Chapter 33

       August 7th, 2008


       "Dr. Love is finally off the market!" Chris howled, clapping his hands together. "Damn! I can't believe my boy is finally settling down — no more moonwalking in these streets for you!"

       Michael rolled his eyes and laughed. "You're sick! You make it sound like I was Don Juan or something. I've only been with four or five women."

      "Since moving to Baltimore," Chris playfully jeered, "by the way, can I have your little black book? You won't be needing it anymore."

       "Oh, I tossed that in the trash a long time ago," Michael blurted, as he struggled to fix his tie. "And even if I still had it, you wouldn't need it either. You know Roxanne doesn't play. She'd beat your ass for having it and mine for giving it to you."

       "You've got a point!" Chris Grimaced. "But um, all jokes aside, are you ready to get married again?"

        Michael smiled as he continued to fumble with his tie. "Yes, I am. Symphony is the woman of my dreams. I've never felt so complete in my life."

       "Aww. That's sweet. Maybe love will happen again for me someday, but I'm too busy being a hoe," Chris bellowed. "And won't you let someone fix that damn tie!"

      "Not a chance! Symphony is the only person allowed to do that." Michael smiled as he successfully tied his tie. "But back to you... It seems like one day is going to come sooner than you think. I see the way you look at Roxanne — you're in love with her."

       Waving Michael off, Chris cleared his throat and said, "Yeah, we'll see about that. Roxanne is a nice woman, but I'm not trying to be tied down right now."

       Just as Michael was about to reply, someone knocked on the door.

      "Who is it?" He shouted as he looked himself over in the mirror.

      "It's your fairy godmother, dear. Now let me in!" Elizabeth chuckled. "Symphony sent me to check on you."

       Upon opening the door, Michael gave Elizabeth a warm hug and asked, "how is she? Is she nervous? Why did she send you over?"

       Elizabeth huffed. "And here I thought you'd be happy to see me!"

      "Oh, come on, Elizabeth! I didn't mean it that way," Michael yelped. "I thought she might have gotten cold feet or something." 

      "Calm down for God's sake! She's fine, Michael. She sent me over to make sure you got your tie on properly."

      "I did!" Michael beamed proudly, pointing at his tie. "It took me five attempts, but I finally got it."

       "Oh, you look so handsome. Symphony is going to be ecstatic when she sees you. Did Michael Bush design this?" Elizabeth spoke cheerfully, running her hand over the lapel of his jacket.

       "Yes, he did. Do you think it's too much?" Maybe I should have opted for an all-black suit instead?"


       "No, dear. You look perfect. I love the grey and black combination. It matches Symphony's dress perfectly."


      "Thank you. That puts me at ease. Even though Symphony and I chose the color scheme for our wedding together, I was still iffy on the suit I chose... It's not a traditional color or design."


      "And it doesn't have to be. As long as you like it, that's all that matters."

      Chris coughed. "And what am I? Chopped Liver?"

       Rushing over to Chris, Elizabeth tugged his cheek and said, "of course not! You look handsome as well."

       Chris whispered. "Come on; you can be honest with me, I look better than Mike, right?"

       "I heard that, Christmas!" Michael chimed in annoyance. "Do you have the rings?"

       "What rings?" Chris spoke frantically.

        Michael glowered. "Stop playing, Chris. The wedding rings! I gave them to you this morning back at the house. If I'd had known you'd misplace them I'd--"

       "Gotcha!" Chris chuckled, cutting him off abruptly, as he pulled a black velvet box out of his jacket pocket.

       Charging towards Chris, Michael poked him in the chest and said, "don't mess up my wedding. I chose you to be my Best Man for a reason. I chose you because you're my friend — I trust you."

       Chris hollered, "chill out, man! You know I'm just teasing! I got this!"

       "You better or I'm never speaking to you again," Michael growled.

       "Boys! Boys! Time-out!" Elizabeth exclaimed, wedging herself between them. "Stop bickering! Now apologize, you two."

       Giving Chris a quick hug, Michael sighed heavily. "Sorry. It's just that today is very important to me. I didn't mean any harm. Thanks for being such a good friend to me."

