Decisions Must Be Made:
Regina is nervous. Her stomach is in knots as she listens to the priest give his memorized speech.
Her fiancé, Graham Huntington, stands next to her, and she feels… happy. Yes, she's happy. Nervous, but happy. Absolutely. Sure.
She loves Graham, she does. They'd met two years ago at a function for work. Her law firm was having their annual Christmas party in the same building that his office was having theirs.
They'd run into each other at the elevators, both leaving at the same time. They'd stood in silence, watching as the floors descended one at a time.
She knew who he was, obviously. He was the newest, most upcoming man in New York society. Raised by socialites, thrust into politics when he was young, and now on his way to being elected as the state's youngest, and most attractive, governor in a few months.
He was everything any woman should want in a man.
Finally, she'd glanced over, catching his eye. He gave her his most charming smile, and that was that. For whatever reason, by the time they'd gone down fifteen floors and reached the lobby, she was agreeing to have lunch with him the next day.
They exchanged numbers and met the following afternoon. He'd taken her to Masa, and though she was a fine lawyer, made good money, she'd never thought she'd eat here. She could never justify spending over five-hundred dollars on one meal.
She only knew of the restaurant from celebrity magazines and hearing about it from the managing partners at her firm. It was nice, gorgeous inside, and they'd had a lovely meal together of the most authentic Japanese food she had ever tasted.
Graham was charming, and knew all the right things to say. He made her smile, and blush, and she enjoyed the attention.
After that day, they were inseparable, spending every moment possible together. Lunches, classy dinners, work parties for his office. He became governor soon after they started dating, and she'd moved in with him just six months after meeting. It was quick, but it just felt like the right thing to do when he asked. Regina had lost herself over the years, ever since college, and being with Graham was easy, she didn't have to think or try. All she had to do was stand there, look pretty, and smile. Graham, despite not being the most interesting of men, made her feel elegant, and beautiful, and happier (she thinks) than she had been in a long time. Ever since…
"If anyone objects to this marriage, speak now or forever hold your peace," the priest says, his thin glasses falling to the tip of his nose as he looks out at their wedding guests.
Oh fuck. She'd know that voice anywhere and suddenly her stomach feels as if it has dropped into her diamond studded Louboutins.
The crowd gasps in unison, all heads turning to look to the back of the room. Regina turns as well, her ridiculously large dress swishing with the movement, and catches the irate look on Graham's face.
He's not often angered, not by her at least. He has a temper, that's for sure, but he usually lashes out at his staff. He's rarely gotten angry with her, but then again, over the last several years, Regina has become a shell of who she once was—the fun, free-spirited girl who liked to laugh and enjoyed making a new life for herself ever since she'd left home and her abusive mother. She felt as if since the man currently objecting to her vows broke her heart, she's been floating through life, living day to day with no real joy. Except for Graham… yes, sure.
When her eyes connect with the man in the back, her heart stops.
She knew his voice but actually seeing him was a whole new story. A wave of emotion crashes over her as her past comes flooding to the forefront of her mind.
Breathing suddenly becomes harder than it already is squeezed into this diamond laced corset.
He's here. A man she never thought she'd see again.
"I'm so sorry," he cries, tears streaming down his face. "I don't want to do this."
"Then why are you!?" she shouts, her tears of anger and sadness causing her mascara to run down her cheeks.
Robin sighs, trying to get her to come closer, but she refuses. She's angry, and heartbroken. She thought they would last forever, but apparently Robin Locksley had other ideas.
"Regina," he breathes, sinking down to his leather couch. Her eyes focus to the right of his leg, honing on the tear in the leather that they'd made months ago when Robin had pulled her to the ground to make love, but her button got caught, ripping the material. "We're about to graduate, and you've been accepted at Stanford Law School, for God's sake."
"So?" she asks, sitting herself down in the chair across from him.
He sighs, looking down at his feet, then to her. "You are so, so smart, Regina. And I could never get in the way of your future."
"But you are my future," she murmurs, tears filling her eyes again.
They've been together since freshman year, she can't imagine not being with Robin. He's the best guy she's ever known. He knows more about her than anyone else, and vice versa. They've shared everything. She can't comprehend that this is really happening.
