Chapter: 2

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Labana found her daughter, Natalie, sitting on front door steps, playing with her engagement ring and staring ahead.

She smiled and sat next to her, ''What's up, soon-to-be Mrs. Anderson?' then did a double take,''And what on earth are you wearing?''

Natalie gasped, looked at her mom and rolled her eyes,''Ma, you scared me. And what about my clothes? You know this is my wardrobe.''

''You just got engaged. You should wear a dress and look all dreamy-dreamy. And here you are sitting, wearing a loose tank top and cargo shorts. Act like an engaged girl at least. Who knows, Dave might show up. You know, like climbing your window to see you.'' She wiggled her eyebrows.

''Dave? Ha! He would never do that. He is too gentleman to do something like that.''

Labana shrugged then looked at her daughter intently,''You look upset. You should be happy. Today was your special day. You got engaged today.''

''I know. I am happy. Dave is a great guy. He is perfect for me. I got a millionaire to be my husband. He loves me. I am happy. Today was my special day. I am happy.'' she kept on rambling.

Labana held her hand and asked her,''Nat, what's troubling you?''

Natalie looked at her mom then sighed and whispered,'' Ma, Carmine didn't show up today. Today was my special day and he wasn't here with me. He didn't come, didn't call, didn't send a letter. Nada. Nothing.'' 

Labana embraced her and patted her head and Natalie, like a baby, hugged her mother back, trying to blink back her angry tears.

''You know Carmine. There must have been a reason for his not coming here. He must have tried his best.''

''Ma, I know. That is what's upsetting me most. He would've done something. He'd have called. Heck, he'd have resigned. He hasn't answered my last three letters. The last one was about my engagement. He didn't even answer that one. It's scaring me. I'm worried about him. Carmine would never do that unless something is wrong with him.''

''Maybe he didn't get the letter. You know he changes his stations like someone is changing their clothes. Or maybe he just got it.''

''I sent that letter 2 weeks ago. All this time, I didn't say anything because I thought he was planning a surprise for me. That he would just show up here at the last moment. Which was the reason I continued with the ceremony. When Dave was putting this ring on my finger. I thought that anytime I would here his voice, mocking me, saying,'Oh poor guy, he has no idea what he is getting himself into.' But I never heard that voice. After that I was thinking that when we would get home and I'll open the door. He'd be standing there, smiling at me. But he wasn't even there ma.''She finished brokenly. 

''Oh Darling, it's alright. Maybe he tried to contact you through a letter. But his surroundings or weather was a problem. Don't think about these things. I'm sure everything is okay. Think positive, it would end in a positive way, okay?''

''Yeah.' Natalie sniffed,''You are right. I don't know why I'm being so overemotional and why I'm overthinking things. Basically, it's all about 'over' with me.''

Labana smiled at her,''Nothing is wrong with you. You're just nervous. You just turned 24 and soon you're going to be married.''

Natalie smiled, stood up and dusted the back of her cargo shorts,''I'm going to my second mom.''

Labana smiled back,''Say hi to Caroline from me.''

''Why don't you come with me?''

Labana thought for some time then nodded,''Okay, let's go.''

They walked to the house that was right across the road. Without ringing the bell or knocking they went inside.

''Mom! Dad!''

''Coming!'' They heard Caroline's voice from Drew's room. Carmine's younger brother. He was just home to spend his college vacation. Caroline came out of Drew's room. It was clear that she was in there lecturing him. Again.

''Wow. And here I thought that my lovely daughter would be floating on cloud nine on this special day. And God, Natalie, at least wear a dress today of all days.'' Caroline said to Natalie as she entered the living room where they both were sitting on the couch and sat next to Labana.

''I'm at home, Care mom. I'm not going on a date. Jeez! You guys are behaving like I got married today not engaged. And yeah I'd have been floating if it wasn't for your son.''

''Oh yeah, I don't know. There must be some problem on the border. Maybe that's the reason for his lack of contact. There's a great possibility that he didn't get your last letter. Otherwise, he would've been here.''

''Which makes me feel more terrible. To think that I was so desperate to get engaged that I didn't even wait for my best friend. I just embraced the thought that he was planning a surprise for me. God! I'm such an idiot.''

''Hey,' Caroline met her eyes,''None of it is your fault. Carmine missed your engagement not your marriage. Plus you had to think about everything. Alexa's studies, her exams. Also, Dave's departure for London. You had to think about all the possibilities.''

''Fine, I'm ready to think that he didn't get my last three letters. But he could've wrote to me himself. He used to do that before.''

''Maybe he did. may-' Caroline was cut off by the ringing of phone. She held out a finger,''Excuse me.'' and stood up to answer the phone.

She picked up the phone and held it to her ear,''Hello...... Yes, this is Hayes' residence.'' Suddenly her eyes widened and she whispered,'' What? When?'' her hands started to shake and she held onto the table with other hand to keep herself upright.

In a second, Labana was on her side helping her,''Caroline, what's wrong? Everything okay?''

Caroline didn't answer. She only looked at Natalie who was standing in front of them. Natalie saw her looking at her and noticed her eyes that were filled with tears of fear, disbelief and pain.

Caroline didn't have to say anything. She didn't have to do anything.

Natalie already knew. She could feel it. Her eyes widened and her chest tightened. It was hard for her to breathe. She felt like someone was squeezing her heart. Tears were falling from her eyes and only one word escaped her mouth. Her voice a hoarse whisper. But it had all her feelings.


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