Five years later:
"Alright guys, that's a wrap! Get this cleaned up and you can go home!" I yelled, my voice resonated throughout the newsroom. I hopped off of the stool, picking it up and placing it off to the side before I wormed my way through the crowd of people to find Isa. It wasn't hard for the most part; people parted ways for me as soon as they saw me. I waved them off, telling them it was fine and to keep cleaning up the set, but they insisted. It brought a warm feeling to my ice cold heart at their respectfulness.
I spotted Isa off to the corner, locked into a conversation with Ian, one of our anchors. I patiently waited off to the side as Isa pointed at the clipboard she held in her hand and fired rapid explanations to Ian.
Ian gave one last nod, taking the sheet of paper away from her before walking off. Isa stashed her clipboard away, before she turned and saw me. She gave me a bright smile as she walked towards me.
"Great day, huh?" Isa commented, "Went off without much of a hitch."
"It wasn't perfect, but it was pretty damn close," I said, quoting our lovely Professor Hawkins. Isa laughed, automatically getting the reference.
"You drive or I?" Isa asked. I pulled the keys out of my pocket and tossed it over to her. She caught it one handed. She took the lead, pushing open the doors and stepping out into the night breeze. I followed closely behind her as she made her to way to her parked BMW.
After I left Jake's house, I drove up to Isa's apartment, where I resided for the remaining time that I spent at UCLA. I took a gamble, using the rest of my savings to finish off my Media and Communications pathway. I graduated a semester earlier than Isa, where I took on a position as a production manager at the local news station. I also took on a second job, a night shift at the local diner to pay my half of the bills.
After Isa graduated, I managed to snag her an opening job at the news station I worked at. For five years, we worked alongside each other, both of climbing through the ranks of the production team. Half a year ago, the news producer retired and both of us given the opportunity to take the spot. I urged Isa to take it, knowing that she was much better at producing than I was. It wasn't long before a news director opening opened up and I took the chance to snag the position.
Now I was twenty-eight and Isa was twenty-six. We pooled our savings together to buy a house that was for sale. We got it pretty cheap since the previous owner was desperate to sell because he wanted to leave the place. Now, we split the house payments and all bills evenly. Grocery bills were alternated between us; I would pay for a month and she would pay the next. I knew we wouldn't be able to live together forever; I planned on buying her half whenever she got married to her boyfriend. At this rate, it didn't seem like I was going to get married anytime soon.
Isa parked the BMW in the driveway, next to my Lexus. I exited the car; Isa following suit. She unlocked the door and we both stepped inside, taking off our shoes before I headed to our modest kitchen. I rummaged through the fridge, grabbing an apple before biting into it. I needed to start bringing something to eat to work; I always got hungry lately.
"Already hungry?" Isa asked, clearly teasing. I swallowed the apple in my mouth before I replied.
"Of course, you know this. I'm hungry all the time." Isa laughed as she pushed past me to start grabbing ingredients out of the fridge. I left the kitchen, leaving her alone to make dinner. I started towards the hallway and into my room.
It was a big change from the room I had at Jake's. For one, it was infinitely smaller, so small that my bed took up most of the room. It irked me that I couldn't have a desk in the same room, so I resorted to using a laptop instead of a desktop which I prefered. I walked into the carpeted floored room, heading towards my closet to grab some clothes. I jerked open the white door, reaching in there blindly until I found what I wanted: a shirt and some gym shorts. I left the room, closing the door behind me as I headed to the bathroom to take a shower.
As I walked out of the bathroom while drying my hair with a towel, I heard my phone rang. I headed to my room, opening the door, and stepped inside. My eyes zeroed onto the flashing light on my phone. I swiped it off of my bed, pressing the answer button as I brought it up to my ear.
"Katie!" I heard Lilia squeal over the phone. It had been such a long time since we last talked that I missed hearing her voice.
"You sound excited," I commented offhandedly, as I rummaged through my drawer for my phone charger, "What's up?"
"Jake asked me to marry him!" Lilia blurted, her excitement shooting through the roof. I stopped what I was doing, my hands freezing mid action as my mind turned to comprehend what Lilia just told me. When it finally sank into my mind, a bright smile graced my lips.
"It's about time," I replied, "You said yes already, didn't you?" For her, it should have been a no brainer. Judging by her personality though, I figured she said yes and jumped onto Jake, giving him a tight hug. Then she immediately called me to tell me the good news.
