Monday, September 26, 2011

Chapter 19

'Cause if one day you wake up and find that you're missing me
And your heart starts to wonder where on this earth I could be
Thinkin maybe you'll come back here to the place that we'd meet
And you'll see me waiting for you on the corner of the street
So I'm not moving, I'm not moving
People talk about the guy that's waiting on a girl
There are no holes in his shoes but a big hole in his world

Maybe I'll get famous as the man who can't be moved
Maybe you won't mean to but you'll see me on the news
And you'll come running to the corner
'Cause you'll know it's just for you
I'm the man who can't be moved

(lyrics from “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” from the Script)

“Your mother would be so happy.” 

It was her thought too as Chelsea cautiously lifted the dress from the cedar chest that had sat, unopened, at the foot of her parents bed ever since she could remember. She felt the heavy white satin slip through her fingers as she gingerly held the dress up in front of her. She’d only seen this dress in pictures. She’d known where it was, but her mother, with her shining eyes, would only shake her head when her daughter would ask to see it. 

One day’ she’d say, and then cup her daughter’s cheek and smile. Chelsea wished she could lean into that hand now. She felt her mother’s loss now more than ever. 

“It’s huge,” she breathed, looking down at the spill of heavy satin and lace at her feet. 

“Yeah, something about Princess Diana,” her father mused quietly behind her. Chelsea looked over at her shoulder at him. His gaze was blurred with tears she knew he wouldn’t shed. Not now. Not in front of her. “They all had to have the big dresses after that,” he added, reaching out to gingerly brush his fingers over the marshmallow puff shoulders. “I’m sure you can work with it. You and your Gran, some scissors and you’ll have something that doesn’t scream early eighties,” he added as he kissed the top of her head. 

Cut it up? It seemed like sacrilege she thought as she ran her hand over the light lavender ribbons on the boned bodice, but the sleeves were a bit much. She hadn’t even looked at the headpiece but she knew she’d never wear the thing that, in all of the pictures she knew by heart, looked like a crown made out of ice and toile. Even her mother had laughed, later when her daughter would ask about it. ‘That was just they style baby’ her mother had told her and then she would grin and say ‘your mother was stylin’.’

Yes, the sleeves would have to go and she didn’t think she had the ego to get away with the eight foot train either, Chelsea thought as she slid her foot under it and kicked it out along the carpet. Not in a little country church. 

“Let’s get the pins.” Chelsea looked up to see her grandparents standing in the doorway, the morning light shining behind them and she felt her tears overflow. The gentle light shining in made it feel like her mother was there, wearing the same expression her grandparents were, that said ‘isn’t she so pretty?’ “We’ll go in the front room,” her Gran added, with a wink. “The light’s better there.” 

“Shan’s coming to get me, we were going shopping for a dress,” she told them, surrendering the dress to her smaller, slighter grandmother who draped it over both of her arms. 

“Well you don’t have to shop now,” her Grandfather told her as he took her in his arms and held her against the barrel of his chest. “Besides, it’ll be nice having her bend over and help pin,” he added, just barely dancing out the way when her grandmother aimed a swat at him. 

“Watch it old man,” her grandmother shook her head at him but her grandfather just grinned and turned to lead their group out of the darkened room and down the hall. 


“Hey, watch it! That’s heavy.” 

Mike stared down at where Brooks was lying on the floor, struggling to get up from under an enormous medicine ball. He wanted to feel sorry for him but he didn’t. He was actually kind of sorry that his teammate wasn’t bleeding. 

“It’s your fault,” Mike growled, not for the first time. Brooks rolled his blue eyes, pushed the heavy ball off of his abdomen and held out his hand. Mike grudgingly helped him up. He thought about pulling him hard enough to send him stumbling head first into the rack of free weights behind him but decided against it at the last minute. 

“You’re not good enough for that little filly anyway,” Brooks snorted, giving Mike a playful push. Mike didn’t sway even an inch. 

“I love her…loved…whatever,” he hissed, glancing around to see if any of the other athletes might have overheard. 

