Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Chapter 42: Part Two: What A Beautiful Wedding

“Leave. Me. Alone,” I shouted, my voice horse from crying. Salty tears stained my cheeks and blurred my vision. I slammed the door hard. I fell to the floor, my wedding dress billowing around me like a blanket.  A cold, steel blanket that just brought back bad memories. I leaned my head against the back of the bed. That’s where he had slept, that repulsive piece of filth. I didn’t want to be involved with him at all anymore. I couldn’t bring myself to utter his name as every time I tried to, tears and wails pushed it back down. I ripped the sheets off the mattress, flinging them down to the ground. I tore my veil off along with the sheets as well. Today was supposed to be perfect. Look at the mess it had become. I sank down to the floor once more, hugging my knees. My dress was stained with my smears of my makeup. I didn’t care like I should have. Nothing seemed to matter anymore.

“We’re coming in whether you like it or not.” The door suddenly swung open as I wept loudly. I imagined how I must’ve looked right now; a pathetic excuse of a person wound up in her own self pity, crying her eyes out because of a stupid someone whom she should have had avoided in the first place. She was an imbecilic for doing what she had done. 
Two sets of feet appeared in front of me. I pulled my knees closer to my chest, my cries muffled by the fabric of the dress.

"Hey there." Aria bent down, taking my head with her hand. "You ok?"
"Nope." I looked up and ripped her hand away from my face. I didn't want to be comforted right now. I had made a bad mistake, a really bad mistake. I had to face the consequences on my own. It was my mistake, I didn't need anybody's pity.
"Nothing's ok. Now leave me alone," I hissed. Aria got up and turned her head, looking at my father, her eyes widening. He nodded and bent down just like Aria had done before.
"I'm so sorry. I really am."

“I don’t need your stupid apologizes.” My voice quivered as I spoke. I closed my eyes, hoping that the two people in front of me would disappear. When that didn’t work, I pinched myself, hoping that this was all just a bad nightmare. I wanted to wake up next to my loving fiancĂ©, ready to get married and spend a wonderful life with him.

“Look, she’s moving. Somebody call the doctor back over."

Startled, I opened my eyes rapidly, looking around the room to find where the strange and unexpected voice had come from. I crinkled my brow and pursed my lips in frustration.

 Must have been my stupid imagination running wild.

“You ok?” my father asked. He tilted his head and squatted down to my level, his face painted with worry. I looked him in his eyes, before looking away and sighing deeply. My crying subsided for the moment. I bit the inside of my lips, replaying the past few hours in my head.
“Never better,” I lied, my tone harsh.


The ring clattered to the floor with a soft thud. The crowd stood still in shock. This was probably wasn’t what any of them were expecting at all.
“W-what?” Chase stuttered on his words and looked at me in shock, his jaw open wide. He leaned towards me and whispered, “What. Do. You. Mean.”
I bit my tongue, holding back both a snarky remark and tears. They would both just make the situation worse. But, the tears came falling down my face regardless of what I did to prevent them. I looked at the man I had once loved. I had thought I knew everything there was about him. A twisted, vile version of him was standing before me; the true man.

“I’m sorry,” I uttered under my breath. I jerked my hand away from his grasp and ran back up the isle. The church door slammed behind me as the freezing air surrounded me.  I stopped and peered back inside the door. Everybody seemed frozen in place, except for two figures that seemed to be running down the isle, in the same fashion I had just done. I bolted forward into the snowy night. The snow was thick and cold. It bit my bare skin as it came down in heavy sheets. 
It would have been a beautiful day for a wedding.

I half walked, half jogged, dragging my feet. They ached from the cold air and the heels I was wearing. I was so not prepared for this weather and if I didn’t hurry, I would probably freeze out here. I sighed, cursing myself for not having the wedding during the summer time. My teeth chattered and I felt the goose bumps rapidly growing on my arm. I stopped jogging for a second, catching my breath. I looked back, my breath raspy. Nobody was following me. First good thing of the day.

