Chris leaned against the wall, pulling at the bottom of the jacket of his suit as he watched Nina pace back and forth nervously. She’d been a wreck all morning, and knowing he was the only one that could calm her down, aside from Isaiah, Sierra and Deanna dragged Chris from the conversation he was having with a few of the other guests.
Nina murmured to herself, hoping and praying that her wedding went off without a hitch. It’d taken so long for her and Isaiah to get to this moment, and all she wanted was total perfection; in the areas that she could control anyway.
“Are our parents separated far enough from one another?” Chris looked at his sister, his usual mug spread across his face as he cleared his throat. “I’m so mad that Dad still can’t act civilized after everything, but it would have been wrong on my part to not invite him, right? That would have been wrong. Oh my God, what if they happen to look at one another and start a fight right in the middle of the ceremony? What if Dad’s sister tries to fight Mom during the ceremony, or as soon as we get to the reception? What if-”
“Nina, calm down. Damn.” Chris stood up straight. “Everything is in order. Mom and Pops are both sitting on your side, but they’re at the opposite ends of the pew. Mom is focused on Isabelle. Pops is mad that you’re not letting him walk you down the aisle, but he’ll be alright. Speaking of which; are you sure you want me to do this in his place?”
Nina looked at her older brother and smiled, nodding her head as she took two deep breaths and calmed her nerves. “I’m positive, Chris.” She sighed as she finally stopped pacing. “Sure, I wanted it to be Dad but I’m still upset with him and how he just lied to us all of these years. Him lying to my face after the fact is what really set me off. If I wasn’t trying to keep peace today, and if Isaiah hadn’t convinced me, I probably wouldn’t have even invited him or that troll he’s engaged to.”
Chris coughed to keep himself from laughing as the image of their future step-mother popped into his head. He’d been saying for a few months that out of all the women their father could have cheated and had a whole side family with, their father surely could have chosen better. Of course, Chris and Nina both felt that there was no woman in this world that was more beautiful than their own mother, but everything about their father’s fiance was below average.
“Besides, if I had to choose anyone else to give me away, of course it’d be you. In spite of being tough, giving off the vibe that you don’t care about much other than yourself, you’ve always been there for me. When Mom wasn’t around, you’re the one that made sure I was taken care of and raised right. Made sure I stayed focused in school and made sure I stayed safe and protected from everything you were doing in the streets. You taught me all that I needed to know about life, how to look out for myself, taught me what to look for in a good man. Because of you, I met Isaiah, and now I’m blessed to be marrying him.” Nina smiled. “Yeah, I want my big brother to give me away.That’s going to mean the world to me.”
Chris smiled for a second before sliding his hands into his pockets. “Then I’m here for you. But do me a favor; calm your nerves and relax. It’s your big day, we all worked hard to make sure you got everything you wanted today. Enjoy yourself.”
“Now I’m gonna send the girls back in and make sure everybody else is ready.”
Nina nodded as she began pacing again.
As Chris closed the door to Nina’s room behind him, he spotted Andrew and Carlos standing in the hallway with their ladies, talking low and laughing. “Aight, aight, break it up out here. Squeak and Deana, Nina needs y’all. Try to keep her calm please, I don’t want her going through that whole cold feet thing again like late last night.”
Sierra and Deanna both nodded, walking past Chris. Once he was certain they were out of earshot, he turned to his boys, smiling as he cleared his throat. “So where’s Psycho?”
Andrew shrugged and Carlos spoke up as he began to put on the jacket to his suit. “He went to make sure his wheelchair can still fit properly in the aisle so that Nina can walk beside him instead of behind him. You know they worked on it the other day and he wasn’t able to test it out to see how far they widened it.”
“Right. Well, hopefully both of their crazy asses make it through today. If Nina doesn’t psych herself out, and he ends up getting cold feet she’ll hurt him so bad he’ll need a few extra months in therapy.”
Carlos chuckled for a second, thinking about how his boy was acting like one would expect a stressed out bride to act. “Please. He up here acting worse than she is, trying to make sure everything is perfect. If I hear ‘I owe her this’ one more time, I just might strangle him.”
Chris shook his head; still finding it hard to believe that they even made it to this day. Just as Isaiah had told Nina; January 1st, 1995. New Year, new beginnings, and he had kept his word. “And y’all clowns are talking about getting married next. This, this is why I still live the single life. This shit is stressful and it’s not even my day.”
