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All My Love
By Amanda Berendt
Copyright March 2006

    Natalie Lambert stood in front of the full-length mirror as her sister-in-law, Sarah stood behind her adjusting her veil. * I can't believe this is actually happening.* Natalie thought to herself as she took in her reflection. Sarah stood back, allowing the bride to see herself in the mirror. The white of the Victorian-style dress contrasted her newly tan skin.
    "I am so glad we can be here for you." Sarah said touching Natalie's shoulders. "Richard would have been so proud."
    Natalie turned and clutched Sarah's hands. After all that had happened in the past several years, she was amazed any of them were actually standing here. It made the day even more special.
    "Thank you so much for being here. I couldn't imagine anyone else I'd rather have as my maid of honor." She smiled and carefully blotted the tears from her eyes as to avoid smudging her makeup.
    The door to the dressing room opened and Sarah's daughter, Amy, poked her head in. "Aunt Natalie, he's here. Are you ready to start?"
    Natalie took a deep breath, looked at Sarah once more and nodded. "As ready as I'll ever be."
    Hand in hand, the two women followed Amy out of the room and into the oaken hallway that was serving as the aisle.
    As the sounds of Pachebel's Canon in D wafted down the hallway, Amy started down the hall, followed by Sarah. Natalie stood alone for a moment before starting. As she reached the steps leading to the conservatory, she paused and met the gaze of the man standing at the altar.

****30 minutes earlier****
    Nick Knight stood in his bedroom staring at his reflection in the mirror. For the thousandth time, he fixed his tie. *The tie is fine.* he thought to himself. *There is absolutely nothing to be nervous about.* He glanced at his watch. *Unless I'm late!!*
Checking his reflection once more, he hurried down the stairs. He stepped into the waiting elevator, fingering the ring in his jacket pocket. *Wouldn't do to forget that.* he smiled.
    As he climbed into the caddy, his cell phone rang. He looked at the number before answering. "I'm on my way, Skank." He hung up and started the car.
    As he pulled out of the garage, he glanced up at the darkening sky. It was a beautiful crisp and clear fall evening.
    In no time, he pulled the caddy into a parking space at Casa Loma. He jumped out of the car and ran up the stairs into the main foyer.
    Schanke was waiting for him.
    "You've got the ring, right?"
    Nick patted his jacket pocket and nodded before rushing down the oaken hallway toward the conservatory. Taking his place at the front of the small crowd gathered, he nodded to the judge.

    Moments later the string quartet began playing and he watched as Amy emerged from the hallway, scattering flower petals. She was followed by her mother and both made their way down the aisle to take their places at the front of the room.
    Then he saw Natalie. She looked exquisite - the waning light shining through the stained glass ceiling of the conservatory made her glow. Their eyes locked for a moment before she began her walk down the aisle. For a split second, he wanted to turn and run, but her smile held him in place.
    When Natalie reached the altar, the music stopped and the wedding party turned to face the judge.
    "We are gathered here this evening to join this man and this woman in marriage."
    He turned to Natalie. "Natalie, do you take this man - to have and to hold - in sickness and in health - for as long as you both shall live?"
    Natalie smiled and a tear glistened in her eye. She took a simple gold band from Sarah and slipped it onto the hand she held. "I do."
    The judge smiled before turning to the groom.
    "Lionel, do you take this woman - to have and to hold - in sickness and in health - for as long as you both shall live?"
    Nick took the gold band from his pocket and handed it to Lionel, who placed it on Natalie's hand. "I do."
    The judge continued. "Is there anyone here who can show any reason why these two should not be joined?"
    There was a brief pause, during which Nick could feel many pairs of eyes boring into his back. He closed his eyes and waited for the moment to pass.
    Smiling the judge finished "Then I now pronounce you husband and wife."

****Later that evening*****
    Nick stood with Schanke watching Natalie dance with her new husband. "Man, I really thought that'd be you up there." Schanke said taking a sip of champagne. "How can you stand it?"
    Without looking at his partner, Nick answered. "I wanted her to be happy."

~Fin~