Burn Us Down

80: There’ll Be No Coming Back

“Do you really have to go out tonight?” Olivia pressed, glancing up at Gerard who was wandering around their bedroom, getting himself ready to leave. He had caught her off guard. With the two of them due to board a flight to Paris the next morning to finalize a few details ahead of their wedding, Olivia had anticipated that they would spend the evening making sure that everything was ready for their departure, but Gerard had surprised her at the last minute, telling her that he had somewhere that he needed to be.

He hadn’t said much else about it. When Olivia had tried to get details out of him, he’d just grinned and told her that it was top secret, and that had done nothing to soothe the nerves in her stomach. She was nervous. With their wedding only a matter of days ahead of them, the reality of the situation had made itself known, and whilst she was excited, there was also a lot of nerves, something Gerard’s plans to disappear for the evening hadn’t helped with. She wanted to spend the night unpacking and repacking their bags, running over the checklist that she had made, and she had wanted Gerard’s comforting presence next to her, assuring her for what would have felt like the millionth time that things were going to be OK.

Gerard, who’d shrugged a jacket over his shoulders, nodded as he picked up his phone, slipping it into his pocket. “I do” he confirmed “It’s a last minute thing that came up and I want to handle it before we go. I shouldn’t be gone for too long” he added.

Olivia frowned. “You know we have things to do?” she asked, tucking her hair behind her ear.

“I know” Gerard replied “And I will help with them, I promise you. I just really need to sort this out. I’ll be back before you know it” he added as he leant over, touching a kiss to the top of her head.

Olivia let out a little huff, something which made Gerard smile against her head. “You can freak out when I get home” he teased softly.

Olivia didn’t want to smile, but she couldn’t help herself.

Gerard kissed her cheek gently. “I’ll see you soon, OK?” he prodded as he backed up towards the door.

“Go” Olivia replied “The sooner you get out of here, the sooner you get back and the sooner we can get the last minute panic over with” she added.

Gerard’s grin was impish as he stopped in the doorway. “You’re not going to stop panicking until they announce us as husband and wife” he chirped.

“That’s only a few days from now” Olivia replied “Think you can put up with me for that much longer?” she added.

“I’ve done it for six years” Gerard mused “I’ve not gone anywhere yet” he added before he offered her a wave, leaving the bedroom with a promise that he would be back as quickly as he could be.

Pushing his car keys into his pocket, Gerard rested his weight against his car, his eyes fixed on the house that stood ahead of him. He didn’t want to be there. The last place he wanted to find himself was at the house that Melissa and Nicolas shared, but knowing how hurt Olivia was that her sister still showed no signs of changing her mind about their wedding, he’d made the decision to visit, hoping that he could change Melissa’s mind.

It made little difference to him. Melissa had never gone out of her way to make him feel like he was a part of her and Olivia’s family, even before the incident with Lana, and it didn’t matter to him if she wasn’t there, but it did matter to Olivia. Her mother wasn’t going to be there, and whilst she adored Valeria, who’d been married to her father for years, he knew that not having Melissa there had only increased her sadness at her mother’s absence. She didn’t have a lot of direct family left, a couple of aunts and an uncle that he knew of, and he knew how much it would have meant if Melissa could have been there for her. She just wanted to be surrounded by people who loved her and Gerard was determined to make it possible.

Letting a sigh fall out of his mouth, he pushed himself forwards and progressed towards the front door, pressing the doorbell a couple of times before he stepped back, waiting until Melissa swung it open, her face falling at the sight of him. “Oh” she breathed.

Gerard’s greeting smile was tight, obviously forced. “Do you have a few minutes?” he asked.

Melissa looked like she wanted to say no, Gerard half expected her to, but after a few long seconds, she gently nodded her head, stepping out of the doorway. “You know where the living room is” she said quietly.

Gerard stepped past her, making his way towards the room before he turned around, his eyes locked on where Melissa stood in the doorway, fiddling awkwardly with the sleeves of her shirt. Without so much as a word, he pulled an envelope out of his back pocket and placed it on the table that stood between the two of them.

Melissa’s stare flitted between the envelope and Gerard for a few seconds before she furrowed her forehead. “What’s that?” she asked.

“A return flight to Paris” Gerard replied “One return flight, for you, leaving in two days’ time” he clarified.

Melissa’s lips quirked at the corner before she shook her head. “Gerard…”

“I don’t care if you’re there or not” Gerard interjected “But Olivia does and I want our day to be as perfect as it is in her head. She wants you to be there, Melissa, and I am here to ask you to be there for her” he added.

“Nicolas?” Melissa prodded.

“We’ve not changed our mind about having him there” Gerard said “We’re not going to, either” he added.

Melissa shook her head. “He’s my partner” she replied.

Gerard shook his head, smiling bitterly. “And I am Olivia’s” he retorted “And you’ve never made a secret of how much you don’t like me. You seem to think that Nicolas and I ought to be judged differently. He ruined your marriage, Melissa, twice. He knew that you were married, that you had Max, and he still pursued you, and yet you think he ought to be welcomed by your sister, by me, with open arms when you did absolutely nothing to afford me the same courtesy. I get it after the kiss. I hurt your sister, and you were wary that I might do it again, and I understand that, but before? You decided that you didn’t like me, for a reason I’ve never understood, and you never made a secret of it. Why the hell should Olivia just accept Nicolas?” he pressed, trying to keep his voice as calm as he could. He knew that getting worked up wasn’t going to help him. The chances were, it’d only make Melissa want to be more stubborn.

Melissa’s smile faltered as she looked down at her feet.

“I don’t care what you do afterwards” Gerard said, his voice softening “If you want to keep things like they are now, where you and Olivia never speak, then that’s up to you, but this is her wedding day, Melissa. Your mother’s already not going to be there, and there’s nothing I can do to change that, but I can change this for her. I’m asking you, please, to put everything to one side for a day. I want her to look out at the crowd and see you there for her” he added, a small hopeful smile brightening his features.

“She doesn’t want me there” Melissa’s voice was barely above a whisper.

“Yes, she does” Gerard insisted with a nod “It’d mean the world to her” he added.

Melissa lifted her head, her eyes searching his face, before she shook her head ever so slightly.

Gerard wanted to yell. He wanted to tell her how selfish she was being, how stupid he thought she was for choosing her boyfriend over her only little sister, but he didn’t. Instead, he nodded tightly towards the envelope that still sat between the two of them. “I’m going to leave that with you” he said “Use it or not, that’s up to you. Just know that if you’re not in the crowd at the weekend, there’ll be no coming back from it. She’ll always remember that, instead of being at her wedding, you chose to throw a fit and pout because we didn’t invite your boyfriend” he added calmly before he stepped past her, letting the front door close with a clatter behind him.