Almost Here

By: Regina Scorpio

Chapter XIX: Rehearsing

"Are you sure you're going to be okay?"

I sighed, turning my glare toward Taylor. "No," I answer patiently. "But this is about you, not me. I can hold my composure and my alcohol for a few hours." She sighed next to me, turning away from me to stare out the window of the cab. I followed her example, gazing out my own window.

I was sober. I had taken a shower and actually put on make-up. I was wearing a modest black dress. It was a rapid improvement seeing as barely 3 days ago I was still wallowing in my own filth.

But as I had said before, it was not my day. It was not going to be about me for the next couple of days. Today was the rehearsal, followed by the rehearsal dinner, meaning that tomorrow was the actual wedding. And oh was I looking forward to it.

Of the wedding itself was a big deal and I would have to keep my composure long enough to make it through the whole ordeal. And I would have to face him. Not only face, but also interact with him. I just hoped I didn't try and strangle him. Or cry. Crying would be bad.

"Here we are," Taylor announced, bringing me out of my thoughtful stupor. We both exited the cab and started making our way over to the church. "Kristen, you don't have to do this –"

"Would you please stop worrying?" I turned to face, grabbing her shoulders. "I will be fine. You just worry about getting through the wedding and starting a new life."

"But," she started, but I interrupted her again.

"No buts," I told her firmly. "Enjoy this day, okay?" I would not allow my newly single depression to overwhelm her wedding. It was culmination of a year of planning, several thousands of dollars, and several disagreements about the plans. I was forced to sit through a year of frilly sample, dress shopping, numerous questions about napkins, plates, and even ice sculptures, and had even gone to catholic school and donated plasma to help pay for the damn affair! I would make sure this whole event went off without a hitch, even if I had to kill someone to make it happen. All the pain would not be for nothing.

Turning back toward the church, I walked purposefully toward the large doors, my newly shorten hair being blown about by the constant breeze that invades New York.

Taylor and I entered at the same time, stopping momentarily to stare at the large sanctuary. It was imposing, with a long aisle and numerous stained glass windows depicting stories from the New Testament. I scowled up at the windows for a moment, before allowing myself to led into a side door and deeper in the recesses of the church.

"Taylor," I whispered, glancing around. "This place is creepy." She nodded but didn't make response. We continued walking down the dark corridor before finally reaching one of the inner rooms, which I assumed was for the after service meals seeing as there were several long tables.

"Ah! There's the lovely bride!" I heard someone exclaim from within the room. I heard her make her greetings as I followed her into the room. Of course the first thing I saw was his face and he was staring right back at me.

I don't know if I purposefully searched for his face or if my eyes were magnetically drawn toward his, but I what I do know is that I froze in my spot for a long moment.

It was the first time I had seen him in several months. Even in my determined state, I had to admit I missed him. He was standing next to David and the preacher, his spine stiff and his outward appearance cold and aloof. But I knew him better than that. His eyes told me he had been expecting me and was now surprised to see me walk through the door.

I tore my eyes away, moving toward where the rest of the women were sitting. I placed my purse on top of the table and sat in front of it, beginning to memorize the pattern. I sat near the end, trying to distance myself from the happiness as far as possible. I didn't want my sour mood to infect anyone else. It wouldn't be fair. I glanced down the table, seeing everyone else seated. Taylor and David were next to each other, patiently listening to the priest go over details while breaking concentration to send each other loving looks every now and them. I felt my gag reflex kick in, but I hid it as best as I could.

Next to Taylor was her sister, Caitlin, and beside her was a friend of ours, Kaitlyn. Yeah, I know. I'm going to get confused too… Each of them looked properly excited and happy for the bride-to-be and simply happy to be involved in her wedding. As was I, but it was just overshadowed by one thing…

Who, apparently, the only groomsman David had. The other side of the table was empty compared to the bride's side. I furrowed my brows, staring at the two gentlemen (if you could call them that… oh, I really need to cut back on the bitterness), briefly wondering if the pair of them had other friends.

I was surprised, once again, when his eyes flickered to my obvious staring. I turned my face away from his and started staring at the table, the grains becoming very fascinating.

