Once Upon a Time…The End
Emma-Lee Wilson sighed and sat back in her desk chair. She stared at the blank Word document in front of her but her muse had completely abandoned her.
No, that wasn’t quite true. There had never been a muse…just her own memories, regrets, and fantasies.
Hiding behind the brown-eyed blonde, Elizabeth Windsor was just the life story of hazel-eyed black-haired, Emma-Lee Wilson told over and over again with different endings.
The only difference between Elizabeth and Emma-Lee is that after she broke up with her ex-fiance Brent, she had moved to Michigan and settled into life alone.
She had started her Second Chances series of stories as a way of exercising her demons. It was a form of therapy. By writing about her life the way that she wished it could have gone at one point or another she was able to stop thinking about certain events and people.
She had told her stories and explored the lives she could have had with Christian Glass, Aiden Guston, Brent Glass, and Jared Jackson and now she was done.
But her editors at ModernRomance.com wanted more…she was in a real pickle.
She stood and started pacing the floors of her home office. The one thing she loved about her job was the ability to work from home.
Home was a two bedroom ranch style house on Newport Road in Warren. It was just down the street from her favorite aunt on her mother’s side and far from her family in North Carolina and Massachusetts.
As she paced she was startled by the ringing of her doorbell. It was only noon. The only people who ever really stopped by were her Aunt Ginny and her nephew, Reign, who her aunt had custody of. But they never stopped by before two when Reign got out of school.
Glancing through the peephole her heart nearly stopped beating.
There was no fucking way. He couldn’t be there.
She glanced through the peephole again, just to be sure…it wouldn’t have been the first time she had mistaken a stranger for her lost love.
Shit! It really was him. How the hell did he even know where she lived? What was he doing there? He lived in fucking South Carolina!
“Emma-Lee, I can see your shadow moving under the door, hon,” She heard his thick southern drawl for the first time in six years. “If you want me to leave, just tell me and I’ll go. You don’t have to pretend not to be home.”
Jesus Christ, she was being such a wimp. She unlocked the heavy wooden door and stood face to face with the only man out of the four that she had been with or wanted to be that she would always regret losing.
“Hey, Jared,” She smiled nervously.
His hair was no longer long. He kept his hair buzz cut these days. Even at almost thirty he was still rocking jeans, concert t-shirts, and combat boots. It was nice to see that some things would never change.
He raised an eyebrow at her. “Why were you scared to answer the door?”
“I don’t know,” She mumbled and gently kicked the cement of the front porch.
“Oh, I figured it was because you broke up with me by changing your phone number, e-mail address, and breaking off all contact with no explanation,” He didn’t sound mad. In fact, it looked like he wanted to laugh at her.
“What are you doing here?” She huffed and crossed her arms over her chest.
He walked up the porch steps and leaned against the metal railing that was only a foot away from her.
He pulled a book from behind his back and she wanted to die of embarrassment.
It was the hardback Second Chances series that had been published one month earlier.
He had read it…fuck!
“Someone mailed this to me…I think it was Hera,” Damn her sister to hell. “There’s this really interesting character in a few of these stories named Jensen…wherever did you get the idea for him?”
She wanted to crawl under a rock and die but first, she wanted to find whoever had mailed him the book (probably Hera) and murder them slowly.
She stepped outside fully and closed the door.
“You know where he came from,” She leaned against the opposite railing and faced him. “I got the name from that dude from Supernatural…which you also already knew.”
“You always said I reminded you of Dean,” He laughed a little but then his expression turned serious.
“Was any of this true?” He held up the book. “The way you feel, the things you want.”
She nodded. It was pointless to lie to him. He could read her like the book he was holding in his hands.
“You actually have your head screwed on straight?”
Again she nodded. “I’ve been on lithium for my bipolar disorder for over four years and I’ve had my anorexia under control for the last five.”
“Can we talk inside?” He asked.
She led him into her living room where she took a seat on the sofa and he paced the living room.
“So, you really want what you wrote about in here?” He asked again, waving the book before tossing it on the coffee table.
She nodded. She had no idea where this was going but she decided to just roll with it.
“You’re done running? You want marriage, babies, a normal, average life with no drama?”
“Yes…more than anything actually,” She whispered.
He stopped pacing and turned to look at her.
“Did you just use my looks and personality for a character in a book or do you really still want those things with me?” He asked her huskily.
She was so scared to answer. She wasn’t a character in one of her stories. This was real life and in real life, there was no author’s pen to rewrite mistakes.
She also knew that in the real world you had to take chances. Life wasn’t a romance story. Things weren’t just handed to you on a bed of roses.
“I’ve always wanted those things with you,” She admitted. “I just used to be too sick to have it,”
“In your story The Wolf, Elizabeth has lupus just like her mother…does that mean you have it?” He asked her gently.
She swallowed the lump that formed in her throat and nodded.
His eyes softened and he reached out a hand to pull her up off of the sofa and into his arms where he hugged her tightly.
He leaned down until his lips were just touching her ear and whispered. “I still love you…do you still love me?”
She completely lost it and started weeping like one of her heroines from Second Chances.
“Yeah, I… do,” She barely managed to get out.
He picked her up in his arms and she wrapped her legs around his waist as he kissed her. He didn’t care that her face was soaked with tears.
He didn’t put her down as he pulled back and said, “So, I have an idea,”
“I’m listening,” She laid her head on his shoulder as he used his hands on her ass and back to hold her close to him.
“I say we don’t play this like one of your stories. I admit that I’ve fucked up in the past, you admit that while you technically fucked up it wasn’t your fault because you were manic depressive and not getting treatment,”
“Okay,” She nodded.
“I tell you now that whether you’re on birth control or not, I’m not using a rubber because one, I don’t like the way they feel, and two, I wouldn’t mind knocking up the woman that I plan to marry just as soon as she lets me. We just skip all of the drama and go right for happily ever after.” He kissed her neck.
“Deal,” She giggled through her tears.
Later that night as they lay naked and sated in her bed, Emma-Lee couldn’t help but be glad that life wasn’t really like the stories she wrote. You didn’t always need drama to get to happily ever after…although it made the journey so much more meaningful.
She thought about Christian. She had never had a chance with him and she knew it but he was a nice guy and she had had a crush on him when she was involved with his brother. She heard he was married now with another kid. She was happy for him.
She thought about Aiden. The older boy with the pill-popping habit that she had crushed on when she was a teenager. Sadly, the last time she had googled his name she had found several mug shots and in each one he looked more strung out than the one before. He hadn’t been able to save himself and it didn’t look like his evangelical Christian family had even tried to help him.
She thought about Brent. You would think that she would hate him for everything that he had put her through. For the lifestyle that he had introduced her to but she really didn’t. She had gotten her what-if’s on paper and now she wished him all the best. People often forget that before hate usually comes love and after anger comes forgiveness and a little bit of that love back.
She thought about the tall, lanky man the lay beside her with his leg thrown over hers and his arm around her waist. Jared had always been the one there to catch her when she fell. She was proud that she had been independent and made a nice life for herself but it was nice to know that he was there…and that now he would never be going anywhere again.
Emma-Lee’s late teens and most of her twenties had been drama-filled years that would impress the writers of General Hospital. She had loved, lost, and then loved again.
She had had her highs and her very, very lows but she had still ended up where fate intended with the man fate intended.
What was the line from that Rascal Flatts song?
God bless the broken road that led me straight to you…