Section 1: History
Section 2: Literature
Section 3: Philosophy
Section 4: Creative
The third Friday in September, Marty was on pins and needles all day at the hospital. Patrick hadn't come home the night before. He'd told her Thursday morning that he'd come by the mill house early Saturday morning to pick her up, and to not get dressed until he got there. When Marty had raised her eyebrows at that, Patrick had laughed.
"I don't have an ulterior motive, Margaret. I'm just bringin' your weddin' dress with me."
"Ah-ha. So you'll help me get dressed? That's usually the maid of honor's responsibility, not the groom's."
"Angel…I'm the entire weddin' party."
Although she didn't think she'd get any sleep the night before her wedding to Patrick, Marty had a busy day at the hospital, and she was exhausted when she arrived home. She forced herself to eat a healthy dinner, alone, and then she undressed and fell into bed. Lying there alone, she placed her hand over her womb. I'm not really alone, am I? she asked silently. I have you now, too. This is the last night either of us will sleep without Patrick, was Marty's last thought as she drifted off to sleep.
But she wasn't destined to sleep without Patrick the entire night. He crept into the bed shortly after midnight. Marty awoke to his kiss on her temple.
"Mmmm," she said sleepily. "Patrick?"
"It'd better be or I'll want to know what you're doin' with a strange man in your bed. " He continued to nuzzle her.
"But what are you doing here? I thought I wouldn't see you until the morning."
"I couldn't wait, Angel," he murmured. "I had to know if this was really real, after all—that I haven't just been dreamin' the whole time, that when I came here, there wouldn't be a couple of strangers livin' here, lookin' at me like I was a mad man, when I showed up to claim my bride." His lips traveled from her temple down to her cheek, and then sideways to her mouth. "But you are my Margaret," he said softly, kissing her lips, "here waitin' for me, and a sleepy Margaret you are, so I'll just hold you until mornin', but—"
"Oh, Patrick." Suddenly his touch set her on fire. She wrapped her arms around him, and her legs, and realized he was as smoothly naked as she was. Unable to resist the lure of his warm skin, she wrapped her arms and legs around him to hold him close. His heart pounded hard against her own as she gazed into his eyes, their gleam visible in the moonlight flowing into the room. "I'm so glad you're here, and you're real, and that I'm not dreaming either."
"This is different from…what you knew before, isn't it?" he asked a little breathlessly. "I thought you might have spent that night alone. I also wanted you to know you'll never spend another night alone, Angel."
"I was telling our baby earlier…this was the last night I—we—ever would spend without you. I'm so glad you proved me wrong."
Patrick smiled. "Our wee one, how is she?" He trailed his hand gently over Marty's breast and down her stomach until it came to rest over the slight swelling that had begun to grow there. "Does she know, d'you think, that I'm here now, and that we're all together?"
Marty's toes were curling. "She must feel it, because of the way her mother knows it. Patrick…." They were so close together that she could feel the effect she was having on him too.
"We could be even more together."
"You're not too tired?"
"All of a sudden…I find that I'm wide awake."
"Ah, I'm sorry, it's my fault for wakin' you, Angel. You really should have a good night's sleep so you'll be rested for tomorrow."
"Well, I can't have a glass of wine, or a sleeping pill, and I'm really too comfortable to get out of bed anyway, so maybe…well, Patrick, since you woke me up, you'll have to think of a way to help me get back to sleep."
Patrick let his hand roam lower until he felt a shiver run through her body. "They say two heads are better than one, so let's put our two heads together on this one, Angel," he suggested, kissing her again in the way that let her know they would be in complete agreement.
The next morning, Patrick scooped Marty out of bed before she was even awake and carried her into the bathroom, where the shower was already running. He lowered her into the tub. Marty was loath to let go of him, but she realized from his damp hair and oatmeal-soap-scented skin that he had already showered. He wouldn't be removing his terrycloth robe and joining her.
"You went ahead without me, Patrick?" she pouted.
"I didn't last night, Angel, did I?" he asked meaningfully.
"No…no, you didn't," she sighed, remembering their rapturous lovemaking and its intense climax. The last one they would ever share before she shared his name, they had clung together as if they would never let the other one go. Drawing back from him a little, Marty added, "Did I forget to mention in the heat of the moment last night how much I love you?"
"You can mention it again, and as often as you like. I love you too, and good mornin', Doctor Very-soon-to-be-Thornhart."
"'Very soon to be'? It is today then?" she asked excitedly. "Am I really going to be your wife today?"
Laughing, Patrick told her, "You'll see, but you have to get showered and dressed first, and then there's breakfast waitin' in the kitchen . Hurry up, because we've got plans for the day, Angel."
