"Sus, do you remember Charlie’s wedding?" asked Poppy the next morning from her New Orleans office. In between the grand opening of Carly’s Sound two weeks away, and the finishing touches ready on the next property they were trying to acquire, she was trying to give Julia the wedding day she wanted. The more Poppy thought about it, the more fun she thought it would be to go over the top of what she figured Julia had in mind. The woman in front of her looked at her like she had grown horns at the question.

"You’re kidding right? That is not one wedding I will be likely to forget anytime soon. When Emily St. Claire puts her mind to it, the old girl can put on quite the show. I’m just glad Charlotte’s marriage held up after the money they must have poured into that one. Why do you want to know that?" asked Susanna. It had been a surprise when Poppy had come in whistling that morning and stepped into her office. Elizabeth must have known the boss was coming in since she had moved down the hall to her own office for the time being.

"We are going to recreate that particular affair, and you have three months and two days to pull it off. Why don’t we start with inviting Mrs. Emily St. Claire to lunch so we can pick her brain. Stop looking at me like that, I’m going to help you." Poppy smiled up at her assistant, mostly from the fact the woman in front of her looked faint, and the memory of picking a date with Julia the night before.

"Who are we doing this for?" asked a stunned Susanna. She slumped against Poppy’s big desk, and wondered whom Poppy had promised to plan their wedding for them.

"Me," said Poppy pointing her thumb to her chest.

"Yeah right. And who, may I ask, are you marrying?"

"Miss Julia Emily Johnson of Houston Texas," said Poppy. The Rolodex on her desk was turned to the right page and Poppy picked up the phone to call the socialite she had met years before, stopping when Susanna stopped talking. Poppy was shocked to find her assistant crying in front of her desk looking slightly green.

"But…You are getting married?" asked Susanna again. She had noticed a change in Poppy when she walked in that morning but would never guess that it was because she had fallen in love again.

"That she is Susanna, so start getting used to the idea that Poppy might actually be happy again. You remember that don’t you? The person that would break out into song for no apparent reason, the same one that would dance with you in the copy room. Remember her?" asked Elizabeth. Poppy had indeed called her that morning to tell her the latest developments. Elizabeth could hear the baby in the background as Julia gave her a bath. They had shared breakfast at the hotel to review the contracts Elizabeth had been working on, and she had seen it. The easy manner was back, as was the sharp humor that set Poppy apart from the person she had become after her mother’s death. Her only hope was that Julia deserved Poppy. Some of the attorney’s fears had been put to rest when Poppy gathered her into her arms and told her their relationship would never change, and she wanted Elizabeth’s blessing as to what she was doing.

The lunch with Emily in one of the uptown restaurants, was enough to get them started. Knowing the woman’s panache for entertaining, Poppy was not surprised when she showed up with a neat folder with all the information she would need. The St. Claire butler still showed up every year on her doorstep with the invitation to the Mardi Gras ball Emily hosted, but it had been at least three years since Poppy had attended. At Carly’s death, Poppy had figured Emily would stop sending the invitations, but Emily had been a true friend through the whole ordeal.

"Maybe you will start responding in the affirmative from now on to my invitations Poppy. It hurts my feelings when you are not there to waltz with me. This year I want no excuses since I would like to meet this woman that has stolen your heart. I have a feeling that you are as lucky as I know she is with this latest development. If you would allow me, I would like to offer my assistance so that your wedding day goes off without a problem," said Emily as she sat with Poppy and Susanna at lunch.

"I would be honored if you would Emily. Your friendship meant the world to Carly, as it has to me. That night that you danced with me will be one of my most treasured memories. You gave me something that night that I will always be grateful for. You gave me, and Carly legitimacy in New Orleans. Not that I needed other people’s approval, but I think it made Carly feel better to know that she didn’t have to give up all of her old life to be with me." Poppy reached across the table and took Emily’s hand into hers. She liked the woman simply because she marched to her own drummer and made her own rules as she went along. If you didn’t like it, you didn’t have to stay in her inner circle of friends.

"I’ll tell you something Poppy. I didn’t need to give you anything that you didn’t already have. Your Carly would have followed you into the gates of hell if you had but asked her. She loved you fiercely and it made so many people jealous to see you two so happy. If I know Carly, she is looking down on you now and smiling on your newfound happiness. Now if you don’t mind, I’ll be taking this lovely young lady with me and we’ll get busy planning a special day for you." People nodded their heads as the queen of New Orleans society made her way to the door with Susanna at her side. Poppy was heading back to the office to make more phone calls before heading back to her two girls.


