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Note to readers: This chapter is from Mike’s point of view.
Dammit. Tonight, of all nights.
I was under no mistaken illusions that there would be no more complications for us, but seeing Josh standing next to mom caught me completely off guard. Had she invited him or had he shown up on his own?
I turned back to Savy, her smile gone. I briefly caught her eyes and she looked almost panicked. I had just enough time to gently squeeze her elbow, trying to reassure her, before Max came to us.
“Mike, may I borrow your sister for a moment?”
Her head swung around to look at Max, sending her hair flying behind her.
I bent down and whispered to her, “Don’t worry, I’ll be right here.”
If I had been any further away, I wouldn’t have been able to hear her response, “Okay.”
I nodded to Max and forced a tight smile before he held out his arm in front of Savy, directing her towards a group of tables on the opposite side of the room from where our friends and family were.
She took a few steps before I could see her visibly collect herself. She pulled her shoulders back, lifted her head, and walked with more confidence as she approached the tables.
I stood there like a moron, dumbfounded, but impressed with how quickly she turned on the charm for whoever Max had wanted her to speak with.
When I saw that she was okay for the moment, I turned towards mom and walked to the table. My eyes flickered from person to person. Maria and Mia were both wide-eyed and Mia was covering her mouth. Jeff had his arms crossed in front of his chest and while his head never moved, his eyes moved back and forth between myself and the side where Josh was standing.
Before I could completely close the distance, mom stepped towards me. We stopped together about five feet from the table and she gave me a quick hug before staying close to speak quietly with me.
“Can we go outside for a minute?”
“Yeah,” was all I could say.
I held out Savy’s violin and things for Jeff, who took them from me, briefly grasping my forearm and nodding. I followed mom out into the hall and we walked a bit down the hall to give us some more space in case anyone came to or left the reception.
“Mike, I didn’t know Josh was going to be here. I wouldn’t do that to Savannah and it’s not my place, but she’s told me so little and Josh and I talked for a bit after I saw him here.”
“What did he say?”
“Max invited him.”
I rubbed my eyes, squeezing the bridge of my nose. Dammit. Max didn’t know any better. All he knew was that Savy and Josh had been in a relationship and played together for even longer, then it suddenly ended and had repercussions for the music program.
“Mike, I asked Josh what happened between him and Savannah.”
My throat closed.
“All he would say was that they hadn’t spoken since New Year’s. I told him that I knew he had proposed and she had said no. He wouldn’t tell me why. Mike, what the hell happened?”
Shit. Savy and I needed to tell her, we were going to tell her tonight, but together. Think fast, Mike, one issue at a time.
“Mom, Savy and I have talked, but I think she needs to be here for this conversation.”
“Why? What’s going on?”
“I need you to just be patient. This is all going to get sorted out tonight, I promise. Let’s go inside and sit down for a bit.”
I turned to go back to the reception, but she reached out and grabbed my arm.
“Mike, is everything okay? I’m just worried…”
“Everything is fine, I promise. Let’s go be there for Savy now.”
I held out my arm towards the door, trying to encourage her to go back inside. She looked at me, entirely unconvinced, but did head back. We had only been gone for a few minutes.
Savy was standing next to Max with a group of people. She turned her head to the side and our eyes met. She was struggling to maintain a smile, but I smiled as broadly as I could at her and mouthed, “I love you,” which caused her to noticeably relax.
I went and sat next to Jeff and Mia, across the table from mom and Josh. Josh had his chair turned mostly away from the table and towards mom. I could see that he was watching Savy as she moved about the room. Mom periodically leaned over and whispered something to him, but I couldn’t tell what she was saying. Jeff, Mia, Maria and I made small talk, consciously aware of the awkwardness of the situation.
I watched as Savy finally made her way to our table. Even in her somewhat delicate emotional state, she was absolutely gorgeous, perfect in every way. I wasn’t the only person in the room, male or female, who was watching her every movement.
Mom got up to hug Savy first. “Savannah, I’m so proud of you.”
Savy then came around to our side of the table and took turns hugging Jeff, Mia, and Maria, responding to their compliments.
