Scene Two: Undue Stress

"So, what, did you get some kind of sick pleasure out of making me break down like that?" Jane asked. She took a swig of her drink. "Or were you just paying me back in kind?"

Kevin nearly choked on his scotch as he reeled back to look at her. He gaped in disbelief. "Are you really going to do this? Are you going to waste an entire night wallowing in self-pity? Because I would think that you'd had enough of letting those feelings fester in your stomach. I'm surprised you don't have an ulcer."

Jane winced and turned away, determined not to meet his eyes.

"Oh, sweet Jesus, the woman has an ulcer!" Kevin exclaimed to himself. He lifted his arms in the air, a gesture that could have been of defeat or victory—he wasn't quite sure himself.

"Did," Jane corrected, reaching out and bringing one of his arms down, embarrassed by his gesture. "I did have an ulcer. It fixed itself up okay, though. And I've got the meds now. It won't happen again… so long as I don't subject myself to undue stress."

"And what do you consider 'undue stress,' Jane? The second coming?" He glanced around the bar and leaned in close to her. "You're planning this farce of a marriage between your sister and the guy you're in love with and you don't consider that undue stress?"

Jane looked him right in the eye and told him no before bursting into hysterical, crazed laughter. He could only stare and wait for her to sober up, slightly fearful that he had actually caused her to snap. When she finally finished laughing, she fixed him with one of those looks that he was becoming more and more familiar with. "I told you; I'm Jesus. This is nothing. You haven't planned three shotgun weddings within a month, talked two caterers into serving the same reception and personally tied three hundred and fifty-seven perfect bows on invitations."

"Ha, very funny," Kevin said. "I know very well what it's like to watch the love of my life walk away with someone else. And while that's painful enough in itself, what kind of sick freak—you—would willingly sign up for the personal hell that is planning their wedding?"

The woman shrugged and took another swig of her drink. "I guess, like some sick freak, I just want him to be happy. And if my baby sister makes him happy, and if he makes her happy, isn't that more important?"

"Yeah, but what about you?" Kevin asked. He took her glass away from her and stared into her eyes, incredulous at her overpowering selflessness. "Don't you deserve some happiness? I mean, you're making a pretty big sacrifice. And they'll never even know it."

"Nobody notices when you do something good," Jane said. It was mechanical, as though she said this too often to too many people. "But everyone's paying attention when you mess up. I'd rather do good unnoticed than be known for my mistakes, I guess." She took her drink back and took a long drag, grimacing a little as it burned her throat. But the warmth that flooded her stomach was the best feeling she'd had all day. She signaled the bartender to bring her another of whatever she'd just been drinking.

Kevin raised his eyebrows. "I thought you were just going to have one drink?"

"I'm living in my own personal hell, remember?" she said sarcastically. When the glass came back, filled with liquid courage, she took a swig and smiled at him. "Let's talk about something else. Like your column! Let's start with that."

"Go ahead," Kevin said, smirking a little at her unsubtle subject change.

"July the 17th, 2005."

His eyebrows went up. "You've got the dates memorized?"

"You don't? I would remember it if I was put in print," Jane told him. "Come on, you should know this."

"Uh… was that the Rutger wedding?"

And so started the game. Jane was surprised that he knew so little about his own work, but then he'd written about a wedding every two weeks for the past five years. He'd been to more than she had ever thought to attend. (And did you think she'd only been to twenty-seven weddings? Psh! Those were just the ones where she was a part of the wedding party.)

With every article she mentioned, the more cynical he became. And, remarkably, the more they drank, the more forgetful he seemed. Or maybe he was digging for her opinions. By the time they were on his fourth scotch and her third whatever-it-was (she could never remember what it was called, only what was in it, and even that evaded her at the moment), he was pretending he had no clue what she was talking about.

"Okay," she said, choking a little on the word. "February 12th, 2006."

The Keller wedding. He had to remember that one.

:D I just had to do it. I thought that after her meltdown in the car, she needed some redemption.

Most of these will not be in chronological order, just so you know. These just happened to be in order out of random chance.

And yes, that means there's more. Even though I've labeled it complete. :P

Much love!