The Rent.

Part 33, Six Months Later.

"I can't believe it," said Helen, brushing a piece of lint from Nina's dress.

"Can't believe what?" Nina asked, looking at herself critically in the mirror.

"You and Jim, going all this time without him ever seeing you in clothes," Helen answered.  "If you had told me six months ago that you guys would have managed that, I would have just laughed."

Nina smiled softly.  "Well, it wasn't easy, let me tell you.  There were many times I was so angry with him that I wanted to dress in front of him and break the streak."

"Oh yeah," giggled Helen, "remember the donkey?"

"I'd rather not," replied Nina, who still couldn't laugh about THAT day, even though it had been several months ago.

"I know there were times you could easily have ended it as well!" said Helen, who knew when to change the subject.

"Yeah."  Nina smiled, thinking back.  "There were times when I actually had to work at staying naked for him.  A year ago I never thought I would have purposely avoided wearing clothes for someone."

Helen nodded, and both women grew still.  "It's a pity it has to end," Helen said.

Nina smiled.  "Well, it IS our wedding day."

It was.  Helen sat back and admired her friend in her pure white wedding dress.  An IO creation, it gave the impression of gossamer lightness while at the same time sleekly showing off Nina's figure.  Lace fringe outlined her body and bust, and Helen was one of the very few that knew what little secrets the wedding dress held.  Nina's breasts actually pushed through cutouts in the front of the dress, after being fitted individually with silk 'socks' that covered them like a second skin.  Her breasts could be uncovered easily by one simple tug of the material, and Nina found the possibility to be thrilling.  Also, the fringe right at the front hid the fact that her nipples were not covered at all!  One merely had to brush the fringe away to reveal those coral tinted nubs.

It was a dress designed to put the wearer in a state of heightened excitement, and on Nina it worked.  She brushed the front of it once more, looking at herself in the mirror.

Helen checked her watch.  "It's almost time, Brian will be up soon to get you.  Shall we get your veil on?"

Nina nodded and stood still so her friend could place it on her head.  Nina saw that the veil was huge!  A single piece of fine lace, that flowed into the lines of the dress, right down to the train.  A white, silk covered ring was pinned to it, and this in turn was to be pinned to her head like a crown.

Nina let her friend finish dressing her, thinking about her life, about Jim, about her family, about her past and her future, and about what she was doing now.  This was such a big step, and she knew that what she felt was simply wedding jitters, something all brides faced.  Yet...

"There," Helen said, "finished.  You look perfect."

They both stared at Nina's image in the mirror.  "Do I?" Nina asked eventually.

Helen looked at Nina, and the swell of organ music started nearby.  Music for the guests that were now entering the church where the wedding was going to take place.

"Of course you do," Helen said softly, "you're a beautiful bride.  I hope to look half as good as you when Kevin and I get hitched next year."

"Has he asked you yet?" Nina said with a small smile.

"He will, although I might have to send him an invitation to his own wedding soon if he doesn't!"

Helen laughed, but Nina just smiled.  She looked once more at her image in the mirror.

"What's up, Nina?" asked Helen.

Nina sighed.  "This is wrong, I can't do this," she whispered.

"What's wrong?" Helen asked quietly.

Nina flapped her arms once in frustration.  Then she took her veil off and stared at it.  Turning to face her Maid of Honor, she said, "Will you help me?"

"You know I will," Helen replied.

Nina nodded.


James Barb stood waiting in the church, in position and in control, or so he wished.  Actually, he was as nervous as hell, even though he had no doubts that he was doing the right thing.  He loved Nina and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.  It was that simple.

Standing with his Best Man in their assigned positions, he looked about the church at the gathering throng.  It seemed to Jim that his side of the church was filling faster, with friends and family of not just him but his parents too.  His mother and father had places of honor at the front, and both smiled in encouragement as he tried not to pace.

The other side of the church was filling with Nina's friends, but the seats reserved for family remained bare.  Jim knew that the situation between Nina and her parents was not a good one.  Neither of them approved of Nina's decision to come out here, of her association with her grandfather's friends, or her desire to become a lawyer.  Jim couldn't understand their hatred of Alex West, a hatred they couldn't let go of even now that the man was dead.  A hatred that had also possibly cost them their daughter.  They were not coming out for the wedding, but Jim had hoped they would change their minds, so he made sure seats were set aside for them across the aisle from his own parents.  But they had not shown up.

Still, it wasn't as if Nina had no one.  Brian Cook had been delighted to be asked to give her away, and Jim's own parents loved her like a daughter already.  Yvette and Nina had grown so close that at times Jim found himself a little jealous of their secret smiles.

