Choices

“No Bethany, you can’t. Look he obviously doesn’t want to be bothered. Leave him alone. Come on.”

“Oh he won’t mind, besides I’ll never get another chance.”

“But it’s not fair to ask him when he wants to be left alone. Let the man eat his meal in peace.” But Bethany was determined and approached the man seated in the corner of the room.

“Hi, can I have your autograph? Please? Sam says you don’t want to be bothered but you don’t mind really? Do you?” The words came out in a rush spilling from the lips of the eager teenager.

Rory sighed, he had hoped for a quiet and uninterrupted meal in this out of the way pub. Hoping people wouldn’t recognise him in the unlikely surroundings.

“No, it’s fine. What would you like me to put?”

“Oh if you could just put to Bethany, that would be great. My friends are never going to believe this. They’re going to just die.” Rory waited for a pen and paper. For a moment Bethany just stared at him adoringly. Then she realised.

“Oh damn, I forgot.” She blushed and started rummaging through her bag, half turning back to her own table. “Sam? Do you have..?” Sam appeared behind her and silently handed over a notebook and pen.

“Here you go Beth.” Sam’s tone was dry as she handed them over. “I’m so sorry that we’ve interrupted you.” Sam flushed as she spoke to Rory, eyes not quite meeting his. Rory took the notebook from Bethany but looked at Sam intrigued by the way she had tried to discourage her sister. It wasn’t often that people were uncomfortable about intruding; they all seemed to think that as a celebrity he belonged to them and wasn’t entitled to a private life. She wasn’t anything special to look at. Medium height, medium build, slightly bigger than the women he usually dated. Certainly not dressed well, a sloppy t-shirt and jeans with worn out trainers, but still there was something.

“No problem” Rory lied and Sam’s eyes finally raised to his, a wry smile on her face, she recognised the lie for what it was. She opened her mouth to speak but words vanished when their eyes met. Rory froze. Damn those eyes.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

A year later, their eyes met again and once more Sam was blushing. This time Rory was down on one knee instead of sitting and they were alone.

“Yes of course I’ll marry you.” Tears of joy in their eyes as she dropped to her knees and they fell into each other’s arms. Rory had never felt so happy.

A year later, “I’ve had enough. I don’t know who it is you think I am but I’m not her and I’ve had enough of you wishing I was her. I’m fed up with trying to compete with a dream. It’s over and I’m out of here.” Rory stood watching yet another woman leaving him, the door slamming behind her. He sank down to his knees, alone with the eyes that haunted him.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Rory couldn’t believe it as he looked down at the bundle in his arms. His son looked up at him, blinking sleepily. He had inherited his mother’s eyes. Rory’s knees wouldn’t quite work properly and he abruptly sat on the edge of the hospital bed. He looked up into the eyes of his beautiful, tired and dishevelled wife. He couldn’t find the words. Sam smiled at him.

“Happy you’ve got a son to play football with?” she asked. He smiled a watery smile.

“Oh you know I would have been just as happy with a daughter…in fact….?” Sam’s smile widened,

“Well maybe but let’s give it a little time, yes?” Rory grinned and nodded then he handed over his son and watched as Sam began to feed him. Their eyes met again. Each raised a hand.

“I love you.” They said simultaneously as their hands clasped, twining together. They laughed together as they gazed at each other and their future, held securely between them.

“You may now kiss the bride.” Rory raised the veil and looked down at his new wife. She glanced sideways to check the photographer’s position and shifted her position slightly so he would get a good shot.

“Don’t mess up my makeup.” she demanded as Rory lowered his head for the kiss. She didn’t even look at him. He was only the groom, her first step on the road to stardom. He wasn’t important.

At the reception he hardly saw his bride, she was busy networking with all the celebrity movers and shakers she’d insisted he invite. She was making sure she got photographed with the most important. Later at the hotel, in their room, Rory went to take her in his arms. She twisted away from him.

“Don’t be silly, I need to get some sleep otherwise I won’t be fit to be seen tomorrow and I’ve arranged an interview and photoshoot for us.”

“What? But this is supposed to be our honeymoon.”

“Yes I know, that’s what the interview is about, how we’re finding married life.”

“How would we know, we’ve only been married a few hours.”

“Oh don’t be silly, I’m going to my room now.”

“Your room?”

