I wondered how upset Victor was going to be. I had just spilled the beans to my friend Rita that I am a sorrow eater and Victor is my guide; the one secret we were never supposed to share with anyone. On the flip side, Rita had just clued me in to the fact that she and her dead husband Mark were able to be together in some alternate plane when she sleeps. All this because Rita and I each thought the other already knew our secret. Beans spilled all over the place, metaphorically speaking. This would be a game changer for all of us.
I climbed the stairs of Rita’s house and headed for the nursery where Victor was painting. He was almost finished; the room was now a lovely pastel yellow; suitable for a girl or boy since Rita didn’t know the baby’s gender yet.
“Looks great.” I told him as I worked up my nerve. “Um, we have a bit of a situation.”
“Well, she certainly knows now.” I bit my lip, a nervous habit.
“Explain.” Victor looked concerned but not angry. I went on to tell him that my conversation with Rita had gone awry because we were each speaking of a different secret. His eyes grew wider and wider as I gave him the details of Rita’s secret. “Wow. It makes you wonder how many otherworldly things are going on all around us that we are unaware of. How is Rita taking it all?”
“She’s downstairs waiting eagerly to see us poof.” I laughed. Victor grinned. “Come on, let's go talk to her.”
We found Rita in the kitchen making sandwiches for lunch. She insisted on a poof demonstration before we all sat down at the table together.
“Are you sure you want to see this?” Victor asked with concern.
“Absolutely. I solemnly swear not to freak out.” Rita was holding up her right hand as though she were taking a sacred oath.
“Alright. I’m going to take Grace’s hand and we are just going to go from here to the other side of the room, ok?” Rita nodded eagerly. Victor took my hand in his and poofed us to the far side of the room. Rita clapped with glee; she wasn’t freaked out at all.
“Amazing! Can you poof with other people or only with Grace?”
“I don’t really know. I have never tried it with anyone else. No one else knows about what we do Rita. You can’t tell anyone. Well, except for Mark of course.”
“Victor, your secret is safe with me just as I know mine is safe with you.”
We all sat down at the table. Over lunch, Rita explained in detail about how visiting with Mark worked. Mark and Rita’s souls were bound together by marriage making the visits possible. The fact that they could touch and be together, that Mark was not some ghostly apparition was most amazing to me. Rita also explained that Mark could “tune in” to her at any time and could see and hear her as well as anyone else who was in her presence.
“Mark was watching when we all met for dinner. He was so happy to see you’ve found someone Grace.”
“Is he watching now?” I asked.
“Probably. I can hardly wait to see him tonight and discuss all this. I know all this stays between the four of us. I am SO glad to have you two to share this with.”
“It is a bit of a relief for me too.” I confessed.
After lunch, Victor finished up the painting in the nursery and assembled the crib. Rita was beyond grateful and tried to pay him, but he declined as I knew he would.
Having two assignments in one day is rare but two people on Victor’s sorrow radar had reached critical mass at the same time. Neither of them could wait. As soon as I finished relieving the first person of their sorrow, we poofed directly to the second. By the time it was all over, I was extremely weak. Victor looked near tears when he poofed us home and into our bed.
“I’m so sorry Grace. I know that was too much. It hurts me to see you hurting.”
“I’ll be alright but, I do need your help now.” My entire body felt like a limp noodle.
Victor wrapped his arms around me; his energy began to heal me immediately. I fell asleep and slept like the dead for ten hours straight. I woke to the smell of bacon wafting up the stairs. I took a quick shower and headed down to find Victor had cooked a huge breakfast.
“Hey! I make the breakfast around here.” I grinned as he handed me a much-needed cup of coffee.
“Not today you don’t.” Victor pulled a chair out for me, and I sat down at the table admiring the ridiculous amount of food in front of me. Coffee, juice, toast, eggs, bacon, hashbrowns and pancakes.
“Are you trying to fatten me up?” I asked as I dumped an unhealthy amount of syrup onto my pancakes.
“Just trying to take care of you. After yesterday, you deserve some extra TLC.”
