Coming Home:Baytown Boys Series(111)By: Maryann Jordan
His gaze landed on his group of friends from the Saints, and their wives, all smiling at him in return. Happily remembering his times working with them, he had no regrets. None at all. Coming home to Baytown was the right move.
Sparing a glance to the side, he grinned nervously at Grant, Zac, Aiden, Brogan, and Callan.
Now, with the change in the music, Mitch saw Jillian and Katelyn on either side of Tori as the three made their way down the aisle. His breath caught in his throat and if Grant had not whispered for him to breathe, he feared he would have passed out.
The bride walked down the aisle, flanked by her two best friends, breaking tradition. Tori, dressed in a long, fitted, ivory gown, layers of lace hugging her hips and flowing to the long train, walked slowly. Unable to keep the smile from her face, she walked toward the tall man waiting for her at the front. Mitch, his ivory shirt showing off his tanned face, never looked more handsome.
As the sun made its final descent below the gently undulating watery horizon, the two spoke their vows, first led by the minister and then their promises to each other.
“I, Tori Bradford, fell in love with you, Mitch Evans, when I was six years old. You were my hero then…and my hero now. You showed me that I could be like sea glass, becoming beautiful by the twists and turns of life. I vow to love you, with all my heart, for as long as I live.”
Smiling, Mitch lifted his hand to wipe a falling tear from her cheek, as he promised, “I, Mitch Evans, first saw you standing on Baytown’s beach when I was eight years old. Your hair caught my attention…and then your smile caught my heart. Seeing you each summer became the best part of my year. And when I see you now, I know that our years apart only served to polish the beautiful sea glass that we have become. I vow to love you, with all my heart, with every sunrise and sunset.”
The gathering broke into cheers as Mitch leaned over, placing a sweet kiss that soon turned scorching on Tori’s lips.
Ten years later
Tori stepped out of the Sea Glass Inn after checking on the guests. The managers, a young couple, now lived in her former attic suite. They were more than competent, but as the owner of the inn, she liked to make sure to take time to greet guests and occasionally still participated in serving breakfast.
“Slow down and hold your sister’s hand,” Tori called out, keeping an eagle eye on her eight-year-old son, Eddie, as he ran toward the beach across the road, ignoring her request. Waving to neighbors as she followed her children, she smiled at Mitch as he stepped from the police SUV and scooped their giggling, four-year-old, red-haired daughter up into his arms.
Mitch watched as Tori made her way to them, her hair now swinging just at her shoulders, her curves a little more pronounced, and her smile still lighting his world. As she approached, she placed her hand on his chest and lifted up on her toes, lightly kissing him.
Licking his lips, he said, “Hmmm, cinnamon rolls?”
Before Tori could answer, little Vivian gave her father a huge, smacking kiss then leaned back and shouted, “Yes! Cimmimmon buns!”
Laughing, he settled Vivian on one hip while swinging his arm around Tori. The trio walked across the street and Tori’s gaze traveled quickly up and down the beach, looking for Eddie. “Now, where did he get to?”
Mitch spotted his son immediately, nudging Tori who turned her head to watch the scene playing out before her.
Eddie had approached a little girl on the beach and the two of them stared at sea glass in his hand. He appeared to be telling her about the sliver of colored glass before she lifted her beaming face up to his.
Tori’s heart stuttered as she watched her son reach down, grab the little girl’s hand, and then the two of them began to run toward other children on the beach. Already coming to be known as the second generation of Baytown Boys, their son never let go of the little girl’s hand. Turning her gaze back to Mitch’s, she felt tears stinging her eyes. “It looks like the sea glass cast it’s spell over Baytown once again.”
Setting Vivian down on the sand, Mitch held Tori’s face, gently kissing away her joyful tears.