Damn it! I yelled at myself. It's over, it done with. Stop gazing longingly in his direction. It will give him the wrong idea… but it is really the wrong idea? I felt my face fall and my hands clenched under the table. I bit my lip lightly, trying to keep my ever-flowing emotions from showing on my face.

"Miss… Miss!" I bit down on my lip, jumping from the loud voice coming from the end of the table. I leaned around Kaitlyn, holding one hand to my lip and waving another at the priest. "You're the maid of honor, correct?" he asked and I merely nodded. Nothing coming out of my mouth for the next couple of minutes would be decipherable, not with a swollen lip anyway.

"Well, if you could move closer we could begin to go over the outline for the ceremony," he gestured to his left, to the empty chair next to Will. I pointed vaguely in that direction before he snapped, "Yes that chair! If you could please move?" Jumping once more, I hastily grabbed my things and scurried around the table.

I roughly dropped my purse on the floor before plopping into the chair next to Will. I was tempted to slide my eyes over in his direction, but I kept the urge under control.

"Now that we're all in hearing distance," the crazy priest began, glancing at my sharply. I smiled sheepishly. "We can start." And this was about the time my mind began to wonder again.

I started with staring at the priest. I couldn't believe a man of God was so unbelievably snippy. Maybe it was the Catholic thing… but David wasn't like that. Well, not most of the time. And he wasn't really practicing.

My eyes shifted over to David, actually looked alert and observant for once. I was proud. He was really taking this wedding thing seriously. I had half expected him to goof off and make a fool on himself like he normally did. But today wasn't the actual wedding and we still had to get through the bachelor/bachelorette parties.

Ugh, more freaking parties. Why couldn't they just run away together? It would make my life so much easier than having to sit through all of this mess. It's not like we don't know how a wedding progresses. You show up at the church, get dressed, wait forever and a day for all the guest to arrive, walk down the aisle, say the traditional vows, to have to hold and all that mess, kiss, walk back down the alise, party and eat/drink enough until you're going to hurl, send the bride and groom on their way for a week of uninterrupted bliss, and the rest of us go back to our meaningless existence.

You know… I think I may gotten even more bitter. And it's all his fault. My eyes slid over to the man sitting beside me and I glared. Stupid man! Why did he have to go and ruin a perfectly good thing by asking me to marry him?! Five times to be exact! Why did he have to be so damn romantic and want to have the fairy tale? I was certainly no princess even if he was a prince.

"Damn you William Carrington," I mumbled aloud without realizing it. I did realize it when I noticed every eye in the room come to rest on my face. "Shit…"

"Is there something you would like to add?" the snippy priest spoke up.

I opened my mouth to respond, but the aforementioned person of my hatred spoke up before I had the chance to. "I'm sure there is, but she will never tell you to spare your feelings."

I felt my mouth drop in shock. He was going to bring that battle right now? Alright, fine. Two can play that game…

"Well," I drawled, a sarcastic smile crossing my face. "Maybe if they weren't so sensitive to unpleasant topics I wouldn't mind telling them." I turned to face him, tilting my head to side.

He rolled his eyes and scoffed. "That is ridiculous and you know it," he countered meeting my glare.

"Oh really?" I questioned, pursing my lips. "Then what was that whole melodramatic exit that I remember oh so clearly?"

"That was not melodramatic!" he hissed at me, leaning over my form. "And I wouldn't have felt the need to leave if you had just been honest!"

"Oh honest!?" I yelled back, jabbing my finger into his chest. "You want to me to be honest do you? How's this for honest: I think you are the biggest piece of –"

"Miss Snyder!" I heard the priest call over our shouting match.

"What!?" Both Will and I responded, turning to glare at the poor man. He shrunk against his chair slightly.

"We were just about to tell you that we getting ready to start the rehearsal," David spoke up warily.

"Good," I said firmly, grabbing my things and standing up. "Well what are you waiting for? Move people!" Not waiting for the rest of the crowd, I stomped out of the room and toward the front foyer.

Why did he have to bring this up now? Of all times! I growled verbally, hearing the guttural sound echo in the large foyer, mixing with the harsh clicks of my heels. I roughly pushed my hair out of my face, coming to stand by the large doors to the main sanctuary.

