My nephew Alex was baptized today.
I think that my mother had been pushing Tina to ask me to be Alex’s godmother, but I’ve been hinting at her that I didn’t want to do it. I’ve been to enough baptisms to know that I don’t want to participate in the ceremony. Besides, I’m already the aunt, why do I need to be the godmother too? I was really relieved to find out that Tina had asked her friend Eleanor.
I had a nice navy blue outfit that I had worn to the last religious ceremony I had been forced to attend, but I was distressed to see that the button on the skirt would not close. That’s how much weight I’ve gained since Jim and I started dating. I was almost in tears when I was trying to close the button, thinking about how Jim never cared that I was overweight and he loved me no matter what. I couldn’t believe I messed that up.
I didn’t discover the button issue until the morning of the ceremony, so I didn’t have many options. I ended up keeping my white blouse untucked and buttoning the navy jacket, in hopes nobody would notice my pants were open. I felt really unattractive and obese walking around like that, but there wasn’t much choice.
The church was so crowded, I wasn’t very worried about standing out. I think my mother invited everyone she knew, and I guess my brother in law’s parents had done the same. Every row of the church was packed. I didn’t want to, but I knew my mother would be angry if I didn’t sit near the front, so I took a seat in the second row.
My mother had been hinting that there would be some single men at the ceremony, but I didn’t think my unbuttoned skirt was going to attract a lot of second looks. Not that I cared. Even if the most handsome Greek man in the world fell in love with me, I’d be too busy obsessing over Jim. He was practically all I could think about. I was never going to get over him. Never.
Tina looked amazing, as usual. She had recovered from her rough birth and looked completely radiant. And Alex was adorable. When I saw him, I almost started crying. It’s not fair that my sister has such a beautiful baby. I wish I had a baby.
Baptisms in the Greek Orthodox church are almost entirely in Greek. Despite the fact that both my parents were born in Greece, I barely speak the language. My parents have lived here most of their lives and only speak English at home because they wanted their kids to speak perfect English. I know a few words, mostly curses, but the things being said during the ceremony were, as they say, all Greek to me. The priest seemed especially wordy this time. I felt myself drifting off until I heard the sound of Alex screaming his head off as the priest dipped him in water three times. Poor kid.
The ceremony proceeded for what felt like another week but was probably maybe another hour. It ended with everyone dancing around the baptism font like idiots, followed by the priest reading another endless passage. When it finally was over, I almost cried with relief.
I stood up, stretching my arms and wondering how long I was going to have to stay at the reception before I could make an inconspicuous exit, when I heard a familiar voice behind me.
My mouth fell open unattractively. It was Jim. He looked very tired and his short hair was sticking up a bit, but he was wearing a nice dark suit and looked achingly handsome. I blinked, thinking for a second that I was seeing things. But no, he was real.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
“Gee, thanks,” he said. He shifted in his wheelchair. “Nice to see you too. I just flew in early this morning.”
“I’m sorry,” I said quickly. “I, um, I’m really glad to see you. Did Tina invite you?”
He shook his head. “No, your mother invited me.”
Again, I was shocked. “My MOTHER invited you?”
“Yeah,” he confirmed. “I was pretty surprised too. She said that Tina liked me a lot and she wanted me to come. So, here I am.”
“Oh,” I said. I noticed Jim’s eyes were darting around like he was looking for someone. “So, um, what did you think of the baptism.”
“Interesting,” he said. “Intense.”
Jim didn’t seem angry at me anymore. He was giving me kind of an odd look. This whole thing was a little weird. I mean, how could my mother have invited him here? She hated him.
“Look,” Jim said to me. “There’s something I’ve got to tell you. I don’t think you’re going to like it, but I’ve got to say it. And I want you to listen to me. Okay?”
I stared at him. I didn’t like the way this sounded. “Okay...”
He took a deep breath. “Tessie, I don’t care what happens between you and me. But you can’t date Vincent. He’s an awful guy and he’s going to treat you like shit. He’s a womanizer. Trust me, I know him. And he’s just a jerk too. You deserve better than him and I can’t just sit idly by and let you make a mistake.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “I’m not dating Vincent,” I said.
