“Aww,” I say, holding my hand over my heart as the first dance begins.
Donny turns and smirks at me. “You’re drunk,” he whispers.
I narrow my eyes at him. “Maybe.”
After they dance, someone delivers a welcome speech, and soon we’re being served dinner. At this point, I need to eat because I’ve drank too much, but I don’t feel very hungry. I pick at my plate and find myself searching the room for Hayden. I can’t seem to find him anywhere, which is a good thing.
Next, the best man and maid of honor are giving their toasts, which makes everyone laugh and cry. The father and bride dance, then the mother and groom dance. After that, the party really begins. Donny and I make our way back to the bar, and this time, he orders two double shots of tequila. He hands me mine.
“Are you insane?” I ask.
“Probably a little.” He shrugs, then he quickly taps his glass against mine, and we both shoot it down. It burns, but I welcome the feeling.
“I’m going to hate you tomorrow,” I tell him with a grin, but then he orders us more drinks. After he hands me a red and orange concoction, he smiles. “Now you’ll hate me tomorrow.”
“How many is this? I’ve already lost count.” I try to remember, but it all seems like mush. We make our way back to our seats to drink and watch people on the dance floor.
“Have you seen him lately?” I ask, knowing nothing or no one gets past Donny.
“Yeah. He’s on the opposite side of the room, probably Lena’s doing,” he tells me, stirring his drink with his straw.
“I know it’s been a long time but seeing him just makes me feel terrible about what happened between us.” I keep my voice low, and I see his face soften.
“Maybe it’s time you told him the truth then?” Donny’s eyes meet mine, and for the first time tonight, he’s being serious.
“I couldn’t. He’d never forgive me. Ever.” The regret of what happened has never faded. For a decade, I’ve been lost in the might-have-beens and what-ifs. People say time and distance help through a breakup, but the way I loved Hayden was different. It was fierce and beautiful, and I chose to let him go. Nothing or no one has ever been able to fill that void in my heart. It’s a shallow grave of where our love once lived. It’s always been reserved for him, and I’m sure it’ll always be there.
“And you think he’s forgiven you now? Sometimes, regardless of how many years have passed, it’s better to be truthful than to keep harboring it all. Because it’s obviously still affecting you. It’s time you put Hayden Manning behind you. Or on top of you,” he says, cracking a smile and lightening the mood.
I finish my drink and stand. “I think I’m gonna go to the ladies’ room real quick,” I tell him, needing to excuse myself from the conversation and freshen up.
“I’ll be here. Or at the bar. You’ll find me,” he says.
I exit the ballroom and walk down the hallway toward the restroom. It’s packed, and after I do my business, I wash my hands and look at myself in the mirror.
“Is that you, little Savannah Burns?” a woman asks. I turn and see Lena’s mother, Carla, with the biggest smile splashed across her face.
“Yes, ma’am. How have you been?” I smile, and she hands me a paper towel to dry my hands, then we hug.
“I’ve been good, honey. How about you? Are you still living in New York? You know I don’t keep up with you kids much.”
We walk out of the bathroom together and make small talk about everything that’s happened since I left. Soon we’re in the reception area, and Hayden interrupts our conversation.
Carla gushes over him the same way she did in the bathroom with me. “Oh my gosh. You two love birds are still together?”
Heat hits my cheeks, and I shake my head.
“Oh, I’m so sorry. This is what happens when I have too much wine,” she says, looking at Hayden.
“It was nice seeing you, Mrs. Carla,” he tells her, giving her a hug, and she makes her escape. As she crosses the dance floor, Hayden turns and looks at me. Being under his gaze causes heat to rush over my body. Just like the fairy godmother he is, Donny rushes over with shots in his hand, and I willingly take it.
Hayden watches me intently as I watch Donny move across the room, almost as if he’s floating. The lights transition, and “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton begins to play.
“Sav, would you like to dance?” He gives me that same boyish grin I fell in love with as a teen.
I should say no.
I should walk away, but the tequila is speaking, and I take his hand. He guides me to the dance floor between all the other couples.