Chapter Twenty- A BLAST FROM THE PAST
It's been four years since I've seen James. I mean I still see him on TV and in the magazines, after all he is the First Son. But it's been four years since I've actually looked into those mocha eyes. Sure I've tried to move on, I dated quite a bit, but every relationship had paled in comparison to the one with James and I eventually just gave up on dating. Yup, that would make me a weird dateless twenty-one year old. Instead I concentrated on making my new life as a semi-normal person.
I had confirmed my resignation after my month off. Naturally Sheffield had still been very reluctant to let me go, but I was adamant about ending my career. Vanessa had continued on as an agent though, with her newly promoted partner Terry. Something that took her a while to get used to. We still talk and spend time together whenever we can, after all, she's still my bestfriend. As for me? After several months back at home, piecing together my broken heart; I joined Prescott College and now am studying Psychology. Yes, that's right folks. I'm going to be a shrink. Go on, laugh.
But, Sheffield's words had never left me. You have a very special skill with people. Without really trying you seem to befriend anyone you want to, something about you makes people trust you. Trust is not something that is usually gained easily, except you seem to gain it effortlessly.
I figured my unusual skill had to be useful at something other than being an Undercover Agent, that's when being a Psychiatrist hit me. So with my new goal in sight, I began my new life.
I collapsed onto the worn red couch, wondering where my roommate Dana was. As if she'd read my mind, she walked out of her room and grinned down at me.
"Guess what Lori my love?!"
I sat up and grinned back, "What is it Dana my love?"
"We have an invite to a very high class wedding." She exclaimed, her hazel eyes flashing in excitement.
"We do?? How on earth did you manage that one?"
She giggled and skipped around to the other side of the kitchen bench, "Ok so maybe we'll be waitresses instead of guests... and we may not actually see the ceremony itself... but we'll be at the best bit! The reception!"
I laughed and moaned simultaneously, "Did that sister of yours guilt trip you into helping her out again?"
Dana nodded sheepishly, "She's understaffed and this wedding would be really good publicity for her catering business..."
I sighed defeatedly, "Mmm alright... I'll help."
She squealed and clapped her hands together.
"So who's wedding is it??"
"Reese Evans and Hannah Maddigan's."
I nearly fainted.
Several Days Later
Balancing the tray of h'ordeurves on my right hand, I slowly weaved through the crowds, stopping only momentarily so someone could take an h'ordeurve. God, I haven't felt this nervous in a long time. The prospect of seeing James was... Ugh. No, I'm not going there. I won't get my hopes up... Oh bollocks, I haven't even seen him yet and I'm already freaking out... he may not even be here, after all he and Reese could've drifted apart after highschool. I'd seen Reese and Hannah though, but I was careful to stay out of the happy couple's sight... in case they somehow recognized me. I doubt they would, now that my hair was back to its original chestnut colour and the chances of me being at their wedding of all places was very unlikely...
I smiled absently at a few a guests and avoided the gaze of several interested males. I'm really starting to regret agreeing to help out Dana's sister now... but then I've always helped her out before and I could hardly tell them the reason for not wanting to come to this particular wedding.
Seeing that the tray had emptied, I walked back to the kitchens of the elegant reception hall. Keeping a wary eye out for anyone who may recognize me as I approached the kitchen doors. With a sigh of relief, I re-entered the safety of my destination to collect my next tray.
"Lori my love! This wedding band is pretty good huh? And have you seen the guitarist?? He's so gorgeous..."
I looked up at Dana and smiled, "He sure is something."
"Ooo and guess who I just saw?!"
My heart skipped a beat and despite myself, hope flared, "Wh-who?"
Her pretty smile widened and she leaned in closer to me, "James Winters."
My heartbeat quickened and I licked my lips, "Has.. has he been here the whole time??"
"No, I think he just got here... He came alone too." She confided, smiling coyly.
I frowned as my hope grew at this piece of information, "Oh.."
"Oh? Just oh? I tell you the most eligible hottie is here alone and all you say is oh- oh yikes! My Sis is coming over, probably to tell us off for standing around. Quick, let's get out of here."
The prospect of a mad Flora had me hurrying out of the kitchens, a new tray of h'ordeurves comfortably balanced on my right hand again. I began my rounds once more, keeping an even warier eye out for James. Cripes, my hands are getting all sweaty, I hope I don't have a seizure or faint or something... god that would be embarrassing... knowing my luck I'd flash my knickers at everyone as I fell. Stupid black skirt. Stupid nervous butterflies I get in my stomach I get at the mere mention of James. Ugh.
