I felt like I was going to throw up.
Nana’s request may have been well-intentioned, but marrying Elena wasn’t on my mind. Of course, I couldn’t tell Nana the truth about Elena. In fact, I couldn’t tell her a great many things that I’d like to, like how much I miss her.
I love Nana and my sisters, but they all had a history of butting into my personal life, and I had no choice but to lie to them. There was so much stress at the firm, and romance was the last thing on my mind. That all changed when Nana died. Now I found myself faced with the prospect of one hundred million dollars. Enough to save my company. But at such a cost, I didn’t know how I was going to get myself out of this one.
This was all my fault. If I had been honest with my family, I wouldn’t be tasked with asking my non-girlfriend to be my wife. Moreover, if I hadn’t been so incompetent, I wouldn’t be in desperate need of Nana’s money to rescue the firm and all my employees.
The theme of my life seemed to be regret. My lies and mismanagement were about to ruin a lot of people’s lives. But the regret that hurt me the most was my cowardice. Months prior, I had the chance to be with Elena, only to blow it.
Another conference meeting gone by, and another day in which I swear I aged several years all at once. After God knows how long spent staring at the ceiling, silently wondering how I was going to save the firm, I heard a knock.
It was Elena. Dressed in blue, which was a deviation from her favorite color, red, her long, brown hair tied in a ponytail that hung over her right shoulder, and those hazel eyes that made me wish she was more than my pretend girlfriend.
“You seem today. Well, even more than you normally do.”
My breath hitched as Elena walked over and stood behind me. Those soft, delicate hands of hers rested on my shoulders and started to lightly knead. At first, there was a wave of pleasure as Elena’s hands continued to rub me, but then I could feel myself start to tense at her touch. Not that I didn’t want it, quite the opposite. I wanted it too much; so much that I feared what might happen. What if I revealed my true feelings only for her to be repulsed?
The only choice was for me to play it safe. If I kept my mouth shut about my true feelings, Elena would still be in my life.
“You know,” Elena whispered in my ear, “I could go for a nice dinner, right now. Too bad I don’t have anyone to take me.”
How I suffered then. I mean, it sure sounded like she wanted me to ask her out, but once again, I couldn’t be certain. Maybe she was only pointing out that she wished for some other guy, the thought of which broke my heart. So I meekly replied and responded, “yeah, that would be great.”
Every step I took out of my office was painful. I felt my feet get heavier as I got continually further from Elena and headed to the elevator. The most beautiful, wonderful woman I’ll ever know, and I threw away the chance to be with her.
Back on the ship, I felt the hot sting of tears in my eyes as I recalled what I had given up. If I had a shot with Elena, back then, surely it was gone by now. After all, how many chances was she supposed to give me? And once she found out that I lied about her to my family and the fact that I’m coincidentally asking her out at the same time as Nana’s will coming to light, she’ll never want anything to do with me.
I laid down in an effort to shut out the world around me, but there was no ignoring that painful feeling in the pit of my stomach. For the rest of my life, I would be alone, and I had no one else to blame except myself.