Strong Woman

**Skye's wedding day isn't exactly the stuff fantasies are made of but with strength of spirit and a few good friends, she manages to make it through… A one shot I just came up with on the cuff. Hope you like it!**


Skye wouldn't cry. She wouldn't allow it. She just had to remind herself that she was strong; that she was too strong to collapse to her knees now and rail at the heavens over the unfairness of it all. She wouldn't let this break her, especially because some part of her had known that it was all too easy, somehow. In hindsight, she'd never really believed that it would actually last.

"Thank you for telling me, Ric," Skye said. Her voice was a little shakier than she'd have liked it to be, but her hands were steady, her head was held high, and she wasn't tearing up.

"Skye, are you alright?" Ric asked. "Maybe I shouldn't have told you but -"

"I'm glad you did. I don't ever want to be made fool of again. You just saved me from a repeat humiliation so I have to thank you."

Ric looked taken aback. "Are you - are you actually thanking me for blowing up your life?"

Skye shook her head. "No, you might have just saved my life, believe it or not. My daughter's too. We can walk away now, before this can hurt us any worse... Now if you'll excuse me, I have to speak to the groom-who-won't-be."

Skye stepped around Ric, feeling his eyes following her as she moved for the bank of elevators along the far wall. She pressed the button to call for the elevator and waited for what seemed like an interminably long time before the double doors sluiced open, allowing her entrance. Lifting her long, lacy train, she carefully stepped inside the elevator car and pushed the button for the nineteenth floor. The penthouses. The honeymoon suite.

As the elevator carried her upwards, thoughts flip-flopped around inside of her head. She felt surprisingly calm, given the circumstances.

A ping announced her arrival. Taking a deep breath, she walked off the elevator and headed right for the door of Suite 1901. She didn't know if she should knock or not but decided in the end that she didn't have the patience to wait. She wanted to get this over with. She wanted to get it over with right now.

She pushed back the door. "Jax?" She called, walking inside, ignoring the opulent surroundings, the huge fruit basket, the bottle of wine chilling in a bucket, the look of the soft, white silk sheets on the four-poster bed.

"Skye?"
Jax said, coming out of the bathroom, his tuxedo shirt only half-buttoned. A puzzled expression creased his brow. He really was so handsome. Too handsome actually - much too good to be true. He smiled, a little nervously, she thought. "What are you doing up here? Isn't it bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the ceremony?"

Skye couldn't stop the little chuckle that left her lips. "What's so funny?" Jax asked.

"You are," Skye said. "You know I don't believe in those silly superstitions. We make our own luck, our own destiny… And I'll be honest with you right now… I am choosing my own path; one that completely leads away from yours."

Jax coughed. In fact, it sounded like he was choking on his own tongue. "Ex-excuse me?"

"I know, Jax."

"Know what?"

"I know about you and Carly. I know about last night."

"Skye-"

"Please. Please respect me enough not to lie about it."

Jax sighed. "Who told you?"

"It doesn't matter," Skye said. "I am just glad that I know now."

Jax started towards her. "Skye, I'm so -" She held up her hand to stop him.

"Don't say you're sorry, Jax. Please don't."

"Skye, I didn't mean to hurt you."

"You never do."

"Come on, Skye. Please. Yes, I slept with Carly but it didn't - it didn't mean anything. We just got a little tipsy, started to reminiscence about the past… She was upset because Sonny went back to Brenda... I was just trying to comfort her."

"Is that what you're calling it?" Skye realized that she sounded snippy and she lowered her voice. She wouldn't let him get a rise out of her; wouldn't let him see how he had hurt her once again. She held her shoulders back, meeting his eyes. "Nevermind. I just came up here to tell you that the wedding is off."

Jax scoffed. "You can't mean that."

"I can and I do," Skye said.

"Skye, I love you," Jax proclaimed. "I honestly do. Please believe that."

"You don't know what real love is, Jax. You only know how to love yourself and I am sorry it took me so long to figure that out."

"Don't say that. Please don't say that. It was a mistake. A horrible mistake. I swear I'll do whatever it takes to make it up to you. We can get past this, Skye. I know we can." He reached for her and she allowed him to touch her arm for a brief moment. His touch turned her cold though and she pulled away. She worked the engagement ring off of her finger. The diamond glistened in the light. It was huge and flashy but she realized it meant nothing to Jax in the long run. It was without substance because he could always buy another for someone else.

She held it out to him. "Take it. It's yours."

"Skye, no. Don't do this. You'll regret this. You'll be sorry for running away. You know you will be once you've calmed down."

"The only thing I regret, Jax, is giving you another chance to humiliate me after so many other times. No, I don't even regret that as much as I regret the fact that I told my daughter we were going to be a family."

"We still can be."

"No, we can't. You've hurt me so many times, Jax, that I am … I am almost numb to it. But my daughter is not. She's young and vulnerable and she adored you. I have to break her heart and tell her you're not going to be her new daddy after all."

"You don't have to hurt Lila Rae like this."

"I know I'd be hurting her even worse if I married you and you inevitably got restless and walked out on us. I will never let Lila Rae go through that kind of pain."

"I won't walk out. Not again. I promise."

"I can't take that chance." Skye held out the ring again. He shook his head. "Take it," she said. "I don't need it anymore."

