She watched the jeep drive off, a sinking feeling within her. He had been dressed so strangely that she had hoped… but yet again, a dead end. I should never let my hopes get so high… always dashed… It seemed she would never find Chance.
She turned as Elijah came walking up the hill. She walked over to him and wrapped her arms around him, putting her head against his chest. “Elijah.”
He hugged her, holding tight. “Was he…?”
“No. Not a ghost hunter. Sorry I took off so fast,” she added with a bitter laugh. She had seen the strange man in the graveyard form a distance and had taken a shortcut at a dead sprint to get there, leaving Elijah behind. “I guess he was just a… sightseer or something.” She sighed and nuzzled against his chest, feeling comforted by his embrace.
“I’m sorry, dear.”
“It’s okay. I mean, I’m used to… this sort of thing.” She looked up, resting her chin now against him. “You know, you’re really something special.”
“Am I now?”
“Yes. How many guys would willingly spend the night before their wedding traipsing around graveyards looking for their the ghost of their fiancé’s brother?”
Elijah grinned and tightened his hold. “Hmm. Not sure. But I would willingly spend every night from here to eternity searching for him with you, Mira. You know that. We could even cancel our honeymoon if you want.”
“No. No…” She shook her head. “I need a break. And besides… I’m really looking forward to those tropical beaches. I think Chance would kick me into next week if he found out I’d cancel my honeymoon to continue looking for him.”
“Did you want to keep looking tonight?”
Miracle closed her eyes. She did… but she knew it was a hopeless affair. Part of her knew she’d never find him, but she’d always keep looking. Just… not now. “Not now,” she repeated out loud. “Let’s get back to Sunset Valley. Long trip.”
“If that’s what you want…?”
“Yeah. We’re not gonna find him right now.” She knew she couldn’t hide her disappointment. She had been clinging to a tiny shred, a tiny little nearly microscopic shred of hope that she’d find him before the wedding. Alas, it was not to be. She would have to proceed with her wedding without her brother.
She was angry, of course. Furiously angry. She and Elijah had spent many months searching for him and not finding any clue. During that time they had grown closer and closer until they began a relationship. A rocky, strange relationship. She had wound up moving to Green Valley and getting a job there. A waitress as well as helping out at his church. She liked listening to him talk about the love of the Watcher even if she didn’t agree with it–she hated the Watcher, pretty much didn’t believe in it and even if she did she’d view it as more of a Jacoban version than Peteran (which is what Elijah was)… but still. Elijah spoke beautifully.
They wound up dating not long after she moved there, then broke up after she got angry at him… then they got back together, broke up, then got back together a third–and final, in Miracle’s mind–time. In early summer the two of them went back to Sunset Valley since her grandpa was super ill. Mira thought they’d lose him but Hal recovered, though his heart was very weakened. It was during this time that Elijah proposed and Miracle said no. She decided that it would be best if they broke up completely and forever. She wrote a long letter, feeling in pain about the idea of leaving him, and wound up in tears.
Her poppop found her in the upstairs den of Kaylee’s house. After comforting her for a while, she told him about the proposal. “And you want to leave him for wanting to marry you?” Sebastian inquired.
“I’m not the marrying type,” she spat out. “He doesn’t even really love me.” But even she didn’t believe that. “I’m not the loving type.”
“Sweetheart, you are the loving type.” He sighed as he massaged his knee, wincing slightly in pain. “Can I take a whack at the problem?”
“There is no problem, Poppop. I’ve said no. That’s all. Gonna break up with him, move back here and… wallow.” She wrapped her arms around her legs and rested her chin on her arms, completely miserable.
“Don’t give up on love because you’ve been hurt. Trust me on that.”
“I haven’t been hurt.”
“Not that way. But I have the feeling you’re afraid of him leaving you.” She jerked her head up at that and stared, rather horrified, from behind her glasses. “Darling. Your parents… did not abandon you. They both died. And Chance… he’ll come back.”
