Love all alike no season knows, nor clime, Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time. - (John Donne "The Rising Sun.")
Anthea stared at the T.V screen blankly, tears flowing down her face. She let them cascade down her cheeks, doing nothing to stop them. When a heart is broken, it hurts, and Anthea was hurting.
She thought about Felix, her boyfriend of three years. They'd had a great relationship; 'had' being the operative word. He had dumped her last month. A sob escaped her lips as she recalled the night he had dumped her.
It was Friday, when she had rushed home after work, eager to see Felix. He had asked her to come home early that because he had something important to discuss with her.
She had assumed that he was going to propose; that for her was the logical thing to think having been together for so long, and both had spoken of how they wanted to get married and settle down soon.
Nearly bursting with happiness, she had made dinner when she got home and was setting the table when he walked in.
He saw the set table she had decorated with flowers and candles and his features had an expression of sympathy and sadness. Anthea saw and thought that perhaps something had happened at work. When he started to talk she began to realize where he was heading.
She noticed how carefully he chose his words; rather like a marine picking his way through a minefield.
"Anthea ... I..." He tried to lessen the pain he knew he would inflict — tried, and failed, and then making a visible effort he told her the truth.
"Anthea, I know this is going to be hard for you, but you have to know; I love someone else."
He watched as her face first went blank and then registered shock and disbelief.
He hated doing this, but he went on. Having lived with her for three years he felt he owed her the truth.
"She's someone I met a few months ago, in the library. We became good friends and one thing led to the other and ... well, we love each other. We want to get married."
He waited, expecting her to say something, but she remained silent, tears flowing freely down her face.
He continued, "I thought it was only fair that I tell you. I'm sorry Anthea, this is true love. This is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with."
She broke down then, emitting loud, wrenching sobs. She slumped forward, clutching her stomach, crying. Felix held her while she wept, and slowly, her sobs faded away. Suddenly, she pulled away from him and went into the restroom. She washed her face with cold water and took time to compose herself.
When she came out, she was smiling. Turning to Felix, who was confused by her sudden change of emotions, she said, "When am I meeting her?"
Now as she wiped away her tears, she tried to concentrate on the television. She didn't want to think about Felix and his new woman. But she couldn't help herself, the thoughts rushed into her head.
After Felix had left her, she had broken down again, even contemplated suicide. He had been the centre of her universe, and he had gone from her life.
Apparently, Felix had called a few of her friends and told them what he had done, because within the hour, they appeared at her house armed with chocolates, ice cream and a whole lot of tissues.
Now she gave a wan little smile through her tears as she that thought about that time; Jon, Shelly, Kim, Vic and Sami had tried their best to make her feel better. They spent half the night abusing Felix and the other half talking about the advantages of being single. By the next morning Anthea was definitely feeling better.
She did meet Felix's fiancée, Darla, and within the course of the evening they spent together, decided that she was a nice person, a person she wouldn't mind having as a friend. She also saw that Felix was happier with Darla than he had ever been with her. 'This is what he deserves', she tried to convince herself, but her heart wouldn't listen.
She turned the TV off and headed to bed, still thinking about Felix. He was getting married two days later, and she was to be the matron of honor. She wiped her face and got into bed and imagined how the wedding would be. She noticed that thinking about it didn't hurt as much as it used to. Maybe she was getting over it after all.
The day of the wedding dawned bright and sunny, perfect weather for an outdoor wedding. The wedding was to take place in the grounds of a beautiful resort near the beach. The reception would be held on the beach itself, a casual affair where the main objective would be to have as much as fun as possible.
Both Felix and Darla were orphans, so it was mostly young people who were invited. Anthea and the others who were organizing the wedding had arrived at the resort the night before, so they could see to all the wedding details. Even Sami, Jon, Kim, Shelly and Vic had turned up. They had forgiven Felix for dumping Anthea when they found out that Anthea really didn't mind.
