USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR

FREE STORY

Thanks for subscribing to my newsletter. Here is my short story, published in UK magazine Womans Weekly. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Worth Waiting For

by Phaedra Patrick

 

In the doorway of the church, Belle stood on her tiptoes as she looked out for Ted. Birds sang and a warm May breeze rustled through the leaves of the trees. It was the perfect day for a wedding.

She wore a mid-length cream dress with balloon sleeves and a lace collar. It had looked beautiful in the boutique changing room, but now she felt it might be a bit mature for her.

‘Come on, Ted,’ she said and sucked through her teeth. ‘Get a move on.’

The longer she waited the tighter the knot grew in her stomach.

Trust him to have forgotten something.

Or maybe he’s got stuck in a traffic jam.

He’d been late for their first date too, perhaps a bad omen.

They’d met, both aged twenty-one, while backpacking in Australia, and had gone out for a cool beer together one evening.  Belle’s nose peeled prettily from sunburn as she kicked off her Doc Martens and waited for Ted in the waterfront bar. When he eventually strolled towards her, with his longish blonde hair and lopsided smile, she knew then her old-fashioned parents wouldn’t approve.

Belle and Ted laughed together for hours while the sun set and then rose again, and she learned how different they both were. Ted worked in the city and she was a primary school teacher. He loved rock music and she preferred opera. He rode a motorbike and she drove a beaten-up Mini Cooper. But, somehow, she knew he was the one.

When he proposed three weeks later with a ring pull from a beer can, Belle laughed and cried out, ‘Yes!’

She arrived back in rainy England where her parents batted her conversation away, about the exciting man she’d met in Perth. When she wanted to invite Ted over for tea her father said he didn’t like strangers in the house.

Belle spoke to Ted on the phone daily and knew they had to do things their own way.

One night, she packed her suitcase. She crept through the dark living room to find her mother standing by the front door. Her arms were folded tightly. ‘Where do you think you’re going, young lady?’

Belle gulped. ‘Out.’ She looked down at her case and didn’t want to lie. ‘Ted wants me to elope with him–’

What?’ Her mother hissed. ‘You hardly know the man. You’re too young.’

‘But we’re in love.’ Belle lowered her voice to a whisper. ‘Just let me go, Mum. Dad won’t find out until it’s too late.’

The silence that followed seemed to last forever. Belle loved her parents but they were like two pieces of the same jigsaw that didn’t fit together.

‘Go back to your room,’ her mum said.

As the two women stared at other there was a creaking noise upstairs. Belle’s fingers tightened around the handle of her case. She waited for her dad’s footsteps on the stairs.

Something shifted in her mum’s eyes and Belle didn’t know if it was sadness or regret. But it made her want to stay.

Tears rolled down her cheeks when she told Ted things were over between them.

But time had passed by, and Belle was finally here at the church clutching a bouquet of pink roses. Ted had won her mum over by helping with her gardening, and taking her out for pub lunches.

There was a thundering sound from the road and Belle’s heart leaped when she saw him. ‘At last!’ She tapped her watch.

Ted grinned sheepishly back.

She thought he might have got his hair trimmed, but she liked the way it curled over his collar. His grey suit was a little tight across his chest as he sat astride the red Harley Davidson. Belle swept a piece of confetti off her shoulder and ran down the path towards him.

Forty-two years might have flown by since they first met, but sipping beer in Australia felt like only yesterday. After their marriages and divorces from other people, four gorgeous children between them, and the sad passing away of Belle’s father, they were here and they had just got married.

‘Ready, Mrs Cooper?’ Ted called out above the roar of the engine. ‘Sorry, picking up the bike took so long. The road was closed and I had to take a detour.’

‘I’ve been ready for a long time, Mr Cooper,’ Belle said with a smile.

She hitched up her wedding dress and flung her leg over the seat, still nimble at sixty-three. She’d switched her cream stilettoes for the ancient Doc Martens she always wore for travelling.

Belle secured her helmet and wrapped her arms tightly around Ted’s waist. ‘I thought you were never coming.’

‘Some things are worth waiting for,’ he said with a wink.

And they both roared off on their next adventure.