“Well if you loooovvvve her so fucking much why are you here and not on your knees begging for forgiveness?” Brooks asked, reaching for his water bottle and tipping it up to his lips. That was a question that Mike had been asking himself and he gave his teammate the same answer he’d been giving himself since Chelsea had walked away from him in the parking lot of Cowboys. 

“If she wants to marry that…fuckface, I’m not gonna stop her.” His top lip curled when he said it but as satisfying as it felt to say it, he didn’t believe it any more now when he said it out loud than when he said it to himself. 

“Like I said, waaay too good for you,” Brooks laughed, wiping the sweat off of his forehead with the back of his arm and then upending the remnants of his bottle over Mike’s head. “Look, fuckface,” he began, ducking Mike’s half hearted swing at his head, “if you lurve her like you seem to then you don’t let her marry that guy. Fucking grow a pair and go get her Greener.” Mike shook his head. He’d tried. She wanted nothing to do with him and he could understand that because Brooks was right, he was a fucking loser and he didn’t deserve her.

“Fuck let’s go get faced,” he grumbled, ripping his shirt over his head and heading for the showers. 

“Yeah, cuz that’s gonna help,” Brooks called after him. 

“It will if it makes me barf on you,” Mike called back over his shoulder and his friend’s laughter followed him down the hall.


“I think I could make some sort of bra out of these,” Shannon pondered the two pieces of puffy white fabric they’d just cut carefully from the dress as Chelsea slipped into the dress for a second time.

“Why? Are you trying to go for some kind of second time around virgin thing?” Chelsea asked her friend as she held the front of the dress up and waited to be laced in, “because no one would believe you.” 

“Ugh, who’d want to go through that again?” Chelsea’s friend made a face but dropped the two pieces of fabric and picked up the laces to the bodice of the dress. “You know, this looks so much better without those sleeves.” Chelsea looked down at the white satin bustier with its purple ribbon accents and the now plain floor length skirt. It was simple but pretty. The essence of the original dress was still there without the frills and gaudy lace edging that had aged it. 

“Do you think he’ll like it?” she asked, letting her hands slip over the smooth cool fabric now that the laces seemed to be holding the dress up instead of her hands. She heard the disgusted sound Shan made in her throat and tried to ignore it. 

“Course I will.” 

Chelsea’s hands flew up to her chest as if she’d been caught naked and her grandmother tipped over sewing kit, sending pins and buttons all over the floor as she jumped in front of her, both trying to cover the dress from his prying eyes. Jimmy leaned in the doorframe, filling it, his grin and shining eyes making it obvious he did like what he saw. 

“You’re not supposed to see the dress,” her grandmother hissed at him like she was trying to put a hex on him. 

“Yeah, jackass,” Shan appeared in front of her, shaking her head and making shooing motions at him. Jimmy just grinned, took off his hat and mopped his brown with the back of his hand. 

“You’re puttin’ somethin’ on top of that right? Don’t need to be showin’ off the girls to everybody. That’s for me, not the general public,” he added, wiping his hands down along his thighs and then staring down at them like he was trying to decide if they were clean enough for him to come any nearer and then he frowned, like he’d decided against it. “You can put some lace up there, cover some of that up,” he suggested, waving his hands at her chest but looking at her Gran. Chelsea looked down at what she thought was a conservative amount of cleavage and frowned.

“I don’t think this is too much,” she mumbled, thinking about some of the dresses she had up in her closet that she’d worn at balls and banquets in Washington. 

“Maybe for fancy dress for a single gal,” Jimmy grinned and winked, “but not for my wife.”

“You want her to look nice right?” Shannon asked, her arms still outstretched to block his view of a dress he’d obviously already got an eyeful of. 

“Sure, just not too nice.” He winked at Chelsea again and then put his hat back on as he turned to go back outside. He paused, just as Shan and her Gran were letting down their guards. Both women jumped back in front of her like they were trying to stop a bullet. “You be ready for rehearsal dinner. Don’t want to be late for that,” he added, tipping his hat and then disappearing from view.  

