By: kf6tac/Brian and Jamie Sommers
Synopsis: Landon and Jamie have had their first date now they must face their friends, their family and their own fears. Written from Landon’s POV by Brian (in bold print) and Jamie’s POV by Jamie (in italics).
This chapter is dedicated to Megan for all of her friendship, love, support, hope and most of all for encouraging us to go on. Megan…thank you for everything.
Chapter 17: Home Is Where The Heart Is
Friday was the last day of school. I got up early and drove over to Jamie’s house. It was the first time since she went into the hospital that I was there to pick her up for school. It brought back memories of the Monday after our first date, the very first time I had taken her to school with me. I had been so scared of her dad when he opened the door… now even I feel kind of silly about it. But that look he gave me when I showed up… oh man… I was glad I hadn’t seen that look for a while. When I showed up at Jamie’s house, her father was at the door to greet me. And not just opening the door like he used to do – he was out on the porch waiting for me.
‘A lot has changed in these few months,’ I thought to myself as I walked up the front steps.
“Good morning, Landon. How are you?”
“I’m doing good Reverend, thanks.”
“Jamie asked me to keep you company while she got ready. She says she won’t be long.”
“Oh, that’s fine,” I told him. “I know I’m early anyways. I’m sure we’ll be on time.”
We sat on the porch for a while, talking about some of the details for the wedding. A few minutes before Jamie came downstairs, I pulled a piece of paper out of my back pocket.
“Reverend, I’d like you to take a look at this,” I said, handing the paper to him.
After looking over the paper, he asked me, “So this is it?”
“Yeah, my parents and I have already talked about it. They’re getting it taken care of on Sunday.”
“Landon, they don’t have to do this. I can…”
“It’s alright, Sir, it is. They’ve already said this is something they want to do. I want to do it too.”
Just then we heard Jamie’s footsteps as she approached the front door. She looked well – really well. Those new medications were doing her a lot of good.
“Hey!” I said to her happily, giving her a hug and a kiss on her cheek. Her father had lightened up a little about our displays of affection since we became engaged.
“Hi Landon,” she said amidst giggles.
“You ready to go?” I asked her.
“Yeah, just give me one second.” She gave her father a hug and kissed him goodbye. “Bye daddy. I’ll be back this afternoon, right after school.”
She and I walked down the front steps hand in hand, and I opened the passenger door of my car for her. After she had gotten in, I shut the door and turned to give a wave to the Reverend. He waved back, and looked down again at the paper I had handed him. I got into the driver side and Jamie and I started out for our last day of high school.
A few streets down, we came to a stop sign. I stopped, but instead of proceeding forward I looked in my rear-view mirror. There were no cars approaching from behind us or at the other three streets of the intersection, so I leaned over the center of the seat and kissed Jamie. It wasn’t anything long or passionate, but it was enough to let her know that I still thought the world of her. She smiled when I pulled my lips away from hers, and I felt her hand cradle my cheek as she leaned forward for another kiss.
“There,” she said when she pulled back. “One for you… and one for me.”
I smiled at her reference to my words from our cemetery date. I licked my lips and faintly tasted the flavor of her lip balm. “Cherries today? Getting a little adventurous,” I joked with her as I continued our drive to school.
“I got a little tired of the regular kind. I figured this one wouldn’t be too strong.”
“You were right. I like it.”
She laughed in response to my comment. It was a happy, energetic laugh – and it made my heart swell to hear her feeling better.
When we got to school, people immediately noticed that Jamie was back. The first to get to us were Sally and Megan. They had been walking across the parking lot toward the schoolyard when we pulled up, and it seemed like they were in front of us almost as soon as Jamie had gotten out of the car.
“Jamie! You’re back! It’s so good to see you!” Sally exclaimed.
“Yeah, we missed you a lot,” added Megan.
“Thanks,” Jamie said with a smile. “It’s great to see you too.”
And so it went for the rest of the day. I’m sure she heard a lot of questions from everyone. “How are you feeling?” “What are you up to?” “You going to graduation this weekend?” None of them knew that we were engaged yet. I wasn’t sure how we were going to tell people.
We ate lunch at Table 7, one more time. We hadn’t been there since our very first day at school as a couple… but it was still special to be able to eat there with Jamie on the last day of school. We cleaned out lockers before our last class of the day. I had taken advantage of my study hall time in the library to get all of our books returned, so all we really had to do was collect up the papers in the locker (mostly mine) and put them in the trash. I walked Jamie to drama before heading off to my own class.
