Becky walked into the lobby of the Toronto Weston-Harbor Hotel and right up to the directory. Her maid of honor had called two hours ago and said she was in town. They'd arranged to meet for lunch and then the three of them— Pam, Becky and Will— would have dinner that night. The wedding wasn't for two days, but the two friends wanted a chance to catch up on the six years that had slipped past since they'd last seen each other in person.
"Inquiry. Room designation. Chambers, Pamela K," she replied in a clear, even tone.
"Chambers, Pamela K. can be found in room seventeen sixteen."
One thing about computers, Becky thought, you didn't have to thank them when you walked away. On the other hand, most people have become so used to talking to computers, when they talk to real people, they forget to say thank you. Oh, well, I guess you gotta take the good with the bad.
Waiting her turn at the elevator pods, she couldn't help but overhear the two men in front of her discussing the scores of the previous day's sports. They quoted statistics and standings and point totals and all kinds of other information she found completely useless and mundane. She failed to see the sense in most organized, professional sports and thought the athletes were outrageously overpaid and much too self-important. Will, on the other hand, loved sports. He could quote statistics with the best of them. As far as she could tell, statistics didn't matter— the only thing that mattered in the end was who had the higher of two point totals. Finally, the two men stopped spewing out numbers as they got in the pod and were whisked upward to their destination.
When her turn came, she entered the small pod and stated her destination. The doors closed silently and within thirty seconds, opened again, depositing her on the sixteenth floor. Knowing odd numbers would be down the left hall, she continued until she found the room. Knocking lightly on the door of sixteen seventeen, she waited for her friend to open the door.
Instead she saw a man standing before her. For a moment, she stared in confusion. Somewhere deep inside of her, some inner part of her was telling her she knew this man. As if she'd suddenly been dumped into the raging rapids of a swollen river, she was overcome with such intense longing and desire she was unable to do anything to stop herself.
When he opened his arms to her, she walked into them, without hesitation and without question. When he kissed her, she felt like she'd never been kissed before and it was something completely new and wonderful. Yet she knew they'd kissed before. That they'd loved before. She knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was where she was supposed to be and with whom she was supposed to be with and had wanted so desperately to be with for so long.
Not a word was spoken— they both seemed to know and anticipate the other's needs and desires and the desire to fulfill those needs was as intense as the need itself. Finally, unable to contain their passion any longer, she willingly and joyously yielded her body to him and he gladly accepted her gift. As they lay in each other's arms, breathing heavily and still basking in the afterglow, she knew she'd finally come home. With that knowledge securely in her mind, she drifted into a deep, restful sleep.
When she became conscious of the fact she was still in his arms, she groggily squeezed him lightly.
"I love you, Tony," she whispered happily.
Suddenly, she was wide awake and her eyes opened, staring at the far wall of the small room.
"Please tell me this is some really strange dream," she pleaded.
"Sorry. I can't do that," he replied. "And my name isn't Tony. But please don't feel too bad about that," he quickly added. "I'm not sure I remember your name, although I want to call you Rita."
At the sound of his voice, her doubt retreated and she lifted her face to kiss him.
"Sorry," she replied softly. "My name..."
"Don't tell me," he interrupted. "It might make the magic go away. And I don't want it to go away."
"Neither do I," she whispered as she pulled him down beside her.
Time had no relevance to either of them. Plans made the day before were forgotten— or more appropriately, had simply become unimportant. The only thing that mattered to either of them was knowing they were finally together. Hours later, they fell back into an exhausted sleep.
It was two-thirty four, Saturday morning according to the projection on the ceiling. When he felt her stirring, he pulled her close and kissed the top of her head.
"Does it still feel so right?" he asked.
"Yeah, it does. But I'm going to have a hard time explaining that to my fiancé— we're supposed to get married today."
"That's nothing. I was supposed to meet my wife on Thursday for dinner. We've been separated for about three months. This is the first time I would have seen her since she moved out."
There was a long silence during which they both reveled in the mere closeness of the other.
"So now what do we do?"
"What choice do we have? Can you honestly tell me you can see yourself walking away from me?"
"Not if my life depended on it."
"I can't even remember what she looked like. I close my eyes and all I see is you. When I think about the future, you're a part of it."
