”Emma, I’m sorry, but I can’t do this,’ Neal said and looked at the floor rather than looking at Emma.
“What are you talking about?” Emma asked and looked up from the seating plan. “Can’t do what?”
“This,’ Neal said quietly and nodded towards the seating plan in Emma’s hands.
Emma’s gaze snapped up and she suddenly felt lightheaded. “What are you... What are you saying?”
“It’s been going too fast,” Neal said and fidgeted slightly.
Emma shook her head, refusing to accept this. “You can’t be serious.”
“I’m sorry,” Neal repeated. “I thought I was ready, but-“
“Will you listen to yourself?!” Emma interrupted. “We’re getting married tomorrow, Neal!”
“I know, I just...” He sighed and rubbed his unshaven cheek. “All this talk about seating plans and decorations and cakes.... it’s not what I imagined.”
Emma dropped the seating plan entirely. “And what about me? Am I not what you imagined either?”
Neal didn’t answer that.
“You proposed to ME!” Emma bellowed. “You asked ME to marry you!”
“I know, I just...”
“We have eighty people coming to celebrate our wedding tomorrow,” Emma interrupted and gaped at her fiancé. “The church is booked, the rings are bought. My dress is hanging in the bedroom, we have the plane tickets for our honeymoon, and now you’re telling me that you can’t do this?! What the hell is the matter with you?!”
“I thought this was what I wanted, okay?!” Neal hissed. “And I’ve really been trying, but.... It just doesn’t feel right no more!”
“Is this about your dad?” Emma asked, grappling for reasons why this could be happening. “Is it because your dad doesn’t like me? Is that it?”
“No!” Neal said firmly. “It has nothing to do with papa!”
“No, explain this to me, Neal, because I don’t understand-“ Emma stopped talking when she saw the expression on his face. “Oh god. There’s someone else isn’t there?”
“ISN’T there?!” the blonde yelled.
“Yes!” Neal exclaimed, shouting right back at her. “Yes, there is someone else, okay?!”
Emma was steaming with anger. She couldn’t believe that this was happening, and exactly as expected, her anger made her voice completely calm when she asked: “Who is it?”
“Does it really matter?” Neal asked, throwing his hands in the air.
“Damn right it does!” Emma sneered. “You’ve just told me that you can’t go through with our wedding tomorrow because you’ve met someone else! I damn well have a right to know who it is! Now tell me!”
Neal looked down at the floor again. He went quiet for so long Emma was starting to doubt that he would ever answer her question, but then she said: “It’s Tamara.”
Emma’s ears were ringing. “Our... wedding planner?”
Neal didn’t say anything, but his silence was a clear indicator.
“So while she’s been helping me with planning everything AND becoming my friend, you’ve been fucking her on the sideline?!”
‘I didn’t plan this, okay!’ Neal yelled. ‘I didn’t fucking plan to fall for her! But you... You were always so busy, and-‘
‘I was busy planning the most important day in our life,’ Emma interrupted icily. “I was busy making sure that our wedding would be the most wonderful day ever, and this is what I get in return?!”
“I’m sorry, okay?!”
Emma looked up at the man who had been her fiancé until five minutes ago. “You asshole,’ she whispered. ‘You lying, cheating asshole!”
“I’m sorry, I-“
“How long?” Emma interrupted. “How long has this been going on? Since the day you met her? Or did you manage to keep it in your pants until the next day, hmm?”
Neal didn’t answer that.
Emma inhaled sharply and looked down at the kitchen table. Her hands were shaking with anger. “You are the most pathetic excuse for a human being I’ve ever met, do you know that? How can you even sleep at night?! How could you keep up the charade with me while banging Tamara on the side line?! You stupid fucking asshole!”
“Look, I know you’re angry-“
“Angry?’ Emma laughed. “You haven’t seen angry yet, Neal! No. I’ll be calling all our guests. And I’ll explain to them what you did. I’ll be calling your father... Your mother.... Everyone.”