       "It's alright, Mike. I'm sorry as well," Chris spoke sincerely. "I know today is a special day for you. I wouldn't purposely mess it up for you and Symphony."

         "Ok, we have to go!" Elizabeth babbled, pushing Chris towards the door. "We'll see you soon, Michael."


***

       "Girl! You look hot!" Trinity exclaimed, snapping her fingers. "Michael is going to lose his mind when he sees you."

        Symphony frowned. "Damn it! I knew I should have gone with the empire styled dress — I want to look classy."

     "And even if you had, it still wouldn't hide yo big booty!" Roxanne bellowed. "And who says classy can't be hot?"

       Looking herself over in the mirror, Symphony smoothed her hand over her butt and said, "Ugh! Maybe I should change into that white dress I bought from Ross last month. It's pretty and flares out at the waist."

         Trinity groaned. "Oh, come on, Symphony! We're just teasing. You look fabulous!"

       "Yes! You look divine, girl!" Roxanne chimed. "And besides, we all know Michael's an ass man. He's going to love the dress."

       As Symphony's lips curved into a soft smile, she inhaled and exhaled deeply. "I just want today to be perfect."

       "And it will be!" Trinity spoke briskly as she slipped a few extra bobby-pins in Symphony's hair. "The sun is shining, the wedding venue is perfect, and thanks to me, the bridal party is running on time. Now get your shit together, march down that aisle, and marry Dr. Gorgeous!"

       Throwing her arms around Trinity, Symphony hugged her tight and said, "thank you for being my Maid of Honor. You're like the sister I never had."

       "It's truly my pleasure," Trinity replied graciously. "And I feel the same about you. You're my sister from another mother. Thank you for being such a great friend to me."

       Roxanne interjected tearfully, "Damn, I wish my sister were like you two, but she's a cunt."

       "Oh, hun! Come over here and get some of this hug! Symphony spoke compassionately, waving Roxanne over to them. You're like family as well, that's why I asked you to be my bridesmaid."

       Trinity cackled, "yeah, girl! We love you! Now get your ass over here. We don't have all day!"

       Running over to them, Roxanne squealed as they enveloped her into their loving embrace. "Thanks, Symphony! Thanks, Trinity! You two are the best!"

      As the three continued to hug, Akeelah came bursting through the door, startling them apart. "Ten more minutes, everyone!" she shouted, then giggled.

       Waving Akeelah over, Symphony tweaked her nose and said, thank-you, sweetie. And my, don't you look pretty!"

       Akeelah chortled and twirled around. "Thank you, Ms. Symphony! I feel like a princess."

      "That's because you are! Thank you for being my Flower-girl. Are you ready?"

      "Yep!" Akeelah shouted gleefully.

      "Awesome! And remember to walk down the aisle, ok? No running."

      "Yes, Ms. Symphony. I know... Mr. Michael told me the same thing."

       Due to Akeelah's rare heart condition, she had to wear a custom-made chest guard to protect her against accidental falls and bumps. With her surgery coming up soon, she needed to be extremely careful. Any small accident could cause her procedure to be delayed or not to happen at all.

       As Symphony carefully looked Akeelah over, ensuring that her dress shoes were buckled correctly, and there was nothing she could trip over, a tender thought of Michael parenting their future kids flashed in her mind. For the past couple of weeks, he had been reading books on child-rearing, preparing himself for when she would become pregnant. But unbeknownst to Michael, Symphony had her IUD removed and consequently had a special bride to groom wedding gift she couldn't wait to share with him.


***

       It was a beautiful summer afternoon, and Evergreen Museum & Library, a historical museum of Johns Hopkins University, was turned into a magical fairyland. The majestic estate was home to a magnificent 19th-century Gilded Age Mansion that boasted a sprawling terrace and beautiful gardens. It was the perfect location for an outdoor wedding.

      When Michael and Symphony began planning their wedding, they knew right off the bat that its theme would combine their passion for music. In addition to being insanely attracted to each other, it was their love of music that had drawn them to one another.