Lifting her face to his, he kissed her deeply.
"I have to tell him in person," Becky said softly. "I owe him that much."
"I'll be here waiting for you to return. Don't be too long."
Requesting a quick shower and getting it, she dressed and left the room. Reaching the elevator, she remembered why she'd come here in the first place. When she got into the capsule, she inquired again as to what room Pam was in. Then she asked what floor she was on. Realizing her mistake, she informed the computer she wanted to go to the seventeenth floor.
When she stepped out of the pod, she was surprised at the number of people milling about.
"What's going on?" she asked the closest one.
"Missing person. A young woman disappeared Thursday afternoon. The last place she was seen was here," the man replied not bothering to look up. "Name's Rebecca Eyler. Age: twenty-four. Height: five..."
"I know how tall I am," she replied. "And I'm not missing. I just got a little rerouted."
The man suddenly realized what she was saying, looked up quickly at her then compared what he saw to the photograph on a compuboard in front of him. Within minutes, she was surrounded by a crowd of people, each attempting to be the one to conclusively decide she was who she said she was and declare the search a success. When she heard Will calling her name, she pushed through the self-important ring of people and found herself face to face with him.
He swept her into his arms, tears falling down his cheeks.
"Oh, God, Becky, are you all right?" he asked, holding her close.
"I'm fine, Will. Really, I am. Can we get out of here? Or at least away from all this?"
"Let's go back to Pam's room. Oh, God, I was so worried about you! Where the hell have you been for the last two days?"
"Let's wait till we're alone to get into that."
The two friends hugged and Pam, with tears of relief in her eyes, asked what had happened and a million other questions, some of which she couldn't answer because she didn't really know the answers herself. Finally, Becky was able to convey the fact that she wanted to talk to Will alone. She wanted to tell him where she'd been and what had happened before she told anyone else. Pam left only after extracting a promise from Becky to tell her everything as soon as she told Will.
"I'm not sure I like the tone of your voice," he replied after the door had closed behind Pam.
"Oh, God, Will. I don't even know where to start....I'm sorry. Sorry I worried you. And sorry for the pain I know I'm going to cause you. I never meant to hurt you. I never set out with the intention of causing you pain in any way, shape or form....I found him, Will."
"I thought you said you didn't know anyone named Tony!"
"I don't. And his name isn't Tony. But he's Tony. I know that doesn't make much sense, but it's the clearest way I can explain it."
"Is that where you've been this whole time? With him?"
Will stared at her with disbelief that slowly became anger.
"Are you his lover?"
"Great. At any point did you happen to remember we're getting married this afternoon? In about twelve hours, as a matter of fact," he bitterly pointed out.
"To be perfectly honest with you, when I was with him, I didn't think of anything but him. When I woke up about an hour ago, that's when I remembered."
"Thanks for sparing my feelings," he said sarcastically. "But then you never were one to sugar-coat anything....I take it you're calling off the wedding."
"I'd make you a lousy wife. I belong with him and whether I'm married to you or not, my heart, my love and my desire will be with him."
"Good. Because if you think I'd marry you now, you're crazy!"
He turned and stormed out of the room so fast the door barely made it open before he was through it. Pam walked in before it had a chance to close and looked at her questioningly.
"He didn't look like a happy camper," she commented.
"I can't say as I blame him....The wedding's off."
"I don't know if you'd believe me if I told you. The longer I'm away, the more incredible it seems to me too.... Suffice it to say I've met the man of my dreams. And it isn't Will."
"How can you do this to him? Don't you think you could have told him a little sooner than this?"
"I didn't meet him until I came here to meet you. I ended up at his room instead of yours."
"How the hell can you know he's the man of your dreams if you only met him two days ago?"
"Because I literally dreamed of him. Will's the one who told me about the dreams because I didn't remember them.... Pam, I know this isn't what you expected and I've probably let you down almost as much as I've let Will down. But I've got a lot of people to notify about the change in plans and I have to get started....I'll talk to you later. I don't know when I'll be able to get back to you, so if you go home, I'll just call you there."
Hugging Pam before she left, she took the stairs to the tube level to avoid the crowd of people still standing around the elevators congratulating themselves on a job well done.