I watch the other females come into view as I whipped out my nail file. Taylor walked up to be immediately asking, "What was that all about?"

"Hm?" I looked up from my nails, my eyebrows raised. "Oh that? It was simply us. That's what we are now… bitter ex-lovers. We hate each other for the pain we put the other through and we have no idea how to vocalize it except in snide remarks and loud decibels." Of course this was all said with a caustic edge and a tart smile. That was the only type of conversation I could muster, seeing as it was my armor. Through my harsh voice I could keep people from prying too deeply and keep myself from thinking too hard.

Taylor furrowed her eyebrows at my tone and my words. She began to speak but I cut her off. "Look, I'm sorry for our outburst… well my half at least. I can't speak for him. But, I can deal with this. Just get through the actual rehearsal and I'll be fine at the dinner."

She looked like she wanted to say something else but suddenly her parents walked through the door. Her attention was immediately captured away from me turning to her very late family members.

"Sorry we're late," her mother spoke up coming towards us. "The traffic here is horrible. I don't know how you can deal with this. Wouldn't it be better if you moved..."

I drifted away from the conversation, peering into the sanctuary. I watched as the men walked over to the front of the chapel, next to the altar. Now out of his direct eyesight, I could fully gaze at Will.

On the surface, I suppose, there was nothing immediately wrong with him. He hid his emotions well. But through his stiff posture, which was more erect than usual, and his blank stares I could tell he was unhappy and uncomfortable.

My countenance molded into the emotions I had carefully guarded until that moment. The hurt and sadness moved into my face's creases as I stared at my former… what was he exactly? We were not engaged long enough to really consider him my fiancé, but he was more than just a boyfriend… he was always more than that to me.

I swallowed, trying to make the lump in my throat disappear. I felt the corners of my eyes throb painfully with tears and I reached a hand up to rub my face and run my fingers through my hair. Leaning my head against the frame of the door, I watched him from the shadows as he and David conversed with the priest.

Even though I was still angry with him and frustrated with his stubbornness, I couldn't help but admire him from afar. I still loved him after all and I still found him devastatingly attractive. I was beginning to feel like a voyeur when I heard several voices call my name.

Spinning my head around quickly, I was well aware of my overly emotional appearance. I immediately melted my face back into the blank mask of moderate distain before moving over to join the line of women waiting to proceed into the hall. I moved into my place behind Caitlin and in front of Taylor.

I sighed heavily as I watched the two in front of me progress slowly into the hall and down the aisle. I walked forward standing in the archway leading to the hall, waiting for my cue to start walking.

As I was given a nod, I started my slow progression. I kept my eyes straight forward, avoiding eye contact with everyone at the end of the aisle. I tried to block my vision of this world and move into another within my imagination… anywhere but here.

But I couldn't help my mind's eye moving back a few months ago to the snow in England. How, despite the below freezing temperatures, I was so very warm in his arms… simply in his presence. Watching the snow settle into his dark hair

The plane ride with his stupid camera, always poised to snap a photo. I reached a hand out to try and snatch the camera away from his hands, but he simply moved in beyond my reach. I reached further, fully in his lap by this point, when I felt him kiss my cheek. I turned to look at him, his boyish smile filling my vision. That smile which still makes the butterflies come and made me give up my attempt to avoid his camera.

Passing each other at work, on the rare occasions it happens, and smiling secretly at each other. Feeling our hands brush the brief contact causing me to turn and look at him walk away just in time to see him do the same thing and smile.

All the little moments we had flashed in front of my eyes. I felt warmer than I had in months. I felt more human. More like myself. I felt my vision blur into the present and I saw myself reaching the end of the aisle. I strained a smile up at David before moving into the place reserved for maid of honor.

They went through the ceremony once piece at a time, each trying to become familiar with the setup in order to make sure the next day went as smoothly as possible. We manage to get through the whole thing without an incident before we had to begin the recessional.

David grasped Taylor's arm, walking down the few steps to the main steps. I watched them a moment with a small smile before someone behind me coughed loudly.

I jumped slightly before moving forward. Will glanced down at me impatiently, his arm offered toward me. I could feel his distain, but out of respect for the situation and the people involved, he would behave. If only I could say the same for myself…

Taking his arm while trying to keep the personal contact to a minimum. I fully believe I stopped breathing and prayed that we could get this over quickly. Not that I didn't like being close to him, because I did. More than I wanted to admit to myself. His arm was so warm under my hand and his presence was calming to me after not seeing him for so long.

