Steve had lived in nothing less than fear the whole time he had been planning the wedding for he had no idea if he was doing the right thing.
He did not know If this was even something which Kayla was able to consider right then.
But he had felt somewhere in his heart that it was right for he had wanted to commit himself a new to the most amazing women in the world and show her and the wonderful kids which the two of them had together, that he was absolutely not going to be going anywhere without any of them ever again.
They were his home. And he was theirs, as was his heart and soul.
That was what that day was all about.
"Are you ready?" asked Marcus.
Steve nodded. He did not think he had ever been so ready for anything. He had only known he was going to bring this day about for a couple of weeks, but it felt to him as if he had planned it his whole life.
"I have never been so ready for anything."
"I think you look really pretty mom," said Joey at the other end of the aisle where he stood with Kayla, who held a bouquet of yellow roses in her hand - a gift from Abigail as they had got on the boat.
"And I think you are a very handsome young man," said Kayla as she watched her son's cheeks go a little red. "It is very important to me that you know just how proud your father and I are of you."
Throughout that year, he had been nothing less than a credit to the two of them and she was afraid that he had felt at sometimes overlooked and kept out the picture.
She was in some ways lucky he was so young as it meant he had wanted to be protected. Clearly, he had measured his own thirst for knowledge by the two of them and that had been just what she had wanted him to do.
"And I am proud of you – really mom, I think you are amazing."
Kayla felt her throat grow thick for what she knew was not the first and nor would it be the last time that day.
"Are you ready?" Joey asked and she nodded, unable to speak once more as they made their way down the aisle. On their way down the aisle, Kayla was aware that they were passing parents and brothers and sisters and cousins – all of them had turned up to celebrate her and Steve's love anew and she did not think she was ever going to be able to repay that. They were so blessed.
Arianna Grace waved from where she sat with Will and Sonny, the baby, Justin and Adrienne. They too had had their troubles over the past year but just like her and Steve, they had worked through them.
She did not think she was ever going to get over how resilient love could be.
By the time they had got to Steve, she felt as if she was ready to proclaim her love to the world once more.
God, she did not know what she and Steve had done in this world to deserve each other – it must have been something good though.
"Thank you, Joe," Steve said quietly as the young man put his mother's hand into his fathers, in a manner which belayed his young age.
Any nerves which Kayla may have felt left her as her husband held her hand. She always felt so much better when he was there to hold her hand.
"Sweetness," Steve greeted her.
Abe stood before them, welcomed the congregation and begun the ceremony. As the two of them stood in front of Abe, Steve felt his chest puff with pride. Kayla had the most beautiful eyes but nothing was ever going to match the beauty of her soul.
"Baby, I am so honoured you would stand up here with me today," sighed Steve as the two of them stood up with their family and friends. Joe stood by his mother and Stephanie her father.
It occurred to Kayla they were utterly united – the way the four of them should always have been.
"I have said time and time again that I am a lucky man to have you – but at times I am afraid I have not acted as if I knew that. I have left you, hurt you and taken what we had for granted. Thought I knew what was best for the two of us when if I had just spoken to you we could have worked it out together.
"Well, this is my saying to you I am never going to do that again.
"We are a team and partnership – and that is the way we are going to stay for as long as we both shall live. I vow to be a better man, a better partner and to confide in you whether or not in the past I would have done. This time, I am going to be worthy of you sweetness, I promise."
He had got it so wrong in the past. But he was not going to be bringing the mistakes of their past into the future.
She felt her heart swell with love for him – he had learnt and grown.
"Well patchman, what can I say? I do not know what I would have done if you had not come back into my life lately and I never want to be without you again," Kayla said honestly. "You came back to me when I needed you the very most – and you did it not knowing if you were going to be welcome or not – I think that's brave. But it is very important to me to tell you, you are always going to be welcome as far as I am concern," when it came to the two of them, she would never reject him. "and that is why, quite unexpectedly, I find myself on this boat again today, declaring to our world and anyone else who would listen that I am so proud to be your wife again – to make my vows to you again. Because we always find a way back to one another. Only this time, I vow to you to never let it go so far that we need to find a way back together. I vow to keep us together – forever."