She came to me and hesitated. I saw her glance quickly at Josh. I understood, or at least thought I did. I’d been in his shoes not too long ago, watching the woman I izmir escort bayan loved in the arms of another man. I reached out and grasped her forearm lightly, more leaning to her than fully hugging her. I leaned just close enough and towards the side of her that was away from the table that I could quietly whisper in her ear, “I love you,” before quickly backing away.
She looked up at me through her eyelashes and said smiled softly. “Thank you.”
Savy moved away from me and around the table to Josh. He stood up to face her, but made no move towards her. Her back was to me and I couldn’t hear, but she seemed to ask him if he wanted to talk. I held my breath as she walked out of the room with him following.
Jeff tried to distract me with some shop talk about NASA while Mia and Maria chatted with mom. I wasn’t paying attention to anything, however, as my eyes were locked on the door, waiting for her to return.
I waited an eternity.
The door opened and Josh came in, but Savy wasn’t behind him.
Josh walked to our table and nodded politely at the rest of us. Mom looked up at him, apprehensive? Anticipating something? He leaned down and gave her a quick hug, then turned and left. She watched him and then her eyes focused on me. What else could I do? I half-shrugged and mouthed, “I don’t know.”
Max must have noticed Savy’s absence, because he broke away from a conversation and came to us.
“Have you seen Savannah? There are more guests that would like to speak with her.”
I immediately stood up, actually jarring the table a bit.
“She stepped out for a minute, but I’ll go look for her.”
Mom shot me a look, but I couldn’t tell what she was thinking, other than it wasn’t her usual supportive smile. I didn’t expect to see that for quite some time after what would be said tonight.
In the hallway, I looked left and right, but didn’t see her. I wandered towards the main entrance, but didn’t find her there, either.
I paused briefly, noticing the signs for her performance in the lobby. There was a picture of her on stage, wearing a black dress that I hadn’t seen before. It must have been from one of her performances while I was gone. She was gorgeous and I could almost hear her playing.
I had a thought and went towards the hall she had performed in earlier in the evening. I quietly opened the door and went inside, stepping out of the small entry and into the main hall.
Savy was sitting on the edge of the stage.
She looked up and saw me. I could see tears on her cheeks as I slowly approached her. I sat next to her and she immediately slid next to me. She wrapped her arm around mine and leaned on me.
She tilted her head up to me and I leaned down, pressing my lips softly to hers.
“I will be. I love you, Mike.”
We sat quietly together.
I wanted to ask her what had happened, but it was her choice of whether or when she wanted to tell me. I knew her well enough to know that the only thing she needed right now was for me to be there for her. I rested my cheek on the top of her head and closed my eyes.
After some time, she slid off of the stage and stood in front of me. She took my hands in hers and smiled softly at me.
“I’m going to marry you.”
I moved to my feet and took her in my arms.
“Yes, you are, because you are the love of my life and that’s the only way it can be.”
Her fingers intertwined with mine and we walked out of the hall together, back to the reception.
That had been an unexpected and difficult conversation for her, but we were rapidly approaching the most difficult conversation of the evening. At least now we’d be together.
As we approached the door to the reception, I loosened my fingers to let go of her hand, but she held me tightly. Her beautiful eyes looked up at me.
“I love you”
“I love you, too.”
I smiled at her and pushed open the door. We walked in together.
Every eye in the room turned to see her as she walked in. Her forced smile from earlier in the evening was replaced by her perfect smile that I loved so much.
In the center of the room, surrounded by tables on all sides, she stopped and I stood next to her. She looked up at me and stood on her toes. Even with all of those people around, when I looked at her, she was all I could see.
She kissed me.
It was a light and tender kiss, but her lips pressed to mine and with that, she had announced our relationship to the world. As she pulled away from me, her eyes glistened in the lights with the smallest hint of tears, but tears of joy. She was telling me with her actions that there was nothing that would ever come between us. Everything we would ever do would be together.
Max took a step toward us from where he had been standing next to our table, with a look of complete shock on his face. Savy held out her left hand to him, clearly showing her ring. He froze in his tracks.
Every table in the room, except for one, burst into applause. escort izmir All they knew was that Savannah, the incredibly talented and beautiful violinist that had enraptured the University of Maryland, even beyond the normal music scene, had just effectively announced her engagement on the evening of her solo performance, on Valentine’s Day.