Victor spent the entire day fussing over me. I was secretly relieved the following morning when he announced he was going to see his parents and didn’t invite me along. Some me time was just what I needed.
I called Rita to check in. She was excited to tell me Mark had indeed been tuned in during our conversation and was just as shocked to learn about Victor and me as we had been to learn of his visits with Rita. Mark had also asked Rita to convey his sincere appreciation to Victor for painting the nursery and building the crib.
“Mark said if he can’t be with me for the day-to-day stuff, he’s thankful for my village. Most of all he’s thankful for you and Victor because he knew it was hard for me not to have anyone else to talk to about our--- unconventional lifestyle.” Rita laughed and so did I. Unconventional was an understatement.
A few days later, I kissed Victor goodbye and headed off to a board meeting of the local historical preservation society. I was eager to talk to Norris Chandler. Norris, a fellow board member, knew everything there was to know about restoring old houses. I felt sure he would be able to help me find the right person to recreate the stained-glass window for Victor’s parents' house. Norris did not disappoint.
I pulled the picture of the window from my purse and showed it to Norris. His eyes lit up. “You’re in luck Grace.” He opened his day planner and flipped through a few pages. “I have an appointment next Tuesday afternoon with Jason Paul; he’s the guru of stained-glass. He’s going to help me with a project of my own. How would you like to come along with me and talk to him about your window project?”
“You don’t think he would mind?”
“Are you kidding? He lives for this sort of thing. I’ll let him know to expect us both. I’ll pick you up Tuesday at 1:30 if that works for you.”
“Perfect! Thank you, Norris.”
I was excited to share this news with Victor when I arrived home. I opened the front door and called to him.
“Victor? You home?” Getting no response, I went to check for a note which I found on the dining table. All the note said was “come upstairs”. I headed for the staircase and found the steps were covered in a trail of rose petals leading to our bedroom door. Intrigued, I followed the trail of petals and opened the door to the bedroom. The trail ended at the foot of the bed.
“Victor?” Still no answer. Then I noticed a small velvet pouch in the middle of the bed; a note beside the pouch said, “For Grace.” Lifting the pouch from the bed, I could tell there was something hard inside. I loosened the pouch strings and carefully poured its contents into my hand. A diamond ring with an ornate antique gold setting laid in the palm of my hand. I stared at it for a moment, dumbstruck.
“It was my grandmother’s engagement ring. Now I want it to be yours.” Victor was standing in the doorway of the bedroom watching me. I looked from the ring to him and back again.
Victor stepped into the room and stood next to me; he took the ring in one hand and my left hand in the other. My pulse raced.
“Marry me, Grace.” It was more of a demand than a question. Victor’s dark eyes were burning into me, he was a man on a mission. “Marry me so our souls will be bound together for eternity, and we will never have to be apart from each other no matter what happens.”
“Oh, crap.” My heart felt like it might explode, and my breath came in short shallow gasps.
“Crap still means yes, right?” Victors' eyes were locked on mine. “Tell me you want this too Grace.”
“Yes! Yes, Victor, this is what I want more than anything.”
A look of relief passed across Victor’s face as he slid the ring onto my finger; it fit perfectly. He cupped my face in his hands and pressed his forehead against mine. “I was so nervous you might say no. I love you so very much.”
“I love you too Victor.”
Victor kissed me, gently at first and then will building urgency. Our clothes were flung carelessly all over the room, he picked me up and placed me gently onto the bed. Victor made love to me in ways I could never have dreamed of; he set my whole body on fire with want and then satisfied my desires. This is what it feels like to be loved completely with no doubts, no reservations. This is what I want, with Victor, forever.
Afterward, we laid tangled up in each other, both satisfied and catching our breath.
“Are you sure the ring is, ok? We can get something different if you’d prefer.”
I held my left hand up to admire the ring. “Don’t even think about getting a different ring. This ring is perfect; the fact that it’s a family heirloom makes it even more special to me. It’s gorgeous and I love it.”