X x x
After everything, Kayla felt as if she should have seen it coming. It was not as if she did not know the way this story had ended before and she was more than content for it to see it end the same way again. With her and Steve out of the water, declaring to all who they loved the most just like last time, that they loved each other. And when she had been brought here last time, it had been by her mom and Kim. And so she had been again but this time there was also Hope, Ciara and Steph.
Of course, the other big change was the fact their kids had got to be there. The next generation was manifesting itself. And god she loved that she thought as she stood underneath the deck with Steve.
There below deck the two of them were on their own for the first time that day.
She was aware they were not going to get long as there were so many people who wanted to celebrate with them.
But god knows if the two of them only had this moment together to start with, then she was going to do all she could to make the very most of it.
There was a mischievous glint in his eye at that moment. "Have I said Happy Valentine's day yet?" he asked her.
"Well!" sighed Kayla as she reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Not quite In so many words but I did get that was the gist of what you were trying to say to me."
The two of them laughed as his hands settled on her waist. "I love you, Mrs Johnson."
"I love you, Mr Johnson," She nodded in reply.
She loved him beyond words, rhyme or reason. And she knew how lucky she was to have him.
"So how long have you been cooking this up – and how much help did you have?"
"For about the last two weeks – and baby, I had help from all the family."
"I can not believe you all kept this from me – again. Remind me to thank them later."
He beamed. "I will."
But just right then she did not want to talk to any of the others she thought as he held her in his arms.
She drew back only to steal a kiss and otherwise she was content to stay there for quite a while.
X x x
"Well, I do not see how that could have gone off any better," said Stephanie as she stood with her brother and a glass of champagne in her hand.
The world was alright by her standards that day. It passed mustered.
"I think we really surprised mom."
"I'll say!" Stephanie agreed.
She beamed until she saw the thoughtful look on Joey's face.
"Nothing is eating you, is it?" his sister asked him and Joey shook his head.
"Nothing at all – I was just thinking how brave mom has been this year and how I wish she did not have to be."
It was one thing her being brave but even at his tender age, he knew it was quite a different thing having to be brave.
Steph took a deep breath, for as long as she had thought her little brother had not seen much then it was easier for her to handle all that had gone on. He was the baby in their family and so, of course, they had wanted to protect him.
But he had been there through it all and she knew no matter how much she wished it had not, all of this was going to have changed him as well.
All the good things were not going to be able to wash out the bad no matter how much they wanted them too. They were going to have to live with the scars of all of what had gone on for the rest of their days but she did not think what their family was doing was papering over the crack for she knew it was so much more than that.
They were living once more.
"Well, she does not have to be brave any more kid!"
She put her arms around him.
"If I have not said it this year then it is important you know I am proud of you," she said to him, kissing her kid brother's forehead.
"Back at you sis."
X x x
"Has no one told you it is very rude to come to a wedding looking better than the bride does?" Shane asked as he wrapped his arms around his wife.
"I will have you know my sister looks very beautiful today."
"And yet I only have eyes for you." He said kissing the side of her head.
He did not think he had seen so many happy people in one place for a long time, so he was sure he could be forgiven for enjoying it so much.
In fact, there was only one down point in the entire day for Shane and that was when he turned around to see Paige was talking to young master Deveraux.
"What is going on there?" he asked and he had begun to move as if to make his way over to the two youngsters when Kim put a hand on his chest.
"She is not going to thank you for trying to keep her from making her own decisions."
In fact, she did not think she had ever met a child who had done that.
Deep down she could not say she felt very different to him – especially when she thought of the trouble which it had caused between Paige and Eve. She was not going to say her beloved stepdaughter had not done wrong for god knows that she had.
But the two of them were mother and daughter and should be united.
Yet if she was willing to blame JJ she knew she had to be willing to blame Eve too. She had to blame both equally, or she had to forgive them both equally.