“Shut up! This isn’t–that isn’t–that’s not–” She got up and stormed to the other side of the room, fuming. “That’s not why I said no. I said no because I’ve decided to become a hermit. Hermits don’t get married.”
“A hermit,” he echoed, snorting a bit. “Mira. Shutting yourself off from the world isn’t the answer. If you don’t love him… then that’s your decision. But… eeerrrrghh,” he moaned as he pushed himself to his feet so he could go over to her. “But you and I both know that love isn’t what’s making you say no.”
“I don’t believe in love. There are no happily ever afters.”
“No. There certainly aren’t. You marry him, you’ll go through hell. Marriage… can be hell. Hal and I, we fought so much. Went through so many problems. Up and downs. But is a life completely alone any better? Think about how you feel about him.” One of his hands came down on her shoulder. “Think about how it would feel not to be with him.”
There was silence for a long time and then she turned, burying her face in his chest. “I’m scared, Poppop,” she whispered squeakily.
“I know, sweetie.” His arms tightened around her and he stroked her hair gently. “Life is a scary thing. But you know, your parents would want you to take the risk of love. Your mom did. So much.”
Miracle cried into Sebastian’s chest for a long time, body shaking with fear and guilt. It took her a long time to recover, nearly two full days. She argued with herself, told herself fear of abandonment wasn’t the reason she had said no and then finally went to Elijah who had been patient the entire time. She fell into his arms, weeping and confessing she wanted to marry him. And he held onto her so tight, and so understanding without even knowing what was wrong with her.
“Don’t leave me,” she finally whispered.
“Marriage is usually an indicator of wanting to stay together,” he said carefully.
“I want to spend the rest of my life with you, Mira. For better for worse.” He leaned back and tipped her chin up. “Till death do us part.”
She couldn’t help but smile at that. “Sometimes even death doesn’t part some people.” And then they kissed for a long time, and that night made love for the first time on the creaky, single hotel bed.
Over the next couple of months she spent her time focusing on finding Chance, leaving the wedding planning to Elijah who reluctantly took on the duties, laughing about their unconventional approach to the wedding–which, after much discussion, they agreed would be in November. Not very far off but there really wasn’t too much planning needed. The Danevbies were a large family and took on all the cooking, decorating and everything. Miracle was planning on wearing the wedding dress her mom wore, but it didn’t fit her body or her style so she finally got an inexpensive off-the-rack dress which her cousin helped fit.
The Baird family did as much as they could from Green Valley, and Elijah’s dad would be the priest to wed them. Mira was a tad bit nervous about the families meeting. She knew the Bairds didn’t care about sexuality or anything like that but still, being bombarded with Sebastian, and Hal, and Kaylee, and Emma, and hopefully Chance–both gay and a ghost–might be a bit much.
But when the families came in everyone got along very well for the most part. Michael Baird and Kaylee Danevbie got along extremely well, due to his interest in pirates.
The rehearsal dinner was three nights before the wedding since Mira and Elijah were going to be gone the two nights before. It took Miracle ages to decide who to walk her down the aisle and she didn’t make a decision until last minute. She sort of wanted her grandpas but Hal was having a hard time getting around. He refused a walker, so he leaned heavily on a cane and usually needed assistance from Sebastian to do much of anything. She thought about just asking her poppop, but she felt terrible having one and not the other. Then she settled on Kaylee, not caring if anyone thought it weird a woman was walking her down the aisle. Kaylee was her guardian and had raised her for over ten years, Kaylee was a perfect choice. Except when Miracle asked her, she wound up sobbing because the person she truly wanted to walk her down the aisle was her brother even though she knew, deep down, that probably wouldn’t even happen anyway because of the need to keep him a secret. Elijah’s immediate family knew her brother was a ghost (at least, believed her), but not his extended family–and only some of the Danevbies even knew about Chance. Most the cousins didn’t know. Not even her great-aunt Viola knew. Sebastian had never spoken a word about it to her.
