Status: Complete.

I Want You to Live

Chapter 22

The morning of the wedding dawned sooner than Peyton had expected. She smoothed a stray curl as she stood in front of her floor length mirror and checked herself for what felt like the hundredth time. She wore only her lingerie and a knee length ivory robe, not wanting to risk something happening to her dress.

Today was the day she had been waiting her whole life for. The day that every little girl dreamed about. It was a mere two hours before she took the last name of the man she had been waiting an entire lifetime for.

Her belly tossed and gurgled uncomfortably and she placed her slim fingers over her mouth, hoping she wouldn't get sick again. She'd thrown up twice already. Carefully, as not to smear her lipstick, she took a small sip of Sprite to calm her nerves and knotted stomach. Sylvia had graciously brought it to her earlier that morning.

She looked out the window and towards the meadow she would meet Rusty in. It was the place that she felt her parents' presence stronger than anywhere else. Rusty had immediately agreed it was where they should be married. It was the perfect place for them to stand up and swear in front of God and everyone else that they would love one another until death do them part.

"How are you feeling now?" a voice asked from the doorway. Peyton turned to see Sylvia leaning against the doorjamb.

Her tall, slim body was already clad in her pale yellow bridesmaid dress. The skirt flared slightly at her knees, giving her the illusion of a butt, according to her. Her dark complexion complemented the softness of the color. Raven colored hair was piled strategically on top of her head, making her appear even taller.

"A little better. The nausea has went away some," she answered, giving a thumbs up through the mirror.

"Are you sure about this?" Sylvia asked quietly as she took a few steps into the room to stand behind her. She softly closed the door behind her.

Their eyes met through the mirror and Peyton couldn't hide her disbelief. Sylvia's chocolate eyes remained on hers. There was no maliciousness in her voice or on her face. It was just a simple question from a friend who only wanted the best for her. Her face softened as she thought of her man in uniform.

"Yes, I am," she replied simply.

"What if something happens to him? What if he doesn't come home? Have you thought about that?" Sylvia insisted, stepping closer and placing a hand on her shoulder. "I just don't want to see you get hurt like that."

"Of course I've thought about that! Every woman in love with a military man thinks about that, but I won't let that stop me," she informed her. Her tone was firm, but eyes gentle. "I love him, and I want to be with him, whether it's for the next 50 years or five months. I just want to be with him."

Her best friend gave her an almost sad smile. She looked down at her dress and smoothed some invisible wrinkles out of the pale fabric. Peyton could've sworn she saw a tear trickle down her cheek before she ducked her head. When she looked back up at Peyton, the look was gone and replaced with a big grin and twinkling eyes. Peyton returned the smile and for the first time that morning, her stomach didn't hurt anymore. Excitement bubbled up, threatening to explode. Another hour and a half and she would be walking down the aisle to meet her future husband.

"Sit down and I'll finish your make up," Sylvia requested, stirring her from her daydreams of her handsome soldier.

Peyton sat on a stool and tried to be still as her friend carefully finished applying the rest of her make up. They had been interrupted earlier when the cake was delivered. Peyton couldn't help but fidget. Sylvia paused momentarily to shoot her a pointed glare.

Once she continued applying her mascara, she started speaking. "I still can't believe you're letting Ty walk you down the aisle." Her disdain was evident in her voice. "Why didn't you ask Rusty's dad?"

Peyton sighed, frustrated that her friend was still holding a grudge. It wasn't like she had actually liked the guy in the first place. "Ty is a wonderful man and we've formed a bond. It just felt right."

Sylvia snorted, lips pursed. Peyton wanted to roll her eyes, but refrained so that she wouldn't mess her make-up up. At that moment, a soft knock sounded on the door. She sent her friend a puzzled look, but was only met with a quick shrug of the woman's shoulders. Peyton eyed her with suspicion when she caught the twinkle in her eye.

She stood and grabbed a longer, black robe off the bed. Sylvia pulled the door open and squealed in delight, causing Peyton to jump. She cinched the sash tighter as her friend let the door swing further open, revealing who was on the other side. Her jaw dropped when she saw Mark standing in the threshold.

"Mark!" she squealed, hurrying to him. He grabbed her up into a hug. She stepped back, still grasping his upper arms to stare in disbelief. "What are you doing here?"