Apparently, I was so wrapped up in think about Will that I forgot about the steps in front of us… so much so that I tripped over my own two feet.

In a quick blur of motion and a rapid sinking feeling that look over my body I tumbled to the floor, desperately reaching for something to grab onto. Guess what that "thing" was?

In brief entanglement of limbs and a fast blur before my eyes I found myself laying on the floor staring up at the vaulted ceiling. Wow. That's really high barely crossed my mind before I felt a large object fall directly on top of me. Once again, I felt the air from my lungs leave me as I stared into the face of William Carrington.

There was an awkward moment of silence where I desperately tried to come to grips with the situation (and to regain the concept of breathing) but I was frozen. I'm pretty sure the rest of the room was frozen too. We had not tried very hard to hide our distain for each other.

I would never admit this, even on pain of death, but I was secretly cherishing this closeness - closeness I had been denied for months. It was in this brief moment that I wanted to tell him I did want to marry him and whip out the ring, which was currently hidden under my shirt and hanging by a chain, to show him I hadn't moved on. I wanted to whisper to him, "Don't you miss this? I do." I wanted to kiss him fiercely. Instead I just laid there in my stupor, thinking… wishing… for things to happen instead of actually going and doing them.

His eyes, which were at first wide with shock and perhaps something else, suddenly harden as he pushed himself off me. "It seems that you cannot help yourself from falling at my feet," he spoke, gracefully rising to his full height. "I'm sorry to tell you this, but it's too much too late." He glared down at me and for a moment the lines I had drawn between himself and his brother blurred. I was all too aware of how closely related they were, although I doubt Will realized it.

I scoffed, sitting up slowly before coming to my feet and rolled my eyes. "You flatter yourself Mr. Carrington," I drawled. "In fact, if I remember correctly, it was you that threw yourself at me."

His eyes narrowed at me. I paid him no head and walked down the rest of aisle by myself. I was tired of playing these petty games with him and I was tired of his snipping. The best possible way to do that was to remove myself from the situation.

Besides, the rehearsal dinner was next. I had a speech to prepare for.

God, I hate family. This family wasn't even mine. I slumped over in my seat some more, propping my head on my hand and raised an eyebrow. I was pouting. I didn't care. I watched as another random family member of one of the two lovebirds walked up to the table and made small talk.

I instead of being sociable decided to go over the high points of my speech in my head. I remember when I had first met David. He was getting ready to leave my apartment just as I was coming from a gig with… My speech trailed off as my eyes trailed over to the form at the other end of the table.

Will looked just as uninterested to be here as I was. He was cordial to the people who came to the table (which is more than I could say for myself) but there was no life behind his words. He was simply there, existing, performing, because it was expected of him. We were similar in that respect at least. The love for our friends overrode any other selfish feelings we had. And, I suppose, neither one of use could forgive ourselves if we weren't here for the happiest day of friend's lives –even if our own days were full of despair.

I was so lost in thought that when Will's eyes met mine, I jumped slightly and flashed mine away from his face. But it wasn't quick enough to miss the scowl that appeared there. I never liked a scowl on his face. It wasn't him. I sincerely believed that he was a happy person at heart. I hated seeing him unhappy before, but now being the cause of it…

My thoughts trailed off as I began to beat my head softly against the table. I was pining again. I simply rested my head against the table for a moment. I had never been this way before… so caught up in one person that my brain ceases to function correctly when they were around. I moaned into the table, clutching my fist into a ball in my lap.

I suppose my antics had finally caught Taylor's attention because I felt her place a hand on my back and murmur to me. "Are you okay?" I nodded silently against the table. "Are you sure? Look you can always leave if – whoa."

She trailed off, not bothering to begin again. I lifted my head to see what had stunned her into silence. I followed her line of vision seeing several men come in through the doors.

"Who invited the FBI?" I asked, my brow furrowing at the large men clad in all black suits entering the hall. They all looked pretty official and generally imposing.

"They look more like the secret service…" Taylor observed. "David, are you related to any dignitaries?"

