The car pulled into the driveway and Dominic shifted it into Park. The sun was lowering in the sky and the clouds were a dark purple. As Dominic twisted the key in the ignition, the engine fell silent and the two of them just sat in the car for a moment. It felt like an eternity since they had left, and for Dominic, that was close to being true, but it had only been a few days. Both of them were glad to be home, and a lot of things had changed since they left.
For one, they both had shiny new wedding bands on their ring fingers. The wedding had been…eventful, but they survived it and had become husband and wife. That more than anything else stood out in their minds. None of the rest mattered. It didn’t matter that the ghosts of Castle Richards had dragged Dominic into the ether, or that they found out Dominic’s family was a product of a sick experiment, or that a government agency had been aware of Timber Creek for years. No, none of that mattered. Patrice and Dominic had each other. Dominic was sheriff of Timber Creek and leader of the Greys, but he was happy to put that on hold for Patrice.
“Welcome home,” He looked over at her with his blue eyes and warm smile.
“I’m happy to be home,” She leaned over the center console and kissed Dominic on the mouth. “I could just sleep for days,” Patrice said as she pulled away.
Dominic couldn’t have agreed more. His whole body was sore and he hadn’t a proper night’s sleep in several days. With the wedding behind them, and nothing looming over them for a change, Dominic was ready to take a hot shower and crawl into bed. After grabbing their luggage and wedding presents, they threw open the door to their tiny apartment – their loved filled home.
Dominic placed their luggage in the bedroom while Patrice laid out their gifts on the dining room table. Immediately after, they both went into the bathroom and got the shower going.
The small bathroom filled up quickly with a thick cloud of steam. Each breath was hot and humid, and the soft warmth of the steam was comforting against their skin. With stiff, bruise covered bodies they stripped off their clothes. Patrice looked over at Dominic, she never got tired of seeing him without a shirt. They peeled back the shower curtain, the metal rings softly scraping against the metal pole and climbed into the white tub. The water felt amazing. Patrice let the water run through her hair. All the hairspray and products from the wedding preparations washed away in the warm stream of water. It felt like heaven.
Dominic moved up beside her. He gently moved his fingertips along the bruise on her face.
“That looks like it hurts,” He said as he softly touched her. Patrice just shrugged.
“I’ll be fine,” It did hurt, but Patrice wasn’t one to complain about minor injuries; she was tougher than that.
Dominic leaned down and kissed her neck while his hands slid down to her waist. The soft growth of his beard was rough on her skin, but it was signature Dominic and she loved it. She was too exhausted and sore to have sex, but feeling Dominic wrapped around her was just as good. His firm, stiff, body was warm and wet from the shower, and Patrice buried her head into his chest and just took in the moment.
“The honeymoon will be nice,” Dominic pulled away from Patrice and started to cover himself in soap.
“It sure will. It’s going to be hard going back to regular life afterwards,”
“Don’t even think about that yet,” Dominic said reassuringly to her. “The world can wait for a week.”
The plan was to go to Dusty’s cabin. Neither of them had a lot of money to put down on a honeymoon, and they didn’t see the point of spending a lot of money when all they wanted to do was spend time with each other. Dusty’s cabin was cheap, romantic, scenic, and had a beautiful view. It was a perfect spot, and Patrice couldn’t wait to kick back and spend as much time with Dominic as she could.
“I can’t wait,” Patrice said happily.
After the shower, they both went straight to the bed. There wasn’t any talk of doing anything else – no discussion about watching Netflix or hanging out for a bit. It was still early in the night, but both of them got under the covers and instantly fell into a deep sleep.
The morning came late. Their sheets were warm from the sunlight shining through the window. Practice stirred beside Dominic as a patch of sunlight shone brightly on her face. She felt much better after a good sleep but was still feeling low energy. With Dominic still asleep beside her, Patrice walked out of the bedroom and gathered the presents. They were beautifully wrapped and came in all shapes and sizes. Her father, Jonathan Coleman, had made them a wooden card box with wrought iron latches. The sound of dozens of cards sliding inside of it filled Patrice with a sense of appreciation.