However, with each sharp breath I took, the icy air stung my nose and burned my lungs. The air was simply too cold for me to inhale without some pain coming along with it. My tears almost froze as they ran down my face but I kept running, afraid of hypothermia catching up with me. I kept running, running away from that nightmare. Running away from the place where everything had gone tragically wrong.
My house was so close; I could see the rood as I reached the top of the little the road that led to the church was perched on. I silently thanked my once-to-be-husband for picking a place that was so close to home. If I had to thank him for one thing, that would be it. A ran a little bit farther and hopped the fence. My dress got caught and ripped, sequins flying off with a bit of fabric. But the odd thing was I was glad it had ripped. The dress held no sentimental value to me, other than the bad memories and mistakes.
I went towards the door and crossed my fingers.

“Be open,” I whispered. I yanked the door handle and sighed in relief as the warm air embraced my skin. I stepped inside and ran upstairs to my room, the ice melting off and adding to the cold mess I already was.

Two rapid knocks brought me out of my memories. I shook my head, the thoughts clearing away from my mind.
“Danielle please,” I heard him call from outside. His voice sounded raspy and thin. Had he been crying too?
Aria turned her head, glaring at the source of the noise. “Want me to get that?” she asked. I nodded my head and ran my hands on my cheeks, rubbing away the tears and smudged makeup. I shakily got up and followed Aria downstairs. Her heels clicked and clacked against the floor of the house. The sound echoed deeply throughout the empty house. The sound was unfamiliar to my ears as the house was rarely empty. But now it’s only occupants were Aria, my father and myself. My house was usually so full of life.
I didn’t like it empty.

I fixed myself a spot on the couch, and stared into the flames of the fire someone had put on this morning. Was it truly only this morning? It seemed like a lifetime ago.

“Danielle, you’re ok,” he breathed coming towards me. Aria rocked back and forth on her heels and closed the door. Her eyebrows arched as he pulled my writs and hugged my tight. I pushed him away and sat back down on the couch.
“You ok?” he asked, compactly ignorant to how I was feeling.
“Nope,” I replied popping the ‘p’.
He sat down on the couch with me and I scooted myself to the edge of the seat, trying to get away from him. I wanted nothing to do with him anymore.

“Are you just not ready for the wedding?” His voice was sincere and quiet. Only I could here it.
“I was, but then you turned into a different person moments before our vows. I wanted to marry my.” I stopped as I forced his name through my, hot lips tears streaming down my face. “My Chase. Not this repulsive one that you have become.”
“Just because of what I said about your challenge? This is what it is all about?” Chase laughed and wrapped his arm around my shoulder. I shrugged his arm off, nodding my head. Yes, it was because of what he said about my challenge. It was because of what he said about me. If I knew what he thought, I never would of even let Chase be a part of my challenge.

“You’re kidding me, right?” He nudged me with his elbow. “C’mon, there’s more to life than this silly challenge. You’ve got a nice guy.” He pointed to himself and laughed once more.  “What else more do you need? The satisfaction of knowing that the whole town thinks you’re a Grade A slut?”
I glared at him and got up to my feet, my back facing him. 
“Get out.”

“W-what?” Chase got up too and tried to wrap his arms around my waist as he usually did. I quickly turned around and slapped him. A big red mark showed up as I removed my hand and rubbed it on my dress. “Get out,” I hissed, my teeth clenched. “Now.”
“You’re serious, c’mon Danielle. This is stupid, can’t we just talk it all out?” He backed up slowly, rubbing the side of his head with his hand. “That hurt, by the way.”
“It was supposed to,” I sassed. I looked towards Aria and her eyes widened. She quickly opened the door and shut the door behind her.  We didn’t need an audience. “And to answer your question, no we can’t talk about this. What’s done is done. You’ve spoken your mind and I just wish you had spoken it earlier.”
“I thought you already knew how I felt,” he protested. 
“If I knew that you thought my challenge was just to find a guy, why would I still be doing it when I was with you? I thought you were perfect Chase, I honestly did. I thought you were the best thing that had ever happened to me. But since meeting you, I only have one regret. And that one regret is you.”

“I’m still me,” he huffed. 
“The real you, yeah. I don’t like what I see now.” Tears started appearing at the corners of my eyes and I blinked them away. I didn’t need to be crying. Not now.

