This was it. The life as she knew it was over. She was about to embark on the trip that would change her—hopefully for the better.
Silently, she slipped the keys into the ignition of her purple Neon. As she prepared to start the car, her gaze fell on the unadorned envelope lying on the seat beside her.
Quickly, she opened the door and inserted the letter into the nearby mailbox, bringing this chapter of her life to an end.
With the whisper of a soft good-bye, she shifted into gear and headed out of town.
By the time you read this letter, I will have already left Harmony. Life in the town I once loved has quickly become unbearable watching you reclaim your relationship with Sheridan.
It's not your fault—or hers for that matter. Believe me, I've tried blaming both of you for my sorrow, but I can never seem to convince myself that you are truly at fault.
It's not your fault that she's the love of your life. More importantly, it's not your fault that I was too blind to see that reality for so many years. You two are meant to be together—I see it clearly now.
After our break-up all those years ago, I held on to the dream that one day we would be able to reclaim the life we had planned to share together. Then, Sheridan Crane came to town and, as much as you tried to deny it at the time, she had immediately stolen your heart.
I hated her for that. This woman, who had already had everything, had stolen the one thing in my life that mattered—you. With time, I learned to accept your relationship, although I was never able to move on with my life.
After the boat explosion in Bermuda, I thought that my chance had finally come. Granted, you were sure to mourn her loss for awhile, but I was certain that you would turn to me in your time of need.
And you did.
The time that we spent together was wonderful, Luis. It was everything that I had dreamed of and more. For the first time in a long time, I felt truly loved by the man of my dreams.
You are the man of my dreams, Luis. You should know that by now. I love you with my whole heart and soul—with every fiber of my being.
But I was never enough for you, Luis. I never will be either. After all, I never will be her.
When she returned to Harmony on your brother's arm, I had thought that perhaps my prayers had finally been answered. As much as I hate to admit it, I wished that she would remain with Antonio. I knew that it would hurt you, but I was certain that I would be able to make you happy.
After all, you had been happy when we were in high school.
But that was just high school, I suppose. We hadn't seen as much of the world as we have now. We hadn't experienced the things that we have in the past ten years.
You hadn't loved her yet.
But the fact remains that you did meet her, you did love her. And it's her that you love now.
Her, not me.
Luis, you don't know how much I'm hurting right now, how much your brother is hurting right now. It's not because you don't care about us or our feelings—I know that much. Your mind is just occupied with more important things right now.
Things like her.
Forgive me if this seems mean-spirited, but what is it about her that makes every guy fall in love with her? Honestly, what is it?
Is it the money and the prestige?
No, couldn't be that. As Diana, neither she nor Antonio knew that she possessed either of those things.
So what is it then? The damsel in distress act?
No, it couldn't be that either. Honestly, what is so appealing about a woman who constantly gets herself into messy situations and needs to be saved time and time again?
So what's left? I suppose what made two of the most wonderful men in Harmony fall in love with one woman doesn't really matter. All that matters is that you're not in love with me—at least, not anymore you're not.
Luis, you told me that you loved me, that you wanted to marry me. After that blissful night, I spent many hours daydreaming about our perfect wedding. You, looking handsome as always in your tux. Me, gliding down the aisle in my flowing bridal gown. The music, the flowers, the rings… you name it, I imagined it.
But those dreams mean nothing now. Our wedding will never come to be. Rather, you and Sheridan will marry, leaving me out in the cold once again.
Let me make this clear, Luis, I don't blame you. It's not your fault that you love Sheridan. You can't choose who you love and don't love—that's something that I've been forced to accept during the lonely days that have passed since Sheridan returned.
You may wonder what could have caused me to realize the error of my ways. Believe it or not, I owe it all to Chad.
He was playing a new song by Shakira the other day at the Book Café. The song, Objection, reminded me of you with it's tango-like background music. Of course, the tango also reminded me of your relationship with Sheridan, as no one can ever forget the sparks that fly when the two of you dance together—Lord knows I've tried.
Anyhow, I was working on the books when this song came over the speakers, and I couldn't help but listen to it. Listening to the lyrics made me realize that my bitterness wasn't helping anything.
"It's not her fault that she's so irresistible."
It's not her fault, and I realize that now. Whatever it is that attracted both you and Antonio to her doesn't really matter. The fact still remains that you still love her. It's still her and not me.
"But when it comes to me you don't care if I'm alive or dead."
Ok, so maybe that line exaggerates things slightly, but even you have to admit that I will always be second best, both in your life and your heart. I'm not Sheridan, and I never will be. And since I'm not Sheridan, you will always choose to be with her over me.
"I wish there was a chance for you and me"
We both know that I wish that we could be together, now and forever. But we both also know that if wishes were dollars we'd both be millionaires.
This last bit is what really made me realize that what I was doing was so pitiful.
"This is pathetic and sardonic, it's sadistic and psychotic. Tango is not for three, was never meant to be."
Luis, I've been holding on to you like an old teddy bear, unable to let go of the dream of the life we could share. I didn't want to miss out on the chance that I knew would come my way, so I refused to let you out of my heart. Or out of my life.
My thoughts and actions have been pretty much everything that she sings about in that line. What I have said and done—even my thoughts are not those befitting someone who claims to love you.
So I have come to the conclusion that I need to let you go. You belong with Sheridan—I see that now. She loves you deeply, just as you love her. Your love has overcome so much already, and I have no right to attempt to stand in your way.
I believe that the only way to let you go, fully and completely, is to leave Harmony. Chad has agreed to become a co-owner of the Book Café and manage it until I return… if I return. I don't know yet where I'm going, or what I plan to do.
I do know, however, that you belong with Sheridan, the woman of your dreams. I wish the two of you all the happiness in the world.
All my love,
"Good morning, sleepyhead!" Sheridan's voice chirped as he ambled into the kitchen of his new apartment. "I hope you don't mind, but I took the liberty of grabbing the paper. I guess you forgot to grab your mail yesterday, so I snagged that too."
"I forgot?" Luis whispered into her ear, his arms wrapped around her waist. "Need I remind you of the… distraction that you so helpfully provided?"
Sheridan giggled, a soft blush filling her cheeks. "Anyhow, you have your usual junk mail, a letter from Spain—Paloma, I'd assume, and this envelope," she said, changing the subject by holding up a stark white envelope.
Carefully, Luis looked at the handwriting on the letter. It was from Beth.
Beth. After he had thought that Sheridan had died, he'd believed that his future would be with Beth. After all, he had loved her fiercely in high school. He knew that she was having trouble dealing with the fact that Sheridan was once again a part of his life. Chances were, that was what this letter was all about.
Silently, he sat down on a nearby chair, propping his elbows upon the tabletop. Tearing the envelope open, Luis felt a sudden peace wash over him. It was odd, he knew, to feel such a sense of calm not having read one single word of the letter, but for some reason he did.
It was as if he instinctively knew that everything was going to be all right: Beth would be able to move on with her life, he and Sheridan would be able to share the life they'd dreamed of… Simply put, this letter made him believe that what he possessed in his hands held the answers to so many of the questions that had arisen since Sheridan's return.
Well, there was only one way to find out, Luis thought as he slowly removed the four sheets of paper, his eyes scanning over Beth's loopy handwriting.
And with the reading of those two simple words, Luis silently prayed that this letter held all he hoped it did.