Aside from being on the same flight as my parents, going back to Australia was nice. It was a lot warmer than back in California, and unlike all the tourists, we didn’t burst into a sweat the second we stepped out of the air conditioned airport. To save them a bit of money, I’d told Mom and Dad they could stay with me and the kids at the old house, so needless to say, they spent the rest of the day reminiscing. Me and the kids kept out of their way, playing chase in the garden and climbing trees like kids do. Mom called us in for dinner, and for a moment, I genuinely felt like a kid again. Like I’d been playing with Cayden and Ava, and Mom would tut at us when we ran inside, covered in dirt with holes in our clothes and grazes on our knees and elbows.
I smiled as I saw the kids running inside, following them at a more leisurely pace, and sitting down at the dinner table to eat. All five of us got an early night that night, but I lay awake longer than I should have, thinking about the last time I’d been in the house. It’d been when Maxxie was still alive. I’d been kind of afraid to come here since, though afraid of what I wasn’t sure. I guess I was afraid to make new memories there without him. I let out a sigh, running a hand through my hair and staring up at the ceiling of Cayden’s old room. The other rooms all looked lived in; there were toys and books in the kids’ rooms, and there was stuff in my room, but Cayden’s room was empty. It needed some life breathing into it. I rolled onto my side, making a mental note to bring some of his things over whenever we were next in the country, and finally managed to get to sleep.
The morning of the wedding was... hectic, to say the least. All five of us had maybe an hour in total to be showered and shaved before we had to hightail it to the hotel so Mom and the kids could get ready. Me and Dad had been instructed to bring our suits with us, since Ryan was getting there later to get ready and leaving early to get down to the beach before Ava. After all, it’s not all that easy to get ready for a wedding on a beach. That and, from what I’d been told, they’d managed to arrange for part of the beach to be closed off so there wouldn’t be old guys in Speedos in their wedding photos, but if nobody showed up by a certain time, they’d lose their spot and then it’s Speedos ahoy.
I said bye to the kids, saying a quick hi to Riley and Bradley, before heading off with Dad to Ryan’s room. We got changed quickly, making sure we looked okay, and doing our best to calm Ryan down, who was on the verge of tearing his hair out like he had the day Riley was born. We bundled into a taxi along with him and his best man, who introduced himself as Daniel, and headed for the beach, getting there just in time.
I got a call from Mom a little later asking how things were going with Ryan, and Ava sent me a picture of Lily in her bridesmaid dress. Apparently Danny had been putting up a fight about wearing a suit, so to try and convince him, I was coerced into sending Ava a picture of me in mine. Apparently it worked like a charm.
While we were waiting for Ava and the rest of the guests to show up, I wandered around the beach, taking in the decorations and whatnot. I’d been told they were having the reception at Audley
, so they’d decided not to decorate the beach too much, but it was gorgeous nonetheless. Everything was white, and even though it was all very simple, it looked beautiful. And it didn’t take a genius to guess Ava had done most of the planning.
I looked around once all the guests had arrived, wishing Ryan good luck as I found my seat, and just in time given that Dad strolled off and Mom too his place next to me.
“She’s finally ready, then?” I joked, earning myself a playful slap from Mom.
We heard some music start up and everyone got to their feet, watching for Ava. I smiled as Danny and Riley walked in first, both of them carrying a tiny pillow with a ring on it. Danny had Ryan’s and Riley had Ava’s. Bradley wasn’t far behind them, looking adorable in his little suit with his flower basket, throwing petals around like his life depended on it. Lily and the rest of the bridesmaids were next, and she looked every bit the little princess she was, wearing this gorgeous knee length, one shoulder teal dress with some sparkly brooch thing underneath a satin bow which made up the strap. I’ll admit, it was probably a little too grown up for her, but I didn’t mind.
I heard Mom start crying as Dad led Ava down the aisle, and she looked beautiful to say the least. She was wearing white, like we knew she would. It was, from what I’d learnt about dresses when I was going out with Eden, a mermaid style dress, though don’t ask me why it’s called that, it didn’t exactly make her look like a mermaid. The skirt wasn’t too full, which was a surprise, and there were loads of sparkly things dotted around all over the dress.
She smiled as Dad kissed her cheek, giving her a hug and flashing Ryan a smile. Ryan smiled back, kissing Ava’s hand sweetly before facing the registrar with her. I knew this part well enough, and watched as they went through all the vows and everything. Danny had gone and sat on my lap, and Lily was happily sat with the other bridesmaids, while Mom and Ryan’s mom looked after the boys. Danny and Riley did their ring bearing duties when the time called for it, and I kissed Danny’s forehead when he came back, whispering to him that he’d done a great job.
Everyone burst into a round of applause when they sealed the deal with a kiss, making their way towards the road to hitch a ride to Audley once they’d signed everything. The bridesmaids and everyone else followed, leaving the guests til last. We followed the procession to one of the many picnicking spots at Audley, but this part had been closed off to the public. There were dainty fairy lights hanging from the trees and attached to poles marking out the perimeter. There was a simple three tier wedding cake waiting to be cut under a small marquee, which had the table set up for Ava, Ryan and the parents, with a spot for Ava’s best friend and the best man. There were three longer tables, all with perfect white tablecloths set up in front of the marquee, with these sparkly little placeholders marking out who was sitting where.
I’d been sat near the bridesmaids, no doubt so they could make a fuss over the kids, and so Ava could try and match make. I hadn’t told her about Sarah yet, and I could just tell that she’d be trying to hook me up with someone. I introduced myself and the kids to whoever introduced themselves to us, and once dinner was out of the way and the cake had been cut, I spent most of the time being hit on by Ava’s friends. Apparently kids are great for picking up women, who knew?
Ava came and saved me in the end, dragging me away to the makeshift dance floor to dance with her. She flashed me a smile, thanking me for coming and for letting her steal the kids all day. I let her go dance with her friends once the song was over, congratulating Ryan, and being dragged around by the kids. Eventually we had to leave, though, since it was getting kind of late for the kids to be up, even on a special occasion, and everything needed cleaning up so passersby wouldn’t get caught up in any of it or think it was littering or whatever the next morning.
We said our goodbyes, thanking Ava and Ryan for inviting us, dragging my parents back to the taxi that’d been called for us.