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my my my

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Now, let’s stop running from love,
Running from love,
Let’s stop, my baby,
Let’s stop running from us,
Running from us,
Let’s stop, my baby

Oh my my my,
I die every night with you
Oh my my my,
I'm living for your every move

**

Confusion. Hurt. Desperation.

They were all things Elly had gotten used to feeling - not just over the last month, but throughout her whole life. Due entirely to selfish men who continually put themselves first, who abandoned her with no regard for her feelings whatsoever. It didn’t matter when she was madly in love with them, she wasn’t enough, it wasn’t enough, clearly.

She thought when she moved to Erinsborough three years ago things would be different. She was, for the most part, done with the party scene, done with the Bondi bachelors, and could instead focus on finding a good man who she loved and could see herself building a future with. Strong and handsome, someone who would protect her, but still had a sensitive side. As it turned out, they were too sensitive, rather than just dumping her outright, they dragged it out, could never give her a straight answer on where things were going.

I love you Elly, I’ll leave her soon I promise, you’re the one I want, you just have to give me time, she had been naive enough to believe Finn’s lie. There was a part of her back then, back in Sydney, that thought it was romantic. The countless nights they spent together, Finn assuring her that one day he would leave his wife, and they would be happy together. She was so in love that she fell for it, and look where that got her, got her family, constantly in danger of Finn, coma or not.

It’s not safe, I can’t keep putting you in danger Elly. I won’t let myself. I’ll be back in six weeks, and we can be together, she was crazy about Ned, fell for him hard and fast. She was blinded by that love, was prepared to leave her whole life behind her for a man who could only promise his return. To be fair, he did come back, and was fully invested in their relationship, but he didn’t provide stability, and that’s what she needed. Their break up was amicable, and now that he’s dating her sister, Elly can see they’re a better match.

Maybe it’s immature to blame them all, to not take any responsibility for those relationships imploding. Maybe she’s the selfish one, is the reason everything has gone so spectacularly wrong in her relationship with Mark. Maybe her expectations are too high, she’s set herself up for disappointment. But surely she can expect the groom to show up at their wedding? Apparently not.

He’s been gone for days, hasn’t contacted her once and neither has Aaron. It’s the source of her confusion - only half of it, actually - Elly can’t understand why he’s doing this, doing this to her, doing this to their relationship. He’s grieving, she knows that, but she could be helping him, she could be giving him the comfort he gives her. When she proposed to him, she meant it, Elly wanted to be the one there for him whenever he needed it, apparently he did need it, just not from her. He would rather speak to his dead fiancé than her, it really hurt.

She and Mark are a team, at least, that’s just one thing that marriage means. His problems are hers, and vice versa, they handle things as a strong couple… now he’s left her, just like the other men, with a poor explanation, just like them too. If he didn’t want to get married, he should’ve told her, it’s the least she deserves. Isn’t it?

There’s no guarantee he’ll be back for the wedding - or back at all, Elly thinks to herself - and even if he is, how can Elly recite her prepared vows? How can she look him in the eye and repeat for better, for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health when she can’t tell what he’s thinking, if he’s even going to stick around. Can he even make those promises to her, to always be there for her?

Her phone buzzes on the kitchen counter, and she rushes to answer it. Her heart is suddenly beating heavily in anticipation, accepting the call without looking at the contact,
“Mark?” she asks instantly.

There’s a sigh from the other side, and Elly can tell from that alone it isn’t her fiancé. She deflates.
“Sorry,” Aaron says.

She remains optimistic, some contact is better than none at all.
“Have you found him? Is he okay?”

“Yeah, I have,” she can sense Aaron holding back, a tension already in their ten second phone call. “He’s alright Elly, he’s safe.”

“Good, that’s good,” Elly nods, though she won’t feel completely relieved until she finds out what he’s hiding. “So when are you coming back? Are you on your way now?”

He hesitates. Elly picks at a loose thread on her pyjama shorts, her stomach slowly tightening at the lengthy silence over the line.
“He doesn’t want to.”

Her fingers stop, and her heart might too.
“What?” she whispers, only just managing, “He doesn’t want to marry me?”

“Of course he does,” Aaron assures her, but doesn’t sound a hundred percent convinced himself. “But he’s not in a good place at the moment, I don’t think getting married would be the right thing for him right now.”

Elly’s not sure what to do with that. A part of her wants to cry, because Mark’s the one, he’s meant to be the one, and this is very likely the end of their relationship. Another part of her wants to yell at Aaron, get out her frustration on him, tell him Oh yeah sure I’ll just cancel the wedding I’ve been planning for months with the love of my life because he isn’t feeling it, because he doesn’t feel like getting married right now. It would be too late to cancel it all anyway.

“I know that’s not what you wanted to hear,” Aaron’s voice cuts through her thoughts. “He’s just- he’s too scared to lose you, that he thinks it’s easier to leave you. But I’m trying, I’m really trying Elly, we’ll be late but I’m really hoping to have him there. You guys have a future, I know you do.”

