‹ Prequel: Takes Me Back
Sequel: Leads Me Here
Status: Rated 'R' for language. Will start soon!

Brings Me Home

Strong Forever.

By 4:15, I am standing at the altar with my brothers beside me. My parents approach us, smiles on their faces.

“Ready?” my dad asks.

“As I’ll ever be,” I raise my chin as my mother tweaks my tie.

“She looks gorgeous,” my mother smiles. “You’re one lucky man, Jordan.”

“I tell myself that all the time,” I say and it’s true. I’ve always said Leah was too good for me. “I’m so ready for this.”

Jared laughs. He’s my best man for today. I’d had a hard time picking between my brothers, but Marc and Eric were each other’s, so I went with the youngest Staal. “Spoken so well.”

“Oh, shut up,” I punch his arm and he sends one right back.

“Both of you stop,” our mother pulls us apart. “Jordan, you’re getting married. You can’t do that anymore.”

“Marc and Eric fight all the time with us,” I reason. “Hell, sometimes, we get paid for it.”

“He’s got a point,” Jared agrees.

“Stop being smart asses,” our father chides.

Music begins playing and my mother claps. “It’s time!”

And indeed it is. The guests all stand up and face one of the barns on the property. The doors are opened and the silhouettes of two figures appear. Leah and her dad.

As they begin the slow march to the altar, I grin, almost laughing, at how amazing she looks.

At first glance, her dress looks very simple, and it is, but if you know Leah, you know how right it is. Tiny, tiny straps are over her shoulders, leading to the white fabric with a small V over her chest. It cinches at her waist and then flows out, perfect for a summer, farm wedding. By the looks of the people behind her as she walks, the back is something to be seen as well.

Her hair is swept to the side in a fancy clip and I’m sure that before the night is over, it will be let done. Her jewelry is minimal, only wearing her engagement ring and earring I assume her parents gave her.

Finally, the stop in front of me. Leah beams, letting out a quick breath. Her father wraps her in his arms and I see the back of her dress. Through the misty fabric of the veil that trails down her back, I see the nearly nonexistent dress. The same thin straps continue practically down to her waist where there is a bow, giving her a more defined shape.

Mr. Emerlee claps me on the back and hugs me quickly. “Thank you, Jordan.” They are three simple words that mean the world to me and smile back, nodding my head, before taking his daughter’s hand.

“Finally here,” she smiles.

“I wasn’t the only one procrastinating this morning,” I tease lightly.

Leah opens her mouth to respond, but the pastor clears his throat, interrupting us.

“Sorry,” she blushes quietly.

I hear the man speak, but my eyes are locked with Leah’s. Behind her, her bridesmaids stand, reflections of my brothers. I know they are there, but no one else matters.

Soon, it is time for our vows and Leah goes first.

“Jordan,” she begins and then shakes her head. “Jordy. You’re stuck with that name, sorry.” The guests all chuckle. “It only seems right that we’re right back where it all started. I suppose I should thank our mother’s for forcing all of us to play together, but then again, I’m too happy being mad at them for not introducing us sooner. Nearly three years I went without you boys,” she laughs. “And I can’t imagine life without you all now.” She takes a deep breath. “I love you. That’s really all there is to it. I know that I can be moody and insecure and probably entirely too annoying for my own good, but somehow, I’ve gotten you to stick around.”

“You sound like me,” I mutter quietly.

“But we’re just right for each other,” Leah smiles. “There’s that cheesy saying, two halves of a whole. But really, I think we’re pretty darn good example of that.” She is careful to keep her language clean. “What we are is a single soul in two bodies.” She re-works her favorite saying. “Friends. And I’m glad I’m stuck with you forever because life would be pretty boring without you.” Her eyes light up. “Oh! And I’m still really glad you got a haircut.”

After the laughter dies down again, I take her silence as my cue to begin. I reach into my jacket pocket and pull out the paper I had so carefully written on. Unfolding it, I stare at it a moment.