Chelsea waited until she heard the screen door swing shut and then cursed, loudly. Shan whistled low and long. 

“Seriously? Did he just fucking seriously tell you he wanted you to wear a burqa to the wedding?” Chelsea shook her head but didn’t actually disagree. 

“He’s just...very traditional, old fashioned.” She winced as she defended him and her friend didn’t miss that. 

“He’s just a big fuckface,” Shan sniffed and then held up her hand before Chelsea could argue. “No, I know, he’s very dependable or whatever other anti romantic Mister Darcy bullshit you want to call it. I know, Mike would love that dress.” Chelsea looked down at the boned bustier and sighed. She could imagine him whistling at the end of the aisle and breaking into that big boyish grin of his. The thought made her smile. 

“Maybe he would,” she agreed quietly, “but I’m not marrying Mike. Gran, is there a shrug or something we could make? Maybe lace? Something I could take off at the reception?” 

“Oh you have to be kidding,” Shan grumbled and then turned to pick up the sleeves they’d cut off the dress. “Why don’t we just sew these back on?” 


“I just wanted to go to a bar,” Mike complained as he handed the waiter back the menu. 

“Yeah but this way you get food in your system,” Nicky pointed out. Mike rolled his eyes. 

“Yeah and then it just takes longer for me to get faced and that wasn’t the point.” Nicky looked at him disapprovingly and Mike just rolled his eyes and reached for his rum and coke. The liquid felt cool and smooth as it slid down his throat and then it just sort of stopped there.

“Oh fuckity hell,” Brooks hissed following the direction of Mike’s gaze to the group that was just being seated near them. Mike agreed with the sentiment but couldn’t say anything. His mouth wouldn’t move and his heart was warring with the liquid still stuck in his throat as they tried to pass each other.

“We should go,” Nicky said quietly, putting his napkin back on the table.

“No,” Mike managed to squeak, just, and pushed his friend back down. After that night at Cowboys he’d never thought he’d actually see her again. If he could just look now, if he could just watch her, he wanted to do that. 

She looked beautiful with all those red waves cascading around her shoulders in a simple dark emerald green sheath dress. He couldn’t see from where he was sitting but he knew that her eyes would be shining like jewels. 

“Oh jeeeezus,” Brooks groaned as he looked at the table where she sat with her family and a couple of friends and then back at Mike. “Don’t do this man. What, are you just gonna sit here and torture yourself?” he asked. Mike nodded. 

“Yeah,” he said quietly, reaching for his drink and downing it. “Now get me another.” 

“You should try to talk to her again,” Nicky encouraged him quietly. Mike didn’t take his eyes off of her but shook his head.

“Talked to her. She doesn’t wanna hear it. Got nothin’ else to say.” He mumbled, watching as Jimmy pulled her chair out for her, feeling his stomach turn over as she looked up at him and as he smiled down at her. 

“It might be your last chance,” Nicky prodded. Mike glanced at his friend and then back at her. Jesus his chest hurt. 

“No point,” he said brusquely as the waiter showed up with their appetizer and took his empty glass. “Look at them, like they’re in fucking love or something,” he moaned but couldn’t take his eyes off of her. 

“Mmm, the wings at this place are so good,” Chelsea licked her lips as she looked at the pictures accompanying the menu. 

“Another time,” Jimmy whispered into her ear, sliding the menu out of her hand and putting it down on top of his on the table. 

“What?” she felt startled. She always had the wings when they came to this restaurant. They made her eyes water and her tongue was usually numb after but they were sooo good. 

“They’re so messy. You always get some on you,” he replied matter-of-factly as he gave her a half hug, pulling her against his body. “Not very lady like,” he added, kissing her temple and then turning back to the conversation he’d been having with her father but without removing his arm from where it possessively held her around her shoulders. 

Chelsea stared at the stacked menus.

“But I like the wings, they’re my favorite,” she reiterated. 

“I said another time,” he whispered, giving her shoulder a pat with his hand. 