I had to snap myself out of this! I'm a new person... with a new life.
I don't need to be nervous!! I don't need to avoid James!!
I'm a strong, independent young woma- OH. MY. GOD. There he is.
I came to an entire stop, a chaos of emotions hectically raced in my head. Apart from the newly acquired stubble... oh god... he looked just the same... the same ever messy russet locks... the same deep melodic voice... and alluring arrogant air... heart-melting smile... those same lips just as inviting as ever... those same intoxicating mocha eyes...
Looking straight at me...
CRAP! I quickly turned away, snapping myself out of my daze. With my heart pounding fiercely against my chest, I walked away swiftly, easily merging in with the many guests milling around the room. OH. MY. GOD. I can't believe he saw me!! I suddenly came to a stop... wait... he may not have even recognized me...
I bit my lip, and looked over my shoulder and sure enough, it didn't seem like anyone was following me. Sighing in a mix of relief and disappointment, I continued going around the room, carefully avoiding the place I'd seen James in. My eyes were glued to the spot where he was as I absently came to stop so someone could take an h'ordeurve. Wait... where was he? I could swear he was talking to a man there just a moment ago.
"I'm guessing your employer doesn't realize what a risk they're taking by having you out here."
I froze at that melodic masculine voice. Gulping, I turned to look up at a pair of very familiar eyes.
"Huh?" I squeaked.
His lip twitched, "No one can tell when you'll pop out with one of those random facts of yours... probably with a fact that would make one of these High Society women choke on their h'ordeurve."
"I-I know the Heimlich manoeuvre..." I answered in a slightly pitchy voice.
OH. MY. GOD. I sound like thirteen year old boy going through puberty... This is not happening...
Did I just tell him that I know the Heimlich manoeuvre?! Oh god...
He quirked a brow looking thoroughly amused, "Is that right?"
"Mhmm." I squeaked.
He smirked, "You suit being a brunette."
Blimey, what was he doing?!?! I'm so confused... How is it that he manages to make me feel like a complete imbecile?! I'm meant to be a new fricking person...
"So do you." I answered in that ridiculous puberty boy voice.
He grinned and placed the h'ordeurve into his mouth, his dark brows immediately rising, "Do these have... shrimp in them??"
Startled, I looked from him to the tray in my hand, my eyes widened, "I don't know... I'll go ask Flora."
As I turned to go back to the kitchens, his hand shot out and grasped my wrist. Alarmed, I turned to look back at him whilst trying to ignore the tingling sensations running amuck in my body. He stared down at me, all the previous amusement from before gone.
I blinked, "B-but the shrimps..."
His lip twitched again, "Don't worry about the shrimps... dance with me."
I'm not quite sure what it was about his sentence that set me off, but all of a sudden I was laughing my head off. I mean full on laughing, my head was thrown back, my entire body shaking with hysterical laughter. I knew people around us were giving us odd looks.
But I couldn't help myself. Of all the scenarios in my head of seeing James again... none of them were anything like this.
It'd been four years since I've seen this guy who's so obviously my soul mate... and we're talking about shrimps. SHRIMPS for heavens sake!!
I found myself leaning on him for support as my body wracked with peals of laughter. He looked down at me, his eyes bright with amusement as he wrapped an arm around my waist to keep me upright. He eased the tray of h'ordeurves that was still precariously balanced on my hand, away from my shaking body. I watched him hand it to someone else as the laughter slowly died.
"Are you quite done now??"
I sighed, enjoying the comforting presence that I'd been craving for the past four years, "Why are you doing this?" I was relieved to hear that my voice was back to normal.
"Because these past few years have been hell."
Warmth spread through my body at his words. This can't be real... it was too good to be true. I frowned and looked up at him, "Why haven't you looked for me then?"
He wavered, "I'm not sure... maybe because I didn't want to find out that you'd moved on... found someone else..."
The doubt shattered. This felt so surreal. Wrapping my arms tightly around him, I buried my face into his chest, inhaling that familiar scent deeply. But I knew it was real.
"Have... have you?"
I raised my head and gave him a scathing look, "What kind of girl do you take me for?! If I had someone, do you think I'd be clinging onto you like this?!"
He grinned wryly, "No... but then again, you're always full of surprises. I mean I never knew that you could do the Heimlich manoeuvre..."
I batted his arm playfully before asking him what'd been nagging me, "Can you trust me...?"
