What’s stronger? True love, or soulmates?
Strings
CHAPTER
35
Love is No Simple Thing
I walk into the room everyone is getting ready in. It’s just Riley, her mom, and me getting dressed. Her mom is dressing up but she’s not a bridesmaid, Riley only picked me. I had figured she would have someone else but she didn’t.
“You excited?” I ask, grinning.
“Butterflies.” She says, smiling like it’s our own little inside joke.
Her curly hair hangs loose but it’s not long, and it looks extra red against the navy of the dress.
“You look beautiful.” I say, smiling.
“You do too, Charlotte.” She says.
I like the forest green dress, and my soon-to-be grandmother is pinning my long hair up.
“You seem much calmer today.” My grandmother says.
Riley and I share a look and I shrug.
“Yeah, mom that was all an act, Charlotte is actually amazingly nice.” She says.
“What?”
“I pretended to be horrible so the wedding wouldn’t be really white and full of tulle.” I explain.
She sighs, “that was a very good act, you should consider acting as a profession.”
Riley and I burst into peels of laughter and my grandmother shakes her head. “Hold still.” She says to me, and I try, stifling my giggles.
I felt so happy, my heart so light, the weight of secrets off my shoulders, that for just a little while I forgot about Leo and August and the strings. And it was a nice little break.
“Come on, Charlotte.” Riley says, beckoning me over. “It’s time.”
I hear the music start and the doors open. The flower girl first, a little cousin of Riley’s, then me, then Riley. Everyone stands up and I scan the crowd as I walk. A lot of people I don’t recognize, but then I spot, Ruby, Liam, and Leo in the crowd. Liam and Ruby both smile and wave and Leo smiles. Maybe he’s not as mad as I thought. Nothing is without fault. I remember his words, his kiss. I’m getting distracted don’t trip, Charlotte. Do. Not. Trip.
Thankfully I make it down the aisle without tripping. I stop and watch Riley, half way down the aisle, grinning. She looks amazing, radiant as the sun, beautiful and happy, so so happy. Her smile is contagious, and I feel myself start to grin.
Their vows were pretty, Riley’s were funny and dad’s were heartfelt. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him smile like this. But the way he looks at Riley . . . It makes me realize how real their love is. My mom looks at Sam the same way. Liam looks at Ruby that way. I wonder if I look at Leo that way. I wonder if August looks at me that way. I shake my head, I don’t want to think like that. Sure, ignoring ones feelings and thoughts has never gone too well for anyone but I’ve never been one to follow the trend, maybe I’ll beat the whole going crazy and letting everyone know how I feel by shouting it at the person in public thing.
“Do you, Flynn Eugene Cassidy take Riley Maria Fairbanks to by your lawfully wedded wife?” The man asked my father.
“I do.” He said, smiling.
“And do you, Riley Maria Fairbanks take Flynn Eugene Cassidy as your lawfully wedded husband?”
“I do.”
“Then by the power vested in my by the state of California, I pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.”
They kissed and the church erupted in applause. I can see a few people crying like some just cut an onion and I feel tears well up in my eyes as well, but I blink them back, I’ve got a thing about crying in public.
“Oh my gosh I love this song!” Someone said, and they grabbed their dates arm and dragged them onto the dance floor.
Ruby and I giggled. “I dare you to do that to Liam when he and Leo get back.” I say.
“Whats in it for me?” Ruby asks, grinning.
“I’ll give you five bucks.” I say, laughing, I knew she’d go for it. “But you really have to play it up.” I say.
“Deal.” She says, and we shake hands.
A moment later Leo and Liam come back, both with glasses of punch in their hands. A new song came on and I looked at Ruby who nodded.
Liam set the glasses of punch down on the table and she grabbed his arm.
“I love this song!” She said, a big emphasis on ‘love’. “Come on, lets dance!”
“Uh, Ruby, you know I can’t dance.” He said, but she dragged him onto the dance floor.
I laugh and so does Leo who gives me a tentative look, like I might be mad at him. I wonder briefly if I am. Maybe I am, despite the fact that I’m the one at fault.
“Can we talk?” He asks.
“Outside.” I say, not letting myself say anything more. Because I know once I say another word I’ll say everything swimming around in my head.
We walk outside onto the empty balcony, a wall of glass separating us and the party.
“Char I . . . I’m mad, I’ll admit it, I’m really mad. I mean you two are friends, that’s what you said and you hang out and I don’t think you’d cheat but I can’t help but think it, I know you wouldn’t I really do it’s just . . . “ He trails off.
“I’ve been thinking about how I might’ve lost you over all this. I mean Grace was one thing but August was another. And I’ve been wondering what my life would be like, if I didn’t talk to you every day. If every day was like how these past four have been. The rain still pours without you. The world still turns without. The stars still shine without you. But I swear, the rain is just a little too heavy, the world is spinning just a little slower, and the stars are just a little dimmer. Because, Leo Knox, that is the world without you.”
“I- I want to fix this. Nothing is without fault, everyone fights, couples especially, but . . . “
“But regular couples rarely include one person with the ability to see soul mates.” I say, and Leo smiles despite the situation.
“The strings kinda ruin a lot.” He says.
“So true.” I say.
“I love you, Charlotte Cassidy.” He says. And I can see it in his eyes. I can see that it’s real. Oh how silly we were before. That hopeless thing we felt? That was never love. This is. And it’s real. So real.
“I love you too.” I say, smiling wider than I ever have before.
And then I gaze back into the ball room, and in a mixture of horror and astonishment I watch as all together, as one, the strings break.
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