“Mornin’,” Deputy Carl Knight placed his Stetson on the corner of the Sheriff’s desk.
“Is it still?” Sheriff Truett Price didn’t lift his eyes from the report in his hand.
“Don’t be like that. I had to stop by Lacey’s and get gifts for Shell and Randi.”
“For what?” Truett’s attention remained focused on the paper in front of him.
“Uh, Valentine’s Day? You didn’t forget, did you?”
“Good Morning, All. Lacey said tell everybody she opened an hour early and is stayin’ open late for those last minute Valentines.” Young flung his lean, lanky body on the leather sofa facing Truett’s desk.
“Is that today?” Truett finally looked up at the two men in his office.
“If you mean Valentine’s Day, then yes. It’s today.” Chase Johnson filled the entire doorway of the office. “You guys have lunch plans?”
“Aw heck, Chase. I’ll be your Valentine. You don’t have to take me to lunch, Buddy. Flowers might be nice though.” Young grinned at the large man who was not only his next in command at the fire station, but also his best friend.
“Yeah. Think I’ll pass on that kind offer, Young. Seriously, if any of you can make it over to the church around one, Pastor Tim is going to reunite me and Annie in holy matrimony this afternoon.”
That got Truett’s attention. All three men stood to shake Chase’s hand and pat him on the back.
“No way, man! That’s awesome.” Truett was the first to congratulate the blushing man in his doorway, also Truett’s brother-in-law.
“That’s great, Chase. I’m happy for you and Annie.” Carl, the more effusive of the masculine quartet, pulled Chase into a bear hug.
“True love wins every time! Way to go, Brother. I know this is God’s plan for you and Annie.” Young had been praying for the couple since Annie had come back into Chase’s life two months ago. The peace that had come over Chase since Annie coming to town was remarkable.
“Yeah, it is. You ever gonna get to the altar with Lacey?” Chase was uncustomarily grinning.
“If she wasn’t plannin’ a royal weddin’, we’d of beat you there a year ago.” It was no secret that Young had been in love with Lacey since the day he first saw her at an ATM drive through and had proposed to her only weeks later; but, Lacey was planning a wedding extravaganza to rival any the British crown had ever thrown.
“So wait, tell us about the ceremony today. Do Katie and Shell know about this?” Truett had returned to his office chair.
“I don’t think so yet. Annie was going to call Katie this morning and see if she would stand up with us. If you’re available, I’d appreciate the two of you standin’ with us.”
“You know I will and Katie will be thrilled for you both.”
“Shell will be over the moon that Annie is going to stay around. She’s hoping Annie will make that equine therapy class she’s been teaching at Double J a permanent program.” Carl perched next to his hat on the corner of Truett’s desk.
“Yeah, I think that class is a big part of why Annie’s willing to give up competing in rodeo.” Chase stepped aside to make room for Dixie Johnson, Administrative Deputy, to enter the room with more reports for Truett’s signature.
“What’s going on? You all look too happy and that makes me nervous. Truett, sign these and I’m leaving at noon. Harlan and I are going away for the weekend.”
“You and Harlan might want to wait and leave a little later this afternoon. Chase and Annie are getting re-married at one over at the church.” Truett loved it when on the rare occasion he knew something before Dixie.
“WHAT??? Lord have mercy!! Congratulations you big, red mountain! I’m so happy for you two. One today? I hadn’t heard a thing. Does Truvie know? Who’s plannin’ everything? Alma and Paul are on another cruise! Is Lacey decoratin’ the church? I saw her this mornin’ and she didn’t say a thing!”
“Breathe, Dixie, ‘fore we have to get the oxygen off the truck. I believe it’s fresh news for all of us.” Young stood up and hugged the feisty woman who mothered all of them like a hen with her chicks.
