Phones and Tablets

SERIES: Knight In Shining Suit (Episode 6A)

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I fought hard the tears that threatened to spill from my eyes when I saw the whole ballroom. It was exactly as I had imagined it would be. The colors, the hues, the lilies. Everything was perfect.


“Welcome to my dream wedding.” I murmured to myself, but Ryder heard me.


“Welcome to the wedding that you’re going to best—a hundred times over.” Ryder whispered against my ear.


I looked up at him and he gave me an encouraging smile. Then he leaned his forehead against mine and he said to me, “Relax, Astrid. You have to remember, it’s me you’re in love with now.”

And then he leaned forward and gave me a butter soft kiss. “And I love you more than your ex ever did.” He murmured.


When I opened my eyes, I saw his handsome face, flushed with our kiss, his eyes were sparkling. I found strength inside me. He’s really going to help me pull this off. 

“We can do this.” I breathed. 

He smiled. “We are doing this.” He leaned forward against my ear. “Forget that we’re pretending. Tonight, I really am your boyfriend. And you are mine, Astrid. I only have eyes for you.”


If a guy as handsome as Ryder told you that he had eyes only for you, you should feel like you just won the lottery. I felt like I won a once in a lifetime chance to be with the Prince I only see in my dreams. I thought I melted then and there.


It took me a while to realize that I did almost fall on my bum. My knees turned into jelly with the look that Ryder gave me and the words he’d spoken to me. He had his arms wrapped all around me, keeping me steady.

“Easy, love.” He said in a low voice that seemed so familiar, so warm, so sincere.

I smiled up at him and then I kept myself steady.


“Let’s do this.” I said to him.


We walked hand in hand into the ballroom. And we were just in time. Bryan and Geena were just settling in their seats after their dance.  


Nicole led us to our seats and I could hear people murmuring from all over. I could feel hundreds of eyes on Ryder and me.

“What an entrance, Ash.” Nicole whispered and I smiled nervously.


Ryder pulled a chair out for me, quite the perfect gentleman. I found that Nicole sat me with Adam and herself and some people I haven’t seen before in my life.


I smiled at them shyly and then I gave Adam a peck on the cheek.


“Sorry, we’re late.” I said to him.

“Oh, dear cousin. Don’t worry about it. You had perfect timing.” Adam said in a slightly higher pitched voice and I had to bite my lips to keep from laughing.

“You remember Ryder?” I asked him.

Adam nodded. “Of course, I do.” He extended his hand to him and Ryder shook it.

“Nice to see you again.” Ryder said politely.


“Where are my parents?” I asked Adam.


“They’re over with Dad. They didn’t know you were coming, did they?” 

I shook my head. “I only told your Dad I was coming.”


“It looks like it.” Adam grinned. He leaned forward to whisper in my ears, “Even the bride and groom didn’t seem to know.” He excused himself from our table.


“Why aren’t you making rounds to see your relatives?” Ryder whispered against my ear.


“Because I’m too nervous to stand on my own two feet?” I smiled sweetly at him.


He laughed throatily, then leaned forward and gave my bare shoulder a gentle kiss.


“Come on, love. Maybe it’s time you introduce me to your parents.” He said.

I took a deep breath as Ryder stood up from his seat and pulled me to my feet. 

I nervously made my way across the dance floor, towards the front tables where my parents were seated. Couples who were dancing stared at Ryder and me. Many of them, distant relatives who probably knew the real story and didn’t really expect that I would show up tonight.

I found my parents sitting with Uncle Jack and his new wife, as well as some of my other distant aunts and uncles.


“Oh my God! What a lovely surprise!” My mother beamed as she gave me a hug.


As I hugged my father, I felt like crying again. However much I hurt, I needed to keep up appearances. I gave Uncle Jack a kiss on the cheek, then I introduced Ryder.

“Mom, Dad, this is Ryder, my boyfriend.”


“How do you do, Sir? Ma’am?” Ryder shook their hands politely.


Uncle Jack also extended his hand.

“Jack Ackers. I’m glad there’s a certain someone who’s making my girl blush.” He said teasingly, and I could feel my face heat up. I could tell that he was relieved to see me with Ryder.


After finishing the rest of the introductions, they invited us to sit with them for a while. I turned nervously to Ryder but his eyes sparkled as he pulled a chair out for me. He seemed so relaxed and confident. I squeezed his hand as he sat beside me and I felt him squeeze it back.


“What did you say your surname was?” Uncle Reynolds asked.


“Van Woodsen, Sir.” Ryder replied politely.

“And where are you from?”

“Manhattan, Sir.”  


Uncle Reynolds seemed taken aback and then he gave Ryder an impressed smile.  

“You’re from New York?” Uncle Jack’s new wife, Lilie asked. “How did you and Astrid meet?”

“Well, I’m in town for business, Ma’am. We met through a mutual friend, whom I will always be thankful for introducing her to me.”


“What do you do, Ryder?” My father asked. Somehow, I knew his question was loaded; he was judging if Ryder was capable of taking care of me.


I was about to say something when Ryder squeezed my hand.

“I’m an entrepreneur, Sir.” He replied. “I have… a couple of businesses in Manhattan and now, here in Malibu.” 

“What businesses?” My mother asked.

Ryder grinned at her. “I have a chain of music bars and restaurants, Ma’am.”


“You know the Van Woodsens. That’s what they do.” Uncle Reynolds smiled. “Hey, some of your restaurants in New York take a month for reservations. You don’t suppose you can bump us in quickly if we’re in town?” He chuckled. 

“Uncle!” I hissed.


Oh my God! I did not think this through! I thought to myself. Why did Ryder’s surname have to be or sound the same as a famous family? And worse, how could my Uncle know them?