"You know I just got the job in New York."
She nods, because she knows that. He'd graduated three months ago, a year before she will, and she'd been so proud of him when he got offered the assistant director of athletics at a university in New York City.
It was always their dream to move there after graduation, to start a life in the big city, but when she hadn't gotten into Harvard or Yale, Stanford was her next choice. She refused to go to a smaller law school, for she wanted a prestigious school on her resume when she was ready to look for jobs in New York.
But Stanford was in California. Completely across the country from where he'd be.
It tore her heart out to know he was doing this for her.
"We could make it work," she whispers, wiping at her tears.
But Robin shakes his head, sighing dejectedly. "You know long distance never works out. We'd be in different time zones, we'd start to drift apart and resent each other." He looks at her, tears still present in his gaze. "We need a clean break, so I can let you go achieve your dreams."
The tears stream down her face as he stands, kissing her one last time, and walking out. Leaving her there in her apartment to sink to the floor and sob until there were no more tears left to cry.
He'd done it for her benefit, she knew that then and she knows it even more now. But New York was always her dream whether Robin was with her or not. So, after law school, she'd flown back to the east coast and began looking for jobs in the Big Apple.
Regina shakes her head, pulling herself from the memories and watching as Robin begins a slow pace down the aisle toward her.
She thought about him constantly when she first got to New York (still does, if she's being honest with herself), always looking twice when she'd see a man with sandy blonde hair walking by.
It was a huge city, though, and she couldn't find the courage to go ask the university if he still worked there, so after a while, she told herself to move on.
Now it's been six years since she's seen him, but it feels like no time has gone by at all.
"Regina," he says, the soft timbre of his voice making her stomach flutter. "I know I was an idiot all those years ago, but… I've never stopped thinking about you."
Graham scoffs, rolling his eyes. "You're a bit late, pal."
Robin looks at him, then back to Regina, giving her a small, apologetic smile. "When I saw the announcement in the paper, I just knew I had to see you. Speak to you. Just one more time to see if what we had was still there."
She finds herself taking one small step toward him, always drawn to Robin like a moth to a flame.
Graham puts his hands on her shoulder, stopping her descent down the three steps.
His only rule alway had been, "Whatever you do, do not embarrass me," and she knew in this moment, she was breaking that which she'd promised Graham two years ago.
Her heart is pounding in her ears; she can't think. She never imagined this happening on her wedding day. Not in a million years.
"Robin, I…" she trails off, torn on what to say.
What does one say to the man who broke your heart almost a decade ago but you never stopped loving?
Sure, she'd moved on. She dated other people and found Graham two years ago. And he's been wonderful, the only man to ever make her feel close to how Robin made her feel back when she was just twenty-two. But he never quite achieved the Robin-level type love. Graham was predictable, easy, and she liked not having to think when her heart had been numbed to love ever since Robin broke it.
Robin takes a few more steps toward her, and she inhales sharply, holding his gaze. Those beautiful blue eyes that she still sees from time to time when making love to Graham; his brown eyes never holding the same amount of love Robin's did in the past.
"I couldn't let you go through with this," he says, shrugging a shoulder up as if he's just simply stopping her from buying the wrong type of spice at the market, "without telling you that I still love you. I'm still in love with you."
Their guests gasp again, murmurs ringing out around the room.
She's mortified. Knows that half of New York's greatest lawyers, CEO's, and other politicians are here watching this all unfold. Not to mention Graham's family, who, quite frankly, have enough money and influence to have her killed and no one would even ask questions. Not that she thinks this will result in murder, but, well… they have the power at least.
"I know it's your wedding day," he goes on, grimacing, "and I know I don't deserve your forgiveness after what I did." He sighs, head drooping just like her stomach. "But I was young, and very stupid, and more than that, I was terrified of how I felt for you. Our love was so strong, but we were so young. I wanted you to have everything you dreamed of, and I just couldn't be a part of that then. I didn't want to be in your way, to hold you back from anything."
She breathes out, drawing her bottom lip in with her teeth.
He's right. They were young, but they were so happy. And she's never truly gotten over it.
