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Perfection in my Eyes
by Cindy W.

Chapter 8-The Wedding

October 19, 1798

Archie

Leigha walked towards me, on the arm of her beaming father, a vision in white
velvet and lace. She held her head up proudly and smiled that serene smile of
hers, the one that never fails to light me up from the inside and give me a
sense of peace.

Horatio, who stood as my best man, lost his composure for a moment and I felt
him lightly nudge me in the back. I think I smiled, but my nerves had taken
over and I wasn't sure of anything. Two thoughts kept running through my
mind, "My God, she's beautiful!" and "Pray, do not let me have a fit or loose
my stomach!"

Her walk down the aisle towards me was interminable. The closer she got, the
further away she actually seemed to be. My focus was all on her, my sweet,
pretty, passionate, little Elf. I could hear the swish of her gown over the
red carpeting. I could smell the flowers that decorated the church. I could
hear the beating of my heart in my ears. I could see her lovely brown eyes
shining with happiness, adoration, and, most importantly, love. I watched the
sunlight through the windows play in the mahogany lights of her hair, and
caress the softness of her porcelain cheeks.

I glanced about the church for a moment, and there in it's confines, I saw
all that made the best and worst of me. My stern, disapproving, autocratic
father, who now smiled and rubbed his hands gleefully; for once, his sickly,
scapegrace son was doing something right in marrying a great heiress. My
sweet mother, seemingly haughty in her elegant beauty, clutching her rosary
and looking so very sure of herself, but overwhelmed and bewildered by all
the conflicting personalities in our large family. My elder sister, Evelyn,
or should I say, Sister Mary Penitence, who escaped our family at an early
age to live in cloistered serenity in an Irish nunnery. My two elder
brothers, Jacob and Edwin, the banes of my existence. I feared them even now;
bored, dissolute men with nothing to lose in seeing me made the fool, again.

Then there were my darlings, Annelise and Avery, the two who seemed the least
affected by our family dynamics. They smiled and went about their merry ways,
disregarding the dictates of our father and confounding our poor mother.
Laughing out right at the bluster of our brothers and rolling their eyes at
our pious sister. When it came to the twins, I defied my father everytime,
with the harshest of consequences. They were strong and happy, sometimes
sacrifice is not a bad thing.

Now, the one person who truly mattered, the only one who seemed to understand
me, had just placed her hand in mine. I could feel it trembling and I saw the
soft sheen of tears in her eyes and sparkling on her lashes. Oh, dearest
Love, I have a thousand things to tell you, but it's all jumbled inside my
head. What man would not slay a million dragons for a woman so filled with
willing devotion and trust? What man could turn away from one with such
beauty of spirit and soul? A fool, I tell you! And I have cease to be that.

"Do you, Archibald Fenster Kennedy..." The priest asks and I see Leigha's
lips tremble with barely contained mirth. All right, I don't have the
greatest of middle names. I've always consoled myself that I was named after
my paternal grandfather, otherwise my middle name could be Oxnard. "...to
love, honor and cherish, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?"

"I do!" I answer, my voice ringing with conviction. Yes! I have done the
right thing in making this angel mine.

"I now pronounce you man and wife. What we have joined together in the eyes
of God, let no man tear asunder."

I bend my head to kiss her sweet lips...Praise Lord.

****************************************************************

Leigha

Heaven's, I am nervous! Even the constant chatter of dear Glory cannot stop
the butterflies. My Aunt Clara, fussily arranges another curl, another fold
of my dress, another rose in my bouquet, until I am ready to scream. I feel
confined, terrified. I don't know why it is called cold feet when it's your
entire body that feels numb?

I guess in some ways, I am more fortunate than other women who must tread the
path to matrimony without the benefit of even knowing anything about the man
they are to spend their lives with. Those women have no clue what lies before
them, whether or not their husbands are kind and gentle or rutting beasts. I
know Archie, I know him as intimately as a woman could know a man. I steal a
secret caress of my stomach; yes, I know Archie very well indeed.

Then why am I terrified? I believe it's because I'm going from my father's
home, a place of familiarity to me, to my husband's home, a place that has no
memories for me and from what I heard bears only the saddest ones for him.
Let me explain this, after our wedding trip, which will be to my father's
lodge in Northumbria, I am to return to live with the Kennedy's until
Archie's return from the West Indies. When he comes back, sometime in April,
he and I will then have time to find our own home. I am trying to persuade
him to find a small cottage near Portsmouth, so I will always be close to
welcome him back from a voyage.

I hear the wedding march begin and I nearly bolt from the church, but then I
see my father, such pride on his face. I take a deep breath and place my
shaking hand on my father's arm.

"You look so like your mother on our wedding day," he whispers to me, the
moistness of tears in his eyes, "you are lovely, child."

I smile, tremulously. Such words from him I thought never to hear. I enter
the large chapel and see him. My man... so strong, so handsome in his dress
uniform. The light pouring through the stained glass windows halo around his
blonde head and the shadows seem to create an illusion of wings sprouting
from his shoulders. I blink and the image disappears, leaving only a smiling,
nervous Archie. My heart leaps in my chest and, now, I feel only excitement
and pride. This beautiful, gentle man is mine. I only hope I can remain
deserving of this gift God has bestowed upon me.

I arrive at his side, the walk down the aisle seeming to have taken days, I
feel his large callused hand surrounding, enveloping my smaller one. The
warmth begins, spreading up my arms and into the very core of me. He looks
into my eyes with those very blue orbs of his and the emotion I read in them;
the desire, the love, leaves me with the urge to weep in gratitude. I feel
safe. I feel at home. I feel cherished. He swallows heavily, and I know he,
too, is swept away by the moment.

"Do you Leigha Elizabeth Sommes, take this man to be your wedded husband, to
love, honor and obey..." I glance at Archie and mouth 'when it suits me', he
looks at me with a raised brow, but I see the laughter in his eyes,
"...forsaking all others until death do you part?"

"Oh, I do!" I reply eagerly, causing a stir of amusement among the guests.

The priest blesses the ring and Archie slides it onto my finger, repeating,
"With this ring, I thee wed. With my body, I thee honor. And with all my
worldly possessions, I thee bestow."

"I now pronounce you man and wife. What we have joined together in the eyes
of God, let no man tear asunder."

I raise my lips for his kiss. We seal our promises and our happiness in the
locking of our lips...Praise Lord.

The End