Andrew chuckled lightly and shrugged his shoulders before leaning against the wall they were standing next to. “Aye, I said the same thing you were saying but man; when you find that right woman, it just hits you unexpectedly. One day you wake up and you just start seeing everything differently, look at her and you start thinking about life five and ten years down the line. It’s crazy, but it’s a good thing too.”
“Doc’s right. It’s something that you really can’t control. I mean, yeah I did my own share of dirt behind Deana’s back, but I know it’s right with her. Been on this whole faithful thing and it’s not as bad as our ignorant asses thought.”
Chris cleared his throat. Of course, he was happy for his boys. And he was glad that they’d found women to truly hold them down, women that made them want to do better in life. But he knew that he, himself, would never be cool with being settled down or tied down to one woman. “If you say so. Anyway, let’s go and take our places before Isaiah thinks we got lost up in this big ass house.”
“Your Pops was banking like this, Chris, and you were in the streets with us?”
Chris looked at Andrew for a second and nodded before they all started heading towards the backyard where everything was set up. “Me and Nina didn’t know, we didn’t grow up with this. He was up here pretending that he’s just getting by with us and our mom, which was cool. You know, people do what they can and you can’t fault them for that.”
“But on the flip side, Doc, he had this whole other family. And while he was married to our mom, she’s getting what’s left over. And his sidepiece and their family is living lavishly. I always thought it was supposed to be the other way around, if you gon’ do that type of shit. Don’t the main get the most?” Chris just shook his head. “Met one of my half-brothers the other day, same age as me and he’s just going on and on about how life was good for him and Pops’ other kids and how they were never neglected, had the best of everything. Meanwhile, Nina and I only saw his ass on weekends when he wasn’t ‘working’. Man, it took everything not to punch his Carlton Banks lookin’ ass in the face.”
“I know your sister snapped though.”
Chris nodded at Carlos’ assumption, laughing as he thought about it. “Nina went off, almost fought one of Pops’ other daughters. I had to keep reminding her that the girl was still a teenager and that she could catch a charge for fighting. They all just look like the type to press charges, even when they start the drama, you know. Pops got mad when Nina said he couldn’t be a part of the wedding, so he offered up this third house of his as space for the wedding, thinking he was gon’ get to walk her down the aisle anyway. Nina took the offer to cut one expense out their budget and still asked me to fill in.”
“She spoke to him when y’all walked in this morning though, right?”
“Barely. She said thanks and has been in that room pacing all morning. But y’all know my sister, once she’s mad at you, it takes a lot to get back on her good side. And I get where she’s coming from. Yes we’re both grown, but if Pops had told us this shit early on… maybe when we were still kids, we could have accepted that and been over it. Nah, we find out when his other family randomly shows up at the family reunion back in September. He’s got me and another son, both of us about to be twenty-five. Then he’s got Nina and twin daughters, all of them are about to be twenty-three. Then he’s got four teenagers, and he just admitted there’s a third woman somewhere, who might be pregnant now. On top of that, Mom never knew and these people and this broad roll up talking about they’re the wife and kids. Had never even been introduced to any of the other family, but they’re walking in and throwing out titles and demanding our respect.”
Carlos nodded, remembering the day clearly since he was there. “That was the first time I’d ever seen your moms go off, on anybody. I thought she was about to stab that woman.”
Chris’ eyes bugged thinking about. “Man, she was gon’ beat that lady’s face in if me and Nina didn’t hold her back. And Pops ass was just sitting back watching, almost like he was enjoying it. Like I get being a dog and all that. It’s some chicks that like that, and it’s some chicks out here doing just as much dirt as a man. But the type of woman that my mom has always been-” Chris shook his head. “She’s not a woman who deserved that. Never gave that man a reason to lie to her or dog her out, supported any and everything he wanted to do. Thought he had no money, she stepped up and provided while he giving lies talking about he’s been laid off and he’s down on his luck or can’t find more than an average job. Stupid shit. Like y’all say, find a woman that’s good and down for you and you hold her down, right?”
Andrew nodded. “Yeah.”
“He just dropped that lady, and I’m almost certain if there weren’t other children, she’d have just accepted it and kept going with the marriage. I personally couldn’t care less about him being a dog ass nigga, I’m one… but he hurt my mom and that shit wasn’t flying with me or Nina.”
