Let's check in with Lacey in the modern day :)

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Scene 4: Smile in Denial

A.D. 2015

Sometimes it felt as if most of this honeymoon consisted of Ryder taking long showers by himself, while she was on the phone with someone else. But it only felt that way sometimes, Lacey reflected. So it wasn't so bad. It was just because every second spent apart from him dragged on like an eternity; but no matter how they spent their time, they were bound forever as husband and wife, so for that she was glad.

Lacey wasn't sure why her thoughts, whenever Ryder was in the shower or otherwise removed from her, so often turned to Dan. Especially lately, now that his love life seemed to be running according to her plan. She supposed that he had to be happy, when Tess was so ecstatic about their relationship. But she wished she felt more certain of it. His happiness mattered to her, quite a bit - he would always be her most treasured friend, even more so now that it seemed she had lost him. She just wished he would pick up when she called him.

He never did. She'd tried one too many times and was growing rather weary of it. But still she had to try, again and again until she finally got through to Dan. For till she heard his voice, a voice so dearly missed, declaring his own happiness, Lacey would never have rest.

Today, while sitting on the hotel bed biting her nails and staring at 'Dan Hollis' in her contacts list, the idea came to her mind of calling him from a phone other than her own. Maybe, just maybe, he would answer the call, if it came from a number unknown... If there was any chance at all, she ought to try. Might as well. She put away her cell, reached for the bedside phone provided by the hotel. Followed the instructions to make an international call, dialed Dan's number which she happened to know by heart, and waited with breath bated at the ringtone, already feeling closer to him though they were apart.

The current ring was suddenly cut short. "Hello?"

At the sound of his voice, she could breathe again. "Dan...!"

And at the sound of hers, his breathing stopped, his heart constricting from the shock. Even from such a vast distance, unable to witness the alarm that fell across his face, she noticed.

"I'm calling you from the hotel phone," she informed him after an eternal silence. "I just... I really wanted to just hear your voice, you know?"

He couldn't say the same. As she'd known to expect.

Lacey went on before he could say anything else, or nothing else; in either case, she had no clue what she would do. "So how have you been?" she asked, continuing without even granting her friend half a second to answer. "Tess seems so happy, so I guess you must be happy, too.... I really hope so, and I wanted to say that I'm so happy for you."

When Dan finally spoke, each word so strained that it sounded as if he was going to choke, he seemed no different from the precious little boy she'd met in preschool. "Cool. I'm - I'm glad that you're happy."

She frowned, despite what she had heard. Wishing his tone had matched his words. "I mean, because you and Tess are happy, right?"

A pause, as lifeless as it was lengthy. "As happy as can be."

Lacey decided, then and there, that that was good enough for her. It had to be. She'd built her own life on denial and lies, she knew deep down inside, so it seemed wrong of her to doubt the honesty of his replies. If this was what he wanted her to believe, then so be it. Whether or not it was the truth, it was the answer that she'd needed.

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