Chapter 34

      Later that night at the wedding reception, it was time for the traditional bouquet toss. Deciding to do things a little differently, Symphony and Michael had put together the perfect scheme for the couple they suspected would get married next.

      With her back turned to the crowd, Symphony held her bouquet high in the air. But instead of tossing it over her head, she turned around, walked directly up to Roxanne, winked, and placed the bouquet into her hands.

      "Tag, you're it!" Symphony grinned and then trotted back to Michael.

       As everyone erupted into thunderous applause, Roxanne mouthed to Symphony, "thank-you."

       When Chris and Roxanne met at Nightclub in Baltimore last year, he had discreetly slipped Roxanne his phone number. Shortly after, the two started dating when Chris temporarily moved to Baltimore to finish up his latest movie — requiring him to film on location for the next several months.

       Turning towards Michael and Symphony, Chris rubbed his eyes and said, "You two planned this, didn't you?"

        "Oh, come on, Chris!" Michael roared in laughter, clapping his hand on his shoulder. "You love that woman. You told me yourself  she's the best thing that's ever happened to you."

        Chris grumbled. "I was trippin'."

       "Chris, just stop it!" Symphony bellowed, patting him on the back. "Roxanne and I  discuss everything. That's your boo. Now go and be with your future bride."

      Looking between Symphony and Michael, Chris playfully muttered, "Y'all two get on my damn nerves! Catch y'all later."

      Michael and Symphony giggled as they gave each other a zestful high-five.

      "Great job, Dr. Black. We make a great team," Symphony beamed.

        Taking her in his arms, Michael placed his hand on the small of her back and said, "yes, we do. God... Today has been so incredible."

        "Yes. I agree. Today has been amazing," Symphony whispered against his neck. "Thank-you for such an amazing wedding. And how on earth did you get Sade to sing at our ceremony?"

         Michael chuckled. "I have my ways. Just because I'm a music professor these days, doesn't lessen what I've accomplished in the record industry. I can still move mountains when I want."

 

      "Well thank-you, for moving Mount Everest! The only time Sade is seen is when she releases an album and supporting tour every ten years."


       "You're welcome, Beautiful. I know how much you love her, and I wanted to surprise you. And speaking of surprises, you've made me the happiest man on earth twice in one day. When did you find out you were pregnant?"


      "About two weeks ago. I hope you're not upset with me for not telling you right away, but I really wanted to surprise you in a special way."


       "Oh, Symphony. Of course, I'm not upset. And surprise me, you did! I damn near passed out."


       "So, when do you think we should tell everyone?"


       "Hmm. After sharing so much of my life in the past, let's keep this between us for a little while. We can tell our families after a month or so. Is that ok with you?"


       "Totally. I was thinking the same. I know once I tell my mom, she's going to be checking up on me incessantly. I love her, but she worries a lot."

       Placing his hands on Symphony's stomach, Michael kissed her lips and uttered tearfully, "thank you, Symphony. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for not giving up on us."

      When the DJ began to play an instrumental version of Sade's By your side, Symphony wrapped her arms behind Michael's neck and sang:

 

"You think I'd leave your side, baby

You know me better than that

Think I'd leave you down when you're down on your knees


I wouldn't do that

I'll tell you you're right when you're wrong

And if only you could see into me


Oh, when you're cold

I'll be there, hold you tight to me

When you're on my outside, baby, and you can't get in

I will show you, you're so much better than you know


When you're lost

You're alone and you can't get back again

I'll find you, darling, and I'll bring you home


And if you want to cry

I am here to dry your eyes

And in no time, you'll be fine."


       Wrapping his arms around her waist, he chuckled through misty eyes and said, "Sing it, baby!"

       "You're so silly," Symphony teased, as she rested her head upon his shoulder.

      As they drifted into their own world, a crowd of wedding guests gathered around to watch the newlyweds first dance.

       "God, this is all so surreal," Michael whispered as they continued to dance. "When I left the music industry behind, I often wondered if I had made the right decision. But after falling in love with you, I knew I had."

       "I agree. This all feels like a dream. When I signed up for classes at Peabody, I never expected to fall in love — least not with my professor."