      As glittery music notes and butterflies adorned the trees, swaying back in forth in the warm summer breeze, the small wedding party made their way down the aisle. Trinity and Roxanne wore pale pink dresses, and Chris wore an all-black suit, grey tie, and grey flower lapel pin. But the shining star out of the three was Akeelah. She wore an all-white lace and tulle dress with a sparkly grey belt. The wedding guest gushed over her cuteness. And last but most certainly not least, Symphony's father wore a sleek Italian three-piece black suit and grey bow tie.

       "Are you ready, Babygirl?" Symphony's father asked, locking his arm with hers.

       "I am, daddy," she smiled. "I've never been more ready in my entire life."

       When the song 'By Your Side' by singer Sade began to play, Symphony and her father started their descent down the aisle, as all eyes were immediately drawn to her. Symphony wore a luxurious white and silver rhinestone beaded lace mermaid dress with a ten-foot detachable train. The dress was customed made by Michael's fashion designer, Michael Bush, who had pulled out all the stops. In addition to the show-stopping dress, he created a waterfall fingertip veil with crystals and sequins.

      As Symphony glanced to her right, her eyes widened in surprise. The singer Sade was performing the song live with the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra. When the song first began to play, she thought the music sound quite different but would have never believed the legendary singer would be standing there in the flesh, belting it out live with the fifty-piece orchestra she had performed with back in December.

       When Symphony neared Michael, her eyes grew misty at the sight of him. He wore a shiny dark gray metallic jacket, black dress shirt with shimmering gray stripes, black trousers with an attached sterling silver wallet chain, and pointy-toe Cuban heels to complete his look.

       "Don't cry! Don't cry! Don't ruin your makeup!" Symphony shouted silently to herself, blinking back her tears.

      When she and her father reached the end of the aisle, he kissed her on the cheek and then shook Michael's hand. "Take care of her, Michael. She's a great woman."

      "I will, sir." Michael's voice quivered as he humbly bowed his head. "She completes me."

       As Symphony stood before her husband to be, her heart began to flutter. She couldn't believe they were finally getting married. And though their relationship suffered a few lows, they persevered and weathered the storms together.

       His anticipation rising, Michael inhaled and exhaled sharply as he slowly lifted the veil over Symphony's head. As he peered into her sparkling brown eyes, a soft smile creased his lips. In that instant, he saw their future flash before his eyes. A future full of love, happiness, and hope.

        No longer being able to contain his overwhelming emotions, he spent around and shouted gleefully, "God... I'm the luckiest man in the world."

       Symphony giggled. "And I'm the luckiest woman in the world."

       "You're breath-taking," he murmured, "like an Angel sent from heaven just for me."

        Trying her hardest not to cry, Symphony took his hand in hers and said, Thank-you, sweetheart. I feel the same about you. You look incredible."

       As the officiant looked between Michael and Symphony, he smiled and said, "I'm ready whenever you are."

       Chuckling simultaneously, Michael and Symphony turned towards President Myers and said, "we're ready!"

        When Michael put in a request to host their wedding at Evergreen Museum & Library, President Myers informed him that he so happened to be an officiant and had offered to perform their ceremony. Since Michael and Symphony had known President Myers to be a man of understanding and integrity, accepting his offer was an easy decision for them to make. They were grateful to have him preside over their nuptials.

       Looking out into the audience, President Myers smiled warmly and began the ceremony.

        ["Welcome, everyone! You were invited to this most joyous occasion today because you represent someone important in Michael and Symphony's lives. Being as that I'm not only the officiant of this ceremony but the President of Peabody, I truly can't think of a better venue than John Hopkins very own gorgeous estate and Italian styled terrace and gardens for an occasion that I know is not only special for the wedded-couple-to-be, but for all of us who are lucky to witness their joining in holy matrimony. The most amazing moment in life is when you meet the person who makes you feel complete. The person who makes the world a beautiful and magical place. So, without further ado, we are gathered together here to join Michael and Symphony in the union of marriage. The bride and groom have each prepared vows they will read now."]

       Standing under a large oak tree, shading them from the sun, birds chirped quietly as Michael and Symphony recited their personal written vows to one another. By the time they were finished, they had deduced most, if not all, of their wedding attendees to tears. At first, they both wanted a huge wedding but ultimately decided that a more intimate ceremony was for the best.