It felt good to be back in school, even if it was just for the day. There were so many people I wanted to say goodbye to, so many friends I needed to see and one person in particular I needed to talk to.
“Jamie!” She grabbed me in an embrace and said, “I’d heard that you were here today. Feeling better?”
“Well that’s marvelous. Simply marvelous.”
“Uh…Miss. Garber, can I talk to you privately for a minute?” I don’t know why I was nervous…I guess it wasn’t really nerves, it was more like anticipation. Outside of our families, Landon and I hadn’t shared our engagement with anyone. Things were about to change.
We walked over the edge of the stage and were immediately greeted by some of my other classmates. “Jamie, welcome back.” “Hey, it’s great to see you.” “I knew you wouldn’t be able to stay away.” I talked with them for a couple of minutes then Miss. Garber, sensing my eagerness, asked them to excuse us so that we could talk privately.
The edge of the stage was dusty; I looked around at the backstage area and thought about the night of the play. How the stage had been bustling with excitement. People dressed as though they stepped out of another era. Music playing. And laughter…I could hear the remnants of laughter echo through my memories. I turned to look at Miss. Garber and I immediately knew she was the right choice.
“Thank you Miss. Garber.”
“For what dear?”
“Everything,” I smiled. “You’re my favorite teacher.”
“Well,” she looked around to make sure no one was listening to us. “Don’t tell anyone, teachers aren’t supposed to have favorites, but if I had to pick one student that represented everything good and fine in a person….that would be you Jamie.” She followed in a hushed tone, “You’re my favorite too.”
We shared a conspiring smile and then I asked her. “Miss. Garber? I was wondering…well…Landon asked me to marry him and…”
“What??? Oh my Jamie!!! That’s wonderful. What did you say??”
I could feel the blush creeping up my cheeks as I thought about Landon’s proposal, “I said yes, but I have a slight problem and I was hoping you could help me.”
“Of course dear. I’ll do anything I can.”
“Well I sort of need a maid of honor and I was hoping you would do it.”
“Oh Jamie. I’m flattered, but wouldn’t you rather one of your friends…”
I shook my head at her interrupting her mid-sentence. “No. You’re the one I want to stand up there with me. When Landon and I…see…” I didn’t know how to explain it to her. How to tell her that she was the reason I let him back into my life. The reason I finally pushed my pride to the side and welcomed Landon into my heart fully so I opted for the truth.
“He and I would’ve never gotten this far if it wasn’t for you. You were the one that made me take a look at what was inside of me, what I was denying and I could never thank you enough for that. That afternoon you came to my house and talked to me…” we both knew what afternoon I spoke of. “…it made me think. Really think.”
“What about?” she asked as she laid her hand gently on my own.
“Him. Landon,” I knew I was getting that far away look in my eyes. The one that accompanies every thought I have of him. “He came to my house the next night,” I reminisced. “He brought me a present,” a smile lifted my heart. “I knew when I held that sweater up that I would never be able to live without him in my life. He’s my reason for being…for living. He’s my soul,” I looked into her tear filled eyes and said, “I would really love it if you would be a part of our day.”
“I would be honored. Thank you.”
We hugged each other and talked a bit about the date, my dress…little things that I would’ve shared with a mother or a sister had I had one. As class came to a close Landon came to pick me up and before leaving I asked Miss. Garber if I could tell everyone.
“May I have everyone’s attention please?” she called out. “Jamie and Landon would like to make an announcement.” She looked over at us and said, “Go ahead Jamie.”
I held onto Landon’s hand and smiled up into his eyes before sharing our joyous news. “Landon and I are getting married.”
I walked into the drama room just as everyone was shuffling around getting ready to leave. It was the last day they would be in there, so there were plenty of people picking up old costume parts, props, and other items that had been left behind during the school year. When I walked over to Jamie and took her hand, I had this weird feeling that something was up. Then I heard Miss Garber’s voice.
“May I have everyone’s attention please? Jamie and Landon would like to make an announcement. Go ahead Jamie.”
It didn’t take me long to figure out what was going on. Jamie was going to tell everyone. I think that was about when the little trembling started. I don’t know why I was so nervous. ‘People are going to find out eventually,’ I told myself. ‘Might as well get them started now.’