Anthea woke up at 7 a.m. that day, and went to take a quick shower so that she could head out and help with all the last minute jobs that had to be done. When she came out, she woke up Shelly, who she was sharing a room with, so she could also help. She was just heading out when she noticed the envelope lying on the floor near the door.
She picked it up saw that it was addressed to her. Puzzled, she opened the envelope and pulled out the paper that was inside. It was one of those fancy letter papers that one can buy, scented with small designs. She unfolded the sheet and read the words written inside in a beautiful script. It was in verse:
"To do what you are doing, One needs to be strong, 'Tis painful to find that Your love has been wrong.
You have pulled through, And put on a smile, But I know it hurts, Deep inside.
I don't know if this helps; Here's something to you unknown; There's someone out there Very much in love with you."
She clutched the paper to her breast when she read the last two lines, but there was a smile on her face. She wondered who it was from. Perhaps it was from Shelly, who was trying to make her feel better. She carefully put the poem back inside the envelope and placed the envelope in her bag.
When Shelly came out from the shower Anthea showed her the letter. Shelly read it and gave it back to Anthea with a grin on her face.
"Looks like you have a secret admirer!" Shelly said
"You mean you didn't write it?" Anthea asked, a perplexed look on her face.
"Of course not, and I'm definitely not deeply in love with you" she laughed; "must have been someone else." Shelly replied.
"Oh." Anthea said. "Anyway, we'd better check on the food and stuff now."
"Yeah" Shelly agreed and both of them went outside to the wedding pavilions to make sure everything was in apple pie order.
After a quick check Anthea and Shelly found everything to be fine, so they headed back inside to grab some breakfast and then go to change. The wedding was at 10 o'clock, so they would have plenty of time.
After breakfast Anthea made her way back to her room to get ready. After she finished dressing, she was going to help Darla so she had to be quick.
The dress Darla had chosen for Anthea to wear was a simple, long, pale lavender satin gown with a square neck and thin spaghetti straps that held it up. It wasn't exactly traditional, but Darla had insisted that Anthea looked absolutely divine in it and refused to allow her buy a more conventional dress. She had agreed then, after all, it was Darla's wedding.
Anthea put on her gown. She fastened a simple silver chain with an amethyst pendant round her slender neck and donned the matching earrings. She pulled back her curly brown tresses into a severe bun and slipped on her sandals. She didn't apply any make up and didn't even look in the mirror before she went to Darla's room to help her.
Darla had already slipped into her strapless ivory gown and was waiting for her. Anthea helped her get on a transparent top made of lace on top of her gown which made Darla look stunning. Then Darla applied a little makeup while Anthea pulled her long blond hair into an elegant twist at the nape of hr neck. Darla had decided against a train and had instead chosen a simple circlet of white flowers that Anthea placed in her hair. Anthea smiled as she studied the finished effect, noting that Darla looked every bit the happy bride that she was.
Darla on the other hand was looking at Anthea, frowning at her bun and simple jewelry.
She got up from the vanity and made Anthea sit down in her place.
"Do you think you can go to my wedding looking like that?" Darla admonished, freeing Anthea's beautiful hair from the confines of the bun and letting it fall free. The long, lustrous tresses framed Anthea's oval face and brought out the beauty of it.
Yes, Anthea was beautiful. She had an oval face with a peach and roses complexion. Her thick brown hair and green eyes drew many admirers. Her small, straight nose served to enhance her features. She had a slender figure and was quite tall. 5'7" or 5'8". It was these looks and a quick brain that made her a successful model.
Anthea tried to protest as Darla started to style her hair, but shut up when she saw the Darla's determined look reflected in the mirror. Darla pulled a little of Anthea's hair back and fastened it with a small clip. She let the rest of her hair cascade down to a little below her shoulders. Darla stepped back to study the effect in the mirror. Anthea looked beautiful now, even angelic. Darla smiled and allowed Anthea to get up; making her promise that she would not do anything to rearrange her hair.
Anthea laughed and hugged Darla, not caring that this was the woman that had stolen her love away from her. That was how Anthea was. She could see that Darla and Felix were happy, and she was happy for them.