I heard a very cynical snort from the far end of the table. "Hardly," William Carrington's voice drawled. Leaned around Taylor's form to glare at him. He merely raised an eyebrow at my sardonically, as if daring me to comment. I rolled my eyes at his silent dare before being taken aback by the paleness of David's face.

I nudged Taylor pointing at her fiancé. "Is he okay?" She followed my finger, before turning to address him. I glanced at Will's face one last time before turning my eyes warily toward the black cloud that had graced our presence.

Will leaned closer to his friend asking, "Tell me you told her?" David, apparently speechless for the first time ever, simply shook his head in the negative.

"Tell me what?" Taylor asked, a line appearing in her forehead. No one answered. "Tell me what?" she insisted again, her eyes darting between David and Will, who merely shook his head and smirking cynically. I was just as confused, but was getting ready to stand up and shake some answers out of David (which was probably for my frustration rather than real answers) when we were accosted with a loud shout of "GALLIEO!" and subsequently saw David pulled from behind the table. Following his form, we saw up the groom wrapped up in one of the suits arms.

Midway in standing, I felt myself mumble "ehh…?" I sank back into my seat, too shocked to do much else, as I watched two men, the aforementioned one who was currently messing with David's hair and another, still imposing, but less wide figure pulling David into a brief hug.

Taylor and I both looked at each other confusedly, our mouths slightly open in shock. Turning back to the group, I raised my eyebrow as David disentangled himself from the men. He cleared his throat, staring at the ground before speaking. "Meet my brothers. This is Dante," he mumbled gesturing to the large man that had pulled him from behind the table. "And this is Antonio," he murmured turning his hand to the other, skinner, one.

Ahh… these were David's mysterious brothers. I titled my head to the side watching them carefully. "Guys this is Taylor, my fiancée and her friend, and maid of honor, Kristen." I waved my greeting, not saying anything. "You already know Will." I saw them briefly shake hands before turning back to their future sister-in-law.

By this point, I was sneaking away around the back. All this happiness and camaraderie was becoming too much for my sour stomach to take. I slithered across the back wall, keeping a careful eye on the happy group before finally ducking into a small door, which lead to an equally small room. More like an alcove than anything else.

I had propped myself against the wall when I hand shot into the room and drug me back out. I scowled up at my attacker, seeing Will. "What's that for?" I asked harshly.

"If I have to stand out here beside the happy couple, pretending to be happy myself, then so are you," he said leaning over my shorter form.

"Or…" I offered, waving my hands in front of me. "You could go and find your own alcove and mope."

He simply glowered at me. "You forget we have a duty to stand…" he started until my eye rolling and scoffing interrupted.

"What is up with you and duty?" I questioned, my voice raising. "That seems to be your answer for everything! Perhaps you really are a knight and never told me."

"It's not me who's been keeping secrets," he muttered. Looking over my shoulder. I furrowed my eyebrows, turning to follow his line of sight. Cocking my head to the side, my visage was grace with that of David and his brothers, who seemed to be embarrassing him. Turning back to Will, I found him staring at me with a slightly alarmed face.

Determined to find answers, I unceremoniously grabbed the front of his suit jacket pulling him into the room he had just yanked me out of. Closing the door unceremoniously behind us, I hurriedly turned on the lights, not really wanting to be in the dark with him.

"Alright, spill," I commanded, poking his chest with my index finger. "What secret is David keeping?"

"Nice try," he told me condescendingly. "But I'm not telling you. It's not my place."

I pursed my lips slightly, before thinking of a new direction. "Okay. Fine. Don't tell me. But until you grow a pair and stop wimping out of making hard decisions, I'm going to keep pestering you. You have constantly evaded our questions, but it's obviously something important." I paused, moving closer to where his was leaning against the wall. "So, Mr. Carrington, what shall it be?"

"Do you really think you can intimidate me?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Do you doubt my abilities?" I questioned, raising my eyebrow to match his.

"No," he began slowly, obviously building up the suspense. "I doubt you have any abilities at all."

I scowled deeply, feeling my confidence flicker slightly. I backed away from him, trying to give myself some space to think. I was going to have to be sneaky and slowly pull this out of him. But I was never very good at sneaky. I was much better at the upfront approach.

