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Finding Joy in Pain 2
By Roslyn M. Wyche-Hamilton
URBAN SOULCopyright © 2010 Roslyn M. Wyche-Hamilton
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAfter the Wedding
The ceremony was so beautiful, but after Roc handed me the note about Damon, I didn't know what to think. Jaylen and I had worked so hard to make sure we had the perfect day. I wanted Jaylen to know that my feelings for him were real and heartfelt. When I attended his first wedding, Toni showed every woman there what not to do as a bride. I still couldn't get over the fact that she had read her wedding vows off of a piece of paper. Like I said before, she had just shown up. I hated to say it, but I knew in my heart that their marriage was doomed from the beginning. Toni was fake, uppity, manipulative, and Jaylen was the complete opposite. Now, I knew that opposites attract, but in their case, they retracted.
It was not like we rushed into this marriage. We went to counseling, and we took things slow. We waited an entire year, because we needed to address our issues openly and honestly. I had made some poor decisions and Jaylen had made some poor decisions from a relationship standpoint. Now that I thought back, maybe it hadn't been such a good idea for me to attend Jaylen's wedding to Toni. There had been just too many unresolved feelings in one room. To make matters worse, Toni'sex-husband, Kenyatta, had been on the same cruise that Toni and Jaylen took on their honeymoon. Now that was just plain old tacky.
Jaylen had found out that the baby he thought was his was not after all. It had been just one thing after another. I had been dealing with the death of my aunt Lex, and in addition to that, Damon had been driving me nuts. But through it all, we had found our way back to each other. There was no doubt in my mind that Jaylen was my soul mate, and I also knew that together, we could get through whatever life threw our way. I know it was not always going to be easy, but we had each other now. So today was the first day of our life together, and the drama had managed to greet me at the door.
My body started to tremble, and I abruptly excused myself from Jaylen and our guests to catch up with Roc.
"Roc? What exactly does this note mean?" I angrily asked.
"Look, Joi, I did not know how else to tell you, but I thought you needed to know."
"So what am I supposed to do now? I can't believe he is out of jail, and now I may be his next target."
"Joi, is everything okay?" Jaylen asked as he entered the room.
"Yes, Jay. I had something important to ask Roc before we left for our honeymoon."
"Well, baby, couldn't it have waited until after we greeted our guests?" Jaylen asked. "You know everybody is asking where you ran off to."
"I'm so sorry, Jaylen. It just couldn't wait. I'll explain everything to you later," I replied.
"Roc, can you please excuse my wife? We have guests waiting," Jaylen said, with an annoying look on his face.
"No problem, man. Joi, don't worry, I am all over it," said Roc.
I knew Jaylen was pissed, but I had to talk to Roc. The note had thrown me into an instant panic. I had so much going on inside my head. For the life of me, I did not understand how Damon could be roaming the streets after all the stuff he did. There was enough proof to convict him of those rape charges alone. What about the stalking charges? Damon is a force to be reckoned with, and as much as I tried to put it out of my head, I knew he was hell-bent on coming after me for revenge. I just knew it. Roc's words played over and over in my head.
Damon was released from jail, and he knows you turned him in, I silently thought to myself. "How am I supposed to go back inside and act like nothing is going on? I can't do it," I said aloud.
I started looking around to see if I could spot Damon. For a second, it seemed like everything around me was spinning out of control. I should have known something wasn't right, because I had this weird feeling inside my stomach. This was supposed to be the happiest day of my life, and now I felt like I was acting out a scene from the television series Snapped.
"Joi? Girl, if you don't get your butt back in here. I have been trying to stall the guests until you got back. Where did you run off to? Are you okay?" Faith asked.
"No, Faith, I'm not. Damon was here."
"Here? Where?" Faith asked, with a confused look on her face.
"He was here and Roc saw him."
"I thought his ass was somewhere locked the hell up," she retorted.
"Well, we all thought wrong, because he is out, and it's obvious he is stalking me."
"Look, Joi, there is no way you can go in there and finish greeting the guests. I will let Jaylen know that we have a situation, and I will tell the coordinator to make up something. Hey, you can finish making your rounds at the reception, and if the guests don't understand, too bad," said Faith.
I tried my best to put on a smile for our guests, but I was a nervous wreck inside. I didn't know if I should tell Jaylen right now or if I should wait until all our guests left the church. It was obvious that Faith had spoken to the coordinator, because she immediately advised everyone that the bride and groom would continue greeting everyone at the reception facility. Soon after everyone vacated the church, Jaylen took my hand and escorted me outside. Some of the guests blew bubbles at us, and some threw rice. It created the perfect distraction under unusual circumstances. My mother met up with us just as we walked toward our car. She hugged me real tight and kissed me on my cheek. The wedding party had already taken their places in the limousines.