The week flew by as they finished their business in the city. The staff of Carly’s Sound had been put to the test in the last week and had pasted with flying colors according to Miguel. Starting the next Saturday they would be opened for business. The reservations log showed that for the next sixteen months they were booked solid. Poppy had guessed right, in that there were people who were interested in relaxing for a week or longer at a time with nothing else to do but sun and enjoy good food.

Per her instructions, the bungalow was ready for their arrival that Friday, and had undergone some redecorating curiosity of Ginger and Matlin. The guestroom had been transformed into a baby’s room, and the bed in the master suite had been switched out with another one Poppy had restored that had been in storage in New Orleans. The piano had been swept clean of most of its photos so that Julia would feel comfortable during her stays there, but there were still some of Carly and Elizabeth up. The two friends figured Poppy would want to remember some of the good times they had shared here.

Miguel and the helicopter were waiting for them when the plane landed that evening. The hotel manager grimaced when he saw the bruises around Poppy’s eyes and the cast on her hand. He hadn’t had the heart to tell Rayford exactly whom he had punched out the day his sister had left, and unless Julia had called and told him the young man was still in the dark.

"How are you Poppy?" asked Miguel. Poppy glared at him through pain filled eyes. She had undergone the surgery to fix her nose two days before they had left, and the pressure of the cabin had made swollen sinuses more miserable on the flight over. Julia’s only salvation had come from the pain medication the doctor had prescribed before they had left. It would be nice to spend some recuperating time in their bungalow while they were back on the island.

"I’ve had better days Mickey. Let’s just go before my head explodes and you both have to clean me up off this tarmac."

Julia carried Tallulah toward the vehicle she had first flown to Carly’s Sound exchanging greetings with Miguel. She was looking forward to seeing her brother again and spending time alone with Poppy. Their relationship was new but when they had been in New Orleans, Julia had had to share Poppy with too many people for her own comfort. The blonde figured there was still so much that they didn’t know about each other, and this would be the perfect time to learn. Susanna had told her that it was Poppy’s custom to spend up to a year at each new place to make sure the service and facilities were all in proper working order. It had been Poppy’s hope to just spend some time in the bar at night singing a while, but in her current condition there would be no music.

By the time the sun went down, they were resting comfortably together in the hammock on the porch. Poppy slept behind Julia leaving the small woman to think about the time they had already spent here and what life with Poppy would be like.

"What are you pondering there my little sweetpea?" asked the burly voice behind her. Julia looked up to the bruised face and grimaced in sympathy. Poppy had been grumpy for the whole day, but Julia couldn’t blame her. Poppy looked like her face should hurt.

"How much I love it here, and how much I love being here with you. I know we can’t live here, but I would like to come back as often as we can. Tallulah should know where her parents fell in love don’t you think?" asked Julia. Julia felt the arms that were holding her tighten around her waist, and Poppy’s soft breath ruffle her hair. The curly head lifted a little and looked at the sleeping baby on the blanket close to them.

"I think we can show the princess the fact that we are in love on a daily basis baby. On a different subject, Lizzy and Susanna are flying out in a couple of days. They are stopping and picking up your grandmother and her friend on their way. Seems Tallulah needed to get her ‘cabana wear’ together, whatever that means. If I’m feeling better by then, want to go into Aruba with me and pick up the Pied Piper?"

"I think that can be arranged love, but only if you’re feeling better. I want you all nice and healthy as soon as possible," said Julia as she arched against Poppy enjoying the backrub the woman was giving her.

"Well if it hadn’t for your brother, speaking of which, where is the little shit?" asked Poppy.

"I really don’t know, I haven’t seen him since we got back. Poppy please tell me that you aren’t going to kill him. Dr. Landry said you’ll be good as new once the swelling goes down, and Ray is the only brother I have. I am almost sure that if he had known who you were, he wouldn’t have hit you," explained Julia. Julia was rubbing Poppy’s stomach like she had seen the tall woman do to Tallulah countless times hoping to calm her down. For someone that had enjoyed singing all her life, Poppy sounded like a cross between a chipmunk and a parrot with a sore throat.