It would've been wrong to ask him to give up his dream, though, and move to California, just like he couldn't ask her to stay.
Robin had known the childhood she had, always controlled by her mother, getting a slap to the face (or worse) when she stepped out of line. And he'd always promised her to never hurt her like that, to never control her or make himself the most important one in the relationship. He always made them equals, or even put her above himself at times, made her feel loved and important, and she's never felt like that with anyone else, not even the man she'd agreed to marry.
He starts walking again, hands up in surrender as if he's being held at gunpoint. "I'm so sorry for doing this here, now," he laments, laying a hand over his heart, his eyes misting over with tears. "But," his voice cracks, the emotion overwhelming him, and it makes Regina feel emotional too. She has to swallow down the lump in her throat. "We all deserve a second chance."
More murmurs of shock ring out, but Regina can't focus. Can't see or hear anything but his apology. His declaration of love.
Her hand is clammy wrapped in Graham's, and she looks over at him, tears in her eyes.
He's angry, that much she can see. If they didn't have an audience, she's positive her fiancé would be readying himself to punch Robin. Or even, she fears—a fear rooted so deep within her she doesn't think she'll ever be over it—that he might even hurt her for once.
Graham looks at her, brows furrowing in confusion. Hurt, betrayal, anger. She must not be covering her emotional turmoil as well as she thought.
"Regina," he says lowly, just soft enough for her and the priest behind them to hear. He steps closer, pulling her into his space. "You can't seriously be falling for this load of shit."
She looks over to where Robin still stands, still waits for her to say something… anything.
In that moment, all the good times with Robin flash through her mind.
She thinks of how he made her laugh, how carefree he made her feel after a lifetime of being under her controlling, abusive mother's thumb. She felt safe with Robin. She felt like she was home. He was her everything, and she knew she had been his as well. He was always so wonderful at affirming his love for her by his sweet words that warmed her soul.
Does she feel the same way with Graham?
Her mind switches to her relationship with the man before her, holding her hands in his. He is a wonderful man, and provides for her. He loves her, but… she doesn't know if that's enough. Does she laugh the same way she did with Robin? Does she feel as free? Is this relationship better than what she had with Robin?
Inhaling, she closes her eyes, her mind running a mile a minute. Her heart is beating so fast that she has to take short breaths just to breathe. She can't hear anything other than her own thoughts, her own mind screaming at her to make the decision she knows is right.
A decision must be made. Right here. Right now. Today. And she knows what she has to do, what her soul has been yearning for for six years.
Without another thought, and with a giddy feeling inside, she looks to Graham and whispers, "I'm sorry."
His parents stand up, having heard her apology, and start yelling for someone to get Robin out of here, and no, she can't have that.
She can't let him out of her sight.
Letting go of Graham's hands, she slips off her seven carat ring and places it into his open palm and tearfully apologizes once more.
Regina looks at Robin, who is smiling so wide that she thinks his face might split open, then to Graham. His eyes are dark, his features hardened, and for a moment, she feels afraid. It's the same look her mother used to get right before beating her.
She bites her lip and swallows, not knowing what else to do or say.
Looking to her left at the priest, who looks sufficiently shocked to his core, she gives him a little shrug before making her way down the last two steps and toward Robin.
People are yelling, others gossiping to one another in hushed tones—no doubt this is the biggest scandal they've seen in a while—and she knows she's ruined in this city. He's the governor for fuck's sake, everyone will know about this by morning unless his team cover it up in the press with something else. She can never frequent restaurants or social events that she has over the last two years. But… somehow, she's okay with that. Never really truly felt like she fit in with those people anyway.
When she gets to Robin, she exhales with a short, soft chuckle. "You really had to do this now?"
"Well, you know what they say," he quips, a smirk growing on his face as he takes her hand in his. "It's all about timing."
Regina beams and squeezes his hand as he pulls her toward the church's main doors. They dash out of the building, leaving the murmuring crowd behind, and hop into Robin's getaway car. She's not really sure what will happen next, or how things will go, but she's hopeful that this time their story will end on a much happier note.
End. I hope you enjoyed!