Will You Marry Me? Chapter 9
“Where’s Derek?” Fran asked.
“I’m right here, Ma.”
Fran looked up and past Penelope watching her son walk up the long driveway.
“I think maybe the rest of us should wait inside and let Derek and Fran talk.” Dave suggested.
“No, stay right where you are, we might need witnesses.” Derek ordered.
Fran stood with her hands on her hips watching her son approach stopping next to his wife. Both never took their eyes off of each other. The fact that her son’s arm was in a full cast and a sling had no affect on the woman who’d taken a full week out of her life to plan the most amazing wedding the world had ever known.
Everyone stood holding their breaths waiting for the showdown to begin. Penelope instinctively grabbed Derek’s hand and squeezed it in an effort to calm him down.
“We may need more than witnesses! Fran began. “We may need law enforcement!”
“Bella…” Dave pulled his wife against him. “You two come in it’s almost time.”
“Time for what?” Derek asked shooting a puzzled glance at Penelope.”
And with that Fran turned and headed inside. Dumbfounded, Derek looked to the others for answers. Shrugging their shoulders they cowardly followed Fran inside.
“Wedding?” Derek and Penelope said in unison.
The house was beautiful. Exotic floral arrangements lined the walls creating a lush colorful path that lead toward the back of the house and out onto the patio and yard. Derek heard Penelope gasp as she struggled to take it all in. The ever-observant Derek, missed his mother’s nod toward JJ and Reid as the two accomplices moved to Penelope and Derek’s sides.
“Hurry along, we’re almost an hour behind schedule.” Fran instructed.
Reid gently placed a hand on Derek’s arm and began pulling him away. Morgan stiffened and refused to move.
“Wait, what’s going on? This was supposed to be a family meeting.”
“Derek, Handsome…stay calm…”
“No Garcia, I will not stay calm.”
“It is a, family meeting.” Fran began. “It’s your family meeting together to celebrate your nuptials.”
“Ma! You all haven’t spoken two words to Penelope and me for the last two weeks and now…this! We’re already married, MA!”
“Derek Elijah Morgan, you owe me a wedding! Do you know how long I’ve waited for you to find a woman that could make you happy? Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for some grand babies?”
“I’m not getting any younger!”
Derek followed the group into the house pulling Penelope along with him. It was breathtaking. He had to admit to himself that what he saw was overwhelming and even though Dave was far from a pauper, this had to have cost him a fortune. The oversized foyer was silent as everyone held their collective breaths while turning to watch Derek and Penelope’s reactions to it all.
“How long…” He began.
“A little over a week.” Fran answered proudly.
“I don’t understand…why you went to all of this trouble.”
Then he saw it, that look in her eyes and he knew why he’d never been able to say, no to her. He saw the nights that she’d stayed up worrying, crying and praying for him and his sisters. He saw the sacrifice she’d made to provide for her family. Then he saw the tears welling in her eyes; tears she was not above shedding if it got him to agree to her plans. He wrapped his good arm around Penelope’s waist and pulled her close not for her comfort but for his. He needed her warmth and reassurance that he would do the right thing.
“I’m sorry, Ma…I didn’t mean to…we didn’t mean to hurt you. We just wanted to be married and I guess I wasn’t thinking past what I wanted in that moment.”
Then Fran gently rubbed her hand down his arm lightly over his cast and smiled teary-eyed at her son. Then he saw what he’d never doubted…he saw the love she had for him, the fierce determination to do whatever life demanded of her for her children and he knew that like all the other times in his life he would not be able to refuse her now. He turned faced Penelope and smiled into the face of his present and his future and whispered a prayer of thanks for what God had blessed him with right there in that room.
“Baby Girl, do you remember when I was in the hospital and I asked you to marry me?”
“Yes, I remember, Hot Stuff.”
“Well, I think this is about as good of a time as any. What do you think?”
“I’m all for it if you are!”
Then pulling away from both her and his mother, Derek dropped to one knee and took Penelope’s hand in his. She gasped in surprise as if it were the first time. Tears pooled in her eyes as she waited excitedly for the question.