At one point not too long ago, his father had remarked that Nina was a lot like Yvette at that age, and that Yvette might be what Nina could grow old to become.  Jim had pondered the Freudian meanings behind THAT for a while.

For probably the twentieth time in the last ten minutes, Jim asked his Best Man about the ring.  After which he looked to the back of the church, wondering what was holding things up.  Apparently, they were not ready yet, but since some people were still showing up, he wasn't sweating it yet.

He had to think of sweat.  He could feel it itching under his armpits, and he tried to find a more comfortable way of wearing his grandfather's tuxedo jacket.  He could easily have afforded his own tuxedo, but his grandfather had passed it on to his dad for luck when he married Yvette, so Tom Barb now passed it on to his son for the same reason.

Jim sighed.

He spotted a signal being given and the music changed.  A wave of expectation flowed through the crowd as Jim eyed them one more time.  He saw Katie sitting with Sarah Wickland, both dressed beautifully and acting a lot more friendly than they had in the past.  He saw Mrs. Terry, Brian's housekeeper, who had pretty much taken over planning the wedding as if Nina was her own daughter, and they were glad to have her.  He saw Kelly and Christopher, the twin grandchildren of Brian Cook.  Kelly looked strange in clothes, and Jim grinned as he caught her eyes.  She smiled back.  He saw people Nina worked with, Donald Bell being one, who was there with his family.  Many faces Jim recognized as being clients Nina saw regularly as a paralegal under Sarah Wickland.  More faces he didn't recognize at all.  It was a very good turnout, and Jim was happy.

The flower girl walked the aisle first, Donny's young daughter with a big smile on her face.  Next came a bridesmaid, Ashley, looking lovely in her sky blue dress.  Helen followed, and to Jim she looked as nervous as he felt.  She glanced back once, but then locked her eyes on the front of the church.

When Helen took her place, the organist began the 'Wedding March' and all turned to look for the appearance of the bride.  The music played for almost a half minute with no appearance of her though, and a murmur of voices began to emerge from the gathered.

Then, from behind the arched doorway at the back of the church, Brian appeared, and as he moved, he brought forward a vision in white.

It took several seconds for the crowd to register what they were seeing though, and with the possible exception of maybe Helen and Brian, every adult mouth dropped open.

Brian led Nina down the aisle, his face red, his own disbelief evident in his expression, for Nina was no longer wearing her very expensive wedding dress.  All she wore was her veil, which Nina had adjusted so that it fell evenly around her entire body.  It could hardly have been counted as clothing though, for Nina was plainly visible.  She had let her hair down, and it cascaded over her shoulders, but that was all the covering she had underneath the transparent veil.  Her own expression was a mix of shock, fear, and determination as Brian led her to the altar.  He passed her on to Jim and went to sit down; unable to believe what Nina had done and hoping he could capture it in stone some day.

Other members of the congregation were a little more vocal in their surprise, and voices rose.  Some even stood, as if unable to handle what they were seeing by sitting down.  A few even left the church rather than be a part of it.

The people Jim had hired to videotape the event were very focused on their job.

Nina moved to stand next to her husband-to-be, and looked him in the eye.  Jim saw her courage, her love, in what she had done.  He knew he had put her through a lot during their courtship in his quest to see just how long they could go before he HAD to see her dressed.  He was amazed at the lengths they went to at times, and fully appreciated the effort Nina put into their little game.  Still, he hadn't expected this at all, and he saw it for the declaration of love that it was.  By coming out here nude, in front of all she knew and all who knew her, she was showing a commitment to him that could not be broken.  Jim was overwhelmed.

He looked at her face and saw something else too, a questioning look, as if she was seeking his approval for what she was doing.  He smiled and nodded slowly, and her face began to radiate with the most beautiful smile he had ever seen.  At that moment, they both knew that whatever else might happen, they were together...forever.

"This...this is highly irregular," said the priest, Father Brown.  "Young lady, you cannot be married like this.  Go get dressed at once!"

Nina and Jim turned to look at him, and Jim felt his anger build, spoiling his moment of pure happiness.  "Father," he said, "you ARE going to marry us.  It doesn't matter what Nina wears or doesn't wear, it doesn't matter what you or anyone else might think of this!  By doing this, Nina has shown me a love that I guarantee you will never see again.  No other couple that comes before you will ever be as committed to each other as we are, and God himself would be happy to bless our union.  Marry us, Father Brown, and send us on our way!"

The crowd in the church had all froze upon hearing Jim's speech, and the priest stood silent, mouth agape.  A single person clapping got his attention, and Nina and Jim turned to see whom it was.