She put them down on the foot of the bed. Dominic started to wake-up, slowly, as she crawled back into the bed.
“What are you doing?” He asked with half-opened eyes.
“I figured we could open our presents in bed,” Patrice propped up the pillows behind her and got herself comfortable. Dominic let out a loud yawn and sat up.
“There sure is a lot of them,”
“I know, right? I didn’t really expect that there’d be this many of them. I didn’t really put that much thought into the gifts all around.”
“I’m going to go make some coffee,” Dominic rose out of the bed and stretched. “I’ll be back in a couple minutes.”
Patrice looked through some of the beautifully wrapped boxes. They were tied with ornate ribbons and bows with perfectly calligraphic cards sitting on top. The emotions swelled inside of Patrice; she couldn’t believe so many people had been so generous to her and Dominic. She set aside a wrapped package and picked up the card box. She undid the heavy latch and threw open the lid of the dark stained box. It was filled with thick envelopes that surely contained messages of love. There was one envelope, in particular, that caught her eye.
It was off white and had a dark, blue ribbon elegantly tied around it. She pulled it out and placed it on her lap. That would be the first one they would open together.
Dominic came back into the room carrying two mugs of fresh, hot coffee. He put Patrice’s cup down beside her on the nightstand before taking a seat beside her.
“Alright,” He seemed much more alert already. “Let’s do this.” Dominic clapped and then rubbed his hands together.
Patrice undid the ribbon on the white envelope and it gently slid off of the thick paper. She had to reach for a nail file to break the seal, and inside were a few glossy sheets of paper. She pulled them out – her nails exquisitely manicured and painted from the wedding – and there were photos splashed on them. Images of people hiking near an old-themed down were printed on the glossy sheets. Patrice furrowed her brow.
“What are those?” Dominic asked before taking a long sip of his coffee.
“I think,” Patrice said slowly as she looked them over. “That they’re tickets, tickets for a honeymoon?” She said it uncertainly. They hadn’t registered or asked anyone for a honeymoon, it seemed like too much to ask, but it certainly seemed that way.
The tickets were for a resort in a town called Windy Springs, several hours west of Timber Creek. The photos showed a place that was full of hiking and outdoor adventures – right up their alley.
“Have you ever heard of Windy Springs?” Patrice asked.
“I can’t say that I have,” Replied Dominic as he took the tickets from Patrice. The tickets were for seven days and nights at the resort starting the very next day. “Is there a letter or something?” Dominic asked as Patrice picked up the envelope. There was nothing else inside.
“They must’ve forgotten to put in a letter,” Patrice said as she flipped over the envelope. She didn’t recognize the handwriting on the front.
“Well ain’t that strange,” Dominic said suspiciously.
“Hardly,” Patrice said with a sigh. “They just forgot to put in their letter, that’s all. I’ll call around today and figure out who gave us this so we can write them a nice thank you. You’re just paranoid.”
“Hmm,” Dominic looked over the photos on the tickets. The landscape was filled with red, sun-baked rock, the desert. He had to admit, going on an adventure in the desert for their honeymoon would be more fun than going to Dusty’s cabin. “You think we should go?”
“Of course we’re going to go, are you kidding me? Someone spent all this money on us, of course, we’re going to go!”
They opened up the rest of their presents and were overwhelmed with how much people had given them. Almost every item on the registry had been bought, including a few that weren’t, and they had enough new things to fill a house. That was what Patrice had wanted, all of the things for her and Dominic to fill a house with. They tiny apartment was cosy, and even with her touches, it was undoubtedly Dominic’s. Patrice wanted more, she wanted a house, a setting to their future children’s childhood, and a place that was both of theirs. So did Dominic and they filled their registry with all the items they needed to start their life together with.
With pots and pans, hundreds of cards and lots of cheques spread across the bed, Patrice and Dominic snuggled together.
“It didn’t matter that I had to go to hell and back,” Dominic said softly. “I’m so happy we’re married.”
MONIQUE McMORGAN-UP COMING BESTSELLING AUTHOR
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