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Previous: Broken Dreams and Wishes.
A huge part of Casey's emotional burdens was melted away after the conversation with Stella, him knowing well what needed to be done and relieved that he had sought her advice. Outside the cafe, he suddenly threw her a hug and thanked her for all that she had done for him.
"I'm not sure what would've had happened to me if you weren't there."
"Eek, Casey. You make it sound like we're dating." Stella winced, broke his leg. "Aren't friends supposed to lend a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on in times of help?"
"I knew you'd have said that." He smiled. "I'm glad to have known you as a friend."
She patted him on his shoulder. "Likewise."
The smile on his face disappeared as fast as it had appeared when he happened to look over Stella's shoulder and caught the sight of someone familiar.
She hadn't changed much except that she had shortened and dyed her hair chestnut red. A sign that she had blended well with the life there.
The memories of their former life came flooding back; the sweet memories they created together, the times they spent together, the sweet engagement and the wedding that never could happen now. He felt his lungs being constricted at the thought of it, but heard Stella's voice at the back of his mind, telling him that he has to face his former fiancée one way or the other and it was only a matter of time.
Without saying anything, he took Stella by her hand - his fingers intertwined with hers - and walked up towards Marie. Although he was badly bruised by the outcome of their relationship and didn't want to invest in a new relationship with someone just yet, the desire for her to have a taste of her own medicine proved to be too strong for him to resist.
His sudden move had surprised Stella and for a moment, she wanted to yank her hand free but decided to play along with whatever plan that he had in mind if it meant annoying Marie. She felt that she was not in the losing end; their friendship had already been strained by Marie herself.
"Hello there, Marie," Casey said, sarcasm evident in his words. "I thought you've permanently moved to Seattle?"
"Oh, no, no, I'm still holding my local passport."
Stella could feel her hand being soiled by Casey's nervousness.
"I should've informed you of my arrival, but I guess there wasn't enough time. There was just too much to deal with."
"Don't. I'm glad you didn't inform us. If you had informed us, we'd have made plans to avoid you."
Marie's eyes suddenly shot a glance at their hands.
It gave Casey and Stella the pleasure of watching her eyes dilating with a mixture of horror and surprise. He knew that their spontaneous actions would lead his former fiancée to suspect that he had moved on with Stella, which she did.
"You... you've moved on? What about the promise we've made to each other?"
"What promise?" He released Stella's hand. "You defaulted on your promise, Marie, which allowed me every reason and right with whoever I fall in love with."
"Stella, you knew that I was with Casey. Why did you jump at the opportunity when I was away?"
Stella forced an embarrassed smile. "Sorry about it, but life and love take us to unexplored feelings and places." She sensed that he was laughing inside at Marie's annoyance and anger, continued. "Plus I thought you were done with Casey."
A sarcastic explanation that zapped into her mind in that moment.
"If you had so loved me, you would not have done what you did," Casey added. "Why are you mad at us for getting together?"
Marie looked at him, speechless and unsure of what to say. He was right, she admitted. It was her fault that she had taken off with some other lad and she had no right in being mad that her former fiancé had chosen to move on instead of playing the reconciliation card.
"A word of sorry can't bring us all back to the past, Marie." He suddenly pulled Stella closer to him. "I'm much more happier with her."
Stella added more fire into the oil. "We're even thinking of settling down with each other."
An annoyed Marie could no longer take the taunts that Stella offered her and turned her back, departed the scene in controlled anger.
Previous: Broken Dreams and Wishes.
Next: The Damage That Never Could Be Undone.