I got off the plane, sore as sore can be. The flight wasn't that bad, it was just long. My heart was pounding as I stepped foot in the U.S. for the first time in five years. Boston. I swore I'd never come back here. But hey, my favorite cousin was getting married. I had to come back. I scanned the airport and immediately found the passenger pick up area. I wove through hundreds of rude, shove-y people. This hasn't changed at all. Finally I made it to the door. The first face I saw was my cousin Sam. And I couldn't be more excited.
"SAM!" I practically screamed, running towards him. I gave him a huge hug and we try to avoid everyone else.
"Alex!" he exclaimed. "I was starting to doubt you'd even come."
I laughed gleefully.
"Of course I'd come for my favorite cousin's wedding!" I exclaimed.
"Hey, where's Zack?" he asked. My shoulders slumped. His face twisted into a grimace of pain. "Alex? Did you...?"
I nodded stiffly. He patted my back.
"C'mon, let's go. I'm freezing," I said.
We walked to his car in silence. I got in on the correct passengers side, and we instantly started talking about England.
"So uh...it's been a while," I said softly. He nodded.
"Yeah it has," he agreed.
"So what happened after I left?" I asked him.
"Well, Ben and Jennifer got married...Maureen had her baby...hmmm. Nothing else, really," Sam said, staring intently at the road.
"What about Thomas?" I asked, referring to our druggie cousin. Sam's face lit up.
"He's home," he replied happily. Instantly I felt better. We continued with the mindless chatter for about two hours until we arrived at the hotel, where most of the guests for the wedding were staying. I was happy. This was good. I loved this. This was home. I thanked Sam, and went inside. I sleepily checked in and went to my room, 329. I set my alarm for 8:00. That gave me roughly seven and a half hours to sleep. I went out as soon as my head hit the pillow.
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
I begrudgingly awoke and shut off my alarm. I heard a loud male voice that sounded like...no. It couldn't be who I thought. I got in the shower and let the hot water run over my aching body. I washed my hair and body and face. Then I got out and dried. I put on mascara and some blush, but that was it. I pulled on my dress and put my hair in a simple fishtail braid down my back. Then I put on my heels, stuck my room key-card and phone in my bra, and it was off to the races.
I rode with Ben and Jennifer because I didn't have my own ride. Our conversation was mostly
"I missed you"s and "Where have you been?"s. When we got to the sight, it was gorgeous. It wad just huge meadow that overlooked the ocean. There was a huge tent in the middle of the lot, and chairs and an archway set up at the far end, near the ocean. But that wasn't what caught my eye. I saw a man, about 6'5". My lips curved into a wide grin as I got out of the car.
"Rob...." I barely choked out. And he turned around, a shocked look on his face. I don't know who sprinted at whom, but I do know that I ended up in his arms. The same arms that held me five years ago. And my mind flooded with memories as we were here in our own little world.
I'm a mess. Dead. Dead. Emily. Mom. Dad. Christian. Dead. I should be dead. But I'm not. I wish I were. I sit sobbing on the side of the accident scene. My best friend comes over.
"It'll be ok," he says, touching my arm reassuringly.
"NO IT WON'T!" I scream, jerking away. "I'M BROKEN AND HURT! MY WHOLE FUCKING FAMILY IS DEAD ROB!"
Most people would flinch, but he just wraps me in a loving embrace.
"It'll be ok," he whispers. "I promise, nothing can hurt you."
My face is puffy and red. I lock my apartment door. No one is coming in. I throw everything I own in an open suitcase on my bed. I grab paper.
'I'm fine, I promise. Don't come looking for me. I'm somewhere where I can never be hurt again.
I slip the note on my coffee table, where Rob's sure to see it. I gather everything and head out the door.
My heart is pounding. I look at the city of Boston.
The last time I'll ever be here, I think. The last time on American soil. And it makes me want to cry. I can just see Rob reading my note now and swearing his head off. And then I drift off into my nightmarish sleep.
*end of flashbacks*
"Just make out already!" Sam yelled. I shot him a death glare. My heart was pounding and so was my head. What would Rob say?
"Alex...oh my gosh," he whispered in his voice that's all his own, wrapping me tighter in his arms.
"Hey, Rob," I said, grinning slightly. Zack wasn't even close to being on my mind right now. Oh my god.
"Alex...why are you here?" Rob asked.
My heart kinda faltered.
"I came for the wedding," I said. "Why, dismayed to see me?"
"Not at all. Not at all," he murmured. "C'mon, let's grab a seat," he ushered.
I followed him and we sat at a table with my cousins Ben and Jennifer, Amanda and Nolan, and Lauren and Sarah. I looked over at Rob who was grinning like an idiot. Behind him I saw people starting to take their seats at the altar thingy.
We walked over in silence. Rob's presence calmed me, just like old times. My partner in crime. We took our seats, and soon enough, Sam's bride, Hannah, was walking down the aisle. A couple family members read some beautiful readings, and they were married.
"WOOH!" I yelled as they walked back down the aisle.
We all went back to the reception tent and sat down. Rob looked at me, kinda grinning.
"What?" I asked. "Do I have food in my teeth? I didn't even eat anything!"
"No," he said, laughing. "So Alex, what've you been up to? It's been a long time. Too long."
"Yeah," I agreed. "And uh...I've just been you know...out and about," I said vaguely.
"You have a slight British accent on some words," he observed. I nodded.
"England," I confirmed. "What about you?"
"Football," he said. I laughed, because I knew.
"I know," I said. "University of Arizona then second round draft by the New England Patriots in 2010."
"Looks like someone did their homework," he said. I nodded.
"After I kinda...left...I thought I kinda owed it to you."
He smiled and I put my hand on his knee. Not like...sexually, but friendly. He smiled and I smiled back. Then the DJ announced the dances with their parents and the first dance. Then the Best Man, my cousin Jonathan, made his speech. It was nice. Then the Maid of Honor, Kate, made her speech. It reminded me of Katie. Everyone talked for a while, then people started lining up for food.
"So...food?" he suggested. He knew me so well. We got up and went over to the line at the buffet table. This was so normal, so calm, so...so serene. I realized that he was where my home was.