Chapter 7

The day of the wedding arrived. The girls woke up at 7 am so they could go get manicures and pedicures. The girls were so excited that they forgot the boys were still sleeping so they woke the boys up with their excitement. The boys however, took it all in stride and laughed and started a pillow fight with the girls. The boys decided to just wake up and go on their golf adventure earlier then planned. While the men and ladies were doing their respective activities, the parents of the bride and groom, and aunts, uncles and cousins were decorating the church, and the reception hall. The decorations were a secret from the groom. Bailey knew that Brian absolutely loved anything to do with airplanes, so she made the decorations “air travel” themed. She was so proud of it, and she was so glad that Lily and Sophie had helped keep this big secret from Brian. After a fun filled morning, it was time to head over to the Church to get dressed and have pictures taken! Pictures were fun, they did some super funny ones, and the usual serious poses and siblings/parents/grandparent shots! The bride and groom would not see each other until the ceremony so the bride and groom pictures would be taken AFTER the ceremony and before the reception (since the reception was one building over from the church, the couple was allowing 90 minutes for pictures before the reception began, and they had it all timed out and the photographer was a pro so she knew exactly how to make the most of those 90 minutes) After getting ready it was time for the wedding to begin! Brian took his place in the front of the Church with the pastor looking so happy and smiley! Then the bridesmaids and groomsmen walked down to the Bridal Chorus, and then, Bailey appeared in her stunning white dress that had sparkles on it and a veil on her head with makeup and tears streaming down her cheeks as her dad walked her down the aisle also with tears in his eyes. The reception went off without a hitch and soon Bryan and Bailey were announced as MR AND MRS BRYAN AND BAILEY BLANKENHOOPER!

After the festivities of the wedding, it was time to pack for Florida! Bryan and Bailey had been down there for a few days already but it was time for the rest of the crew to fly down. Sophie and Adam right of the bat decided that everyone was going to go scuba diving. He had done some research and had found a place in Tampa that did scuba lessons, so secretly he had been saving up for this, and he had enough money to pay for the entire family. Sophie just knew she wanted to build the best sandcastle in history so she enlisted the help of Lily and together, they came up with a plan to build the biggest and best sandcastle ever. The rest of the family was more laid back and didn’t make any plans; they just went with whatever and were fine with doing whatever.

After everyone was all packed and ready, they drove to the airport and flew to Tampa FL. The weather was a little bit cooler in New York City where they lived but they knew it would be hotter in FL, so they dressed in shorts and t-shirts. When they landed in FL, Bryan and Bailey met them outside of the airport equipped with water bottles, and some snacks. Then off they drove, to their beach house on the Gulf of Mexico. Right away when they got to the house, they unpacked and had a meeting about meals. They would have lasagna, macaroni and cheese, burger, hot dogs, brats, sandwiches, and fish! Each child got to have their own room for the week, which was a HUGE luxury since Lily, and Sophie shared a room back in New York.

After everyone got settled, they all headed to the beach, and Lily and Sophie began work on the ultimate sand castle. After several hours of swimming, hauling sand and buckets of water back and forth, the ultimate sand castle was complete, at the very end; Sophie stuck a flag in one of the towers that read WELCOME TO THE BLANKENHOOPER FAMILY CASTLE. A couple who happened to walk by asked if they wanted a picture and of course they all agreed and so all lined up and posed in front of the biggest and best castle ever built.

The next day was just as bright, sunny, and warm as the previous day. Adam woke up early and made a poster that explained that over the past few months he had been saving up money that he had earned from work to take the family on a special adventure. Adam explained they had to go to Tampa for this surprise, and everyone was super excited. When they pulled up to the “scuba school” everyone screamed in excitement because everyone had wanted to learn how to scuba dive! Adam got hugs from everyone in the family, and pinched on the cheek so hard by his parents and siblings that he explained that if his face fell off, his family would have to pay for him to get a new one. That was a big joke in the family because Adam had been in the school play THE WIZARD OF OZ and he was the wicked witch, and when he melted his face “fell off”. Scuba school was fun! They floated, they went to the bottom of the pool and after several hours, they traveled to the bay and went scuba diving in the bay and saw all sorts of fish. The day ended with everyone getting certified as a scuba diver. All in all, Adam was proud that he could make his family so happy and surprise them in such a big way.

