The wedding was beautiful. Christina had decorated everything in gold and a deep crimson, with accents of black and silver. The tables were clothed in varying colors in the palate with a deep crimson runway of sorts for the aisle. I would've been impressed if my best friend hadn't been slave driving me for the past twenty-four hours.
"Alex! Is everything set up with the photographer? You have no idea how pissed I'm going to be if anything goes wrong!" I winced a little at her voice before turning to my very pregnant friend. She was handling the pregnancy well, considering. Her, now chocolate brown hair, curled artfully was tied together over her shoulder. She wore a light yellow sundress that accommodated her growing stomach and, her true sign of insanity, five-inch green heels. Her eyes dutifully glued to the clipboard in her hands.
"Yes babe, everything is all set up. I have them arriving at eight in the morning, like you said." I said it calmly, trying my best to reassure her. She only nodded, continuing her waddle down the aisle and inspecting every table occasionally changing the angle of a name plate or center piece before marking in on one of the pages of her clipboard.
"Kayla got her dress fitted right? Don't think I'm going to be any less hard on her! She's been in remission for like six months!" She called, seemingly satisfied with the area and turning to me and finally making eye contact.
I nodded again adding a smile to calm her down even more, "Yes. She has her dress fitted and the wig she will be wearing to the wedding has already been styled." I gripped my own clipboard that held the last minute details she wanted recorded for me to participate in, a little frightened as she approached.
"Oh Alex, I'm not an animal. If she doesn't want to wear a wig she doesn't have to. She should be proud to be a cancer survivor." She grinned widely, reaching out to hold both my arms as tightly as she could between her belly and having one of her hands full. "All I'm saying is that she better have that fucking dress fitting perfect or I'm going to rip someone's head off." She said it in a tone that implied she was a perfectly sane individual, before letting go and turning towards the front of the room where the chapel was.
I smiled and nodded back, before texting Kayla to double check that she had indeed picked up her dress and she continued down her checklist.
"Is my beautiful bride causing a ruckus again?" I breathed a sigh in relief, turning to Carlos and Tyler as they walked through doors of the church making the grand entrance like all men of their status should. I sent Tyler a grin before running and wrapping my arms tightly around my boyfriend.
"Hey baby." Tyler chuckled, kissing me firmly on the mouth with his arms wrapped just as tightly around my waist. I kissed back before pulling back and shoving my face in his neck.
"Thank God you're here…I was actually really worried she was going to kill me." I whispered quietly, causing Tyler to chuckle before he gently pulled back and turned me so he could hold me from behind while watching the almost married couple wrap their arms around each other fondly.
"She is a little crazy isn't she?" Tyler chuckled into my ear, placing a light kiss on the hollow under my ear and causing me to preen at the attention.
Carlos, as if he had heard us turned and sent us a quick wink while Christina was chattering on about the menu and making sure there was a vegan option for the umpteenth time. A large portion of the guests were Carlos's and Tyler's business associates or family members, and it was turning into a social event without either of our say so.
"You have no idea." I laughed out, stopping when my phone started to ring.
"I swear to god if that thing goes off in the middle of the wedding I'm killing all of you!" Christina growled, turning to double check the setting again while mumbling about having a phone check at the door.
"Hello?" I laughed out, shaking my head while answering the phone without even looking at the name.
"Alex?" I stopped laughing and stood straight, apparently making Tyler's hold uncomfortable for him as he let me go and sent me a weird sideways look.
"Aaron. Um…how are you?" I side stepped Tyler in order to leave the wedding area of the old world bed and breakfast the wedding was occurring in and motioned for Tyler to follow me with a "come here" hand gesture. "It's been what? Five, six months?" Tyler sent me an unhappy look but took the invitation to follow me with a sour look on his face.
I heard Aaron hesitate with a breath before speaking, "Yeah something like that. I just wanted to call because I'm moving out of the apartment and I found some stuff I think we both forgot about when you…well…when you moved." I felt whatever lump that was in my chest, maybe hope of working out some kind of civil relationship, falter and fall heavily into my stomach.
"Oh. Well, I guess that's okay. I doubt it's that important if I haven't missed it, go ahead and just throw it out." I leaned against the wall and sighed, a tilting my head onto Tyler's shoulder when he leaned next to me.
"Well, I was going to if it was like clothes or something." Aaron admitted, but I could tell from his voice it wasn't an impulse he had been proud of. "But, I went ahead and opened the box and…well…I think it's stuff from your parents." He paused afterward, causing a small lapse in the conversation before I could speak.
My eyebrows furrowed, "What kind of stuff?" I was very protective of the things I had of my parents. I kept very little actually with me when Aaron and I had been together. Now that Kayla was home and in the area again, I kept more of it out in my apartment.
"Just personal items, a tie, some perfume. There a picture here that I feel like you'd want back." Aaron sounded a little impatient, a tone I'd never actually heard in his voice before and it made me more than a little upset.
"Well. Okay." I checked my watch. "I'll probably be done here in about half an hour, but I'm in Manhattan." Tyler bumped my shoulder, making me look up at him and give him a look that said 'just a minute'. "When would be okay to meet?" Tyler gave me a 'what the hell' look with his eyes slightly squinted in confusion.
