Happiness. This is as simple as she can put it. Happiness in its truest form. It shouldn’t feel this real or this beautiful but it does. In two days it does, and it might be a new feeling, but she believes this will last a life time, each feeling better than the last. This happiness warms her heart. Bella looks over to Kaiser’s side of the bed, he left to get them coffee and breakfast from a local café. She looks down at her hand, her third left finger, the little white cloth conceals the tattoo as it heals. She gives it a little rob, knowing what lay beneath. Happiness.
‘Would you like to stay with me?’ Bella asked Kaiser as they stood outside her door. His bedroom was down the hall from hers, on the same floor. All through the flight they talked, she forgot to work or check her emails, none of that mattered, they were lost in their own world despite the excitement all around them. And when they landed in Nice, it felt like they’d known each other a life time.
‘I’d love to.’ Kaiser was going to ask her to stay with him if she didn’t ask him. He was drawn to her.
They were drawn to each other.
For Bella it was easy to talk to Kaiser, it often is that way with strangers, when you feel as if you can tell them anything because you are never going to see them again, but with Kaiser it was different; freeing. She told him all about her paper, how she began and the recent troubles, told him all about her sisters, their close relationship. She felt comfortable being herself around him, and it was easy to let loose and talk this stuff on her mind away, to someone who was willing to listen, actively listen, to her. He did not offer any solutions to her problems, he did not treat her like some little woman who needed the help of a man to solve her problems, he did not try to fix her, rather, he listened and in the end simply asked her, ‘what do you want to do about this?’
He told her about his family, his brothers, and the death of his father. His work; the family construction business they owned, the one his father started out at as a teenager, the love between his parents. They disembarked the flight different people than they boarded.
Even Ari noticed. She’d been right when she told Kaiser she found the perfect woman for him. Her friend laughed her off at the time, didn’t take her seriously but she knew, just knew, that she was right. Kaiser and Bella would make a lovely couple, there was something about them and she knew they would hit it off the second they met. Which is exactly what happened.
‘Looks like we should be planning another wedding soon.’ She’d said to Ben as they got off the plane.
Ben looked over at Kaiser, he had his arms around Bella’s shoulders, there was an ease about him, as if he was hanging with his best friend but in the same vein it was intimate too. He laughed a little, ‘looks like.’
After waving off the happy couple Kaiser turned to Bella and said, ‘let’s go for a walk?’
‘Sure.’ She answered.
They walked a while in the beautiful old town of Aix en Provence, where their friends exchanged their vows. It was a beautiful ceremony, there were tears and laughter, and joy and happiness. And then there was the feeling after the show, guests mingled with each other, enjoyed the feeling of love left behind by the happy couple. As they drifted away from the crowd, deeper into the beautiful town, Bella sensed his unease. Too soon?
‘What’s the matter?’ They stopped outside an old church and sat on the steps.
Kaiser looked at her, ‘today was hard.’
‘It’s a year ago to the day my dad died. The first year and it’s really hard. I didn’t think it would be this hard.’ Kaiser leaned back on his elbows, all day he’d kept it together but now…
‘I’m sorry about that.’
Kaiser told her how close he and his father were. He died suddenly in his sleep and it had been a shock to the family. He has two older brothers and they run the family construction business now, and take care of their mother. His brothers are married with children and families of their own, so he moved back to the family home in East Sheen, to take care of their mother. It felt as if his life had been on hold since his father passed.
‘Come on.’ Bella held out her hand to him and he took it.
Together they walked into the church, she turned to him and asked, ‘do you pray?’
‘I stopped the day my dad died.’
‘Now is as good a time as any to start. Let’s say a prayer for your dad.’
They sat in the back of the empty church, and in the quiet both said a prayer for the dead, resting his soul in peace. Kaiser felt a calmness he’d longed for since this day last year, it was hard to put into words but it felt as if his father placed his hand on his should, willing him to know he was okay. It was a good feeling.
He turned to Bella and said, ‘let’s make a new memory.’
‘Will you marry me?’
‘Yes.’ She didn’t have to think about it, it was possibly the most honest answer she could’ve given to any question. She felt something for Kaiser, much bigger than she could fathom, the connection was there, it was strong and real and love. She has been in love before but not like this, it felt like the rest of her life was riding on this night, like her life was leading her up to this moment.
Kaiser took her hand and led them to the alter of the empty church, each held a candle and lit one together, as a symbol of unity and said their vows:
Kaiser: ‘I love you. I will love you always and forever. Till death do us part.’
Bella: ‘For richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, I will love you always.’
A priest walks out to the alter, possibly to shut the church for the night, he paused when he saw the couple. ‘désolé nous sommes sur le point de fermer pour la soirée’
‘Oui, Oui. père pouvez-vous s’il vous plaît bénir notre marriage?’ Bella asked.
The priest observed the young couple who stood before him, there was no wedding rings but they looked very much together. Maybe it was the spirit of the season or something else, he acquiesced and asked them to kneel; he said a little prayer and blessed them before bidding them a good and long happy life together.
When they stepped out of the church they turned to each other, and kissed. Their first kiss as a married couple. The rest of their lives. They walked back to the hotel, holding hands and not saying much, just exchanging silly glances at each other, they walked past a tattoo palour and stopped, both had the same idea. The parlour was open. A half hour later they came out with their tattoos, the date of their wedding tattooed on the wedding band finger. When they arrived at the hotel, they checked out, hopped into Kaiser’s rental car and he drove further south.
Sloane touched down in Nice at 6am. She is met by a handler who sees her through security before handing her off to a waiting chauffeur. All arrange by Fitz. She didn’t call her sisters to tell them anything, one less drama to deal with.
Bella is just getting out of the shower when she heard the knock on her door; Kaiser probably left his key. She ties her robe around her and pads her way to answer the door.
‘What the fuck do you think you’re playing at!?’
Holy fuck. Sloane, a very angry Sloane is here. FUCK!