Neal’s eyes widened.
“What do you think dear old dad will think when he finds out his precious son cheated on his fiancé, hmm?”
“Why the fuck shouldn’t I?!” Emma roared. “You’ve just screwed up my life! What goes around, comes back around!”
“Telling everyone isn’t gonna help any-“
“It’s gonna help ME!” Emma yelled. “It’s gonna be a huge fucking relief if everybody knows what a miserable bastard you are!”
Neal opened his mouth, tried to say something, but Emma was very much done listening. She grabbed her cellphone from the table, and her fingers trembled as she tapped in a number.
“What are you doing?” Neal asked.
“I’m calling Tamara’s boss,” Emma spat as she brought the phone up to her ear. “I think it’s a good idea to let her know that Tamara seems to have misunderstood her job, don’t you?”
“Lorraine!” Emma interrupted when the call was answered. “This is Emma. I’m sorry to bother you on a Saturday, but I have a few complaints about Tamara...” she turned her back on Neal and stomped into
the bedroom where she slammed the door shut and locked it. Then she explained everything to Lorraine, and as she did so, she opened her closet and looked at the white cloth bag where her wedding dress was being kept. Her mother’s wedding dress. The wedding dress she was supposed to wear tomorrow at church when she said “I do” to Neal... Tears pooled in her eyes and she tried not to sniffle into the phone.
“My goodness!” Lorraine exclaimed. “Emma, I am so, so sorry! Rest assure that I’ll be having a very, very serious chat with Tamara in which we discuss her future employment. After this, I don’t see how she can possible function as a wedding planner anymore. I know that’s not an enormous consolation right now, but...”
“It helps,” Emma interrupted quietly. “I trusted her to help me with planning my wedding. I’ve been nothing but kind to her. I thought of her as a friend, and this is what I get in return?!”
“I am so terribly sorry about this, Emma.”
“It’s not your fault,” Emma said. “Thank you for all your help with everything, Lorraine. You’ve been a star.”
“Just calculate how many hours Tamara has worked for you, and I’ll be refunding the money,” Lorraine said.
“Thank you. I appreciate that. Goodbye.”
“Goodbye, Emma. Again, I’m so, so sorry about this.”
“Yeah. You and me both,” Emma muttered. Then she ended the call and walked over to the closet. She unzipped the white cloth bag and couldn’t do anything but break down in tears when she saw her
wedding dress. The dress that had been mended, cleaned and restored to its original state for the past few months. Her mother’s wedding dress. That beautiful dress she was supposed to wear in church tomorrow. The dress she was supposed to wear walking down the isle by her father’s arm. And her veil. That beautiful veil made of French lace. The veil her mother had insisted upon buying her even though it was too much....
Emma sobbed. Now everything was falling apart. Because stupid fucking Neal and his fucking inability to keep it in his pants! And with their wedding planner of all people! This was a fucking comedy! A soap opera!
The doorknob was being pressed down and then Neal’s voice: “Emma?”
“Go away!” Emma yelled. “Just fucking get out of here you stupid fucking...” she took a deep breath. “Asshole! Get the fuck out of here! I don’t ever want to see you again!”
She heard a sigh and then footsteps walking away from the bedroom. The floorboards creaked and then she heard the front door open and then slam shut. Emma was alone in the apartment. Alone to cry and get all her frustrations out. And for a solid five minutes she cried and called Neal every last horrible thing she could think of. And once her vocabulary was drained for things, she could call Neal, she proceeded to call Tamara the same and even added a few extra insults. For some reason it was easier to come up with things to call Tamara. She had been posing and pretending to be Emma’s friend while screwing Neal on the sideline. What sort of person did that?!
Once Emma felt completely drained, she did the only thing she could do in this situation. She called her mom.
It didn’t take many seconds before Mary Margaret picked up. “Emma, honey! I was just about to call you! How is everything going? Are you nervous about tomorrow?”
“There isn’t gonna be a tomorrow,” Emma whispered and felt herself choke up once again.
