AN: This is it, my friends, the final installment of Family Matters. See the end for a few more notes! Kayli
It wouldn't have been wedding day in the Peterson house without disaster lurking around every corner. Parker managed to spill apple juice on her dress first thing in the morning. Once again, Jason came to the rescue and got the stain right out, but I thought both Mom and Parker were going to burst into tears. Dan was so distracted during breakfast that he completely blackened one side of the French toast he'd made before realizing it was burning. The hot water stopped working entirely by the second shower that needed to be taken, so Mom, Jason, Parker and I all had freezing cold water to clean ourselves with. On top of all that, the tow truck couldn't get Jason's car out of the snow because it was almost buried entirely by the time they got to it early in the morning.
The house was full of tense silence. It appeared that Mom and Dan were going through with the wedding, but neither was willing to take the fault for their fight. Jason wasn't actually even looking at me, much less talking. Luckily everyone was so caught up in their own problems that they didn't really notice anyone else's.
We left for church at ten o'clock, all amazed how the roads had magically become snow-less overnight. The drive was quick, with both my eyes and Jason's widening at the bit of his car that was still visible as we drove past it. Normally I would have joked, but we definitely weren't on those terms anymore.
No one said a thing as we got to the church. I practically bolted from the car and towards the bridal room. I was sure that I was thinking the same thing that everyone else was. How on earth were we going to be a family if we couldn't talk to each other on what was supposed to be the happiest day of my mom and Dan's lives?
"I said I was sorry!" Parker broke the silence.
All four of us looked at her in bewilderment.
"Sorry about what, honey?" Mom asked, her voice soft.
"The dress! I really didn't mean to spill anything on it again!" She looked so upset that it broke my heart.
And it broke my resolve to stay upset myself.
"Again," I said quietly and my shoulders started to shake.
"Lisey, don't cry! I really, really didn't mean to!" Parker launched herself at me.
But I wasn't crying. I was laughing. For the second time in about twelve hours, I was laughing harder than I could ever remember.
Mom and Dan raised their bewildered eyes to me and if it was possible, I giggled even more.
"This isn't funny, Lisey!" Parker backed away from me, her hands rested on her hips.
"Honey, we're not mad about the dress," my mom told her.
"Then what's wrong?!"
She shook her head, turning to Dan when she said, "I don't even know anymore." A smile played on her lips and she launched herself at Dan much in the way Parker had just done to me.
"I'm sorry. There was no reason for me to get upset like I did," my mom apologized.
Dan smiled and kissed her temple, "I know. We were both just a bundle of nerves."
Meanwhile, I was still giggling, though more to myself than anyone else.
"Again," my mom repeated my earlier words and was also immediately immersed in the same giggles I was in.
"I agree with you, Parker, I don't see what's that funny, either," Jason told her.
"Oh, you," I pushed his shoulder playfully, "Be mad at me later," I whispered. "Look at them."
Mom and Dan were giggling like schoolchildren, wrapped around each other like teenagers. They were so in love, every aspect of their body language, their facial expressions, their words showed it. It was a truly beautiful thing.
"What about them?" He said, his voice still as cold as it was the night before.
"If you don't see it, Jase, I can't help you." I leaned against him lightly and he let me. "It's hard, so hard, but if you can't allow your dad to move on and be happy, you're never going to be that way either."
"Alright, girls… ready to get beautiful?" Mom took me by the arm and Parker by the hand and we walked into the church, knowing we were going to leave different people—and that was finally okay with me.
With Parker flouncing around once more in her dress, drink-free this time, Mom cornered me once again.
"You and Jason have to be the most difficult people to read," she said nonchalantly.
"Oh yeah?" I replied. I knew she wanted me to open up and I wasn't objected to it, but this was her day. My problems were even the last thing on my mind. I didn't want them to be a blip on hers.
"Yeah," she continued, "I think things are going great and then the next minute, you two aren't speaking."
"Alise, you don't have to do this. I'm your mother. I want to talk to you. I want you to talk to me. No more secrets. I don't want to screw anything else up."
"Mom," I curled the last bit of my hair, "Jason and I are fine…" I bit my lip worriedly. "Well, we always end up fine." I looked at her, my resolve crumbling again. "I'm not so sure this time."
"Lisey," Parker interjected before my mom could say anything, "Jason really likes you. He tells me sometimes, when he thinks I'm sleeping."
"What?!" Mom and I both said incredulously.