Aaron’s optimism should be comforting, if it weren’t his general tone when talking about anything. She wants to believe him, she wants to believe both of them, but of everyone who has left and returned, he’s only done so because she chased him. Finn came back, even when she didn’t want him to, Ned came back, even when she didn’t think she wanted him to, now she wants Mark to come back, but he doesn’t want to.

“I don’t care,” she says quietly, shutting her eyes. Through all this, she still loves him, even if he can’t say the same about her. “I don’t care if he doesn’t have his suit, or if he hasn’t showered, I just want to marry him Aaron.”

“He’ll be there Elly,” Aaron tells her. He hangs up shortly after, leaving her on that note. He’ll try his hardest, she knows that, but she also knows when an overwhelming dread rises inside her, it’s because Mark won’t show. She can feel it.

Mark isn’t great right now, but surely the fact it’s their wedding day makes some impact? Maybe it does, a negative one.

She puts her phone down, walking over to the dining table. She looks down at the large white box, lifting the lid slowly to reveal the wedding flowers. It’s hard to continue, to put in all the effort when there’s a ninety percent chance he won’t be there. To see these things that represent their wedding, the commitment to one another they have chosen to make, and know the groom is having doubts. Elly pushes it away, she wants to be Mrs Brennan more than anything.

The door opens behind her, rattling on its hinges. Elly’s head snaps up at the sound, she’s not sure who she expected - maybe a part of her, as silly and impossible as it is, hopes it's Mark - possibly Bea, but instead it’s Chloe. She stands in the doorway, and Elly’s heart races… Chloe gave her a fright, that’s all, she’s sure.

She approaches Elly with the same caution as the last few days. She won’t pretend she doesn’t know why, instead she chooses not to address it, even when there’s a tension between them she can’t ignore.
“You’re not dressed,” Chloe says quietly. She can see the confusion in Chloe, brows drawing together, but she’s not dressed either. Her ripped jeans follow the slight curve of her hips, denim tight on her long legs… her long, toned legs. Elly looks away, desperate for a distraction, she’s not interested in Chloe, and certainly not interested in having those lovely legs thrown over her shoulders while she goes down on her again. “Does this mean you aren’t getting married?”

Elly ignores her.
“I got a call from your brother,” she drags her finger over the stem of the flower, laying in the box. She clarifies, “From Aaron.”

“He’s found Mark, he sent me a text earlier,” Chloe sighs, nodding. She stops at the table, standing beside Elly. “Have you told your family?” she asks, biting her lip softly.

Elly frowns, glancing at Chloe,
“Told my family what?”

“That the wedding’s off…” she says slowly.

Her frown remains,
“But the wedding isn’t off Chloe. I’m still marrying him, I love him.”

Chloe blinks at her,
“But… Aaron said they mightn’t be back in time. Elly, he told me Mark doesn’t want to come back,” her voice is quiet, sad, and she lifts her hand to touch Elly’s shoulder. Elly walks away before she can.

“I know that, but I have to try Chloe,” she says, “He’s my fiancé, I’m not giving up on him.”

She can’t look at Chloe, can’t let herself see the inevitable pain on her face.
“So… your fiancé has neglected you for weeks, abandoned you, doesn’t want to marry you, and you’re still going to all this effort? Elly, what if he doesn’t show up? All the money you scraped together to make that wedding happen is wasted.”

“And if I cancel it the money is still wasted,” she snaps. When she’s already having doubts the last thing she needs is Chloe trying to talk her out of it. She rubs a hand over her face, “Look, I appreciate your concern, but I don’t need this right now Chloe. I need to get ready.” She turns around, walking in the direction of her bedroom with her head down, determined to not let Chloe’s words affect her.

“What about us?”

Her voice is small, but brave, using the last of her courage to ask about their future. She’s putting her heart on the line, but Elly can’t give her the answer she knows she wants. She looks at Chloe with a sad expression,
“There is no us, Chloe.”

There’s a flash of confusion over her face,
“The other night… you wanted it just as much as I did.”

“I was confused, and upset, and you were… there,” she looks down, exhaling slowly. “I’m sorry, really I-“

“The things you said to me Elly, you don’t say that to someone you aren’t attracted to,” she expects Chloe to leave, to slam the door behind her, not for her to cross the room, standing right in front of her with a determination in her eyes. Chloe licks her lips, the air between them is thick, an intensity Elly last felt a few nights ago, right before she kissed her. “You told me how beautiful I looked, you told me you wanted to make me feel good, you kissed every inch of my body. This meant more to you and you know it.”

She feels hot all over, just from Chloe’s detailed retelling of the intimate night they shared. Elly looks down,
“We’re not talking about this Chloe,” she tries for firm, but her voice comes out breathy instead. “I love Mark, I’m getting married to Mark, you can’t stop that.”

Chloe looks at her, just stares at her with those deep blue eyes.
“You deserve so much better Elly,” she whispers, before turning around and leaving like Elly wished she would.

Two separate conversations with two different Brennan’s, and it hasn’t cleared up any the confusion Elly feels.