They joked for a bit and then when heading out to the garden she remembered that she had promised to lend Shelly some of her jewelry. She told Darla to go on and rushed back to her room. She found Shelly waiting for her. She opened the draw to take out the bracelet when she noticed another envelope. She handed the bracelet to Shelly and took out the poem.
"All that I can think about now, Are your smiling eyes and lovely face, Your laugh that never fails to brighten the day, The way you move, with beautiful grace.
Your sweet kind disposition; Your willpower and strength; Your loyalty to friends, For them you'll go to any length.
But what I admire most of all, Is your heart that is true, And that is why my darling, I love you."
Anthea finished reading and turned to Shelly.
"You were here weren't you?" she said, looking at her questioningly. "You'd have to have seen who put this here. Tell me who it was."
"It's not for me to tell." Shelly said, and quickly dodged as Anthea made a playful grab for her.
Anthea had to content herself with that. She gave Shelly what she wanted and both of them went to the gardens. Quite a number of people had already occupied the chairs that had been placed on either side of a grassy aisle. Felix had chosen Jon to be his best man, and Anthea grinned to see Jon fidgeting in his suit. Jon was her oldest friend; she had known him since middle school.
He was a tall man, about 6 feet or more, with a rather toned body. He worked as an animal trainer. The company he worked for regularly sent exotic animals to Hollywood for movies, and he often traveled with them. He mostly worked with his charges out in the sun so he was tanned. His ebony, somewhat coarse, hair and stormy gray eyes gave him a slightly rakish look which most women found attractive.
She'd had a crush on him once, in college, but then she had met Felix and settled down. Jon was the kind of guy who looked good in anything, but he had always gone for the casual look — he usually wore jeans and baggy t-shirts, and was allergic to anything even remotely formal. She saw Vic walk over to Jon, probably trying to get him to stop fidgeting.
Vic was Jon's polar opposite. Maybe that's why they got along so well. Vic was the typical American boy, thick blonde hair stylishly cut, and bright cornflower blue eyes. He too was fit but wasn't as tall as Jon. He was about 5'10" or 5'11". He worked as a lawyer for one of the law firms in South Carolina and was fast rising in the ranks. In fact, he was expecting a partnership soon. He, unlike Jon, had absolutely no problems in wearing formal dress; it didn't matter anyway since this was the appropriate dress for his career.
Anthea walked over to them and as she got nearer, she was able to hear their conversation.
" ... these are so uncomfortable! What's wrong with jeans anyways?"
"Jeans aren't acceptable at a wedding Jon, especially since you're the best man."
"I'd still rather be wearing jeans"
"Yeah, you look a lot more comfortable in them too. Now you look like someone has slipped a whole bucketful of ice down your back," Anthea said dryly as she approached them.
Jon gave her a reproachful look, but immediately stopped fidgeting. Vic breathed a sigh of relief and turned to Anthea.
"I have no idea what you, Shelly and Sami have, but you three are probably the only people he listens to," Vic said, receiving a punch on the shoulder from Jon.
Anthea grinned and watched her two friends as they engaged in a playful argument. They were so dear to her; they had pulled her through a lot.
Sami came up and announced that the minister was ready. Anthea nodded and managed to convey the message to the two guys with her. Vic sauntered off then, while Jon stood next to Felix near the minister.
Anthea made her way to the end of the aisle and took her bouquet of wildflowers. She then made her way up to the minister, with Darla walking behind her carrying a bouquet of white blossoms. When she reached where the Minister and Felix were waiting, she walked off to the side and watched as Darla reached there and took the hand Felix offered. She felt tears flow down her cheeks as they took their vows and Felix kissed Darla.
She quickly wiped them away, hoping that no one noticed as she turned to the smiling couple who were now surrounded by a throng of well-wishers. Unknown to her, someone had seen, and he was filled with admiration for her as she walked up to the couple to hug them both and wish them a good life. No wonder he loved her.
