I wake up fully alert, every fiber of my being tingling with excitement.
This is it!
I kick my feet and rustle in the pillows, savoring the energy and basking in the wondrous glow that everyone has been trying, and failing, to describe.
I can't describe it either. It's simply amazing, and you either know it, or you're still waiting your turn.
And today is my day.
Today I'm wearing white and walking down the aisle.
Throwing off the covers, I cross to the window.
It's been rain, rain, rain all week, but the weatherman's been promising since Tuesday that it would break for today and be partly cloudy.
Looking as far as I can from my bedroom window, which isn't really very far, I see that the dense clouds parked over my house all week have been stretched into threadbare swatches revealing a delightful pale blue sky.
Mostly sunny! My hands clap down on the window sill. Partly sunny at least! What's the difference between partly cloudy and partly sunny anyway? It doesn't matter. I've made up my mind: Today is definitely mostly sunny.
When I was little I used to blow kisses to the sun to thank him for shining when I wanted him to shine, or letting it snow when I wanted it to snow. I don't know when I really stopped. But today the little girl in me needs to blow him a kiss, so I do, and then head over to my makeup table.
Pictures skirt the edges around my mirror: my dress, my hair, my shoes, the wedding cake, the flower arrangements, my bouquet. Everything I've chosen for today. At the top and in the center is a picture of Colin.
Wondering not for the first time what he'll look like in a tux, I take it down.
After a moment, there is a gentle knock at my bedroom door.
"Good morning," my mother pokes her head in. "Looks like it's going to be a beautiful day to get married."
"Can you believe it?" I ask, turning to look back over my shoulder to make sure the sun hasn't disappeared.
"Honestly," my mother answers, "the way it's been raining all week, what with hair and pictures in the park..."
"I know," I turn back to her.
"Thank the heavens," my mother finishes.
That's it! How could I forget? "Thank the heavens." That's why I used to blow kisses to the sun!
"So funny," I crack a smile. "Everyone who knows Colin has been guaranteeing a perfect day since the engagement party."
My mother looks sideways. "Don't know how you can guarantee anything about April."
I laugh and pick up my hairbrush. "It's a lucky thing. They say he's always lucky."
My mother doesn't answer. In the mirror, I see her wipe away a tear.
"Mom!" I turn to her, and just like that, I have to wipe away a tear of my own.
"He is lucky!" she says suddenly. "He's taking away my little girl."
"Stop it," I wipe away another tear. "He's not taking away anyone. And it's too early for this." I start brushing my hair again.
"Can I do that for you?"
I hold the brush out and look at the ceiling to help keep the tears in.
My mother expertly pulls up a sheaf of hair. "Mason Pearson. I remember giving you this for your sixteenth birthday."
The gentle strokes start soothing my hair out and all I can say is, "Mmm-hmmm."
"Guess this is the last time-"
"Mom," I sniff and shake my head a little. "If you don't stop, I am going to kick you out of my room."
She curls down on my shoulder like I'm a little girl again. "We have to cry now honey, because later we'll have our makeup on."
Then we laugh like only a mother and daughter can on wedding day.
She brushes my hair a little longer, talking about my shoes- they're my something blue. Her idea. In fact, she wanted to do it for her wedding but it was so non-traditional back then everyone talked her out of it. It's the 90s now. I've still never seen it done, not even on television. But I'm doing it anyway. For her, and because I think it's just cool.
She hands me the brush and looks over at my clock. "Plenty of time for breakfast before your hair appointment." Then she hugs me tight from behind the chair. "Meet you downstairs."
I nod and squeeze her hand. Then she's gone.
Just two years ago, marrying Colin seemed so outlandishly impossible. We had known each other for so long, but in so many ways, knew each other so little.
Funny how quickly things can fall into place once you figure out who you are.
For Colin that's been a long journey. For me, most of it came together in one eye-opening, magical night.
I pick up his picture again and look at him.
I always say I had to find myself.
He always says he had to create himself.
"We've drunk a lot of wine long into the night talking about the difference.
Here we are now though, one of those first day of the rest of your life days- Hell, I'm going to have a whole new name after today!
I wonder what he's doing right now. If he's thinking about this stuff too. I guess he is.
What did mom say last night?
I've written my book and he's written his. Today we start writing our story, so it's only natural to remember the highlights of the one you've just finished...
I graduated from Wagner College, where as a senior, I won the Jack J. Boies Award for Creative Writing with a science fiction story called Guns.
Growing up, my friends and I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons, so you can imagine how elated I was when my first published work, a mini-adventure called Mayhem at Midnight, appeared in the pages of DUNGEON Magazine (Issue #43).
Writers need stories to tell. They also have to pay the bills, so I joined the NYPD in 1992. Ten years later, on the strength of a work sample that eventually became the basis for No Regrets (THTH Chapter 10), I was transferred to the Department's in house magazine: SPRING 3100. After collecting lots of good memories, lots of great stories (and hopefully writing a few too), a decade of Medal Day Madness, earning a Certificate in Journalism from NYU, meeting lots of interesting people, and quite a few memorable Christmas parties, Detective Stratton retired to fill an urgent opening in a newly created position at home: Mr. Mom.
I work harder than ever now, but I also laugh much more, and get to do it in "civilian clothes" all day, and more often than not, my pajamas for most of the morning.
While working full time, getting engaged at the Empire State Building, getting married, buying a house, coping with 9/11, and becoming a father, To Have and To Hold took me over 12 years to write. Set just before the advent of the digital age, it's a heartwarming walk through yesterday, a time not too long ago when your neighborhood really could be your whole world. I'm proud of it, and like the way it turned out. I hope you will too. If you would like a head start, there is an excerpt below.
Currently I am working on a YA fantasy set in the old west involving forbidden bloodlines, unicorns, elves and other magical creatures. After that I plan I finish up a psychological thriller that's been incubating for several years.
Thanks for stopping by!
Below is an excerpt from To Have and To Hold. Part of the novel's charm is that it's written almost entirely from the perspective of the groom and his family. This teaser excerpt, however, focuses purely on the bride. I hope you enjoy it- and don't forget to come back and let us know through the contact page if you figure out who the bride is before she arrives at the church. I've got some swag for you if you do!