They felt it would be more special if their wedding day were spent with those closest to their hearts.

        As Michael's mother, Katherine watched the ceremony, she spoke tearfully, "We're finally getting our wish Elizabeth. He's happy. After so many years of hurt and pain... Our baby is finally happy."

        Placing her hand over Katherine's, Elizabeth dabbed her eyes with a silk handkerchief and said, "look at them. They're going to make such great parents. We're finally going to get some precious babies to dote on."

       Joseph, Michael's father, muttered, "Lawd, here y'all go. Let the man put the ring on her finger first."

      "Oh, hush!" Katherine admonished, playfully slapping his knee. "You know you're just as excited as we are. You adore all of our grandchildren just as much as I do."

        Just before exchanging rings, Michael took Symphony by surprise when he donned a wireless headset microphone, and the orchestra began playing a beautiful arrangement to an unreleased song he had written for his 1991, 7x multi-platinum album titled Dangerous.

        As Michael held both of Symphony's hands in his, he gazed at her lovingly and said, "when I co-wrote and produced this song, I was thinking of what it must feel like to experience such joy, love, and contentment. The lyrics had never been quite autobiographical to me until I fell in love with you."

       Just before Michael began to sing, Symphony placed his hands on her stomach, as she grinned from ear to ear. "This will be the baby's first time hearing you sing."

       Michael's eyes widened as he pushed the mouth-piece of his headset to the side. "Are you? Are we?" he whispered excitedly.

       "Yes, baby. I'm pregnant. We're going to be parents," she replied gleefully. "One bun in the oven and nine more to go."

      Taking her into his arms, Michael hugged her delicately and sang:


Can't forget the day

That you walked into my Life

It was just the kind of thing

That was so right on time


After all the love changes

My heart had locked the door

Then that girl released her magic

And made me love once more


Like the warm rays of the sun

Her sweet love can shine down on me


All at once turned my life around

And with one kiss she set me free


She's giving me Joy, Joy, Joy

That girl she brings me Joy.


       When Michael finished serenading Symphony, President Myers retrieved the wedding rings from Chris and Trinity. As he opened the black velvet box, displaying it in the air, Michael let out a sigh of relief when he saw the set of glistening bands. Their special day was going according to plan, and he could finally relax.

        As Michael and Symphony held each other's hands, they smiled tenderly at each other as President Myers recited the Declaration of Intent.


Officiant Myers: "Michael, do you take Symphony to be your lawful wedded wife? Will you love her, comfort her, adore and encourage her, cherish her in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, for better for worse, and to be loyal to her forevermore?"


Michael: "Yes, I do. With every fiber of my being, I do."


Officiant Myers: "and do you, Symphony, take Michael to be your lawful wedded husband? Will you love him, comfort him, adore and encourage him, cherish him in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, for better for worse, and to be loyal to him forevermore?"


Symphony: "I do. With all of my heart, I do."


Officiant Myers: "you may exchange wedding rings now."

        Removing Symphony's ring from the box, Michael slid the diamond-encrusted band on her finger above her engagement ring and said, "with this ring, I thee wed. It symbolizes my eternal circle of love for you. When you look at this ring, let it be a constant reminder that you are my lover, friend, and soulmate."

       President Myers nodded at Symphony, gesturing it was her turn.

      After removing Michael's wedding band from the box, she slid it on his finger and said, "with this ring, I thee wed. May this ring be a promise of my undying love for you. You're my life; you're my love, you're my everything."

         Looking between Michael and Symphony, then out into the audience, President Myers announced cheerfully, "by the power vested in me by the state of Maryland; I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride."

        Michael chuckled. "I've been waiting for this part."

       "So what are you waiting for?" Symphony smirked.

       Tilting his head to the side, Michael cupped Symphony's face gently in his hands and kissed her passionately, eliciting cheers from their wedding guest. As they continued to devour each other's lips, a few soft moans escaped Symphony's mouth.

       "Save some of that for tonight, Beautiful," Michael whispered breathlessly. "We're gonna make sweet love until the Break of  Dawn."



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