They’d finally reached the altar where Isaiah was sitting calmly in his wheelchair. “Well I’m gon’ say a silent prayer that your pops don’t flip out as you’re walking your sister down the aisle.”
Chris smirked, clearing his throat as he shook hands with Isaiah. “He could try Nina Young on HER wedding day if he wants to. She might be the child, but she’ll beat him down like he’s one of our peers.”
Isaiah cleared his throat, finally speaking up after shaking hands with Andrew and Carlos. “Nah, none of that today. I want total peace.”
“Yes, I want. Me, Isaiah. It’s my day too, Fool, and I want to enjoy it just as much as my baby will.” He finally looked up to see that all of his boys were staring at him with goofy smiles on their faces. “Forget all of y’all.” They laughed. “Anyway, y’all got everything set up right? Doc, the dude you said is filming for us, he bought that extra camera?”
Andrew nodded, pointing to their right for Isaiah to see. “Yep, he’s over there setting it up now, making sure it’s good to go.”
“And it’s gonna catch my baby’s reaction? He got it at a good angle where her face can be seen?”
“Yep. Me and Squeak did a test pose for him.”
Isaiah nodded, very pleased. “Cool, cool. And Chris, your sister doesn’t know about either surprise, right?”
“Positive. This will be the first time anyone surprises Nina, in a good way, and pulls it off. You’re good.”
“Great! Aiight, I’m ready.” Isaiah took a deep breath, looking towards the aisle where the love of his life would be walking towards him. As nervous and scared as he’d always been to get married, he couldn’t wait to call Nina his wife. He’d known since they day he first met her that they’d get to this moment, and now that it had come, he couldn’t wait to spend the rest of their lives together, to continue growing together. She’d given him so much, and so much to look forward to; life, love, hope, and of course their daughter. He smiled. “How’s she looking, she’s looking beautiful?”
Chris nodded. “Extremely beautiful.”
“Aiight, I’m definitely ready.”
Another twenty minutes passed before they finally began to get the ceremony underway. If anyone had come in with negative attitudes, they’d been pushed aside once they finally took notice of all of the work that Nina, Isaiah, and their family had put into making everything come together.
As he watched the flower girls and ring bearer, his younger cousins, Isaiah smiled while gently tugging at the pant leg of his white tux. Next came their small wedding party. Since neither of them ventured outside of their circles, Nina didn’t even bother to stress over who would be involved. As the best man and maid of honor, Carlos and Deana walked in first, walking slowly as a simple, but beautiful melody was being played. Isaiah finally had to stop and admit that the colors Nina had chosen did compliment one another well. He hadn’t been a fan of the light teal she’d said would be used for the bridesmaids dresses, but seeing it next to the black tux his groomsmen wore, he was very pleased.
Once Carlos and Deana had their picture taken, stopping close to the end of the aisle, Andrew and Sierra began their march towards the altar. They too stopped for a moment to have their picture taken by the photographer before taking their places. Carlos and Andrew stood behind Isaiah and his wheelchair, while Deana and Sierra stood a few inches behind where Nina would stand. When they got word that Nina and Chris were ready, everyone in attendance began to quiet down, turning in their seats and looking back in anticipation.
As they’d practiced in a secret rehearsal, Isaiah looked towards Sierra and nodded towards where he set the microphone they’d gotten for her. While Nina thought she’d be walking out to a recording of one of her favorite songs, Andrew, Chris, and Isaiah went through hell trying to convince Sierra to do them the honor after accidentally hearing her sing to herself. While Sierra loved Nina, and they’d become closer friends over time, she was scared to sing in front of people. It was only at the very last minute when she finally made the choice to sing for the wedding, knowing how much Nina wanted someone to sing for them. Grabbing the microphone from behind one of the flower vases they had sitting on a pedestal next to her, she nodded to let Isaiah know that she was ready.
Nina took a deep breath, fanning herself for a second before she finally pulled the remainder of her nerves together. Chris looked over at her and smirked. “You ready?”
“Yeah. I-” She stopped and looked around her. “You hear that?”
“Where’s it coming fr-”
Chris shushed his sister, nodding towards the attendants who were waiting to open the door for them. Once they did, he could hear his sister let out a gasp. “Oh my God, is that… how did he convince her to-”
“Shhh, just know you’re getting everything you wanted today.”