“Nah,” I make a face and throw it behind me.

“Oh god,” she laughs quietly.

“You already beat me, so there’s no point in that,” I say. “I’m lucky to have found you, Lee-Lee. I’m lucky to have found a girl that can handle me, my teammates, my brothers, and still manage to want to stick around. There’s no girl as perfect for me and as amazing as you are and I’ll never be able to love someone more.” I pause a minute. “The only people that will ever come close are another bunch of little Staals that will have your brains, my hockey playing skills, and both our good looks.” The crowd laughs and Leah chokes out one as a few tears streak down her face. I wipe them away quickly and take a deep breath, making sure I don’t start crying either. “Life with me is probably more frustrating than it is entertaining, but after today, I promise you that every day we have left together I will strive to make sure that they are each better than the last and that every night, before we go to sleep, you know how much I love you and can’t live without you.” More sniffles come from Leah and I hear a few from the crowd.

“Jordan,” the pastor begins. “Repeat after me. With this ring,”

“With this ring,” I nod, urging him on.

The official vows take too long for my liking. But soon enough, Leah and I both wear matching bands and the pastor is saying the final words.

“I know pronounce you,” he pauses and Leah is nearly jumping like a puppy. “Man and wife.”

“Ah!” she makes a noise of excitement and anticipation.

My arms snake around her waist and her arms go around my neck. I lift her off the ground and hold her in the air for a minute before setting her right again.

“I made them laugh more,” she teases as the guests clap and I raise our hands above our heads and we make our way past them.

“Well I’ve got a lifetime to get them back,” I smile, kissing her lightly as we reenter the barn she’d come from.

“That you do,” she agrees. “That you do.”

The photographer joins us and our families soon enough and the photos commence. There are the usual photos and some unconventional ones. One shot has my brothers and I jumping over Leah and her bridesmaids while another one the Parker shooting us with a Nerf gun.

“So you don’t have any siblings,” the photographer affirms with Leah.

I expect her to say no, but she doesn’t.

“Actually,” she smiles, squeezing my hand. “I grew up with four, but now, I have three. Brothers, actually.” She waves to my brothers, beckoning them over. Naturally as if it were true, Leah steps into their embrace, becoming surrounded by Eric, Marc, and Jared. The photographer’s camera snaps away, capturing a moment I am sure will end up in our home somewhere.

“Welcome to the family officially, Mrs. Staal,” Marc pokes her side.

“That sounds really nice,” I say into her ear.

“And think about how it’ll look on book covers,” she laughs.


We dance for a long time, only stopping to eat, at the reception. Before the cake cutting, Leah and I are sitting at our table, she on my lap, and both our eyes closed.

“Jordan,” my mom’s voice brings us out of our happy place of solidarity.

My eyes remain shut. “Yeah, Mom?”

“Phone for you,” she says.

“It can wait,” Leah mutters and I agree, voicing my opinions to my mother.

“I think it’s pretty important,” my mother doesn’t leave us. “It’s Pittsburgh, Jord.”

That gets our attention and soon we are standing and walking towards the main house. At the back porch, I stop walking, holding Leah back with me.

“You’re strong,” I tell her. “I love you for that. Whether I’m traded or not, you’ll make it.”

She squeezes my hand, although she doesn’t look totally reassured. “Whatever it is,” she says earnestly. “We can handle it.”
♠ ♠ ♠
Sooo, I didn't know that this was going to be the last chapter until I was literally done writing it. After that, I was going to split it up. But then I though, Nah!

I hope you all enjoyed Brings Me Home, I know I enjoyed writing it. Next up for Leah and Jordan is Raleigh and my brain is already thinking about what they will encounter there. Speaking of which...

I'm too lazy to copy and paste a link and give it a title and all that jazz so if you're interested- and I know you are!- scroll up to the top of the page and click the automatic link for the third- and final!- installment. No promises as to when it will start, but it'll get there!

Let me know what' s on your minds, lovelies!