Authors Note: I am so sorry there has been so long between updates on this story, and my others. Life has been crazy busy and I have been working on some original material as well so I haven't had as much time to dedicate to these fics as I would have liked. On another note; I graduated from university yesterday so hopefully now I will have more time to focus on my writing. Love you all, thank you for sticking with this story even though I am awful at updating.
"We made your favourite breakfast."
Forcing myself to sit down at the kitchen table I managed a weak smile as Emily placed the chocolate chip pancakes in front of me. Mom looked harassed – her hair in rollers and flour on her face.
"Today's the big day."
It was. It was the day I had been dreaming of for so long. However, in the days leading up to the wedding those dreams had turned into nightmares that woke me up in the middle of the night. Paul used to stay in my bed with me all night. However, I was struggling to remember the last time I had woken up to find him still in bed with me. In fact I was struggling to remember the last time we had even been alone in the same room for more than an hour. It was as if he couldn't stand to be around me.
"I went down to the venue this morning," Emily was smiling widely as she sat down beside me, "Everything looks perfect, just the way you pictured it."
"That's good," I managed to speak as I forced myself to chew the pancakes Emily had made. My eyes wandered to my dress handing in the lounge. It was a fairy-tale dress. Clearly I could remember spinning around in it only days earlier. I had felt so weightless, so free, I couldn't pinpoint when that sensation had begun to evaporate.
Maybe it had been on the look on Lily's face when she had seen me in Mom's dress; never before had I seen her so crushed. Of course that had been my intention. I wanted to hurt her, I wanted to feel the pain that I felt whenever I caught Paul looking at her, or when his mind wandered when I was speaking to him. What I hadn't expected was the sharp pain in my chest that occurred when she fled the dress shop.
I was a bitch.
An imprint was supposed to be perfect; Paul and I were supposed to lean on each other, and we had, until Lily walked back into our lives. I was allowed to be mad at her, she had ruined everything.
It had destroyed me when she had left. For years, we had been a mirror image. I couldn't imagine life without her. Everyone regarded me as the selfish one, the one who had shattered our relationship. Everyone forgets that she was the one who ran, she was the one who left me confused and alone only days after being released from hospital.
I had learned to be my own person, to stand on my own two feet. Paul was the only one I allowed myself to crumble in front of, the only person who I ever allowed to see the real me.
A dark cloud seemed to be settling on my shoulders as I pushed away my half eaten pancake. If it had been Lily getting married instead of me then the kitchen would have been a hive of activity – Alex would be popping open some champagne, Kim would be curling Lily's hair and June…
Mom's shoulders seemed to sink while Emily avoided my gaze. Of course she wasn't coming, I don't know why I had expected anything else.
"She had a hospital appointment." Emily reached out as if to take my hand in hers but I pulled away. Lies. They were all liars.
"On her son's wedding day?"
"She couldn't get out of it," My Mom looked lost, "She said she-"
"Save it," I muttered, "If it had been Lily's wedding she would have been here."
"Lisa, you know that's not true, she-"
"Isn't it?" I hated how sharp my voice came out, "It is true. Don't lie to me Mom, not today."
An uneasy silence seemed to linger in the air. Biting my lip I pushed away from the kitchen table, I needed a moment to myself, to think.
"I'm just going to shower."
"I bought that fancy conditioner you like for your hair," Mom was shouting after me, "And I have champagne for us to drink while you get into your dress."
I paused at the bottom of the stairs as my eyes landed on a picture of Paul and me. It had been taken the previous year on July 4th. My smile was so wide it almost looked too big for my face. Paul was looking down at me with a look he hadn't shown me in a long time – a look filled with so much love and hope. It had been the best day; I had fallen asleep in his arms and he had carried me home from the beach. I wanted that Paul back, my Paul.
We just needed to get through the wedding and have some time apart from everyone. We needed time to discover each other again, without anyone interfering. After the wedding everything would go back to normal. After the wedding he would realise that it was me he loved all along. After the wedding we would have one of the strongest imprinting bonds, one to rival Sam and Emily.
Or maybe everything would go to shit, as it always seemed to do in my life.
"Do you-"I glanced at my bare feet, my toenails painted red as Emily braided my hair, "Do you think I'm making the right decision?"
My heart squeezed tightly in my chest as I waited for her to answer. She was silent for a second as she tugged on my hair.
"You're his imprint Lisa," Emily's voice sounded tired. She walked around to kneel in front of me, her eyes so open and honest as she looked at me.
"You are going to make a beautiful bride."
"I know that." I wasn't being big-headed but I had planned everything down to the last detail. My dress was exactly the way I had dreamed of, my hair had never been healthier or shiner and my skin was glowing. I looked good. That wasn't what I was worried about.
"But do you think we're going to make it? Paul and I?"
Emily hesitated. I forced myself to smile at her, but we both knew what that hesitation really meant. I loved Emily in that moment for being there with me while the rest of the pack women deserted me. Emily was a strong believer in the magic of an imprint, it did give her Sam after all. However, she was also no stranger to the heartache that an imprint could cause along the way, I often believed that was why she stuck by me when everyone else ran.