“What do you mean, honey? What are you talking about?” Mary Margaret asked, now sounding alert and attentive. And worried.
“There isn’t gonna be a wedding tomorrow,” Emma said, now crying openly into the phone. “Or at any other time for that matter.”
“What?! What are you talking about?!”
“Neal c-cheated on me,” Emma cried. “With... Tamara.”
“What?! No, that can’t possibly be!”
“It’s true. He just told me,” Emma almost choked on the words. “I don’t know what to do now, mom. All the guests.... the church.... Your d-dress. Everything is falling apart.”
“Oh, sweetie,” Mary Margaret said gently in the other end. “Baby, I’m so sorry. Is Neal still in the apartment with you?”
“No, I asked him to leave,” Emma croaked. “I don’t know where he went. Probably to Tamara’s place or something like that.”
“Then come over,” Mary Margaret said firmly. “I’ll make us some waffles and we’ll talk about it, okay?”
“Okay. I’ll be right there,” Emma said and then she heard her dad in the other end. He was mumbling something. He sounded concerned.
“Can’t you tell him?” Emma whispered.
“Of course I can, sweetie. Now hurry over here, okay?”
“Okay,” Emma murmured. “See you in a moment.” Then she hung up, sniffled and then wiped her eyes. She hated the fact that she was crying about this. She wished that she could just be angry and wish
to kick Neal’s sorry ass back to the hellhole he came from, but her heart didn’t quite agree. This was Neal. The man she had loved and trusted for three years. And now he had done this to her. He had carried on with another woman while playing the excited groom to be. That was fucking insane! What sort of person did that?!
Emma sniffled again and wiped her eyes. Her hand came away black. She probably looked a mess. She felt like a mess. A huge fucking mess.
She did her utmost to ignore the white cloth bag as she grabbed her leather jacket and then left the bedroom. There was no sign of Neal anywhere. And coming out on the street, Emma noticed that his
car was gone as well. Maybe he really had gone to Tamara’s place. Emma wouldn’t be surprised if he had. After today, nothing would ever come to a surprise to her again.
She fumbled with her car keys for a moment. Her hands were still trembling with emotion. While she struggled to insert the key into the lock, Eugenia Lucas, known amongst friends as “granny” walked past her, smiled and said: “good morning, Emma! On your way to discuss the last details? Ruby and I are so looking forward to the wedding tomorrow, it is going to be a wonderful day!”
Emma inserted the key into the lock, opened the door to the yellow Bug and climbed onto the driver’s seat. She inserted the key and twisted it slightly. The engine came to life with a roar and a splutter.
Very appropriate. “There isn’t gonna be a wedding tomorrow,” she said plainly.
Granny raised an eyebrow. “What, but I-“
“Now if you would excuse me, I’m a bit in a hurry,” Emma said as she maneuvered the yellow Bug away from the apartment. The tires screeched as she accelerated and drove away from the mystified Granny.
Emma knew that she had been rude to Granny for now apparent reason, but she couldn’t deal with people right now.
She was greeted at the door by her father who immediately pulled her into a hug. “Oh Emma, I’m so sorry,” he said. Mary Margaret had kept her promise and had told him what had happened.
“Yeah. You and me both,” Emma said meekly and tried to joke. She failed miserably.
“Come in. Your mother’s made waffles,” David said as he put a hand on her shoulder to guide her inside the house.
“That sounds good,” Emma said. She wasn’t sure she could eat anything, but she would try for her mother’s sake.
Five minutes later she was sitting at her parents, kitchen table, plate of waffles in front of her and a cup of hot, strong coffee. She was sure that the waffles were great and all, but she couldn’t taste them.
Not really. Nor she could taste the coffee. Everything had been replaced with a foul, metallic taste in her mouth.
She ran her fingers through her hair. “I don’t know what to do,” she said, and her voice broke once more. “The church, the guests...” yes, she had threatened Neal to expose his adultery to every last wedding guest, but honestly, did she really have the energy for that? Did she really have the energy for anything?