Two nights before the wedding Mira and Elijah took a trip to Appaloosa Plains for one last attempt of finding Chance. But time was up, they needed to get back to Sunset Valley. Miracle had hoped that the weird guy was a ghost hunter who might know something since he was hanging around Appaloosa Plains… but no. Her final hope before the wedding was dashed, and she was left standing in the parking lot clinging to Elijah and feeling sad about Chance not being there.
“Ready to go, babe?” Elijah asked.
“Yeah. Let’s get back to Sunset Valley. Tomorrow, we have a wedding to attend.”
Miracle woke up on the day of her wedding, exhausted from the long trip the night before. Plus sick and jittery. I’m getting married today. She stretched her body and then went to the bathroom. Her reflection stared rather blearily back at her. “Getting married today,” she said and then shook her head before getting a shower.
The house was bustling with activity, some of the family a bit put out that Miracle had disappeared for the two nights before the wedding. “That’s what the honeymoon is for, girl!” one of her female cousins joked, elbowing her. Miracle smiled thinly back, as it was a cousin who didn’t know about Chance.
The family who did know gave her slightly sad looks that were wiped away with big smiles at the happy occasion. Only one person spoke openly about Chance. Before getting the pictures, Miracle and her cousin Amy were alone for a few moments and Amy said, “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised your brother’s not here.” It wasn’t even said with a ‘sorry’ tone in it, more of a matter-of-fact tone that Mira couldn’t help but take to mean ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’. Miracle glowered, resisting the urge to punch her. Punching one’s cousin on one’s wedding day didn’t seem like a good idea.
What am I doing? I can’t get married. She smiled for the camera, made fake-y poses with her bridesmaids helping her into her dress and putting makeup on, pictures under the arch. Eli and I should’ve just eloped. The more she thought about it, the more she liked the idea. Except it was a wee bit too late for that.
The bridesmaids went down the aisle, then her little cousins as the flower girl and ring bearer, and then Kaylee took her arm. “You look so amazing,” Kaylee whispered. “I can’t imagine how happy your parents are, watching from above.”
Fuck. Tears sprang to her eyes and she knew this was the right thing. Even if her parents weren’t here, even if Chance wasn’t here… she was happy. And seeing Elijah’s face when he turned to look at her. Her heart bounced up into her throat and she had to bite down on her tongue to stop more tears from going down her face. Elijah’s dad asked who was giving her away, and Kaylee stood a bit straighter at that. “I am,” she said, then turned to Miracle and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
Miracle stepped closer to Elijah, his warm hand taking hers. They stared at one another, barely aware of the words Michael was speaking. Just when Mira thought she could get a handle on her emotions it was time to light the candle in remembrance of Serenity and Henri, even though Henri’s name couldn’t be spoken. Michael Baird simply said, “Miracle’s mother and father.”
After the vows and ‘I dos’, and the ‘anyone here disagrees’ which Mira was rather hoping Chance would float through the walls and state that he disagrees cause his sister can’t get married without him there, but nothing happened and they were married. Mira and Elijah kissed, a long slow kiss, and then were announced as Mr. and Mrs. Baird. They had discussed which name to take but ultimately decided on his.
Mira and Elijah shared their first dance as husband and wife and then Miracle danced with Sebastian, when the daddy-daughter dance usually happened. When Elijah and his mom danced together, Mira sat with her grandpas. Hal seemed a bit shaky and pale and she was terrified the wedding was too much but he kept insisting he was fine. Mira didn’t believe him and could tell by the look on Sebastian’s face he didn’t quite believe Hal either. The two of them left a bit early.
“We could go early, too,” Elijah said shortly after when he noticed how frantic Miracle looked. He took her hand and gently kissed the knuckles.
“I’m okay. I am.” Though she wasn’t. Her fears of abandonment were getting to be a bit too overwhelming so she shut herself up in the bathroom and wound up vomiting.