But this wasn't just anyone, this was Will. My Will. And if I was still head over heels for him, then perhaps he felt the same about me. Meaning I could manipulate these feelings for my use.

It was cruel. But I didn't care at that point. I was tired of being lied to and having the subject walked around. I needed an answer.

I was leaning against the opposite wall of Will. My eyes slid over slowly, taking in his form. He was staring at me, probably wondering what I was planning, before his faced molded into discomfort. "What… what are you looking at?"

I smiled slightly at his question, hoping it didn't look like a grimace. Not responding, I moved slowly to stand beside him. "You know, you're right. It really is none of my business. I'm just really worried that it will hurt Taylor… plus she's really stressed about the whole thing, so I'm trying to keep everything under control." He stared skeptically down at me, raising an eyebrow. Feeling his distrust, I laid my head on arm, laying a hand on the crook of his elbow.

"I'm sure that is the same with you and David, and it's natural you would be protective of him. I know you want this wedding to be as pain free as possible." I lifted my other hand to clasp onto the one already on his arm, locking him in place. He wasn't going anywhere. I could feel his body stiffen the closer I became to him.

He cleared his throat, looking at the wall across from us. "What are you doing, Kristen?" he asked seriously, glancing between my upturned face and my hands wrapped around his arm. "What happened to the Kristen that hated my guts?" He pulled his arm away from my grasp, turning to face me and put space between us.

"Oh Will… have we really been reduced to being enemies?" I asked, stepping closer to him, careful not to crowd his space too much. He peered down at me, showing that was exactly what he was thinking. "I've been thinking about… what happened between us," I started, reaching a hand up to fix his lapel. "And I've been thinking that maybe we need to start over."

I wondered briefly if this was as awkward for him as it was for me. He continued to stare down at me trying to keep himself guarded. I stepped closer, moving my hand to fiddle with his tie. "What do you think about it?"

"I," he started, beginning to cough nervously. "I'm not really sure?" He was losing his confidence and his arrogance.

"What are you not sure about?" I questioned, my free hand settling on his shoulder close to his neck.

"The lying." He answered shortly. "You lied to me for months…" his posture had turned from stuff to languid, his eyes losing their guardedness.

"Yes we know how bad lying is," I drawled, tilting my head to the side. I moved a tiny step closer, so close I was almost touching him. He stared down at me, his eyes dark and slightly afraid. "So, what is he lying about Will?"

We stood in silence for a long moment. He opened his mouth to respond when the door behind him swung open. "Will? What are you doing in here?" It was David. Of course.

I pushed myself away from Will, leaning around his form. "Damn it David!" I yelled. "You always screw up everything!" I sighed harshly, crossing my arms. I was afraid of looking at Will's face, but I could feel the tension coming back and I was fairly certain he was scowling deeply

"Wha-?" David began to ask when Will grabbed him and pulled him inside the alcove, much as I had done to him.

"Alright," Will began, towering over his friend. "This has gone on long enough. You need to tell someone about it. And if not your fiancée, then her friend. I'm done hiding it for you." David looked to me before turning back to Will.

"I can't Will," he choked out. "You know I can't."

"You're pathetic," his friend spat. "Tell her." He grabbed his upper arm tightly, steering him so he was standing in front of me. I could tell now was not the time to piss him off. Perhaps toying with his emotions was not the best way of getting information after all.

I stared at David with an expectant look, trying to be patient. "I – I…" he began sputtering. After pausing and taking a breath (as well as a lovely shake from Will) he started again. "You see, um… my family is –"

"What are all of you doing in here?" Taylor had come investigating and had found us. Right when I would have found out too…

"Divulging secret, using people's emotions against them… you know, the usual," Will answered sarcastically before turning David to face her. "Tell her."

"What?" she asked, furrowing her brows at the two of them. She turned her eyes toward me, but I simply shrugged. "What do you need to tell me?"

"David looked somber from where I was standing, looking at the floor. "My family… eh. You see, er, my family is…" he coughed and I realized I was holding my breath. Will hissed something I couldn't hear and David finally let it out. "My family is apart of the Mafia."

