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THE WEDDING NIGHT: The first night as husband and wife.
If torn between the much-needed sleep and passionate lovemaking, keep this in mind: You only have ONE wedding night! Make it memorable. Make it count!
Everything was dark and hazy. I opened my eyes and the first thing I felt was the blinding pain in my head.
I opened my eyes and saw light peeking through the curtains. I don’t feel cold like I usually do when I wake up in the mornings. Normally, an image of Bryan pops up in my head when I wake up, reminding me of my broken heart.
This time it was different. This time, the first image that popped up in my head was that of a much more handsome guy. His eyes were deep ocean green, his hair, raven black. He looked like a wonderful Adonis drawn out from the pages of a historical novel. His face was perfect. His body… his abs were perfect, his muscles well-toned, his skin flawless.
Hey! Go back one second! I thought to myself. How did I know how perfect and well-toned his muscles were? How did I know his skin was flawless?
I closed my eyes once again, trying to recollect the memories of last night.
I remembered that the room he rented for us was perfect. It was twice the size of the room I booked for Bryan and myself… which was now being occupied by Bryan and Geena a floor below us. There were roses everywhere and we celebrated my victorious show with a bottle of wine. Then I remembered all the crying and whining. I had a physical yearning to forget everything, and the only way to do that was to drink… and drink, and drink some more. I don't think I've ever had so much alcohol in my entire life!
There were flashes of … images in my head. But they were blurry and they were coming back to me very slowly.
I had felt as if all my nerves had come to life. I remember feeling bolder than I've ever felt. I remembered flirting with him, within the confines of our room, not caring what he would say or think. I remembered letting go of everything I was holding on to. Everything that I had been afraid of.
I remembered touching him… in places I haven’t touched Bryan. I remember letting him touch me, in places no one has ever touched me before. Then I remembered… the ripping pain, and the pleasure that came afterward
I opened my eyes. My heart pounded wildly in my ribcage.
Did I just dream it all?
Slowly, I peeked under the sheets and I realized in horror that… everything I remembered were not just figments of my imaginative mind. I am not that creative in that department!
I turned my head to my left side and found Ryder lying flat on his tummy. His eyes were open and he was watching me carefully.
He smiled at me lazily. “You weren’t dreaming.” He whispered, as if he read my thoughts.
I sighed. “I was afraid of that.”
He bit his lip. I guess he wanted to say something but decided against it.
He reached forward and caressed my chin gently.
“Do you still hurt?” He asked very softly.
I shook my head and I knew I turned the deepest shade of red.
“Now you probably think Bryan was right to cheat on me.” I muttered.
“No.” He whispered. There was a sense of tenderness in his voice.
I was still skeptical. “What do you think then?”
He took a deep breath and said, “I think he was foolish not to wait.”I rolled my eyes. “Thanks. That makes me feel better!”
He propped up on one elbow and then he said, “It should make you feel better, because it’s the truth, Astrid.”
“Easy for you to say, Ryder. I avoided all advances from him but I easily threw myself at you last night!”
He didn’t say anything. He just kept staring at me.
It was true. I did throw myself at him last night. I was the one who began touching him provocatively. I remember he was trying to avoid some of my earlier advances. He was trying to be the gentleman but I was more persistent.
I threw my hands on my face. I felt so ashamed of myself.
“God, what have I done?” I whispered.
I heard him sigh and then I felt him take me in his arms.
“You made love to me, and it was amazing, Astrid! I refuse to regret it no matter what you say or do! I will not feel sorry about last night. There is nothing to be ashamed of.”
I pulled away from him. Then I turned my back on him. I don’t have the courage or the face to look at him yet.
“We better go.” I said curtly.
I heard him sigh but he didn’t say anything more.
