Tabitha and Rex get Married.

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Below is your exclusive wedding bonus scene. If you prefer to read it on your ereader, you can grab it off bookfunnel here. 

 

Tabitha

One year later

The day of the wedding arrives, and my friends are buzzing with excitement, rushing in and out of the bridal suite at the LaBelle Hotel just off Central Park. The suite is storybook beautiful like the hotel itself, everything flowers and marble and shimmering chandeliers.

Amanda puts the finishing touches on my hair, which is up in a twist—all the better to show off the pink streaks. Our wedding consultant, Felicia, who has apparently consumed way too much caffeine, bursts in and claps. “Thirteen minutes. No! twelve minutes! Wait, thirteen.” Just as suddenly, she’s gone.

My mom looks at me as if to say, over the top much?

I grin.

“But she gets it done,” Mom adds.

It’s so great to have my mother here, sharing in our big day. I never thought I’d see her outside of that sad, dark bedroom, but a few months ago, Rex and I managed to get her into rehab. She learned how to cope with her addiction to painkillers, and she’s been taking advantage of the state-of-the-art pain management strategies for her burn scars. It’s made a world of difference. There are times when she’s fully back—that woman I knew when I was a little girl.

She’s living a productive life now. In fact, last fall she bought a rambling old mansion and turned it into a co-op for senior women. The ten of them make food together and yell at game shows on the TV. It’s hilarious and wonderful.

“Tabby, I have something for you,” she says, pulling a small brown box from her purse.

I turn to her, curious. “What is it, Mom?”

“Something old.” She opens the box and pulls out a Hello Kitty pendant, small and delicate, with a silver chain and a sparkling pink bow on top of the little Hello Kitty face.

“Oh my god!” My pulse races. “Is that—”

“It is,” she says, settling it into my palm.

“I thought I lost it.”

“You didn’t. I had it. All those long, dark nights. I’d hold it so tightly sometimes—”

“You kept it?” I can barely keep the astonishment out of my voice. She’s apologized for not being there during those dark years after the fire—over and over she’s apologized. She was checked out. So why would she keep that little necklace? She seemed barely aware of me during those times. “I didn’t think—”

“You didn’t think that I cared. I know. I was in such a deep hole, honey—”

“Don’t you dare apologize again,” I whisper, focusing on the little pendant, so shiny in my palm. “You don’t have to.”

“No, let me say this. When the hopelessness threatened to consume me, I would think of you, bright and beautiful, like sunshine breaking through clouds. I would hold this little necklace to keep thinking of you, to remind myself you were in the world, even in the next room. I wasn’t there for you, but you were there for me—more than you know. I couldn’t be a good mom, but I could stay alive for you. It’s the best I could do.”

“Don’t you dare ruin my makeup!”

“I’m giving it back, now.” She gestures for me to turn. I hold up my hair and she clasps it around my neck.

I turn and hug her—gently—because her skin is still sensitive. It always will be.

Jada buzzes in to check on us, trailed by Noelle, and Gail. They’re all wearing sparkly dresses that Jada helped design.

“We’re heading down,” Jada tells me. “You ready?”

“I think so.”

My friends exchange glances. Everybody’s been whispering about a surprise that Rex has for me.

“What? Tell me!” I plead. “I’m the bride. Aren’t I supposed to demand things?”

Gail links arms with Noelle. “You’ll see.”

I link arms with Jada. “Please just promise me it’s not choir of children singing sad songs.”

“Would Captain Sternpants do that to you?” Jada asks.

“Depends.”

Noelle snorts.

We head down the grand marble staircase to the lavish staging area, bursting with flowers. I spot Dad waiting there with a smile on his face, just like always. He’s not the most dependable, but he’s here for me on my wedding day.

Felicia the wedding coordinator is quick on her feet, lining my bridesmaids and Rex’s groomsmen up in the order they’ll go. A blinged-out curtain hides main room from view, and I can’t help but sneak over and take a peek while people are distracted with Felicia’s endless instructions.