"It needs to be tonight. I'm completely out of here tomorrow." Aaron hesitated before he continued. "Graduation for the law school was last week. I'm moving to L.A. I received a job offer that I couldn't refuse." He sounded torn; as if he was not sure he wanted me to know that much but just felt compelled to say it anyway.
"Well that's great." I hesitated as well, unsure what else to say on the matter. "I guess we could come down to Cambridge tonight. It would probably be around like seven when we got there though, is that okay?" Tyler crossed his arms, looking at me impatiently. I reached out and grabbed Tyler's sleeve casually rolling the material between my fingers and not looking up at him.
"Sure, that's fine. I'll be in the old apartment. You mind calling before you get here, I may have some company."
"Yeah, sure. I'll talk to you then." Aaron said his good byes and we got off the phone, leaving me and Tyler to just stand there in an awkward silence until my more assertive boyfriend finally spoke up.
"So, we're driving to Cambridge?" his question sounded more like a statement and I nodded, just muttering that Aaron found some stuff of my parent's, before leaning against him a little bit more. It was going to be a long drive if this heaviness was what I was going to feel like.
I didn't pity Aaron or anything; our mutual friends had kept me up to date that he was doing fine. He was heartbroken, but all things considered he was perfectly fine. That did not stop the over whelming guilt that I still felt from time to time, especially when I was with Tyler just doing simple little things that I had never really enjoyed with Aaron. I hated that I had used him.
"Okay, seriously guys?! We have stuff to finalize here! The wedding is, like, now!" Christina's shrill tone made both of us cringe before we pushed off the wall and started back into the house.
"She's due in August. This hell is almost over." Tyler muttered, lightly grabbing my hand.
"Thank God." I muttered back, smiling to him as we went in to finish the last few touches before heading out on our fieldtrip.
I had called when we got to Cambridge and had the go ahead to just head up. The nostalgia was gripping as I walking into the building, nodding to Tracy as I walked by with Tyler right behind me. This building had been my home for four years, and honestly I wasn't thrilled to be back, the memories were overpowering.
Tyler squeezed my hand as we rode the elevator up to the correct floor, attempting to provide me with silent support. We both remembered the last time we had been in this elevator, and he squeezed my hand tighter as we neared the floor, only loosening when we stood in front of the door to the right apartment and I had to knock.
Aaron answered the door quickly, smiling awkwardly and standing aside to let us in. Jade eyes looked uncomfortable as he moved quickly aside, hands wringing in front of him absentmindedly. The entire apartment was empty except for the boxes still in the kitchen labeled 'fragile' and a box near the bedroom that looked much older and had my own handwriting in sharpie labeling it 'storage'.
"Here it is." Aaron said as he was stepping towards it, so blatantly ready to have us out of his apartment. He lifted the old box carefully from the bottom, treating it as though it was labeled fragile as well. "I didn't remember moving it in…so I assume you had it in a suitcase and then gave it a box later." He handed my belongings awkwardly to me and let me take it from him slowly, noticeably avoiding actually touching me. I didn't blame him, but the action made my stomach clench.
"I actually almost missed it, it was on the top shelf in the corner. If Thomas hadn't seen it, it could've been left behind." Aaron took a step back, awkwardly rubbing his right arm with his left hand and looking steadfastly at the box rather than me.
Tyler's arms were crossed as he leant his hip against the counter, he kept a blank face but I could practically feel the displeasure rolling off of him in waves. None the less I sat the box on the counter and opened it. There, under a layer of dust, was a tie and a small bottle of perfume. It had pictures wrapped in newspaper, more than likely family photos from times much happier than when they had been packed away. Tyler put a hand on my arm, silver eyes not betraying any emotion but the gentle rub of his thumb providing support he refused to show with an audience.
"I had to unwrap one of the pictures, I'm really sorry." A foreign voice called from the door, causing Tyler and I to turn towards the newcomer. He was a blonde, just a little shorter than Aaron, with large brown eyes. He looked like the kind of man who played football. "I didn't realize it was so personal until Aaron told me exactly what it was." He did not exactly sound apologetic, his words clipped, but he was not rude. He had the opposite problem as Aaron, and refused to drop eye contact until I looked back to my box.
"Thomas, I assume?" Tyler spoke first, reaching passed me and shutting the flaps of the box and sending him a curt nod. Silver eyes stared into mine, communicating silently that he was leaving and highly suggested I go with him.
Thomas just raised his eyebrows at him quickly puckering his lips slightly in a pre-teen type of way, apparently the feigned politeness only extended to the people in the room with dead parents. He crossed the room to Aaron and dropped a loud kiss to his mouth in a possessive way before turning to look at us with an expression that could have probably turned us both to ice.
Tyler pulled the box all the way to his chest, and made a show of rolling his eyes at the other couple. "Congratulations on the job." He said quickly over his shoulder, no real congratulations in his voice, in the general direction of Aaron even though he was already turning away with the box in hand.
I wanted to follow my boyfriend, but the apartment gripped me and held me tight. Aaron's green eyes finally stared into mine, but held so little emotion that I found it hard to believe that this man was the person I had lived with for four years.