“So now you’re ordering for me?” she snarled, still keeping her voice low but Shan and her Gran had both stopped talking and turned to look at them. She could feel Jimmy go still, feel him sit up straighter, his feather ruffled. But when he looked down at her, he was still smiling, though the smile wasn’t warm.

“I’m about to be your husband CeeCee, so yes, I am.” It wasn’t a suggestion. There was no thought at all. It was a statement of fact and the tone of his voice made it plain as day that there would be no discussion of the matter. This was just how it was.

Chelsea knew her mouth was hanging open, but she was so furious, so humiliated that she couldn’t think of a single retort.

“Well then I guess you don’t need me right now,” she whispered, pushing her chair back and getting to her feet.

“I’m right behind you,” she heard Shan say but she shook her head. Right now she was in no mood for smug ‘I told you so’s’ or more questions about why she was marrying him. Right now she wanted to just be alone.
Clutching her bag in both of her hands to stop herself from waving her hands in the air like a maniac as she muttered epithets under her breath, she stormed towards the bathrooms. As she weaved through the tables waiters and waitresses jumped out of her way. When she went to push the bathroom door open a woman coming out literally cringed as she looked at the expression on Chelsea’s face. 

By the time she stood at the counter staring back at her own countenance she was crying, fat bitter tears or self recrimination. 

Mike watched her storm away from the table and realized he was getting to his feet to go after her. He knew by the way her shoulders were hunched but her chin was up that her lanky cowboy had to have done or said something to upset her. That made him smile. He might not be good enough for her but Jimmy was a douche.
“What are you gonna say?” It was Nicky who tugged at Mike’s sleeve, stopping his forward momentum. Mike looked down into his friend’s round face and realized that he had no idea. He shrugged. 

“Dunno,” he admitted, “just have to try though right?” Nicky gave him an encouraging smile. 

“Good luck Greeny,” he said with a shake of his head. 

“Yeah, good luck Greener, you’re gonna need it,” Brooks muttered, lifting his glass to his lips, setting the ice in his glass clinking as he emptied the cheap scotch from it. 

“Thanks,” he replied and meant it. 

He took the long way around to the hallway she’d disappeared down. He didn’t want Jimmy or even her family seeing that he was following her. He didn’t know what she’d told them but he couldn’t imagine that it was very good. 

The hallway was empty and Mike found himself standing in front of the women’s bathroom wondering if he should wait, knock or just barge in. If he just went in, unannounced, she wouldn’t e able to say no which she could do if he knocked. But then again, if there was someone else in there, he could imagine the twitter feed now; ‘Pervert Mike Green peeks into women’s bathroom’. It would be all over the internet in an hour and he’d be getting a call from the club by morning. It was better to wait. 

He leaned against the opposing wall and tried to think of something else, something better to say when she came out. What he had to do was grovel, he knew that, but it wasn’t something he was used to doing. In fact, he didn’t think he’d done much grovelling, ever. He wasn’t sure where to start. 

He tried to think how guys did it in movies. He didn’t have a rose. There wasn’t a special song to play and he didn’t have a poem memorized. He was going to have to wing it. 

When she emerged her eyes were red rimmed and the tip of her nose was red and Mike’s hands curled into fists. He heard himself growl like an angry bear about to charge and she looked up from stuffing tissues back into her bag and stared at him, owl eyed. Her mouth formed his name but no sound came out. 

“What did he say?” Mike asked. She blinked at him and frowned like she didn’t understand what he was saying, as if he was speaking another language. “What did Jim bob say to you that made you cry?” he hissed at her. She ducked her head to one side and shook her head so that her hair fell in front of her face. 

“Nothing,” she mumbled. “It’s just nerves, jitters, whatever.” He knew she was lying and it made him grind his teeth together. 

“I will take him outside and kick his fucking ass, just say the word,” he offered, his chest filling, puffing out as he thought about mashing his knuckles into that smug fucker’s face. She glanced up at him through the flaming waterfall of her hair and smiled. 

