“Where's your fiancé?" Trevor asks casually. I stiffen slightly, and Trevor steps back a little. "Well," I breathe. "Um, we sort of broke up."
Trevor's eyes widen a fraction, an eyebrow raising in surprise. He stops dancing, but none of the other couples seem to notice, too caught up in being in love. "Why?" Trevor whispers, still holding my hand, his arm still around me.
My hearts thumps harder, slower, each beat waiting for my answer as I stare into Trevor's eyes. I open my mouth to give some answer, some casual it-didn't-work-out kind of thing. But instead, I hear myself say something else entirely.
"Because he wasn't you.”
“And so I make a pact with the devil, or in this case, my mommy.”
“I've loved you my whole life, Chas, from that first day you took me home after Michelle died. And I'm terrified you'll leave me or you'll stop loving me or even worse, something will happen to you. But I can't be without you anymore." He takes my hands, which are shaking wildly, and swallows.
"Today I watched Mike give away the woman he loves. I can't do that, Chas. I thought I could, I thought it would be better if you were with someone else, but I was wrong. And I swear to you, I will love you the rest of my life and nothing will ever come before you. Please, Chastity. Forgive me and marry me and have a bunch of babies with me, and I'll-”
“Love gets used up, Chastity. If it's not returned, it gets used up.”
“And all that 'don't want to lose you' is utter bullshit. But just in case it's true, guess what? You did lose me. Just now.”
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I'm a bleeping idiot.”
“Don't ever marry a man who loves his work more than he loves you.”
“But I hardly hear anyone, because Trevor is kissing me and whispering, over and over, "I love you, Chas. I love you, I love you, I love you.”
“Then before he could break the moment, before he could turn away, I kissed him, and he didn’t stop me. Instead, he pushed my hair out of my face, and he kissed me back, gently, sweetly, his hand slipping behind my head, his lips moving just right against mine, smooth and warm. I gripped his shirt and sighed against his mouth, and knew that as long as I lived, this would be the one perfect kiss that I’d remember forever.”
“He knows. I can see it in his eyes, he feels how much I love him still, and maybe he's always known.”
“So you can’t marry Harry, Mom! Not if you still love Daddy!” I sound like a ten-year-old, but I can’t help it. Buttercup comes over to me and puts her head on my lap.
“Love gets used up, Chastity,” Mom says gently, reaching up to smooth my hair. “If it’s not returned, it gets used up.”
“For twelve years, I've been trying to make him just one of the guys. He's not.”
“Wrong," he growls in a voice I've never heard. "Very, very wrong, Chastity. If we were together and didn't work, I'd be out you. You're the one I can't lose”
“I guess I've found that I'd rather be alone than with the wrong person.”
“Of all the tales in all the kingdoms in all the Woods, you had to walk into mine.”
“You can't be too careful about work. It's the most dangerous habit known to medical science.”
“Good sense is, of all things among men, the most equally distributed; for every one thinks himself so abundantly provided with it, that those even who are the most difficult to satisfy in everything else, do not usually desire a larger measure of this quality than they already possess. And in this it is not likely that all are mistaken the conviction is rather to be held as testifying that the power of judging aright and of distinguishing truth from error, which is properly what is called good sense or reason, is by nature equal in all men; and that the diversity of our opinions, consequently, does not arise from some being endowed with a larger share of reason than others, but solely from this, that we conduct our thoughts along different ways, and do not fix our attention on the same objects. For to be possessed of a vigorous mind is not enough; the prime requisite is rightly to apply it. The greatest minds, as they are capable of the highest excellences, are open likewise to the greatest aberrations; and those who travel very slowly may yet make far greater progress, provided they keep always to the straight road, than those who, while they run, forsake it.”
“In their passion for sameness, the tyrants made themselves more and more powerful. All others grew correspondingly weaker and weaker. New bureaus and directorates, odd ministries, leaped into existence for the most improbable purposes. These became the citadels of a new aristocracy, rulers who kept the giant wheel of government careening along, spreading destruction, violence, and chaos wherever they touched.”
“In the spring of the year that I was supposed to be married, a comet launched itself over the skies of my village. It was brighter than any comet we had ever seen, and more evil. Night after night, as it crawled across our skies spraying its cold white seeds of sorrow, we tried to decipher the fearsome messages of the stars.”
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