This living room that was now nothing more than while walls and wore beige carpet was where we had sat together and done homework. This was where we had laughed at stupid television shows while avoiding studying, and arranged the furniture every year just to keep it interesting. We had cooked together in this kitchen, we had melted chocolate for one of our friend's receptions and ended up splattering each other with it and laughed for what felt like hours.
Tears started to prickle my eyes, forcing me to close them tight and shake them away. I did not have those with Tyler. There were no cute memories. No playing videogames, or chocolate mishaps.
I felt my hand move up to my throat as I felt my airway threaten to close and met with my necklace. Memories rushed back of Tyler and me in Manhattan at the jewelry store and Tyler on his knee. Tyler slamming me against the door to his apartment, and proving that no amount of love or passion from those years ago had dissipated, as they should have. We had to potential for those moments, I was positive. I had bet my entire life on this feeling.
When I opened my eyes they were clear, and I met those cool eyes with a smile. "I'm glad you're happy Aaron." Thomas raised his eyebrows quickly again, obviously this was one of his common traits.
"He is." He answered for him, looping an arm around his waist. I noted that they were an attractive couple, much more attractive than Aaron and I ever were, even though it made my stomach clench again I was happy to see it.
I forced a smile and a nod, but could not meet either of their gazes as I finally turned toward the door. I could say so much at that moment. That I was sorry, I did not mean to hurt him, and that I loved him so much even though he had no reason to believe it. Honestly, though it would not have mattered.
I shoved my hands in my pockets and brushed by Tyler who was waiting at the door. He knew to wait for me and shut the door behind me. Little things like that, like knowing what to let me do alone and what to help with, him not looking at me with those over compassionate eyes…this is how I know that I made the right choice.
Tyler breathed out, rearranging the box in his hands after shutting the apartment door. "We have a long ass drive back to the hotel."
I nodded back to him as we waiting. "We need to get a condo or something set up with you graduating in a couple weeks." I added, giving him a sideways look as the elevator dinged its arrival. Mostly, I was just trying to fill the awkward silence that had suddenly developed between us.
Tyler, to his credit, seemed to pretend I was genuinely trying to establish a conversation. "I figured we'd just take over the penthouse downtown for a bit until we really get the companies new direction grounded." I hit the button to first floor while he talked. "Carlos and Christina will be leaving soon after the wedding for Madrid anyway." I was watching him as he spoke, but his friendly lighthearted tone did not match him looking straight ahead and not over at me like I had assumed he would be, and it made my eyebrows furrow.
"Okay, I mean it's not like we're moving in with Riona." I responded, laughing a little and trying to get a laugh out of him but hitting the cold wall that he had up. When we stepped into the lobby and started to head outside to his car, he made sure he was a couple steps ahead of me. His distance confused me, especially after the last few months we had been together.
The soft beep of the car unlocking was the only other sound between us as he set the box of my parent's belongings in the trunk and I got in the passenger side. Tyler started the car and the radio started playing softly, one of the Miley Cirus songs with a trashy video playing while we pulled out of the parking lot.
I pinched the sleeve of my coat between my fingers, picking at the fabric nervously while I waited for Tyler to say something. The tension was building dramatically in the car, and I did not know that I could deal with it. It made me feel like I might burst.
"You're happy with me, right?" Tyler suddenly spat out as soon as we hit the highway, his harsh tone not matching vulnerable question. "Because, back there you seemed like you regretted leaving Aaron." He had his right arm on the steering wheel and his left propped up on the door with his hand lightly rubbing his chin as though he was in thought. "And, I mean I get it. You were together for five years, man. And then I just show back up-some guy that you dated for what, nine months in high school? I all but force you to sleep with me and make your life hell until you dated me. I mean-"
"Stop." I interrupted, reaching over to grab his thigh lightly. "Tyler…I love you." Silver eyes looked over at me briefly before turning back to the road to show me that I had his attention. "I've loved you since we started this whole thing all those years ago. You brought me out of my shell after my parents died, and I mean…Aaron didn't even know that until you showed back up in my life."
I squeezed his thigh and finally got the corner of his mouth to lift a little, the tension lessening as Tyler got the reassurance he needed. "I just spent a lot of time there with him, I feel like I made a whole different person and…that person…I don't know. That person had parents and friends…friend who didn't marry men old enough to be their father and move countries. He didn't get stalked by Russian professors." I bit my lip, taking a pause. "But that person wasn't real. I'm real. This is my life, and my real life involves you. I feel like it has to involve you. Otherwise…otherwise it's not my life."
I looked at him as he processed the information I had given him, letting the radio fill the silence as he thought. The lights from the traffic on the other side of the highway filled the car and left it in darkness just as quickly, passing quickly as Tyler sped past.
"Riona is coming to the wedding, by the way, so we will have to play nice despite all the drama a few months ago. And no, I wouldn't be caught dead going back to that house." Tyler chuckled out the last bit, finally responding to my previous joke. He reached down and grasped the hand on his thigh lightly, loosely intertwining our fingers.
"I love you too, Alex." He added, pulling our hands up to drop a kiss on my hand.