My jaw hit the floor. I was speechless. For the first time in a long time, I was speechless. Taylor appeared to be in a very similar condition. After a very long pause, David's rambling instincts took over. "But I'm not apart of it. Just my family… well my mom's family mainly. My dad and I are completely against it. I would have told you sooner but…" and that's where it stopped being coherent.

I watched David ramble on for a few minutes, my mind working on overdrive. I leaned over to poke Will in the arm. "What is he saying?" I asked.

"I'm not sure it's a language," he responded, apparently looking as lost as I felt.

"Wait a minute!" I interrupted loudly, cause David to finally close his trap. "You're family is a part of the Mafia?" He simply nodded. I wrinkled my forehead in thought for a moment. Suddenly the conversation I had heard two New Years made a lot more sense. "That's what you were talking about! When you were talking about your immoral heritage!" I suddenly felt very, very stupid.

"You were eavesdropping?" Will asked harshly. "What am I talking about? Of course you were. Because your so damn nosy about everything…"

"What's supposed to mean?!" I questioned. "I am not nosy about everything. I was merely curious and worried about my friend. Which I obviously had a right to be…"

"You're so damn full of yourself," Will interrupted. I scoffed and was getting ready to attack back when Taylor shouted, "Enough!"

I jumped slightly, and shut my mouth. "We need to get back to the… uh, reception." She turned quickly and left the small room, David followed slowly behind her. She was obviously having a hard time… so was I actually, now that I think about it. Will wordlessly left and I followed behind, hoping I didn't look too awestuck.

They're apart of the mafia… David's family is involved in crime. Violent crimes. They kill people. I was still in my trance when I got to my seat, sitting down without really realizing it. Beside me Taylor had the same face I did: shocked, scared, confused, and all other manner of emotions.

I swallowed hard reaching my hand across the table to grab the champagne flute. I was getting ready to take a sip when I felt someone kick me under the table. I turned to see Taylor looking at me expectantly, just as the rest of the room was. I furrowed my eyes in confusion before realizing they were expecting my speech. Oh joy…

I turned back to the front, swallowing again. Sighing, I stood up my glass still in hand. Opening my mouth, I started my speech. "Hello everyone. In case you didn't know I'm Kristen Snyder, the maid of honor. I don't quite remember meeting the bride as we were about ten or so at the time, I remember the day I met David perfectly." I paused, wondering if I should keep going, deciding that, no, I shouldn't and I was going to try something unscripted.

"But that's not the important part of this whole story. The when's, the how's, they don't matter. Never did. Makes for interesting conversation, of course, but in the long run, all that matters is their love for one another. Despite numerous obstacles, involving stupidity, on both parts, a great deal of alcoholic consumption, and a rather interesting episode of fireworks, Taylor and David have proven that when you truly love someone, you love all of them. The good, the bad, the crazy, the sublime, the everything in-between. Because that's what love is: an acceptance of a person as they come." I stopped again, turning my eyes down for a moment, trying to move the boulder that had lodged it's way into my throat.

"To find that kind of love is rare indeed. People have written poems for thousands of years, trying to describe this feeling of love that we all seem to strive for. Love makes us go crazy. It makes us hate another person for making us feel so much, for making us feel helpless. But from love also springs understanding and companionship and blissfulness and all other manner of adjectives that are mushy. And this whole affair is to celebrate that love. As it should be celebrated." At this point I turned to the happy couple and I was sure that my eyes were shiny and my face turning a pale shade of red from holding back tears. "You are fortunate enough to find your soul mates. You are even more fortunate to be able to spend the rest of your life with them. You have a kind of love people write novels and poems about. Not many people these days get that kind of opportunity. So cherish it. Learn from it. There will be times, just as there have been, you will get frustrated with each other and want to rip each others hair out. You'll want to give up because it would be easier. Don't take that road… don't be like me." I felt one very warm tear slip out the corner of my left eye as I whispered that last statement. Closing them to regain composure, I turned back to my audience and lifted my glass to make the toast.

"So, to Taylor and David and their love. May it be strong enough to carry them through when it fails for the rest of us." With that, I downed my glass, slamming it on the table grandly. Not looking at anyone, I merely made my way from the group and toward the open bar. Turns out I wasn't going to spend this night sober after all.