We had a white horse and carriage, which was parked directly in front of the bridal party's limo. The bumper on the carriage had a sign posted that read CONGRATULATIONS TO THE BRIDE AND GROOM. There was an older gentleman standing near the horse, waiting to escort us to the reception. As we made our way toward the horse and carriage, the gentleman opened the door for Jaylen and me to get in. As we pulled off, there was a trail of cars behind the limousines blowing their horns, as we rode off to the reception. The reception was being held at Lucien's Manor, which was an upscale wedding and reception facility. Although, we could have had both the wedding and the reception under one roof, I wanted to have a church ceremony. We were also able to take our formal wedding pictures on the premises. I really did not say much the entire ride. Jaylen held on to my hand and professed to me that this was definitely the happiest moment in his life.
"Joi, you seem to be preoccupied. Is everything okay?" he said.
"Why wouldn't it be? I just married the man of my dreams."
"Well, I just married the woman of my dreams."
Jaylen leaned over and softly kissed me on my lips. I kissed him back, and he just held me during the ride. I wanted so bad to tell him about Damon, but I just couldn't. As long as Jaylen held me in his arms, I felt safe and secure.
"Joi, you have made me the happiest man alive. This just feels so right."
"Jay, I never stopped loving you. I honestly thought I had lost you forever."
"Baby, that's behind us right now. From here on out, it's all about us."
I knew marrying Jaylen was the best thing. I loved his family and he loved my family. My parents had taken him as a son, and his parents had taken me as a daughter. I could see the looks on their faces at the wedding and how happy they were for us. Everything just seemed to be falling in place. However, I really needed to tell Jaylen the truth about Damon and this note before we got to the reception.
"Jay, I need to talk to you about something."
"Joi, you can talk to me about anything," he said while kissing my hand.
"You know back at the church, Roc handed me this note regarding Damon."
I went into my purse and took the piece of paper out and handed it to Jaylen to read.
I tried to reach you earlier to let you know that Damon was released from jail, and that he knows you turned him in. I don't mean to mess up your wedding day. I thought you needed to know. I'm doing what I need to do, so don't worr y. I think I saw him here. Be careful.
It seemed as though Jaylen read the note more than once. He stared at it and turned it over, and he looked over at me.
"Roc thinks he might have seen this Damon character at the wedding? Is that why you ran after Roc back at the church?" he asked. "Yes, Jaylen. I panicked. I'm sorry."
"You should have told me right then."
"I was freakin' out, Jay. One of us needed to look like we were in control to prevent creating a stir with our guests."
"I need to talk to Roc. Is he definitely coming to the reception?" Jaylen asked.
"He's on the guest list, so I have to assume so. Besides, with everything that is going on with Damon, I am almost positive that he will be there."
"Well, let's not focus on this right now. Let me take care of everything. Okay, Mrs. Payne?"
"Okay. I just wanted you to know," I said quietly.
"You're my wife, and it's my job to keep you safe. When Roc gets there, we can talk to him together and get to the bottom of this."
"What if he changes his mind and doesn't show up?"
"Don't worry, baby. I have a plan B. This Damon character may act like he is crazy, but if he tries to bring any harm to you, he will regret the day he was born."
"Well, let's try to put on a united front so that our guests don't suspect anything," I said.
"Will do," Jaylen replied.
We finally arrived at Lucien's Manor. The driver pulled the white horse and carriage up to the front entrance, and the limousines were right behind us. I could see some of the guests walking into the building to attend the reception. The driver put the carriage in park and hopped out. He came around to Jaylen's side and opened the door. Jaylen stepped out and helped me as well. Before we went inside, the coordinator signaled us to a designated area so that we could have our pictures taken. Alongside the building was a landscaped garden with waterfalls and a sitting area perfect for taking photos.
The photographer led the bridal party to one side and Jaylen and me to another. He took pictures, a lot of intimate pictures, of Jaylen and me for about twenty minutes. Afterward, he took pictures of the bridal party, along with Jaylen and me. I didn't think there was a pose he missed. Forty-five minutes later, we headed back into the reception area. It was apparent that the cocktail hour was dwindling down and the guests had already taken their seats. The inside of this building almost blew me away. The entrance opened to a decorative lobby and a grand staircase set under a majestic crystal chandelier. There was imported tile, antique furniture, and classic artwork furnishing the corridors.
"Wow, I didn't realize this place was so nice," Jaylen noted.
"I know. It looks amazing," I said.
"Hey, the best is yet to come, Mrs. Payne."
The coordinator started gathering up the bridal party, including the parents and grandparents. Jaylen and I had to get to the back of the line for the final introduction. The DJ started announcing all the names of the bridal party. My grandparents had flown in from South Carolina to attend the wedding. Jaylen's grandparents were not able to make it, because his grandfather was not in the best of health. We promised them that we would send them a DVD of the wedding. Now it was my and Jaylen's turn to be introduced.
