Chapter Seven: Flashback
The Wedding Reception

"...And with that I'd like to propose a toast to the bride and the groom. May they be as happy as Rhona and I have been!"

Amid cheers and applause, the man in the black and white suit raised his champagne glass high, casting the wedding couple a grin as he did so. "Much luck, both of you. Sian especially! As Mrs Sheppard - you're going to need it!"

"I like that!" Robin sent his best man a mock-glower. "I'll have you know, Jason, you only got the best man slot because everyone else was busy!"

"Touche." Jason winked at him.

"Speech, Robin!" Came the cry, and Robin got to his feet, casting a glance around at the assembled people. A smile touched his lips.

"Where to begin." He said softly. "This day has been a long time coming for more than just Sian and myself. I know that her mother has been hinting about dresses and garters since we were in High School - and sometimes I wondered if we'd ever get to this point myself. But we both wanted it to be right. And now is that time. Here in this room is everyone whom Sian and I hold near and dear. That you could all be here to witness this - our most special day - is truly a blessing. One we'll take with us for the rest of our lives together."

He paused, meeting his wife's tender gaze, then, "Contrary to popular belief, I've known that Sian Mulhavy was the woman I was going to marry since before she knew who I was. It took me a whole year of high school to make her realise that I didn't just happen to be hanging around outside her classrooms by coincidence!"

A ripple of laughter ran around the room, and Robin's smile widened.

"Well, I thought I was rather hard to overlook, but she did her best." He added playfully. "I know some of you wondered if I'd ever find my nerve - or sense - to ask the question, too. The answer was simply that I didn't want to do anything until I could give her the ring, the wedding, and the life that she deserves. Sian means the world to I know she does to all of you. Tomorrow is the first day, I hope, of a long and fruitful future together. I thank all of you for being here to witness that."

He sent his wife another glance, then he raised his own glass. "To my wife, Sian Mulhavy Sheppard. May all our days be as happy as this!"

"To Sian!" A voice echoed, and as one the assembled guests toasted the blushing bride as she got slowly to her feet.

"I don't have a speech to make, except to say thank you." She added. "And that I love Robin so very much. I've always believed that God marks us out, two by two, with our perfect pair. That's Robin for me. And I just know that we're going to have the best long as we're together, nothing else is important!"

Before anyone else could respond, there was a loud commotion from the back of the hall and a couple of the serving staff hurried across to the doorway, clearly trying to prevent someone from entering. As his gaze flitted toward the melee, Robin felt the anger surge inside of him.

"Calvin." He muttered. "What is he doing here?"

"Gatecrashing the party, by the looks of him." Sian rolled her eyes. "Oh, I can't believe he'd do this...Robin, no!" As Robin made a move to leave his place. "You're not fighting on our wedding day. You and I, we're married now. See sense. Calvin couldn't touch me before and he damn well can't touch me now. We're joined in God's eyes. He's just a drunk and a loudmouth...he's never going to get what you and I have."

Robin tensed for a moment, then he relaxed, sending his companion a sheepish smile.

"I know that. I'm just mad that he's trying to ruin our special day." He said softly.

"It's not ruined, so long as we're still married." Sian responded, slipping a hand through his arm. "You and I both know that."

At that moment Calvin broke away from the grip of the desperate waiters, stumbling into the centre of the hall. He flung his arm out in Robin's direction, pointing accusingly at the groom.

"You're a son of a bitch, how dare you take her!" He slurred. "This isn't over yet...I'll get you, I swear I will!"

"You'll get yourself out of this hall, young man, or we'll be helping you do it."

Sian's father rose from his seat, exchanging glances with his oldest son, who swiftly followed suit. "I won't have you swearing and cursing at my son-in-law on my daughter's wedding day. You better leave now, or we'll be making you go."

"I'm not finished yet!" Calvin exclaimed. "I'm..."

"About to make a swift exit." Sian's brother Anton said grimly, lumbering across the room and taking Calvin firmly in his grip. His father was not far behind, and between them they dragged the still-cursing, screaming drunkard towards the hall's exit, amid stares and whispers from the assembled guests. Sian's cheeks flushed red, and she bit her lip.

"I'm sorry, Rob." She murmured. "I didn't know he'd show up today."

"No, well, he's got no life. All he has is his obsession with you and his drink." Robin said quietly. "And Anton and your Pa have seen to him smartish. I wouldn't have thought many people could mess with them."

"In their right mind, noone messes with my father." Sian agreed. She sighed, then spread her hands.

"Let's not let him ruin it though, please?" She begged. "This is still a special day. Let's pretend he never came and get on with the party? Tonight we begin our honeymoon...and I don't want him to be on our minds when we do."

"Trust me, I have better things to think of." Robin assured her. "Don't worry about that."

"Cheeky." Sian thwapped him playfully.

"What? You're my wife now." Robin looked innocent. "Doesn't that make it all right to flirt with you?"

"He's gone now, Sian." Before the bride could respond, her father had approached the table, dusting off his hands as he did so. "He'll be no trouble - I sent him down to the cells to sober up with one of the local deputies. If you want to push it further, well, they'll speak to you about it later."

"Thanks, Daddy." Sian dimpled. "But Robin and I just want to go on with if he'd never come. Please. It's my special day and I'd rather forget it."

"Sure thing, peanut." The mayor grinned. "Whatever you want. This is your day, after all...whatever you want is fine!"

Prologue: Flashback: Carrowville, Arkansas
Chapter One: Memory
Chapter Two: Spies and Secrets
Chapter Three: Jack
Chapter Four: Flashback: The Hartlin Bar, Carrowville
Chapter Five: Margot's Plan
Chapter Six: Confidences
Chapter Seven:Flashback: The Wedding Reception
Chapter Eight: Fallout
Chapter Nine: Advice
Chapter Ten: A Friend In Need
Chapter Eleven: Logan
Chapter Twelve: Flashback: Sian's News
Chapter Thirteen: Ambush
Chapter Fourteen: Reconciliation
Chapter Fifteen: Flashback: Farewell
Chapter Sixteen: The Curse

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