After the engagement, Melody wanted to go straight home to tell the girls this most exciting news. She and River could not stop smiling about it.
“Hey, baby,” Melody said to Marli. “Go get your sister and meet us outside, please.”
Melody and River sat on the patio and waited for the girls to come out.
“Do you think they’ll be happy,” Melody asked.
“Definitely! Marli especially.”
“Yeah, I bet. She’s been trying to marry me off ever since you came over the first time.”
“Oh. Really? She’s certainly a character,” he said trying act like he didn’t know to keep the secrets between him and Marli.
They only waited a couple minutes, but it felt like hours to Melody. She was overjoyed and needed to share it with her children. Finally, they joined them.
“Girls…we have some news…,” she started to say and looked at River.
She still couldn’t believe it. This would be the first of many times she would utter these words today, but the magnitude of the situation made them get stuck in her throat.
“Go ahead. You can tell them,” he encouraged her.
Melody felt like she could accomplish anything as long as River was cheerleading beside her. She took a breath and gave them the news.
“We’re getting married!”
There was much excitement and congratulations going on, naturally. It was the best news the girls had heard in a long time.
Sunday morning, the Sheridan ladies rose early to prepare for their very long day. It was time for River to meet the Pruetts.
“Good morning, Mommy,” Mia said between yawns. “Why do we have to get up so early today?”
“We have to go see everyone and we have to meet with the proprietor at the venue. We need all the time we can get before gets dark. You should eat.”
“I’m fine for now.”
“All right then. I don’t want to hear that you’re hungry later….While you’re here, I just have to say that I am still highly disappointed at you and your sister’s behavior. And you…you actually lied to me. That’s very hurtful, Mia. Very hurtful.”
“I’m sorry, Mommy.”
“Why? Why did you lie?”
“I just didn’t want you to find out.”
“Ok, I get that, but what was all of this about? Do you feel you’re not getting enough attention or something? I mean, did you seriously just lose your homework and not think to tell anyone?”
“That’s so childish, Mia! You’re 15 years old. I expect you girls to be more responsible than that.”
In Mia’s defense, she does have the childish trait.
“But, Mommy! There’s never any time! We’re in school all day and we have to come home and do more work and then we have to work on our skills. There’s never any time to have any fun and hang out! We just wanted to have fun for a while!”
“You can have all the fun you want when you’ve graduated, but the rate you’re going, that’s highly questionable! And now, because of what you’ve done, you’re not gonna have any fun for a long time. You’ll think twice next time you pull a stunt like this again. Now go get your sister up. We have to leave soon.”
First stop, of course, was Cadence’s house. As soon as Melody walked through the gate with River, Cadence already knew. She didn’t know exactly what they had come to tell her, but she knew it was good and gave her sister a big hug.
“We’re getting married,” Melody exclaimed as she was hugging her sister.
“[screaming] I just knew it was something good when I saw you two!”
After they calmed down, they all sat down around the table.
“River, this is my twin sister, Cadence. Cadence…this is River: my fiance!”
“It is my honor to meet you, Cadence,” River said. “You know, when we first met, she told me her name, and I thought it was such a beautiful name for someone as gorgeous as she. She told me she was a twin and your name was Cadence. I thought that was the most creative, most beautiful name pairing, and this Cadence has to be just as gorgeous. And you are!”
“Wow…thanks. He certainly has a silver tongue,” Cadence said while sizing him up. “So, you’re the mysterious River, huh? It’s nice to finally meet the one who’s been occupying all my sister’s time.”
“Cadence…please,” Melody begged.
“I’m fine, Mel. Chill out. We’re not 14 anymore. I’m married with three kids for crying out loud! But I’m always going to be protective of you,” she said aimed at River.
“It’s ok, Bae. She’s never met me before, and she’s your sister. It’s natural for her to be protective. It’s fine.”
“I thought you said you like him, Cadence!”
“I do! I think he’s great for you! Does that mean I don’t have a right to be protective anymore? I don’t know this dude!”
“You have every right to be protective, Cadence,” River interjected. “I hope that we can get to know each other properly and I can allay any anxieties you have about me.”
“Thank you, River. That’s all I’m saying! I look forward to getting to know you. So, how did you propose?”
“Well…have you heard about the Gardens of Love that just opened?”
“It’s beautiful. Well, you’ll see it on Tuesday. Anyway, I took her there, and I didn’t tell her anything so she could be completely surprised. I showed her around and told her all the things I wanted to do there like dance with her on stage of front of the family. Then I took her to the arch and professed my undying love for her, got down on one knee and did what I had to do!”
