Sitting up in their bed, pillows propped behind her back, Marissa Cooper, clad only in her boyfriend's favorite t-shirt due to the humidity of the May evening, sat working away diligently on her laptop, completely oblivious to how late it really was. The soft baby blue sheers coated the outside world in a gentle nothingness, blocking out the utter darkness created by the desolation of two in the morning. She didn't even feel tired. Perhaps she was too excited for what was to come that weekend, maybe her mind was too focused upon the task she was working on, or, yet, it could have simply been the fact that Ryan was not in bed with her.
Scrolling down the list of available apartments, her eyes scanned for one that would be perfect for the two of them, not too small, because they would be able to afford something much roomier than the tiny, economic flat they had shared the past two years they had been in grad school, but yet not too big because no one would be visiting them, so there was no need for a guest bedroom. Finding a historical loft with high ceilings, hard wood floors, and panoramic views of the city, she clicked on the extended information, and as more images appeared before her, she could picture them living here together, happily, perhaps even with a pet.
Content in her find after saving the page to her favorites list for later use, Marissa set her laptop aside and snuggled down into the silk sheets of their bed, a luxurious present she had gotten Ryan for Christmas the past year, she couldn't help but let her mind float over her life, seemingly perfect to the untrained, outside observer. She was in a steady, loving, passionate relationship with the same man she had fallen for years ago as fate brought them together at the end of a driveway and had been for the entire six years they had been in college together. After graduating two years before from Berkley with their undergraduate degrees, Ryan as an engineer with a design minor and Marissa with a double major in secondary education and psychology, they had moved in together while they went through their masters programs. Now a week before they would get their masters, they were both even in a wedding, Ryan as the best man and Marissa as the maid of honor, for their two closest friends from college.
In fact, that's where Ryan was. Out with the guys, she knew he would be extremely late as, per his best man duties, it was his responsibility to throw the bachelor party. With her help, he had planned a full day for the guys, starting with a baseball game for the afternoon, dinner at a cheesy, sleazy purely male restaurant where the women paraded around in skimpy outfits, a basketball game that night, and then, following their day of sports, they would spend the rest of the night at a gentlemen's club until the guys were drunk enough he could convince them to leave. Ryan had fought with her, claiming there was no reason to go through the traditional male bonding activity of strippers before a wedding, but she had laughed his complaints away and insisted, letting him know she didn't mind, that she trust him, and that he had to because Justin, the groom, expected it.
The bachelorette party she had organized was the following day, including a day long trip to a spa, dinner at an elegant restaurant, and a personal sex-toy party for the bride, wedding party, and their closest friends. Smiling to herself as she thought of the day to come, Marissa made a mental note to pick up a few treats for Ryan for being such a sport about the wedding festivities and not complaining….too much. The promise of getting to use said toys would be enough incentive that she would be able to get him to behave perfectly at both the rehearsal and the actual ceremony and reception.
Sighing loudly, she rolled over onto her side and looked at the bedside clock on her nightstand, noticing that the time was quickly approaching half past the hour. Closing her eyes, she sat up in bed, picked up her laptop, turned it off, and placed it carefully on her desk, before climbing back in the bed and rolling over to Ryan's side, letting the scent of his cologne relax her as she waited for him to arrive home. As her body slowly released the tension which had built up in it during the long, exhausting day, her mind continued to wander, leaving the seemingly perfect existence she shared with Ryan behind as it settled on the one worry, one problem they were facing. Ryan was moving to England for an amazing job, she wanted to go with him, and, in fact, had only applied to schools there, but he had yet to ask her to move with him.
Hearing the unmistakable sounds of Ryan coming home, she sat up in bed, a smile forming on her face as she listened to his predictable movements around their apartment, her concerns fluttering away for a moment. She heard the door close softly behind him as he walked in and the sound of the lock being turned so that they were protected while they slept. A soft clinking of keys, cell phone, and wallet could be heard as he put them down on the kitchen counter, a habit they had both formed after being disturbed one too many times while attempting to be alone with one another. This way, even if someone called, they would never hear their phones ring. Finally, the mechanical hum of the refrigerator made its way through their tiny flat as Ryan searched for a cold bottle of water. Laughing to herself, she literally counted the seconds, always fifteen, that it would take him to close the fridge and make his way into their room.