"Yeah well he deserves a pop if you ask me," said Poppy. She was enjoying the attention Julia was lavishing on her so much that she didn’t hear the heavy footsteps coming up the path.

"You want me to kiss it and make it better?" asked Julia. When she got a slow nod the blonde moved up and initiated a slow kiss that had Poppy forgetting about her nose and her arm.

It was the man screaming, "What in the hell do you think you are doing with my sister?" that broke them apart. Actually it scared Julia so much that she rolled off the hammock, which threw Poppy off balance causing her to crash over the other side. When she landed on her back, the force of the fall caused Poppy’s nose to start bleeding. The last thing Rayford remembered, until he came to, was the look on Poppy’s bloody face as she got up and stalked over to him to deliver her own punch.

"Maybe Dr. Landry gives family discount rates," said Julia when she looked down on her brother. She knew by looking at him that he would have one hell of a shiner by the morning, but at least Poppy seemed to feel better and was oblivious to the fact a pint of blood had just drained out of her nose.

The next morning Rayford sat in his kitchen with an icepack on his eye while Julia sat across from him and explained just who Poppy was. The eye that wasn’t swollen shut was blinking at her furiously, as Julia could see the ‘oh shits’ flying through his brain.

"Oh my God! I punched the owner of Valente Resorts, and broke her nose? Why in the hell didn’t anyone tell me?" asked Rayford. He got up from the table and started looking for the folder that they had given him in training.

"What are you doing?" asked Julia. The color draining from his face when she told him what Poppy’s position was had concerned her for a moment, until he made a mad dash for the pile of papers on the small desk in the living room.

"I’m looking to see where she owns all her properties, because believe me if there is one next to hell that’s where I’m going to be transferred to."

"Ray calm down. Poppy is in the vacation business, so I’m sure all the properties are in decent locations where people are interested in going. Besides nothing is going to happen to you so chill," said Julia smiling at him.

"Yeah, how do you know?" asked Rayford. Julia’s smile got wider and she waved her left hand in his direction. He tried to focus with his one good eye but even from this distance Rayford could see the diamond on his sister’s finger.

"She gave me this and asked me to marry her, so I’ll protect you from the fury of Poppy Valente. Which brings me to the other reason that I’m here. I introduced her to mother and she wigged out, which probably means she went home and told dad. Translation to that conversation is that he is now wigging out too, so I have no one to walk me down the isle. Interested?" asked Julia. Rayford wasn’t convinced by the light banter coming from Julia. He could see that it was hurting her that their parent’s couldn’t be more supportive now that she had found love and the person she had waited for.

It had come as a big shock to Rayford when Julia had told him she was pregnant. He had always known that his sister wasn’t that interested in men, and was fanatical about commitment. Ray was never disappointed in her, and knew that alone or with the help of someone, Julia would be a terrific mother.

"So you love her huh?" he asked. Rayford moved back to the table and took the seat next to Julia’s. Their relationship had always been close, and they had always been each other’s best friend so he was happy for her.

"Yes I do. Poppy is the one person in this world, besides you Ray, which loves me no matter what my faults. In those two short months I spent here, I fell so hard for her it scared me that she wouldn’t feel the same," said Julia. She explained to him Poppy’s history and her relationship with Carly.

"Are you sure about this Julia?" asked her brother.

"As sure as I am that Tallulah is my daughter."

"Well then I need to do the manly thing and have a talk with Poppy and make sure she’s clear on her responsibility to the two of you," said Ray. He bit his lower lip hoping that the woman wouldn’t finish the job she had started on his eye when he did talk to her.

Rayford worked up the courage to confront Poppy two days later. He found her in the small office toward the front of her bungalow sitting with Elizabeth. The two looked up from the slew of contracts in front of them to see Rayford dressed in his uniform shifting from foot to foot.

Poppy wasn’t going to make it easy on him as she leaned back in her chair and pinned him with an icy stare. The effect was more menacing with the two black eyes causing Ray’s shifting to become more pronounced.

"Cut him some slack Poppy before he wets his pants," whispered Elizabeth into her ear.

"Hi I’m Elizabeth Stevens. I’m Poppy’s stepdaughter and her attorney," said Elizabeth holding out her hand. Rayford stared at her for a moment trying to figure out her introduction before shaking her hand. The blonde was about Julia’s height and had the prettiest blue eyes he had ever seen.