"Of course I did," Lilia replied, in her "Why did you even doubt me?" tone, "In fact, he's right here. He's telling me to get off the phone. How impatient." I figured the last part was directed at Jake. I heard a low chuckle in the background. Well, I wasn't about to ruin their night by being the third wheel over the phone.
"You guys have fun. I'm going to eat dinner. Congratulations," I said, truly sincere with my congratulations. I don't even remember the last time I congratulated someone without a hint of sarcasm to it.
"Will you be my maid of honor?" Lilia asked. She giggled and I heard something that sounded like she was swatting Jake's hand away.
"Did you even have to ask?" I said, rolling my eyes even though she couldn't see me, "Of course, I will. Just let me know the time, date, and place and I'll be sure to take some time off of work. I won't be able to get off for more than one day, so if you guys are planning something extravagant, I won't be able to stay for the entire duration." That was thing about working in the news industry; we worked seven days a week and we had no holidays. I hadn't taken a day off yet so far, and I was hoping I could use that to my advantage to request a day off from my boss. But it wasn't easy, especially when I held such an important position.
"I'll let you know," Lilia said, "Bye!" She hung up on me before I could say goodbye. Shaking my head, I leaned over and plugged the charger into the wall, attaching the other end of the cord to my phone. I left my phone on my bed as I walked back to the living room, where I could smell Isa's cooking.
"Dinner's ready!" Isa announced as she came out of the kitchen with two plates in her hands. I grabbed two plates, two forks, and two glasses of water and placed it down onto the table as Isa went to turn off the stove. I sat down, with Isa taking a seat directly in front of me.
"Do you think Boss will let me have a day off?" I asked, before taking a bite of the chicken. Isa's head snapped up in alarm.
"Why do you need a day off? Are you sick? Pregnant? Dying?" Isa fired off in a rapid succession. I laughed at the ludicrous suggestions. Isa spoke fast, but sometimes she didn't stop to think before she spoke.
"None of the above," I answered, "I wouldn't be here if I was dying and I need a day off because my brother is getting married. I already promised to be the maid of honor." Isa nodded as I spoke, taking in my explanation as she ate.
She swallowed her food before giving me a reply, "Oh, the Jake Falkins is getting married? This is sweet, I get to know this before all the tabloids do. Perks of being friends with his kid sister." I scoffed at her use of the terminology of, "kid sister." Sure, we were four years apart, but I was no longer a kid anymore.
"Congratulations," I said sarcastically, "It's only a couple hours earlier. It's going to get leaked sooner or later." Probably sooner, because the tabloids have been trying to find a juicy story for ages now. After his engagement five years ago, there hadn't been much to announce. The tabloids would be having a field day with Jake's engagement.
"Then it'll be your turn next," Isa not so subtly hinted. I scoffed.
"You're closer to getting married than I am. What makes you think I'll be the next one to get married? Plus, I've been hearing that Mark has been at the jewelry store a lot," I said. I saw Isa blush with a smile on her face at the idea of getting married to Mark, her boyfriend. It took Jake long enough to ask the question, hopefully Mark wouldn't dawdle his feet too long.
"What about you though?" Isa asked, trying to change the subject, "Are you ever going to get back together with Tyler?" My mood instantly plummeted at the mention of his name; I hadn't spoken or thought about his name in years. I always referred to him as "him" or "he." Even while I held a job as a reporter, I avoided all stories and packages that involved him. I strayed away from reading the tabloids, always seemingly to migrate out of the room while Isa was reading them. I knew she would sometimes read aloud things that she found interesting and I didn't want to risk hearing anything about him. I avoided any topic of him, until today.
"I know it's still a touchy subject for you, Katie," Isa said. If she knew it was, then why was she bringing it up? Though she didn't see the worst of the aftermath, she saw how much I suffered in the following months. "It's been five years, but you refuse to move on. Many guys have asked you out, but you shot down each and every one of them. And your excuses are all the same, he's not tall enough or he's not brunette. Face it, you keep comparing those guys to Tyler, because you miss him." She was spot on. I hadn't realized that I had been comparing those guys to him until Isa mentioned it. Now that I think back to every guy that asked me out, I remembered a distant flash of his face before I rejected them.
"But he's married happily to Ariel. I'm not going to be a homewrecker. I'll find someone eventually," I said, but it didn't sound very convincing. In truth, even I knew I was telling a lie. I wasn't going to find someone and even if I did, he would never compare to him. Never.