“I know you would Mike, but I don’t need you to, honest,” she added, taking a deep breath and squaring her shoulders. “What are...what are you doing here?” she asked, looking around as if it had just occurred to her that maybe he was here with a date, that maybe he was waiting her for his date to come out of the bathroom. 

“Just with Brooks and Nicky,” he told her quickly. “You look like you’re having a family thing,” he added, trying to keep her talking. 

“Um..well, yeah, kind of,” she admitted and then he saw her glance down at her hand. She spread the fingers of her left hand out and then curled them into a fist and put her hand down at her side. If she thought she’d been hiding the ring, it was too late for that. 

“Is this some kind of engagement party?” The word tasted like bitterest poison on his tongue. He kept his hands curled into fists at his side to stop himself from reaching out, grabbing her hand and ripping that ring off.

“Ummm, no, not exactly,” she mumbled, shifting from one foot uneasily to the other. “We just came from the rehearsal,” she added in hesitant tone as she stared at her feet. He opened his mouth to say something funny about choir practice and then his brain caught up and he swallowed the stupid words he’d almost spoken out loud. 

“, this weekend?” he asked, his pulse suddenly doubling, his blood rushing loud in his ears. He felt queasy and unsteady on his feet. He thought, just maybe, he was going to pass out.

“Saturday afternoon,” she told him, her words barely above a whisper.


Mike gaped at her like she’d said something truly unbelievable and suddenly Chelsea couldn’t look at him, as if she had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. 

“Why the rush?” Mike asked, his cheeks filling before he blew out a breath as if he was trying to calm himself down. She noticed he’d stuffed his hands into jeans and that he was digging the toe of his shoe into the carpet like a little kid standing in the principal’s office. 

“It was going to be this weekend...before...,” her voice trailed away. ‘How do you say before you, before I went crazy and lost my mind’, she wondered as he looked up at her expectantly. “Anyway, it turns out Jimmy never cancelled the booking so...,” she shrugged. A few days ago it had seemed like fate, like Jimmy had had so much faith in her that he hadn’t given up. But now, suddenly things didn’t seem as clear cut.  

“So you’re just gonna marry him, even though he doesn’t make you happy? Even though just a little while ago you told me that you couldn’t see yourself living on the ranch forever?” Chelsea felt herself squirming as the focus of his pleading gaze. “Look, even if it’s not me… does it have to be him?” 

“You just don’t know him,” she muttered. She felt like she’d been saying that an awful lot. “God, that sounds like I’m defending him,” she added with a deep sigh. 

“It kinda does,” he replied, sounding a little weary. 

“I should get back.” She clutched her purse in both hands and shuffled her feet. She knew she shouldn’t be there, shouldn’t be talking to him, but somehow she was reluctant to leave. 

“Don’t do it.” The plea was uttered so quietly that she barely heard it but if she’d thought that she was imaging it, when she looked up at him, the plea was there in his dark eyes. “Please,” he added, as if it wasn’t clear that he was all but begging on his knees. 

“Mike I...I have to go back. They’ll be wondering where I am,” she whispered and turned to go. She’d only taken a step or two before she felt his hands on her shoulders. 

“If...if you change your strings or anything, but I’ll be there. You just have to call.” Chelsea closed her eyes and fought the urge to lean back against him, knowing he’d wrap his arms around her and knowing, if he did that, there would be no going back to the table and Jimmy.

“I have to go,” she whispered, and with a deep breath she squared her shoulders and walked away from him.


  1. This is like slow torture -- I'm dying here!!! Mike should have grabbed her and held her tight. She would have left with him then. How many times is he going to let her walk away? Jimmy is scary, definitely not the right guy for Chelsea. Another great update!!

  2. OMFG!!! wow is all i can say.

  3. WOW!controlling much. i wasn't sure about jimmy in the beginning but i always loved mike but now i am sure that i hate jimmy. he doesn't deserve her. at least mike loves her the way she is and isn't trying to control her life. make sure she ends up with mike. PLEASE!!!!!!! and please update soon