I stared ahead, not making eye contact with any of the guests because I was too terrified I would cry as I listened to Archie’s words.
“You came to us in the unhappiest of circumstances, Sarah, but you got us through. We lost a daughter, our only child, but we gained two of the bravest, most amazing people to walk this earth.” I turned my head to watch as Archie paused and took a sip from his whiskey tumbler before he continued, “You filled our house with light and laughter as well as that incessant crap that you call music. Kylie, Bros, and that bloody American boy band you had posters of plastered all over the walls.”
He turned and looked from Sarah to Luke. “What was their name? New Boys Up The Street, or something like that?” That gained him a laugh from our guests, and I gave Sarah’s hand a small squeeze.
“You would sing, you would dance, you would make poor Luke part of the show, forcing the rest of us and the dog, even those rabbits you had, Joey and Donnie, was it? Stupidest names for rabbits I’ve ever bloody heard, especially as they were girls! Anyway, you would force all of us to sit there and be your audience, and we loved every minute of it.”
He takes another sip of his drink and looks down at the table for a while.
“You will always be my Sarah Sunshine, and I know that I speak for your nan too, when I say that we couldn’t be more proud of the beautiful woman you’ve become. I feel so very honoured to have played a part in raising you, and even though I now gladly hand you over to Liam so that you can begin this new chapter in your life, I want you to always know that my heart, and my door, will forever be open to you. To Liam and Sarah.”
He raised his glass towards us, and everyone else did the same. I sipped my champagne and then finally turned towards my wife. I knew she’d be crying. I just wasn’t expecting her to be doing it with such a big smile on her face.
I leaned in and kissed her. She was probably getting sick of it. I had not been able to keep my lips, hands, or eyes off her all day. She looked stunning, and she was all fucking mine.
“I love you so fucking much, Mrs Delaney,” I told her with my mouth pressed against her ear.
She blushed and smiled big enough that her one dimple appeared. Squeezing my hand, she angled her face towards me. One lonely tear hung from her long, dark lashes, and when she blinked, it relinquished its hold and landed on her cheek.
“I think this is the happiest day of my life so far. Thank you for making me your wife.”
“Jesus, Sarah,” I croaked out around a lump the size of Queensland that was lodged in my throat most of the day. I pulled numerous faces and swallowed a number of times, trying to get my emotions in check and not sit at the table and cry in front of everyone.
“Thanks, Pops. I’ll keep this short and sweet, much like my sister.”
Luke’s voice interrupted our exchange, and we both turned towards him without untwining our joined hands.
“Sarah, what can I say? When I picked this Aussie Bogan up in a bar in Sydney, the very last outcome I imagined was this. Is ‘sorry’ the word I’m looking for?”
I chewed nervously on my bottom lip, sat back, and draped my arm around the back of Sarah’s chair. I really had no idea where he was going with this.
“A chance meeting and a few colourful words exchanged over a rugby match and a friendship was forged. Liam, you’ve been like a brother to me pretty much since that night, and now you’re married to my little sister, officially making you a part of our family and so much more than just a business partner.”
I watched as my mate set down the notes he had in his hand, scratched at the stubble that had started to appear on his jaw, and looked around the room.
“I love you, man, and now that I’ve gotten used to the idea, I couldn’t be happier that it’s you Sarah has decided to share her life with—”
He steered his gaze to meet mine, his hard cold stare anchoring me to my seat.
“But never forget this—I love her more. Sarah is the most important thing in my life, above and beyond anything else.”
He winked and gave me a slight smile and a head tilt. “You keep her safe, you make her happy, and you and me will never have a problem.”
He raised his glass to an absolutely silent room. “To Liam and Sarah.”
I cleared my throat and stood with shaky legs.
“Thanks, Luke. I think.” Turning, I reached across Archie and my mum and held out my hand to Luke. He shook it. I cleared my throat again and began what I had been rehearsing for weeks.