Kaylee came in and wordlessly held her hair back then gave her a damp cloth to wash her face off. “Are you pregnant?” she asked.
“NO!” Miracle snapped but then saw her aunt grinning. “Ha-ha. Great, everyone’s gonna say I’m pregnant now aren’t they?”
“Probably.” Kaylee leaned back against the wall as Miracle rinsed her mouth out. “He would’ve been here, if he could. You know that.”
“I don’t want to talk about it. He made his decision to leave us. It’s been over a year with no sign of him anywhere. I need to face reality. Is Grandpa doing all right…?”
“I dunno, stubborn man insists he is but… I think M-dad is worried. Course, he worries about just about everything.” Kaylee smiled bigger now, cocking her head. “You got that from him.” Miracle scowled and went towards the door. Kaylee got up and gently took her arm, turning her to look at her face. “You are happy with him, aren’t you?”
“Yes. I love Eli,” Mira replied without hesitation.
“Good. Now let’s go dance. I’m gonna request the smustle. Every wedding needs the smustle, doncha agree?”
Miracle was able to get through the rest of the reception very well. After much dancing and cake, and bouquet throwing and garter throwing, it was time to go. They were going to stay at a nearby hotel for the night and then go to a cabin in the woods which was quite a bit aways, up on a mountain with lots of snow. The first night together was wonderful, their passion not diminished by the fact they had already been together. Then off to the mountains where they spent a week having a lot of fun skiing, sledding, having snowball fights, drinking hot cocoa, and snuggling up close by the fireplace.
Life as a married couple wasn’t much easier than life as a dating couple. Over the next few months they had their occasional spat–or rather, Miracle fought while Elijah remained patient and quiet, which just infuriated Miracle even more. She threatened to move back to Sunset Valley on more than one occasion but never meant it, and he knew it.
They were living in a nice little cottage in Green Valley, a few miles away from the Bairds. Between Miracle’s temper tantrums things went very smoothly until Mira was fired from her waitressing job. Elijah took on a second job to help with the bills, while Mira kicked her heels up in the house being bored. She didn’t want to be a waitress again but knew it was going to be difficult finding anything else, especially in Green Valley.
“Do you want to move?” Eli asked one evening.
“No, I like it here. It’s quiet and peaceful.” She sighed and curled up against him. “Maybe I should try and get a degree or… or something.”
“Why don’t you try something like writing? You write beautifully, and you love books.”
Mira stared up at Eli and then shook her head. “No. Poppop, he’s the writer. I wouldn’t be able to write anything.” But the idea stuck in her head, nagging her until finally one day she sat down and began writing an idea for a kid’s book, okay it was more of a dream she wished would come true. About a ghost boy, lost in the world who found his way home. She changed the name from Chance to Charlie, and then sent the few pages to her Poppop, deciding he’d tell her it was rubbish and that would be the end of that.
It turned out Sebastian loved the draft and asked her to clean it up a bit to send into his publishing agency. She considered not but ultimately sent it in and long before she heard back she got hired as a waitress in a casino which sparked a big fight between her and Elijah, since he quietly anguished over the fact her outfit was so revealing.
“Don’t you trust me?” she demanded one night, hand on hip, giving him a dark look.
“I trust you, and I have the feeling if any guy does something to you, you’ll embed the heel of your shoe in his crotch,” Elijah replied. “It doesn’t mean I like the fact you’re showing so much skin off.”
“I wear bathing suits,” she pointed out.
Elijah frowned at that then sighed. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. I’m being a hypocrite.”
“I want a job, Eli!” she said, partially disappointed he gave in so quickly. She liked it when he argued with her… sometimes. “I’m not gonna stay home and serve dinner in pearls and heels!” She raised her eyebrows at that.
Elijah frowned even more. “Who said I wanted that? Darling, I want you to have a job, if it’s what you want. And I don’t care if we have takeout every night, or sandwiches. Heck, I’ll serve dinner to you if you want.”
“What, in pearls and heels?”