"Hey," she cooed out happily as she saw his face appear in their doorway, startling him slightly as he undoubtedly expected her to be asleep. Curling her finger, she beckoned for him to come to her, something he did willingly. Pulling him down to her level by grasping onto his shirt, Marissa kissed him tenderly, savoring the feeling of having him near her again but wrinkling her nose at his smell.
Returning their traditional greeting, he smirked at her appearance, eyes heavy with sleep as she fought to stay awake to see and talk to him. "Hey."
As he leaned down for another embrace, she pushed him away giggling, and motioning or him to go to the bathroom. "Uh huh," she teased, "none of that until you shower. You smell like cigarettes and cheap perfume."
Walking off in the direction she had pointed, he carelessly stripped off his simple t-shirt, tossing it aside into their clothes hamper, and grinned at her. "And I thought that was your favorite aphrodisiac," he played along, laughing at her disgusted expression. Disappearing into the bathroom, she heard the steady, lulling assault of the water from the shower within a minute as it beat down on his body. Settling down in the plush confines of their bed, Marissa decided that tonight would be the night when she would talk to him about England and their future.
An hour later, bodies completely satiated and relaxed, Marissa was curled up into Ryan's side, his arms holding her to his naked body tightly as she lazily drew random shapes and designs onto his still glistening chest. After he had emerged from the bathroom in only just a small towel, water droplets sprinkled generously on his toned, tanned body, the last thing Marissa had wanted to do was talk, so they had, instead, expressed themselves and their love for each other through the physical, making love, but now she wanted to talk.
Propping herself up on her elbow so she could look down on Ryan's face, Marissa gently smiled as she observed how innocent and peaceful he looked resting there with her beside him. His eyes were lightly shut, a grin angling the corners of his mouth upwards, the pleasure they had just experienced together still fresh on his mind. Bringing her free hand up to his face, she caressed his jaw, enjoying the feeling of the slight stubble forming on it.
"Ryan," she began hesitantly not wanting to push him too far too quickly and awaiting for a response from him to know that he was indeed listening.
Voice soft and deep, he answered her without opening his eyes. "Hm?"
"I um….I've been thinking, you know, about us and….our future, and I….well….you see, I guess,…" she began and slowly trailed off without saying anything comprehendible, startled when Ryan sat up in bed and brought her with him, his arms still around her vulnerable body.
"Marissa," he laughed at her nervous mumblings, "what is it? You can tell me anything, you know that."
"I just wanted to talk about my job, what I should do after next week," she finally forced out of her mouth so quickly that he could barely understand what she had said.
"Don't you want to be a guidance counselor," he asked her confused.
"Well, yeah," Marissa dismissed, "but that's not what I'm talking about. I…we need to figure out WHERE I should try to get a job."
Kissing her head, he chuckled at her worries before replying, "wherever you want. It's a pretty universal job. They need guidance counselors everywhere."
"What about you then," she pushed him, knowing that he did not understand what she was driving at. "Where do you want me to apply?"
As soon as she felt him pull away from her, moving across their bed onto his own side, his body tensing up before he spoke, she should have known that something was wrong. His eyes avoided hers, he was anxious, and his words curt. If she would have been focused upon watching him and observing his reactions, she would have realized he was scared, but she was too wrapped up in her own thoughts and concerns, his silent signs of fear went unnoticed.
"Marissa this isn't about me," he began harshly, his tone only becoming more forceful with every word he said to her. "This has nothing to do with me. This is about you needing to decide what is best for you."
"I know what's best for me," she shot back at him, her voice rising as well. "And how can you say this has nothing to do with you? We're supposed to be a couple; couples make decisions like this together."
Speaking to her in a deprecating manor as a father might to a wayward child, he slowly brought their seemingly perfect world down crashing around them. "Look, I can't do this, Marissa. You're a grown woman, 24 years old with a masters, I can't be making your decisions for you. I can't be your crutch."
"My crutch," she asked, confused and hurt. "What do you mean, you can't be my crutch?"
"Ever since I knew you, you've always had something to lean on, to depend on, an escape….a crutch," he explained none-too-gently. "Whether it was alcohol or lies or a friend you turned into your one woman rescue project, there's always been something, and I'm not going to be your next one. I'm not going to let you use me as your distraction from your responsibilities, your excuse to not get your life together."
Scrambling out of their bed before he could even comprehend that she was leaving it, Marissa ran to her dresser and pulled out a clean pair of pajamas, dressing herself quickly. Moving to their closet, she pulled out a small suitcase, making her way back to the chest of drawers as she rummaged through it for what she would need.
