The world narrowed to him and her, and a little slice of churning emotions she couldn’t decipher. “You’re calling off the wedding. Our wedding. Now.” Just in case she hadn’t heard him correctly. This had the makings of a horrible, sick joke…
Shoving a hand through his hair, he obviously struggled to meet her stare. His tawny eyes were turbulent. “I am. I … just decided. It’s—”
“What?” Victoria tumbled to it, falling into the abyss of her history. Deep down, she knew why. Too bad he’d only just decided. Now. At this inopportune time. All her issues and stupid insecurities washed over her from wherever they’d been banished to, banished by Logan’s resolute pursuit and sincere belief in her. He’d addressed her fears, made her whole—and now? Now her tender underbelly was exposed—without a shred of armor—for the deathblow. The sublime lovemaking of a mere few hours earlier faded in the face of it.
“I—” Real pain and misery now seemed to burn in his eyes, and despite her terrified anticipation, she wanted to soothe him. Through set lips, he continued, “I don’t have the words to tell you why Victoria. I’m sorry. But the wedding is off.”
Still, she waited, believing he would somehow embellish, give her an explanation that wouldn’t make this about her, but he stood there mutely, now staring someplace over her shoulder. She checked out the direction of that gaze—maybe there was an answer there, but she saw only a watercolor of a pastoral scene. Please.
She let her pride crumble and begged. “Logan. This doesn’t make any sense. We… Only this morning…”
He shook his head and straightened to his full height. “It’s off.”
Deep inside there was an utter certainty that it did indeed make sense. He’d figured her out. Seen to the core of her the way others had. In despair, she gave up the fight to believe in him and their love in response to his firm declaration. The Victoria of her childhood emerged, in blind response, lashing out to hide from the truth.
“Was it the thrill of the chase? And then when you caught me, you became afraid you were settling? That there’s something better around the corner?”
She didn’t want to wait for a response. She had to leave. Now. What would get her past the sideways looks and the knowing stares? The church was full of family and friends—and others who had probably predicted this very moment…
“Victoria. You need to calm down. It’s not like that.”
“Calm. Down?” She was aware her voice was climbing as she talked over him, and the small room, the one where she and Logan would have been closeted to sign the papers finalizing their marriage, wasn’t soundproof. She modulated her tone the very best she could, humiliation and pain squeezing her very being. “What is it like, then, exactly?”
“I can’t say.”
He looked away. “I can’t.”
Dropping her beautiful bouquet of red roses, entwined with baby’s breath and white, embossed ribbon on the desk, the air currents disturbed the uncompleted marriage papers. They fluttered, mocking her. She stared up at the face of the man she loved. And faced the realization that she indeed still loved him. That part, at least, hadn’t changed despite the mortification of being dumped at the freaking altar. Love. She thought it was love. Too bad it wasn’t real.
“And I’m supposed to take that and be calm!”
“Yes, calm down.” His face was set in grim determination, his eyes hot. “We’ll … we’ll get through this.”
She narrowed her eyes and leaned into him. What couldn’t she be one of those classy women who took this kind of thing in stride and walked away without making a scene? Maybe she could be. Drawing on a reserve of strength she wasn’t aware she possessed, she said, “I’m calm. Dead calm. So shut up now. I never want to hear your voice again, let alone set eyes on you.”
Squaring her shoulders, she closed off his next attempt to speak. She avoided his outstretched hand and ignored the sudden abject despair written across his handsome features. Was he embarrassed? If he didn’t want a scene, why in hell had he chosen this public place to dump her? Flinging the door open to the main part of the church, she surveyed the people filling the pews. Those congregated there stilled into silence, with only an occasional murmur marring the quiet. Dozens of pairs of eyes looked in their direction. Victoria stepped forward. Classy. She could do this.
out the Author:
Peri Elizabeth Scott lives in Manitoba, Canada. She recently closed her part-time private practice as a social worker and child play therapist. She and her husband have a seasonal business and pretend to work well together.
Writing for years, mostly short stories and poetry, she has published dark erotica under another pen name and reads everything she can lay her hands on.