Alight [Completed]

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Chapter 40 - Melody

It had been a month.

It had been the longest damn month of my life. I felt dead inside. I wondered if my heart was still beating, sometimes. If I had it in me to keep going, most days.

I was the one who’d sent him away, right after he told me that he loved me. Where was the logic in that? Was I the girl who’d gone and made the biggest mistake of her life, giving up the love of her life?

Knox had made mistakes - lots of them. But so had I. Neither of us was perfect. And as much right as I had to resent him before, as much right he had to resent me right now. Because I’d gone and threw his declaration of love back in his face. What the hell had I done in a moment of blind passion? This love for him was making me crazy, and I was miserable as hell right now.

And even though I told him not to call, I kept staring at my phone. I missed his calls first thing in the morning. It hurt inside my heart, with every single dull thud. Waking up, feeling this hollowness inside my chest every day was excruciating, because I already knew I wouldn’t be hearing his voice.

The days felt so long and empty. I went through all the motions. Going to class, submitting assignments. Going into the office where I took a position at my dad’s firm part-time. Trying to forget by working long hours. Eating. Trying to sleep, although those dreams were back. Somehow they weren’t as vivid as they were before. But they always ended the same. With me feeling this dull ache inside my chest, feeling his hand slipping away from me, and waking up in a cold sweat.

I wondered what he was doing, every second. I wondered if he’d be back, like he said he would. But most of all, I wondered if we could salvage this love that we had. This love that hurt so much right now, but that had the power to take me right to heaven again within one second flat.

Hailey and I were at Aria’s house. It was a month before her wedding to Austin, and she looked radiant and happy. She looked like absolutely everything I didn’t feel inside. She looked the kind of happy I’d felt when I was with Knox. She looked like a firework, her smile so vibrant that it could light up the night sky.

And even though I was running on empty inside, this was a special time for her, and I didn’t want to spoil it. So I pasted on a smile and pretended that I didn’t feel dead inside.

“We have the final fitting of your dresses on Thursday. I hope you don’t hate it? I know that bridesmaid dresses are usually hideous, but I’m hoping you’re comfortable in it?” Aria asked, pre-wedding nerves clearly starting to get to her.

“It’s gorgeous, Ar. I absolutely love it,” I reassured her, and her smile immediately lit up the room again.

“Thank you, Mel. And you, Hailes?” Ar looked at Hailey with a slight frown, because we both knew that Hailey could be quite particular with what she wore.

“It’s lovely, Aria. You have great taste, hence why I’m missing having you at home,” Hailey teased, and Aria laughed.

“You mean you miss stealing my clothes?”

“Not stealing - borrowing. It’s a compliment, really. It means I think highly of your taste in fashion,” Hailey defended herself, and we all laughed.

It felt good to spend time with my two sisters like this. It almost felt like old times, when Aria was still living with us. And even though I missed her, I was so incredibly happy for her too, because it was clear that the kind of love and happiness she’d found was the kind of love most people could only dream about. Her fiancé worshipped the ground that she walked on, and he was quite the catch himself. Handsome, talented, famous, and so in love with her that it seemed as though they were the only two persons in the world when they so much as looked at each other.

But as happy as I felt for Aria, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I wasn’t slightly jealous of what she had. Because I wanted that.

“Do you have a date sorted for the wedding, Hailes?” Aria interrupted my train of thought, and my attention shifted back to the conversation again.

Hailey sighed, looking sad again. “No, not yet. I haven’t asked anyone. I’m not really interested in seeing people right now.”

And without her saying a word, I knew she was still trying to get over Connor. And didn’t I know exactly what that felt like? When your heart hurt so much that you couldn’t even fathom seeing anyone else?

Aria had a look of sympathy on her face.

“I could... try to help you out, you know? I could ask Austin if Curtis has a date organized yet...” she suggested, but before Hailey could respond, Austin walked into the room with a broad smile.

“Did I hear my fiancée saying my name?”

Aria jumped up and ran into his arms, and he embraced her, kissing her right in front of us like we weren’t even there.

“You’re back! I’ve missed you!” Aria said, still hanging onto Austin like he was her lifeline.

“Glad to see you missed me. I missed you too, love. A lot. Next time, just skip the wedding dress fitting and come with me, okay? It’s about priorities, Ar,” he teased.

“Promise,” Aria smiled as they kissed again.

And just watching them made my heart hurt and feel happy at the same time. Because I wanted so desperately to have that...

“How’s the wedding planning going?” He asked as he let her go, smiling at Hailey and me.

“Great,” we all said simultaneously, and he nodded.

“Austin - Hailey was just saying that she hasn’t organized a date for the wedding yet. Do you know if Curtis has something sorted as yet?” Aria asked, and Austin’s eyebrows rose.

“Do you want to set little sis up with Curtis?”

“Just for the wedding. I was thinking it would work well, because they’re both in the bridal party,” Aria explained, and Austin nodded.

“I’ll call him and find out. Last time I heard, he was still procrastinating. I’ll be back in a minute.”

He gave Aria another kiss then left the room to go make a call.

"Shit, this is embarrassing - I can’t even get a date for my sister’s wedding; how desperate must that sound to someone like Curtis Chandler?” Hailey placed her hands over her face, looking flustered.

“On the plus side, imagine turning up with a date like Curtis Chandler. That’s completely acing the wedding date challenge,” I said dryly, and we all started to laugh.

“Is Connor going?” Hailey asked, averting her eyes.

“Yes, he has RSVP’d. He’s bringing a plus-one,” Aria confirmed gently.

“I think it would be great if Hailes turned up with Curtis Chandler,” I said, my smile broadening, just imagining Connor’s reaction to my sister turning up with an extremely handsome, talented celebrity who was also one of Austin’s best friends and bandmate. I had a suspicion that he’d be hard-pressed containing his jealousy, because I knew very well that he was still trying to suppress his feelings for her.

And just then, Austin walked back into the room, smiling broadly.

“He’s in. The moment I mentioned that she’s Ar’s sister, he said yes,” he sounded amused.

“Yes!” Aria smiled. “Great work, fiancé,” she winked at Austin.

“I always do great work when I’m inspired, Ar, as you know,” he said dryly but gave her a look that spoke volumes.

“What about you, Mel?” Aria frowned, turning her attention to me. “I have you down as bringing a plus-one. Are you still bringing Knox?”

My sisters knew what had happened by now. They knew the whole ugly story about how I sent him away, right after he declared his love for me. Hailey thought I’d made the same mistake she did, and that I’d lost the love of my life by being stubborn and proud. Aria didn’t say much, because she didn’t want to judge, but she looked at me with so much sadness and pity in her eyes.

“I’m not bringing anyone else. I’ve given him two months; he said he’d be there,” I shrugged, but deep inside, it hurt. Deep inside, that doubt was gnawing away at my insides. Was he really going to turn up, out of the blue, after two months of us not even talking to each other?

Aria looked apprehensive, but she nodded diplomatically. “Okay. Just thought I’d check. Let me know if you need help, Mel, because from what I’ve heard, Austin’s brother hasn’t sorted himself out yet, either.”

Austin smirked. “At this stage, the best man might turn up without a date.”

I smiled at both of them. “Thanks, but I’ll be fine.”

Because the fact was, I’d made Knox a promise, and I was sticking to that, even though with every passing day, the doubt and fear were killing me more and more inside...

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