As he came out of the toilet cubicle, Leon realised that he knew just what he needed to do. He had to end things with Amelia. He simply had to. His guilty conscience was getting the better of him; he’d always hated the fact that the girl he’d fallen for was his best friend’s girlfriend, but he’d justified it with the knowledge that it was mutual, that the reason Amelia and Andy were still together was so that Andy didn’t get hurt.
He wasn’t so sure any more. Ever since he’d laid his heart out and told Amelia exactly how he felt about her, hoping that she would respond in kind and finally leave poor Andy, she’d seemed… Well, it was odd. She’d been more affectionate, calling him more often and such, but she was still with Andy. She still hadn’t told Leon exactly how she felt about him. She seemed more like a cat toying victoriously with her prey, rather than a loving girlfriend. He was starting to develop doubts as to how much she actually cared for him…
Walking out, he was suddenly hit with a tiny figure in an insanely low cut dress wrapping its arms around him. Amelia! He pushed her away, shocked.
‘Er, what’s the deal? I was only kissing you! I would have thought you’d love that welcome!’
Leon was confused. ‘Amelia, this is the mens’ toilets. What are you doing in here?’
‘Someone outside said you were in here, so I thought I’d surprise you. Bit out of the blue, I guess! Oh, never mind. Come here…’
As she wound her arms around his neck, pulling him slowly into a kiss, Leon nearly changed his mind there and then. But no, no, this was something he had to do. And now.
‘What the hell is the matter with you?!’ Amelia’s eyes flashed dangerously as Leon unhooked her arms from behind his neck and pushed her away gently. ‘You got PMT or something?’
Leon sighed. ‘Amelia, I’m calling an end to this. It stops, now.’
Amelia froze. ‘What did you say?’ she growled in a low voice.
‘I’m finishing this.’
‘You said you loved me.’
‘I do. Did. I don’t know anymore. But what I do know is that you don’t love me!’
Amelia stared at him in disbelief. ‘But you said you loved me!’
‘Amelia -‘ Leon tried to respond, but was cut off by Amelia’s sudden screeching.
‘Well fine, Leon! Fine! We’ll end this now! It’s your loss, I was always too good for you! You’re nothing compared to me, nothing! And when Andy asks me to marry him I’ll say yes, and you can just watch the best thing to ever happen to you walk down the aisle and into the arms of another man! We’re through, Leon Stansell! You hear me? Through!’
With that, Amelia turned and stalked out of the toilets. Leon watched her leave, open mouthed. Well. She clearly did not love him. That pretty much confirmed any suspicions he’d ever had.
* * *
As she stood opposite Ethan underneath the wedding arch decorated with ivy and wild flowers, in the middle of Bridgeport’s biggest park, by the lake and the trees and surrounded by the people she loved the most, Ivy thought her heart would burst with happiness. The moment was finally here!
‘…You may now kiss the groom!’ The officiant winked at Ivy as he closed his book, and the married couple laughed before Ivy laid a tender kiss on her new husband’s lips. ‘I love you, Mr. Blaine!’ she whispered as she pulled back.
‘I love you more, Mrs. Rivers!’ Ethan grinned, pulling her back for one last kiss under the arch. The gathered crowd burst into applause, and confetti showered down onto them. Picking a piece out of Ethan’s hair, Ivy scanned the small audience.
Little Dylan was sat at his Uncle’s feet completely engrossed in a conversation with Puzzle, a little too young to understand what he had just witnessed. Tristan was watching Ivy with a look of utmost pride on his face, smiling widely at his sister. Maria was dabbing tears from her eyes, still a little overcome at having been reunited with her friend. Ivy just wished she’d swallowed her pride a lot sooner! Andy was holding Amelia’s hand and whispering sweet nothings into her ear, but Amelia seemed… Odd. Like she wasn’t paying the slightest bit of attention to her attentive boyfriend, lost in her own world. Leon was watching Ethan and Ivy and applauding, but his smile didn’t quite reach his eyes. How strange…
Ivy felt a hand close around hers, and turned her attention back to her husband. ‘I think it’s time to cut the cake!’ he beamed, before practically dragging her over to where they had set up the buffet and bar. He’d been looking forward to that cake all day!
* * *
Having deposited her empty plate with the waiting staff, Maria gathered her courage and approached Ethan who was stood chatting with Leon. ‘Maria!’ he beamed, shaking her hand. ‘I’m so pleased to see you here. I know it means a lot to my wife to have you here.’
Maria tried hard to keep her nerve. ‘Thank you, Mr. Blaine! It’s a pleasure to be here, it really is. I just wanted to apologise to you, too. I should have been a better friend to Ivy, I just wanted you to know that I know that. And I wanted to congratulate you properly, and to thank you for looking after her so well. She’s really lucky to have a guy like you.’
Ethan beamed. ‘Please, call me Ethan! And if anything I should be the one thanking you! If you hadn’t brought Ivy to that show all that time ago, I would never have met her. So thank you, Maria!’ He kissed her on the cheek, before looking at Leon. A lightbulb flashed in his mind.
‘Leon, let me introduce you to Maria, Ivy’s friend! Leon, Maria; Maria, Leon.’ He grinned to himself as the pair shook hands.
‘It’s a pleasure,’ Leon smiled, holding onto Maria’s hand just a little longer than necessary. A new song came onto the soundsystem. ‘Oh, I love this song! Maria, would you care to dance?’
Ethan smiled as Maria accepted, and the pair walked over to the dancefloor already deep in conversation. He sidled over to where Ivy was cuddling Dylan, and kissed them both. ‘You’ll never guess what I just set up!’ he sang gleefully.