“Well, tell it to me straight, won’t you. But Danielle I do love you, I just think your challenge is stupid and pointless.”
“When were you going to tell me this?” I asked, my blood boiling. 
“I don’t know exactly. It kind of slipped out when we were talking.”

“Slipped out yes. That’s exactly what happened.” I bit my tongue in anger, my nostrils flaring.
“I love you. I love your kids. I just find the challenge stupid. There’s really no point in it at all. I personally think you guys are all on the verge of being a whore. And that Aria girl too, just the way she dresses makes me want to vomit all over myself. At least you have some self respect.”

“Don’t you dare bring her into this conversation. She was there for me all the times you weren’t. And she is always going to be there for me when you’re long gone.  Get out, now. I mean it this time.”
“You’re actually serious?”
I nodded my head solemnly. “Get out. This is my house. I invited you in. I can kick your ass out. Get out, now.” I pointed towards the door.
Chase looked at me, his eyes filled with pain. “I’m sorry. I still love you. I always will.”
“Sorry is irrelevant in this situation. I thought I loved you. Oh, was I so, so wrong to do so.”
Chase tried coming close to me, as if to kiss me. I pushed him away. I was done with his and everybody else’s shit. Chase slammed the door behind him and I saw him get into his car and sulk in the front seat. I started feeling sorry for him and I wanted ever so badly to get into the car with him, sit on his lap and kiss him, telling him that everything was going to be alright. Nothing was alright anymore. I couldn’t go and comfort Chase after what he had done to me. Lied to me. He made me fall in love with a false image.

I collapsed on the couch, letting the tears flow freely. I heard the door open and close rather fast. I turned around, expecting Chase to be there with a sob story. Not like I was going to accept it anyways. He was a stranger now and he needed to leave.
Bridie was standing there, looking all nice dressed all fancy. I remember her being so excited about the wedding. The look on her face made me want to hold her tight, like I did when she was a little girl.
“Now isn’t a good time for mom,” I managed to say between the tears. I bit my lip, trying to make my voice normalize for a second. 
“Why did you do it?” Bridie’s voice was cold, almost threatening.

“Run off? You probably think I’m a coward for getting cold feet. But that’s not exactly the story here.”
“Mom, you don’t understand. Chase was my dad. Why did you have to do that to Dad?!”
“Things are complicated when you grow older. Too complicated. Do me a favor and stay this young forever, please.”

“Complicated? You know what’s complicated? Having a mother who doesn’t ever pay attention to you. Having a mother too interested in everyone around you she doesn’t notice that her daughter is getting bullied at school and by her own brothers at home. You know what’s even more complicated? Having the only person that actually cares about you, not related to you what-so-ever. Chase was there for me, Mom. If I can even call you a proper mother.”

Tears streamed down Bridie’s face.
 Had I really been that bad of a mother? Had I been wrapped around my own issues so much that I didn’t notice my poor baby girl at all? Was I that bad of a mother?
“Dad was there for me. This was supposed to be the day that Dad was officially going to be a part of the family. I’m not proud to call you my mom, but I was going to be proud to call Chase my dad.” Bridie ran upstairs and I followed her. I wanted to let her know that everybody in this family loved her. Had I known that she was unhappy, I would of tried my best to make her delighted.

I knocked rapidly on her door. “Let me in please, Bridie. We need to talk.”

“I don’t want to talk,” she responded. I could tell that she was crying. I had done too much crying today. I didn’t want anybody else to contribute to the sadness, let alone my own daughter.
Finally unlocking the door, Bridie rushed out with a suitcase. “Where do you think you’re going?” I said in my motherly tone.
“Were people actually love me. I’m going with my dad.”
I took in a deep breath. Losing one person I loved, or at least I thought I loved, was hard. But losing two in a matter of hours? I couldn’t take it.
“Please, baby girl, no,” I cried.
“I’ve had enough of this place. Have a good life. I’m done trying to fit into your busy schedule. Maybe next time when you have 100 kids, at least try to pay attention to them. Make sure they feel that they are loved. You sure didn’t do that with me.” Bridie carried her suitcase downstairs.

