Happy Ever After…

The bride looked beautiful, everybody said so. Calm and poised at the altar, the soft drapes of fabric showing off her slender figure. The groom on the other hand had a look that darted between surprise and nerves. As the vicar asked the question "If anyone knows a reason why these two should not be joined.." the whole congregation held their breath. But no objection came and soon they became "husband and wife."

During the reception Guy took hold of his new wife's hand and smiled.

"I love you Caroline Secretan," he whispered.

She smiled, "I love you too."

Guy knew he had been second choice. Everybody knew. But he was determined to prove to Caroline that he wasn't second best, he planned to spend the rest of his life making her happy.

A moment of sadness passed over Caroline's face.

"I thought he might have come."

Guy shuffled uneasily. "You know how it is… travelling… probably couldn't make it."

Caroline was surprised that Guy wanted to be present at the birth of their first child, she had always assumed he was more the "handing out cigars, wetting the baby's head type, " but every year Guy proved to Caroline that he was more of a man, more of a husband, than she have ever dared hope for.

They welcomed their new son into the world almost three years after their wedding.

Caroline checked the post for a congratulations card from him… but one never came.

Over the years Caroline thought about him less and less. She had a wonderful husband, child, career, she had found the happiness she always longed for.

For their fifteenth Wedding Anniversary Guy organised a huge party. So many people had doubted their marriage would last, he was overjoyed to prove them all wrong.

The guests gathered to toast Guy and Caroline.

A waiter stopped before Caroline with a tray of Champagne, leaning forward to offer her a glass.

Caroline's hand paused on it's way towards the tray. The waiter's light ginger hair fell forward into his eyes, a dimple adorned his cheek as he smiled… he looked so much like… in the dark recesses of her mind Caroline could hear the once familiar voice.. "It's not ginger, it's fraise blonde!"

Guy's eyes followed his wife's gaze. He reached out to take hold of the hand that still hovered there, nodding that the waiter could go.

"Why did he never come back, in all these years, not once?"

Guy brushed a tear from his wife's cheek, maybe after all this time she deserved to know the truth.

"He never wanted to leave you, he just had no choice."

"He just went, he was supposed to meet me, but then he was gone, no note, no call, he was just gone." Long buried pain shone in Caroline's eyes.

Guy emptied his whiskey glass before taking both of Caroline's hands in his, holding them tightly. He could still remember that last phone call from Mac…

"Caroline will be waiting at the station, I can't join her, not ever. It's up to you Guy, please make her happy."

Mac had left a short note in Guy's locker explaining everything, about his illness, that he couldn't bare to make Caroline suffer, he loved her too much for that. "… I know you love her too Guy, don't let her down, she's to precious for that. If you marry her then make sure it's forever…"

Guy squeezed Caroline's hands even tighter,

"Mac never stopped loving you," he said with a shaky voice, "he wanted to meet you, but he couldn't."

"But why not? What was so urgent that it took him away?"

Guy swallowed hard, "He found out he was dying," Guy's voice was barely more that a whisper, "he just couldn't put you through that."

Caroline's hands shook at the news, "And you KNEW this, all these years, you knew".

"You think it was easy for me? I knew there were times that you missed him, that you still loved him. He was my friend as well, keeping that secret for him was the last thing I could do."

Caroline nodded her understanding as tears trickled down her face. She buried her face in her husband's chest, grieving for a man she had lost so long ago.

But there was no anger. The two men who loved her most in the world had kept this secret from her to protect her from this pain, how could she be angry at that?