"But if he breaks her heart again..." Shane said and the two of them knew that was a very real prospect. After all, Paige clearly still after all this time liked the lad and if he had done it once then…
"Then that is going to be part of the course and I swear to you, I am not going to try and hold you back again if he does…. But if he did, then we will hold her when she cries and put her back together once more."
Kim had no doubt that there were going to be those who thought she should be more protective and thought she was being a little lapse as it was. But she had been a teenage girl and god knew she understood that the heart wanted what the heart wanted. There was very little any parent or grandparent could do to change that.
And Paige had every right to make her own decisions.
"I do not want her to get hurt."
"No matter what we do, we are never going to be able to stop the ones we love most getting hurt."
If the last year had taught her anything, then it had taught her that. The truth was, they just had to be there to when they could and enjoy the good times when they came.
That appeared to be a message which she did not have to spell out to her husband – may be her eyes said it all for as the two of them headed over towards the dance floor, she could feel him leave thoughts of their granddaughter behind them – for just a little while.
X x x
Though she knew in her heart she was going to have regrets about – well, everything about the way she had handled things until the day she left the earth, Sophie felt as if her heart was a bit lighter as she watched the happy couple dance. Kayla had been through something which she was sure no women in the world should have to go through but for the first time, she felt as if she was able to say she had been to.
And the great thing about it was - maybe the only great thing about it - was both of them had got to live to tell the tale.
They had both got passed it.
It had taken her a little while longer than it had Kayla, but once she had had a few friends to help her she was sure she had got there.
And now she was making a few positive decisions about her life.
"Hey, you!" she heard a voice in her ear say. It was Stephanie.
"You know I do hope this is rather obvious by now but I do admire your mother," said Sophie as she looked at Kayla as she watched her dance with her once more new husband. "She is a successful woman and though she has been through so much she just carries on," and though Sophie did not say it out loud, she did not think she could help but admire Kayla's capacity for love and forgiveness.
"You know I think I am going to follow in her footsteps and take up a profession," She has got sick of being a sectary a while back – she wanted something more - and after the trial, she felt as if she was hungry for it.
"And pray tell what are you going to do?"
"I think I am going to train for the bar and when I have done, then I am going to fight for women like us."
A smile on Steph's face appeared from ear to ear.
"Sophie, I think you are going to be amazing – in fact, I think you are amazing," said Stephanie as the two of them embraced.
For so long – ever since before what had gone on, Sophie had felt as if she had been forever waiting for the right man to come along to take all of this away. Now she saw it might not have been a man she was waiting for at all.
She felt slightly odd at that thought for she had never even considered that before – but as Stephanie pulled back she saw she might not be the only one who had had that thought at all.
X x x
"I think this is going to be it for the two of them now," said Hope knowingly. For a long time, she had known Steve and Kayla were meant to be together. She had no idea how it could be other on a night such as this.
Even if it was a very cold night out on the water, Hope did not know a place in the world she would rather be. It may be the drink she had or the fact she was with all those she loved. Or maybe it was truly just being with Bo. She ran a hand down his cheek.
"I think this is the time we are all going to be happy."
She did not know if it just blind faith or love or if- if it was true this time but she did believe he was not going to leave again - he was home for good.
"I am going to make sure of it," he said tenderly as he held her hand close to his heart and then kissed it.
He had big plans and hopes for the two of them. And if he had his way then the next wedding the two of them went to was going to be one of their own.
"If I said to you I had an idea about the two of us and Ciara going off for a little holiday of our own soon what would you say to that?" asked Bo.
"I would say it would be lovely if we can spend it going to see her big brother."
She missed Shawn – it had been far too long since they had seen their boy.
Bo grinned broadly.
"That does sound as if it would be just the ticket," Bo beamed. But if they were able to get both kids to a sunny beach and take some vows of their own, then Bo was fairly certain it would be nigh on perfect.
X x x
"I am so happy tonight," said Kayla as she and Steve danced.
"That is all I have ever wanted sweetness."
She was in the arms of her husband once more. Kayla looked about her…her mother was there and all traces of the worry she had felt had melted away from her face. Kayla did not think she had seen her so relaxed in a long time. Her mother was going to be fine when she was away on honeymoon for she had so many of her children about her right then, she was sure she was not going to be missed too much.