"Haven't you heard?" Isa asked. I gave her a puzzled look.
"Heard what?" Isa looked at me like I should have already known this information.
"Tyler broke off his engagement years ago. In fact, I think it was a week after you left Jake's. His reason was and I quote, 'A certain someone has taught me to fight for the things I want and that I will never find myself if I keep living a false life. Ariel, she's not the one I want. Even though the one I want is long gone, at least I'll have a chance to find someone else.' Obviously, he was talking about you! He wants you back," Isa said. He...broke off his engagement? That means...he's no longer a wealthy businessman? He gave up everything, even though I was already gone? My eyes widened as a million questions ran through my mind.
"What happened to him after that? He lost his company, didn't he?" I asked, curiosity burning inside me at the revelation. I couldn't believe I hadn't heard about it until now. Wow, I was better at avoiding him than I thought.
"No, he didn't lose his company. There was a big fallout between his Father and him though. No one really knows the details, but it's clear that Tyler came out as the victor," Isa answered, "What? Thinking of getting him back?" I shook my head.
"I'm just surprised. This is the first time I'm hearing this. And to think he didn't lose the company when all this time his Father was threatening him with it," I replied, "I just can't believe it." In the end, our fight had been for nothing. If he never listened to his Father, he would still have the company. Did his Father give him an empty threat? He didn't seem like the kind to do so though. I wished I could ask him, but we weren't exactly on speaking terms. I sighed, feeling a little bit annoyed I would never get the whole story. It was a pet peeve that I developed being in the field. No doubt Isa felt the same way about the missing piece of the story. She was probably wishing she was the one to report the story.
"But at least you know you have a chance. Last I heard, Tyler is a very eligible bachelor," Isa said, sighing dreamily. I knew he was the primary reason why Isa kept up with the tabloids; he was her eye candy. Though she knew she would never have him, in her eyes, he was her definition of a hottie with brains. Although I knew her intentions were completely innocent, I couldn't help but still feel a twinge of jealousy. I kept reminding myself that he wasn't mine anymore, that he belonged to someone else. Turns out, his heart was still his.
"It didn't work out last time. It's not going to work out the second time," I said, immediately squashing all hope that we could have another shot. It was hopeless; one of us was eventually going to get hurt again and I refused to be on the short end of the stick. I didn't think I would have enough strength to go through it again.
"But this time you don't have a meddling father or the ex fiancée in your way," Isa stated. I knew she was right, but my mind kept conjuring excuses. My heart, on the other hand, was saying something entirely different.
No, no, not again, I thought to myself, Don't you remember the pain or have you already foolishly forgotten? Don't subject yourself to that vulnerability again. No matter how hard I tried though, the defenses around my heart refused to go up. The mere mention of his name had already brought them down again.
Hypocrite, the small voice at the back of mind said, You tell him to fight for what he wants and you won't do the same? Pathetic. A part of me couldn't help but agree. Five years...I either needed to move on or fight to get him back. I didn't think I would be able to muster the strength to achieve the former.
The latter...would it be worth it?
"I hate you so much right now. How did you convince me into doing this again?" Tyler asked. He was currently seated down, flipping through one of the magazines on the table as Jake tried on various tuxedos. Jake constantly asked for his opinion, but Tyler couldn't give him much more than a, "Buy that one and let's go already." Each time, Jake shot him a glare and went back into the dressing room.
"You're suppose to be my best friend. So shut up and deal with it. Support me like a good friend would," came Jake's reply from the dressing room. Tyler sighed, running a hand through his messy hair.
"I didn't think the job description of best friend included accompanying you for hours of shopping. Come on, it's just a tuxedo. It's not like you have to find the perfect dress or anything," Tyler replied, flipping another page in the magazine. There was nothing in it but a bunch of gossip which Tyler had no interest in. He knew he would get reprimanded by Jake if he pulled out his phone to get some work done. It was suppose to be his day off. He rather be at work though.
"You'll understand when you get married. Then you'll know why you're freaking out," Jake said, "Plus, you should be finding your own tuxedo. You're my best man after all." Tyler scoffed.
"I'm not getting married any time soon, Jake. Maybe never. And even if I did end up following through with marrying Ariel, I would never freak out as much as you are right now. I don't need a tuxedo, I have plenty sitting in my closet," Tyler replied. Jake came out of the dressing room with another tux. Tyler thought they all looked the same to him, except that they came in different colors. There was nothing special about them.