"Rayford Johnson, I’m Julia’s brother."

"I know. I’ll leave you two to your talk. Poppy, I’ll wait for you outside," said Elizabeth. She leaned down and gave Poppy a kiss on the cheek before stepping out of the room to head out to the porch. When she stepped outside, Elizabeth found an equally nervous Julia pacing with Tallulah. "She won’t kill him I promise. Not this close to the wedding anyway."

For thirty minutes Rayford apologized profusely for breaking her nose then moved on to praising Poppy for her accomplishments. A solid ten minutes was devoted to telling her how much he loved his job and his interest in continuing it. The now sweating man stopped talking when Poppy reached into her pocket and pulled out a small round container and threw it to him.

"What’s this for?" asked Rayford looking at the small Carmex container in his hand.

"After all that ass kissing you just did, I figured you might need some lip balm Rayford. Now how about we cut the shit and you tell me why you are really here?" asked Poppy. That finally got Rayford to calm down enough to see that Poppy didn’t hate him. He laughed as he pocketed the lip balm and stood up and held his hand out.

"Hi, I’m Rayford Johnson, and Julia is my twin sister." Poppy stood up and took his hand in a firm handshake and gave him a friendly smile.

"Rayford Johnson, I’m Raquel Poppy Valente, and I am in love with your sister Julia. As her other family representative I would like to ask you for her hand in marriage. I should tell you that I already spoke to Tallulah and she gave me her blessing, but it would be nice to have you on our side too," said Poppy.

"If you promise me that you will do right by her, and my niece, you will always have my blessing. Julia is a special woman and she deserves someone that will love her, and be at her side for the rest of her life," Rayford said seriously. He put his palms on the end of her desk and waited for an answer.

"Rayford, your sister will always be loved, and she will never want for anything including my love and attention. And your niece will be raised like she were my own. That’s all I can promise you."

"That’s all I can ask for. Be good to her Poppy, and I am sorry about your nose," said Rayford as he stood and shook her hand again. They walked out together and Poppy watched as Julia’s brother wrapped her in a bear hug and whispered something into her ear. It couldn’t have been bad because Julia looked at her over his shoulder and smiled.

"Thanks Ray, I will, I promise." Julia waved to him as he walked back toward the resort area to get back to work. When soft lips pressed up against her neck, Julia turned around and pulled Poppy’s head down toward her. With only a little encouragement the mouth that was on her neck opened and accepted her tongue and let it explore to its heart’s delight. It was the feeling that Julia hoped would never die, the feeling she got from being held like this while possessing Poppy’s mouth. "He’s right I should take care of you. You’re a keeper."


"Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?" asked Julia for the fourth time. "What if you start not to feel well?" asked Julia. Out of an old cedar box on the mantle, Poppy had pulled an old tin container in the shape of the cartoon character Betty Boop. Poppy had put it in a waterproof bag and was heading out to the Piper with a persistent blonde on her heels.

"Baby come and sit with me for a minute," requested Poppy. She sat in the old whicker rocker and pulled Julia onto her lap, putting the bag on the floor next to them. In her lap sat her future, which she kissed and held until Julia relaxed against her. On the floor sat her past, which was waiting to be set free of its confines. Elizabeth was waiting on the Piper, so that she wouldn’t have to do it alone, and Poppy wanted to reassure Julia before she left.

"Baby, there is one more thing that I have to do for Carly, and it’s something she asked me to do before she died. While I’m sure that she has loved living in this charming container she found at some flea market, it’s time to let her go. I put it off thinking that this was my last link to her," said Poppy pointing at the funny tin bombshell. Carly did have a sense of humor, even about the most bizarre things, like where her ashes were to be kept until Poppy released them. "But it turns out she’s in here," she said pointing to her heart. "I will always have love for Carly, and I will always have Lizzy in my life, but it is time to lay her mother to rest. She wanted to be here, where she found much of her happiness. It doesn’t matter that I am the one who found this place, she loved it here and here she will remain. Though, knowing Carly, she will find new places to haunt and discover as she enjoys whatever paradise she was sent to. Our adventure, though, has just begun my little butterbean, so I don’t want any old baggage getting in the way. I love you and I promise I won’t take long."

Julia leaned in and kissed her again. She loved the fact that Poppy was always honest with her feelings and that she was not going to so readily forget the woman that had shared most of her adult life. As much as Julia wanted to go with her, not out of jealousy but out of concern for Poppy, she knew it was something Poppy and Elizabeth needed to do alone.

