he will be part of our lives and we are going to need his help with Dane.

Lucien is picking us up in a few minutes so I can give Trace his wedding gift. He gave me mine while we were honeymooning in Marblehead and I broke down when he did. He worked with Lucien and they created a chain of shelters for battered women and children. They named these safe havens, these beacons of hope, Mandy.

Down the hall in the office, Trace is standing by the window looking outside. I wonder what he is thinking about.


He turns and a smile spreads over his face which is always a treat to see. He comes from around the desk and walks to me and pulls me into his arms.

"Hello, Mrs. Montgomery."

"Hello, Mr. Montgomery."

"I don't think I will ever get used to you being mine."

"I am and have been since the very beginning."

He brushes his lips over mine before I ask, "What were you thinking about?"

"You, and how my life is so different from how it would have been without you. You saw past a damaged surface and found the man beneath it. More, you loved that man and allowed him the honor of loving you."

"I feel like the lucky one, Trace."

He says nothing to that but watches me in that way of his before he lowers his head and just when his mouth touches mine, the door bell rings.

"Damn bell." Trace growls.

I step back and take his hand as excitement surges through me. "It's Lucien, it's time."

Trace comes with me but not quietly as he nags me to share my secret.

"You're going to see it in ten minutes, patience young Jedi."

I reach for the door as Trace whispers in my ear, "I know what I want for my birthday this year."