They say it's always darkest just before the dawn, and things are looking pretty dark when Liza turns up unexpectedly on Cassie's doorstep, waiting for Ben to return. But Cassie turns a potential disaster into a win-win situation. See what happens in this week's chapter of In Pieces. This is the end of my tale. I hope you've enjoyed it. I plan to sub it to a publisher soon. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them! Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!
In Pieces #88 (20.6)
“If you’ll have me, that is,” Cassie quickly added. “It’s your decision, of course. I’m sure you’ll need time to think about it, but I’m totally serious about this. I believe in Salvation. I think the band is going places. But most of all, I believe in you and Ryan.”
“But how… I mean… That’s very sweet of you, but…” Ben stammered. “I can’t ask that of you…”
“You’re not asking, I’m offering,” Cassie said, gently but firmly. “And if you’re worried that I can’t afford it, don’t be. Your dad left me very well off. Not to mention that Marge said you’re generating a good amount of income yourselves now. We had quite a long discussion about your future, as well as your financial stability. She’s as much a believer in you as I am, and we’re both in this for the long haul.”
Ryan couldn’t believe his ears. A sudden lump formed in his throat, and he knew he was about to cry. This was like a dream come true. A true deus ex machina in their hour of need. With Cassie’s patronage, they could do without any financial assistance from Liza, and she wouldn’t have the emotional leverage against them she thought she had. Ben never had to see her again, not unless he chose to. That would be his decision. Ryan understood that despite everything, she was Ben’s mother, and no doubt he loved her, but she’d abused that bond between them for so long that it was hard to tell Ben might choose to do in the future in regard to Liza. He just knew that whatever happened, he would be there for Ben.
He glanced at Ben, who seemed just as thunderstruck as he was, his eyes glistening with tears.
“I… I don’t know what to say,” Ben managed to say, taking a swipe at his face. “What can you say to someone who’s just saved your life, not to mention all your dreams?”
Ryan couldn’t help but notice Cassie’s blush at Ben’s words. He wished his dad could have been there. He would have been so proud of her, and would undoubtedly have backed her decision without hesitation. He missed his dad so much. He wished that he could share in the joy Ben brought to his life.
A sudden thought struck him. How could he have forgotten that Ben had agreed to marry him? In his own defense, that was when the shit had really hit the fan. Even so, this was momentous news that he wanted to share. He took Ben’s hand in his and kissed it gently.
“Cassie,” he said. “Ben and I want to get married.”
“Oh. My. God.” Cassie leapt up and crossed the short space between them, enveloping them in a group hug. “That’s the best news I’ve heard tonight! That’s wonderful! I’m so happy for you! Hold on just a second.” She rushed out of the room. Ryan heard clattering from the direction of the kitchen, cabinets opening and closing, before she hurried back in, a bottle of something in her hand as well as three glasses. Ryan’s eyes widened as he recognized it as some sort of vintage champagne. His dad had collected a few over the years, setting them aside for special occasions.
As if reading his mind, Cassie set the glasses down. “I can’t think of a more special occasion than this,” she said. “Except maybe when you sell your first million albums.” She unwound the wire from the top of the bottle, then pushed off the cork with her thumb with a loud pop. Pouring the champagne into the glasses, she handed one to each of them.
“To Ryan and Ben, who’ve gone through so much but never lost sight of what’s important in each other. I know you guys can get through anything because you have true love!” She raised her glass and they followed suit, taking a drink.
Then Ryan turned to Ben. “Ben, I thought I’d never see you again, and I thought my heart had died because of that. But now I know that nothing can keep us apart, and together we can do anything. Ben Coulter, I love you, now and forever.”
“And I love you, Ryan Fremont,” Ben replied. “You’ve always had my heart and soul, and I never want to lose you again.”
Ryan twined his arm through Ben’s and they drank, then kissed. He could taste the champagne on Ben’s lips—nothing had ever tasted so sweet. He knew that as long as he had Ben, he could do anything. Including returning to his first love, writing.
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