He raised his eyebrows in surprise. “You’re not?”
“No, of course not. Who told you I was?”
“Vincent did,” Jim said. “He told me right before I emailed you about going to New York.”
That asshole. “I was never dating Vincent,” I insisted. “Nothing happened between him and me. He tried to kiss me, but that was it. I was never interested in him. We’re certainly not in a relationship.”
He blinked. “Are you serious?”
“Of course I am!”
“Oh...” Jim looked incredibly relieved. “Honestly, I was kind of afraid I was going to run into him here.”
I might have laughed if it wasn’t so awful. All this time, Jim thought that I was dumping him for Vincent. “Vincent told me that you were moving to New York,” I said.
Jim gaped at me. “Moving to New York? Are you kidding me? It SNOWS there.”
This time I really did laugh and so did he. As I looked at Jim, I wanted to touch him so badly. I wanted to wrap my arms around him like I used to. I couldn’t stand it another minute. “So,” I said. “You really don’t care what happens between you and me?”
Jim’s face turned a little pink. “Well, that’s not entirely true.”
He heaved a sigh. “Tessie, I made some mistakes. I think I pushed you too much to have a big wedding and get married too soon, and I can see you didn’t want either of those things. I think I pushed you away.”
I didn’t argue with him.
“We don’t need to get married,” Jim said. “Not in November, not EVER, if you don’t want to. The wedding isn’t what’s important. All that matters is that we’re together. I want to be with you, Tessie, any way that you’ll let me. I don’t care what happened in the past. I… I love you.”
I fell into his lap and wrapped my arms around his neck. I could tell people were looking at us, but I didn’t care. I was so happy to be back with Jim. “I love you too,” I whispered in his ear. “And I definitely do want to marry you. But I want it to be just you and me.”
Jim nodded. “That’s what I want too.”
I sat with him a long time before I eventually disentangled myself from him. That’s when Jim stepped it up and played the part of the good charismatic boyfriend in front of all my relatives. I have to admit, some of them seemed a little thrown off by him being in a wheelchair, but I think he won most of them over. Pretty much everyone likes Jim.
Speaking of which, we eventually ended up at the front of the church, where my mother was still fussing over Alex. Jim congratulated Tina and she hugged him. My father clapped Jim on the shoulders and told him it was good to see him again.
My mother was the last person in the room that we talked to. She held the baby, looking at us warily. Jim wheeled up to her without hesitation. “Mrs. Manousakis,” he said. “Thank you for inviting me.”
My mother nodded curtly. “Well, Tina wanted you to come.”
There was a long pause and she added, “Tessie seems to like you quite a bit as well.”
Jim grinned at her. I know he’s incredibly endearing when he flashes that smile and I could see my mother warming up. She smiled back. “Do you want to hold the baby?” she asked.
Jim looked at Tina for her approval and Tina nodded. I was a little nervous, to be honest, because of Jim’s hands, but when my mother handed over little Alex, Jim scooped him up expertly. I guess he got practice holding his two nephews when they were babies.
He looked so incredibly sweet holding that baby. I suddenly pictured him holding our own baby, cradling it in his arms, looking down with affection in his face. He was going to make such a great dad. He looked up at me and the expression on his face was obvious: “I want us to have one.”
I looked over at my mother and I was sure she knew what he was thinking. But she didn’t seem unhappy exactly. OK, she didn’t seem absolutely thrilled. But she seemed to have accepted and was even welcoming Jim as a permanent part of my life.
After the reception was over, Jim and I went back to the apartment. We had separate cars, and I kept his handicapped plates in sight the entire drive back to our place. When we got home, we made love like we hadn’t seen each other in ten years.
We made our appointment for 2PM. But at about 10AM, Jim suddenly discovered that he had misplaced his pair of cufflinks. He looked everywhere for them, but they had vanished.