"Promise you’ll be careful?" asked Julia when their lips parted.

"I promise baby."


When she lifted anchor the sun was low in the sky, Carly’s favorite time of day. They had often sat out on the porch or on the beach and watched the big orange ball make its final decent into the water. As she pointed the sailboat away from the island into open water, Poppy remembered all the dreams they had voiced during those sunsets. For once, the thoughts didn’t make her want to cry out of pain, but out of the happiness for the opportunity to have done them with the woman she had loved. There had been so many firsts with Carly, but Poppy was starting to get comfortable with the idea that there would be so many more in her lifetime.

"You once told me, that you get only one chance at the big game. To do it justice you must live every day to its fullest. The one thing that pisses God off more than anything is to die without having enjoyed your life. Do you remember that Poppy?" asked Carly. For once Poppy didn’t care if it was a figment of her imagination. It would be easier to say good-bye this way. Poppy looked at the woman standing by her side and smiled.

"Yes I do my love. You did an admirable job of it, even if you did get off to a late start. I like to think that you made up for lost time once you cut loose."

"Thanks to you. Poppy you know that I loved you, but I wanted to make sure that you knew how grateful I was to you. You always called me the wise one, but it was you that taught me some of my most valuable lessons, and I wanted to thank you again. I want you to be happy, and I want you to be a good parent to your children. Not that you need my approval, but you made a good choice in Julia. In her, you found the other half of your soul and your one true love," said Carly. She smiled up at the charmer that had stolen her heart. There was closure now and Carly felt ready to move on.

"I appreciate that Carly, she is really special to me. I love her, and I promise to be good to Tallulah. Though it would be nice if the kid had a nickname," laughed Poppy.

"Ask her mother what her middle name is. I’m surprised she hasn’t told you already, but maybe she’s been scared to, knowing what she knows about you. Remember that I love you, and I will always be looking out for you my love. We’re here baby," said Carly as she disappeared.

Elizabeth and Poppy stood side by side as Poppy let the boat sail where it wanted to for a while. Popping the top of the container off, they watched as Carly’s ashes took to the wind, scattering it seemed in all directions at once. "Goodbye my love, safe journey," said Poppy. Poppy slipped the rings Carly had worn from the time of their ceremony into Elizabeth’s hand, and then held the crying woman in her arms. They had come full circle and Poppy was ready to get back to the life that awaited her.

That night as Poppy held Julia close to her, she remembered something Carly had said before she had left. "Baby can I ask you something?" said Poppy. Julia moved up to lie on top of Poppy to hear the question.

"Sure you can sweetheart. What is it?" asked Julia, kissing Poppy’s bottom lip.

"What’s Tallulah’s middle name?"

"You wouldn’t believe me if I told you," said Julia. She wondered why this would come up now.

"Try me," said Poppy. She could feel the body draped over hers shiver a little so she ran her hands along Julia’s back for comfort.

"Her full name is Tallulah Carly Johnson. I just liked the name Carly, but I wanted to honor the woman that had raised me so Tallulah came first. Once I got to know you, I didn’t know how you would react to it so I thought about changing it if it made you uncomfortable," said Julia. Julia remembered the first time she had held her daughter and thought about what to name her. It was as if someone had whispered the name into her ear and it seemed to fit. The laughter coming from Poppy broke her train of thought and Julia laughed along with her.

"You always were dense when it came to what women want Poppy, so I thought I would point you in the right direction," said Carly. Poppy couldn’t see her, but she could hear the distinctive voice in her ear.

"No baby it doesn’t make me uncomfortable. She’ll probably grow up to think we named the island after her, and that’s ok with me."


"Ray would you stop pulling on that collar, you’re going to mess up you shirt," chided Julia. They were standing at the back of an old church outside of Nice, in the French Rivera. Inside were three hundred of their closest friends waiting to watch Julia walk up the isle and marry the person she loved most in the world. When Poppy had promised different and special, she had definitely delivered.

