My Last:Riley & ChelleBy: Melanie Shawn
“The love that you have shown me, and continue to show me, regardless of if I deserve it or even know about it, is the purest love I have ever known.
“There are so many things I adore about you, my Jason. But I think that the biggest among them is how you show me, every single day, what it means to be selfless. I love you.”
Good Lord! Leave it to Katie, Chelle thought, to come up with a tear-jerking speech just when I’m trying to keep all emotions in check!
Katie and Jason kissed, and soon Chelle was relieved to see that they were making their way down the aisle. YES! Her time “on stage,” so to speak, was nearly over. Of course, there was still the whole reception to get through…but at least she wouldn’t be standing on a platform in front of all the guests for the entire reception!
Sophie and Bobby followed Katie and Jason, and then Chelle stepped to the center of the aisle and took the arm of Alex Sloan, another of the five Sloan brothers. As he escorted her down the aisle he turned to her and said with a wink, “Damn Chelle, you look good, David’s a lucky man.”
Those four innocent words, meant to be a compliment - ‘David’s a lucky man’ - were the straw that broke the camel’s back. They hit her right in the solar plexus and were just about more than she could handle. She thought she might throw up or pass out, she wasn’t sure which – but neither option was all that appealing at the moment!
Alex must have noticed that something was wrong, because once they exited the sanctuary he guided her to a secluded hall that branched off of the foyer, leading to the side of the church. After checking up and down the hall to make sure they were alone, he said, concern in his voice, “You don’t look so good. Are you okay?”
Chelle nodded and tried to smile, although even to her own mind, it seemed like a weak attempt. She realized that her attempts must have actually been every bit as outwardly unconvincing as she suspected that they were when Alex immediately turned to leave, saying in a somewhat urgent tone, “Let me go get David.”
“NO!” Chelle hadn’t meant to raise her voice or to bark out the command so harshly.
Alex froze, then slowly turned back on his heels, looking at her like she had grown another head. He raised his hands in mock surrender, saying, “Okay, sorry. I won’t go get David.”
Chelle slumped against the wall, defeated and still fighting the last vestiges of hysteria. “David’s been cheating on me with his eighteen year old secretary Kayla. She’s pregnant and he’s marrying her.” The words tumbled out of her faster than water racing down a wild river. They rushed from her mouth and she didn’t even realize it was happening until she heard her own voice saying them. She flung her hand over her mouth to try and stop it.
Alex’s emerald green eyes became as big as saucers. “Holy shit!”
Chelle removed her hand from her mouth, realizing the damage had been done. She had already spilled the beans. Time for damage control. “Please don’t say anything, Alex. I don’t want Katie to worry. You know how she is.”
Alex nodded his head in agreement, “I can’t believe you’ve been able to keep it a secret from her, she’s like Sherlock Holmes.”
“Well, I just found out. He told me about ten minutes before I left to come here.”
Alex shook his head. “What an asshole.”
“Yep. My thoughts exactly.” She took a deep breath. Her body felt heavy, as if her limbs were encased in concrete. She thought she must be weighed down by the stark reality of the situation, which had just become shockingly more real, now that she had told someone else. Now there was a witness.
“Damn. I don’t know what to say, Chelle.” Alex genuinely looked pained for her.
“Don’t worry about it, I’m fine.” She smiled as brightly as she could manage, not wanting him to feel sorry for her. If there was anything she hated, it was being the object of pity. “Just please do me a favor and don’t say anything to anyone, okay?”
Not waiting for an answer, she stepped out of the hall and back towards the crowd of people. She instantly began to feel a little lighter.