"He comes and says g'night and stays when I want him to… when I miss Daddy. Sometimes he's like Daddy. Last night Jasey told me—"
"Jasey?" I snorted.
"Oops! Don't tell him I said that. He told me I could call him that if I promised not to tell anyone. But he told me that you drive him crazy, but he can't help but—"
"Ready, ladies?" Pastor Dave called from the other side of the door.
"Almost!" My mom put the final touches on my makeup. "You look amazing, honey. Both of you do." Mom hugged me tight. "Listen to your sister. She's young, but she's smart. Jason won't let you go. And even if he gets stubborn enough to think he could, show him otherwise." She hugged Parker close and whispered words of encouragement to her.
"Go," she pushed us out the door, "I'll be out in a minute."
The wedding had begun. I watched Parker, a pro-flower girl, walk down the aisle followed closely by Jason's second cousin Paul, the nervous ring bearer.
I hadn't even noticed Jason's presence until I felt a pair of eyes on me. "Lise…" he finally said, his voice sounding squeaky. He cleared his throat, the color of his face resembling the wine red bow tie he wore around his neck. He looked absolutely stunning. His black hair was spiked and his blue eyes were brighter than ever. He was glowing and I couldn't figure out why.
"Wow," I said without realization and could feel myself blushing as well.
"You look… you're…" he stuttered, then smiled, "What you said."
We stared at each other, an awkward sort of silence settling between us. I didn't know what to say, but I didn't want to move. I couldn't move. I felt like I was bolted to the spot.
He made no effort to move either, refusing to take his eyes off me. I could feel his gaze burning into my skin. I was starting to feel really warm.
"Lise," he stepped closer, hesitantly, "I really, really want to—"
"Jason!" a voice hissed from the chapel.
People had turned around to look our way, apparently wondering what was taking so long for us to come down the aisle. Dan seemed somewhere between furious and amused, and everyone else in the chapel seemed confused. I can't say I blame them. Jason and I were in very close proximity, both slightly flushed, his hand hovering in midair, ready to cup my cheek in his hand, but he hadn't gotten that far. I pushed the hand down and took his arm and we made our way down the aisle quickly, both of us redder than we were before.
There was some hushed whispering as we passed, but I found that I didn't care at all. These people could think whatever they want. All I knew was that I wanted nothing more than for Jason to finish what he was about to say. We separated at the altar, he next to his father, me next to my aunt. I smiled reassuringly at Parker, who grinned widely.
She's way too perceptive, I thought, feeling myself blushing yet again.
My eyes immediately went to the door when the music changed and everyone rose to get a better view. My mother smiled at me from the entrance to the chapel, her arm wrapped tightly in her father's. She looked so beautiful that it was almost hard to look directly at her. Her smile never faded as she walked down the aisle, mouthed 'I love you' to Dan. It never faded as they recited their vows (Dan's were absolutely amazing; I wondered if he had been up all night writing them).
I found myself watching Jason more than our parents. He seemed entranced by their vows, so entranced that he didn't acknowledge my eyes on him. As our parents said their "I do's," a small smile played on his lips, and I knew he finally saw what Mom and Dan were trying to get us to see for months now—they really loved each other. No matter what the circumstances were involving the beginning of their relationship, this was love.
The reception was held at a country club on Lake Francis. The frozen lake reflected the full moon, lighting the night unimaginably bright. It was chilly; guests were huddling together to get into the club, but paused, gazing in wonderment at the beauty before them. The wind was still and pure silence swept over us all. This was beautiful. I wondered if this was a gift for my mom and Dan.
Then I wondered if I could pretend I had something to do with it to get out of my toast.
No one told me this maid-of-honor business came with a public speaking gig. Had they, I probably would have turned my mother down. I couldn't think of anything to say. How could I possibly sum up what my mother and Dan had? How could I say anything and feel that I was staying true and loyal to my father? What was my mom thinking when she gave me this job?
Jason seemed totally prepared. He was laid-back, greeting guests warmly. I couldn't even look at anyone. I was going over in my head what I was going to say. Nothing seemed to fit. I didn't want to make an idiot out of myself at my mom's wedding—again.
I saw Liz and Sam for the first time in what seemed like weeks. They were very warm towards me, something I hadn't been expecting at all. I wondered if weddings made everyone happier. Sam brought Jack as a date—they were so comfortable that they might have been dating—but she was eyeing Jason with an interested glare all night. I immediately felt uncomfortable around her, but I couldn't keep pretending there was nothing between me and Jason, could I? I had to at least tell her what had already happened, right?