Roman was standing with John and Marlena, smiling at them. He was doing well, and he had his grandkids. Though he had not been blessed with a great love as his three siblings had, the affection which he had for Marlena seemed as if it would see him through.
Kim and Shane were close by – the two sisters shared a smile. It did not look as if it was the easiest thing in the world to be in their immediate family but as well as Theresa and Tate, they had Eve and Paige with them. The younger had been more than a little civil to JJ when he had arrived with his own family though the elder had not. What really mattered, however, was that Shane and Kim were settled back in Salem.
Bo and Hope seemed to be rebuilding something very precious.
And then there were these siblings which she had gained by marriage. She did not think either of them had had what people would call an easy year - especially not Jack but from the way he had been that day, it seemed as if he was getting himself back together and if the sight of Adrienne and Justin dancing was an indication, then they were going to be just fine as well, as they went on to their next chapter raising their new daughter together.
And as for them - well she did not see a reason why Stephanie was going to be leaving anytime soon and Joey had been such a good boy of late - when they did get home a big treat was going to have to be on the cards…
But for now, all she had to worry about was her and Steve and the few days ahead -and what a lovely thought that was.
At the end of the night, the gondola came. Kayla had been having just a moment to herself when it pulled into view, looking out over the waves thinking and trying to remember when she had felt as safe and as loved as she did right then.
It turned out it had not been for a long time.
On seeing their ride was there for them, just as it had been in the past, Kayla turned, and sure enough, Steve was there waiting to take her to the next stage of their adventure. This was going to be their honeymoon – the start of their new marriage and she wanted to do it right. She wanted it all proper… and to look to the future.
The next five minutes passed in a blur of hugs and kisses and well wishes and promises to catch up when they got back.
The last people Kayla embraced before she left the boat were her kids…
She knew no matter how much fun she and their father were going to have while they were away she was going to miss them chronically. It had been a while since she had been out of Salem, and Kayla felt a twist of her gut at the thought of being away from her family though she knew there was no way and nothing which she would give her precious time with Steve up.
And then just like that, their trip began.
"Did I surprise you, sweetness?" Steve asked her once the two of them were sitting comfortably.
"I think I would be happy to say to everyone and anyone you surprised me."
When she had got up that day she had had no idea she was going to get to relive the happiest day of her life in the most wonderful way.
She did not think she was ever going to be able to express that properly.
"But then you are a constant surprise to me!"
He had been from day one. She had known there was a lot more to the street thug than what he allowed at first. She knew what other people saw when they looked at him and it hurt her for she knew how much they were missing out on. He was sweet and kind and understanding and more willing to learn than nearly anyone she has ever known.
And that was why she loved him with all she ever had or would be.
"I can't tell you how much it meant that once more you were the one who could hear me in the silence," she said as she signed to him.
A huge part of her screamed she should have known that was going to be the case but him coming back had proved it to her – as he did time and time again. But when she had been racing down the highway in that car all those months ago – well, she had not known a lot…
She did now.
She and Steve were two halves of the same being, neither of them able to be whole and complete without the other. If there was one thing in the world which she was sure of, it was that they were too old to be messing around.
But there would be no more of that now.
"I can't tell you what a privilege it was that you let me - I love you sweetness."
"I love you too," Kayla replied with a smile as she looked at the beautiful yellow roses which sat in a small vase between them.
She leant over and kissed him, feeling the words more than she heard them, knowing that spring was just around the corner.
Author Note: Hi all – thank you so much for reading this fic and waiting so patiently for updates. I know I have not always been the quickest but writing this has been a real labour of love for me. I began writing just before the 50th anniversary and during it, my own life has changed. No Silence Without Sounds has seen me through a lot – I will miss it very much. That said, for now at least, I have no plans to write another plot with these characters for now. That isn't to say I never will – it is just I have no plot bunnies for now. I think I need a rest from the Johnsons/Bradys as much as I love them – but I am sure I will return to them in the future!
I hope you all have a lovely Easter, whether you celebrate or not!
Lots of love,