For those who read about Hunter & Lennon in Baby Mine & Baby Yours, you’ll recognize Alison as their first baby. And now she’s getting married!

I turn my head and look over at my dad. My arm loops with his and he gives me a smile.

“Ready?” he asks as the string quartet my Aunt Sophie hired plays, and I know it’s time for me to go. I nod, then we make our walk down the aisle in the small church in Big Bear California.

I’ve been reflecting on my life this past week and how lucky I am to have such an amazing and loving family. As a kid, I remember my mother constantly talking to me about Brandon, my biological father, and how he passed away before I was born. I didn’t fully understand until I got older. Hunter was always in love with my mom, but respected his best friend so he never made a move. Hunter is the dad who raised me and treated me like his own since birth. 

While I wish my biological father was still here, I know life would be completely different. My brother Aaron and sister Aubrey wouldn’t exist, and I don’t know what I’d do without either of them. I’d probably be a completely different person too. I try to believe that everything happens for a reason—the good and bad.

I’m around the same age as my mom was when she lost the love of her life, and I realize how damn strong she is. I can’t even begin to put myself in her shoes after knowing what she went through. She’s told me several times how it forced her to grow up and learn hard lessons.

I believe it.

After I give Dad a hug, he joins my mother who’s grinning wide from the front row. I glance at my bridesmaids and my sister who’s my maid of honor. She smiles and gives me a nod of reassurance. I glance over at Aaron who shoots me a wink. Then my eyes meet Chris’, the man I’ll spend the rest of my life with. He’s looking at me in awe, and I mouth I love you as I move forward, until I’m inches away from him.

My heart flutters and everyone in the room vanishes. Finally, we’re starting our lives together, something I’ve been wanting for what feels like an eternity. We met a few years ago while I attended Juilliard. The first time our eyes met, I felt the electricity streaming between us. We’ve been inseparable ever since and after graduation, he moved to California to be with me.

“You’re beautiful,” he whispers right before my grandpa begins the ceremony—considering he’s a pastor at a megachurch, I knew he’d be the perfect person to officiate. I can’t believe how quickly it all passes. Soon we’re exchanging our handwritten vows and pronounced husband and wife. When Chris’ lips brush against mine, I nearly melt into him. 

Once our wedding guests move to the reception venue, we take tons of photos.

“I can’t wait to rip that suit off of you and for you to see what I’m wearing underneath this dress,” I tell him as we walk into the venue.

“Mmm.” He leans in and kisses my lips before sliding his mouth to my ear. “Don’t tempt me.”

I burst into laughter as soon as we enter. Everyone claps and cheers when we enter. The deejay announces us as the bride and groom, then we go straight into our first dance. Chris spins me around to “What a Wonderful World” before Dad cuts in.

When I look into his eyes, I can see tears beginning to form.

“Don’t do it,” I warn, trying to hold back my emotions as my voice cracks.

“It’s just hard to see my little girl all grown up and married.”

“I couldn’t stay a kid forever,” I tease.

“You’ll always be a kid in my eyes,” he says and pulls me into a hug. “I love you so much, sweetie.”

“I love you, too.”

Mom dances with Christ and then my Papa comes over and steals me from dad.

“Heard you were honeymooning in Paris,” he says, spinning me around.

“Yep! I can’t wait. I’ve been dying to see the Mona Lisa since I was a little girl.”

“I transferred some money into your account as a wedding gift. When you return, you need to come to Utah and show me all the pictures you took!”

“Oh my goodness, Papa. You didn’t have to do that,” I tell him.

“Of course I did.”

“Well, thank you so much,” I say with a laugh. I feel so spoiled and beautiful, like a princess. When I look over at Chris, I see Aunt Maddie pulling out all of her dance moves with him.

“Oh, now you’re just showing off,” I snicker.

Aunt Sophie watches and shakes her head, waiting to steal Chris away from Maddie who literally just did a cartwheel. Uncle Liam steals me away next. 

“I told you that you should’ve let her choreograph your first dance,” Liam reminds with a snicker.

“Uncle Liam! You’re supposed to keep her under control.”

He shakes his head. “Are you kidding me? No one can control that woman. Not even me.”

Soon I’m dancing with Uncle Tyler and a few of my cousins, and finally I’m passed back to my husband.