Rex is up there looking devastatingly handsome. He seems to be whispering to the wedding officiant…who looks a bit familiar. Sandy gray hair and a beard.

I squint. Who is that?

“Hey!” Felicia pulls me back. “Don’t ruin the surprise!”

“What’s going on? Isn’t that Patch from Days of Our Lives?

Noelle is laughing.

“It was!” My mouth is just hanging open. “What is Patch doing up there—and he doesn’t have his patch on…oh my god,” I say as I figure it out. “Scream!”

“What’s going in?” Dad asks.

Jada snorts. “What’s going on is that the incarnation of the greatest villain in soap opera history is officiating at your daughter’s amazing wedding.”

“The incarnation of the greatest villain?” Dad repeats, confused.

Jada turns to him. “The man who played supervillain Stefano DiMera passed away—”

“That’s right.” I grab her hand. “But there’s this character named Patch, and some years back, Stefano’s essence was implanted into Patch’s brain with a chip. So the actor who plays Patch is up there officiating our wedding as Stefano. I mean, in the show, the chip is out, but it still works. He doesn’t wear his eyepatch when Stefano is in control of his body, because Stefano doesn’t need one.”

“Do I have to follow all of this?” Rex’s friend Ivan asks.

“Please don’t,” Clark says.

I am just laughing. Rex is too amazing.

I can hear Kelsey and Mia singing in there—one of our Lizzo faves.

“Showtime!” Felicia hustles out the bridal party, two by two, practically shoving them out through the sparkle beaded curtain. Jada and Clark take up the rear.

“Go, go, go,” Felicia says, pushing my dad and me out through the curtain.

We step onto the aisle and immediately I lock gazes with Rex at the front. His dark hair is swept back, beard trimmed just so. Madly elegant in a tux. My heart flutters in my chest.

This is it.

Just as we start toward the front, Kelsey and Mia break into an acapella version of “We’ve Only Just Begun,” voices loud and clear. I bite back a loud snort as they insert lyrics about my hamster Seymore and Mike the rescue dog. They are totally trying to make me laugh!

Though I’m far more at risk for a big laugh-cry. I fan my face with my hand as we go. I can feel the love in the room so hard. All my friends.

And then I reach Rex.

He reaches out to me. I take his hands and a jolt of electricity sizzles between us. He’s smiling so huge, that little furrow appears between his eyebrows. I want to kiss it so bad.

Stefano’s-essence-in-Patch starts officiating. We’ve gathered here…

I’m not at all listening. Between my utter happiness and the breathtaking hotness of Rex and sneaking glances out at everybody, I hear nothing.

I smile at Rex’s parents are in the front seat. They seem to be back together again, much to Rex’s befuddlement. They fight all the time, but I think that’s just their way. They collaborated with one of Felicia’s designers on the lush flower arrangements. There are even flowers draped across the ceiling. The place is an explosion of color, just how I like it.

Stefano’s-essence-in-Patch demands that Rex and I now recite our vows. I take a deep breath, awash with excitement.

“Rex, I was blown away by you from the first Friday I arrived at your office with my mobile salon. From the first moment you barked and yelled at everybody. Scaring the bejesus out of everybody—”

“Except you,” he mouths.

I grin. “I saw you—the real you. All those months of Fridays, I saw you and I loved you and I always will. I love how deeply you care about things, even if it’s hidden under layers of surliness. I love your fierce loyalty and your dry sense of humor. I love how passionate you are—even about the small things…like keeping jasmine-scented face cloths off your face at all costs.”

He narrows his eyes in his playful way.

“I love your brilliance and your intensity. I love the way your scowl softens when you feel fondness in your heart. I love when do your protective growling-on-my-behalf thing. I love your passion for doing things right. I love your smile because it’s so rare and precious, and it lights up the world. You light up my world and it makes me feel like the luckiest woman alive.”

Rex swallows and squeezes my hands.

“Tabitha, I love your bubbly personality. I love that you’ll laugh at anything. I love your positive attitude, even when you’re pathetically impoverished.”

