a lot of money, not to mention
the mental and emotional commitment she herself had made to their plans these
past several weeks. Finishing her classes, studying for finals and getting ready
for graduation had been more than enough for one person, but she’d taken on
organizing their wedding on top of everything else. Now Eddie was telling her he
thought they should wait. Carol hadn’t slept more than four uninterrupted hours
in a row in over two weeks. She was exhausted and cranky, and the last thing she
needed was this.
“I can’t help it, honey,” Eddie said contritely. “I’ve got to
start training early.”
“Surely you can take one day for the wedding.” She was willing
to forgo the honeymoon. And it wasn’t as if the wedding date came as any
surprise to Eddie. He’d been the one to choose July.
“I wish I could, but coach won’t allow it.” He sounded
flustered and apologetic, but she wasn’t buying it. She recognized that
hurt-little-boy act of his, the one he used whenever it suited his purpose. He
had a way of getting what he wanted by playing the misunderstood and abused
hero. She’d seen him do it any number of times, enough to recognize the tactic
when he attempted to work it on her. Well, he could manipulate others, but not
“Everything’s different now,” he insisted, his voice gaining
strength. He looked up, and Carol watched the resolve strengthen in his face. In
that instant she knew the truth. There was more to this announcement than met
The fact that Eddie had waited until after the graduation
ceremony to tell her didn’t sit well with her, either. He must have known his
practice schedule with the Broncos weeks earlier. His agent had worked out the
details of the contract, and although Carol was soon to be his wife, Eddie had
kept the particulars to himself.
That wasn’t all. She had noticed that he had been less than
attentive of late, but she’d attributed that to the commotion of the final weeks
of school, exams, graduation, their wedding plans—everything that was happening
in both their lives. His schedule was crammed as he prepared for his induction
into professional sports. As crammed as her own.
As graduation approached, it had become increasingly difficult
to get him to make decisions regarding the wedding. For weeks she’d been
offering her mother excuses, and she’d finally been forced to go ahead without
his input. She’d wanted his opinion, but it had been impossible to catch him for
so much as five minutes. When she did, his mind was on other matters, and so
she’d given up.
Her list of excuses regarding Eddie’s behavior had begun to
sound hollow even to her own ears.
“Is there something you’re not telling me?” she asked
point-blank. She would rather get things out in the open now and be done with
Eddie shifted his weight and avoided eye contact. “No. Mark
warned me I was going to be exceptionally busy for the next several months with
practice and the games and all.”
Carol had never been keen on Eddie’s agent, but her fiancé had
argued that he was fortunate to have someone like Mark Raferty on his side. He’d
continually discounted her objections, and blindly allowed someone else to make
business and now personal decisions for him.
“How long?” she asked, keeping her voice firm and strong.
“Long?” Eddie repeated. A confused
I’m-not-sure-how-to-tell-you-this gleam was in his eyes.
“Before we can reschedule the wedding?”
He hesitated, and in that millisecond, in that half a
heartbeat, the truth reared its ugly head like a sea monster rising from the
waves. All at once what Eddie was saying became clear. As clear as clean glass.
Now she understood and wanted to kick herself for being so obtuse, so blind to
what should have been obvious all along.
“You want to call off the wedding.”
She said it for him. Without emotion. Without censure. Just hearing the words
was a relief in its own right.