Alyssa looks at herself in the mirror, wearing her long, flowing, wedding gown. In a few minutes, her father will come to get her, and she’ll walk down the aisle to marry Tim Caine. Her joy is tempered somewhat by news that several of her father’s relatives have refused to come, and while her father offered various excuses for their absence, Alyssa knows it’s Tim’s race which is the real issue. Alyssa chooses to ignore all that, instead focusing on the happiness of the day.
The person Alyssa regrets not being there is Leah. Alyssa had wanted her sister to be in the wedding party, but her father had objected, believing Leah would cause a disruption. When she was informed of this, Leah reacted with her usual dry wit, though Alyssa could sense her sister’s bitter disappointment. Alyssa had acquiesced to her father’s insistence but had not been able to put this behind her as she had the absence of her other family members.
She clears her head, and again examines herself in the mirror. She imagines herself as a fairy princess and begins to hum, then sing the lyrics of “I Could Have Danced All Night” and starts to glide around in her gown.
Her steps are curtailed by a knock at the door. The face that greets her causes her heart to leap.
“Leah, what are you doing here? The ceremony is about to start.”
Leah enters, dressed in a dark business suit with slacks and an elegant top.
“Hey Princess. I just wanted to give you my wedding present.”
She hands Alyssa a DVD.
“What’s this?” Alyssa asks, a hint of excitement in her voice.
“I took all our old films and videos, cassettes and pictures, digitized them and put them on a DVD for you. Dad’s there, but it’s mostly Mom.”
Alyssa feels a lump in her throat. “Mama?”
“I thought it would be nice if Mom could attend your wedding.”
A tear runs down Alyssa’s cheek. “That is so sweet of you, Leah.” She hugs Leah tightly.
“I should let you get back to your preparations.”
Leah turns toward the door, but Alyssa catches her arm. “Leah, wait. Please stay for the ceremony. It would mean a lot to me.”
“I doubt Dad would like that. It’s your special day. I don’t want to get in the way of that.”
“Forget Daddy,” Alyssa tells her. “I should have never let him talk me into excluding you. With all our family who had other things to do today, I shouldn’t turn away someone who truly wants to celebrate with me. Besides, you’re my sister. You deserve to be here.”
Leah bows. “Your wish is my command, Princess.”
“Will you please stop calling me that!”
“It kind of suits you today.”
Alyssa laughs. “Oh, okay, today’s fine.”
When Paxton comes to get Alyssa, he’s not happy to see Leah, but Alyssa tells him, “I called and invited her, Daddy. I’ve always wanted her here and you know that.”
As usual, her father has gone overboard in his preparations. They enter the chapel behind a children’s choir, the ring bearers, and the bridesmaids. The sanctuary is filled to capacity with friends, family, and most of the city’s business and political elite. Alyssa is pleasantly surprised to see her uncles Duane and Boyd, and their wives Jolene and Virginia seated with her family. It was Jolene who had sent word they wouldn’t be attending. Leah follows them down the aisle, then takes her place in the front row, where Paxton joins her after presenting Alyssa to her future husband.