I fell into a pile in front of the girl’s bedroom door. I heard the door slam open and shut then a car engine start and fade away. They were both gone.
“I’m so sorry,” I whispered.
I buried my head into my knees and cried. 

Minutes. Hours. Days? Who knew? I didn’t remember falling asleep but I awoke up on my bed, my wedding dress covered in sweat.
“Ew,” I moaned. I got up and opened the wardrobe to find all of Chase’s clothes gone. I sighed and changed into my pajamas. I fell back on my bed, my eyelids closing on me.

“I took the liberty of taking his clothes out and burning them,” a voice said. I opened my eyes, light pouring into the room. Aria stood there, arms crossed. “Just kidding,” she added with a slight laugh. “He came back for them. Don’t worry he didn’t come into the room, I just grabbed whatever looked like his and handed them to him.”
“How long have I been sleeping?” I asked, my voice groggy.
“Oh, I little over 18 hours. Your dad found you passed out in the hallway and he brought you to your bed. He said it was just like the good ole times.”
I laughed as I recalled the memories where I fell asleep on the couch and woke up in my bed the next morning. For the longest time, I thought I could teleport in my sleep.
“You’ve been through a lot in the past 24 hours. I heard about Bridie, too. Aria sat on the side of my bed and put her hand on top of mine. I’m really sorry about that. I can’t imagine the pain and guilt you must’ve felt.” Aria looked down at me. On the verge of tears, I sat up and pushed the tears back. “Yeah,” I muttered. “It was terrible.”

“On the bright side, the girls and I have decided that you might need a break. You can leave the kids in charge of each other for a few days, right?”
“I think so,” I breathed.  I didn’t want to go anywhere. I wanted to be home, alone. Locking my door seemed a pretty good option right now.  Nobody really knew what I was going through. Nobody would ever know. Being alone with my thoughts seemed perfect. Too perfect.
“Well,” Aria carried on, twirling her black hair with her index finger. “we thought you needed a break. How does a tropical island sound?”
My thoughts immediately went back to the dream I had only days before. I cringed.
“That sounds nice,” I lied. 

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Chapter 42: Part One: What a Beautiful Wedding

“Hey, sweetie.” Chase’s lips pressed lightly against my forehead as my eyes slowly fluttered open.
“Hey,” I muttered back, sighing. The sun’s bright light danced around in the room, making the colors of our small bedroom vibrant. I rolled onto my side and Chase gave me a kiss on the tip of my nose. I laughed in response and got off the bed and looked out of the window. This island was just so beautiful; it took my breath away. Chase came up from behind me and put his arms around my waist, pulling me closer to him.
“I love you, wife,” Chase breathed into my ear. I grabbed his hand and squeezed it tight.
“I love you too, husband,” I smiled. The word husband still had quite a bit of difficulty rolling off my tongue. But soon enough, I hoped, that I would be able to say it without hesitation. My stomached growled, interrupting the peaceful silence. I felt so relaxed and at ease on our honeymoon, but everybody needs to eat every now and then.
“Mind making us some breakfast?” I asked Chase, giving him a quick peck on the cheek. Chase threw his head back and laughed.
“Sure, hun,” he finally responded. “Get some clothes on, I think we’re going to go swimming today.” Chase winked and closed the door behind him. I crawled over the bed and picked out a nice little swimsuit and quickly pulled on some shorts and a t-shirt.  I slipped on my usual converses and let my hair out of its messy bun.
I exited the room and gulped down my breakfast, eager to explore the world.

I stepped onto the beach, and looked up to Chase as he held my hand. 
“It’s just beautiful here,” I said, gasping.
“I know.” Chase pulled off his shirt and slipped off his sandals, not hesitating to jump into the water. I laughed as he dove right in with no problem.
“It’s not too cold?” I asked, slipping off my shoes. The sand felt warm and relaxing underneath my bare feet. I slipped off the rest of my clothes, leaving only my bikini on . I looked around the beach and saw that we were the only people on this beach. Weird.