At the front of the isle stood Poppy, in a suit that matched Ray’s, waiting for her. The newest resort in the Valente chain was housing all their guests back in Nice, and Bob had flown a larger jet with their families on board. Everyone else was treated to chartered flights that had flown them in three days ago. When Poppy had driven Julia out to where the wedding would take place, Emily St. Claire had tagged along with them to tell Julia the history of the place. The ancient castle, which sat on the mountainside situated between the ocean and the French countryside, had been in the St. Claire family for generations. The church they were in today was part of the castle’s holdings, as was the great banquet room where the first reception would take place. Once everyone got back to the resort there would be another party waiting to continue the festivities. Julia had wanted a fairy tale, and Poppy had done her best to make her wishes come true.

"Did it have to have this many ruffles?" asked Rayford, running his hands along the front of the shirt.

"Yes it does. It’s what all the French autocracy is wearing," said Emily, causing Julia to laugh. She had taken an instant liking to Poppy’s friend, who reminded her of her grandmother in so many ways. Not caring if it wrinkled the dress she had picked out, Julia leaned over and hugged Emily to thank her for her hard work.

"She is waiting for you lovely girl, but I came to ask you a favor," said Emily as she held Julia lightly by the shoulders.

"Sure if I can," said Julia.

"Be good to her Julia, and love her beyond the limits you think you can. And promise me you will have her in New Orleans, next month, for my ball," requested Emily.

"I promise to both things."

Poppy saw that the doors at the back of the church opened and the music started. Taking a deep breath she waited for Julia to walk out on the arm of her brother. Had anyone bothered to look to the front of the church they would have seen the brightest smile Poppy had ever shown in public lighting her face. The blue eyes took in the simple white long dress that Julia had on, the crown of flowers in her hair and the small bouquet of Texas yellow roses she carried, and thought she was the most beautiful bride in the history of weddings. Poppy didn’t take her eyes off of Julia as Rayford shook her hand after kissing Julia, then taking his seat.

Isabelle and Raphael’s parish priest stood at the alter awaiting them. Their union wouldn’t be sanctified in the eyes of the church, but the older priest thought differently. The God he believed in would never truly condemn true love.

After the preliminaries were out of the way, Poppy faced Julia and took her hands in her own. "My love, I found you in the strangest of places, at what seemed to be the bleakest moment of my life. Ever since then, you and your little girl have opened the doors of my heart and let the sun back in. I’ve been told that for every person there is perfect match. The person that will always welcome you home and love you. Some are unfortunate in that they never find them, but we are fortunate, us two. I promise to always love you, cherish you and give you comfort. I promise to take care of you, share my life with you and love you above all others. Today I give you my heart and my solemn vow that you and Tallulah will never want for anything that is within my power to give you." Poppy finished her vows and kissed both of Julia’s hands. Poppy wiped away the few stray tears that had leaked down Julia’s face with her thumb, wanting to just skip to the part where she got to kiss the girl.

The bruises had long since faded from Poppy’s face, and the cast was gone from her right hand. Once her nose had healed her voice had come back to its original state, to which she was grateful so that she could sing for her bride. Without the need of instruments, Poppy took a deep breath and started.

She’s got a way about her

I don’t know what it is

But I know that I can’t live without her

She’s got a way of pleasin’

I don’t know what it is

But there doesn’t have to be a reason anyway

She’s got a smile that heals me

I don’t know why it is

But I have to laugh when she reveals me

She’s got a way of talkin’

I don’t know why it is

But it lifts me up when we are walkin’ anywhere

She comes to me when I’m feelin’ down

Inspires me without a sound

She touches me and I get turned around

She’s got a way of showin’

How I make her feel

And I find the strength to keep on goin’

She’s got a light around her

And everywhere she goes

A million dreams of love surround her everywhere

She comes to me when I’m feelin’ down

Inspires me without a sound

She touches me and I get turned around

She’s got a smile that heals me

Oh I don’t know why it is

But I have to laugh when she revels me

She’s got a way about her

I don’t know what it is

But I know that I can’t live without her anyway

"I love you Julia."

In the first pew, the baby Tallulah looked up at her big teddy bear, and waved her arms at her to get her attention. At almost eight months, Tallulah recognized that voice anywhere. Both the baby and Poppy enjoyed their early mornings together as Poppy fed Tallulah a bottle. Julia was thrilled as the bond between the little girl, and Poppy grew. Their daughter would never want for love or attention from her mate.

On the alter, Julia had to take a minute before her voice would work again. The big warm hand that held hers was the only thing that she was focused on now, that and the big blue eyes that held only love for her.