The rest of the week was spent shopping, going to the aquarium, swimming in the ocean, eating out, going for walks and bike rides around the neighborhood. The day came that everyone was not looking forward to, it was time to go home. Everyone packed up, got all their stuff in order, and the entire family had one more night of pure entertainment while in Florida. The next day, they traveled back to New York, and settled back into life in the big city! They got back from Florida on September 9, 2001.

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Chapter 6

A few days after Adam took “his girls” out for lunch, he decided it was time for the ultimate surprise. He enlisted the help of Starla and they planned out the best wedding shower ever, complete with Bailey’s favorite kind of cake; Chocolate cake with a layer of  fudge on top and whipped cream on top of that, and Chocolate sprinkles on top of that! Adam and Starla could barely contain their excitement as the day drew nearer. Sophie and Lily were beginning to grow suspicious of what was happening, especially since the previous night they had watched an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” where 5 of the doctors quit working at the hospital so they can take it over so the hospital won’t be sold to a company that didn’t care about the patients. Sophie and Lily set out on their own investigation and by luck, overheard Adam and Starla talking about it one night in Adam’s room via skype. The girls grew really excited and knew right then they had to keep it a secret. Unlike Adam and Starla, Sophie and Lily were masters at keeping secrets and kept their mouths shut so that the surprise would not be ruined. Meanwhile, in the midst of all the secret wedding shower planning, Brian and Bailey had made great strides on wedding plans and were now ready to start planning the reception. The reception wouldn’t be a “normal” reception, instead, the reception was going to be more of a less formal party with scrapbook making, coloring, balloons, and snack type food. Finally, after several days of Adam, Starla, Sophie and Lily  kept a BIG secret, the time arrived for the super awesome wedding shower. The family all went over to the bowling alley. Brian and Bailey were set to arrive 20 minutes after everyone else arrived. Right on schedule, the bride and groom to be arrived and all of Bailey and Brian’s friends and family were there for the big surprise. They had tons of fun bowling, opening  gifts, playing other games, and talking. The part was a huge success. Brian and Bailey were so overwhelmed and thankful for all the great gifts they received. The next week, it was time for the family to head off to Hawaii on their “learning” and fun vacation for Sophie and Lily’s school project. After 18 hours of traveling, they arrived in Hawaii ready to go! while in Hawaii they learned all about Pearl Harbor, the volcanos that formed the islands, they visited areas that were deserted because of volcano activity, they swam in the ocean, went on bike rides, when to a luau and even visited some of the places where Sophie’s favorite tv show LOST was filmed. All in all, it was a very fun trip and everyone learned a lot and Lily and Sophie got to work on the school project, and soon, had it all worked out with the oral presentation board and a short video. After the family got back from Hawaii and done with the Pearl Harbor presentation, it was time for Bailey and Brian’s big day! The last preparations were taking place, the dress and suit fittings were finished, all that was left was for Brian and Bailey to get the marriage license, and decorate the church. The task was made even more simple because the reception would take place in the Churches activity room so all the decorations could just be moved over since their would be a 40 minute gap between the end of the ceremony and the start of the reception. Brian and Bailey were having a smaller wedding, but all the plans were coming together nicely and all who were included knew that it was going to be a spectacular day of celebrating two people who loved each other. Lily was even MORE excited because she knew that after the wedding, she and her family were going to FLORIDA!!! Brian and Bailey however, had a surprise in store. Since none of the family had been to Cape Canaveral, they were going to take 2 days of their week in FL and go see it and get a tour of where they put the pieces of the space shuttle together for them to launch. It was going to be a wonderful time and the family could not wait for the fun to begin.

