Did you ever feel like your life took a left turn somewhere and you weren't quite sure what happened?
I thought I knew exactly who I was, where I was going, and what I wanted. Even if my life wasn't exactly normal, it was mine, and I didn't shy away from self-examination.
I am getting married tomorrow, and tonight I kissed a man who is not my fiancÚ. Suddenly, my world seems to have tipped on its axis.
I love Max; I do. I've known since our first kiss that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. I saw stars - literally. Even if I didn't always act like it, and other things came between us, I truly believed that Max was my soul mate.
Then, why did I kiss Michael? Why did my insides melt and my world turn upside down?
He has become one of my closest friends. I never thought that would happen either. He is actually surprisingly easy to talk to and incredibly insightful. Lots of people underestimate him. Especially Max.
We've spent a lot of time together, especially since Maria started making time with Kyle a few weeks back - with Michael's blessing, of course. She told me it was a case of them working better in theory than in practice. She loved Michael, but all of this enforced togetherness was going to make her kill him if she didn't get some space. Apparently, Buddhist Boy gives her plenty of space. Either that or DeLuca women are predisposed to like Valenti men. That's really beside the point, though. Michael's single status and Max being Max meant that we spent a lot of time together.
That eventually led to shared confidences and jokes that no one but the two of us got. Sometimes we would be so in synch that everything would fade away, but us - until we noticed the stares and charged silences around us.
Maria started to give me that strange, speculative look that she gets when she thinks I'm keeping a secret from her. I guess Max must have thought that something was up too. We were going to wait until the spring to get married, but last week at our Labor Day picnic on the beach, he announced that he didn't want to wait anymore. We were going to Vegas next, to get married.
We celebrated the rest of the night, but when I lay down next to him that night, all I could think was that he had never discussed is announcement with me. Maybe he was just being romantic. Now, I wonder if he was just being possessive. When we get married, will I be his queen in name only, or his true partner in life.
I guess it's kind of fitting that we ended up back in Vegas. Even more than its tacky wedding chapels, Las Vegas is known for its casinos, the gambling. Maybe they are one and the same. I am walking into that chapel tomorrow and placing everything on the line. Or am I?
Am I really thinking of not going through with this? It's the last call, I can't bluff, and everything is riding on how I play my hand. There is no way that everyone can win. That's the nature of the game. Someone has to lose. Is it in my nature to take what I want, to lay everyone's futures on the roll of the dice?
Is this really what I want? What if it's just pre-wedding jitters? I have never thought of not marrying Max before. Why now? What has changed?
Michael. He walked me back to my room tonight, while Kyle and Maria had hustled Max off in the other direction, invoking the superstition that it was bad luck for the groom and bride to see each other before the wedding. We had all laughed, but I should have known something was wrong by the excitement that fluttered in my stomach - not at the thought of marrying Max, but when I stood on the threshold of my room with Michael.
He took my key and opened the door, but held me there. He placed both hands on my face and told me that he wanted to kiss the bride, before Liz Parker became Mrs. Liz Evans.
I smiled at the sentiment and let him. I even kissed him back, and the chaste kiss between friends became an electric entity in and of itself. A glowing power arced between us and the lights in the hallway all blew, sending down a shower of sparks. We stood there, so close, until the sparks faded away and the only light was the red glow of the emergency exit.
He caressed my face and then stepped away. He said, "Good night, Liz Parker, " and walked away.
Why? Why did this happen now? Why did he leave?
I know why he left. He left because in a few hours I am marrying his friend, his brother, his king. He left because he is used to sacrificing his own needs and wants for others. So am I.
He left because it is the right thing to do. Will I stay away for the same reason?
It's the last call. It's time to put my cards on the table and let the chips fall where they may.
Hearts are wild.