You check the time. Perfect. As intended, you’ve arrived fashionably late. You remember she always had a penchant for the dramatic. That was why she was marrying this guy. He was rich enough to give her this, the most dramatic wedding in history. But she still loved you. You just had to remind her. She would see. As soon as she took one look at you in your perfectly tailored suit, the blue offsetting the color of your eyes in a way you knew she always loved. Your perfectly coiffed hair that took a surprising amount of time to fix considering how messy and laid back it looked.
Yes, she would see, and she would remember every touch, every kiss, every look. She would forgive and forget every transgression. You just needed to get her attention.
Most people would make a big scene during the ceremony like they do in the movies. Which is just ridiculous and would only serve to be more embarrassing for all parties than dramatic. You know people aren’t officially married until the paperwork is done anyway. But this display you are planning is just a small example of the love you still hold for her. So you casually walk through the elaborate ballroom. Each step filled with more surety than the last. You feel the eyes of everyone in the room briefly turn to you. Including her.
She’s beautiful, of course. With her hair pulled back in an elaborate twist that sits gently at the nape of her neck. She looks up and, as if knowing you would be there all along, looks right at you. A small, secret smile just for you on her painted lips. You find a seat that’s vacant, feeling the eyes of some of her friends that are sitting at a table near her. You try to hide your smirk as they try to deter you with their glares, but you know they’ve always been jealous. You slide into the seat and start up an effortless conversation.
You glance across the room and see him. What is he doing here? You think. You keep a smile pasted on your face, but a few of your friends notice the strain behind it and then notice him anyway. None of them dare to do more than glare at him for fear of ruining your wedding. You know they’re all patiently waiting for your word to kick him out as he slinks into an empty chair. The one that’s clearly been clearly marked as specially reserved for your dead grandmother.
“Who is that?” Your new husband asks you.
Before you can answer your bombarded by the memories that come with that face sitting in what would have been your grandmother’s seat. The way his smell was overpowering. The way his touches were always a little too rough. The way he had of looking at you like you were such a disappointment to him.
“Wait, isn’t that your ex?” your husband's voice finally breaks through your thoughts. You nod carefully. You’re unsure of what your new husband will do. He knows about your ex… knows what he did to you.
“Just leave it alone for now,” you say to him, giving your friends a look that conveyed the same message.You don’t know why he is here. He hadn’t been at the ceremony, thank God, so maybe this was his way of making you feel off balance one last time.
You go back to talking to everyone. Trying your best not to glance over at the far table.
She’s putting on such a show for everyone. You can tell by the look on her face that she really doesn’t want to be here. Anyone who truly knows her can see how uncomfortable she is. You try thinking of ways to steal a conversation with her when the lights dim, and a voice announces it’s time for the dances. First the bride and groom, then the bride and her father, then everyone is invited to the floor. That’s when you’ll make your move. You watch as she’s swept up in an elegant waltz. And with every spin in your direction, you notice that she can’t help but to glance your way. She just can’t keep her eyes off of you. Yes, this suit was a good choice to get her attention. Her father takes her by the hand and they awkwardly sway from side to side. The man was never good at relationships of any kind, which is why his ex-wife was in the arms of another man at the other end of the ballroom.
You and her would never be like that. You know how to show intimacy. You both were so good together. She would remember as soon as you took her hand and lead her into a romantic dance of your own.
You can’t stop looking at him. You know you should be concentrating on this dance with your husband. You both had been taking classes for weeks to get this dance perfect. No, you would not let him ruin this day. You decide to concentrate on the happiness this day brought you, not the man who undoubtedly wanted to ruin it. But even as you dance with your father, who has tears welling up in his eyes because his little girl is married now, you still catch yourself glancing over to see if he’s still here.
The father-daughter dance ends and you know now is your chance. This is what you came here for. Everyone starts clapping and getting up to join the dancing. You use the moment to make your way closer to her. You can see the plunging line of her spine disappearing underneath the low-cut form of her dress. You remember what the rest of her looks like as you gently put a hand on her shoulder. She turns, her face in a wide smile from the conversation with her father, and falls slack. She wasn’t expecting this. Good. Her father is looking daggers at you, but you know the old man won’t do anything. He’s completely harmless.
“May I have this dance?” you ask innocently as you bow at the waist with your hand extended toward her.
She’s silent and you take that for acquiescence as you gently, but firmly take her hand in yours and glide your other hand around her waist. You both start spinning, the rest of the crowd melting away.
“Are you happy to see me?” You ask.
“No,” she says. But you know she doesn’t mean it. She has to say that on her wedding day in front of all these people.
