Dear Charlie

Charlotte (Charlie) Faye has always been the single lady; has been ever since high school and now in her twenties she's expected to fulfill a wife/mother role and quit her beloved job at the TEXAN TRIBUNE and stop pursuing her dream of being a real writer. When her family tries to set her up on several different dates, she finds her self thrown into the dating pool head first. Suddenly a new stranger comes to town and sweeps Charlie off her feet, but is something else holding her back from allowing herself to give this man a chance?

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15. The Wedding Present

Several months later after we announced we were engaged, things changed dramatically for Art and me. In a good way. First my best friends Kevin and  Scarlette were finally christening their daughter, and Art and I were made god parents. It was a huge honor and little Anastasia or Ana as I called her, was the cutest little thing. After her big celebration it was time to start planning a wedding. My family each had their own opinions and of course they demanded to know every single detail from the color of the china, to the designer of the bridesmaids shoes. Art and I didn't want anything too big, but with my large family that was inevitable. They also wanted part in everything, so a compromise was settled. I picked out my dress, the colors, and the theme and the bridesmaids dresses. Art picked out the boutiners and the venue, and my family decided on the venue, menu,  and the guest list, but had to check in with Art and I regularly or the deal was off. (Actually,  it wasn't until the next fall, literally a year after we got engaged, that we were finally married.)

In the end the theme was rustic comfort, (I know that's not an actual  theme but I'm finally getting married, so I don't have time for picky things like a real theme) the colors were blue orange and yellow and the bridesmaids were wearing a soft blue and carrying wild flowers and sun flowers and orange lilies. While most of these things were settled there was still the venue guest list and my dress to shop for.

The dress was taken care of within minutes when I mentioned it to Ezra on accident. He had a friend whose cousin owned a bridal boutique and could get me in with out an appointment. So one weekend Ezra, Scarlette my mother and my sisters piled into Scarlette's huge truck and drove to Dallas. I didn't take my step mom or my sister-in-laws because I I figured Ezra packed enough sass to fill in their seats. Luckily I found the dress in a matter of seconds. The mannequin did it no justice and I asked the floor manager to try it on. It was a mermaid gown with a ruched bodice and sweet heart neckline. Now I was not super model but I managed to slim down over the years, even with my no greens allowed diet. After a few tugs and pulls and the zipper catching my skin once or twice the dress zipped up and I walked out into the show room not bothering to look in the mirror, the reaction on my entourage's faces said it all. I looked freaking beautiful! Ezra was speechless and that never happens. When you're friends with Ezra for as long as I have been you learn he always has an opinion, but this time it was pure silence, I think he may have shed a tear actually. In fact everyone had tears in their eyes. For once I liked all the attention on me. The dress was beautiful it had small intricate detail along the top that went down in these flower like patterns all the way down the dress. When the floor manager jacked me up the bridal way, with the veil and the works of such things, and I saw myself as a ride. It was amazing I can't tell you enough I just felt awesome.

After paying for the dress, which cost me a pretty penny, we were leaving the shop when a very familiar face was just walking past when he stopped and took a second glance at me.

"Charlotte?"

"Joe, how are you?"

Yes indeed Mr. Joe Singh! Haha that rhymed, don't worry nothing happened. In fact, it was a nice surprise, I learned he was newly engaged to a woman named Zoe and he was quite happy. After biding good bye, and driving home I smiled to myself. Even though we hadn't worked out God had someone for Joe, so that made me smile inside, and think that in their own time everyone will have someone else to love. Funny it only took half a decade to find my true someone.

Anyways after ariving home I took a quick shower and fixed my hair, Art was taking me out to look at photographers for the wedding and I wanted to look decent. It wasn't till I was actually doe with my make up I realized I'd forgotten to put my dress away, and Art would be here any minute. I ran to the living room and grabbed my dress. My closet was way too small so I went to the spare room across the hall that I used as storage. I was carefully putting it away when  there was a knock on my door, and Art let himself in.

"Hey sweetheart!"

"Stay out in the living room I'm not ready! And I'm putting away my dress!" I shouted out to him.

"Really? I can't see it? You know the whole groom cant see the bride or dress thing is all urban legend." he replied back with a laugh.

"I don't care, I'm only getting married once!"

"Yes ma'am." I heard him chuckle.

As soon as I was sure my dress was safely out of sight, I ran back into my room and changed into a cotton white dress and then went to join Art in the living room. He was leaning against the couch looking so cool, with his white V-neck and Levis, I wrapped my arms around him just out of habit. We were still following some rules of courtship, like no sex before marriage, but after the kiss the no touch rule kinda flew out the window, ( I know I'm a bad person, okay? Moving on).