I ran into the water in the same fashion as Chase did, mostly because the sand was starting to burn the soles of my feet. I sighed in relief as my feet hit the water. The cool, clear water was so refreshing. I slowly waddled in, letting the waves splash me. A sudden burst of water hit me in the face. I stuttered back in surprise. I rubbed the water out of my eyes to see Chase in front of me, laughing. I stuck my tongue at him and splashed him back. He looked at me in surprise and then splashed me back, grabbing me by the waist and pulling me close to him.

Chase pulled us so close together that our foreheads touched. He planted a kiss on my lips and I put my arms around his neck, pulling him closer to me. I smiled when I finally broke away from the kiss. I rested my head on his shoulder as the sun shined down on both of us. This vacation was just so relaxing. No kids to take care of, nothing to take my mind away from Chase. Just us, together. Who could of asked for any more?

All of a sudden Chase lifted my up out of the water and placed me on his shoulders.
“Is this really necessary?” I laughed, looking around the beach. I could see all the way to the horizon. It was nothing but pure water. It was beautiful. Chase squeezed my legs as he moved forward, deeper into the clear water. I ruffled Chase’s hair and let the sun warm my skin. It was a beautiful day outside and the sun felt amazing against my body. I laughed as I thought of the bad tan line that I imagined me having after this vacation. Oh god, how was I going to hide it when I got back home? It was going to be oh so embarrassing.

All of a sudden Chase tripped on something in the water and I fell off his shoulders into the cold water. I gagged as I came up to the surface, spitting up the water that I had accidently swallowed due to the sudden spill into the sea. I coughed one more time to make sure that I had all the water out of my lungs. My nose, however, was still plugged up beyond belief and I had to resort to breathing through my mouth.
“Everything ok?” I managed to choke out. I looked around me. Empty. Where was Chase?
“Um,” I stuttered. I took a few more steps deeper into the ocean, the water now rising up to my waist. “Chase?”
A wet hand caressed the back of my neck. I jumped in response and slowly turned around only to find Chase, soaking wet, behind me.
“Why didn’t you answer me the first time?” I laughed. “You had me worried there for a bit!” I smiled and lightly hit his shoulder. He scowled at me and I backed away from him slowly. Something about him wasn’t right and it scared me. But I just couldn’t put my finger on it.
“Are you ok, hun?” I hesitantly asked. Chase rolled his eyes and closed the gap between us.
“Everything’s fine. Why wouldn’t it be? Just you and me, all alone. Nobody here to watch us.” He said the last bit with quite a bit of emphasis. I chill ran down my spine even though the sun was shining fiercely down upon us.  “Nobody at all.” Chase grabbed my hands and pulled me even closer to him. Chests touching, he ran his hand through my hair. “All alone,” he stated, his voice monotone.
Chase yanked my hair down, causing me to scream out in pain.
“Ow. Ow. Ow. This really hurts Chase,” I cried, tears automatically spilling down my cheeks, blurring my vision. “Stop, please.”
“Alone,” he said again. I was terrified now, scared beyond my wits. I punched Chase in the stomach; no effect. I pinched, slapped and kicked him in every way possible. Not once did he even loosen his grip. He grabbed my arm and I helplessly tried to swat it away. There was nobody here to help me. We were, in fact, all alone.

His grip bore into my arm, his nails drawing blood. “Chase, stop. Please,” I begged, biting my tongue to stop the screams that I could feel coming crawling up my throat. “Please.”
He released the grip on my arm, but not on my hair. I rubbed away the blood that was dripping down my arm with the back of my hand.
Now both of his hands were on my head and he forced my down into the water. I struggled to get back up to the surface. I needed air. I needed to breathe. But the more I struggled, the tighter he held me down. My lungs burned in their need for oxygen. I fought to get back to the surface with my last bit of energy. Chase just held me down even stronger.
With no more air left, I closed my eyes and stopped fidgeting. I never thought that this was the way I was going to go.
I had never really put any thought into how I was going to go. But, I definitely didn’t think that I was going to die this way. Black spots clouded my vision until I couldn’t see anymore.
 I swear I could hear Chase laughing.

