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By´╝ÜChantal Fernando


I glance around the reception, smiling and hugging everyone who comes near me. While I never expected to get married so young, and to my first boyfriend, I don’t think I could be happier.

“You look beautiful, Sabina,” Dean says as he approaches, green eyes soft on me.

“Thank you, Dean,” I say, smiling and touching his forearm. I feel beautiful in my lace gown, as every bride should on her wedding. “You were amazing up there.”

I look to the stage where he’d just performed, singing on my special day. He just got signed, and is about to make it big. I know it. I feel it in my gut. Dean’s talent is something else, and he deserves to be up amongst the big names in the industry. I asked him to sing John Legend “All of me” and the way he sung it was amazing, filled with so much emotion.

He smiles, but it doesn’t reach his eyes.

“Is everything okay?” I ask him, watching as he brings his glass to his lips and takes a sip.

“Yeah,” he says softly. “Why wouldn’t it be?”

I glance over at my group of bridesmaids, all sitting together at a table. “I think they’re all hoping you take one of them home tonight.”

He glances at them, suddenly looking extremely uncomfortable, then downs the rest of his glass. “Yeah, I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

“Saving it for the celebrities, hey?” I tease, playfully nudging him with my elbow. Dean was known in high school for being a bit of a ladies man, and I never let him live it down. “I’m going to miss you, you know.”

“I’ll miss you too, Sabina,” he says, ducking his head. He looks into his empty glass.

“Do you want a refill? I think I’m going to have a drink, too.”

He lifts his head. “What do you want? I’ll go and get it for you.”

I smile and say, “A vodka orange, please.”

His lip twitches. “No champagne?”

“I’m not fancy,” I tell him, making him laugh.

“I’ll be right back,” he says, heading for the bar.

I glance across the room at Ben, who is dancing with his mother. They always say that the way a man treats his mum is how he’ll treat you, and if that’s true, I think I’m going to be a lucky woman indeed.

Dean returns to my side and hands me my glass. “Thanks.”

“Since the groom is occupied,” he says, offering me his hand. “Would you like to dance with me?”

I take a mouthful of vodka then put my glass down on the table, offering him my hand. “I’d love to.”

He grins and does the same, putting his drink down then taking my hand and leading me to the dance floor. As we move slowly to the music, I ask, “So when do you leave?”

“Next week,” he rumbles, clearing his throat. “How is uni going?”

I’m about to reply when Ben cuts in, smiling at his cousin and slapping him on the shoulder. Dean congratulates him, glancing at me once more before reclaiming his drink and heading back to the bar.

“Hello, husband,” I say to Ben, smiling widely.

“Wife,” he says, kissing my lips softly. “I can’t wait to rip this dress off you.”

I smirk at him. “Don’t think I’m easy now just because we’re married.”

Ben throws his head back and laughs. “I won’t make that mistake, Bina.”

We dance to two songs, then I head to the bar for another drink, since mine seemed to have gone missing.

Dean is still there, now doing shots.

“Hey, how are you doing?” I ask him, eyebrows rising in amusement.

He cuts his eyes at me, then looks away, licking his lips. “Do you believe in fate, Sabina?”

I sit down on the stool and consider his question. “I think you make your own fate. Why?”

“No reason,” he murmurs, ordering another drink.

He soon gets cut off from the bar, and Ben escorts him to his hotel room to make sure he gets into bed safely, while I say goodbye and thank you as everyone starts to leave.

When Ben returns, he picks me up in his arms, and looks into my eyes. “I love you.”

“I love you too, Ben.”

I don’t want this moment to end.

Chapter One

Four Years Later

I feel a hand on my shoulder, but I don’t acknowledge it. He’s dead. Gone. I don’t know how I’m meant to process this. I look at his gravestone and feel numb. Everyone is watching me. Waiting for me to break down and cry, maybe, but all I’m doing is sitting here with a blank expression on my face. Never did I think I’d become a widow at the tender age of twenty-four, but here I am with my husband six feet under.

“Hey, how are you holding up?” someone asks me from my right. I wish they’d leave me alone. It would make my life much easier; can’t they see that I don’t want to talk right now? I don’t want to do anything, I just want to sit here and feel sorry for myself, wondering how exactly I’m meant to handle the loss of the one and only man I’ve ever been with. Sure, our relationship was far from perfect, but Ben was my husband, the only man I’ve ever loved. I absently rub below my collarbone with my palm, wondering how long it will take for the tightness in my chest to subside. Maybe it’s just going to be something I’m going to have to live with forever. When they say time heals all, does that include having someone ripped out of your life by a car accident? I don’t know, but I guess I’ll find out. Why did he get behind the wheel instead of calling me to pick him up? How could he have been so stupid to drink drive? I mumble my thanks to everyone who approaches me, offering me their apologies and their sympathy, but I’m still standing at the gravestone, alone, long after everyone leaves. My best friend Tara wanted to stay, but I told her that I wanted to be alone with him for a little while, without the crowd of people. I feel like walking away from here means walking away from Ben, even though he’s the one who has left me. I touch the cold stone, running my fingers along it.