"I couldn't miss your wedding!" he exclaimed, "Especially not when you're marrying a fellow brother in arms." He sent her a wink, earning a laugh.

"Alright, alright, you've seen her. Now get out of here, so I can finally finish her make-up," Sylvia shooed with a playful smile.

"Have you told her yet?" he questioned as he started backing out.

"Told me what?" Peyton asked, shooting the couple a confused look.

Sylvia's eyes widened and she gave him a subtle shake of her head. The gesture didn't go unnoticed. "Oh, well, I'll see you at the reception, Peyton," Mark hurriedly spoke before rushing out the door.

Sylvia shut it before turning with a sheepish smile, avoiding her eyes. She grabbed Peyton's hand and pulled her back to the stool for the third time that day. The two sat in silence as she put on the finishing touches and she sprayed her curls down again. Inching back, she appraised her handiwork and grinned, clapping her hands together.

"And done," she informed the bride. "You are stunning, chica!"

"Don't think I don't know you're buttering me up. What was Mark talking about?" Peyton interrogated, eyes narrowed.

It took a moment for Sylvia to answer, but she blew out a deep breath and diverted her gaze. "We got married," she mumbled out.

Peyton blinked once, twice, three times, trying to decide if she had heard her correctly. Sylvia's hands wrung together nervously and she chanced a glance from the corner of her eyes.

The news finally sunk in and Peyton shot up from her seat. "What?!" she shrieked, sure that everyone on the property had heard her.

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you! I went to see him over the weekend and it just happened," she blurted out, words tumbling into one another.

"It just happened?" Peyton questioned, incredulous. "Kisses just happen. Sex just happens. Marriage does not just happen!"

Sylvia scurried over to her purse and dug around in it, rattling her things around. When she turned back, she held up her left hand. A silver band filled with tiny diamonds now adorned her ring finger. She offered Peyton an apologetic smile.

"I wanted to tell you in person, but I didn't see you until today," she reasoned, coming to clasp Peyton's hands in her own, "I didn't want to take away from your wedding, though. That's why I didn't mention it sooner."

Peyton's hurt turned to joy for her friend. She looked genuinely happy by the unexpected turn of events. Tears pricked at the back of her eyes as she watched her stoic friend smile with tears of her own swimming.

"I'm so happy for you," she choked out, pulling her in for a long long. "I told you so," she whispered, earning a snotty laugh.

Sylvia pulled away and quickly wiped her eyes. She sniffed once and shook her arms to compose herself. "Okay, let's get you in your dress. You have a soldier of your own to marry."


Peyton took in a deep breath and smoothed her ivory gown out. She was standing at the bottom of the meadow. All that separated her and Rusty was one small hill. She smiled to her right where Ty stood next to her. Not for the first time, she thought about how he would make some woman a very good man one day. He returned the smile and winked at her.

"You're a good man, Ty," she said softly as she straightened his tie. She gently ran her hands down his chest, tugging on his uniform. Cupping his face, she smiled up at him. "Thank you for taking care of him for me."

"For you?" he teased. He laughed out loud, showing off his straight, white teeth.

"Yes, for me," she pressed on, "I believe two people are made for one another, and no one else will do, except them. Rusty is mine."

Ty gave her a sardonic smile, but kept his mouth closed. Peyton knew that his past had left him bitter and wary of love. Ty was a flirt and one could call him a womanizer, but she also knew that deep down he was soft-hearted and would treat the right one like a lady.

Like she was sure he had treated his former fianceƩ. Never once had he tried to talk Rusty out of this. He had been nothing but supportive throughout their whole relationship and now into their marriage. Rusty was lucky to have Ty. She was lucky to have Ty. She gave him another gentle smile and leaned up to place a soft kiss on his cheek before turning to her left.

Sylvia stood with her bouquet held tightly in her hands. She looked at Peyton when she turned and Peyton noticed the tears threatening to fall from her eyes. The music started and she knew it was almost time for her friend to go. Quickly, she grasped her shoulders and pulled her in for a big hug. They had been best friends since they were girls. Everyone used to tease them about being joined at the hip.

"I just want you to know that I like Rusty," Sylvia sniffled out. "What I said earlier wasn't anything against him. He's been good for you. I couldn't have picked a better man if I tried. I'm happy for you two. Really."