Chapter 5

The next day Adam took the girls out to a cafe for lunch. Not only did Adam make a reservation and asked for flowers and balloons to be at their table, but he also was a complete gentleman and opened the doors of the car for each of the girls and escorted them all inside, he even pulled out their chairs for them so they could sit down. Adam loved doing this sort of thing for his family. The one thing Adam didn’t tell them, was that his girlfriend worked at this cafe, and so Adam was going to introduce her to them! Sophie looked at her brother and stated how thankful she was to have the best brother in the world! At that moment, Starla walked up and said “Hi, i’m Starla and i’ll be your waitress today, and  Adam is my boyfriend, it’s very very lovely to meet you all” The others all shook hands with her and got their drink order in and then proceeded to talk about the past few days. Everyone agreed that it was going to be a fun few months planning a wedding, going to prom, going to Florida on vacation, and all the other fun spring and summer activities! Bailey asked Adam if he though Starla would like to join them in Florida. Adam wasn’t sure, so when Starla came back with the drinks, Adam asked her, and Starla got a HUGE smile on her face and said she would LOVE to join the and to let her know when it was going to be taking place so she could  take those days off of work, plus a day before and after as recovery days. Starla was a superb waitress, and even though Adam INSISTED on paying, Bailey paid for the meal and gave Starla a very generous tip. After the fun of lunch, they all went to the movie store together and bought a movie that they could all watch together that night. Later that night, when it came time for the movie watching, Bailey surprised them all by grabbing a grocery bag out from under her bed and pulled out all sorts of toppings for ice cream sundaes! so, they all made an ice cream sundae while watching  the movie “Pearl Harbor” Sophie loved the movie because she enjoyed anything that had to do with historical events. Lily liked it because of the love triangle between Rafe, Evelyn and Danny. Lily LOVED anything to do with complicated love stories and she also loved historical events. Bailey and Brian loved the movie because it was the first movie they ever watched together and Dana and Josh enjoyed it because on their honeymoon, they went to Pearl Harbor and also hiked around Oahu and found the valley where they had filmed some shots in the movie, and had scouted out all the locations where the movie took place! So, as they all ate ice cream sundaes and watched a really great movie, they all were content and happy, and were excited about all the adventures that were going to be taking place soon.

Chapter 4

Bailey and Brian soon needed a place to live since they had sold the house that Brian had been renting for the past few months ., so Bailey and Lily became roommates and Brian moved into a room that Josh and Dana had turned into a bigger “apartment” style ‘home’.  Bailey soon became best friends with the entire family, which was not surprising because  Bailey was super easy to talk to, and got really excited to do things with Adam, Lily and Sophie! Soon, it was time to go wedding dress shopping! The girls made an entire day of it, they went dress shopping, then went to lunch, then checked out different places that the reception could be! They had so much fun that they didn’t realize that it was almost 4:30 in the afternoon and Dana and Josh had to be at a dinner for Josh’s work by 6. When the ladies got home Adam greeted them and asked about the fun day they had and then asked Bailey if she could take him suit shopping. Lily and Sophie looked shocked because Adam absolutely hated shopping. In response to his siblings shocked looks Adam stated he only liked shopping for cool events such as weddings and prom.  Adam did get pretty excited about prom, even though it was still 5 months away. Adam had just asked his friend Starla to be his girlfriend after knowing her for the past 7 years and being really good friends with her for the past 3. Adam and Starla’s relationship was very slow, very gentle, and they both agreed that if either one of them felt pressured to do something, they would take a step back and re-evaluate the relationship. So far, nothing like that had happened especially since Starla’s brother Riley had been killed in a car accident. It was not Riley’s fault, in fact, Riley had a very safe driving record and did well in school. Riley had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. As it turns out, the young man who had been driving that night had been pressured by his friends to drink heavy amounts of alcohol at a party and then his friends wouldn’t call him a cab to get home even though he KNEW it was wrong to drink and drive. The young man had lived, but carried much guilt and shame with him, LUCKILY, Bailey’s family forgave him because when they heard the story they could tell he was a man with good intentions, never wanting to hurt anybody, so they asked for the other party goers to receive punishment. Each of those boys (5 in total) were each ordered to serve 7 months on probation, 5 years in jail, and pay 500,000 dollars to the victims family and to the family of the driver. Bailey’s family had been relived at the sentence, and since then, the young man had become a brother to Bailey and a son to her parents! Bailey and Brian decided that they didn’t want to be like those boys, so they agreed to break up if either of them felt pressure! so far, they had been dating for 6 months, and no pressure situations came up. Brian and Bailey, as well as all the members of the family also relied on their faith to get them through the tough times!  Sophie and Lily were laughing about Adam going suit shopping, but then, Bailey said that she knew of the perfect place they could go and buy a suit for him. so two days later, Bailey and Adam were at the most expensive suit shop in town! Bailey’s brother Ryan just happened (or so Adam thought) to be working that day and got them a nice discount on a suit for both the wedding, and for prom! Adam was so grateful that he took Bailey to the salon and paid for her to get a manicure AND a pedicure!  When they got home, Lily, Dana and Sophie were all jealous, and he smiled at them and said “don’t worry guys, i’ll take you all out for lunch tomorrow” and that’s exactly what they did!