"Of course you're going to make it," she answered a beat too late, "He adores you."
He did. But did he adore me like a big brother adores his little sister? Or did he adore me the way Jared looked at Kim and Sam looked at Emily. I wanted that spark, that heat and energy that seemed to sizzle between those couples. I wanted to be adored like that. That was all I had ever wanted.
Lily had everything. She had friends who would defend her in a heartbeat even if she was in the wrong. Lily had the LA lifestyle and the fancy car that I could only ever dream of affording. She had a glow to her that seemed to attract everyone to her. I didn't want any of that, I didn't care about any of that. All I wanted, all I had ever wanted, was Paul. But apparently she wanted him too.
"Now," Emily stood up and smiled, "Let's get you into this gorgeous dress, shall we?"
"Emily," I laid a hand on her arm, "Would you mind getting my Mom? I j-just always picture her helping me with this." Embarrassed I hastily reached up to rub my eyes as I realised I was tearing up. Truthfully I had always imagined the three of us – me, my Mom and Lily laughing, swapping stories while they squeezed me into my dress. Nothing was ever going to be the same again.
"Don't you dare ruin that make-up," Emily adopted a threatening tone as she stood up, "Do you want anything else from downstairs."
"A bottle of champagne wouldn't go amiss."
"I was the same on my wedding day," Emily's laughter was light as she headed towards the door, "I practically drank a whole bottle to myself, I was so nervous. The whole ceremony is actually a bit of a blur to me." I let out my first genuine burst of laughter as Emily exited the room. Maybe Emily was right. If she – the ever proper, ever sensible Emily got trashed on her wedding day – then maybe nerves were normal, maybe everything I was feeling was the exact same as every other bride on her wedding day.
I took a deep breath as I surveyed the glitter coating my eyelids and the bouncy curls that fell around my face. It was my wedding day; I deserved to be beautiful and spoiled. I smiled widely as I heard the creak of the staircase; I could practically taste the bubbles of the champagne on my tongue already.
"Mom, you should pop it, I –" The words dried up in my mouth as I turned to face the doorway. My stomach twisted itself into a knot.
"What are you doing here?" I hated how small my voice sounded, how he could change my mood without even saying a single word.
"We need to talk."
I laughed. A wild, desperate laugh. He had to be fucking joking. I gripped tightly onto the edge of my seat, suddenly needing something to stop myself from throwing myself at him in a blind rage.
"Those are not the words a girl wants to hear on her wedding day." My joke fell flat, he didn't even crack a smile. That was when I knew something was seriously wrong.
"Lisa, I –"
"Paul," I whispered, "Please don't do what I think you're about to do. Please."
He looked like he hadn't slept at all. He was wearing the white shirt and trousers I had picked out for him. His feet were bare, and his shirt crinkled, but that just made me love him even more. There was no man in my eyes that could compare to Paul, he had become my entire world, and I wasn't sure how I would function without him.
"Lisa, you know I love you –"
"I know," I stood up, suddenly needing to have some height, appear strong, "That's why we're getting married Paul. That's why we're starting our life together."
"I never set out to hurt you, I still don't want to, I-"He was searching for words, his eyes looking anywhere but me. I took a step towards him, my hand gripped his arm. I needed to touch him, I needed him to feel my presence.
"Then don't hurt me Paul. You don't have to."
"You know this isn't right Lisa," his eyes finally met mine – his dark eyes filled with so much worry and pain that it made my heart ache, "You know this isn't how an imprint is supposed to feel."
"I don't care," I admitted, my voice cracking, "I want you Paul."
"No," he shook his head, "You don't want me. You like the idea of me, the idea of us, but we both know that I would just hurt you eventually."
"You don't know that."
"But I do," His finger reached down to wipe a stray tear from my face, "I already am."
"I don't care."
"But I do," Paul's voice was fierce, "I care about you, and I can't hurt you anymore. It isn't fair, I love you but-"
"But you don't want to marry me," I let go of his arm as I took a step back, "You want to marry Lily. She is who you want to be with."
"I don't," his eyes were shining with unshed tears, "I don't know what I want. I really don't know."
"You just know that you don't want me."
"Lisa, no, I-"
I wiped hastily at my eyes as Seth burst into the room. There were leaves in his hair and the belt on his shorts was still undone. His eyes were wild.
"Seth, we're kind of-" I began to speak.
"It's Lily," Seth's eyes flickered between me and Paul, "She was in an accident."
"What?" Paul sprang into action, his whole body shook as he tried to get information from Seth, "What kind of accident? Where is she? Is she hurt?"
Paul didn't register my presence once, he didn't even glance behind him as he followed Seth out of the door, his movements frantic. Sitting down I thought about the look in Paul's eyes when Seth had delivered the news – they had been so open, so vulnerable and filled with worry that it had left me breathless. He was in love with her, that much was obvious.
As always, I was going to be the girl left behind.