That was the singular thought that repeated in her head, swishing around like the red wine in her glass. The lights, the decorations, the people around her-a hazy blur in her vision.
She could have sat there for hours, simply reflecting. The music pulsated in her ears and she let herself be carried away by the beat, swaying from left to right.
Too much, too much. She had built a house of cards and now it was crumbling all around her. Her fingers clutched the stem of the wine glass tighter; her fingers became pale. Her other hand grasped for something else-what, she did not know, but she all she got was thin air.
The wall behind her became her support. She leaned upon it for a few seconds as she closed her eyes. The clink of glasses mingled with the chatter of conversation, but everything was drowned out by the music. Or maybe it was just her way of coping. Either way, it didn't matter.
Behind her, a hand landed on her shoulder. The sudden movement caused her to flinch. She whipped around.
"What are you doing, sulking here? Come out, come say hi to them." There was an easy-going smile on his face, an easy-going charm about him in general. It was probably what had led her to him in the first place, but now, as she gazed into his eyes, she saw and felt nothing.
If there was one word to describe her feelings towards him, it was that. But the longer she stared, the more she wanted to turn away. Would he still love her if he knew what she had done?
"Babe?" There was a questioning lilt in his voice and she snapped out of her silence.
"Oh, yeah, let's go." She lifted her wine glass up and took a deep swig. It carried the promise of numbing the pain.
He hooked an arm around her waist, pulling her towards him. She mirrored her footsteps, letting herself be towed around by him. He stopped to talk to some of his friends; she smiled at his side. Never had she felt more like an accessory, or a conversation piece, and nothing more.
He was rambling about his shitty job, his shitty boss, something along those lines and she was looking around, like a caged wild animal.
She wished she hadn't, when, a split-second later, she spotted him. He was dressed in a tie and a suit, just like he had been when they had first met. All laughter and charm, a quick wit and an easy going humor. The ability to make anyone feel like a friend, like family, or...like a lover.
She broke her stare as they approached her. She was on his arm. They looked happy. Of course, why wouldn't they?
"Cassidy! Hi!" her sister enveloped her in a tight hug. "I don't know if you've ever met John. No, this is your first time meeting each other, isn't it? I'm sorry for rambling, this is so exciting."
Cassidy glanced at the diamond ring perched on her sister's finger, then turned away when she could no longer stand the sight of it. So it was true. They were...she stopped her train of thought and brought her gaze to John. "No, we've never met before." Her voice was rehearsed: cheerful and light.
He stared back at her, and she wished she could have known what he was thinking.
"Well, it's a pleasure to meet you, Cassidy. I hope you'll be at the wedding," he said.