       "Well, like the old saying goes, 'things happen for a reason.' Our meeting and falling in love were written in the stars."

       When they took a break from dancing, a waiter approached them, offering wine, but Michael quickly declined.

       "Michael! What did you do that for?"

       "Sorry, Symphony. No drinking. You're carrying our precious baby."

       Symphony frowned. "One drink isn't going to hurt the baby. My mom drank a little wine in her first trimester when pregnant with me, and I turned out fine. And according to Harvard Medical--"

       Cutting her off abruptly, Michael stared pleadingly into her eyes and said, "those studies change from week to week. I know there are varying opinions on drinking while pregnant, but I'd rather you not. This is our first child — I don't want to take any chances."

       "I'm sorry, baby. I know. It's just that it's a special occasion, and I figured one drink wouldn't hurt. Hell, even I understood April's decision not to drink when she found out she was pregnant — and I offered her Apple Cider. Which reminds me; I made sure to order some for her, and our other non-alcohol drinking guest. Hold on while I go and hunt down a glass."

       Cupping her chin, Michael winked and said, "no-no. Please allow me. I also need to check up on a few things. I'll be right back."

       As Symphony waited for Michael to return with her drink, she felt a soft tap on her shoulder. "Hello, Symphony. Congratulations! You look so gorgeous," Katherine greeted warmly.

       "Hello, Mrs. Jackson," Symphony spoke cheerfully, hugging her. "How are you? I hope my mom isn't talking your ear off."

       "I'm doing well, dear. And your mom is delightful. We're all having a great time getting to know one another. And please... Call me, mother."

      Symphony smiled, giving Katherine another hug. "Thank you, mother. And that's good to hear. I'm sorry you and Joseph couldn't meet my parents before today. The last few months have been hectic for us. Between planning the wedding, final exams, and my parent's various trips overseas, we just couldn't find a good time to round everyone up in one place.

       "Oh, that's alright," Katherine spoke tenderly, taking Symphony's hand in hers, giving it a small shake. "What's important is that we're all here together today."

       "That's true. I'm so grateful you and Joseph could make it," Symphony beamed.

        "Oh, we wouldn't miss Michael getting married to the woman of his dreams for the world."

      Symphony gushed. "Aww. Did he tell you that I was the woman of his dreams?"

       "Every chance he got," Katherine laughed heartily.

       "Hey Beautiful, I'm back," Michael bellowed as he wrapped his arms around Symphony from behind, passing her a flute of Apple Cider.

       Not realizing his mother standing there, he began nibbling on Symphony's neck. "Mmm. I can't wait for tonight," he spoke low and raspy.

       Katherine laughed. "At the rate you two are going, you'll get those thirteen kids you've always wanted in no time."

       His head startling upwards at the sound of his mother's voice, Michael released Symphony from his grasp and headed towards her.

       "Hello, mother!" Michael spoke enthusiastically, giving her a big hug. "Are you and the rest of the family enjoying yourselves?"

       "Yes, sweetie. We're having a great time —  including your father," she laughed. I'm sorry that everyone couldn't be here today, but Janet, Jermaine, Latoya, and Randy send their love. As you know, Janet just released her latest album and has a lot of performances lined up. She feels terrible she couldn't make it but said she'd touch base with you soon. As for the others, some had engagements they simply couldn't get out of."

       Twisting his lips, Michael laughed dryly and said, "oh, how unfortunate."

       The only person he really missed being at the wedding was Janet. Though he loved his other siblings, he had been betrayed by a few of them throughout the years, and their non-attendance was just fine by him. He didn't need any drama started on his and Symphony's special day.

        Catching the sarcasm in his voice, Katherine admonished. "Oh, stop that, Michael. I know you've had your ups and down's with them, but they do love you. You're still family, you know?"

        Out of respect for his mother, Michael quickly apologized. He loved his mother dearly and knew she meant well — he knew she wanted all of her children to get along.

       "Yes, Mother, I know," Michael spoke gingerly as he patted the back of her hand. "Maybe before the year is up, we can plan a big dinner at Havenhurst so Symphony and her parents can meet the rest of the family?"

       Katherine smiled. "Yes, of course. That sounds wonderful, dear. Just let me know when you want to start planning."