Cold sweat dripped down the side of my face as I gasped rather loudly. I shakily got up, taking slow and deep breaths. It was all just a dream. Just a dream.
I put my hand on the side of my head, rubbing my temple. I had a killer headache from the dream. Or maybe it was just from falling asleep on the living room couch.
Analee, or was it Casanya? Anyways, one of my girls cried out from the nursery. I groaned as I rubbed my head once more and dragged myself to their room, hoping that they were going to be easy to be put back to bed.

They aged up so fast; all of my kids did really. It was bittersweet watching my kids grow up right before my eyes. It was almost scary watching them sprout up and leave me behind, to form their own lives. My challenge was moving on so swiftly and I caught myself thinking about the future where there were no dirty diapers to throw away or no more homework to check over. It was kind of weird to think about. I thought of Chase being there, by my side, in the future. Although, after the dream I just had, the thought of Chase made me cringe and I for sure wasn’t going anywhere near water for a long, long time.

After changing my fairy babies’ diapers, and I put them to bed. I yawned widely, closing the nursery door behind me. I quietly made my way upstairs. I laid down in my bed, watching Chase as his chest rose up and down. I snuggled next to him as the dream slowly faded away from my memory. I still had a knot in my stomach though, but maybe it was because my wedding was only a few hours away. My eyelids drooped closed. I did want a few hours of sleep. I didn’t want to look like the walking dead walking down the isle.

“Morning,” I sighed, my eyelids fluttering open. My hand touched the empty pillow besides me. “Chase?” 
“Goooooood morning!” a cheery voice said.

“What?” I asked, turning around to find my bridesmaids waiting behind me.
“Don’t worry, the kids are already out of the house and getting ready.” Aria said, a smile on her face. She came up to me and gave me a tight hug. “Chase too,” she whispered with a laugh.
“So,” Payton said, ushering me into the bathroom. “Time to get you ready for your big day!”

We quickly made our way downstairs and my friends fixed up their makeup as I ate some food. I was careful not to get anything on my dress. That would be bad, very very bad.
Finally my friends came downstairs, look amazing, as usual. I smiled at them as they walked down the stairs.
“Aw,” I squealed. “You guys look amazing!”
“You too,” Ariana replied. “So shall we go? We have to still get everything set up there before the guests start to arrive. We still have to get your kids ready!”
“Yeah, Mom and Dad should be there,” Claire said.
“Ok! Let’s go!” Aria cheerfully said. She walked out of the house, wrapping a jacket around her to protect herself from the cold weather outside. The rest of the girls followed her and I did too until Claire grabbed my arm and held me back while everyone else got into the car.
“Did you invite Paris?” Claire whispered, letting go of my arm.
“Yes, I did. She is my sister after all,” I said with a sigh.
“You so sure that this is a good idea?” she asked with a slight tremor running through her voice.  “I’m not exactly looking forward to seeing her again.” Claire shuffled her feet.
I grabbed her by the shoulders and looked her in her eyes. “She’s sorry for what she did, walking out on us and. . . . everything she’s done. She’s sorry.”
Claire was about to say something and then stopped.
“Spit it out.”
“Well, she began. “I just don’t know. I haven’t seen her in a while. It’s going to be weird, that’s for sure. Mom and Dad are hopefully going to be happy to see her though. They haven’t, well nobody has heard from her in a long time.”

Aria poked her head in the door, her hair covered in snow. “You girls ready?” she asked.
Claire and I both nodded our heads and I squeezed Claire’s hand tight. “It’s going to be ok,” I whispered as we both headed out.

I sat on the little chair in front of the mirror, fixing my makeup. I felt butterflies fly around in my stomach, making me feel sick. “It’s just the nerves,” I told myself, swallowing hard. My mouth felt oddly dry and my tongue sat uncomfortably in my mouth. I drummed my fingers hesitantly against the wood of the little cabinet.
Three knocks on the door made me break rhythm. “Come in,” I breathed.
“Um, hi sis.”
I turned around in my seat to find Paris. “Haven’t seen you in a while,” she said, closing the door behind her. She was dressed up rather fancy like and you could she was nervous. “Sorry about coming and leaving that time before.” Paris laughed nervously.
“Yeah,” I said, taking a deep breath in. “You did just come and go before. Left in quite a shock there.”
“I heard.” Paris paused for a second, as if she was thinking about what to say and how to say it. “Chase filled me in. Me and him aren't exactly on ‘friendly’ terms after all.”
“Well you guys are going to have to be nice to each other at least. He’s going to be your brother-in-law in just a few hours!” I joked, trying to add some humor to the already very awkward conversation. Paris didn’t laugh; she just looked at me instead. Her light grey eyes scanned me just like they did when we were kids.
“Brother-in-law or not, I still don’t think we will be talking much. He’s always so pissy when I’m around. Frankly, it’s getting annoying. I just said hi and he was huffing and puffing at me, asking why I was even here in the first place.”