And before she could say another word, ask what she was supposed to wear, what she should take, much less where they were going to go, Patrick was closing the bathroom door behind him. Since Marty was already soaked from the shower spray, there was no point in jumping out of the tub and following him to demand answers. She picked up the bar of oatmeal soap and worked up a handful of lather.
As she emerged from the bathroom and reentered the bedroom in her pink satin robe, her hair falling in lustrous waves about her shoulders, Marty inhaled. Spread out on the bed was a dress that she had never seen before. Her questions about what she was to wear that day suddenly vanished.
She ran to the bed and caught it up in her hands. It was made of a gauzy cotton that felt as soft as a whisper. The style was empire, with softly gathered pleats falling from the high, fitted waist. The neckline was scooped, and the short sleeves were elbow-length. The flowing material was pure white, printed with widely scattered sprigs of tiny green flowers. On the floor at the foot of the bed was a pair of plain white leather sandals, also new to Marty.
Oh, Patrick, she sniffed to herself, this is beautiful and perfect, no matter where you're taking me. You absolutely never stop surprising me, do you?
Despite herself, she couldn't help comparing this simple dress to the elaborate gown she'd chosen in which to marry Dylan—all the tiresome fittings required to make the form-fitting bodice follow the lines of her long, slender torso, then the worry once she had it on that someone would tread on the costly skirt and tear loose one of its diaphanous layers, or spill champagne on the gossamer sleeve. That dress seemed too ephemeral to survive human handling—beautiful on the outside, but with no basis in reality. That dress had made a statement she didn't realize at the time.
But the delicate appearance of this dress was deceptive. It looked romantic, but it was practical, comfortable, and it covered all the bases. She could wear it now, she could wear it when she was nine months' pregnant. She could wear it to all but the most formal occasions—or she could wear it to the beach. If anything got spilled on it, she could throw it in the washer and dryer, and take it out, softer than ever. It was for the long haul—just like Patrick.
And it fit perfectly, as did the sandals. Her only other adornment was her engagement ring.
I haven't even left the house and I already feel like I'm in a dream, Marty thought once she was dressed. At the last moment she went to the jewel case on her dressing table. She opened the lid and lifted out a small black velvet pouch. Inside the pouch was Patrick's wedding ring, a substantial band of white gold, finely etched with a Celtic knot design on the outside. The inside of the band was inscribed, "To my beloved Patrick, on our wedding day, Love, Margaret." She slipped the pouch into the pocket of the dress.
Marty walked slowly into the living room, and there on the cocktail table was a tray containing the coffee pot, with cups, cream and sugar, plates of warmed croissants, butter, and bowls of strawberries and raspberries. Patrick was just coming in from the kitchen with a crystal pitcher of orange juice in one hand and the stems of two goblets in the other.
"Angel," he breathed reverently when he saw her. Never had the description of "angel" been more fitting, he thought. He quickly deposited the pitcher and glasses on the table because Marty was running to him and he needed both hands to hold out to her.
"I love it, Patrick," she said into his broad chest. "It's a perfect dress."
"I had the devil of a time finding it," he admitted, "but when I saw it I knew it was what I wanted for you all along. Do you really like it, Angel?"
"Yes," she breathed, looking up at him with shining eyes.
Patrick kissed her forehead. "And me, do I look as fine as you for the day we take our vows?" he asked a little anxiously.
Marty skimmed her hands over his chest. He was wearing a sage-green round-collared shirt of broadcloth cotton, tucked into cream-colored, pleated linen trousers. The green of his shirt brought out the bronze-green highlights of his hazel eyes. "You look…very fine," she assured him. Again Marty couldn't stop her mind from returning to her first wedding, but now she thought of her first groom instead of her gown. It wasn't Dylan's fault that he'd looked so out of place in his formal wedding attire, but his beard-stubbled face and less than meticulously groomed hair that day announced loudly and clearly in a way even he didn't realize that he was willing to go only so far for her. She'd been deliberately blind to that implication, as well as all the others that had begun to seem so obvious once she'd started contemplating a wedding to Patrick.
"Let's have breakfast, and then we have go get goin'," Patrick said in a husky voice, leading Marty to the sofa, sitting her down, and handing her a goblet of juice. "I fixed this for us, and I'd love to feed you, too, but I don't trust my reflexes at the moment."
"I feel a little shaky, too, Patrick," Marty admitted. "But only because…I'm so happy."
"I hope you're always this happy." Patrick held out his glass. "Here's to my angelic bride."
Marty clinked hers against it. "And here's to my noble groom."
They both ate and drank a little nervously, and soon the food was gone. When they were done, Patrick told Marty it was time to go, assuring her that she need bring nothing else with her, that everything they might need was already waiting for them both at their destination. They left the mill house, and Patrick got behind the wheel of Marty's BMW after escorting her to the passenger seat.
He took the route to Llanview Airport.