"That's because you don't love Ariel. You wouldn't give a shit about looking your best. I happen to care. Come on, help me out and we can go," Jake pleaded, feeling sick of trying to find a perfect tux for his wedding. He could only imagine what it was like for Lilia.
"Lilia is obviously going to be wearing white, so just wear a black tux with a white shirt underneath. And wear a black bow. Simple yet classy." Much to his relief, Jake took his advice. Two hours of Tyler's life wasted because Jake was getting nervous over nothing. Lilia was not going to break off the engagement just because of Jake's choice of attire. It wasn't like he was showing up in gym shorts.
"Finally!" Tyler cried when they finally walked out of the store with the tux in Jake's hand.
"You have a blue tie, right?" Jake asked, ignoring Tyler's outcry. To be perfectly honest, Jake could feel where he was coming from. He hated when Lilia dragged him on one of her shopping sprees. He was miserable every second of it, but seeing her adorable smile made every second worth it.
"Yeah. Why?" Tyler questioned as he got into Jake's car. Jake tossed the tux in the trunk before he got into the driver's seat.
"According to Lilia, the bridesmaids are wearing blue, so you should color coordinate," Jake answered, turning his head backwards as he pulled out of the parking lot.
"Eh. It's not like I'll know any of them. They're Lilia's colleagues, aren't they?" Lilia had finished her last year of college and her internship. Now, she worked full time at the doctor's office as one of the head doctors.
"I think her name is Victoria. She is a friend from Stanford. Heard she's moving out east once the wedding is over. Lilia said she didn't have many close friends so it's just going to be her and the maid of honor," Jake said, "Which is good because I only have two groomsmen."
"Undeniable chemistry. Both of you only have two close friends," Tyler commented, shaking his head, "Don't have much time for friends when you're working your ass off."
"Or you know, trying to manipulate your Father," Jake teased, reminding Tyler of the one time he went against his Father. He threatened his Father to not follow through with his marriage until his Father signed the contract that stated the building and the business was completely Tyler's. His Father was skeptical, but luckily Tyler was able to come up with a convincing reason. He wanted a guarantee, since he knew how much his Father liked to use the company as a hold over him. The moment his Father signed it, he broke off the engagement, successfully keeping the company and getting rid of Ariel at the same time. Needless to say, he never saw her again. His Father almost blew a heart valve at the news, resulting in another big argument between the two of them. Since then, Tyler didn't see him again.
"Yeah that too," Tyler commented offhandedly. His mind kept straying off to her. Everyday, he thought of her. He could never forget the last words that she ever said to him. He would carry her words for the rest of his life. They taught him an extremely valuable lesson that he would never forget.
Thank you, Katie.
I was running late. Sure, the last time I was running late to an event, I actually had been excited about it. This time was different; I couldn't miss Jake and Lilia's wedding.
I headed out pretty earlier but I got called back to the studio to fix a problem they were having. That set me back a good hour or so and now I was caught up in the traffic. It was a good thing that I didn't live far from Jake's house. I decided to stay in California after I graduated.
I was suppose to have shown up thirty minutes ago so we could review the rundown of the wedding and get ready. I already missed the rehearsal, that had been bad enough, and now I was going to look like a complete fool because I didn't have a single clue as to what I was doing. Way to ruin your brother and best friend's wedding, I thought.
The traffic continued to dawdle for the next hour. As each minute passed, my feet began to tap more impatiently against the floor. My fingernails dug into the leather of the steering wheel. Oh my god, I wasn't going to make it. The wedding was due to start in half an hour and at this rate I would make it after the wedding was finished.
I wasn't going to have enough time to change. Hopefully, my blue sundress would have to do for the occasion. I was feeling guilty; I knew Lilia picked out the perfect dress for me and now I wasn't going to have a chance to wear it.
My phone rang. I grimaced, instantly knowing who it was. I almost didn't want to talk to her; I knew I had let her down, but I answered the phone anyways.
"Where are you?" Lilia asked, skipping the pleasantries, "The wedding starts in thirty minutes. I'm going to look stupid without my maid of honor here." To my luck, the traffic finally cleared. I stepped on the pedal, moving into the left lane as I went ten over the speed limit. Please let me make it.