"Satisfied your dress is well hidden?" he said smiling as he placed his hands on my sides.

"Extremely," 

"Great, well I have a wedding present for you."

"Oh really?"

"Yes, but you can't see it."

"What do you mean?"

Instead of answering he pulled out a bandana and attempted to blindfold me.

"Art! What are you-" I started.

"Trust me Charlie, its fine and safe, but I want it to be a surprise." he insisted.

I don't know how I agreed to letting him take control, but I did and as soon as we were in the car, he hit the gas and we were on our way to God knows where. About a half and hour later I began to get restless and demanded that Art tell me where we were going.

"Where we going?"

'Somewhere Charlie."

"Are we there yet?"

"No Charlie."

"Why not?"

"It's a bit of a drive."

"Oh...are we there now?"

"No."

"How bout now?"

"Seriously Charlie?"

"Well tell me where we are going!"

 He didn't. Instead he tried to distract me with talk of wedding things like what table arrangements we wanted. Would we get married in a church or somewhere else? How long would cocktail hour be? How many pictures did we absolutely have to take? This triggered a sudden thought.

"Did you ever find a venue for the wedding?" I asked suddenly.

"Yes yes I did."

"Where?"

"Here." he said

I tried to undo the blindfold but Art's hands stopped me.

"Relax, you don't want to ruin the surprise do you?" he chided.

I smirked and let him help me out of the car. Immediately I recognized the crunch of gravel under my cowboy boots.

"Hey are we at-"

"Wait Charlie wait!" Art said as he held me so I wouldn't fall.

He led me a few paces ahead until he pulled the blindfold off and I opened my eyes and laughed. We were at the plains! It was just the end of August and the grass was starting to die and the leaves were turning from green to yellow, and the pumpkins were starting to grow. Art lead me down to the house my grandfather had once owned and there was something odd about it now. Jeff was putting up a sign that Read For Sale. I stopped short and looked around, the windows were dark and the whole place looked empty. Art lead me closer and Jeff and Dave came out to greet us, eight year old Chloe close behind.

"Charlotte!" the blonde little girl ran to my arms and I picked her up.

I looked to her dads and then back at the sign.

"You're selling the house?" I asked concerned.

"Yeah," Jeff said, "we are moving to Georgia where Dave's family is."

"Mmmhmm, plus a new job offer and the school we want Chloe to go to is literally five minutes from my parents house so she can walk home and not have to ride the bus." Dave pipped up.

"And the house?" I asked.

"Don't worry we are selling it a really great couple, they may want to renovate a few things but they're totally awesome!" Jeff answered quickly.

"Yeah we've known the women for forever and her husband is super stellar!" Dave added.

I was too shocked to say anything, it'd been a dream of mine to buy back this farm house, and all of a sudden it was just that, a dream. There was no way I could come up with money to buy it now.

"Well that's great." I sighed and set Chloe down, I suddenly realized Art wasn't behind me and I looked around for him. I saw him standing in front of the For Sale sign, and he was smiling broadly at me which confused me a lot.

"Art why are we here? And why are you smiling?" I didn't mean to sound harsh, I just was still in shock.

He moved aside and a huge red banner was taped across the sign that read SOLD.

He was still smiling and my heart sunk. Then I looked from him to the sign and back to him. I gasped.

Art laughed and pulled out a ring of keys and tossed them to me. They were the farmhouse keys!

"You bought the house? How did you? Why? Oh my gosh! You bought the house!" I sputtered and ran to him.

Jeff Dave and Chloe were laughing hysterically.

"You knew?"

"Duh." Jeff laughed, "We told you we knew the couple. And that we'd known the girl for like ever."

"And the husband is pretty stellar." Dave added/

"Oh guys!" I turned to give my friend a hug, "I'm going to miss you so much, but I'm really excited about the house!"

Chloe and Art joined in the group hug, and afterwards Art had told me that not only was this where we were going to live but also where the reception would be for the wedding. I was so excited that I was jumping up and down like a little kid. And to both of our surprises this is where we took our pre wedding photos. It was just the perfect day. On our way home Art asked me,

"Did you like your wedding gift?"

"Oh Art I love it, but now I don't know what to give you." I admitted.

"I don't want anything I already got the best gift of all."

"What's that?"

"The love of my life you."

"You are so corny!" I laughed.

"But cute corny right?" he winked at me.

"Sure honey, cute corny." I teased.

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