Jamie smiled at me before continuing on, and I felt my worries melt away. “Landon and I are getting married,” she announced happily to everyone.
There were a few surprised gasps in the room, and then somewhere in the group of people the applause started. Within a few seconds the entire room was cheering and clapping. I could feel myself turning red as a tomato, and when I looked over at Jamie she was smiling happily and blushing too. Eddie Zimmerhoff came over, gave Jamie a hug, and shook my hand.
“Congratulations you two. You’re going to be great together.” Everyone else started following his lead.
“This is wonderful! I can’t wait for the wedding.”
“You two are a match made in heaven.”
“I’m so happy for you! Oh this is so exciting!”
Sally gave Jamie a great big hug, but when she got to me she stopped. I thought for a minute she was going to start giving me grief for everything I had done the past year.
“Landon, I was wrong about you,” she surprised me. “I know you’ll take great care of Jamie. You two deserve to be happy together.”
I wasn’t quite sure what to say. I was certain Sally wasn’t going to take this well. She seemed to dislike me a lot before. “Thanks Sally, that means a lot coming from you.”
She smiled before wiping a tear from her eye and giving Jamie another hug.
Fifteen minutes later, Jamie and I finally escaped the crowd of happy drama students and got into the schoolyard. As we were walking to my car, I saw Dean, Eric, and the rest of my old crowd gathered in their usual spot.
‘Jamie’s friends accepted this… will they?’ I wondered to myself. ‘I guess there’s only one way to find out.’
“Jamie, I’d like to tell Eric and them about the engagement. Can you come with me?”
“Of course Landon,” she told me with a smile. “I’ll be right there beside you.”
“Hey guys,” I said as we approached the group.
“Hey Landon, what’s new man?” Eric asked.
I looked at Jamie, then back at them. “Jamie and I are getting married.”
There was silence as they looked at me, then at Jamie, then back at me. Just as I was starting to get nervous, a huge smile crossed Eric’s face.
“Heeeeeeey, that’s great news man! Come here and give your buddy a big hug!” Eric almost tackled me, he was so excited. Then he gave Jamie a hug too, although not nearly as forceful as the one he gave me. I looked around, and everyone else had pretty much formed a little circle around us and they all seemed really eager to congratulate us.
‘See Landon? That wasn’t so bad.’
Belinda was the last one to talk to me. She gave me a hug, but not the kind she used to give me… she didn’t try to purposely brush up against me anymore. This was a genuine hug from a friend.
“Landon, I’m so happy for you.” She took a deep breath and looked at Jamie. “You deserve someone as good as her.”
She turned to Jamie and gave her a hug. I saw Belinda whisper something in Jamie’s ear, and the two smiled to each other. It was good to see that Belinda and Jamie were finally getting along.
It was obvious to me that Landon was a bit nervous about telling his friends. They hadn’t exactly been very receptive of our dating so I’m sure he figured their reaction to our engagement would be along the same lines.
I held onto his hand as he announced it to them. “Jamie and I are getting married.”
There was dead silence amongst the group until Eric decided to be his natural self and grabbed Landon in a huge hug, then me. All of us exchanged hugs and well wishes and as we were leaving Belinda and I hugged each other and she whispered in my ear.
“Hey,” he said as he pulled the car away from the school. “What did Belinda say?”
I wasn’t sure what to say to his question. Do I tell him or do I keep her secret safe with me. I opted for the safest alternative. “I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”
After I dropped Jamie off at her house, I hurried back to my place. My parents and I still had some business to take care of. My mom was on the phone when I walked in the door.
“Oh Worth, hold on, here he is. I’ll have him get the other line.” Then she covered up the receiver and said to me, “Landon, your father is on the phone. Go grab the other phone upstairs and we can talk to him about what we’re going to do.”
I ran upstairs and got on the phone from my room. “Okay guys, I’m here. So what’s the plan so far?”
“Hi Landon,” my dad said. “Here’s what we have so far: we’re going in on Sunday to sign the contracts and get all of the paperwork taken care of. They’ll give us the keys then, and the house will be all yours.”