"I'm coming. I got stalled in traffic and got held back at work. I'm sorry, I left a hour and a half early. I'll be there, I promise," I said, profusely apologizing as I moved over a lane to bypass the slower car in front of me. I glanced at my dashboard, twenty minutes left.
"You won't have time to change though," Lilia said, "What are you wearing?"
"A sundress and some sandals," I replied, gladly noting that my exit was coming up in three miles. I began to make my way to the right lane.
"That'll have to do," Lilia said, sighing, "I'll try to stall as long as I can." She hung up on me, no doubt disappointed. It was just my luck that I had so many problems on her wedding day.
I made it five minutes late. I quickly scrambled out of my car. I ran up to the double glass doors, pushing it open and rushed inside, not really caring that my hair was all over the place and my face was red. I pushed open another set of doors and found myself staring at rows and rows of people. They all turned their heads to look at me, tearing their eyes away from the other bridesmaid and Alexander who had already walked through the aisle.
The pastor looked surprised to see me there, but he covered up his astonishment by announcing, "And the best man, Tyler Vanderbilt and the maid of honor, Katelyn Falkins." My eyes widened at the mention of his name; he was here? I got my answer moments later when I felt his arm grab mine, maneuvering my arm so that it was hooked around his. He didn't say a word as we proceeded down the aisle. A part of me was disappointed by his silence, but the quickly faded away at the pastor's next announcement.
"And now here comes the groom, Jake Falkins, with his bride, Lilia Zhang." All heads turned towards the back of the room as Jake and Lilia walked down the aisle together. Lilia didn't have a father nor any fatherly figure, so she decided to change things up and make Jake walk the aisle with her. It was like he was giving her away to himself. If that made any sense.
I parted ways with Tyler, unhooking my arm from his and went to stand next to the other bridesmaid. She was dressed in the sky blue gown that Lilia must have picked out for her. Her eyes were casted downwards as she kept nervously twirling a lock of her black hair.
I snuck a glance over at Tyler, who was standing stoically next to Alexander. He was wearing a regular black tux, accompanied by a blue tie. I couldn't help but notice that five years did him well, if it was possible, he became more handsome. Unlike some people, he really aged well. He looked older and wiser and devilishly handsome. It made me miss him more.
I averted my eyes away from him, knowing that I needed to stop hoping. I turned my attention onto Jake and Lilia who were holding each other's arms and staring dreamily in each other's eyes as the pastor rambled on.
"Do you, Jake Falkins, take Lilia Zhang to be your wedded wife, to live together in marriage? Do you promise to love her, comfort her, honor and keep her for better or for worse, for rich or poorer, in sickness or in health, and forsaking all others, be only faithful to her for as long as you live?"
"I do," Jake said without hesitation.
"And do you, Lilia Zhang, take Jake Falkins to be your wedded husband, to live together in marriage? Do you promise to love him, comfort him, honor and keep him for better or for worse, for rich or poorer, in sickness or in health, and forsaking all others, be only faithful to him for as long as you live?"
"Of course I do!" Lilia said, closing the distance between them to kiss Jake. The pastor noticed this but continued on with his speech.
"You may kiss the bride." The crowd applauded and I found myself smiling at the affectionate display. Tears welled up in the corner of my eyes and someday I wished I could be in Lilia's place. It wasn't too likely though.
"Makes you want to get married too, doesn't it?" the bridesmaid next to me commented. She was wiping a hand at the corner of her eyes. She wore a dreamy smile on her face as she watched Jake lean down for another kiss.
"I'm not getting married anytime soon," I confessed. It felt like I was going to have a repeat of my conversation with Isa, except this time his name wouldn't be mentioned. I glanced threw a subtle glance his way to see that he was dancing with another female. Alexander had meandered off, finding a brunette who I assumed was his wife. She was holding the hand of a little boy. Jake and Lilia took the center of the dance floor; Jake twirling Lilia around as her laughter rang out above the music.
"Jake's best man has been staring at you ever since you bursted into the room," she commented. I shook my head.
"Really? He seems uninterested last time I checked. And even if he did, it's probably because of our...history," I stated, not quite believing her. I felt like I snuck more glances at him more than he had looked at me. I never caught him looking at me, so I didn't know what she was talking about.
"Hmph, whatever you say," she said, "I hope you know that Denial isn't just a river in Egypt."
I opened my mouth to answer her, but I was truncated by a voice that yelled out, "Victoria! Over here." Victoria turned her head to look at the owner of the voice. She shifted her head back towards me.
