The Secret Fiancée: Chapter 69

Raya

“Do you think he’ll be able to find it?” I ask Sierra as I point out where in my mehendi my artist hid Lexington’s name. It’s customary to hide your husband’s name inside your bridal henna design somewhere, and I’m glad I get to experience it myself.

“I’m not sure. It’s so dark,” she says, squinting at the inside of my wrist. “But I’m sure he’ll have fun trying.”

I shake my head at her admonishingly, and the rest of the girls burst out laughing. They’re all in pretty light yellow and gold lehengas for our wedding, and they look gorgeous. Raven has outdone herself, not just with the bridesmaids’ outfits, but with the entire limited edition range she let me collaborate on, allowing me to make every single one of my traditional attire dreams come true. All our guests will be in Indian designs of their own choosing today, all of it RWC.

I look around the room in the most beautiful resort I’ve ever been to, my heart filling with love as I take in all the laughter and excitement. Zane, Celeste, Xavier, and Sierra collaborated on the acquisition of this resort, and they won’t admit it, but I know they did it for me. It’s just like I once described to Sierra — a grand palace on the water, shades of white everywhere. It’s the epitome of luxury and a perfect blend of cultures.

“Ready?”

I look up in surprise when all my brothers-in-law walk in, my eyes widening. Lex and I color coordinated, but they’re dressed in my pale-yellow shade when they should’ve been in a much darker mustard shade to signify they’re part of Lex’s family. I gasp when they carry in a Doli — a traditional bridal carrier in white shades with countless fresh yellow flowers on it in all kinds of colors.

“We were told the bride’s brothers get to carry her into the venue,” Ares says, grinning. “So here we are.”

My eyes fill with tears, and the girls instantly begin to fuss over me. “Don’t cry,” Faye says, her voice trembling.

Val narrows her eyes at me and shakes her head as she straightens out the train on the maroon heavy bridal lehenga Raven designed for me, complete with stunning floral embroidery and diamond embellishments. “Don’t even dream of ruining your makeup,” she warns me, a sweet smile on her face. “It took hours to do, and if you make Lex wait for much longer, I’m worried he’ll come find you himself.”

Celeste nods in agreement and catches a stray tear, while Mom and Sierra begin to instruct the boys. I can’t believe this is really happening. This truly is the wedding of my dreams, and I feel so loved. I’d wondered if getting married again would make me feel strange, because I wouldn’t have the people I consider my family by my side. I should’ve known they’d never part with me, not even for a few hours.

Mom helps me into the Doli and gently smooths out my dupatta, my veil, for me, her eyes dazzling with pride. Today is a dream come true for her, perhaps even more so than for me. I’m glad I got to give her this — her traditions, a wedding as she thinks it should be.

“The girls and I will go ahead,” Mom says, knowing she should’ve been at Dad’s side, in the venue. “Faye is going to play the piano for you as you enter. It’ll be beautiful.” I grin at her and nod, happy that she’s so happy today, when she was filled with concern during our first ceremony.

“I love you, sweetie,” Mom says as she straightens my wedding jewelry, making sure I look perfect.

I smile at her, my heart overflowing. “I love you more, Mom.”

She brushes the back of her fingers over my temple and sighs happily, before turning and escorting the girls out.

“We’re ready when you are, sweetheart,” Dion tells me. I nod, and Ares, Dion, Luca, and Zane each hold on to one side of the palanquin, and I gasp when I’m lifted into the air. The boys chuckle, their eyes sparkling with the same pride I just saw in my mother’s eyes, and my heart overflows with happiness.

“I’m excited for Lex to see you,” Luca says, grinning. “But I’m just as excited for you to see him. He looks really good.”

I blush, unable to help it, and Ares sends me the sweetest smile. These men are all so genuinely happy for Lex and me, and it’s just so surreal that I get to call them my family.

All our guests rise from our seats, and I smile broadly when I see countless familiar faces, including Adam and Halima, Celeste’s brother, Silas and Alanna, Leia and Adrian, Aria and Grayson, Amara and Noah, Archer and Serenity, and so many more. Everyone we love seems to be here, and my heart soars. Today truly is a celebration of love — not just between Lex and me, but everyone in attendance. I’ve never felt more blessed, more grateful.

The boys gently lower me to the floor, and I look up to find my dad offering me his right hand, tears in his eyes. He smiles at me, looking exactly the same way I feel — overwhelmed by emotions, but happy.

His grip on me is tight as he leads me to the altar, another beautiful structure built almost entirely from flowers, a fire in the middle. Lex rises to his feet, Mom’s priest by his side, and I stare at him wide-eyed. He looks incredible dressed in a gold and maroon kurta. The butterflies in my stomach go wild when he just stares at me like he can’t quite believe what he’s seeing. He looked enchanted during our first legal ceremony, but this? This is the look I’ve always dreamed of. When I asked him if he’d ever marry me again, this is what I imagined.

Lex offers his right hand, and Dad sniffs as he places mine on top of Lex’s, giving me away. Mom rubs his arm when he struggles to let go, and Lex looks at Dad reassuringly. “You’ll never lose her,” he promises. “You’re just gaining a son.”

I bite back my tears and nod at Dad, who steps back. He loves Lex just as much as he loves me, so I didn’t think today would be as hard for him as it is, but having to give me away again seems to hit him just as hard as it did the first time.

Mom pours water over both of our hands, and the ceremony begins as Lex and I are seated next to each other. Sierra comes in to tie my dupatta to Lex’s, her hands trembling. She’s holding back tears today too, and I squeeze her hand before she steps back again, as focused on the ceremony as everyone else.

Lex pays close attention to every single thing the priest says, taking note of every ritual that I know he’s already learned by heart. All the while, I stare at my husband, wondering how I got this lucky. He never stops trying, never stops learning and growing. Every day, he truly tries to be the best partner he can be, never quite realizing that he’s already the man of my dreams.

Toward the end of the ceremony, Lex is asked to put sindoor on me, along the parting line in my hair, and a veil is lifted over us, giving us a moment of privacy. “You know how I told you I didn’t believe in fate when we first met?” he whispers as he applies the sindoor, marking me a married woman. “I changed my mind. Meeting you, marrying you… none of that could’ve been anything short of fate. You, Raya, are my destiny.”

I smile at him, my heart skipping a beat. “And you are mine,” I whisper. “I love you, Lex. Forever and always.”

His gaze roams over my face, like he’s trying to drink me in, like he can’t get enough. “I love you more, Raya. I always will.”

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