“Yes I told you, I need to get some sleep.” She turned away, dismissing him and left the room, slamming the door behind her. Rory left the room 10 minutes later, heading towards the bar. As he turned towards the lifts he heard giggling around the corner ahead of him. As he reached the corner he stopped dead. His wife was wrapping herself around a man, Rory recognised as her ‘personal trainer’.

“Come on, hurry up. I can’t wait to get inside you. That wedding dress is making me horny.” The trainer growled. She opened the door to her suite, pulling him inside, their hands already tugging at buttons and zips.

Rory stood and watched his future vanish.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

As he collected his award Rory looked out over the celebrity audience. Finally he found the people he was searching for, Sam and the children. The kids were jumping up and down in their seats, thrilled that their daddy was up there. They shrieked with excitement, he could hear them over all the applause. As he stepped up to the microphone to begin his acceptance speech, Sam mouthed,

“I love you Rory.” Forgetting the microphone he said,

“I love you Sam.” Cheers erupted around the auditorium and Rory grinned sheepishly. This time speaking to the entire room, Rory said,

“Well it’s true and I’d like to dedicate this award to those people who mean the most to me. My wife Sam and my kids…..”

Later that evening as they sat in the restaurant surrounded by family and friends, Bethany raised her glass.

“I’d like to propose a toast…..to me, for introducing these two.” Rory and Sam held hands under the table as they grinned at each other, surrounded by love and laughter.

As he collected his award Rory looked out over the celebrity audience. He knew so many of them, all show business ‘friends’. Yeah the friends who’d disappeared when he’d divorced his wife for her infidelity on their wedding day. The newspapers had called it the shortest celebrity marriage ever. While his wife was being interviewed about how wonderful married life was, he’d been on the phone to his lawyer. He hadn’t had anyone to turn to or to talk to while the whole mess was erupting. Amazing how all his celebrity friends had reappeared now that the awards were rolling in, still he could play the game too. Despising himself, he dedicated his award to the most important of his celebrity friends.

Later that evening he met the escort he’d hired at the hotel bar. He ordered bottles of champagne to be sent up to his room. When the escort left an hour later he sat on the bed and emptied the bottles one by one until he passed out on the floor. Alone.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Rory put down the phone. Sam looked at him concerned. He was white. His jaw worked a couple of times. Finally he managed to say it.

“My mother’s dead.” Sam was by his side immediately, holding him close. Rory wasn’t sure how he felt; he hadn’t spoken to his mother in years. The estrangement had been bitter and long but still, his mother was gone. He was rootless. He clung to Sam needing to anchor himself as the whole world shook.

After the funeral Rory Sam and the kids sat in their garden in a huddle. Rory looked around and knew that even with his mother gone he still had roots and an anchor. His family held him safe, his haven and his salvation.

Rory put down the phone. He stared across the empty room. He took a step, hand held out looking for something to hold on to.
“My mother is dead.” The words seemed to echo in the silence. Everything in the room was still.

“My mother is dead.” Rory screamed, desperate, needing a response, for someone to care. He collapsed into the sofa and reached for his phone. He didn’t have any friends to call but he knew how to deaden the pain. Half an hour later he sat on the edge of his bed and slowly pushed the plunger on the syringe. He watched the drug flow into his body. It was his haven and his salvation.

They laid him to rest beside his mother. In life they’d been estranged and hadn’t spoken in years but in the end she was the only person he had.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

….Rory froze. Damn those eyes. For long moments neither Sam nor Rory could move. Eyes locked, questioning, answering and holding each other. Bethany watched the two of them not daring to breathe. Not sure what was happening. The waiter came into the room to clear Rory’s table. The interruption jolted Sam and Rory back into the room. Rory flushed and bent over the notebook.

“To Bethany, right?” he asked as Sam reddened further and retreated back to the table she and Bethany had shared.

Rory finished signing the autograph hardly knowing what he was doing. He handed the notebook back to Bethany who took it exclaiming with excitement. She danced back to Sam saying,

“See I told you he wouldn’t mind. My friends are going to be green.” Sam met Rory’s eyes across the room.

“Thank you,” she mouthed and smiled. Rory smiled back, dropped some money on the table to cover his meal and a tip then crossed the room to the door. He opened the door ready to leave but paused to look back over his shoulder. Sam was still watching him, he stopped, unsure whether to stay or go.

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