Anthea slumped down on her bed that afternoon. She was utterly exhausted. After the wedding, there was the usual mingling to be done, and then they'd had lunch. All that combined with waking up so early in the morning exhausted Anthea and she came back to her room so she could at least rest for a while. She stared at the ceiling and wondered who was sending her those poems.
Whoever it was, he was extremely thoughtful. Even though she didn't know who it was, she already liked him. She pulled herself up to the bed head and lay back on the pillow. She heard the crackle of paper under the pillow. Pulling it out, she discovered it was another envelope. She pulled out the poem eagerly and began to read.
"You thought no one had seen Those tears in your eyes Drops so infinitely sad; Realization you once lived a lie.
Please don't feel that you failed, It may seem dark now, But you'll come through, And love will prevail.
When that moment comes I'll be waiting for you, I'll wait forever, so I can hope that to me you will come."
Anthea's heart was pounding as she finished reading the poem. So someone had seen her cry. She thought of all the people she knew, but no one struck her as being the poet. She carefully put the poem back into the envelope and kept it with the others. Whoever sent them made her feel a lot better. They were like a release and also a constant reassurance that no matter what happened; there was still one person out there who cared for her.
After she put the letters in her suitcase, she decided that a shower and then a short nap would revitalize her and get her ready for the evening. She quickly shed her gown and jewelry, carefully putting them back in the suitcase, and entered the bathroom. It was a large bathroom, with a bath tub and a shower stall. The bath tub looked so inviting that she decided to forgo the nap and take a nice long bath instead.
She put in some bubble bath and filled the bathtub with warm water. She stepped in carefully, trying not to make the water spill over. She sank into the warm water, which now felt as soft as silk. She rested her head against the headrest and closed her eyes, reveling in the feeling of the water caressing every part of her, relaxing her and soothing her muscles. Soon Anthea was fast asleep.
It was a loud knocking on the bathroom door that woke her up. She sat up immediately; shocked that she had fallen asleep. She couldn't believe she had done something so dangerous. She quickly got out of the tub and drained the water. The knocking on the door got louder. She looked around for her robe, but couldn't find it.
"I'm coming!" Anthea called out as she wrapped one of the hotel towels around her. Thinking that it would only be Shelly, she opened the door to see Jon standing there, his eyes slowly traveling down her body from head to toes. She felt his piercing gaze and shifted uncomfortably. She finally managed to push past him and put on her bathrobe that was lying on a chair near the bed.
He hadn't turned as she pushed past him, immobilized with the shock of seeing her like that. But, instead of turning away, he had checked her out. It was only when she pushed past him that he snapped out of the trance he had been in and had the good grace not to turn around as she put on her robe.
"Uhh ... Darla just asked me to remind you to bring the tapes. I ... uh ... I'm sorry ... it..." Jon stuttered, still not looking at her.
Anthea had regained her composure and was now feeling quite sorry for him.
"That's okay." She said quietly, "and I'll remember to bring the tapes."
"I'll be going now." Jon said, and when he turned, Anthea got a glimpse of his face. He was blushing! She should be feeling awkward, but she was feeling strangely happy - happy that this had happened. She opened the door for him and watched his back as he made his way down the corridor and disappeared into his room.
She closed the door behind her, her thoughts still on Jon. She felt slightly guilty now for not feeling embarrassed. Deciding that sorting out the mixed feelings now was definitely not a good idea, she quickly changed. She put on a black halter top and denim shorts. Picking up the tapes she had promised Darla, she made her way out of the room and towards the party that was to take place on the beach.
When she got there, people were already milling around the happy couple, offering their congratulations. She waved to Darla and held up the packet of tapes when Darla shot her a questioning glance. She made her way to the DJ and gave him the tapes, instructing him which songs he was to play from them.
After that, she went to talk to the people who had arrived. Some had already started dancing on the small dancing square that had been erected. Anthea finally spotted her friends and went over to them. They were talking about the party. Sami and Shelly were eyeing all the young men and Vic was busily scanning every attractive female he could spot.
She stood between Sami and Shelly, only to have Vic glare at her.
"Anthea, you're blocking my view!" he exclaimed.