"It was nice to meet you, Katelyn. I'm Victoria. I honestly doubt we will see each other again, but it was nice to meet you nonetheless." She didn't give me a chance to reply before she pushed her way through the crowd, heading straight towards the guy who had called her name. Great, now I was all alone.
I weaved my way through the crowd until I found a secluded corner where I could spend the rest of my time in solitude. I pulled out my phone which I stuffed in my sandal, next to my foot before I got out of my car. I opened it to see that I had twenty-three texts and a crazy amount of missed calls. I began replying the texts, not wanting to accidentally ruin a recording with someone's phone ringing in the background. There was still one hour before the evening news was scheduled to be shot live, so I still had some time to help out my production team.
"Why so engrossed with your phone?" I jumped at the sudden voice, dropping my phone onto the table midway into typing a reply. I turned around, ready to berate whoever it was for sneaking up to me when I found myself drowning in his chocolate brown eyes. I couldn't believe he still had that kind of effect on me even after those years.
"Are you trying to give me a heart attack, Vanderbilt?" I sniped, hoping I would be able to at least act normal around him. I averted my eyes away from his; I didn't need to be distracted by his eyes. To my dismay, he took a seat besides me, closing the distance between us even further. A million questions assaulted my mind as I willed my heartbeat to slow down. I was hoping that my face wasn't turning red.
"Glad to see that the snarky Katie is still there," Tyler said, his eyes twinkling in amusement. In many ways, this reminded me of our first encounter when he caught me browsing Jake's bookshelf. To think this was so long ago…
I picked up my phone again, inspecting it for any damage. I was satisfied that I didn't find any damage. I was due for an upgrade sometime soon, but I didn't want to. It was a Christmas gift from Isa since she couldn't stand to look at the phone I had gotten from Jake. By then, my phone's battery was mostly dead and was plugged to the charger almost every moment of the day. I quickly finished my response to Ian, before closing my phone again.
"You know it's rude to be on your phone when you have a guest," Tyler pointed out, "But you know, I'm sure your boyfriend is more important than me." He must have seen the contact name.
"You invited yourself over," I stated, opening my phone back up as I heard another beep. One day not there and I was still swamped with work. It was part of my deal with my boss; I had to answer texts and phone calls while I was at the wedding. That was the only way he would let me off. I could only imagine how Isa felt, completely bombarded with questions she didn't really know the answer to. Isa had texted me a while back, telling me to help her out. "And for the record, I am not texting my boyfriend. I'm working; I'm sure you understand since you do it all the time too."
"Ah so no boyfriend? That means I have a chance?" Tyler asked, flashing a boyish grin that made him look ten years younger. I felt a blush creeping up my face. I turned my head, letting my hair fall, serving as a curtain between hiew view and my face. I didn't need to bolster his still too big ego.
"What if I said no boyfriend, but a husband?" I asked, edging him on. To be honest, I was curious to see what his reaction was. I was completely convinced that he didn't love me anymore, but seeing him here and flirting with me, made me rethink my deduction.
"You don't have one. I don't see a ring on your finger or a woman happily in love," Tyler stated, "Your eyes say it all. You were the one who taught me that." I couldn't believe he remembered some of the things I said to him, much less be able to quote them.
"After you left," Tyler confessed quietly, "I couldn't stop thinking about you. I kept replaying every memory that I had of you. I kept hearing your voice in the back of my head constantly, so much I memorized every memorable thing that you said to me. And I think I read your email a million times. And your video, I memorized every minute of it by heart because it was the most important life lesson you taught me. Thank you for that." A ghost of a smile graced my lips.
"You refused to marry Ariel and managed to keep the company?" I asked, curious. I made a mental note to share his side of the story with Isa later; she would be ecstatic to hear the missing piece to the story.
"Yeah that," Tyler said, running a hand through his hair, "I learned a few tricks from Alex. You know how his parents didn't approve of his wife, don't you?" I vaguely remembered Jake mentioning something like that, so I nodded. "Well turns out he was once in the same predicament as I was, so I asked him for advice. I was ready to give up the company at that time, but Jake got me thinking. Why settle for one or the other when I could try and have both? I ended up getting my Father to sign a contract saying that the building and the business were mine as a guarantee that he wouldn't use it to threaten me again. He was skeptical about it all and it took a lot of convincing, but I finally got him to sign it. I broke off the engagement and still got to keep the company." I laughed, genuinely surprised at the turnout of events. I figured there had been a lot more legal issues that went on between them, Turned out, he merely manipulated his Father just like he did to him. What goes around, comes around.