“That’s great!” Jamie had always wanted to own a home – it was on her list. Number fifteen, to be exact. And now she would have it. My father was actually the first to bring up the idea. One of his regulars was a real estate agent, and he caught wind of a house for sale in one of the newer residential areas in town. He called me and told me that he was going to get it for us as a wedding gift, but I insisted that we split the cost. I knew my dad made a lot of money as a doctor but… after already paying for Jamie’s home care I couldn’t let him buy a house all by himself. Reverend Sullivan had offered to help with the costs when he found out about our plan, but both my father and I refused.
“What about getting all the stuff in there for the wedding?” my dad added. “We can move Landon’s stuff easily, but it’ll be hard to get Jamie’s belongings over there without her noticing.”
“I have an idea for that, actually.” My mom this time. “I was thinking that I could invite Jamie to stay at my place the night before the wedding. We could put Landon up in a hotel room in town, since he’s not supposed to see his bride before their wedding anyways. That way you men and Reverend Sullivan can get all of Jamie’s things to the new house and she wouldn’t find out until the newlyweds go home.”
“What do you think Landon?” my father asked.
I thought about it for a while, and it seemed to be the best option available to us. Jamie and my mom got along really well anyways. “I think it’ll work.”
“Great! So I’ll see you two tomorrow morning at the graduation ceremony?
“You bet dad. And dad, thanks again.”
“It’s a pleasure Landon. See you in the morning.”
Graduation day. It was a big day in a town the size of Beaufort, but for me…well, I couldn’t wait for the Saturday that followed. My wedding day…our wedding day.
I looked at the two invitations that were sitting on my dresser. One for Landon’s graduation and the other for our wedding and I contemplated my life and how a few months ago I would’ve been devastated when I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to graduate with the rest of the senior class. Principal Kelly offered to let me take some make up courses but there was just too much for me to do with the wedding coming up. I just didn’t have enough energy for all of it. Now things were different. My priorities in life seemed to have changed so dramatically since Landon came into my life.
So when my father and I left our house to meet Landon’s family at the high school, I entered it not as a former student, but as the proud fiancée of Landon Carter.
He looked very handsome in his cap and gown and came up to me as soon as we arrived.
“Hi!” We walked into each other’s arms and held onto one another as though our lives depended on it.
‘One more week,’ I thought. ‘Just one more week and it’ll be our wedding day.’
His hands framed my face as his lips found mine and he placed a gentle kiss upon them. “Do you realize that in one week we’ll be getting married?” I couldn’t help but smile as he said my unspoken thoughts about our wedding day.
The graduation ceremony went off without a hitch and afterwards we all went out for dinner. It was just the family. ‘The family,’ I thought. ‘That sounds so good.’ It had been just my father and I for as long as I can remember, but now…now we were a family and as we arrived at the restaurant I felt my heart quicken at the sound of Landon’s voice. “Carter, party of five.” That’s when it hit me. I’m going to be a Carter.
We enjoyed our dinner and talked about our upcoming nuptials. I have to say I was a bit surprised at Landon’s mom’s suggestion, but I was flattered and tempted.
“…so you can stay in Landon’s room and then the next morning we’ll get you ready together. It’ll be a girl day. We’ll even invite Miss. Garber over in the morning. We can go to the church early and….”
She rambled on and on as Landon leaned over and whispered in my ear. “Just one more week and she’ll be your mother-in-law. Betcha can’t wait.”
Graduation on Saturday morning was a great time, but really for the most part my mind was occupied by Sunday, the new house, and of course the wedding. When Jamie hugged me that morning, all I could think about was that in another week… she would be my wife. It was a wonderful feeling, and as I thought back that day on all that had happened in the past years, I was thankful that it had brought Jamie and me together.
Our two families, the family, had dinner together after the graduation ceremony. It was there that my mom brought up her idea of having Jamie over the night before the wedding. I couldn’t help but smile as she tried to “sell” the idea to Jamie. My mom seemed so giddy and excited; I could’ve sworn I was listening to a girl planning her first slumber party.
“…so you can stay in Landon’s room and then the next morning we’ll get you ready together. It’ll be a girl day. We’ll even invite Miss. Garber over in the morning. We can go to the church early and….” She just went on and on.
“Just one more week and she’ll be your mother-in-law,” I whispered to Jamie. “Betcha can’t wait.”
Jamie just smiled and leaned her head gently against mine for a moment before deciding to take my mom up on the offer. I knew there wouldn’t really be any trouble at all between Jamie and my mother – the two of them got along famously.