At one table, there was only stunned silence.
That single moment lasted a lifetime.
Once the shock had worn off, maybe a second later, Jeff quickly stood and applauded us. Mia had briefly covered her face before fanning herself with her hands and wiping away tears. Maria simply sat and smiled at us.
Max’s shock was replaced with a smile, even if it looked slightly forced and tight. He closed the distance to us with his long strides and took Savy’s hand before placing a light kiss on it. When he stepped to the side, I could finally see mom.
She sat completely motionless, with tears streaming down her face. They were not tears of happiness.
Perhaps five seconds after Savy had kissed me and shown her ring to Max, and therefore the entire reception, we were enveloped by people offering both of us their congratulations. Even with heels, Savy may have reached only 5’3″ and quickly lost sight of our friends and mom through the crowd. I could see over enough people that I never lost sight of her as she sat in silence, crying.
I tried to follow Savy as she introduced me and thanked everyone.
“This is Mike, my fiancé.”
“Oh, thank you so much. This is my fiancé, Mike.”
“He proposed earlier today. I played for him tonight.”
Every few moments, she would gently reach up and brush her slender fingers along my cheek. The love in her eyes and the touch of her skin washed away all of the trepidation of the evening.
I rested my left hand on her hip as I shook as many hands as I could. Eventually, Jeff was standing before us. I let go of Savy for long enough for him to hug her and then he turned to me and smiled.
“Tell me the day and I’m there.”
He slapped me on the shoulder and embraced me.
As soon as he stepped to the side, Mia was there to replace him, wiping away tears. She hugged both of us at the same time.
“I love both of you. I can’t wait to be at your wedding.”
Maria was next and showed her own feelings for us in her quiet way.
As people started to return to their seats or filter out of the room, Max briefly took me aside.
“Mike, I have to admit, I’m shocked.”
“Max, I know how important you are to Savy. You’ve been a tremendous mentor to her. I’m sorry we didn’t tell you sooner. I hope you can understand.”
“I do understand.” His voice dropped so softly that I had to lean a bit closer to hear him. “And don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone that she is your adopted sister. That’s not my business.”
While I knew he was trying to be kind, that sent a sharp pang through me. He had specified that she was my adopted sister and it hit hard that very few people would tolerate, much less understand, the true nature of our relationship. It would be our secret, to be shared with only our most loved friends and family.
He boomed again, “Congratulations, Mike,” as he vigorously shook my hand.
By the time I returned to Savy, the reception had dwindled to a few lingering groups of people. Max quickly moved around, walking with various people as they left the hall. Savy and I said our goodbyes to our friends.
Eventually, it was just Savy, Max, mom, and myself left in the room.
Mom hadn’t moved in the probably 20 minutes since Savy and I had stood in the middle of the room and kissed. She hadn’t even wiped her face.
Max started to take a step towards her, but Savy reached out and took his hand, stopping him. She pulled and walked towards the door with him. They stepped outside.
I slowly walked towards mom. Her eyes followed me.
I sat down next to her.
She turned her head to fully face me. Her voice was steely cold.
“Mike… how could you?”
“Mom… we love each other.”
“She was happy again. She had moved on from… your mistake. How could you?”
What the fuck? She blamed me for this. As if there was something to be blamed for. I had felt compassionate towards her, sympathetic to the shock that this must be for her, but that was suddenly replaced with anger.
I wasn’t going to play her game, though. I wouldn’t tell her that I had resigned myself to a life of regret and sorrow, that Savy came to me and rescued me. I wouldn’t give her even the slightest excuse to blame Savy. If she wanted to be angry, she could be angry at me.
“This is real, mom, and it’s going to happen. She is the love of my life and I am the love of her life. We tried living apart… and it would never work. We have to be together.”
Her voice rose, “You’re going to ru…”
She stopped as the door opened and her head shot around to see Savy come in. She didn’t finish her thought. Savy walked towards us, her head low and her hair izmir escort falling softly around her shoulders.
She sat next to me, taking my hand and interlocking our fingers. Mom stared at our hands and her ring before looking back at the two of us.