"Are you about finished," Ryan tiredly asked her. "Come back to bed. It's late, I'm exhausted, and I want to go to bed."
Ignoring him, she slammed her bag onto the bed and started tossing items of clothing into it, moving as a frenzied, possessed speed, unwilling to break down in front of him but also knowing the tears were coming soon whether or not she wanted them to.
"Marissa, what the hell are you doing," he yelled at her, finally making her eyes confront his. Once they did, her hurt and pain disappeared to be replaced with a white-hot steak of anger.
"What does it look like I'm doing," she answered him sarcastically. "I'm leaving you. I'm doing this Ryan, I'm not letting you put me down and belittle me to make yourself feel better about all your insecurities." Unable to concentrate on her packing, her bitter animosity over the hurtful words he had just spewed at her so unfeelingly came out in one terrifyingly painful rant. "I have done nothing, NOTHING, but love you these past six years, never once taking a drink, lying to you, or befriending wounded, needy men. I supported you in every decision you made, worked hard and made a success out myself, earning good grades and making new friends based upon who I truly was and not about how my family's prestige and status, and I have grown and matured so much while we've been in college. I'm no longer the needy, self-involved, confused teenager you met nine years ago. I am a strong, confident, beautiful woman who thought she had found someone who loved and supported her unconditionally, someone who wanted to be with her forever, but I guess I was wrong. So enjoy your life, Ryan. Enjoy England, enjoy your amazing job with Jaguar, designing what I know will be some of the top cars in the world, and enjoy your life, but I will not be in it."
Picking up her suitcase, she slipped on a pair of flip flops before turning back to face him one last time. "It's over Ryan. I'll be back after the wedding to pack up my things."
And with that, he let her leave, falling apart rapidly as he heard the door close softly behind her as she walked out of his life….perhaps for good. With one angry, fell swoop of his powerful arm, he sent everything on his desk crashing to the floor, not even caring as his bare feet walked over the shards of glass and broken metal on the ground as he made his way to what was now his closet, pulling out a pair of track pants, a wife beater, and tennis shoes, dressing quickly before grabbing his keys and leaving the apartment. He couldn't be there, not when she wasn't there any longer, and he ran and ran long into the morning thinking about he just destroyed the only thing in his life he really cared about.
Marissa had no idea how she had made it through the last week. Without a word about her personal drama, she had brilliantly performed all of her maid of honor duties while secretly staying in a hotel, entertaining the women during their bachelorette party festivities, helping the bride with her last minute preparations for the best day, smiled insincerely throughout the entire rehearsal, and had calmed the bride's nerves before settling into her own private room at the chapel to get dressed for the wedding and get ready for what was going to be the hardest day of her life.
The only thing that was positive about the day was that she actually liked her bridesmaid dress. A dark lilac, the strapless gown with a fishtail back fit snugly on her body, hugging her perfect curves and complimenting her beauty. As the wedding was a day one, her makeup was light, airy, subtle, gently highlighting her flawless facial features. Hair upswept in a delicate, elegant up-do, tiny tendrils of curls framing her face, she looked like an angel….an angel about to enter her own personally created hell.
In less than a half an hour, she would have to walk up the church aisle towards the man she loved more than anything, the man who had hurt her deeply just three short days before. In a way it was as if she would be walking towards him as fate laughed and mocked her, because now she would never actually get to do that as the bride while he was her groom, something she had dreamed of for almost nine years. The humiliation did not end there though.
She would have to walk back down the aisle following the ceremony on his arm and appear as if she was actually happy about doing so, posing for the audience in the play they would be performing in as a happy couple, not wanting their own personal drama to ruin the most important days of their friends' lives. She would have to pose for pictures with him. She would have to sit beside him at the bridal party table. She would have to dance in his arms as the bridal party all joined the happily married couple on the dance floor. She would have to help him decorate the limo for the drive to the airport. She would have to carry on polite conversation with hundreds of people, saying pleasantries and smiling back at theirs while all the while wanting to crawl up in her bed and cry herself to sleep. She would have to love him at a distance, silently, privately, alone.
Taking one last glance in the mirror, frowning at her flawless appearance, she applied the finishing touch to her outfit, her smile, small and phony, before picking up her bouquet of lilacs, lilies, and crocuses and making her way out of the small room and into the hallway that would lead her to the chapel.