“No, Ma’am. We just decided last night after our last counseling session with Pastor Tim. It’s real low key. We had a wedding outside Fort Worth the first time. Pastor Tim is just gonna marry us in his office. I mean, technically, we’re still married legally. This wedding is for us to include God.” Chase was worrying he’d opened a can of worms Annie wouldn’t want open.
“And you’re gonna have a wedding this time too! Let me go, Young. I got calls to make!” Young released his grip on Dixie with a swift kiss to the older woman’s cheek.
“Now don’t go overdoin’, Miss Dixie. Annie doesn’t want a big fuss. To be honest, it’s kinda embarrassin’ to be doin’ this again and all.” Chase’s words fell on deaf ears. Dixie was on a mission.
One in the afternoon found Chase, Annie, Katie and Truett standing in front of Pastor Tim Richman in his office at the First Baptist Church of Evansville. Carl and Shell Knight, Young Knight and Lacey Stanton filled the back half of the office. Lacey had brought over flowers, bows and a few decorations from her gift shop. Shell had weaved some flowers into Annie’s hair and after much insistence from her new sister-in-law, Annie wore Katie’s wedding dress. JT and Annakat, Truett and Katie’s twins, had contributed a paper rose bouquet.
Pastor Tim spoke the words of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, reminding the couple that love is indeed patient and kind as they had already proven. The couple joined hands to hold the flame to the union candle inviting God to be in the center of their marriage. As Pastor Tim proclaimed their joining together and challenged no man to ever put it asunder, every eye in the room filled with tears of joy.
Afterwards they all walked down the street to Sam and Truvie’s diner where a special celebration lunch had been quickly prepared with loving hands for the two people they had all come to cherish in the past months.
Over cake and ginger ale punch the expanding family compared their plans for their own Valentine celebrations that evening, at least what they were willing to share. Dixie and Harlan were going to Austin to spend the three-day weekend at a new hotel and spa.
Sam and Truvie were closing early and heading up to Lake City for reservations at a fancy Italian restaurant Truvie had been wanting to try and a late movie.
Shell and Carl were taking toddler Randi and going to a Valentine Moonlight Bowl-a-Thon with Deputy Mac McClain and his large family. Mac’s kids doted on having baby girl Randi to spoil.
Young and Lacey were staying in for the evening ostensibly saving money for the out-of-control upcoming nuptials. Lacey was making a special meal but Young had a pretty pricey sparkly to add to Lacey’s trousseau he’d surprise her with. That girl loves jewelry, he’d explained quietly out of Lacey’s earshot.
Truett hadn’t forgotten Valentine’s Day at all. He’d arranged for Lacey’s Aunt Emily to come stay with the twins while he drove Katie out to the pasture for a truck bed picnic Emily had also prepared. Truett thought Katie would love the reminder of their wedding night and all the date nights they’d spent there. ‘Course, he’d have to help her up there given she was expecting their third child soon.
And the newlyweds? Glenda had that well under control at Emily’s Bed & Breakfast. She’d worked all morning getting a honeymoon suite ready with fresh flowers, chocolates, scented potpourri, fluffy pillows and soft linens. An ice chest with fruit, sandwiches, water and juice was in a corner of the room and she had sprinkled rose petals on the antique quilt covering the bed.
As they all offered last minute well wishes and congratulations and walked out of the diner, Katie turned to Truett. “Hey, did you notice that lady in the hallway as we left the church? I saw her Sunday helping Pastor Tim set up the sanctuary and I think she was walking with him after church maybe to lunch.”
“I did. Her name is Jane Treadway and she’s moving here from Kansas to work at the library since the new research expansion.”
“Really? Well wouldn’t that be nice? Pastor Tim and Miss Jane. He’s been alone so long. I hope it works out.”
“You plannin’ on ‘helpin’ that work out just in case Cupid’s arrow misses the mark?” Truett tucked Katie’s arm under his and squeezed her hand.
“Well, it IS Valentine’s Day,” Katie smiled.
Be sure to check out Sam’s Hurry Up Never Fail Cake recipe for those last minute celebrations!