Part One
By Alisha

Disclaimer: You know the drill.

Author's Note: Wedding Vows courtesy of The Wedding Vows Gallery.

Recap: Well, this is part one...

"Let us embrace, and from this very moment vow an eternal misery together."
-- Thomas Otway, "The Orphan"

She had been expecting a stripper or at least some "girlie" gossip. But there was nothing. Her bachelorette party had been turned into an upscale bridal shower, complete with friends in powder pink business suits sipping expensive white wine. This was not how she wanted to spend her last night as a single woman.

As she examined her friends, she realized they were pathetic. They wouldn't have known a good party if it bit them in the ass. She wasn't sure why she had expected more from them.

Many of the women had left early, needing to tuck children into bed or cook a late dinner for their husbands. Her maid of honor and another unmarried bridesmaid were having a discussion on the shape of Stuart Scott's head as they watched the late edition of Sportscenter on the big screen television.

As a man opened the door to leave, she saw him outside being pounded by the pouring rain. He moved his head slightly and smiled. She nodded, mumbled a half-hearted apology, and went outside.

She searched for him outside, only for him to be nowhere in sight. "Pacey?" she whispered, not even attempting to be louder than the pouring rain. "Where'd you go? Pacey?"

Suddenly he pulled her by the hand into a nearby dark alley. Before anything could register for her, he had her pressed against the cold, hard, rough brick. He was kissing her hard and deep. Her mind raced as his hands covered her, as his kisses smothered her, as, out of the rain, she drowned in him.

Her chest heaved as she searched for her breath when he pulled away. He grinned at her, as he wiped his mouth with the back of his left hand.

"What are you doing here?" she asked. "It's the night before the wedding, and you know that--"

"I know," he said, gently nodding as he placed two fingers over her lips. "I don't care about traditions, I just had to see you."

She kissed his fingers gently. "I'm glad," she said. "Please take me away from here."

"I'm way ahead of you," he said, pulling a card from his pocket. He handed the card to her. "Hilton, Room 311. Half an hour."

"That long?" she asked, widening her eyes in an attempt to look seductive.

He nodded, resting his hand on the wall behind her head, and leaning closer. "Say goodbye to your friends. It will be well worth the wait." He kissed her hard before disappearing. She stood there for a moment before returning to the bar.

* * * * *

She wasn't sure what she was doing as she trolled the pastel colored halls of the Hilton. Her eyes fell on the door to room 311. This was a rather odd way to spend the eve of her wedding, she figured. But she wanted to be there, regardless of what tradition dictated.

There was a gentle click when she slid the key in the slot. She was greeted by beautiful smells that reminded her of a garden. There were candles scattered around the room. How cliched of him, she thought, unable to suppress her wicked grin. There were flowers too. No roses, but beautiful wildflowers of all colors, all shapes, all sizes. It looked gorgeous, like a garden brought inside.

"You like it?" she heard come from behind her.

"It's beautiful," she said, spinning around to him. "Why'd you do this?"

"I wanted tonight to be special," he whispered, gently caressing her cheek.

"Why tonight?" she asked weakly.

"Because it's so many things--the first, the last. Because tonight is just about you and me."

She raked her fingernails along his bare chest gently. Sometimes she had trouble deciphering between the rehearsed lines and the actual worded emotions. He was always a puzzle, always keeping her on her toes.

"What are you going to do tonight?" she asked teasingly.

"I'm going to make love to you," he said, the sincerity blaring through that time. "I'm going to show you everything I can't say."

"Show me," she whispered.

He placed his hands on her hips, and bent down to give her a gentle kiss. The passion was there, though. She could feel it. His kisses burned through her skin as he made his way along her cheek, down her neck, across her shoulder as he moved the fabric of her shirt to expose the skin. He was so sweet, but so hot. He had a way of making her feel like she was on fire.

She grasped at his shoulders, as she felt his hands explore her chest, softly fumbling over her stomach, moving up to caress her breasts through her bra. She walked forward, urging him toward the bed. He fell on his back she pushed him on to the bed. She straddled his hips, and used one of her delicate hands to hold his wrists over his head, as she explored his bare chest with her lips and tongue.

He watched her, a soft smile on his lips. Easily, he could've freed his hands from her grasp, but he didn't want to. The night would end all too quickly. She sat up, and began to unbutton the large white buttons of her silk shirt, smiling down at him as he licked his lips in anticipation.

Maybe her last night as a single woman would turn out better than she had suspected.