After the toast, I thought, if you make it alive, then you'll tell her.
Dinner was amazing. The replacement caterers Jason and I found made some of the best dishes I had ever had. It wasn't the usually chicken or steak meal either. There were pastas and fish and lamb and it was superb. I made a note to remember them if I ever married.
Mom'll be my maid-of-honor so she understands the crap she's putting me through, I thought evilly, feeling suddenly much better.
Too soon, the toasting time approached. Jason started and I suddenly wished the floor would just swallow me up. He was so damn eloquent! Stories about life and his family before my mom and how much of a difference having my mom, Parker, and me around made. It was a beautiful speech. My mom was tearing up. I thought about making a run for it, but Jason's hand was on my arm before I could get up.
I stood and looked around, the deer-in-the-headlights look so pronounced on my face that some people snickered. I scowled and began.
"I think my mom asked me to be her maid-of-honor just so I'd make a fool out of myself," I grumbled and some people laughed, my mom the loudest.
"When Mom told me about her relationship with Dan, I was the last person in the world that wanted to hear about it." I glanced at my mom and she seemed very unsure about what I was saying.
Ha, I thought, you have no idea how unsure!
"How could anyone ever replace my father? But before I could protest, me and Parker and Mom moved in with Dan and Jason. And at first, I hated it. But Jason ended up being this amazing person, something I never would've known without moving in with him. Sometimes he doesn't like being nice." I smirked at him and he laughed. "And then, after some time, I realized that Dan didn't have to replace my dad. He was like another Dad… he's my Dan." A few people chuckled. "My mom and Dan are a perfect example of second chances. Of another chance to get things right, another chance to fall in love. And is there anyone in this room that loves each other more?" I asked, then raised my glass, "to Marjorie and Dan."
Glasses clinked together and my toast seemed well-taken. So after the clinking stopped, I couldn't resist.
"And Mom?" I said, watching her as she brushed tears from the corner of her eyes.
"I totally winged that."
Everyone that had been at the rehearsal dinner burst into laughter, Dan especially. He winked at me before turning to his bride. "I love this woman…"
Speeches and toasts went on forever. I felt like my hand had molded to the shape of my face by the fifth one. I glanced at Jason who seemed to be just as bored as I was. I giggled and disappeared to find Sam and Liz. I made a promise to myself—I was going to tell her.
I found her sitting in Jack's lap, talking animatedly to Liz.
"Hey," Liz smiled as I approached, "Great toast."
"Thanks," I grinned, "Went better than I thought." I turned to Sam. "There's something I need to talk to you about." I grabbed her hand and dragged her away so we could talk in silence.
I told her everything I felt safe saying. I left out the carnival date and how he was pretty much using her for revenge. I left out any excess information that would hurt her. We might not have gotten along all the time, but she was still one of my best friends and the last thing I wanted to do was hurt her.
She just smiled at me when I finished, "Lise, I know."
"You know?" I said slowly. "Who…?"
"No one. I sorta figured it out on my own. And it kinda sucks a little, but things would never work out with me and Jase…one of us should get him, right?"
"I don't know where things are with me and him right now," I admitted.
Her eyes brightened, "Where do you want it to be?"
"I don't know," I said. "I thought I was going to be okay just being friends—or siblings—or whatever the hell we are, but today…"
"At the ceremony?"
I nodded, "I wanted him to kiss me so bad. I was practically screaming for it. And now I don't know where we stand or what to do or anything. I just want us to go somewhere, I guess."
"How about outside?" I heard Jason say from behind me. "I'd like to talk to you, if that's okay."
My jaw dropped and I playfully slapped Sam on the arm, "You knew he was there the whole time, you horrible person!"
She laughed and leaned close, her hazel eyes gleaming. "You let him go," she whispered, "and he's fair game again."
I smiled at her, knowing she was only half-joking. He was like a drug to her, I knew that by now. I wondered if she'd ever be able to completely let go. I found that it didn't matter too much to me as Jason gently took my arm. We went through the doors to the balcony overlooking the lake. I rested my elbows on the ledge, marveling in how beautiful it was.
Neither of us spoke for a while. I was gazing out in wonder at the gorgeous sight nature had created. It took me a while to realize that he was looking at me.
"We aren't talking, you know," I teased, rubbing my arms.
Jason wrapped his tux jacket around my shoulders and rubbed my arms from behind. His lips were so close to my neck that I could feel his breath. I leaned against him and he wrapped his arms around my waist. I could feel his heart beating wildly.
