Chapter 14

RIAN'S POV

With the gun still pointing at Spike's head the man stood up straight. Aside from the mask covering his face, he looked just like any of the 100 or so waiters working in the hotel.

"Don't you recognize me?"

My voice managed to come out calmly while my heart pounded away in my chest.

"How am I supposed to know who you are with a mask on?"

He ignored my question. "Do you understand how hard this is for me?" He asked his green eyes hardening. "Choose."

"What?" I asked, my eyes widening.

"Choose. Right now. Michelangelo or me."

My eyes flickered from the menacing man in black, to Spike, who shook his head almost imperceptibly at me, his brown eyes full of worry. The wind started to pick up, bringing the sounds of laughter in from the ballroom. What could I do?

"Keep in mind, how dangerous this choice can be." His voice was flinty, challenging.

With one final look at Spike I turned my head to meet the man's green eyes; I had one option. I only hoped he would forgive me. I steeled myself for what I was about to say.

"How could I ever choose Spike over you. You've put so much effort into talking to me, getting my attention." Was I overdoing it? "The only reason I ever liked Spike was because I was afraid that you would disappear."

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Spike's face drop. He can't possibly think I'm telling the truth...right?

He obviously bought it because he lowered his weapon.

"...Me?"

I moved closer slowly, "It's always been you."

The movement was so swift I didn't realize what he was doing until the gun had crashed down onto Spike's head and Spike collapsed onto the ground.

Spike's POV

I closed my eyes the minute I opened them; the light caused sharp pain to echo inside my head. What the hell? I inched my eyes open and I winced as the light seemed to pierce right through my skull... Rian! I searched my surroundings, realizing I was no longer on a balcony. Sam and Ed were talking in the corner and I felt a cool hand pressing me down onto the bed as I tried to sit up. I turned, the pain slowly receding as my eyes focused and I could see Jules, still in her dress leaning over me.

"Where's Rian?" My voice came out low and hoarse.

"Ed, Sam. He's up." She said softly, calling them over.

"Hey Man, how're you doing?" Ed said, standing above me.

I ignored their sounds of protest as I sat up, pulling off the electrodes that were strapped to my body. The flat tone of the heart monitor instantly brought nurses in, but I shooed them away. However, Ed won and a nurse checked me out. She ruled that other than the pain in my head I was perfectly fine. Although I should take a day or two off-duty, yeah, like THAT was ever gonna happen.

When the nurse was gone and I was buttoning the dark blue dress shirt I had worn to the ball.

"Where's Rian?" I asked again, "did she go home?"

Jules and Sam shared a look and Ed looked worried.

"We don't know where she is."

My mind flew back to what had happened. She had chosen him...It couldn't have been real though...could it?

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