The Light We Lost (Page 25)

I had all the girls wearing yellow because it felt like a happy color, and Darren and I wanted everything to be happy at our wedding. As happy as we were. No one else made me laugh like Darren did. No one else could turn a day of storm clouds and hurricanes into sunshine and clear blue skies. So maybe it was actually fitting that our wedding day was overcast—because marrying him made it seem sunny. He made the future seem sunny.

I even carried a bouquet of sunflowers—not very subtle, I know. I posted pictures on Facebook—so many people did that I’m guessing you already knew about the sunflowers. I didn’t invite you, though. It didn’t seem right. And I hadn’t seen you at all that year. I’d e-mailed you about my engagement and you went silent, didn’t let me know when you were in town, but I saw you on Adam’s Facebook page, a picture of you, him, Justin, and Scott under a status update that said: The boys are back in town! I felt a pang when I saw that photo, but I remember thinking then that it was better we hadn’t seen each other, better we’d slipped out of each other’s lives.

Darren’s and my wedding was at the Boathouse in Central Park. Our borough, I know, yours and mine, but I wasn’t thinking about that when we booked it. My mom had been pushing for Connecticut, his parents had suggested Jersey, and Darren had thought Montauk would be nice. But I wanted New York City, and something I learned is that the bride usually gets what she wants. And once we saw the Boathouse, in the park, right near running trails, Darren was happy. He even designed our save-the-date card, a photo of both of us, from the knees down, our feet clad in running shoes with a line that said: Whether you come by plane, train, car, or your own two feet, we can’t wait to have you join us for our wedding! I know, I know, you would’ve rolled your eyes if you’d gotten that in the mail. I don’t think you and Alina got far enough along in wedding planning to have a save-the-date card. But even if you had gotten that far, I can imagine you ignoring that custom completely.

The night before the wedding, I’d slept at my parents’ house in Connecticut, and had just woken up in my childhood bed when my cell phone rang. The number calling was long and clearly from outside the country. It could have been a few different people—Kate’s sister Liz, colleagues from the U.K. or Germany, where It Takes a Galaxy was doing almost as well as it was in the U.S.—but something told me it was you. I waited another ring, and another, and then decided to pick up. I thought maybe you were going to wish me good luck or something.

But you had no idea what day it was. Or at least not consciously. I’ve always wondered if somewhere in the back of your mind you knew. Someone must’ve told you. Or you must’ve seen it somewhere on Facebook. But perhaps not. Perhaps it was a coincidence.

“Luce?” you said.

“Gabe?” I asked.

“It’s me,” you said. “I’m sorry if I’m interrupting something. I know we haven’t talked in a while. But I . . . I needed you.”

I sat up in my Laura Ashley bed, my body reacting to your voice the way it always does, and leaned back against the pillows. “What’s wrong?” I asked, imagining explosions and wounds and missing limbs.

“Raina’s not a Pegasus,” you said.

I let out a breath. You weren’t hurt. You weren’t in pieces. At least not physically. I hoped not emotionally either. “What happened?” I asked.

“She met an aid worker. She liked him better. Said he was more available than I was. Am I unavailable, Luce?”

At first I wasn’t sure how to answer but then figured I might as well be honest. “I don’t know,” I said. “It’s been more than a year since we talked to each other. I don’t know you anymore.”

“Yes, you do,” you told me. “I’m the same. You know me better than anyone. I just . . . I need to know: Is Raina right about me?”

I couldn’t believe that I was psychoanalyzing my ex-boyfriend the morning of my wedding. “I think,” I said, choosing my words delicately, “that making yourself available means putting the relationship you’re in first. Not necessarily always, but often. It means making the decision that’s best for the two of you, as a unit, even if it means compromising a little individually. It means sharing everything. The Gabe I knew wasn’t interested in doing that.”

There was a long pause. “I guess I wasn’t,” you said, so quietly I almost couldn’t hear the disappointment in your voice. “I was hoping you’d say something different.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I think maybe today’s not the best day for this.”

“Is everything okay?” you said. “I should’ve asked first. If you want to talk about anything—”

“It’s just . . . today’s my wedding day.” I had trouble saying the words. Had trouble saying them to you.

“Luce,” you said, sounding like I’d slapped you. “You’re getting married today?”

“I’m getting married today,” I echoed.

“Oh,” you said. “S**t.” I remember that exactly. The way you said it, your intonation. Oh. S**t. Like each word was a complete sentence all its own.

I was quiet for a moment.

There was silence on your end too. And I felt bad. “It’ll be okay,” I said. “You’ll find another Pegasus.”

“What if—” You never finished the sentence, as if you were afraid to say it, or maybe it was that you were afraid for me to hear it.

“You will,” I said. Then quieter, “I should probably go.”

“Yeah,” you said. “I’m . . . I’m sorry I called.”

“No,” I told you, “don’t worry about it. It’s fine.”

“Sorry,” you said again.

We hung up, but of course I was thinking about you for the rest of the morning.

xlvii

Without waterproof mascara, I don’t think I would’ve been able to get through my wedding day. As I was getting dressed, as my hair was twisted into a chignon, as a nice woman named Jackie was applying concealer to my face, I kept thinking about you saying Oh. S**t. I kept hearing your unfinished sentence: What if—? I was sure Darren was what I’d wanted. I’d thought I was sure. Up until that moment, I was certain. And then you got me thinking.

When Jackie decided she was going to give up on the undereye liner because my eyes kept overflowing with tears, my mom asked everyone to clear out of the room.

“Just give us a moment,” she said, touching the pearls around her neck, as if there were a reservoir of strength in that family heirloom.

Once the room was empty, she leaned against the counter in the bridal suite. “Lucy,” she said. “What’s wrong?”

I didn’t want to admit the truth, that I was thinking about you on my wedding day, that I was questioning my decision.

“I guess I’m just emotional,” I said.

She looked at me hard, her icy eyes cutting through my lie, just the way they did when I was a kid. “Lucy,” she said, “I’m your mother. Whatever it is, you can tell me.”

So I told her something. I told her something I’d been worrying about for months, something I hadn’t admitted to anyone. “I think Darren loves me more than I love him,” I said.

She hugged me, but carefully, so my damp makeup wouldn’t rub off onto her champagne silk dress. “Oh, honey,” she said. “Relationships aren’t always equal. The balance is forever shifting. Who loves whom more, who needs whom more. Your relationship with Darren today won’t be the same even a year from now.”

She held me by my shoulders and pulled away so she could look into my eyes. “And I don’t think it’s so terrible if he loves you just a little more than you love him right now. Then you know he’ll treat you like a princess.”

I laughed and wiped my eyes. But she was still looking at me with that lie-detector expression. “There’s something else,” she said.

I looked down at my fingers, at the elegantly painted French manicure on my nails. “Gabe called this morning.”

“Gabe Samson?” my mother asked.

I nodded, my eyes welling with tears again. “What if he’s the man I’m supposed to be with, not Darren?”

My mom leaned back against the counter again and rubbed her pearls. She was quiet for a while. Then she spoke: “I want you to think, truly think, about the relationship you have with Darren and about the relationship you had with Gabe,” she said. “And I want you to think about who would be a better partner—a better father to your children. If you think the answer’s not Darren, you don’t have to get married today. Even if it’s not Gabe. If you think there’s someone else out there who would make you happier than Darren does, you can walk away. It won’t be easy, but you can do it. Just say the word and I’ll tell your father, he’ll tell the guests. But you won’t get to change your mind again. If you say good-bye to Darren today, that’s forever. I’ve seen how much the two of you care about each other and how much fun you have together. But if this doesn’t feel right, no one is making you marry him.”