"You love me, Skye. You've always loved me and if you walk out that door-"

"No, Jax, I think I just loved the man I thought you were."

Jax shook his head and Skye reached for his hand, prying open his fingers and setting the ring atop his palm. She then curled his fingers around it. "In spite of everything, I don't hate you. I actually wish you happiness."

Skye then turned around and headed for the door. Jax called after her but she didn't turn around. She slipped out into the hallway and headed back towards the elevators. When she reached the first floor, Ned and Olivia came rushing over to her.

"Skye, are you alright?" Ned asked. "Ric told us you went to see Jax about something. He wouldn't say what but he thought you might need some moral support."

Skye shook her head. "I am not upset … At this moment, I feel pretty free actually."

"So I take it there's not going to be a wedding today?"

"Not for me anyway," Skye said. "But I would really hate for all of the hard work you two put into making this day special go to waste so … why don't you two just go for it?"

"What?" Olivia's eyes went impossibly wide.

"Cousin?" Ned said. "What exactly are you suggesting here?"

"I think you know. You're already engaged. You're madly in love. Why don't you - you know, carpe diem the hell out of this day; throw caution to the wind and get married?"

Olivia's eyebrows shot up to her hairline. She looked at Skye as if she had sprouted another head. "Skye…"

"You planned every last, minute detail of this day, Olivia. It's like your own dream wedding and why should all of that tireless preparation, not to mention, the tons of food and cake, go to waste?"

"You're serious, aren't you?" Ned said.

"Yes. And don't worry. I'm not going crazy. I haven't touched a drop of alcohol either. I just want some good to come out of this day. Get married, you two. Why wait another minute when you're so obviously meant for each other?"

Ned and Olivia looked at each other. "This is crazy!" Olivia said. "I mean… isn't it?"

"It's certainly not the norm, no, but then we're exactly not your average couple," Ned pointed out.

Olivia chuckled. "You're so right about that."

Ned turned to his fiancee, taking her tiny hands in his. "Olivia Falconeri, would you do me the honor of becoming my wife today?"

"Oh, Ned, I … I can't…" Skye watched her cousin's face fall. "Not unless... Skye agrees to be my maid of honor."

Ned turned to look at his cousin, desperation shining in his eyes. "Skye, I know it's a lot to ask but-"

"I'd be happy to," Skye said. "I just need a little time alone with my daughter to try to explain what's going on."

"Of course, of course. Take all the time you need, honey," Olivia said. She threw her arms around Skye in a tight bear hug. "Thank you. Thank you so much."

"You're welcome," Skye replied.

Xoxoxo

The ceremony had turned out beautifully, if Skye did say so herself. She had finally cried but only when Ned and Olivia said their heartfelt vows. They had been happy tears for once. She now sat with Lila Rae on her lap as her little girl shoved a handful of cake into her mouth. She nuzzled her soft, dark hair with her cheek. "I love you, baby girl," she said.

Lila Rae stopped shoveling cake and turned to look at her Mom. "I love you too, Mommy."

"You're not too upset about Jax and me not getting married, are you?"

Lila Rae's shoulders slumped a bit. "A little bit, but I know you'll find somebody else to love you, Mommy. I know it."

Skye just smiled and Lila Rae went back to chowing down. Skye looked up as she felt an intense gaze fall upon her. She shivered in spite of herself as she noticed Ric standing across the ballroom, watching her. He lifted his glass in a salute to her.

"Lila Rae, I'm just going to go right over there and talk to Mr. Lansing for a minute okay?" she said. "You'll stay right here?"

Lila nodded, mumbling "mmm yes", around a mouthful of sweetness.

Skye gently lifted her daughter off her lap and crossed the room to Ric. "Some party right?" She said.

He nodded. "Yes." He offered her a smile. "It was nice of you to give away your wedding day to your cousin. I don't know anyone else who would have done that."

Skye shrugged. "They're in love. They deserved this."

"And you loved Jax…"

"I did… Once upon a time anyway. I think I kept taking him back because I was afraid to be alone, but not anymore. I have Lila Rae and my family and my friends …"

"I can honestly say I didn't expect this reaction from you when I told you what I saw."

"Why did you tell me about Jax and Carly anyway?" Skye asked.

"Do I need an ulterior motive?"

Skye smirked. "Don't you always have one?"

"Touche ... " Ric sombered noticeably. "I guess … Believe it or not, I didn't want to see you get made a fool of. And I knew Jax didn't deserve you or Lila Rae in his life."

"Thank you for saying that."

"It's true. You're a great woman, Skye - strong, vibrant, beautiful … You could do so much better than that Aussie snake... But all of that said, I am sorry if I hurt you."

"You didn't. You were just trying to be a good friend to me."

"Is that what we are? Friends?"

Skye nodded. "I hope so."

And maybe, just maybe, someday, something more, she added silently, surprising the hell out of herself.

"Skye, would you dance with me?"

Skye nodded. "Sure."

Ric held out his hand to her and she took it in hers, her small fingers disappearing in his much larger ones. A warmth spread from her fingertips up all of the way up her arm. She smiled as their eyes met once again.

"Shall we?" Ric asked.

"Yes," Skye said and together they walked hand and hand out onto the dance floor.

THE END.