Chapter 3

As the family was eating dinner and talking and reminiscing about the “good ole days” as Josh called them, Brian all of a sudden got a serious look on his face and said “OK guys, we have had fun, now i need to tell you something that i’m not sure how you will take it, but you guys deserve to know the truth” The whole family sat wide eyed and had eager expressions on their faces anticipating what was to come. after a few tense seconds of quietness, Brian shouted “I’M GETTING MARRIED” and proceeded to tell them all about his fiance and how great she was, and how he proposed! the entire family was all laughing and yelling congratulations and having a grand time teasing Brian because in all the years that the family had known Brian, none of them thought he would ever get married since he moved around a lot. The good part about all this was that Brian’s fiance, Bailey was a traveling nurse, so she would go somewhere for 5 or 6 months and then move on, which was right up Brian’s list of awesome qualities. After a few more minutes of questions and answers, Lily asked “so, what are you guys doing for your honeymoon”. Brian got a HUGE smile on his face and said “Our honeymoon is going to take place in Florida…..where we have rented out an entire condo complex and are flying you guys out for a week to hang out with us the week AFTER our official honeymoon which will be the week before you guys come…The beach is in St. Petersburg, so you’ll Fly into Tampa International, we will pick you guys up and then we will drive to the condo which is about a 45-50 minute drive, and on the car ride back, we can plan out some fun activities to do”  at the end of the explanation everyone in the entire family screamed in delight and started laughing and hugging and making plans for all the fun times they would be having. Then, the doorbell rang, and Brian was like “Bailey is here, i asked her to come meet all of you” Bailey was the prettiest girl anyone had ever seen, she was around five feet tall, brown hair, blue eyes, and had the cutest dimples on either side of her mouth! Brian grabbed her, hugged her and kissed her and then introduced her to the rest of the family. Everyone was giving Bailey hugs and kisses and congratulatory hugs and high fives! Adam had snuck out of the room and had grabbed the special “newbie crown” the family had used for each new person that joined the family and when he came back, he said “Princess Bailey, welcome to our family, may this crown bring you as much joy as it has brought me when Sophie and Josh entered into our lives” Adam wasn’t really an emotional guy, but at the mention of his family merging with his current siblings, he cried tears of joy because he loved his siblings so very much and would do whatever it took to protect them! Josh, Adam, Sophie, Dana and Lily all embraced at that moment, and after a few minutes, they pulled Brian and Bailey into the circle and embraced for what seemed like an eternity, but in reality, it was only a few moments! Without missing a beat Bailey sighed and said “I’m so excited to marry into this family, you all are so sweet and kind, and i never had that growing up so i’m excited to be in such a fun family” At that moment, the entire family started crying again because they already loved Bailey and even though her past had been a roller coaster ride, they didn’t mind, they loved her, and she loved them, and with that, the wedding planning started!