Peyton mouthed thank you as her friend started up the hill. Silently, she wiped the tears from her eyes. She wasn't supposed to be crying yet. She lightly fanned her face, hoping to dry the salty liquid leaving streaks down her face before she faced her almost husband. A white handkerchief appeared in front of her face and she turned to see Ty roll his eyes before giving her a mischievous grin. Gratefully, she took the piece of cloth and dabbed at her eyes.

"I never knew what those crazy things were for," he said out of the corner of his mouth, as the song changed yet again and they began their march. "I guess now I do."

Her quiet laughter turned into a gasp as they reached the top. The beauty of the moment was overwhelming. The sun was beginning its descent out of the sky, splashing light reds and pinks across the horizon. White chairs were set up, containing friends and a few family members, amongst the sea of flowers. Rusty's figure stood tall and straight in his dress uniform, silhouetted by the setting sun. He was even more handsome if that was possible. Despite the shadow across his face, their eyes connected. The raw tenderness behind his red rimmed eyes caused new tears to come cascading out. This was it.


Rusty's heart took off like a herd of wild horses. Peyton was the most stunning woman he had ever seen. His eyes never left hers as she and Ty carefully made their way down the aisle. She seemed to almost float in her gown. His heart swelled as they came to a stop in front of him.

In mere minutes, she would be his and only his forever. There was no man on this planet luckier than him. She broke her gaze from his as she turned to kiss his best friend on the cheek before he placed her hand in his. Ty gave him a slight nod before taking his place next to him. Rusty turned his eyes back to his future wife. The love shining from them was enough to bring tears to his eyes. He knew his buddies would never let him live it down if he cried, but at that moment he didn't care.

The preacher's words ran together and all the guests blurred as Rusty kept the gaze of the beautiful blue eyed, blonde. Her hands were clasped tightly in his and her smile bright beneath her watery eyes. He could tell she was fighting to get them under control. It seemed impossible for her to get any more beautiful, but she was at that very moment.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs." With every word of 1 Corinthians spoken, Rusty knew that his whole life had been leading up to this very moment. Nothing had ever felt more right. "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

A light breeze blew across the meadow, causing Peyton's loose locks to move with it. Her hair had been curled and partially pulled up, with shorter pieces hanging down and framing her face. Her sun kissed neck held a string of pearls that had belonged to her mother. It accented the sweetheart neckline of her jeweled ivory dress. Rusty was so entranced by her that he almost missed his turn to say his vows.

"I, Rusty, take you, Peyton, to be my partner, loving what I know of you, and trusting what I do not yet know. I eagerly anticipate the chance to grow together, getting to know the woman you will become, and falling in love a little more every day. I promise to love and cherish you through whatever life may bring us."

Peyton gave him a heart melting smile before softly answering his pledge of love with her own. "I, Peyton, take you Rusty to be my husband, my partner in life, and my one true love. I will cherish our union and love you more each day than I did the day before. I will trust you and respect you, laugh with you and cry with you, loving you faithfully through good times and bad, regardless of the obstacles we may face together. I give you my hand, my heart, and my love, from this day forward, for as long as we both shall live."

The preacher asked for the rings and everyone bowed their heads as he prayed for the couple and their future life together. He prayed for Rusty's safety as he proudly served his country and the strength of Peyton as she stood by his side. After the amen was spoken, he asked each of them to repeat after him before they would slip the white gold bands on one another's fingers.

"Sergeant Balkins, you may now kiss your bride."

Rusty grinned and placed a hand at the base of his wife's neck. This was the part that he had really been looking forward to. This kiss sealed the promise of their life together. Her hands came to rest on his chest as their lips met. The same static shock was there that always had been every time they touched. He could feel her lips curl up as a smile graced her face. Whistles sounded from what he knew was his crew and she pulled back with a rosey blush on her cheeks.

"Because Sergeant Balkins and Peyton have desired each other in marriage, and have witnessed this before God and our gathering, affirming their acceptance of the responsibilities of such a union, and have pledged their love and faith to each other, sealing their vows in the giving and receiving of rings, and their kiss, I do proclaim that they are husband and wife in the sight of God and man. Let all people here and everywhere recognize and respect this holy union, now and forever. I now present to you, for the first time, Sergeant and Mrs. Rusty Balkins."
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Thank you for sticking with me! I've been waiting to write this chapter forever!! Sorry it took so long I've had a lot going on with my baby boy. Please please please leave me comments and let me know what y'all are thinking! =)