“I might.” He gave a half-smile and she melted.
“Well. Then. I might wear a different outfit.”
The next night he served her dinner in some cheap pumps he picked up from the store, and his mother’s old pearl necklace. He wobbled a lot and nearly fell over twice but managed to get everything on the table, then sat down next to her and primly began eating. Mira was laughing and giggling so much she could hardly eat, and after that she wore clothes that covered a little more of her body. Because honestly, she felt a bit uncomfortable with the drunkards eying her and if Elijah was doing so much to make her happy, she could do the same for him.
Miracle got word back from the agency that the Charlie-the-ghost could be a great series for little kids, if she wanted to turn it into a series. She wasn’t sure if she did or not but she fixed up the story, cut some stuff out here, added stuff in there, and then sent it back.
Next came weeks of paperwork and meeting up with an editor and someone from the agency, coming to terms about the book and it just dragged on and on. During this time Mira lost her job for using her silver-edged tongue on some guy that put his hand up her skirt one night. Unfortunately, he was a fairly rich guy who had some pull with the owners of the bar so… Mira was out of work again.
“Don’t worry too much about finding another job right away,” Elijah told her with a kiss after he had comforted his crying wife for an hour. “I’m making enough with my jobs, and you have the book deal to worry about.”
“Yeah,” she sniffled. “Yeah.”
The terms were finally getting worked out and her book was just a few weeks from being published when she found out she was pregnant. She had been late, and was hardly able to keep any food down for a while so she took an at-home test which she refused to believe, and then went to the doctor and yelled at him when he assured her she was pregnant, explaining she was on birth control and it couldn’t happen. The doctor calmly replied even birth control wasn’t 100% effective.
Pregnant. She waited at home for Elijah to get back, not sure how to tell him. Part of her was excited but part of her was terrified. What if I’m a bad mother? What if I can’t love it properly? When Elijah came home he found her clutching a pillow and sobbing for her own mother. He dropped his bag and ran over, falling to his knees and putting his arms around her. “Are you all right?”
“No,” she croaked out. “I’m going to be a horrible mother.”
He stared at her for several seconds then did a quick glance down at her stomach before back up to her face. “That’s not–you’ll be a wonderful mother but… what…? Are–are you…?”
She nodded a bit glumly and launched herself into his arms. “I found out for sure today.” Then fear seized her and she dug her nails into his arms. What if it’s like Dad? And Chance? She had no idea if that could even happen but if it did… then what? She and Eli would have to find somewhere quiet to live, to raise the baby away from prying eyes… to never tell many people about it… and what if the baby grew up like Chance, not wanting to–to stay or be around her? What if her baby left her like her father did, and brother did, and Elijah probably would?
That night she locked herself in the bedroom all night long and Elijah had to sleep on the couch. In the morning he made her a huge breakfast with all her favorite breakfast foods and even though he looked a bit annoyed, he didn’t act annoyed. Mira apologized, Elijah kissed her, and then they curled up in bed together to eat breakfast and talk about what to decorate the nursery like, deciding not to do anything until they found out the sex though they both liked blue and yellow together.
A few weeks later she found out it was going to be a boy and since the checkups were going normal she assumed it was a normal, living baby. Two days after that, her book was published–because her poppop was a big name in books including children’s book, she was able to get published relatively easily. Elijah took the day off and they drove an hour to a really big bookstore where they stood in the kids’ section and stared at the book sitting right there. ‘Charlie, the Lost Ghost’. By Miracle Danevbie. Sitting there next to her poppop’s books. RIGHT THERE.
Miracle sniffled slightly. Not just from the shock of seeing her name on a book like that, or that she actually got published, or because of the hormones either. It was something else she wasn’t going to say… but Elijah reached down and took her hand. She didn’t need to say what was wrong. He just knew. “We’ll find him.”
She squeezed his hand tightly and then put her other hand over her belly. Chance was going to be found, just like he was in the book. He would.