It was Jim's mother, standing in her silk gown and applauding, a smile on her face.  His father got up and joined her, adding his own applause and nodding to his son and new daughter-in-law.  Helen and Ashley started clapping, and in moments many others stood and added their support.  It didn't take long for almost the entire congregation to stand and show that they too wished the wedding to continue, and both Nina and Jim were moved to tears.  They stared into each other's eyes and shared the moment by holding hands.

Eventually, the priest nodded and waved the group to silence.  He took out his little book, opened it, and began.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here..."


The reception was held next door in the elegant church hall, and most came.  People sat at table, visiting as people do during these events, but most of the talk was about Nina's amazing appearance.  While caterers served the food and drink, people could talk of little else, and many men were chastised by their female companions when their talk grew too crude or intimate.

It didn't help that Nina was also in the hall, doing her duty as the blushing bride by visiting each table.  And blushing she certainly was under her veil, which she still wore despite it hiding nothing at all.  But Nina was also all poise and elegance, and answered the oft repeated question as to why she was naked the best way she could.

Her answer puzzled most, but those who knew her well understood perfectly.

Jim was also doing the tour, and every so often they would meet and touch, sharing a moment together and longing to be alone with the other.  Most saw this for what it was, and a few of the cruder said how they couldn't blame Jim for wanting to be alone with his new wife.  Again, a few thumps were given out by the fairer sex.

At one point, after some rather embarrassing speeches were given by Helen and Jim's Best Man, Jim and Nina met in the middle of the room and shared a brief kiss.

"You holding up?" he said quietly to her, aware that they would get no privacy until they left.

"I'm holding," Nina replied, taking strength from his concern.  "I think I have only a dozen butterflies left in my stomach."

Jim chuckled.  "You know, you could go get dressed if you wanted!"

"What, and ruin our record?" Nina said with a raised eyebrow.

Jim grinned.  "Well, if you put it like that.  But I want YOU to know that I'm not holding you to it.  If you feel you want to get dressed, go do it.  You won't be disappointing me; I won't be mad at you."

Nina held him tightly.  "Thank you.  And one day I'll take you up on that.  But I think I'm going to be okay today."

"You sure?" Jim asked.

Nina looked up.  "I love you, James Barb, and I___,"

There was a sudden pull on the veil, accompanied by a loud ripping sound.  Nina felt a draft on her back and buttocks that told her that her minimal covering was now even more minimal.  She whirled around to see what happened.

A catering assistant, with her back to Nina, was standing stock still on the trailing edge of what had been Nina's beautiful veil.  A gaping hole had been ripped in the fragile material when the caterer had stood on it.

Slowly, the woman turned to face the bride, her face, framed by blonde tresses, showed a rather sheepish embarrassment.

"OH...MY...GOD!" yelled Nina.  "JENNY!  What the FUCK are you doing here!"

"Er...hi Nina, it's good to see you about"

Nina was livid, seeing red.  She thought she was done with the blonde disaster area known as Jenny.  The last time Nina had seen her was on TV, on those nude commercials for Mermaid Seas shampoo.  She did not expect to see Jenny in the flesh ever again!

"Get out!" Nina growled.

"What?" said the confused blonde.

"GET OUT!" yelled Nina, reaching out and grabbing Jenny's obviously too small caterer's blouse.

There was a big ripping sound, and Jenny was rendered topless in nothing flat.  She had been unable to wear a bra under the tight uniform shirt.

Jenny screamed and tried to cover her ample assets with both arms, allowing Nina to reach for her shorts.  Nina missed though, because Jenny managed to dance out of the way just in time.  She started to run, pushing through the crowded hall toward the door, and Nina gave pursuit.  All Nina could think of was the satisfaction she would get in ripping the dumb blonde's shorts off, and she forgot completely about her own nudity.

Both women plowed across the hall and out the door, onto the street outside, where Jenny kept running with a partially veiled Nina closing in on her.

Standing at the door of the hall, with as many people who could fit, Jim watched the chase with a smile on his face.

Helen, standing next to him, shook her head.  "It's amazing how they keep coming together," Helen said.  "Just think of the odds against them meeting again!"

"Oh I don't know," Jim said, "sometimes the odds need a bit of a hand."

Helen looked at Jim suspiciously.  "Wait a minute, Nina told me YOU hired the caterers."

"Yep!  And it took a while to find just the right ones," Jim replied, winking at Helen.

Helen couldn't help smiling.  "She's going to kill you when she finds out, you know."

Jim grinned as he watched the two practically nude women chase each other up and down the street.  A police car went by, its lights flashing.  "Oh I don't know, she forgave me for the donkey.  Shall we have some cake?"

Helen grinned.  "Why not."  They turned and went inside.

The End.