"I’m so happy that you belong to me. If I were sitting out there looking up here, I would be thinking that the woman by your side must feel like the luckiest woman alive. I’m standing up here, and let me tell you, that’s how I feel. A year ago life seemed so scary for me. I think that Tallulah and I would have made it on our own, but I’m glad that we have found our champion. On the day you found us, you sang just like you did today, only then it was to put our baby girl to sleep. I know you remember those green eyes looking up at you with adoration, like she had a sixth sense that you would be there for her always. If you had looked across the table at her mother, you would have found the same look on her face and in her eyes. I know that you are the other half of my soul Poppy, just like I know that for me, there will never be another who will own my heart. My promise to you is that I will always love you, honor you, comfort you and hold you above all others in my heart. My vow to you is that in my arms you will always find a home, and your family. I love you Poppy and I want you to always know that." When Julia was finished it was her turn to wipe tears from Poppy’s face. It took them both a moment to realize that the priest was talking to them.

"Raquel and Julia you have made your promises and vows before God, your family and friends. Raquel do you have a ring for Julia?" asked Father Justin. Elizabeth who was standing behind both of them handed Poppy a ring.

"Julia take this ring as a sign of my love and commitment," said Poppy as she slipped the wedding band on the slim finger, then put the engagement ring back on.

When Elizabeth handed Julia the new gold band, she held it up to Poppy’s finger. Gone was the tan line from the one Poppy had worn for so long. Julia looked at it as her opportunity to make her own mark on Poppy. Inside was inscribed the words that had come to Julia when she picked the ring out for Poppy. In her short time with Poppy, it had shown Julia why Carly had engraved what she did in the ring Poppy had worn for so long. Poppy had given that ring to Elizabeth along with those of her mother’s. It was what had inspired Julia’s own version of words. You are my living love song — Love J.

"Poppy take this ring as a sign of my love and commitment," said Julia as she slipped it past Poppy’s knuckle.

"Go on Poppy, and do what you’ve been waiting for," said Father Justin with a wave of his hand. "Kiss your girl."

Julia reached over and grabbed Poppy by the lapels pulling her forward. When she felt the big hands settle on her hips, Julia ran her fingers through the short curly hair and welcomed the lips she was now familiar with. Julia tightened her hold when she felt her feet leave the ground. Now that she was Julia Valente, she did feel like floating.


The party went on without them as the newly weds retired to their room. They had been up in the large suite, that overlooked the Mediterranean, for over two hours and Julia felt like she couldn’t possibly reach another pinnacle, but the large hand sandwiched between her sex and the bed was proving her wrong.

"Slow baby. Take it slow," she requested. Poppy had her facing the bed and was lying on Julia’s back. Poppy could feel Julia’s point of need grow hard again against her middle finger. All Poppy had to do was hold it steady while she moved them up and down with her hips. On every downward thrust, the tip of her fingers slipped between drenched folds sending Julia on another exotic trip.

When Poppy felt the walls of Julia’s sex start to contract on her finger the small woman beneath her screamed, "Oh….. fuck me hard." It was a little out of character for Julia, but Poppy seemed to find amusement in the fact that in the throes of passion, her partner seemed to relax her usual language just a bit.

"I’m trying to baby," Poppy said into her ear.

"Poppy unless you want me to hurt you real bad, you will not joke at a time like this," ordered Julia. She moved faster against the point of pleasure Poppy was providing, feeling the orgasm start.

"Time like what baby?" asked Poppy to keep her talking.

"Holy shit, I’m coming," was the last thing Julia could get out before all her concentration shot to one area of her body.

Poppy rolled off of Julia and went to open the doors to the balcony so the breeze off the water could come in. When she got back in bed she snuggled Julia to her chest once the spasms had stopped. When her breathing returned to normal, Julia reached up and kissed her. She could taste herself on Poppy’s mouth and the desire flared again.

"Honey did you ever see the movie ‘Casa Blanca’?" asked Julia. She ran her finger along Poppy’s ear feeling the woman shiver.

"Yes I have, why do you ask?"

"Give me a few minutes to recover from that last one, then you can play it again Sam."

Tallulah held her great granddaughter as she slept, and talked with some of the guests. She paused in her conversation when she heard the rich laugh coming from the open doors above them. "Your mothers are off to a good start little princess. There is nothing but blue skies in your future kid and I couldn’t be happier for you."


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