“Can’t you wear a shirt that doesn’t need cufflinks?” I asked him.
“I only have two white shirts and they both need cufflinks,” he said. “You want me to wear a white shirt, right?”
I shrugged. I was wearing a lavender dress I had bought at Target for $30.
“Well, I want to wear a white shirt,” Jim said. “I want to look… you know, respectable. For the photos.”
I laughed. “Okay, so let’s get cufflinks.”
Jim drove us to a local upscale jewelry store, wearing the white shirt he intended to wear this afternoon. We went into the store together and Jim explained to the salesgirl what he wanted. “Nothing too expensive,” I added, knowing that Jim had a tendency to go overboard.
“But something nice,” Jim said.
The salesgirl smiled as she dug around in her drawer for a suitable pair of cufflinks. “Is it a special occasion?” she asked us.
Jim and I exchanged looks. It was a little embarrassing to admit that we were planning to get married this afternoon, but were just now buying the cufflinks. “You could say that,” Jim said, grinning at me.
So yes, JIM AND I FINALLY GOT MARRIED. Woo!
It was a beautiful ceremony. It took place in city hall, led by a judge. It was just the two of us, holding hands, with Jim’s brother Eric acting as the witness. We were planning to have a reception with our parents and the rest of the family in a few weeks, but we decided that we wanted the ceremony to be just about the two of us, no one else.
We got our marriage license two weeks ago and this was the first available appointment. As Jim signed the paperwork, he looked kind of nervous, like they might deny him the right to get married because of his wheelchair or something. But everything went pretty smoothly. Neither of us had ever been married before or had any crazy history we had to explain.
When we were waiting to be called in by the judge, Eric took our photo in the courthouse. “You know, this is your last photo as a bachelor,” he said to Jim.
“Thank god,” Jim said, pulling me into his lap and kissing me on the lips.
Maybe it was my imagination, but I kind of heard him grunt a bit when I fell into his lap. Of course, for once in my life, I had a reason to be a little overweight, as I had discovered one week ago when I saw the two blue lines on a drug store pregnancy test. Despite his apparent inability to ejaculate, one of his boys had somehow gotten through. Jim didn’t know about that though. I didn’t plan to tell him until after the ceremony. Like I said, I wanted this moment to be just about the two of us.
Jim put his hand on his glasses. “What do you think? Glasses or no glasses?”
I shrugged. “You look cute either way.”
He did. He looked devastatingly handsome in his white shirt with the black jacket and tie. I couldn’t believe that in an hour, he was going to be my husband.
“Having second thoughts?” he asked me. He was teasing, but there was a nervous tremor in his voice.
“Of course not,” I said. “How about you?”
“Are you kidding?” he retorted. “I practically had to drag you here kicking and screaming.”
That wasn’t true at all, but Jim liked to tease me that it was. I wanted to marry him just as much as he wanted to marry me… I just hadn’t wanted a big wedding. The city hall deal was something he was doing for me.
The judge called us into the courthouse chapel, which was all made up for wedding ceremonies. I had been worried it might be kind of dingy, but it was actually kind of nice. The room was bright and clean, and there were some colorful flowers around. The judge marrying us was a woman in her sixties with a really pleasant smile.
“Join hands,” she instructed us.
I reached out and took Jim’s hand. He really must have been pretty nervous because his hand was shaking. I gave him a squeeze. He didn’t squeeze me back, mostly because he really couldn’t.
Eric was holding our rings for us. We actually ended up returning my original engagement ring and buying something more modest. I liked the original ring, but it just wasn’t me. Just like the big wedding ceremony wasn’t me. I preferred the simple, small diamond that Jim and I picked out together. “Are you sure you don’t want something bigger?” he kept asking me. But I held firm.
As the judge spoke, I looked at Jim sitting in his wheelchair. I couldn’t believe this was it. This man was going to be my HUSBAND. For the rest of my life. It was pretty intense. As I looked at his blue eyes, I felt like I had picked right. I adored Jim, and god knew, he seemed to love me for some reason. He was a really good person too. He was sweet, kind, considerate, and amazing in bed. The fact that he was a quadriplegic was completely unimportant, beyond the fact that it was part of what made him the wonderful person that he was.