I went to the shower and had a long bath. I wanted to cry, but the tears just wouldn’t come. I wanted to remember my dream of giving myself to Bryan months ago. But all I can think of is Ryder, touching me, loving me, making love to me... I remember his fleeting, feather-light touches around my face and neck, his eyes staring into mine, the incredulous look on his face when he had felt the barrier of my innocence. I remember screaming his name over and over as I reached the realms of pleasure. He brought me to heaven twice and I clung to him with all that I am. I didn’t even know I was capable of feeling all those things. I didn’t know I could be sexual. I didn’t know I could want a man the way I wanted him last night… or the way I think I still want him now.
When I got out of the shower, I was dressed in a long robe, fully covered.
Ryder came past me on his way to the bathroom. He was wearing only a towel wrapped around his waist, his abs in my view, and I couldn’t help the desire that reeled through me again.
He stopped and stared at me for a long moment. I couldn’t move as I stare back at him. He raised a brow at me. Somehow,he looked irritated, like he was stopping himself from saying or doing something.
Great! The first guy I ever made love to is irritated with me already… after just one night! I thought glumly.
He narrowed his eyes, as if he was trying to decipher something in my expression. Then he shook his head slightly and went into the bathroom.
I felt frustrated. Last night, he was the perfect knight in shining armor. He came to my rescue graciously, and absorbed every shock, every pain for me. Somehow all that changed this morning. Somehow, I see something in his eyes that resembles cold fury, as if I said or did something that offended him.
I have no way of knowing if Ryder slept with me because he wanted me for real. If I weren’t writing him a check, I’d probably believe he did. And Adam was right. I don’t know Ryder at all. He looks like a god and he knows it. I don’t know how often he has sex with a woman who throws herself at him. He probably made love to me because he thought it was part of our bargain.
I quickly dressed and then I placed his final check on the table.
I laughed humorlessly because right now, I felt like an old, lonely matron, paying for a younger, handsome guy to pleasure me!I have no way of knowing if Ryder slept with me because he wanted me for real. If I weren’t writing him a check, I’d probably believe he did. And Adam was right. I don’t know Ryder at all. He looks like a god and he knows it. I don’t know how often he has sex with a woman who throws herself at him. He probably made love to me because he thought it was part of our bargain.
I quickly dressed and then I placed his final check on the table.
I laughed humorlessly because right now, I felt like an old, lonely matron, paying for a younger, handsome guy to pleasure me! Tears rolled down my cheeks and I know I couldn’t bear to face Ryder like that. He’ll try to make me feel better again, and I have had enough pretensions to last me a lifetime. All the pretences we put up with last night were enough, thank you very much! I couldn’t bear to have him look at me with sincere, admiring eyes, knowing I paid him to do that. I came here on a mission and he helped me accomplish it. But it’s over now.
He came out of the bathroom.
“Here’s the rest of your payment.” I said to him. I placed a pair of sunglasses over my eyes. I didn’t want him to see just how painful this was all for me. “I’ll meet you at the lobby. I’ll see Nicole and probably say goodbye to my parents.”
He didn’t say anything. He just stared at me. His face was cold. Other than that, I couldn’t make out the expression on his face.
“Will you ask the bellboy to bring my bag downstairs?”
He nodded once. Still he didn’t say anything.
“Okay, I’ll see you later.” I hesitated, but when he made no move to stop me, I left the room.
I dialed Nicole’s number. I hope she didn’t go home last night. I desperately needed someone to talk to.
“It’s too early!” She groaned.
“Where are you?” I asked.
She gave me her room number and I rushed to it. Within a few minutes, I was banging on her door.
“What is wrong with you?” She asked angrily.
“Nothing.” I replied coming into the room. Somehow, her room seemed small, as I compare it to the room I shared with Ryder.
“Where’s Ryder?” She asked.
“In our room.” I replied.
Her eyes widened. “You spent the night in one room?”
I nodded. “He rented the Paradise Suite.” I said.
“I know. But I think the ten grand should cover it.”
I made a cup of coffee and then we sat on her balcony.