Although Becky tried calling several of the one hundred fifteen people who were coming to the wedding, she was unable to reach any of them. Except the minister, who really didn't seem surprised at the announcement. Even Will's parents weren't home. Then she realized the fastest, surest way to get the message across was to wait until everyone actually showed up at the church and then explain the cancellation. She didn't relish the prospect but neither did she want to cause Will any more pain.
His parents arrived at the apartment more than two hours before the scheduled ceremony. She greeted them warmly then apologetically told them about the change in plans. Mrs. Gunther cried and Mr. Gunther raged about how much the wedding had cost him and what was he supposed to do with all the food? Offering to reimburse him, but warning him she didn't know how quickly she could accomplish that, she was somewhat surprised when he declined her offer. He assured her he wasn't doing it from the goodness of his heart, but to make her feel guilty and ashamed.
When Becky arrived at the church shortly before two, she was taken aback to find Will waiting for her.
"Well, well, look who's here. I thought you'd be back in loverboy's arms by now."
"I'm responsible for this mess so I should clean it up."
"What about your mess at home? At my home. When are you going to pick up your stuff? The sooner the better."
"I'll come right after this."
"I won't be there if you do. And the manager knows not to let you in."
"Then tell me when you want me there and I'll be there. ...Will, I didn't do this to hurt you. I really had no choice."
"You're the one who says you always have a choice, Beck."
"Do you really think our marriage would have a chance now?"
"If you hadn't slept with him, yes, I do."
"I would have known he was out there. I'd've made you a terrible wife, Will. I knew the moment our eyes met he and I were supposed to be together."
"How, Rebecca? How can you tell that? Love at first sight is one of those damn romantic notions you love so much. But it doesn't exist, Becky. You can't love someone instantly. You can lust after them, but what the hell are you going to talk about when the lust goes away? And it will go away someday. Someday, he'll be as 'routine' as I was."
"Is that what you think? That I'm doing this because I'm tired of making love with you? If that were the case, I'd marry you and have an affair. At least I'd know where I'd be living, whether we'd have enough money to pay the bills. I know this is going to sound terrible, but I don't even know his name. But I know when I go back there, he'll be waiting for me."
He looked at her with disbelief and scorn. "Maybe I should be thanking you. I guess I never realized how selfish you could be. Maybe I didn't want to know. Be that as it may, there's a church full of people waiting for a marriage that isn't going to take place. Do you want to tell them or should I?"
"It's up to you."
"You do it. I want to see how you worm your way out of this."
As she braced herself for the confrontation to follow, she looked across at him. "I'm sorry, Will. If I could have done this without hurting you, I would have. I hope some day you can forgive me."
Turning away, she walked out to the altar and faced the people gathered. She could see the confusion and the speculation immediately start when she appeared in jeans and a sweater instead of the traditional white gown. When everyone finally quieted down, she began.
"I'd like to first thank you all for coming, then I'd like to apologize for making you come here for nothing. As you've probably surmised by my appearance, the wedding has been called off. I did something that hurt Will too much for him to allow this wedding to take place. I accept full responsibility for the failure of this relationship and I hope that those of you who love Will will help him through this. He didn't deserve the treatment I gave him and I'm sorry I hurt him. I'll understand any anger and resentment any of you might feel towards me and I hope someday you can forgive me too. I know some of you came in from out of town and, although I'm not sure how long it will take me, I'll try to reimburse you for any expenses you incurred to come here. If you'll just give Will the totals, I'll do what I can. Again, I'm sorry for any problems this may cause you."
With a shrug of her shoulders, she left the altar and went back into the room where Will was waiting.
"As much as I hate to say this, thank you for not telling them what you did."
"The only one who knows what happened is Pam....I know this really isn't the time for this, but she really thinks you're a great guy. And you are."
"If you think I'm going to date your best friend...but then I guess it's not fair to judge her by your standards." The bitterness in his voice was clearly evident.
"I have to go, Will. When do you want me to pick up my things?"
"I'll have them boxed by tonight. Come by tomorrow morning before I go to work."
She nodded, then kissed his cheek. "Good-bye, Will. And I'm sorry again. Good luck in whatever you do. I really do wish you the best."
"Forgive me if I don't return the sentiment."
With nothing left to say, she exited through the back door.