“I also told you that I’d marry you every day just to prove my love to you. So, Penelope Garcia Morgan will you do me the honors of being my wife again and for the rest of our lives?”
The room erupted in loud applause and for the next several minutes, hugs and kisses and apologies filled the space that only seconds ago was silent. Then like only she could do, Fran demanded silence and quickly they all complied.
“Oh, I almost forgot! I have a surprise for you both.”
Derek and Penelope looked around the room as the crowd parted like the Red Sea. Looks of shock spread across Derek and Penelope’s faces as the rest of their friends and family smiled with joy.
“It’s about damn time! I didn’t think you two would ever get it right!”
“EMILY!” Derek and Penelope screamed in unison.
Penelope rushed toward her friend pulling her into a tight bear hug. Everyone around watched and giggled realizing that Emily’s presence was like ointment to an open wound.
“What are you doing here?”
Penelope clung to her as she waited for a reply.
“Well, Dave called…and I hopped on a plane. I mean anything I can do to get you two out of trouble, I’m in.” She teased.
Derek patiently waited his turn and when his wife finally released Emily he pulled her tightly against his muscled-hard chest.
“Good to see you, Em. Really good.”
“Same here. I’ve missed you all.”
Fran, ever the party planner, checked her watch and took charge once again.
“Okay everyone, it’s getting late! Let’s get these two changed into more appropriate attire and then we can get this show on the road!”
JJ and Emily whisked Penelope away to a guest room upstairs and Reid and Hotch pulled Derek down the hallway toward another guest room.
An hour later the sound of wedding music was heard waffling throughout the large mansion. Penelope stood in front of a large antique full-length mirror admiring her reflection. The girls had managed to get inside her head and picked a dress that would have been her very own choice had she picked it herself. The eggshell white with antique lace hugged her frame perfectly. The something, old was a pair of antique diamond earrings that Fran had kept locked away for just an occasion as this. The something blue, was an emerald cut blue sapphire necklace. The size of the stone told her that it was worth far more than any piece of jewelry she’d ever bought for herself. Sarah stepped forward with a red velvet box in her extended hand. This was obviously, the something borrowed.
“Penelope, I thought perhaps this would work for today.”
Penelope looked down at the box.
“What is it?”
Penelope took the box and gasped in awe as she opened it.
“Oh my goodness, Sarah! It’s beautiful!”
“Our great grandmother, Esther Morgan passed this down to our father’s mother when she died. It’s been in our family for over one hundred years.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“My Grandmother wore it on her wedding day and my mother wore it on her wedding day to our father. We all agreed that we want you to wear it today.”
“But…I can’t…I’m not…”
“You are…you’re one of us now.” Sarah smiled as she removed the delicate pearl bracelet from the box. “Welcome to the family, Penelope.”
Penelope could feel her hand shaking as Sarah wrapped the bracelet around her wrist and closed the delicate clasp. A tear drifted down her face as she took in the magnitude and the meaning of her sister-in-law’s gesture.
“I don’t know what to say…thank you, thank you so much.”
“You are more than welcome. We love you, sister…all of us! Thank you for making our brother so happy. Thank you for saving his life!”
“If you don’t stop fidgeting we’ll never get this tie straight!”
“I can’t help it. Just hurry up!”
Reid continued to fuss with Derek’s tie while smirking at his nervous best friend.
“Besides it’s not like your not already married. This is just a formality to make your mother happy.”
“Not true, Pretty Boy. Every time I think about those vows and say those vows, I’m making a promise to Penelope. It’s like I’m saying them for the first time, you know?”
“Yeah I suppose.”
“Really! I don’t want to ever disappoint her. She’s my world and I’m so grateful that she’s chosen me to love. I’m afraid she’s going to wake up one day and fully regain her sanity and wonder what on earth she was thinking.”
“Not a chance, Derek. I’ve never seen anyone love another person like Garcia loves you. Don’t ask me why or how it’s even possible but when I see you two, then I know that love is really possible. Even after Maeve…I believe love is still possible.”
“Wow, you’re not getting emotional on me are you Pretty Boy?”
“Uh…no of course not.” He sniffled.