He closed his eyes in a grimace, "I don't think I ever did stop trusting you... I was just... just really pissed off that I'd been fooled. You hurt my rather large pride... I, James Winters, didn't realize that my roommate was actually a girl. That.. and I was just so fucking confused... about you and me..."
I smiled, "You weren't the only one who was fooled..."
"I know, I realized that later. I was just being stupid. Incredibly stupid."
"Well if it's any comfort, I'm not an agent anymore." I replied rising to my toes and pecking him on the cheek.
He kissed my forehead, "I know. My father told me."
"Mr. Winters' knew I quit?"
James nodded, "He wanted to personally thank you... for saving my life. But by the time the mess with Grant had been sorted, you'd long gone."
"Oh..." God, it felt so good to be near him again.
"So what is it that you're doing now?" He asked, pecking the tip of my nose.
I smiled, "I'm studying Psychology at Prescott College..."
He snorted but wisely chose not to comment on this.
I looked searchingly up at his eyes, "Where do we go from here?"
He smirked, "How about we go back to my place...?"
I laughed and hugged him tightly, "I think that sounds like a swell idea." I felt like I was on cloud nine, all the weight that I hadn't realized that I'd been carrying for the past few years felt like it had finally been lifted off my shoulders.
He chuckled, "It's been four years and you're still as dorky as ever."
"Ah you know you love me for it." I immediately quipped, my lips pulled in a big goofy smile.
"Yeah I do..." He agreed, matching my goofy grin with one of his own.
"That you love me."
He arrogantly quirked a brow, "Why do I need to? You must know by now that-"
"Because in all the movies and stories the hero has to say 'I love you' to the heroine!!"
"Yes but we're not in a movie or a story though."
"Say it." I said adamantly.
James sighed in exasperation, but his lips relaxed into a genuine smile, all traces of arrogance gone, his mocha orbs softened and flashed with that emotion that I'd never been able to read before... until now.
He lowered his head and pressed his lips softly to mine. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end, I felt like I was going to explode with happiness. Slowly we pulled apart, our eyes locked.
"I love you Loralai."
I smiled as I finally understood what that enigmatic emotion was.
"I love you too James."
It was the promise of my happily ever after.
AN: OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!!! WHAT A MUSHY END!! BUT WHO CARES BECAUSE... I FINALLY FINISHED!!!! This is my first story that I've actually finished and, gees, I'm feelin ever so proud!!! AHHHH!!! -squeals- Awww... I'm feeling all sad and sentimental about saying bye to Loralai though... and James (drool). It's weird how much they grew on me o.O Oh well... whenever I miss them, I can just read this story again lol
Anywho, I'd like to say a HUUGE MASSIVE GIGANTIC thank you to all you guys for sticking with the story and patiently putting up with my slow updates lol THank you also to the many reviewers for letting me know that there were actually people out there who was actually reading this lol I absolutely LOVED hearing from you guys, whenever I felt like giving up on this story, I'd just read your lovely reviews and it would make me get over my writers block/ laziness and I would keep going!! You guys have no idea how much you're reviews have helped me :) So muchos gracias!! You lot absotively rawk my socks!
Oh and if you guys wanted, I can put up some of the alternative chapters that I'd written, but then decided not to use. :) It's all upto you guys!!
BTW, I won't say bye to any of you lot since you will (hopefully) read my other story, Take Me Away. If you liked Loralai and James, I'm guessing you'll love Cleo and Nathan :) So I can reply to you when you review -ahem- lol
Anywho, much much love to you! And thank you InsanePhoenix, xXTaintedInkXx, Fairytale Rescue, Fork-In-Your-Eye, Kiara Asukara, Rayne Logan, Behind these tears, The Teenage Nobody, Zoloft 22, jekodama, Right or Ryn, UnKnwnDrkniss, authordream4life, Allison Smith, Ashley Lampost, xo-midnightsun-ox, DancingChaChaFruit, A-Rose-With-Many-Thorns, unconnected14, TwinkleHeart, starXcookie, LooneyKitty, MiSS COO-KiEz, killer chipmunk, Mimerz, abby, the ghost of christmas goth, atreyu love, theGhostQueendelosPlatanos, asianbabe92, A.H. Fenald, dAwN's UnFoRgIvInG dArKnEsS, yonderwindow, SweetSuffering and rollwithit a ZILLION MILLION TIMES!! Especially the ones of you lot who've reviewed so many of my other chapters, I honestly love you guys so much!! Thank you!!
Loralai and James send their love.
Over and out :)