Chapter XXXIII

After a very sweet first kiss as husband and wife, the pair went to the ballroom, where a long buffet table was laden with the wedding lunch. Tables and chairs had been set up for the guests with a wide expanse in the middle left for dancing. Ben and Julia Wakefield had the seats of honor at their own table on the raised dais usually reserved for the musicians, who were relocated to a corner.

Both of them were too excited to eat. Toasts went around to them, and wedding gifts were presented. But the newly married Wakefields only wanted to be alone.

"This is the worst part, in my opinion, my lovely wife." Ben whispered in Julia's ear.

"Say that again." Julia bid with a smile.

"Wife. My dear, beautiful, odd wife." he said with a grin.

"Now you may tell me why this is the worst part. Especially when there is good food, wine, and plenty of gifts to thank people for."

"Because we must celebrate everyone else's joy at our union before we can celebrate it ourselves."

"That is a very good point. How early may we be excused?"

"Not until after the dancing, I'm afraid."

"I wonder if they would notice if we were to simply disappear."

"Unfortunately I think they would."

"Pray, how many people here do you even know?" Julia asked, looking around at the guests.

"Does that include either the Denby side of our family, or the Wakefields or Ainsworths?"

"No. Anyone who is not family."

"None." he replied with a laugh. "How about you?"

"One. Only Mr. Timmons, the fat, short cousin of mine you saved me from." Julia replied with a smirk.

Once the toasting, eating, talking, and gift-giving were done with, it was time to dance. While it was very enjoyable, the fact that the celebrations were almost over with made Julia wish the dancing could be skipped over. It was already four in the afternoon by the time the landau carriage was brought around.

With the carriage's arrival, it was time to say her goodbyes. Julia gave each of her family members a kiss on the cheek and a hug, and she was suprised when she reached her mother, for she was sure those were tears she saw in her eyes.

"I wish you luck, but you had better come visit me often, for now I will have nothing better to do." her mother said, trying to retrieve her indifference, but failing. "An old woman such as myself does need some female company, you know."

"Don't worry, mama, I will come as often as I can." Julia assured her with a smile. She then turned to her sister. "And you had better come visit us at Englefield before you head back to Kent."

"I will." Louise promised. "But first I will give you and your husband plenty of time alone." she added with a smile.

Their farewells said, Mr. Wakefield helped Mrs. Wakefield up into the open landau coach, which had been decorated with white banners and bouquets of red roses. They waved cheerfully at the wedding guests as the coach lurched forward and started its way to Englefield. And once they were out of sight, they shared their first passionate kiss as a happily married couple.

"And now, Mrs. Wakefield, we shall go home." Ben said as he pulled away from her.

"And about time, too." Julia said with a laugh. "Finally we can be alone."

"You have made me a happy man today, Julia." Ben said in a low voice.

"And you have made me a happy woman. The happiest woman in all of England. And to think, my happiness comes from being married, when I was always so sure marriage would be dreadful."

"I will show you different." Ben promised. "I shall be the best husband to you than any in all the world. You will not regret being wrong about matrimony."

And with that, they kissed again, and went home to begin their happily ever after.

Finis.

Author's Note: Well, there you have it! I've started working on the sequel, but it may not be posted for a few weeks. Be on the watch for it, it will be called When Tomorrow Comes.

I just want to say thank you for reading this and giving me such nice reviews!