Written in 28 minutes.
St. Timothy’s Church: Anteroom
There had been some thought that they’d delay the ceremony. A few more weeks, her grandmother had gently suggested. Until Elizabeth’s injuries had fully healed. Until the press had left them alone. Maybe even until the trial was over. After all, what was the hurry?
But Elizabeth hadn’t wanted to wait. Not the six months it would take for her nails to grow back or the year before a trial began because, of course, the madman who had stolen so much from them wouldn’t go quietly into the night —
So a few days before Christmas, barely four weeks after Elizabeth had tumbled over the edge of a cliff with a serial killer, she stood at the back of the church, the double doors closed. In her hands, a clutch of candy-colored tulips. She wore a pair of lace gloves to cover her healing nails.
She hadn’t wanted anyone to stand up with her, not even to escort her down the aisle, and while she’d waved slightly on that after what she and Robin had gone through together, Elizabeth had held firm.
So she stood in the anteroom alone for just another moment, took a deep breath, then reached for the handle.
She turned, her brows furrowed when Lucky stepped out of the shadows of the hallway. “What are you—” She tipped her head. “How did you get in?”
“I’m still Luke’s son,” he offered and she smiled faintly. “I won’t keep you. I just—Lu let it slip that it was today, and I wanted to—” He paused. “I wanted to wish you happiness. Before we were in love, we loved each other, you know?” His smile was crooked, just a corner turning up the way it had when they’d been teenagers. “You were my anchor when I didn’t think there was anything else. I want you—and the boys to be happy.” He cleared his throat. “The last time I told you that, everything was crazy and we were all so scared. I didn’t want you to think it was the pressure of the moment. I mean it.”
Elizabeth smiled, tipped her head. “I want you to be happy, too. I’ll always love you, Lucky.”
“You’d better get down that aisle before Jason starts to worry.” Lucky came forward, pulled the handle. When he opened it, he stayed behind so that no one would see him. Elizabeth turned away from her first love, then looked down the length of the aisle to her last.
Jason stood there, slightly turned towards Father Coates, though he turned when he heard the door, his smile — that sweet smile he rarely showed the world — blooming on his face.
For just a moment, Elizabeth thought maybe she could see Emily smiling behind her brother, her eyes lit with joy and mischief, but then she blinked and there was nothing behind Jason but the altar.
“Goodbye,” she murmured, not just to Lucky who had melted away again into the shadows, but to the sister of her heart who was gone but would never be forgotten. She was in the wind now, and she’d always be there. The pain of losing her would never fade completely, though it would dull with time. The love would always be there, as bright and vivid as the woman they’d lost.
She hadn’t wanted to wait one more day to marry Jason, to continue the life they’d already begun to build together. Emily would understand. The moment for grieving, for the loss, and the pain — it was over now.
It was time for everything that came next.
Elizabeth lifted her tulips to breathe in their sweet scent for a moment, then she walked into the future.