“You guys were great last night,Ash.” Nicole said smiling. “You really did look genuinely in love with each other. You were every girl’s envy last night.”
I sighed. “I envy myself last night.” I murmured.
Nicole laughed. “I know. You couldn’t help wishing it was true. That you really are in that… state already. Except that you still hurt.”
I sighed. Hurt? Somehow, a different kind of pain was bothering me now. I have not thought of Bryan all morning. All I could think about was Ryder and the pleasures we shared last night… and then the cold look he gave me this morning.
“You did go overboard on the kissing, you know.” Nicole teased. “I don’t think you were pretending.”
“Maybe we’re not.” I said, sighing.
“Well… he said to me that we weren’t pretending. That last night, we really did belong to each other.” I sighed glumly. “Only… I got carried away.”
Nicole stared at me for a moment and then she asked, “Got carried away how?
I sighed. I contemplated on telling her what really happened but then I decided against it. I don’t think she’d understand. Somehow, I can’t bear for anyone to think that I paid to have my virginity taken away from me. How pathetic could I be?
“I forgot that my life still sucked when I woke up today.” I said.
“Oh God, Ash! Please!” She rolled her eyes. “I hope you saw the beautiful girl I saw last night. She was radiant, she was confident! Your life does not suck! Bryan was stealing glances at you the whole time. Trust me! I was looking at him. He couldn’t get his eyes off you and he was throwing daggers at Ryder whenever he can. Trust me, that guy is chewing his nails last night! He wanted you more than he wanted his bride. And the fact that Ryder was all over you was driving him crazy.”
I stared at Nicole. I tried to feel sorry for Bryan but the only thing I feel now is… I don’t know… a sense of vindication. But a bigger part of me still thinks about all the things that happened between Ryder and me last night. Somehow, in the middle of the charade, something changed. Something in me. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. And the look he gave me before I left him is still playing over and over in my head. He looked really pissed with me.
“Everybody was looking at you, Ash. They admired your courage. They thought you and Ryder are just the perfect couple. You are. You really are.” She said. “He’s a sweet guy.”
I sighed. “Too sweet.”
Nicole stared at me. “You like him, don’t you?”
I stared at her and immediately, I knew my cheeks burned.
“Oh my God, you like him! For real! You weren’t pretending!” Nicole accused.
I rolled my eyes. “Nicole, please! Ryder could have had his pick of any woman last night. But he was mine. Because I paid him to be. It was a gig for him. And he did well.”
“Come on, Ash. You should give yourself more credit than that! You’re beautiful, for crying out loud! Don’t let what Geena and Bryan did to you make you feel any less about yourself. You deserve better than that. A lot better.”
I tried to understand what Nicole was saying to me. But being dumped and cheated on by the two people you thought admired you the most can really take a toll on your self-respect and confidence. And right now, I still couldn’t move past that. I still think I must be the most unattractive and unlovable person on earth for them to do what they did to me.
Nicole finished packing and then we went to the lobby.
“Do you have a ride?” I asked her.
She nodded. “Yes. I’ll go with the rest of the crew. We have a van. You know how it works.”
I nodded. “I’ll see you later.”
Nicole smiled at someone behind me. Then she waved goodbye to me.
I turned around and saw Ryder approaching me, my bag in his hand.
“Ready to go?” He asked. His voice was still a bit cold. I couldn’t see his eyes, they were hidden beneath his dark sports sunglasses.
“Have you checked out?” I asked.
“Well, then let me say goodbye to Mom and Dad.”
He went with me, like a true gentleman, as I said goodbye to my parents, my aunts and uncles.
Once we were alone in the car, we both fell silent. For the first time, I didn’t know what to say to him. Now, we didn’t need to pretend. No more need for formalities, or to start feeling at ease with each other.
It was a very long ride and it seemed that Ryder was also lost in his own thoughts. I lied back on my seat and then I closed my eyes and fell asleep
In my dreams, I remembered touching Ryder, I remembered hugging him and I remembered the heat of his body against mine… and I felt love. I wanted to linger in his arms forever. I wanted to stay there and continue feeling loved, continue feeling desired.