My jaw drops as I recognize that “Rex hates” list. He’s turning it into a “Rex loves” list. He’s totally going to make me cry!

“Rex,” I whisper.

“I love your passion for bright colors and sparkles,” he continues. “I love your love of soap operas and Hello Kitty stuff. I love that you narrate your expressions and reactions to things and turn popular songs into songs about your pet and think other people might actually find that amusing. Guess what? I think it’s fucking amazing. I love fun Tabitha and un-fun Tabitha. Most of all I love your beautiful heart. I’ve never felt luckier than I am right now.

“Gulp!” I whisper.

Rex lets out a low growl and before Stefano’s-essence-in-Patch can even get close to saying the exchanging rings lines, Rex wraps his arms around my waist, lifts me up, and kisses me. My hands fly to the silk of his beard as he spins me around in a kiss. It’s like I’m flying.

Stefano’s-essence-in-Patch angrily mutters in a very Stefano way that the kiss part isn’t here yet.

A white blur speeds up the aisle. It’s Smuckers followed by Mike the rescue dog, both carrying little bags. Rex puts me down. There’s mayhem while our wedding party chases the dogs and extracts the bags from their jaws.

And pull out the rings.

Laughing, we get them on each other’s fingers. Patch is totally in the character of Stefano when he angrily commands us to kiss again, because the last one wasn’t at the right juncture. He’s totally hamming it up for us.

Afterwards, we sit down to a lavish feast and our friends give speeches. Theo talks about the marvel of our chemistry, using big chemist words. Noelle tells a funny story about the group of us singing on the roof of our building. Jada gets everybody laughing when she confesses how shocked she was that we fell so deeply in love because of how opposite we are—she has plenty of kooky examples.

At one point, Clark reads his own hilariously annotated version of the fake fiancé contract. Our parents make heartfelt toasts. Gail makes a speech about our new business together and how the two of us are so dynamic. I beam at her from where I’m sitting on Rex’s lap. Gail and I have twenty style storefronts now, but my favorite is always going to be the one on Ninth Street, right next to Lizzie’s flagship Cookie Madness storefront. It’s become a hub of activity for our friend group—especially for those of us who have moved out of the old apartment.

The speeches go forever and honestly, I’m there for it, because these people are everything. Yes, I still struggle with my arm pain, and perplexing decisions, and the lingering sting of having been burned by people in the past. And sometimes things seem scary.

None of us know the future. All we can do is open our hearts to each other. Not just Rex and me, but the whole group of us—on our block and beyond. We can open our hearts and let ourselves be known and love each other.

I turn and stroke Rex’s beard. People are giving speeches, but Rex and I are beyond words.

We step onto the elegant ballroom floor after dinner. Overhead, soft lights glitter like constellations of stars on a black velvet sky. The lights reflect off the crystal chandeliers and twirl in the mirrored panels of the ceiling, casting a thousand glimmering prisms across the room, as if we are inside a giant shimmery castle.

I don’t know if I should keep holding Rex’s hand, but I am. I’ve been holding his hand since we left the table.

The DJ starts to pump out an infectious beat, and I feel my body sway to the rhythm. Rex yanks me to his chest. I laugh, but he’s dead serious, eyes locked on mine, as we start to dance.

Our friends gather around us, clapping and cheering.

The night wears on, and more and more guests take to the dance floor. Laughter, music, and clinking glasses fill the air.

As the night comes to a close, Rex pulls me close for one last dance, strong hands slipping around my waist. He nibbles my ear. “I hear some of your friends have been busy stocking our suite upstairs with provisions for our wedding night,” he rumbles. “One guess what that means.”

“I’m gonna go out on a limb and say they cleaned out Miss Candy’s sex shop,” I say.

Rex’s chest vibrates as he chuckles. “I’m looking forward to testing out each and every item we find on my wife.”

A shiver of pleasure races down my spine. “Heart-eyes for whatever my husband is thinking.”

He bends down and presses his lips to mine. I sigh as his kiss deepens, as my whole world melts into his embrace.