       "I will. But for now, let's plan on it being somewhere around mid-December during Peabody's winter break."

       Her eyes lighting up with happiness. Katherine replied, "that sounds wonderful!

I'm looking forward to it. Well, I don't want to take up you and Symphony's time, I'll catch you two a little later. And besides, your father is waving me over. I should go and see what he wants."

       Turning his attention to Symphony, Michael slapped her on her backside and said, "I've meant to tell you this all night, but your ass looks amazing in this dress! Please remind me to give Michael Bush a good tip."

      Symphony yelped. "Michael, stop!"

     "Why? You know you love it when I spank you," he spoke saucily, leading her to a discreet corner. "What do you say about sneaking out a bit early?"

       "Michael, no! We can't do that," Symphony reprimanded. "That's rude. And besides, everyone is going to blow bubbles when we make our exit."

        "Oooh, bubbles," Michael quipped sarcastically.

        Symphony groaned. "As sweet as you are, you can be a bit of a smart-ass at times. If you keep acting up, I'm not giving you any tonight."

       As Michael kissed Symphony's breast that was peeking just a little out of her dress, she caressed his head, as his 5 o'clock shadow delicately brushed her bare skin. Kissing his way up to her neck, he sucked her earlobe, causing her to whimper softly.

      "Are you sure about that, Beautiful?" He spoke seductively.

       "I'm stronger than you think, Dr. Black,"  Symphony purred, flicking the cleft in Michael's chin with her tongue. "But how strong are you?"

       Hoisting Symphony over his shoulder, Michael slapped her ass softly and said,  "I love a good challenge. Our wedding night officially starts now."

        Symphony laughed. "But Michael, honey. What about our guest?"

       "There's a live DJ, thousands of dollars worth of refreshments, and expensive wedding favors — we've done our part."

      As Symphony and Michael bidded their guest farewell, everyone blew bubbles at them as they entered into their getaway car — a sleek black, 2007 Rolls-Royce Phantom. The expensive luxury car was adorned with freshly cut white roses surrounding a banner that read, 'Just married.'

       As they made their way home, Symphony teased, "what... No Toyota Prius?"

      "Hardy har-har," Michael quipped. "I'll have you know that I'm a lover of luxury cars. Over the years, I've collected and driven many. But with me living a more relaxed life in Baltimore, there is no need for me to own any car over fifty thousand dollars. And like I've told you, I care about the planet. My Toyota Prius is easy on gas, thus making it better for the environment."

        "Aww... Daddy is mad," Symphony cooed to Shadow as she stroked his fur. Since the adorable puppy was apart of their family as well, Michael and Symphony dressed him in a tailored tuxedo, had him attend their ceremony, and included him in their wedding photos.

       Michael countered, "I'm not mad, Beautiful. But just know that I intend to make you pay for how naughty you're being."

       The throbbing but delightful ache intensifying between her thighs, Symphony shivered at the thought of Michael pleasuring her senseless. If it weren't for her confining wedding dress, she would have asked Michael to pull over so she could make love to him.

         Trying to take her mind off of her tantalizing thoughts, she shifted in her seat and said, "I can't wait for our honeymoon in Seychelles! I've never been to Africa."

       "Neither can I!" Michael spoke enthusiastically. "I love Africa and have been many times, but I've never been to Seychelles. I'm sorry that we can't fly out until Monday. With the new academic year starting soon, I need to prepare a few things before we leave."

       When they pulled into the driveway of a 4500 square foot, stonewall property —  Symphony stared at Michael in disbelief.

      "You didn't!" she squealed.

       "I did!" He smiled softly.

       For the past several weeks, Michael and Symphony had been shopping for a new house. Taking into account the big family they dreamed of having, they wanted a fresh start — a home they picked out together.

      From the moment Symphony laid eyes on the charming eight-bedroom abode, she instantly fell in love. With it's sprawling back yard, massive living room, cozy fireplace, in-ground pool, and gazebo — she knew it was perfect for their expanding family.

       Just before entering their new home, Michael lifted Symphony into his arms and carried her over the threshold.

      "Welcome home, Mrs. Black," he spoke softly and then planted a delicate but toe-curling kiss on her lips. 

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