"Not what I was expecting, but okay," I said.
"Then what were you expecting?" Tyler asked, grinning from ear to ear. I couldn't help but notice that he moved a bit closer to me. I didn't feel compelled to move away either; I wondered what it felt like to be in his arms again…
"I don't know. I figured your whole company would go on strike because they hated your Father as a boss and Jake and Alexander would threaten to withdraw their partnership with you if your Father took over. It would be a whole big mess and you would be looking into the more legal side of things to see if your Father actually had the right to seize the company back," I explained, reciting my theory that I had came up with a couple of weeks ago. Maybe I had overblown the situation out of proportion with my scenario, but it made a much better story than the actual one turned out to be.
"I don't think my employees like me very much. I remember that one time when an employee of mine quit because she hated my guts." Tyler was talking about me. I rolled my eyes at him before I quickly replied a text. It was nearing time now for the evening news; I wasn't sure I would be able to watch it without wishing that I was there.
"You have a lot on your mind," Tyler commented, noticing the way my forehead creased as I concentrated on my replies, "Care to share?" It felt like that night in the woods, where we said everything on our minds, making our conversation last through the night. And now, I was here in the same predicament, wanting to spill my heart out to him. I wished he didn't have this effect on me; I had a much easier life without the myriad of conflicting emotions that I felt.
"Just work stuff," I replied, "I can't help but worry about them."
"Care to dance?" Tyler asked, extending a hand out towards me, "I'll help you take your mind off of them for a little while." I hesitated. I glanced at my phone, knowing that my job was already done. I already did everything I could help them without being there physically. On the other hand, just being within Tyler's vicinity unsettled me. Old feelings were stirring up within me; a part of me couldn't help but forget the betrayal I felt, but the other part wanted to give us another chance. Why did this have to be so hard?
I took his hand. I ignored the small nagging voice in the back of my head that this was a bad idea. A very bad idea if I planned on not falling in love with him again.
Tyler pulled me out of the seat and onto the dance floor. I pulled him back, swiping my phone off of the table and tucking it in my sandal again. This time, I didn't object when he pulled me onto the dance floor.
It was safe to say that I was a horrible dancer. Mother made me take a million dance lessons when I was younger, but none of them stuck with me. Everyone hated to be my dance partner because I always stepped on their feet and moved in the opposite direction that they were headed in. Even Jake gave up on me a long time ago.
I hesitated, not knowing where to put my hands. Tyler snickered before he placed my left hand on his shoulder. One of his hands rested on my waist while the other clasped my other hand, our fingers intertwining. He began to move to the beat of slow music, while I tried desperately to not mess up. My gaze was trained down on his feet, moving my feet according to his. It wasn't working very well, because I was always moving a second too late, causing our dancing to be choppy and a complete fail.
"Relax. Just follow my lead and look at me," Tyler advised. My head raised so I stared at him in the eye and I moved as Tyler guided me with his hands. I winced when I accidentally stepped on Tyler's foot; it was a good thing that I wasn't wearing heels.
"So what has an old man like you been up to lately?" I asked, breaking the awkward silence between us. It was weird when we were in complete silence, because usually when we were in each other's presence we would be arguing, bantering, or talking. There was never really silence between us unless we weren't on speaking terms.
"Old man?" Tyler repeated, a twinkle of amusement in his eyes, "I'm not that old. Or so I like to think."
"You're already over thirty," I stated, as if that answered his question. Tyler's eyebrows furrowed in confusion.
"Aren't you thirty as well?" I shook my head.
"Nope. Still in my twenties," I replied. My age probably never came up in any of our conversations. I figured he thought I was only a year or two younger than Jake.
"How old are you then?" Tyler asked, incredulous, "I always thought you were two years younger than me." I flashed him an innocent smile.
"Didn't anyone ever tell you it's rude to as a lady her age?" Tyler scoffed.
"I know you don't give a shit about things like that. What, scared to tell? First time I've ever seen the great Katie scared." Tyler was goading me. I contemplated to mess with him a while longer, but I didn't feel like it. It wasn't like he won't find out sooner or later.
"Twenty-eight," I said, "Four years younger than you." Tyler's eyes widened in surprise, but he quickly regained his composure.
