Paul shifted in his seat with a sigh. He hated flying. Once upon a time, he’d loved the feeling of soaring through the air at speed, watching the clouds through the windows, but ever since Robert, he’d found it difficult to switch off, so he tried to avoid long-haul flights as much as possible. This was a special occasion, though. Because this particular long-haul flight would take him to London for the start of his honeymoon.
He looked at his new wife, fast asleep on his shoulder, with a fond smile. Terese had fallen asleep almost immediately after the plane’s engine had started. The white noise, Paul supposed, she often did the same in the car. It probably helped that she was completely relaxed. Terese loved flying. She’d once told him that when she was little, she’d wanted to be a bird so that she could ‘watch the rest of the world from far away, where no one could bother her’, so a plane was the closest she would ever get to that. Most little girls wanted to be a fairy, but sure. In another life, Paul reckoned she’d have made an excellent pilot, but at the same time, he was glad she’d chosen the career path she had. Mainly because it meant that he got to spend all day every day at her side.
He was so lucky to have her in his life. Sometimes he still couldn’t believe that he got to live alongside her; wake up next to her every morning, sit down next to at dinner every night, and hold her hand as they walked side by side. She was so beautiful, so kind, so accepting of all of him. He often found himself just watching her as she went about her day, carefully committing every inch of her to memory: every habit, every quirk, every expression. She completely captivated him. Roxy had caught him once, announcing to the entire household that his expression was ‘the human embodiment of the heart eyes emoji’. He’d been about to fire back a retort, but Terese had looked at him with a smile that had made his heart sing, and his comeback had been completely forgotten.
He caught a glimpse of her wedding band, peeking through their intertwined fingers, glinting in the light, and felt a small thrill at the reminder that they were finally married.
He’d loved her for so long-he’d fallen in love with Terese long before she began to think of him as anything other than a friend. He hadn’t meant to. Actually, it had taken Paul while to realise just how deep his feelings for her were. It had happened gradually; their mutual dislike had turned into mutual respect, and then into a friendship that slowly deepened into something much more. Slowly but surely, Paul had trusted her with more and more of his thoughts and feelings until eventually, she had his whole heart. Even now, Paul couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment he fell for her, he just knew that at some point he came to enjoy her company over anyone else’s (even his own) and that at some point, simply seeing her smile became the highlight of his day. And now, after everything they had been through, they were married- Terese was his wife ! He’d dreamt about this moment for so long it was hard to believe it had finally come true. But it had come true- and Paul was slightly surprised at how he felt. He was happy-deliriously so, but that giddiness was tempered by this sense of calm he felt deep in his soul. It was as though he was finally at peace, and all was right in his world.
It was a welcome change from how he’d been feeling these last few weeks. Coming face to face with his past mistakes had shaken him to his very core. He’d seen that same look of disappointment, anger and hurt in every one of his ex-wives eyes and the thought that Terese might one day look at him in the same way had torn him apart. He’d been so terrified by the thought that one day he might break Terese’s heart, that he’d genuinely thought that calling things off was for the best. At least then the two of them could try and salvage some sort of relationship. Even if they returned to solely being colleagues or business partners, at least Terese would still be a part of his life. At some point, she’d probably have moved on with someone else, and it would have killed him, but he would have managed because Terese would have been happy, and he would have still been able to see her every day.
Thank god, for Caroline. Of all the people who could have come to Paul’s rescue, his former lover and sister-in-law was fairly low down on the list. But come to his rescue she had, and he would be forever grateful to her for that. The revelation that his own daughter had been behind the whole thing had stung. However, now that he’d had some time to think about about it, he was more annoyed that Elle had decided to interfere in his business than he was hurt. But then again, Elle had never met Terese. All she knew of the woman who was about to become her stepmother she knew from what her dad had told her over the years. And, granted, to an outsider, his and Terese’s relationship seemed more than a little dysfunctional. He was also a little bit proud. Elle had pulled off a very impressive scheme. Clearly, she was more her father’s daughter than she liked to think.
Of the whole scheme, it was actually Leo’s involvement that hurt the most. More than anyone else, Leo knew just how much Terese meant to him. Paul had confided in his son more than once over the years, he knew what he and Terese had been through to be together. And Paul had genuinely thought that he and Leo had turned a corner, that they might, at last, be able to patch things up and repair their damaged relationship. Apparently, he had thought wrong and that stung.
Paul forced himself to think about something else. There would be time to build bridges with his son later, right now he had much happier things to think about. Because despite the many obstacles they had faced, he had Terese had made it. They had said their vows, and signed the certificate, and were now finally officially husband and wife. Terese was finally Mrs Robinson.
Well, kind of. Technically but not officially. She’d been wavering over changing her name anyway. The paperwork had seemed like a hassle, and she’d built a good reputation in their business world as Terese Willis. There was also a part of her that felt that by changing her name she was severing the last tangible connection with Josh she had left. The whole ex-wives conspiracy had only strengthened her resolve. In her own words ‘there’s been a long line of Mrs Paul Robinson’s, but there’ll only be one Terese Willis.’ Her determination to differentiate herself from his previous wives made sense, Paul supposed, but he was still a little disappointed. Maybe with time, she’d change her mind, but for now, it was too soon and she wasn’t ready. But really, even if she never changed her mind, he wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. This whole debacle could have cost him his entire future with Terese, so a surname was a cost he’d be happy to bear. That and the cost of two weddings. And two wedding dresses. Oh, and the cost of Ned’s emergency flight to Queensland that somehow ended up in Sydney…
Small change, really.