“So you showed him the invitation?” I asked, arching my eyebrow.
“Of course!’ she gasped. “And you should of seen his reaction. I swear he was going to blow a fuse.” Paris laughed and I couldn’t help but laugh with her too. Just the thought of Chase getting mad at my sister was just so funny I couldn’t help myself. It felt good to laugh with my sister. It certainty got rid of the butterflies too.
“Well, I’m pretty sure Claire wants to have a word with you, Paris,” I said, pushing her towards the door.
“It’s going to be so awkward,” she replied, dragging her feet.
“I know. But you guys need to talk it out. She was really nervous about you coming here.”
“Was she really?” Paris’ voice rose in pitch. She was genuinely surprised that Claire had that reaction.
“Go,” I forcefully said, opening the door. “It’s my wedding day! At least follow what the bride says!” I laughed. I pushed Paris through but she hit something a stumbled back.
“Sorry,” she uttered, rubbing her head. She finally got up and looked what she backed up into. I saw her eyes go wide and the blood drain from her face. She backed up and looked towards me, her eyes painted in fear.

“Ouch,” Chase said, his arms crossing his chest. “That hurt,” he remarked in a sarcastic tone.
“Sorry,” Paris said, gripping my hand. I grabbed it back before darting my eyes to the door. It would probably be better for Paris to leave now. Their relationship wasn’t exactly what you would call healthy. I don’t know what happened the last time she came because I was in the hospital for the majority of it, but I knew that when I woke up, Paris had left in a hurry. I had found Chase pacing around in the lobby, anger running wild in his eyes. I was really worried about them. But now Paris forced her way into the church, leaving Chase behind.  I wanted to stop her and thank her, even though she had done some messed up things to me. But still, I had to thank her for starting me on this challenge, even if she did it on accident. If I hadn’t of started this challenge, I would of never had met Chase. I wouldn’t be here today. I would have probably just been all-alone, wondering aimlessly in my pajamas. I had to thank Paris but she left so abruptly. I made a mental note to myself to thank her at the party afterwards.

“Everything ok?” Chase finally said, breaking my train of thought. I bit my lip and sat down in the chair, remembering the dream that I had only a few short hours ago. I didn’t want Chase to touch me, or even be by me for some reason. Just something gave me a bad thought. I pushed my gut away though. This time I wasn’t going to be going by my gut, however bad my gut pushed me to fear Chase, I wasn’t going to. He was my soon to be husband and in only a few hours I would be able to pin his last name to mine and we would be able to live happily ever after.

Everybody wants a happily ever after. And this was just the start of mine.

Chase moved towards me, shutting the door with his heel.
“Bad luck to see the bride in her dress before the wedding,” I joked, pulling Chase closer towards me. I got up and gave him a kiss.
“Bad luck my ass,” he replied, breaking the kiss. He squeezed my waist and I smiled.
“You know what his means?” Chase asked.
“The wedding?” I replied, sitting back down in my chair. I faced the mirror and pushed a loose strand of hair back into place.
“Don’t. It’s fine. You’re perfect.” Chase pulled up against my and laid his hand on mine. He kissed my neck and sent shivers down my spine.
“But yeah, do you know what the wedding means?” Chase went back to his place on the couch, leaning back into the comfortable seat. At least it looked somewhat comfy.
“It means we can be together. Not like that we aren’t already,” I said with a laugh.
“It means that it will just be you and me. Once your beautiful kids age up, it’ll just be you and I, riding solo, but together. If you know what I mean.”
“ Yeah, I do. I think being alone will be nice. For a little while at least.  I still have to finish my challenge.”
“Well you can’t be going around, hooking up with men when you are a married women!” Chase joked.
“I still have to finish my challenge though!” I protested.
“Challenge, smallenge,” Chase remarked. “You don’t really need that do you?”