But Ryder squeezed my hand calmly. “It’s okay, love.” He said to me, then he turned to my Uncle Reynolds. “Sure, Sir. Anytime. Give me a call whenever you’re in the city.”

“Perfect.” Uncle Reynolds said happily. 

“How about you, Astrid? What do you do nowadays?” Aunt Lilie asked.


“Um… I… ah…” I stammered. I felt Ryder squeeze my hand gently again, giving me the courage to… lie. Or dream out loud. “I’m thinking about putting up my own business.” 

“Really?” My mother asked, quite ecstatically. I could tell that she was worried about my answer.


I nodded nervously. “Well, it’ll still be something like what I used to do before. Weddings. But this time… I’d like to do it on my own.”

“That’s great! Where are you going to get the capital? You know that’s a great risk. A lot of money is involved.” Aunt Lilie said.

“Yes, I realize that. But…”

“But I believe in her.” Ryder interrupted. “I’m willing to bet my money on her. I know she’ll be great.”


“Oh, how wonderful!” My mother said beaming at Ryder.

“You mean, you’re investing on her business venture?” My father asked, looking at Ryder.

Ryder nodded. “Yes, Sir. Your daughter is brilliant. It only took one look at this perfect setting to convince me that she’s a genius

“Oh yes. I remember. Geena said she approached your old company to set this all up. You mean this was your concept?” Aunt Lilie asked, quite surprised. 

Ryder answered for me. “Yes, Ma’am. Every single bit of it.”

“Wow, you’re good.” Aunt Betty, Uncle Reynolds’s wife said.


“Thanks.” I said shyly.


I looked up at Ryder and found him staring at me with sincere admiration in his eyes and my eyes blurred with tears, because I realized who I am… who I was before Geena and Bryan destroyed me.


I stared across the table and found Uncle Jack looking at me, his eyes shining with tears. I wanted to cry more because I knew that he was genuinely happy for me. I realized that he felt so guilty about what Bryan and Geena did. Now he seemed so relieved to see me evidently happier with a much better man.

“Your Dad and I might go to New York next month. Maybe you and Ryder can come with us. Ryder can take us to a tour in the city.” My mother said excitedly.


Ryder looked at me and asked, “Would you like that, love?”


His voice sounded so sincere, I couldn’t say no or think of anything to say, so I nodded slightly.


“Very well. It would be an honor to have you in my city, Ma’am.” Ryder said to my mother. 

We chatted for a while and I felt more relaxed as the following conversations dealt with topics other than Ryder’s personal background.


Ryder put an arm around my shoulder and gave me a gentle squeeze. “Would you like to dance, love?”  


I simply nodded, and smiled as graciously as I could. We excused ourselves from our company and Ryder led me to the dance floor.


A slow song played from the center stage as I stepped into Ryder’s welcoming arms. I was so relieved that we were finally alone… well, almost alone and close enough to whisper to each other. I leaned my head on his chest and closed my eyes.


I felt a surge of excitement shoot through me again and then a sense of comfort… just when I needed it most. Like this is where I wanted to be… in Ryder’s comforting, protective and passionate embrace. A tear rolled down my cheek.

“Why are you crying?” He whispered against my ear.


I didn’t open my eyes. Instead, I snuggled closer and buried my cheek deeper into his chest.

“I’m just thinking that I feel … so safe here.”


“Must you always be crying when you’re in my arms?” He asked teasingly, but I could detect a note of concern beneath his light-hearted tone.


I pulled away to look up at him. “This is the first time I cried in your arms.” I said, a slight frown wrinkling my brow.

He smiled and shook his head. He slowly leaned forward and gave me a light kiss, a simple brush of lips against lips. “This is the second time, love.”


I was confused. I distinctly remember not crying in the lobby when he was hugging me, mainly because I was fighting the urge.

“When was the first?” I asked.


“That day in front of the jewelry shop, you collided straight into me and instead of pulling away, you buried your face in my chest and I knew you were crying.” He said gently.


I remembered that day. It was the day that my world fell apart, when I thought Bryan had already done enough to destroy it. Ryder had already been there for me… and I didn’t even know him. He gave me comfort at the exact moment I needed it the most.


“Oh my God!” I breathed. “I knew you looked familiar!”

He chuckled. “I knew you were crying for a good reason that day.”

“When did you realize it was me?”

He pushed back a lock of hair behind my ear. “From the moment I took your order at the bar. I knew you looked familiar. Those eyes are… not easy to forget. I remembered you from that day. After all, who forgets a beautiful stranger who suddenly comes rushing into your arms, sobbing like a baby?”

I had to giggle at that

“What were you doing in that jewelry shop?” I asked him.


He poked at his left ear, which had a pierce in it but no stud.



I felt him pull me closer to him. 




“I think my Uncle Reynolds got you confused with some famous people in New York. You didn’t correct him.”


“But isn’t that the point of all this?” He whispered against my ear.  


“They believed you.”

“That’s the point too.” He said.

“What are you going to do when my Uncle makes good on your promise to get him into one of those restaurant chains that you don’t own?”


He chuckled. “I’m a bartender, remember? I’ve been in the business long enough to know people. I’m sure I can make good on that promise.

“And my parents going with us to New York? This is a one day event. I can’t afford to write you a check the next time around.”

He laughed. “You don’t have to. You have my number. You can call me anytime you’ll need me again. Consider the next one a favor.”


I leaned closer to him and I felt him tighten his arms around me.

“I’m so glad you’re with me, Ryder.” I said to him. “I wouldn’t be able to do this alone.”

He kissed my forehead. “And I’m really glad you’re mine tonight, Astrid.”

To be continued..... 

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