Ryan did not listen to a word of the ceremony, his mind working feverishly as he went over the plan he had come up with over the past three days while battling his self-inflicted rage, sleepless nights, and a broken heart. With bloodshot eyes, due to a lack of rest, he watched the only thing he could think about, dream about as she struggled through her duties as maid of honor, convincing the audience behind them that she was content and at peace but failing to mask her absolute misery from him, misery he caused by being a coward.
He knew what he was about to do was selfish, putting her in the precarious position and disregarding the fact that he was supposed to be there to support the groom and not win back the love of his life, but he could care less. It was now or never, and Ryan could not imagine spending one more night without her with him. Determined, he was going to make this right with her, apologize and solidify their relationship once and for all.
Quietly, Ryan had made his way through the ceremony, the walk back down the aisle with her on his arm, posing for pictures, and the meal, never once saying a word to her. He couldn't yet, and it seemed as if it was easier for her anyway if he acted that way. His plan was intricate and depended upon her being in his arms while they danced during the bridal party dance to a song he had mischievously tricked the groom into choosing at the last minute despite the fact that it was a rather untraditional and bewildering choice for a couple's first dance. He wanted….no he needed it for symbolic reasons. He had told her for the first time all those years ago that he loved her while they had danced to that song, and, this afternoon, as he held her again in his arms, he was going to once again declare his love, undying this time, and ask her to stay with him forever.
Sensing that she was becoming anxious, Ryan did not let Marissa out of his sight when the time approached for the couple's first dance, a dance that would lead to the entire bridal party sharing the floor with them. The last thing he needed was for her to somehow slip off unnoticed. Then what would he do. As the dance was announced and the groom led the bride out onto the floor, he watched her intently to see her reaction when the song started. She did not disappoint.
Unbidden, as the first twinkling strains of the song filled the resplendent ball room, Marissa's eyes sought out Ryan's, at first confused, but as his eyes met hers, holding them in an unwavering stare, he could tell that she knew he had orchestrated the song choice and that something important was about to happen. Offering his hand to her as the dj called for the best man and maid of honor to join the married couple on the dance floor, he gently led her to a quite, secluded portion of the room where they could be with just the other.
Using his strength, he pulled her to him, not letting her stand far away and dance as if they were strangers instead of two people who had been as intimate with each other as two people could be. Wrapping his right arm around her waist tightly, possessively, he cupped her left hand over his heart, entwining their fingers after kissing her palm gently, eliciting a soft gasp from Marissa.
"I love you," he began, his voice strong, confident, yet barely audible as his words were meant for her ears alone. For once in his life, when it was the most important, Ryan was able to formulate what he wanted to say in his mind and translate it into verbal declarations, surprising no one more than himself. Although what he said came out effortlessly, it did not seem contrived or practiced but genuine and instinctive.
"I'm so sorry, Marissa. What I said to you was unfair and wrong, but it had nothing to do with me not loving or respecting you but my own insecurities and fear. In less than two months I'm to leave for a foreign country where I very well may live for the rest of my life. Sure, the job is an amazing opportunity, but I could care less about it if you're not with me, and now, here we are, broken up and further apart than we've perhaps ever been because of what I said to you. You have never used me, and you never have, and if anyone has treated the other like a crutch over the years, it has been me of you. Not as an escape, but I'm used your past mistakes, the drinking, the lying, the issues with your friends, things that I know you haven't done in years, as a way to push you away, a crutch to keep myself protected, an excuse to not let you in all the way, and look at where it's gotten me. I've pushed you away, hurt you, this amazing, gorgeous, caring, giving woman who has done nothing but be there for me since the day I met her, all because I was afraid to ask you to stay with me, to be with me. If you can't forgive me, if you can't see past what I said to you, how I treated you, I'll understand, but I cannot let you go without a fight, Marissa, so," he stopped briefly, taking a deep breath and letting go of her body to hold onto her face, wiping away the silent tears rolling down her tender, delicate cheeks with the pads of his thumbs, "will you come with me to London, will you make your life with me there….forever?"
Leaning into his body, Marissa's hands found their way to his face as well, holding it hesitantly at first as she took his mouth in a gentle, committing embrace, silently answering his request in the language they both knew so well: passion.