Her voice was harsh. I could understand shock, confusion, even sorrow, knowing that her children were in love and engaged. I couldn’t abide her ire, though.
“You can’t do this.”
Before I could respond, Savy squeezed my hand and spoke, quietly but firmly.
“Mom, we love you. We would love to have your blessing… but we’re not going to ask for your permission.”
“Savy, what did he do? Is this why you and Josh broke up?”
“Mike didn’t do anything wrong, mom. The only thing he’s ever done, for my entire life, is love and support me.”
“I wasn’t meant to be with him. Mike is the only one for me. I can’t live my life without him.”
“Savy, this will ruin your life. You can’t do this. He’s your… your… brother.”
That caused Savy’s voice to rise and show more anger of her own. “No! I won’t let you say that. I almost ruined my life when I pushed Mike away. I was shocked when you told us, but I love him. I love him more because he’s my brother.”
“You don’t know what you’re saying… this is wrong.”
“It’s not wrong to follow our hearts, mom.”
“I can’t… I can’t be a part of this.” The resignation in her voice, that she was going to choose to not be a part of our lives rather than see us happy, cut like a knife.
Savy was starting to tremble.
“Mom, I want you in our life. I want you there on our wedding day. Please… be happy for us. Celebrate with us.”
Mom barely whispered her response, “I can’t… no… this is wrong…”
She had been so still for so long that when she suddenly stood, it stunned both of us.
“When you stop this, I’ll be there for you, but I won’t be a part of this.”
Savy’s body shook next to me.
I turned to Savy and pulled her to me, wrapping my arms tightly around her as she broke down and sobbed into my chest. I didn’t even care when I heard the door close behind mom as she left, I simply clenched my jaw against the anger inside me.
All I cared about in the world was Savy. I held her to me.
She was still crying, albeit more softly, when I heard the door open. She lifted her head and we both looked to see who it was. A janitor pulled in a cart and said that he needed to lock up for the night.
I looked back at Savy and kissed her forehead. She squeezed her eyes shut and a few more tears flowed before she said softly, “Let’s go home.”
We kept our promise to each other that no matter what happened, we would go home together.
At home, our home, Savy was still in shock from mom’s behavior. When we walked in, we went immediately to our bedroom and I sat her on our bed. I gathered sleeping clothes for her and stood in front of her by the bed.
I lifted her to me and hugged her, then unzipped her dress and let it fall to her feet. I pulled her sweatshirt over her head and then lifted each foot into her sweatpants and pulled them up.
I held her in my arms briefly, and then carefully set her down on the bed, pulling the covers over her. I changed from my suit and slid into bed next to her. She cried in my arms until she fell asleep.
I could understand that it would be difficult for mom to accept our love, but for her to completely shut us out…
We spent the next three days together. Every time she cried, it broke my heart and my anger for mom built. I took care of her the only way I knew how: be there for her and hold her. Physically, I made sure that she ate and slept as much as she could.
On the third day, we each received an email from mom. Savy asked me to read hers with her.
Mom apologized for her reaction at the reception, but said that she was trying to do what was best for us. She was completely convinced that Savy and I getting married would ruin our lives. She tried to explain that she wasn’t angry at us, but still couldn’t support us.
Her email to me included much of the same thoughts, but was blunter, concluding with the message that it was my “obligation to be the adult and see what the right thing to do was.”
After we finished reading and sat processing for a few minutes, Savy spoke first.
“Mike, I want you to respond for both of us.”
“She has a choice: she can support us and be a part of our life or she can believe we’re making a mistake and not be a part of our life. Whenever she is ready to accept and support us, we’ll invite her back, but until then, she is not welcome to sit and judge us.”
I sat at my desk and wrote carefully, but kept that message. Before clicking send, I sighed deeply and Savy reached around me from behind and hugged me.
“You’re all I need, Mike. I love you.”
“I am yours. I love you, too.”
Spring came to Maryland, as it always does, chasing the frigid air of winter away. As the trees and grass turned green and the campuses, both Maryland and NASA, came to life, Savy and I spent more and more time outside. Every weekend that it didn’t rain, we walked over to the Mall and sat by the fountain.
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