In the corner of the dancefloor, Andy was holding Amelia tight, running his fingers through her silky blonde hair. He could feel the box in his jacket pocket. ‘It was a beautiful ceremony, wasn’t it?’ he asked.
‘Hm?’ Amelia hadn’t been listening. Leon had been dancing with that girl for hours now. Who the hell was she?!
‘I said it was a beautiful ceremony! What are you looking at?’ Andy peered over his shoulder.
‘Um… Ivy’s dress. It’s beautiful. And yes, the ceremony was too!’ Amelia gritted her teeth, and tried to focus on Andy. It was just so difficult, with Leon practically slobbering all over that random slut. Just who the hell did he think he was, anyway?! She was Amelia Castille! No-one broke up with her, no-one!
‘Maybe we could hire this place for when we get married,’ said Andy, trying to be nonchalant and suppress the excited butterflies swarming in his stomach. He’d been dreaming of this moment for months now.
‘Maybe. Wait… What?!’
Andy took a deep breath. ‘Amelia, I love you so much. I have done ever since…’
Over his shoulder, Amelia noticed Leon sliding his hands around the strange girl’s waist, pulling her closer to him. The jealousy started to rise inside her. That was her man. She felt something snap.
‘…Will you marry – hey!’ Amelia wrenched herself away from Andy’s grasp as she marched over to where Leon and Maria were dancing, pulling Leon off Maria and shoving him aside before slapping Maria straight across the face.
‘Get your filthy hands off him, you slag!’ she screeched before pushing her away and turning her attention towards Leon.
‘And you! Who the hell do you think you are! You think you can just cast me to one side and get away with it?! Leon Stansell, you are pathetic! Are you even listening to me?!’
Leon wasn’t. He was staring beyond Amelia, to Andy. His band mate. His best friend. He could see his heart breaking in his eyes as Amelia’s screeching voice sunk in. Leon felt his own heart snap.
How the hell could he have done this to Andy. Andy, of all people!
Feeling oddly lightheaded, Andy walked over to where Amelia was still screaming at Leon and pulled her round by her shoulder.
‘What the hell is going on Amelia,’ he said coldly.
Amelia sneered. ‘Finally he clicks! Do I really need to spell it out for you?’
‘WHAT IS GOING ON!’ Andy shouted, entirely oblivious to the small crowd that was surrounding them both. Even Amelia seemed taken aback by the outburst from the usually calm man, fury burning in his eyes.
‘I… Andy… We’ve been…’ Amelia was lost for words as Andy took another couple of threatening steps forward.
‘You’ve been what, Amelia.’ Andy’s voice was low and full of poison. ‘Tell me exactly.’
‘Leon and I have been screwing around behind your back,’ Amelia said, tossing her hair back and trying to muster her courage. ‘For months now!’
Andy nodded, eerily calm. ‘So you’ve been having an affair. Right.’ He paused, looking down at his shoes for a moment. ‘Right, okay. An affair. Go home, Amelia.’
‘Go home. Pack. Be gone within the hour. If I come back to the apartment and find anything of yours, I’ll throw it out of the window. I’m including you in this, Amelia.’
Amelia went pale. He really looked as if he meant it. With one last sneer in Leon’s direction, she stalked off, leaving the destruction she’d caused behind her. Andy turned his attention towards Leon. ‘Well?’
‘Andy… I’m so sorry…’
‘Andy, she came onto me! I know that doesn’t excuse what I did, but she came onto me, she was telling me all sorts of things! She told me she wasn’t happy with you and that she thought we could be happy together…’ Leon paused, remembering that all that sweet talk had stopped after their first woohoo. He shook his head. That wasn’t important now. ‘Look, I fell for it. I fell for her! But I ended it, I honestly could! I hated what I was doing to you! You and Ethan, you’re my best mates! I hated the thought of betraying you! I just, I thought I was in love. But I was wrong, and I ended it! I know that doesn’t excuse anything -‘
‘You’re right.’ Andy’s voice was dangerously low, Leon didn’t quite hear him.
‘What did you say, Andy?’
Andy lunged at Leon, seething with rage. ‘You’re right! It doesn’t excuse anything! She was my girlfriend, Leon, you’re my best friend! You should have told me she was saying all this crap to you! I bet the thought didn’t cross your mind, did it? “Oh, Amelia’s saying all sorts of crap about Andy. I know, I’ll woohoo her!”‘
Leon felt tears threaten to spill down his cheeks. ‘Andy, mate, it wasn’t like -‘
‘I am NOT your mate!’ With that Andy swung a punch at Leon; Ethan leapt forward and pulled Andy back, holding his arms to his sides. ‘Leon, get out of here.’
‘Go!’ Ethan glared as Leon took one last look at the fuming Andy, struggling against Ethan’s grip, before turning and leaving. Ethan waited until he was sure Andy wasn’t going to run after him before letting him go, gently loosening his grip and turning him to face him.
‘You okay, mate?’
Andy looked at him. ‘What do you think?’
‘You know what I meant, Andy.’
‘Yeah. Sorry. Thanks for holding me back.’
‘I just… I can’t believe it…’
‘I know mate. I can’t either.’
‘I’m sorry this had to come out today, on your wedding day,’ Andy said, looking apologetically from Ethan to Ivy.
‘Hey, don’t apologise! It’s not your fault! Gnomes, I can’t believe that Leon would -‘
‘Don’t say that name!’ Andy ran an angry hand through his floppy hair, trying to contain his anger. ‘I never want to see or hear about or from either of them again!’
Ethan laid a comforting hand on Andy’s shoulder. ‘You do need to talk to Leon about this, mate.’
‘No!’ Andy pulled away furiously. ‘I can’t, Ethan! I’m sorry! I have to leave El Tigre. I’m quitting the band. I cannot be around Leon Stansell ever again!’