Precious Lace

By: Adriane Leigh

My shoulders hunched and sobs escaped my throat as I walked up the stairs. I had no idea what my future would hold and if Carter would be in it. What I did know for sure was that I needed Cate.

My head swirled with the prospect of telling her that Carter and I had gotten married in Aspen. At that point I had no idea if I would tell her. I hadn't seen Parker haul the white garment bag out of the car, so I didn't think he'd brought it in, which meant Cate wouldn't be clued in to the most monumental secret of my life. I approached the door to our apartment and paused. I looked down at the glistening ring on my finger and tears choked my throat. I slid it off and nestled it in the pocket of my jeans. It hurt my heart to take the ring off, but I didn't know if I had the emotional strength to delve into that with Cate.

I stepped into the apartment and found the few bags that I’d taken with me just inside the door. The apartment was silent as I looked around for Cate. I wandered down the hallway to her bedroom, peeked my head in the door and found her propped up in her bed with a book.

"Hey! How was Aspen?" She hopped off the bed and embraced me tightly.

"Okay," I squeaked.

"God, what happened, Eva? Are you okay?" She pulled away from me and held me at the shoulders. I shook my head no. "Tell me." She sat me down on the edge of the bed and held me tightly, patting my head while running her fingers through my hair soothingly. Sobs wracked my body for long moments. I inhaled Cate's favorite perfume and felt at home with her. Carter had been a temporary interlude. Cate was my home. Cate had always been my family and that would never change. I should have known Carter would make me need him and then stomp all over my heart. I had been foolish to think that he had changed for me. When I'd said yes, perhaps I was overwhelmed at the thought that he needed me; I surely hadn't been thinking straight to marry a man I'd known for only a month.

I warred with myself if I should tell her that I was now a married woman.

I finally pulled away and wiped the itchy tears off my face. She jumped up and ran to her bathroom returning with tissues for me.

"What happened in Aspen?" she prodded gently.

"It was amazing. God, it was so amazing, Cate. We talked. We were perfect. He told me things. He told me about the first time he saw me at the boutique opening." A wry smile crossed my face. "It was perfect… and then it wasn't," I trailed off sadly. "I was afraid to come home. We have such a bad history here, and I mentioned that I wished we could stay in Aspen forever and he exploded. We got in a monumental fight and I don't even know whose fault it was anymore. Maybe I shouldn't have said anything. He can't stay away from Boston; he has a business. Maybe I was selfish…" I finished.

"No Eva, you just tried to talk to him. You're allowed to bring up your concerns. He shouldn't have reacted that way. Carter fucks you up so monumentally in the head. I'm so over him."

Tears started to trail down my cheeks again at her words. Little did she know that I couldn't be over him—I was married to him. My hand slipped to the ring in my pocket and I fingered it from outside the denim. I struggled to take a breath.

"I just need to take a shower. I'll think more clearly after a shower."

"Okay." She squeezed me in a tight hug before I stood and crossed the living room of our apartment. I picked up my bags on the way and tossed them on the bed, shut the door to my room, and stood in front of the dresser. Slipping the ring out of my pocket, I turned it toward the evening light cascading through the windows. The rays reflected in every direction, fragmenting and glistening. A few stray tears trailed down my cheeks. I slipped the ring on my left hand and caressed it lovingly. His birthstone. He was so sweet and thoughtful to think of it that way. It was Carter and me, right here on my ring finger, for what was supposed to be an eternity. Tears locked in my throat as the thought crossed my mind that I may have to give his symbol of our love back to him. My stomach suddenly churned as I thought about a life without him. I felt like I could be sick again.

I slid the ring off my finger and set it on the dresser before walking into my bathroom, stripping, and standing under the hot spray of the showerhead, praying that the water would wash away my anguish.

"Eva!" Cate screamed from my bedroom moments later.

"What?" I jumped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around my body as I ran into my bedroom.

"What is this?" Cate's eyes were the size of saucers. She held my ring between her fingers. I bit my bottom lip firmly, willing the self-inflicted pain to distract me from the thoughts swirling in my head.