“I can talk to Archie,” Mary Margaret said and patted Emma’s hand gently. “That won’t be a problem at all.”
Emma nodded a bit. She knew that talking to Storybrooke’s kind and understanding minister, Archie Hopper was gonna be the least of her problems. “What am I gonna tell the guests?” she whispered and rubbed a hand over her face. “How can I tell them that a wedding they were supposed to go to tomorrow is suddenly cancelled? What will they think?”
“It doesn’t matter what they’ll think,” David said firmly. “Just tell them the ceremony is cancelled. That’s all they have to know.”
“I’m not calling Robert and Milah!” Emma said and cringed as she thought about Neal’s parents.
“No, Neal will have to take care of that himself!” David said and looked rather murderous. His hand curled into a fist.
“David, that doesn’t help anything,” Mary Margaret said firmly as she put a hand on his arm.
“Your wedding dress...” Emma murmured and could feel how her lower lip quivered. “I suppose I better stop by to give it back to you.”
“Oh Emma,” Mary Margaret said and gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “There’s no need to think about all that now. You need time to-“
“I can’t keep living in the apartment now,” Emma interrupted. “Neal and I bought it together, and I doubt he’ll move out and let me stay there.”
“And the honeymoon,” Emma said, interrupting her mother once again. “Do you think it’s possible to have the tickets refunded on such short notice?” She and Neal were supposed to go Madrid for three weeks on their honeymoon, but obviously there would be none of that now.
“Yes, I’m sure that’s possible, honey,” Mary Margaret said gently. “Now have some more waffle.”
“Or maybe you shouldn’t,” David interjected.
“Have some more waffle?” Emma asked dumbly and looked at him.
“No, refund the tickets,” he said.
Emma raised an eyebrow. “Dad, Neal and I aren’t going anywhere. Not now, not ever.”
“Then let us cover the expenses for his ticket and use your own,” David said.
“And... And go to Madrid on my own? I don’t think so,” Emma said and shook her head.
“Think about it for a moment, sweetie,” David said. “What you need right now is time to recover and be as far away from Neal as possible. If you went to Madrid, you could do that.”
Emma looked at her mother.
“I actually think your father is on to something,” Mary Margaret said. “I think some time away is exactly what you need right now. The chance to see something besides Storybrook.”
Emma shook her head. “I would be running away like a coward if I did that.”
“The only coward here is Neal!” David said firmly. “And I’ll make sure to tell him that if I ever see his sorry a-“
“What your father is trying to say, is that you’re not a coward,” Mary Margaret firmly interrupted. “You would be taking some time away. Some well-deserved time.”
Emma considered it. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea when it really came to it. Here in Storybrook, she could risk running into Neal every single day. She definitely couldn’t in Madrid. She would be far, far away. And oddly enough, she still wanted to go to Madrid. That hadn’t changed. Madrid had been on her bucket list for years now, and despite the chaotic circumstances, it seemed idiot not to take this chance.
“You know what, screw it,” the blonde said and slammed her fist lightly against the table. “I’m gonna do it! I’m going to Madrid alone. He can rot in hell!”
“I think that’s a very wise decision, princess,” David smiled and reached out and patted her hand softly.
Emma smiled at the old pet name. “You’re right, a change of scenery will be good for me.” her smile faltered as she fidgeted with the engagement Neal had given her, and then she slid it off. It left a white mark on her finger. That was how long it had been sitting on her finger.
“How much money do you think I can get for this thing?” she asked as she looked at the ring. She knew for a fact that it wasn’t a family heirloom or anything. Neal had tried to convince her otherwise but had confessed when Emma had spotted the exact same model in the local jeweler store.
“I’m selling it,” Emma said firmly and kept her gaze fixated on the ring, surprised over how little emotion she already had for it. “I’m selling it and buying myself something pretty. And in two days, I’m going to Madrid!’
To Be Continued..........