Adam tore his eyes from the rippling water of Hodges Lake and glanced at his watch. He knew he had to head back and get ready to go to Dani’s wedding. But no matter what he tried to tell himself, he couldn’t make it all right that the woman he knew belonged with him was marrying someone else. He didn’t want to be the man who tore two happy people apart, but he didn’t want to be the man who let the woman he loved get away either. He desperately wanted Dani to know that he was sorry for letting her go… that he never wanted to be away from her… that he regretted every moment they’d been apart. He couldn’t bear the thought of Dani believing that he didn’t love her. It broke his heart to give up on her.
As he paced along the water’s edge, Adam tried to breathe calmly. But he felt suffocated by anxiety and fear. He could tell himself… and he could tell Ava… and he could even tell Dani that he’d given up. But some part of him knew he hadn’t. And he knew he never would. Not really. Not in his heart. Dani was inside him. Even if he wanted to give up, to let her go, to forget her… he couldn’t do it.
Despite seeing Dani happy with Finn, something haunted Adam. Her smile didn’t radiate the joy Adam remembered seeing in her when they were together. It left him wondering what Finn could have done to convince Dani that she wanted to marry him. Adam didn’t doubt that Finn was a good guy, but he knew he wasn’t right for Dani. Not forever. He couldn’t be. Adam saw them looking happy together, but he didn’t see the love that should surround two people about to be married.
Adam remembered the way Dani looked the moment he kissed her for the first time. He remembered the beautiful fire in her. The one he couldn’t resist. He could still picture the look in her eyes and the shape of her smile. And he could still feel the emotion in that very instant. The moment they realized they were in love.
Dragging his feet along the dock, Adam tormented himself with visions of Dani walking down the aisle to meet Finn and share vows that would commit them to be together for the rest of their lives. It was a mistake. Dani didn’t love Finn the way she loved Adam. And Adam shouldn’t have driven away without talking to Dani when he saw her in the driveway with Finn. His heart screamed to him. He knew he had to do something. But time had been flying by as Adam paced and thought and mumbled to himself. Dani’s wedding was only a couple of hours away.
[This installment was too short. Since I adore you so much and feel like a jerk having made you wait a week for that tiny piece, I’ve decided to also post the next part… which is much longer. I hope you enjoy it.]
Dani stared at herself in the mirror as her stylist and friend Jeffrey swept her hair beautifully up onto her head. He talked to her while making her hair gorgeous, but Dani didn’t hear a word he said. She could only hear the voices in her own mind. She was thinking about what Finn said to her. She thought of being back home, reliving her memories, seeing familiar places, and feeling old feelings. But those feelings… they weren’t real. They were the past. Finn is the future. In her head, Dani silently repeated that to herself. Finn is the future.
With a deep breath, Dani tried to collect herself. Her fallen eyes turned back to the mirror where she saw Jeffrey smiling to her. He was trying to comfort her without speaking. Only then did Dani realize she had tears trickling down her cheeks. She reached to wipe them away, but they kept coming.
“Are you okay, Dani?” Jeffrey asked, still pinning her hair in place.
“I will be,” Dani mumbled softly, trying to smile.
Before Jeffrey could respond, Dani’s mom interrupted. As she approached, she smiled widely. “It looks gorgeous!” But her smile faded when she saw Dani’s tears reflected in the mirror. “Honey? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” Dani may have been lying, but even she didn’t know for sure.
“Dani, you’re crying. Is this about…”
Dani wouldn’t let her finish. But it didn’t matter. She knew the rest of her mother’s question. Hell, Jeffrey knew the rest of the question, too. Everyone close to Dani knew it was about Adam.
“Mom, I’m okay. I just have a lot of stuff running around in my head. I’m…” Dani was interrupted by a ringing phone. “That’s my phone, Mom. It’s in my room… can you check who it is?”
“Sure,” Dani’s mom said as she walked away toward the ringing. “I’ll be right back.”
When Dani’s mom saw who was on the phone, she went ahead and answered the call. “Hello Ava.”
“Yes, sweety. Where are you? Are you on your way? Dani’s hair is almost done.”
Ava was taken aback by those words. Her hair? Almost done? What about talking to Finn? Going to Adam? What about everything she and Dani had talked about just a couple of hours ago? Desperate to know what had happened, Ava’s words flew from her without another thought. “I’ll be there in 10 minutes.”
Ava knocked gently on Dani’s bedroom door and cracked it open. “Dani?”
“Come in, Ava.”
The moment Ava saw Dani, she gasped softly and rested a hand over her heart. Dani had stepped into her wedding dress and she stood before Ava barely able to keep from crying.
Dani took a step toward Ava and turned around. “Could you help me with the zipper?”
Ava laid her dress on the bed and dropped the little velvet box she held beside it. She pulled Dani’s zipper closed.
Dani turned to face Ava again. “How do I look?”
“Dani, you look beautiful.” Ava had a little smile but it faded quickly. “And you look sad.”
“Ava, I…” Dani stopped and took a deep breath. But before she could say another word, Ava stopped her.
“You never called, Dani. You were going to call me after you talked to Finn. But you didn’t. And now…”
“I tried. Talking to Finn, I mean. I tried.”
“Oh, Ava,” Dani sighed and sat at the edge of the bed surrounded by her beautiful white dress. “Finn just started saying all these things. And they made so much more sense than anything in my head.” She lifted a hand to her face and tried to stop her falling tears from reaching her dress.
As Ava sat beside her, she questioned her about Finn. “What did he say?”
“He said being back home was just bringing up old memories and that’s why I got scared. He said a first love feels like it should be forever but it’s not. And I need to stop living in the past.”
“Dani,” Ava said, taking her hand, “do you know what that sounds like?”
Dani took a moment but then she nodded. Ava’s thought became clear to her. “It sounds like Finn is the one who’s scared.”
“I’m scared, too,” Dani said.
Ava nodded. “I know. But, Dani, what you’re afraid of and what he’s afraid of are two very different things.”
With a long sigh, Dani agreed. “I know.”
“I don’t want you to do anything you’re going to regret,” Ava said. “I want you to be happy.”
“Oh God.” Dani’s tears fell faster. “That’s what Adam said last night.”
“It’s what he wants… because he loves you.”
With a deep breath, Dani still tried to collect herself. “I really want to ask you what I should do… but I know you can’t answer that.”
“No,” Ava shook her head gently, “I can’t. But I can tell you what I see.”
Dani listened intently as Ava went on.
“I see Finn trying anything he can to hold on to you. I see you so uncertain that you’ve run yourself back and forth all over town today looking for some peace.” Ava paused for a moment before her final thought. “And I see Adam full of regret for ever letting you get away.”
“Ava…” Dani sighed at Ava’s words about Adam but she couldn’t think of what to say.
“Dani,” Ava wrapped an arm around her shoulders and gave her a squeeze. “How can I help? Can I get you anything? What can I do?”
“I think I need a little time. Just to take some deep breaths… to think. Is that okay?” Dani asked.
“Of course it is.” Ava stood. “I’ll be back soon.”
Dani nodded and watched the door close behind Ava.
©2017 what sandra thinks