Chapter 2

As was the usual custom, Dana and Lily walked in the door of the house  at around 5:30 in the evening and were greeted by Josh who had a HUGE smile on his face and a look of “guess what i did today” on his face!  Without missing a beat, Lily said “Josh, what did you do?” and within a millisecond, Josh replied “I made your favorite for dinner” to which both Dana and Lily sighed with contentment and walked into the dining room to find not only their favorite food, but also, a big bouquet of flowers that had been delivered from Dana’s mother “just because”.  Grandma Lana was always sending sweet gifts to the family just because she loved every one of them, even her step-granddaughter, that she considered in a privilege to be able to send them items on an almost bi-weekly basis. The family proceeded to sit down for dinner and almost immediately, Dana and Lily started to tell the rest of the family about the ring. Josh looked wide eyed, and smiled and without missing a beat he exclaimed “Miss you Todd, wish you were here” to which everyone else raised their glasses and shared a toast to a great father, husband, and friend. Dinner continued in the usual fashion, everyone told about their day, about work, and about random things they came up with during the day. During dinner, the doorbell rang, Adam got up to go get the door and was greeted by a very well dressed man who looked surprisingly similar to Todd, Dana’s late husband. Adam, called Dana over and Dana looked at who it was an exclaimed “BRIAN!! IT’S BEEN SO LONG.” Brian, as it turns out, was Todd’s big brother who always came to surprise Dana and the family!. Brian was invited in, and instead of not inviting him to eat, Josh got some extra food out (Josh had known Brian was coming, but kept it a surprise, which is also why he made Lily and Dana’s favorite dinner in hopes they wouldn’t be mad at him for keeping this secret for the past 3 days) Dana led the rest of the family into the living room, and told the kids that they could eat in the living room if they wanted, which of course, they all did! So, after all the dinner items were brought into the living room and everyone got situated and comfortable, Brian started telling the family all about his adventures from over the past few months, but the biggest surprise of all, was still to come, little did the family know, that something exciting was happening at that very moment that would change everything.

Chapter 1

**The next several posts are going to be of the Short Story i am writing. I’m not sure how good it will be, but it’s one i’ve been working on for a long time. I hope you all like reading it as much as i’m enjoying writing it!!**

One day, on a nice warm summer morning Lily was walking down the street when she spotted something shiny laying on the sidewalk. She stooped down to take a closer look. All of a sudden she gasped and held her hand over her mouth, the shiny object was the wedding ring her mother had lost 3 years prior. She picked it up,  then walked the rest of the way to work, and worked briskly so she could get down to the police station as soon as she could. Lily kept herself busy during the morning so she wouldn’t get her hopes to high. After her marathon morning, she picked up her purse with the ring inside of it, and walked to the police station which was only 3 blocks from her place of employment. When she arrived, she walked straight into her mothers office and pulled out the ring and said ” I found it”. Her mother sat open mouthed in disbelief, shock, and amazement. Without warning, her mother burst into tears. Why did she burst into tears?? Something that Lily never told anyone is that her father had died when she was very young and her mother had kept her wedding ring on because she felt guilty that she had caused her husbands death in some way. Dana was Lily’s mother, she was beautiful, successful, and was the chief of police in the town. Dana hadn’t told anyone about her late husbands death, the only people she had told were Lily, her son Adam, and her step-daughter Sophie and her new husband Josh. Josh knew all about Dana’s previous husband Todd because they had been high school buddies, as well as work buddies at the same car dealership. Josh and Dana had been married for the past 16 months and had a wonderful life, beautiful home, and the best children they could ask for. Even though Dana still felt guilty she was involved in how Todd had died, she knew it wasn’t her fault, lived every day as if Todd were still alive. Lily and Adam and Sophie had all become best friends as well and didn’t consider themselves siblings, they vowed that they would forever be siblings,  but would act more like friends. Josh and Dana were so happy the kids got along. Now, i know your wondering what happened to Dana after she saw the ring for the first time in months. Well….After Dana composed herself and stopped sniffling, she looked at Lily and said “I have been hoping Todd would show himself again in some way, after the fire and we lost everything i was giving up hope, but this renews my hope that Todd is still here with us, even though it is not in the physical sense” That’s when Lily burst into tears as well, and mother and daughter wept together as one, mourning the loss of their husband, and father whom they love so dearly.