"What's on your mind?" I tried again.
"You," he said softly after some hesitation. "Always you."
I couldn't stop the smile from spreading across my lips. "What did you want to say to me earlier?"
He shifted suddenly, his heart beat accelerating even faster. "What?"
"Oh, Jase," I said, my voice light, "You're being entirely too difficult." I spun around to face him. "I doubt there is anything you could say to me that would hurt me. I doubt there's anything you could do that I would object to." I said after a moment's pause.
He was still silent and displaying the same look I'm sure was on my face during my toast. Jason wasn't like this—he was a lot of things, but nervous wasn't one of them.
And suddenly, I was worried. What if this wasn't about us finally making a decision to be together? What if this was him telling me that it would never work? He couldn't do that! Not now that I finally figured out what I wanted from him.
Oh, God, I thought, I am such an idiot! I just assumed—
"Stop," he said.
"Stop what?" my voice came out sounding much more panicked than I had hoped for.
"Stop thinking what you're thinking. I'm trying to work up the courage to tell you I'm in love with you and I don't need your panicky face trying to ruin that."
I just stared at him, my mouth half open, trying to discern what he just said. In love… with me? No way. He's a—
And before I knew what was happening, he was kissing me. It took me a second to react, my mind still reeling with what he'd just admitted. Before long though, my mind stopped working all together. All I could feel were his lips on mine, his fingers untangling the curls in my hair, his hand on the small of my back.
Finally, we pulled apart. He looked at me, a huge smile on his face. "You know, we're going to have to work on your thinking. You do it way too much."
I smiled, "Well, there is a way to make me stop…"
He didn't need to be told twice. He kissed me again, this time a bit more hungrily, and I returned it with the same passion.
"You did just tell me you loved me, right?" I said as we pulled away.
"What? Hmm? I don't seem to recall that," he teased.
"Recall this?" I kissed him again.
"That," he said when we pulled apart, "I definitely recall." He looked at me for a moment, seemingly taking in every inch of me. "Yes, I love you, Lise."
I leaned against him, "I love you too."
The reception went on for hours and I danced the night away, mostly with Liz and Sam since Jason wasn't much of a dancer. Jack and Jason seemed to be trying to patch up their friendship since there definitely wasn't much of a reason to be angry with each other anymore. They'd finally gotten the right girls, I noticed, as Sam and I waved simultaneously to them. Liz just rolled her eyes. "They turn you two into complete idiots."
"You just wait, Lizzie," Sam said, "You will find someone that turns you into just as big of idiots as we are. Just you wait."
Slow songs had come and gone and I had danced with Dan, my grandpa, Jason's second cousin Paul, the nervous ring bearer, Pastor Dave, and even Sam before Jason had the guts to ask me.
"Would you like to dance?" he asked as I was already dragging him off to the dance floor. Sam and Jack were dancing on my right, Liz and Parker on my left, Mom and Dan a few feet away. It was unbelievable to be surrounded by all these people I cared so much about.
"They'll never last," Jack said to Sam teasingly, just loud enough for me and Jason to hear it.
"Oh, yeah?" Jason challenged, "Wanna bet?"
AN cont: So it ends. And I kinda like the ending, I don't know about you guys, but let me know, pretty please. You all know I'm a review whore by now. I'm thinking of tentatively writing a sequel to this so I want you guys to answer two questions for me… if I were to write a sequel about Jason and Alisa's relationship in college, would you be interested in reading it? And if you would like to, would you want me to keep it from Alisa's perspective or change it up to write from Jason's? I can't write third person anymore… I suck at it. So please let me know!
I love my reviewers so much:
DrkSiLeNcEaNgeL, Chelsea Plum (thanks so much for sticking around since the beginning!), thesleepingcrazinessinmymind36 (that was A LOT of smiley faces!), Claire, kannecat, DuchessYappingDog (I know what you mean about being too lazy to review… I get that way some times too… thanks for sticking around), Emmi (thanks so much for the compliments and I'm glad you like it), kat6528, Shixa Goddess (hey, don't worry about not reviewing… I know school can sorta get in the way every once in a while… thanks for sticking around), a reader, amberelise, Red-rose-diva, beckylouwhoo16, Shorty Baby, Bubbl3gum (ha, I know, Lise is really think and Jason's an idiot… they're so perfect for each other), queen-lala, and master-shadowhawk (I'm glad you found the characters interesting… that's pretty much the most important thing I can do for you guys).