"Ladies and gentlemen, for the second time today, I introduce to you Mr. and Mrs. Jaylen Payne. Now let's give some room so that they can have their first dance," said the DJ.
As we made our way through the room, the DJ had a spotlight on the dance floor. Jaylen slowly guided me to the area of the spotlight and held me close. The DJ played the song we had chosen, which was Jamie Foxx's "When I First Saw You." The song was perfect. I could have danced with Jaylen all night. He saw me crying and started wiping my tears. The rest of the bridal party joined in toward the middle of the song. As I looked around the room, it blew me away. It was so elegant. In one corner there was a beautiful fireplace, and in another corner was a waterfall cascading down a tiled wall. There were marbleized columns adorned with gilded capitals. There was a hand-painted faux sky ceiling, along with ornate crystal chandeliers and eight-foot windows.
The wedding party sat up on a raised dais perfectly situated to observe the room. The pastor blessed the food before we began to eat. After a few minutes, they started serving the salad, followed by the main course. All the guests had a choice of filet mignon, chicken saltimbocca, or stuffed tilapia. I looked over to see how Taj, Eboni, and Gi'ana were doing. Faith was only one seat away, so I was able to talk to her. As Jordan got up, Faith leaned over in my direction.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
"For now. I told Jay everything in the carriage, so we are just dealing with it the best way we can."
"I just can't believe that Damon would have the audacity to show the hell up at your wedding uninvited. Isn't that some type of violation? Is he on parole?"
"It would have been if that was what he was locked up for." I explained. "I mean, he raped and stalked his victims, but he was not charged with stalking me."
"Wow, that bastard," said Faith.
"Can we just change the subject for a minute? I need to clear my head, girl."
"You're right, Joi. I am so happy for you and Jaylen. I saw how you two were looking at each other on the dance floor. Wow, I hope I get that lucky one day and find someone who loves me that much or even half that much," Faith professed.
"Thank you, Faith. I know you will, because you deserve it. I almost lost him once, but I was lucky enough to be given a second chance."
"I see your boy Roc over at the door, acting like security."
"Yeah, that's a long story," I said.
"Are you sure that everything's all right, Joi? You still seem a little preoccupied."
"No, I'm fine," I assured her.
I looked around, and the servers were pouring the champagne so that the guests would make a toast. I felt a sense of relief knowing that Roc was standing near the door. Jaylen's twin brother, Jordan, asked for everyone's attention. He stood up and faced Jaylen and me as he held up his glass of champagne.
"I would like to extend a toast to my brother, Jaylen, and his beautiful wife, Joi. Bro, you most definitely outdid yourself this time. Joi, you picked a good man, too, and I'm not saying that only because we're twins, but because he is the best. You are not my sister-in-law. You are my sister, and you always have been. We love you both, and we wish you a lifetime of love and happiness."
Just as Jordan sat down, Faith stood up.
"Excuse me, everyone. I would like to make a toast. Jaylen and Joi, you make marriage look good. For as long as I've known you two, you have loved one another. Joi, girl, you know we go waaayyy back. I remember when you were a little girl. You used to always say that whoever you married was going to be perfect. Now, I'm not sure if anybody is perfect, but, Jaylen, you seem to be pretty darn close. I love you both so much, and thanks for sharing such a beautiful day with us."
Everybody lifted their glasses to toast the bride and groom. Jay and I hugged Jordan and Faith. I could not help but feel a sense of sadness, because I was thinking about Aunt Lex. She had married Craig, who was the man of her dreams, or so she'd thought years earlier. She put so much into her marriage, and he repaid her by having an affair. To make matters worse, she found out that she had cancer and had to deal with both of those issues. I remember bumping into Craig and his mistress at Red Lobster while Lex was in the hospital, fighting for her life. I couldn't even imagine the agony she had to endure. Through it all, she had her priorities straight, and that was to make sure her son was well taken care of. After she died, it really put a lot of things into perspective. I missed her so much. I just would have liked to have included her in my special day, because I had been a part of her special day. Even though she wasn't here, she was still on my mind and in my heart, and I needed to say something to honor her memory.
"Excuse me, everyone. I would like to say something about someone very special to me, and that is my aunt Lex. I lost my aunt a little over a year ago to cancer, and I know that she is here in spirit. She loved us all so much, and I want her to know that she is my guardian angel. I wish Lex was hear to make us laugh and to be a part of the ceremony. I would like to make a toast in honor of her memory. Aunt Lex, we love and miss you."
Excerpted from Finding Joy in Pain 2 by Roslyn M. Wyche-Hamilton Copyright © 2010 by Roslyn M. Wyche-Hamilton. Excerpted by permission.
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