One year later
The stars shone vividly in the clear sky. The night air was cool and was a stark relief to the heat of the reception hall. Through the wide glass doors, thrown open to cool off the room packed with people, Quinn heard the band launch into a rousing rendition of "Shout." She felt Ryder's chuckle as he held her, her back resting against his chest.
"I thought we told them no crappy wedding reception music," Ryder commented, absently tracing patterns with his fingers on her bare shoulders.
"I think we can look past it, seeing as everyone is having fun."
Ryder murmured an agreement and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "Watch the hair."
"I can't mess up your hair anymore than it already is, Quinn," Ryder told her, laughing as he pressed open kisses to her throat.
Quinn's once perfectly styled hair now hung limply on top of her head. Hours of dancing and celebrating had more than ruined the coif. Her elegant dress, a stunning showpiece of white lace and shouted classy upbringing, was wrinkled. No longer was she the picturesque vision of classic bride that she was earlier for the ceremony.
Exactly a year to the date of their quickie Las Vegas vows, Quinn and Ryder pledged to love, honor, and cherish each other for the rest of their lives in front of their friends and families. The past year had been rough and hadn't been the typical newlyweded bliss most couples enjoyed.
Ryder's successful completion of rehabilitation for his alcohol addiction was tarnished when he relapsed less than a month after returning home. Another month later, after staying clean whilst in Los Angeles for meetings, he relapsed again when news reached them about Donald Sloane's death. Now almost a full nine months sober, Ryder was back on top.
Personalized Defeat was back in the studio – one they built themselves in their hometown so they could avoid long trips to Los Angeles – and hard at work on their second album. Their first album had debuted at number three on the charts before shooting straight to number one the following week. In the past year, they had experienced a meteoric rise to fame but were avoiding another tour until Ryder felt more at peace with his addiction.
"It's certainly been a year," Quinn murmured, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath of the cool air.
"Yes, it has."
Quinn pushed back from the balcony and turned to watch the wedding guests dance. On the dance floor, Ryder's maiden aunt was putting the moves on her newly-divorced father.
"Your Aunt Carla looks like she's going to eat my father," Quinn told him.
"Want me to go separate them?"
She shook her head. "It might be good for him."
Ryder gripped her chin softly and waited until her eyes met his. "You sure you're okay with their divorce?"
"Of course I am." At his unsure glance, Quinn smiled. "Really, Ryder. My mother wasn't any good for him. Hasn't he been happier since he left?"
"Yes, he has been," Ryder grudgingly admitted.
Quinn pressed a kiss to his lips. "As long as he's happy, I'm happy."
Ryder wrapped his arm around her waist as they watched their friends and family.
"Do you suppose they'll miss us if we leave?" Ryder asked, voice husky in her ear.
"Why?" Quinn watched Ryder from the corner of her eye.
He placed his lips behind her ear, nipped her earlobe. "I've been wondering what's under that dress since I saw you walk down the aisle."
A smile bloomed across Quinn's face. "I think you'll be pleased."
Quinn turned her head and let her lips connect with his. She kept the pressure light, teasing, as his hands fell to her waist and pulled her against his body. Ryder changed the angle of his lips and took the kiss deeper, his tongue sliding past her lips to grapple with hers. His hands gripped her waist, slid back to squeeze her ass. His mouth caught the moan that slipped from Quinn's lips as her hands slid into the dark mass of hair that had become unruly hours earlier.
She tugged on his hair, pulled his lips from hers. "Let's get out of here."
AN:: This is most certainly the end for Ryder and Quinn's story. Thank you again for every single review, every single minute you've spent reading the words I've written. It means so much to me.