"Huh, I guess I did break my stupid two year rule after all," Tyler murmured, "And I didn't even know it."
And it took you so long to figure it out, I added silently in my head. Tyler twirled me around, but stopped halfway in the spin. My back was now facing him. I stared at all the other couples out on the dance floor, dancing expertly as if they had been doing this their whole lives. Which they probably had.
"What are you doing?" I hissed, "I'm pretty sure it's a 360 turn, Vanderbilt. Did your brain explode at the the latest revelation?" I heard Tyler's low chuckle behind me.
"I have something for you. Close your eyes." Grudgingly, I did as he asked, wondering why he couldn't just hand it to me. My eyes snapped open when I felt a cool metal around my neck. My hand reached out to the touch the necklace, instantly recognizing it from five year ago. Tyler let my hair fall back down once he was finished clasping it around my neck. I spin around, ready to scold him for such an expensive gift, when I saw his eyes soften at the view of the necklace around my neck.
"I can't believe you're giving me the Heart of the Ocean necklace. It's worth 20 million, Tyler, I can't take this!" I whispered fiercely. Tyler merely smiled, but made no move to take the necklace back.
"You asked once why I would spend 20 million on a girl with no questions asked. I would do it again, for you. The moment I saw that necklace; it reminded me of you. It was that moment when I realized that I had fallen in love with you. I planned on giving it to you earlier, for Christmas, your birthday, or Valentine's Day, but I never got around to it. So I'm giving it to you know; it belongs with you. Don't even try to give it back to me, you know I can be just as stubborn as you are." I was left utterly speechless. No one ever bought be anything that was close to this magnitude. It was so expensive; I would be worrying every second that I would lose it or something, but I knew it was futile to try to give it back to Tyler.
The wedding ended at nine o'clock. People started to filter out. Jake and Lilia had disappeared completely. I didn't even have a chance to talk to them. At least, Tyler accompanied me the whole time or else I was going to have a very miserable miserable time. Earlier, I saw the back of Victoria's head before it disappeared in the throng of people. Somehow, I had a feeling I wouldn't be seeing her again for a long, long time.
Finally, it was just Tyler and me left at the wedding venue. Tyler's hand slipped from mine as he loosened his tie and a began to walk towards the entrance. I stared at his back, moonlight streaming through the window, casting a shadow on the aisle. I watched as he went, reminding me the last time he walked out on me.
When he gave me the necklace, it symbolized him giving his heart to me. He confessed to me again, letting me know that he still loved me. And when he walked away, it was clear that he was willing to let me go if I didn't choose him. He left all the cards in my hand.
Was I really going to let him walk away a second time?
When his foot stepped through the threshold, I made up my mind. I ran, the bottom of my sandals slapping against the wooden floor. Tyler turned around at the sound of my running. I ran, running right into him, embracing him tightly. He stumbled a few steps, but managed to catch his balance before I sent both of us toppling over. He returned my embrace.
"I don't want you to leave me again," I muttered into his chest, "I can't watch you walk away a second time especially knowing that you still love me too."
"Do you, Katelyn Falkins, want to give me another chance? To atone for my past mistakes and to make everything up to you? To plead for your forgiveness even though I do not deserve it?" It was the easiest decision I made in my life.
A/N: Annnnnnnd that's a wrap of Version 1.0 guys! If you're interested in Version 2.0, keep this story on your follows list and you will be notified in due time. But for now, I will leave this version up until I actually get around to rewriting. Might be late this year or 2017 before I get back to this story.
So, according to you guys, we're 2 for Option 2 and 2 for Option 3 xD. So if you haven't chosen one, please leave a comment and be the tiebreaker. :) If not, my best friend will be the official tiebreaker haha. But as a compromise, I will write both within this year.
So one last time, thank you to everyone who has been with me since the day I posted chapter one, everyone who has ever reviewed, everyone who has followed and favorited, and everyone even clicked on this story to give a shot. Special thanks to those who are reading this A/N because that means you read every single chapter thus far. :)
My aim is to get my next story posted before the end of March hopefully. It will be in the romance section, so for those of you not following me as an author, keep an eye out for that if you're interested. If not, understandable too. :)
As for it being the end, I will definitely write some one shots or other stuff based on this story. Anything you guys want to see? Like a missing scene? Someone's POV? How did you feel about the ending? Do you want an alternate ending?
Alright, I'm out. I'll see you guys around!