* * * * *

Joey looked at the red numbers on the alarm clock. It said that it was nearly four in the morning. She rolled over, but didn't move enough to extract herself from Pacey's grasp. Gently, she laid a kiss on his lips. His eyes fluttered open and he smiled softly. "Hey," he whispered.

"Hey," she returned. "It's four o'clock. Missy's coming to get me at seven, so I've got to get home."

"Don't go," he said, reaching out to touch her, but not knowing where to put his hand.

"I have to go," she said gently. "You know I do." She smiled at him softly. "I'm going to see you in a couple hours, right?"

He nodded. "Yeah."

She leaned in and kissed him. He deepened the kiss quickly, and after a few minutes, she finally pulled away.

Picking up her clothes, and putting them on, she looked back at him only once. He had turned away, and she assumed that he'd fallen back to sleep. "I'll see you later," she whispered before walking out the door.

* * * * *

Joey took a deep breath as she stood behind the closed church doors. Any second they would open, and she would walk down the aisle all alone. She'd never seen it another way, of course, considering how her father never had been able to stay out of jail.

Her chest tightened as the doors opened and all eyes fell on her. Her mind began to coerce with the thoughts that she could possibly be making a huge mistake. She began to walk, but did it in such a way that she could turn around and make a run for it, should it be necessary.

Her eyes skimmed along the front of the church, hoping to find some solace in the eyes of someone in the wedding party, but there was nothing. The knot in her stomach tightened as she inched closer. She watched Pacey, standing there unaffected in his tuxedo. His green eyes were unreadable as he stood there, still.

She looked at the preacher seriously, feeling she would lose her nerve if she looked anywhere else.

"Dear friends and family, we are gathered together today to join these two young people in the holy bond of matrimony," he began, a jolly smile as he spoke.

They had been through the rehearsal, and Joey knew what was next. Her eyes fell on Pacey, as he stood quietly, staring blankly at the alter. "If there is anyone who believes these two should not be joined in marriage, speak now, or forever hold your piece."

His eyes met hers briefly, breathing the slightest air of apology, as the room held its collective breath in quiet.

Joey fought to blink tears away. Something inside her had said it wouldn't be this way, but yet it was. The minister's smile beamed as he looked back at her. "Josephine, Dawson, today you begin a long journey. A journey of body, mind, and spirit, where you will vow to never go at life alone, to accept each challenge together, to grow together each day in love."

Joey looked back at Dawson guiltily. He wore an unknowing, wide grin. She tried desperately to smile back at him, knowing in just minutes they would leave the church as husband and wife. Her reservations had been realized, however. There was no turning back now. She was getting married, and he was letting her marry the wrong person.

"Now, if you two would please share your vows," the minister said, nodding his head to Joey.

Joey fought with her throat as Dawson turned to face her. She looked into his eyes, and was comforted by their lovingness and familiarity. Comforted enough to be able to remember and speak her rehearsed lines.

"I, Josephine Potter, take you, Dawson, to be my husband, secure in the knowledge that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner in life, and my one true love.

"On this special day, I give to you my sacred promise to stay by your side as your wife in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, as well as through the good times and the bad. I promise to love you without reservation, comfort you in times of distress, encourage you to achieve higher goals, laugh with you and cry with you, grow with you in mind and spirit, always be open and honest with you, and cherish you for as long as we both shall live."

She choked on her own tears, as Dawson reassuringly took her hand in his, and squeezed it gently. Her eyes focused over Dawson's shoulder, where she could see Pacey standing emotionless. This didn't seem to be affecting him, and she hated him for it. She watched Pacey as Dawson spoke, and felt like she was already betraying her vows.

"I, Dawson Leery, take you, Joey," Dawson began, pausing briefly to smile, "to be my wife, knowing in my heart that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner in life, and my one true love.

"On this special day, I give to you my sacred promise to stay by your side as your husband in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, as well as through the good times and the bad. I promise to love you without reservation, honor and respect you, provide for your needs as best I can, protect you from harm, comfort you in times of distress, grow with you in mind and spirit, always be open and honest with you, and cherish you for as long as we both shall live."

His smile was genuine, and she knew that he meant every word he'd spoken. He would be a good husband, she knew he would be. She could do a lot worse. In fact, she had done a lot worse. The man who claimed to be making love to her last night was now serving as the best man at her wedding. That was probably as low as you could get.

When Dawson kissed her, she made a vow to herself. She would love him. She would love him like she used to. She would erase every memory of Pacey Witter from her consciousness. She would start her life anew as Dawson's wife.

She was going to be a good wife.

* * * * *

To Be Continued . . .

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