Nina could already feel tears welling up as she tried to keep herself together. Not only had they gotten someone to sing; it was Sierra, the only female aside from Deana that she managed to get close to, that she felt she could trust. It had truly become a family affair and effort, and Nina appreciated it so much.
Smiling as her brother walked her down the aisle towards Isaiah, with Sierra singing Lovin’ You in a beautiful, low tone; Nina began to silently thank God that her life had, in the end, turned out just the way she wanted.
She smiled, hearing as the majority of the older women in her family whispered, stating how gorgeous she looked. Getting towards the last pew, they both stopped for a second and Nina looked towards where her mother was sitting. Isabelle, now seven months old, was reaching for her, smiling wide. Nina blew her a kiss before she and Chris continued.
Kissing his little sister’s cheek, he gave her a quick hug before turning and leaning down towards Isaiah. “You’re a good man, Bruh, I know my sister’s in good hands now.”
Isaiah smiled and nodded, thankful for Chris’ blessings. Nina smiled, taking a few steps forward as she took one of Isaiah’s hands in hers. As Sierra finished and turned the microphone off, setting it back behind the vase of flowers, the reverend stepped forward. Once Chris announced that he was the one giving Nina away, he stepped back and took a seat next to his mother and niece, smirking every time he noticed his father staring at him with a mug on his face.
With the prayers said, the reverend’s message on the importance of keeping God first and communication, and Nina’s heartfelt vows and promise to Isaiah complete, it was Isaiah’s turn to speak.
He cleared his throat, admitting that he was nervous about this moment, and that because this was coming straight from his heart, it might not be the best. The slight chuckle he got from the majority of those in attendance put him at ease and he asked Nina for her hand. “Baby, there is so much that I can tell you today. The most important thing I can say is that I’m thankful to have you in my life, to have you by my side. The last seven years, through our ups and downs, have been the best and most blessed years I’ve ever had on this Earth. I thank God everyday for placing you here, and placing you in my life as an angel here on Earth. For him giving you the strength to put up with me, even in times when you should have walked away. I’m more than thankful that you stuck it out with me. I thank YOU for accepting me with all of my flaws and errors, I thank you for loving me enough to stay on my case, to keep pushing me to do and be better. Not just for myself, but for you and our beautiful daughter. I thank you for giving me the gift of our daughter. If it wasn’t for the amazing love, joy, and hope that you bring into my life, the guidance that you gave me when I was finally ready to be better spiritually, I wouldn’t even be here to tell you these things. There’s no one else I want to go through life with, no one I want to spend day after day fighting and working together to make sure this special bond that we have lasts for the rest of our lives. You’re my everything, and I love you, Nina.”
“I love you too.”
He smiled, moving up a little in his wheelchair. “And um, there’s one last thing I want to thank you for.” Nina nodded, trying to fight back the tears. Though it was pointless to do so. “There were people around us that had given up on me a little over a year ago, but you just brushed it all off. Kept faith going, kept praying on my behalf. But when I wanted to give up on myself, you flipped out-” She laughed, nodding her head. “And you told me that if I felt or thought I had no one else rooting for me, I had you. Baby, you just don’t know that was all I needed. I made two promises. We’ve almost made it through one, but we can’t finish until I keep that other one.”
Nina was confused, hoping he wasn’t about to do what quickly popped in her mind. Looking back, Isaiah nodded towards Carlos and Carlos grabbed the handles of his wheelchair, holding it so that it wouldn’t slip from under him too quickly. Still holding one of Nina’s hands, Isaiah used his free hand to push himself up and out of the wheelchair, asking Carlos to pull it back.
She gasped. “Oh my God.”
Nina took a few steps back and Isaiah slowly closed the gap between them by taking steps forward, smiling wide as their guests applauded. “You wanted us to walk down this aisle together, and you got that Baby. Thank you for believing that I could do this, not just for you but for myself too. I love you.”
Nina was at a loss for words, crying tears of joys as she threw her arms around Isaiah.
The reverend cleared his throat. “I don’t believe anything else needs to be said.” After quickly asking if there were any objections, receiving none, he pronounced them husband and wife and stepped back as they kissed.
Watching as his family and friends stood up, cheering the happy couple on, Chris shook his head. He was glad that everything had worked out perfectly, even more glad that the most stressful part of the day was over and done with.