I felt a tap on my cheek. It was so light, I could barely feel it. When I opened my eyes, I found Ryder staring down at me.
I stared back at him, not knowing what to say. I couldn’t help thinking how beautiful he was. And that last night, he really did belong to me. But it was… over… too soon!
“I’m sorry.” I whispered. I sat up straight on my seat and found that we were already in front of Adam’s house. I sighed. “So, this is it.”
I smiled at him. “Thank you, Ryder.” I said quietly. “For a job well done.”
He didn’t say anything. He just continued staring at me.
I stared at the ring on my finger. I began to take it off but then I felt his hand close in against mine.
He shook his head. “Keep it.” He said. “You have promises you need to keep. This should remind you of them.”
I bit my lip. I wanted to cry. How could he be so perfect? How could he be so wonderful? And how could the sincere look on his face be just a charade? Part of the act?
He pushed a stray lock of hair behind my ear.
“See you, Astrid.” He said to me. But I know he was saying goodbye for real. His job was done.
“Goodbye, Ryder.” I whispered.
“I wish you all the best..” He added.
“You too.” I wonder whether he changed his mind about the third promise he asked of me. Perhaps after last night, he doesn’t want to see me anymore. Perhaps, he changed his mind about me. After all, I’m the type of girl who pays to have a guy to take her to bed. “Thank you. For a wonderful night.”
His eyes narrowed. He took a deep breath and then instead saying something, he simply nodded.
We stared at each other for a long while. My heart was pounding wildly inside my chest. It seems that we both wanted to say something to each other but we couldn’t bring ourselves to do so. It made me wonder if it was sex that changed and ruined the magic we shared last night.
“G-goodbye.” I said, finally, cutting through the silence.
He nodded. I took my bag and then I went out of the car. As soon as I stepped out and close the door behind me, Ryder sped off, without another word or a backward glance. A tear rolled down my cheek. Ryder had been wonderful. I knew at that instant, that he left a mark in my heart. And I couldn’t help feeling empty now that I may never see him again.
I noticed that Adam wasn't home yet. I went inside the house. I placed my bag in my room and then I went to get a beer from Adam’s fridge and sat on his deck to stare at the waves in the ocean, and the surfers dancing with them.
I tried to recollect everything that happened last night. The way that Ryder rescued me from every single embarrassment that could have happened to me, the way he made me feel that I was the queen in the room and he answered to my every whim, the way that he kissed me that made me feel I deserved every bit of it, the way that he touched me that made me feel like a precious fragile crystal
I thought about Bryan and the irritated look he threw at Ryder. For the first time in months I was able to smile. Smile at the thought of Bryan, because I know now that I couldn’t always be the one crying over him. I couldn’t always be the one feeling sorry for myself. I know there is hope. Someday, I’ll find someone who will look at me the way that Ryder looked at me last night. Now, I know that things happen for a reason, and knowing that I can wantonly lose control with a man like Ryder made me think I was meant to be passionate… more than I will ever be for Bryan.
I felt Adam sit beside me. “Hey, cuz.” He greeted warmly. I gave him a warm smile. “Wow! You look better than you did the last time you sat in that chair.”
I sighed and looked at the beach. “Maybe I am better.”
“I see Van Woodsen had some positive effect on you.” He said sarcastically.
“His real name is Ryder Woodson, Adam.” I said.
He shrugged but didn’t say anything.
“Not to be confused with some rich people in New York..” I said. “But our uncles and aunts, even Mom and Dad think that now.”
“He pulled it off, didn’t he?”
I nodded. “Very well. I can say that he is smart. He even sounded like he went to college.”
“Maybe he did.” Adam said.
“If he did then why does he make a living getting people drunk?”
Adam shook his head. “Maybe he just has a passion for… mixing drinks.”