Sneaking out of the main room, Ryan and Marissa made their way to the coatroom where they assumed no one would be seeing that it was a balmy May afternoon in California with no reason for anyone to wear a coat. They were wrong. Confronted with a bored, nosey distant relative of the bride's who was eager to find out why the maid of honor and best man were ducking out of the wedding early, she came right out and asked them what they were doing. Luckily, Ryan, perhaps still in plan mode, was able to think of a plausible excuse for their wayward actions, picking up the supplies to decorate the limo before leaving quickly as he ran outside holding Marissa's hand the entire time.
Opening the door for her, Ryan helped her into the car, bending over and kissing her hand playfully as if she were a princess and making Marissa blush and giggle like a teenage girl with an intense infatuation. After shutting the door, he went to the front of the car, knocking on the driver's window before sending him inside to enjoy himself so that he and Marissa could be alone. Finally, bags of decorations still in hand, Ryan got inside of the limo with her.
Putting the supplies on the far seat, he sat down beside Marissa, their bodies not touching, and merely watched her face for several moments, relishing in the fact that he could, once again, follow her with his eyes freely, her blush from before only deepening. Unable to restrain himself any longer, Ryan finally reached over and gently lifted Marissa off of the seat, placing her carefully in his lap.
Kissing the back of her neck, his hands found their way to her hair as he carefully pulled out all of the pins holding it up, letting it cascade freely once again down her back. His touch sent shivers down her spine. Pushing her hair aside so that the long, luminous blonde layers fell over her right shoulder, he moved his fingers to the back zipper of her dress, painstakingly slowly releasing it as the dress melted off the top of her body.
Taking matters into her own hands, Marissa barely lifted her hips off of his lap, moving them back and forth as she shimmied the rest of the dress off of her body, letting it fall into a pile on the floor of the limo, not caring what it looked like later. Turning around so that her legs were wrapped around either side of his torso, she slid his jacket off of his shoulders, tossing it aside as soon as it was free of his body before turning her attention to shirt. She removed his tie quickly but took her time on his shirt, opening it button by button, punctuating each movement with a lingering, teasing kiss of his lips. Unclasping his belt and pants, she languidly moved off of his lap and settled down into the seat of the car, resting her bare, silky smooth, lithe legs across his lap as she waited for him to remove his pants and join her.
Not disappointing her, Ryan made quick work of disposing of the rest of his clothes, kicking his shoes and socks off before slipping his pants and boxer-briefs down to their pile of clothes as well. Moving away from her briefly, he pulled out a box of condoms from the bag of supplies for the limo decorations before sitting back down on the seat with the waiting and wanting Marissa.
Tenderly, he picked up her right leg, removing her expensive stiletto before trailing feverish, desire filled kisses from the ankle to the inside of her thigh, pausing briefly to plant a delicate caress of his lips over the purple, satin thong she was wearing, before giving the same treatment to her left leg. Reaching her core again, this time he moved his hands to her lips, grasping hold of her panties as she lifted her body for him to remove them. Lowering his mouth to her once again, he this time kissed her bare body. Sliding his lips up her abdomen until he reached her strapless, matching bra, his mouth embraced the exposed skin of her breasts right where the material of the bra stopped before he slid his hands underneath her and unclasped it, removing her final piece of clothing. Taking first her right and then her left breast in his hands, he kissed each nipple softly as he eased their bodies into a sitting position.
With Marissa once again on his lap, Ryan's mouth sought hers over and over again, joining their tongues together hungrily, neither breaking for breath. As their embraces grew in passion and their hands freely wandered each others bodies, Marissa pushed her lips closer to Ryan's, finally lifting herself off of his lap and lowering herself onto him, wrapping her legs around his torso at the same time, pulling his body down on top of hers as she laid back down on the leather seat. Their movements, at first slow and sensual, quickly became fast and frenzied, their need for the other greater than it had ever been before. Their desire culminating together, he throbbed inside of her while her muscles clasped him tightly, bodies exhausted and glowing, arms wrapped around one another, lips forever joined in a lover's promise.
Laying on top of her, Ryan still inside of Marissa, he rested his head on her chest, listening to the soothing sound of the flutter of her heart as her breathing returned to normal, her fingers lazily running through his hair. In that moment, when the rest of the world disappeared and they were the only two remaining, everything else, the car, the toasts, the wedding could wait, as the two lovers whispered softly to each other, making plans and sharing dreams as they prepared to make their commitment to each other even stronger. The world was theirs for the taking, and their future…together….in London was calling.