“I know we didn’t leave things on the best terms when we broke up,” you say, “but I think we should give it another shot.”
“Are you insane? Do you not know where you are right now?”
“Of course I know where I am. And I've come to rescue you,” you give your most winning smile as you take her into another spin.
This can’t be real. You think to yourself. You were so stunned when he asked you to dance that you didn’t even think to refuse. That was the problem with him. You always had a hard time turning him down. He always knew how to weasel things into going his way.
He thought he was coming to rescue you. That was so typical of him to think that he was some kind of hero when really no one wanted him there.
You could feel the attention of most of the people in the room turn to you both. Most of them knew who he was, what he had done, or at least suspected enough to know that you didn’t want to be dancing with him.
“I don’t know what you expected when you came here, but I’m happy with my husband. We’re happy and there’s nothing you can do about it now.” You sound stronger than you feel. He always had a way of making you feel so small, but today is your day. He would not ruin it.
“You can’t really love that guy,” he says, nodding his head in your husband’s direction. “You’re only with him because of the money, just admit it. I know we had our problems, money being one of them, but things are better now. I got a promotion at work, and I can take care of us now. Things are different. You’ll see. We can sneak out of here without anyone noticing. You just say the word and we’re in my car. This whole mistake can be forgotten.”
He really meant it. He really thought he had a chance now. You could feel his grip tightening on your hand and waist. Coiling around you like a snake patiently waiting to strike. You plant your body firmly into the ground.
“No,” you say with as much confidence as you can muster. Enough was enough. He would not take away your freedom again.
His face grows into a look you recognize all too well. A darkness comes to his eyes. You know he’s going to take a stand and nothing will convince him otherwise.
“What?” He says quietly.
“I said no,” you say as you try to pry yourself from him. “I think you should leave. Now.”
You finally yank yourself free and suddenly everyone isn’t dancing anymore, but looking at you. In an instant, your husband is dutifully by your side, flanked by your closest friends.
You can see a fire in her eyes that you’ve never seen before. It makes you want her all the more. Why should this man get her when you put in all the work to make her this way? She was never this confident until you taught her to stand up for herself. Why does he get to reap all the benefits?
You laugh softly. This was all part of the cat and mouse game that she so loved to play. You hold on tighter as she tries to step out of your arms, but she doesn’t know that you’re stronger now. But then she breaks free and is instantly surrounded by a gaggle of all the people you hate the most.
“You need to leave. You’re not wanted here.” She says to you. You notice that everyone around you has stopped to witness the exchange. She really did always like being dramatic. You would give her a good show. You take a step forward and before anyone can react you have her face in your hands and your lips meet.
And then there’s pain. And you’re flying backward into the crowd of people. She punched you. There’s a cacophony of raised voices as you fall to the ground. You look up and see her looking down on you with such hate-filled eyes. Her posse surrounding her, ready to pounce at her will.
“How dare you!” She screams. And then, she spits on you. Actually spits.
There’s a horrid pain radiating out from your cheek to the rest of your jaw that makes it hard to concentrate.
But then everyone is yelling at you. Even the nice people who you had talked to when you first got there. You’re holding your jaw now to try to hold the pain at bay as you slowly get to your feet again.
“I told you to leave,” she says again, pointing to the door.
“Fine,” you say. You didn’t need this. You could have anyone you wanted. You didn’t need her.
You call her a name you know she hates under your breath as you turn away. Then there’s a hand on your shoulder. You think it’s her at first. You knew eventually she’d be begging for you back. You turn with a knowing smile on your face. And then everything goes black.
He had touched you for the last time. You couldn’t express the disgust you felt when he forced his mouth on yours and shoved his tongue down your throat. You just wanted to get the taste of him out of your mouth. So you spit on him. You tell him to leave and are perfectly willing to let him go without another incident until he uttered that name. You hate that name. You’re about to lunge at him for another punch, but then your husband’s body is in front of yours and his fist is flying. Your ex is out cold on the ballroom floor. Everyone staring down at him, forming a small circle.
“I’m sorry,” your husband says as he turns back to you. “I just couldn’t let him get away with calling you that.”
You couldn’t love your new husband more than at that very moment. You step over your ex’s body and reach for your husband and kiss him deeply. More love flowing through that one kiss than when you were pronounced man and wife.
Everyone in the room starts clapping and then it’s a roaring applause as you embrace your husband. A few cousins pick up the ex who is starting to wake up again, his feet having a hard time finding their way underneath him, and firmly escort him out the doors where they plant themselves for the rest of the night to make sure he doesn’t find his way back in.
You’re safe in your husband’s arms as you dance around the room for the rest of the night. You couldn't be happier.