“You ready to leave yet?” He chuckles. He knows I’m an introvert and don’t care for all of the attention. It’s why I became a pianist and songwriter, because it allows me to use song instead of words to impress people. My mom taught me before I could even walk.

“Almost,” I admit, but the night has just begun. “Should we get a drink?”

“Absolutely,” he says, interlocking his fingers with mine and leading me off the dance floor. We’re stopped by some friends and family, and it takes us nearly thirty-five minutes before we make it to the margarita machine.

Before dinner is served, Uncle Hayden and Aunt Savannah greet us. They gives me hugs and slip Chris a wad of cash. “For Paris,” Hayden says. “Enjoy, you too, and congrats.”

“Thank you so much,” I say while Chris smacks his shoulder.

“Don’t forget to eat!” Savannah reminds us, and I laugh when my stomach growls. 

The deejay announces it’s time to sit for toasts. Aubrey is on one side of me and Chris is on the other.

Mom takes the microphone and clears her throat. Before she gets any words out, she’s already crying. “I knew just how special you were the moment you were born.”

“I better get a speech like this at my wedding,” Aubrey leans in and whispers. I chuckle at her teasing, but am thankful she’s pulling my attention away because I’d be an emotional mess otherwise.

“You’re my angel baby. My little miracle,” mom continues, something she’s always said to me.

“Okay, I’m definitely getting a little devil comment,” Aubrey continues, and I snort. She’s always been a handful and acts exactly like Aunt Maddie. Pretty sure she was somehow switched at birth with one of my cousins.

“Oh stop,” I tell her, grabbing her hand and squeezing it. “But you know I am their favorite child.”

“I’ll let you believe that for today,” she tells me with a wink.

By the time mom finishes, there’s not a dry eye in the room.

Next up is Dad. “Allie, it’s bittersweet walking you down the aisle today. Brandon would’ve been so proud of you and loved you with all of his heart, just as I do. Every day, I’m honored to be your dad. While I will never be as good of a man as him.” He pauses, trying to regain his composure and glances over at the memorial table we set up for my father. Everyone’s heads turn and glance at it. There are tons of pictures of my mom and Brandon when they first met, and I loved how happy they looked together, but I can’t imagine my life without Hunter.

He clears his throat and continues, “I’d like to think I’m the next best thing. Thank you, Allie. Thank you for teaching me how to love unconditionally and allowing me to fill such big shoes. Love you to the moon and back.”

I stand up and meet my parents. “Love you both so much.”

The crowd is in a fit of tears at this point. 

Thankfully, the next person to speak is my Aunt Maddie, which is gonna be a riot but we could use a mood change.

“Well, that’s a hard act to follow.” She laughs and glances over at Hunter.

“So, what do you call a laughing piano?”

Everyone shakes their heads and murmurs.

“A yama-hahahahaha.”

I lean into Chris who’s chuckling.

“Oh, don’t worry. I’ve got a lot more of these jokes on lockdown. But seriously, Alison…my first niece, my first accidental baby drop—” Everyone laughs. “My first experience caring for a child, and really, you set me up for failure because you were the easiest baby.” The crowd bursts out laughing. “Seriously, did not prepare me at all for my own children. Thanks for that.”

As soon as each of my aunts and uncles have given their speeches, we toast, and then dinner is served. I’m so hungry, I nearly inhale my steak whole. After we eat, we cut the cake and spend the rest of the night dancing. By the end of the night, my face hurts from smiling so damn much. As the deejay makes the announcement that it’s time for us to be sent off, I take a moment and look around at the venue that’s full of people who have supported and loved me for my entire life.

I hug and thank my parents one more time before taking off.

Once we’re inside the limo, the photographer takes a few more pictures, and I let out a long sigh when the door closes and we speed off.

“You okay?” Chris asks.

I look at him, grinning wide. “Yeah, I was just thinking about my real dad and Hunter, and how different my life would be if that motorcycle accident wouldn’t have happened.”

His face softens, and he’s used to hearing me talk about it.

“But…” I say, as he presses his lips on my knuckles. “Everything happens for a reason, and I’m lucky to have such an amazing family.”

“You are,” he offers. “And who knows, if none of that wouldn’t have happened, maybe we never would’ve met.”

“You’re absolutely right,” I tell him. “I love you so much.”

“I love you too. Can’t imagine spending my life with anyone else.” He leans over and kisses me.

“That’s a good thing, because you’re stuck with me for eternity,” I pull away and snicker. 

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