“That’s so romantic, Mr. River,” Mia said.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” Melody chimed in. “I wasn’t expecting him to ask me so soon, but there was no reason for me to say no!”
“I’m really happy for you, sis. I really am! I think this is the real thing, and you guys will be happily together forever. Welcome to the family, brother!”
“Mommy, do we still have to call him Mr. River now?”
Melody and River looked at each other and smiled.
“I guess not…but let’s discuss it later, ok? Did you ask Aunt Cadence for those pancakes? I thought you weren’t hungry! Nevermind…we’ve got to get going. We need to go to Allen’s, back home, and then to the venue. I’ll call you later, ok?”
“Ok. It was great to finally meet you, River. See you guys on Tuesday!!”
They walked across the street to Allen’s house next.
“Hey cuzzo! It’s been a minute!! Like, five or ten actually. Ummm…who’s this dude walking in my house?”
“That’s why I came by. I want you to meet my fiance!”
“Word?! Fiance?? Oh, cuz!! No wonder you haven’t kept in touch!”
“Hey. Nice to meet you. I’m River.”
“This is my cousin Allen. That’s his wife Harley Jean outside with their son Justin. And they have the cutest little girl named Fiona.”
“Come here, cousin! Congratulations! I am SO glad you found yourself a real man.”
“He’s really wonderful. Maybe you guys can hang out sometime. He’s still pretty new in town.”
“Definitely! What do you do, River?”
“Fish. I used to do it competitively, but it’s all for fun now. I came here to settle down and find The Forgotten Grotto and Sylvan Glade. I had no idea I’d also find a wife and a new family.”
“Oh that is special, dude. That is real special. Look, I’ve never been fishing, but if you’re up for giving me a few pointers, I’ll hang with you.”
“We’re getting married on Tuesday, so because it’s a school night, we’re only inviting adults…except my girls of course.”
“That’s cool. Justin can watch Fiona pretty good.”
“Great! Well, I’d love to stay and catch up, but I just wanted to come by and give you the news!”
“Such great news. I’m so happy for you, cuz. Ok then. We’ll see y’all on Tuesday.”
They left Allen’s, hailed a cab, and went to the Pruett Estate. River hadn’t been to Willow Creek yet, so this turned out to be quite an adventure for him. When they pulled up at the estate, he was astonished. The garden needed work, but everything else was the same. They mounted those big clay stairs and collected on the porch. Melody knocked on the door, but no one answered. She still had a key and so she let herself in. Everyone followed her in and looked around.
“Well…this is where I grew up, Riv. I was born and raised here. The girls were too, but we left when they were in kindergarten.”
“This is magnificent! I feel like I should have on a blazer and some Stacy Adams…gators…something!”
“I’ll have to give you the history of our family and this house sometime.”
“I’d love to hear it.”
Someone was coming up the stairs. Melody turned around and saw that it was Myra and went to greet her.
“Hey there. Sorry…I still have my key, so I just let us in.”
“No, no it’s fine. Lance and the kids still aren’t here?”
“No, I guess not.”
“They must be at the park somewhere. Anyway…what’s up?”
“Well…I wanted you guys to meet my fiance!
“Fiance?! You’re getting married?? I didn’t even know you were seeing anyone!”
“Yeah, I know. I’ve been trying to keep quiet about it…you know.”
“Yes, I know. Congrats, girl!!”
“We’ve only been seeing each other for a few weeks…maybe a month. It’s funny because we ‘officially’ started dating two days ago.”
“Listen…when you know, you know! No shame in that! Me and Lance didn’t date long either. True, we knew each other previously, but still.”
“Absolutely. He’s helped me so much with my feelings with Paxton. I never knew I could be free of it! I mean, we can’t erase what happened, so I’ll never be completely free, but emotionally…I’ve been healed!”
“Oh, Melody! It makes me so happy to see you glowing like this!”
“Me too. I’d love to stay and tell you all about him, but we need to go meet with some people at the venue and see the other Pruetts later.”
“Ok. Well, I’m glad you stopped by. Sorry Lance wasn’t here, but I’ll tell him. When is it?”
“Tuesday at 3:00, so you’ll need a babysitter. It’s at the new place called Gardens of Love.”
“Ooooh, that sounds beautiful!”
“It is absolutely gorgeous! You’ll just die when you get there. Ok…gotta run. Bye!”