I looked up. Of course I needed to finish my challenge. I was not the type of person to start something and never finish it. Yet as I looked into Chase’s eyes I knew that he only wanted to hear one answer. The answer that I never thought I would give.
“Yeah, you’re right,” I said sheepishly, my eyes looking down to my shoes. “I don’t really need the challenge.” I looked back up to Chase. “I’ve got you.”
“And I’ve got you.” Chase smiled at me. “Your challenge was a bit stupid, if you ask me.”
My eyes widened. How was I with this guy and not know that he thought what I did was stupid? How many other secrets was he keeping from me?
“I mean, c’mon. Challenge mother? I just thought you were looking for a husband and you were so beautiful. I had to step in.” He laughed. “And look where we are now!”
“Getting married,” I hissed.
“Getting married!” Chase continued, overlooking that I was contemplating whether or not I even wanted to get married anymore.
“You’ve got me and I’ve got you. When your kids age up, it’ll be perfect. No more challenge, no more guys. Just us. To be dreadfully honest, I didn’t really like any of those guys that you slept with.  As weird as this sounds, I did get a bit jealous at times. I knew you were mine but I felt that your challenge was in the middle of us. But now, there will be no more challenge right?”
“Right,” I choked out, forcing the tears back.
Chase, for some reason, was oblivious of how I was feeling and continued on talking, crushing my heart with every word that slipped out of his mouth.
“No more stupid challenge,” Chase said with a yawn. “Nothing to separate us anymore.” He got up and kissed the top of my head. I closed my eyes and turned my back to the door. I heard it close shut as a single hot tear ran down my left cheek. I swallowed hard, forcing the lump in my throat down. My breath ran in short increments, tears running down my face and onto the floor. I heard a knock on the door.

“Hey Danielle,” a deep voice said. “Can I come in?”
“One second,” I hesitantly responded, trying to make my voice sound as normal as possible. I rubbed away the tears with my arm, careful not to get my dress wet.
“Come in.”
My father opened the door and gave me a big hug. I was somewhat surprised by the hug and tensed up. 
“You okay?” he asked.

“Yeah I’m fine Dad.”
“You look like you’ve been crying. Is my little girl ok? Really, is she ok? It’s her wedding day, everything is supposed to be perfect.”
“Happy tears Dad. Happy tears,” I lied. I took in a deep sigh.
“Ok,” my dad said, his eyes scanning for anything that seemed wrong. I put on a fake smile as his eyes passed my face.
He put out his hand when he was satisfied that I was telling the truth. “You ready to go?” he asked, opening the door.
“Ready as I will ever be.” My father smiled at me and I smiled back.

“You look beautiful,” he whispered. We stepped forward, ‘Here Comes The Bride’ playing in the background.
“Thanks,” I breathed.

I held my breath as Chase held my hand. All eyes were towards us and it made my skin crawl. I smiled at Chase as he said his vows.
“Do you, Chase Devon, take Danielle Smores to be your lawfully wedded wife to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better and for worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, until sickness do you part?” the priest said, looking at Chase.
“I do,” he said with no hesitation. Everybody was silent and all eyes were on me.
 I was uncomfortable being in the limelight; it wasn’t exactly my area of expertise.
Chase clenched my hands tight, as he looked in my eyes. He smiled and I looked up to the priest. He gave me a smug smile and continued on.
“Do you, Danielle Smores, take Chase Devon to be your lawfully wedded husband to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better and for worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, until sickness do you part?”

I hesitated. My stomach churned. All eyes were on me.

I just couldn’t do. Not now, not here. Not with him.

What he said earlier struck a nerve, and I was beginning to doubt whether or not I wanted to go through with this all.

My lips slowly formed the words that I was looking for. I looked at Chase and he squeezed my hands, giving me a grin.

“I-I don’t.”

Well then. . . . .
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