Just Not Mine(134)By: Rosalind James
But Hugh forgot all of that in the next instant, because the music had changed again, the congregation of the little church was standing, and everyone had turned to watch the woman starting down the aisle on the arm of her father. The big, broad figure beside her radiated sober strength in his black suit, his eyes looked straight into Hugh’s, and the message was about as clear as it could be.
Take care of my little girl, her father’s set gaze said, or I will kill you.
No worries, he told the other man. I’ve got her.
Josie was a slim ivory column, and just like always, there was nothing too tight, nothing too low. The veil obscured her face and hair, leaving nothing but her own beautiful shape visible, coming towards him without a falter in her step. So sure, and so right. All his tomorrows.
Amelia reached the altar, and Hugh smiled at her, made an “OK” sign with finger and thumb, and she smiled back and took her place. And then Josie’s father was there with his daughter, placing her hand in Hugh’s, giving him one final sober nod before going to sit with his wife.
Hugh wasn’t looking. He waited for Josie to hand her bouquet off to Amelia, then reached out with hands he could have wished were steadier, gently picked up the ends of the veil, and lifted the gossamer thing over her head.
And there she was. Smiling up into his eyes with the warmth, the life, the light that was Josie, and he could have sworn that his heart actually stopped for a moment.
“Hi,” he said, and smiled at her.
“Hi,” she said, and smiled back.
He took her hand, twined his fingers through hers, and turned with her to face the altar.
“We’re ready,” he told the priest. “We’re all good. Let’s go.”