Derek pushed Reid’s hands away gently and finished his tie on his own. His friend was right, it didn’t make sense why a woman like Garcia would fall madly in love with a stubborn, broken and hard-headed man like him but she did and he vowed a long time ago to never take that love for granted.
After a few more tries Derek had gotten the tie just right and in silence the two examined Derek’s appearance in silence. Reid patted his friend on the back and smiled reassuringly. Then catching the younger man off guard, Derek grabbed him in a manly embrace. After a few seconds he pulled away and waited for Reid to compose himself enough to look up.
“You’re right you know.”
“Right about what?”
“Love is possible…even after Maeve.”
Nodding, the two headed toward the door.
Moments later, Derek stood at the far end of the yard under a beautiful flora-covered arch. He was nervous but with the exception of the first time he and Penelope had married, Derek had never been happier. To see his family and friends gathered behind him with hurt feelings put aside he waited with great anticipation for the woman of his dreams to walk down the aisle.
Penelope exhaled as she renewed her grip on Dave’s arm. At the end of the aisle was the man of her dreams. Derek had shown her what love felt like. He’d taken love beyond just the word and he’d become her safe place to fall and her hero. He’d always shy away whenever she would call him that not believing he had done anything special but Penelope knew that Derek was a rare find and he had taught her to believe in fairytales. As she drew closer she could see even through her tears that he was crying too.
Fran was beaming and the memory of the last two weeks had all but faded away as she listened to Derek and Penelope recite their vows. Fran had waited for nearly twelve years for her son to see what was right in front of his face and with each passing year her hopes of grandchildren faded. But now, in the presence of nearly forty witnesses her dreams of a wedding for her only son had finally come true.
The rest of the day was magical for both the bride and groom. Amazing food, wine and music accented a day of love and joy reminding everyone what was truly important. As Derek danced the first dance with his wife, he was more than willing to forget the last couple of weeks with his friends and family barely speaking and conspiring against them. It was all worth it to be able to dance with his bride in the middle of the large portable dance floor under the summer sky that was quickly morphing into a dark twilight. His mother had thought of everything as the sun descended over the ridge the amazing outdoor lighting illuminated the entire yard.
Derek pulled Penelope closer and leaned in to inhale the fragrance of her perfume. He couldn’t believe how lucky he was to have found love after all he had been through. She smiled up at him; that smile that made him believe that anything was possible.
“I love you, Mrs. Morgan.”
“I love you too, Mr. Morgan.”
“Some party, huh?”
“Hell yeah!” She giggled.
Penelope laid her head against his chest and danced in the comfort of the silence. He closed his eyes and so did she and things couldn’t have been better in that moment.
“So, are we going to ever tell them?” She asked.
“What, that we knew about the, surprise wedding?”
“Hell no! Besides, they should know Desi can’t keep a secret.”
And so as they danced the night away, they vowed in that moment to enjoy the rest of the night and to keep some things to themselves. Derek’s mother had gotten unspeakable joy from her plans and seeing her son marry the woman of his dreams and in some crazy way he believed he owed her for all she had done for him and their family. So with a swift dip of his wife and a passionate kiss on her lips, Derek twirled them away to a quiet corner of the yard for a little alone time.
“Are you happy, Bella?” Dave whispered in her ear.
“Yes Honey, I’m happy.”
“Good.” Dave planted a kiss behind her ear and relished in the moment of watching his family and friends.
“So are we ever going to tell them?”
“What, that we knew that they knew about the wedding?” She asked.
“Hell no! After Desi’s tearful confession, how could I? Besides, I should have known never to trust that girl with a secret.”
Dave kissed her again, this time on the back of her neck. She relaxed against his chest and watched the festivities before them.
“Dance with me.” He whispered in her ear.
“Why David Rossi, I thought you’d never ask.”
Dave and Fran joined the other happy guests on the dance floor and as they danced they decided in that moment to enjoy the rest of the evening and to keep some things to themselves. After all, her son had found and married the woman that owned his heart and had saved him from a life of sadness and despair and in the end that’s all that really mattered.
“A secret’s worth depends on the people from whom it must be kept.” – Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind
(Or maybe it’s just the beginning!)