I shrugged. “He’s a people person. He can listen to you whine over and over. Comes with the job description, I guess.” I said.
“How was your night?” Adam asked.
I took a gulp of my beer because remembering all the things that Ryder and I did in the hotel room will surely make me blush all over again and I don’t want Adam to see that.
“It was… spectacular!” I replied. “Bryan and Geena thought I was engaged!”
“Yeah and she hated you more for that.” Adam said.
I raised a brow at him. “Hate me? What right does she have to hate me for being engaged? I was engaged before she slept with my fiancé behind my back!” I said crossly.
Adam shrugged. “Geena knew the game, Ash. She knew the real reason why Bryan married her. It was the baby… and also because previous wedding arrangements have already been made. She knew that. She knew that her husband is still harboring feelings for you. And she can’t believe that in spite of all these, you appeared in that wedding reception, with your head held high, all happy and in love… with an even better man. And you got engaged again! For real!”
“Not for real!” I rolled my eyes.
“But she didn’t know that!” Adam said. “Somehow, she was wondering how it’s possible you managed to get marriage proposals… while she had to steal fiancés and dream weddings. And of course… you stole her thunder on her wedding day!”
“I think it’s only fair, since she robbed me of my wedding day!” I said sarcastically.
“Well, I just hope that you’re happy, Ash.” Adam said.
I remembered last night again and I know that I had already started the healing process. I was happy. Because I conquered all my fears of facing my relatives. Because I didn’t look like the fool anymore. Then I remembered the passionate night that followed after. I sighed. The healing process had started before I knew it had already begun. I don’t need to be afraid to accept change anymore. I need not be stubborn anymore.
“I’ll get there, Adam.” I said to him. “Thanks to you, I know I’ll get there.”
He ruffled my hair and then left me alone in the deck.
My thoughts drifted off to Ryder again.
What was that look on his face? What changed him this morning? He said to me that he does not regret what happened to us last night but then why did it look like he was mad at me afterward? What was going on in his mind?
I stared at the ring on my finger. It was lovely beyond words that it was hard to believe that it wasn't a real diamond.
Somehow, I wish we weren’t mad at each other when we parted ways. I wish we gave each other one last kiss and then said our goodbyes.
Maybe because we slept together, it changed the agenda. It made him feel like if he continued being sweet in the morning, I would hope it was all real and he didn’t want to give me any false hopes. He was just being true and honest. He was being a gentleman.
After I finished my beer, I went to take a shower. Then I dressed into my pajamas and unpacked my bags. It was still early but already I feel exhausted, I just want to sleep.
I placed my dirty clothes in my hamper and all the unused clothes back in the closet. Seeing the gown I wore last night made me think of Ryder again, and how wonderful he had been.
It was all a scam… part of the charade, Ash! I scolded myself. Ryder was a figment of my imagination. I created him. With ten grand, I created a guy who only existed in dreams.
Handsome as hell, sweet as heaven.
I may be stupid enough to get too drunk and sleep with him, wishing he was real, but I know I am not stupid enough to fall in love with a dream, With a frown on my face, I placed my gown in my hamper.
I placed my wallet in my dresser. Making sure that the bag is empty, I opened all the pockets. I felt an envelope inside one of them.
I fished it out and found two envelopes folded together. I looked inside and found Adam’s checks in both of them. The whole ten grands. My heart pounded in my chest. These were Ryder’s checks. He hadn't cashed the first one. Nor did he accept the second one that I left in the table for him.
One of the envelopes has something written in it in his neat script:
Remember your promises. All three of them.
I touched the words with my hand. Tears rolled down my cheeks. It confused me more to wonder how it is that my heart feels broken at this moment. Like I know I won’t be seeing Ryder again in my life and a part of me does not like that. Like I wanted to take it all back and wish that I have been much kinder to him this morning. That I was able to thank him enough for what he did for me.
Lying down on my bed, I hugged the envelopes to my chest and I cried my heart out.
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