“Do you, Desiree Spence, take Gabriel McCullough to be your lawfully-wedded husband?” the pastor asked. He looked between Gabriel and me as we stared into each other’s eyes. Gabriel’s touch was reassuring; his eyes alone seemed to undress me, as though it were just the two of us standing there.
That was the moment we’d been waiting for. After multiple obstacles and breakups, I realized I needed to put myself first and not let other factors define my happiness. Gabriel showed no signs of hesitation in marrying me, and I appreciated his strength and motivation.
Over the past year, I’d taken a new job at East High School after leaving my old job as a substitute teacher. I’d dealt with David’s betrayal and getting fired. My family stood by me—even though my father wanted to kick his ass. Hearing the gossip around town helped my decision to start over in a new town and make new memories. What I didn’t expect was to encounter an overwhelming force that turned my life upside down—this smooth, charismatic charmer with rich, milk-chocolate skin and dimples, with a small scar next to his mouth. Some people might have been put off by it, but in a weird way, it made him even sexier to me. Standing tall, at around 6’3”, he had broad shoulders and thick, muscular arms that brought me comfort every night in bed—not to mention Gabriel’s soft, oval, dark-brown eyes that hadme melting in the palms of his hands. I loved climbing onto him every chance I got. Feeling his hands running up and down my back brought chills to my spine.
We waited before having sex again until the wedding night. It was Gabriel’s idea, and after the shock wore off, I remembered he always put my needs above his own.
David could never compare to Gabriel; many times, David came off as selfish, making plans that revolved around his own needs. He liked to show off to our mutual friends and make himself seem bigger and more important than anyone else. I could count on my one hand how many times he got involved in the community.
After several nights of tossing and turning and yearning to have Gabriel by my side, I couldn’t wait to get him alone and try something new. The church we picked out was beautiful, with its fine crystal-and-gold window trimming. Flowers adorned each row, and thanks to the high ceiling, the church choir sounded exquisite as they performed one of my favorite songs, Tamia’s “Spend My Life with You”.
“Baby, you, all right?” Gabriel asked and squeezed my hands tighter to pull me out of my trance.
A part of me felt nervous; my stomach was doing somersaults and my hands were sweaty; I was about to become someone’s wife. I looked around the room at my family, and my best friend, Sidney, as she rocked her newborn baby and my goddaughter, Coco, to sleep. If I hadn’t listened to Sidney that day and interviewed for the job, I wouldn’t have met my future love, my backbone, best friend, and my weakness.
“Excuse me, Pastor,what did you say?” I asked as our guests laughed at me for zoning out during my wedding.
“I asked, do you take Gabriel to be your wedded husband, to have and to hold, through sickness and in health, till death do you part?”
“I do,” I answered, giving Gabriel a coy smile.
“I do,” Gabriel answered huskily.
“I now pronounce you husband and wife, and you may kiss the bride.”
I heard everyone shout and cheer before we even kissed.I caught a glimpse of Gabriel’s mother and sister, whispering back and forth; apparently, his mother was not the least bit interested in what was going on at her son’s wedding. I was amused by her long, sleeveless black dress and black sunglasses. Of course, she dressed like it was a funeral, instead of our wedding day. I was not surprised she showed up—just surprised she didn’t stop the wedding.
I had a great relationship with his father, grandparents, and friends. His mom thought I was the devil, and she had tried her best to keep us apart—even conspiring with his ex-girlfriend to break us up, and then trying to convince him to play basketball again and quit teaching.
Gabriel lifted my veil and stared into my eyes as the tears slowly slipped down my cheeks. Standing on my tiptoes, I met him halfway, and our mouths sealed our vows. It was a sensual, pulsating kiss that had my juices flowing. I was ready to take him into the bathroom for a quickie.
“I love you, Mrs. McCullough,” he said.
“I love you too, Mr. McCullough.”
He gently wiped the tears traveling down my face. “How does it feel to marry a man 10 years younger than you, babe?”
“Like I have a lifetime to share new memories—”
The church doors opened, and a familiar voice cut me off. “Desiree!”
“Da—David?” I stuttered, shocked at his interruption.