“I had a feeling you’d say that.” Victor smiled and played with my hair. “This is why I went to visit my parents the other day without you; I had to get the ring from them. They are thrilled, just so you know. I need to call them later and tell them I succeeded in convincing you to say yes. I had planned to propose at Christmas but, after learning what we did from Rita, I couldn’t wait that long.”
“It wasn’t a hard sale, Victor. I hope you know that. I wasn’t expecting this at all but, I could not be happier.”
“We do have one little problem.” Victor sighed.
“We do? What’s that?”
“I want to marry you right away. I don’t want to risk anything happening to either of us before our souls are bound. However, I am pretty sure if we don’t do the whole big wedding thing, my parents and probably your friends too, will never forgive us. “
“Oh, that’s not a problem.” I smiled, my wheels already turning with a solution.
“Not at all. We will go down to the courthouse ASAP and quietly get married. No one will know but our souls will be safely bound together. We can have the big ceremony later with all our friends and family. Everyone’s happy.”
“You would do that for me?” Victor looked amazed.
“I would do that for US, Victor. Nothing is more important than securing our future together.”
“Crap.” Victor said with a laugh.
“Every time I think I can’t possibly love you more--” He couldn’t finish the sentence because his lips were on mine.
“Rita! We need a favor, is it a good time for us to poof over?”
We needed a witness for our courthouse wedding and Rita was the perfect choice. We already knew she could keep our secrets.
“Coast is clear. Poof on over. I’m in the living room.”
Victor took my hand and we poofed into Rita's living room. “Hi guys! What’s the favor that you need?”
I shoved my left hand in front of Rita’s nose. “We need a witness for our secret courthouse wedding, someone we can trust not to tell anyone else that the big ceremony we have later isn’t the original. “
“Oh, Grace! That ring is amazing! I am so happy for you both! Obviously, you can count me in for the secret wedding.” She paused for a moment. “Um, is this a shotgun wedding? Is my little peanut getting a best friend?”
“Oh, Lord no!” I blurted out.
“I was planning to propose at Christmas, but after finding out about you and Mark, I knew I didn’t want to waste any time. I got my grandmother’s ring from my folks, and I asked Grace to marry me right away, to bind our souls together and, she said yes.” Victor explained.
“That’s beautiful.” Rita sniffled. “Sorry. Pregnancy hormones.” She wiped a tear from her eye. “So, when are we doing this? The sooner the better I’m guessing?”
“Are you free tomorrow morning?”
“You bet! Oh, I’m just so happy for you guys!” Rita was trying to fight back the water works but she was failing.
We decided to keep things casual for our secret wedding. I wore jeans and a white lacey peasant blouse. Victor wore jeans and a white button-down shirt. We picked Rita up on the way to the courthouse; she passed along Mark’s well wishes.
At the courthouse we paid the required fees and filled out the necessary forms. There were no other couples ahead of us, so the Magistrate called us quickly. With Rita and the little peanut in her belly in attendance, we exchanged simple vows. The whole thing was over in ten minutes. Rita cried quietly the entire time. The Magistrate pronounced us husband and wife; Victor and I sealed it with a kiss.
“Do you feel different?” Victor asked me as we walked with Rita back to the car. I thought for a moment before I replied.
“I do feel different. I feel—complete. I don’t really know how to explain it.”
Victor squeezed my hand. “You don’t have to explain it. I feel it too.”
We dropped Rita back at home with our profound thanks and a reminder that as far as everyone else knew, we had just gotten engaged and would be planning a wedding. She raised her right hand and solemnly swore to the secret pact.
When we got home, Victor insisted on carrying me over the threshold. He then carried me upstairs to our bedroom. It might be the middle of the day, but it was technically our honeymoon, and we were going to make the most of it.
“I can’t believe you are my wife.” The smile on Victor’s face reflected the joy I felt in my heart. “Our souls are bound. We belong to each other completely and forever. Are you happy?”
“Husband, I am beyond happy.”
“Say it again.” Victor said looking into my soul through the windows of my eyes.
“Husband--” I couldn’t finish the sentence because Victors lips were on mine.