I will bear, believe in, hope for, and endure Ash’s love until the day I die, even if that means robbing my own soul.
And it will mean robbing my own soul.
My only comfort is that I won’t be alone in my suffering.
With a deep breath, I step in front of the doors just as they open, the airy notes of Pachelbel’s Canon in D drifting through the stone nave. My grandfather takes my arm to guide me down the aisle. The guests are standing, the candles are flickering, my veil is perfect.
And then I catch sight of Ash.
My pulses catches, races, trips over itself as it rushes to my lips and face and heart. He wears his tuxedo as if he were born wearing one, his wide shoulders and narrow hips filling out the tailored lines perfectly. Even if he didn’t stand at the top of the stairs leading up to the altar, he would still seem taller than everyone else around him, because that’s just Ash. He doesn’t have to exude power and strength, he simply is power and strength made manifest. And right now all of that power and strength is bent toward me as we lock eyes and, even across the distance of the nave, begin to breathe as one.
Shock seems to ripple through him as he fully sees me—the dress, the veil, the tremulous smile—and pleasure kindles and glows in my chest at this. He wanted to wait to see each other until the ceremony, he wanted this moment. And I have to admit that watching his handsome face struggle to contain his emotions, feeling my own blood heat at the sight of him in his tuxedo—it was worth it. No matter how outdated the tradition is, no matter how much it inconvenienced our guests, no matter how long those hours were this morning without him, it was worth it.
And then as my grandfather and I move closer, I see him.
Right next to Ash, dark-haired and slender, with ice-blue eyes and a mouth made for sin and apologies, sometimes even in that order. Embry Moore—Ash’s best friend, his best man, his running mate…
Because of course, I’m not just walking down the aisle to the man I’ve been in love with since I was sixteen, I’m walking down the aisle to marry the President of the United States.