“I love you,” I mouthed to him.
“I love you too,” he mouthed back to me, flashing a broad smile.
The judge gave us lines to recite to each other. With this ring, I thee wed, blah blah blah. I just focused on saying it right and not screwing it up. Not that it mattered if I did. It was just the two of us, after all.
I slid the gold band onto the fourth finger of Jim’s left hand. I only vaguely remembered how strange his hands had seemed to me when we first met. Now I loved his hands.
When it was Jim’s turn, he wanted to put the ring on my finger without any help. Honestly, it was not that easy for him. It took a good minute, but the judge waited patiently, smiling down at us. He let out a sigh of relief when the ring was on my finger.
“By the power vested in me by the state of California, I now declare you husband and wife.”
I let out a breath when she said the words. That was it. We were MARRIED. Jim grabbed me, pulled me into his lap, and gave me a kiss that was totally inappropriate for a courthouse. When he pulled away, he was staring at me with something I guess I’d describe as complete devotion.
“Good luck to you two,” the judge said to us. “I marry a lot of people, but you two seem like you really love each other. I think you’re going to be a great couple.”
That was nice that she said that. She didn’t have to. I mean, it wasn’t like we were tipping her. (We weren’t supposed to tip her, were we??)
Eric took a bunch more photos of us holding up our marriage certificate, then Jim couldn’t wait another second. We were leaving tomorrow for our honeymoon in Hawaii, but he wanted to get back to the apartment right now to… well, you know.
On the drive home, I kept looking at the ring on Jim’s left hand. I kept thinking how that ring meant he was a married man and he was married to ME. We were going to wear these rings for the rest of our lives as a symbol that we belonged to each other. It seemed like such a big deal. I touched my own ring with my right hand and smiled to myself.
When we got back to the apartment, Jim was the most passionate I’d ever seen him. He was seriously almost ripping my dress off with his teeth. Once he got it off me, he pushed me down on the bed, spreading my legs apart, gasping, “Oh, Tessie. Tessie, I love you… I love you so much…”
“I love you too,” I said back.
“My wife,” he said, grinning at me before he buried his face in my pussy.
After about sixty minutes and several orgasms later, Jim and I lay next to each other in bed, both of us sweaty and completely exhausted. “Wow,” I said.
“Yeah,” he breathed.
I smiled. “By the time we get to Hawaii, I’m not going to be able to walk. You’ll have to wheel me around.”
“We could just stay here,” he suggested with a smile. “I get the feeling we’re going to be holed up in the hotel most of the time anyway.” He turned his head to gaze at me. “Besides, I’m excited about coming back here and starting my life with you here in this apartment.”
“Well,” I amended. “Maybe in a bigger apartment.”
“What’s wrong with this apartment?” Jim said, pretending to be offended.
“Nothing,” I said. “We could just, you know… use another bedroom.”
He nodded. “Yeah, that’s true. In another year or two, we’ll probably need to upgrade.”
“More like seven and a half months.”
Jim flashed me a confused look, then his eyes widened. “What? Tessie… are you…?”
He blinked at me. “Are you serious?”
I nodded again.
“Holy shit,” he said, sitting up against the pillow.
“Are you okay?” I asked him.
“Yeah,” he breathed. “I just… I can’t believe… I mean, I didn’t think I’d be able to…” His eyes filled with tears.
“Jim? Are you okay?”
“Holy shit,” he said again. He looked up at me, blinking away his tears. “This is amazing. I can’t believe we’re going to have a baby together. This is what I wanted for us. You know that, right?”
I put my hand on top of his. “I know.”
“This is the best day of my life,” he whispered in my ear. He kissed me and we lay together in bed, just staring at each other. It was unbelievable to think that I was going to spend the rest of my life with this man, this man who I love so much, and we had made a baby together.
I was the luckiest girl in the entire world.
Back to stories