The next morning my parents and I went to the real estate office to close up the deal on our house. The agent had my parents sign the papers, and then they passed the contract and the pen to me. My hand was shaking slightly as I put the pen to the paper. ‘This is it Landon, you’re about to get your first house.’ I tried to keep my signature steady and when it was all done, I blew out a breath and leaned back in my chair. I knew that getting the house was a good thing, but it was still a big investment and it was a little nerve-wracking. The agent looked the papers over, and tucked them inside a manila folder. He tore off a carbon copy and handed it to my parents. Then he took the keys to the house out and slid them across the table.
“Here you are, the keys to your new house. Congratulations.”
I looked at my parents, then back at the keys on the table.
“Go ahead Landon,” my dad prompted me. “They’re yours.”
I took the keys in my hand and looked at them again for a moment before giving both my parents a big hug.
“Thanks you guys… thanks so much.” Shaking the realtor’s hand, I said to him “And thank you Mr. Evers, for helping us get this taken care of.”
We drove immediately over to the house, even though we had walked through it many times when we were taking a look at it. I started planning how we would get all of my things and Jamie’s things situated. About half an hour later, Reverend Sullivan showed up in his car.
“My,” he said when he looked inside the house. “This is a wonderful home.”
“Jamie deserves the best, Sir,” I told him honestly. “We’re going to start bringing over my things as soon as possible. Once Jamie gets to my mom’s house on Friday, we can start moving hers as well. Come on, I’ll show you the rest of the house.”
This past week had been one that could drive a healthy person over the edge of insanity, but with Landon’s mom and Miss. Garber’s help, we got everything for the wedding taken care of. Flowers, music, reception…the works. Now all I had to do was write my vows.
Landon and I had decided to write our own wedding vows in addition to the traditional ones. I knew he had already finished his; I on the other hand couldn’t quite put what I was feeling down into words. Saying I love you just didn’t seem like enough. I didn’t know how to tell him that he was everything to me. Loving him was all I had ever dreamed of and every minute we’re apart is so painful…so…
I threw the pad and paper down on my dresser and got the rest of my things together. It was the night before my wedding and I still hadn’t written a word. ‘Maybe,’ I thought. ‘I’ll have more luck at his house.’
“Daddy?” I called to him as he was leaning over some papers in his office.
“Jamie,” he smiled. “You about ready to head on over there?”
“Yes, I think I am.” I had packed my bag for the next day….my wedding day. My dress was already at Landon’s house as well as my shoes. Next to the entrance way was a suitcase with my clothes for the week. Landon and I thought it best if we stayed in town at a hotel instead of going away on a traditional honeymoon.
“Well then…” My father stood up from his desk and came around to me. “I guess my little girl’s not so little anymore,” he choked out.
“Oh daddy,” I threw my arms around him. “I’ll always be your little girl.”
Walking out of my house that night stirred up a wide range of emotions within me. I was happy, sad, scared, excited, nervous…. The next time I walked back in here I would be Mrs. Landon Carter. My heart jumped for joy within my chest. ‘Mrs. Landon Carter,’ I sighed. “Guess it’s time to go.”
As I closed the door behind me I felt a thrill in the thought that I was closing the door on my childhood and I was on my way to becoming a wife.
“Landon, hurry it up! Jamie will be here any second now! We have to get you out of here!” My mom was hollering at me from the foot of the stairs. I slung my second duffle bag over my shoulder and ran down the stairs as quickly as I could. I gave my mom a kiss on the cheek before flying out the door.
“Bye Mom! I’ll see you tomorrow at the church! Have fun with Jamie tonight!”
‘I probably will never call that old room of mine home again,’ I thought to myself as I headed out in my car. ‘I’m sure glad we had to move all my stuff out – otherwise Mom never would’ve gotten me to clean it before I moved out!’ I began to think to that house just a little ways from where I was, the house that Jamie and I would call home. Our home. It was a thought that made me very, very happy.
I drove to the hotel we had booked in town, but I wasn’t in any hurry to stay. I tossed my bags into the room and waited a few minutes, then got back into my car and drove to Jamie’s house. My dad and Reverend Sullivan were already there, moving some of her clothes into their cars.
“So is everything going according to plan?” my dad asked me.
“She doesn’t suspect a thing.”
The Final Chapter: You Are Cordially Invited…