They flew out of LAX mid morning. Alex had warned her that traveling with him was a pain in the ass. Kelly assumed he was being dramatic. She had no idea how right he was. First, Alex had to check in his chair, and then use this god awful airport chair that a million others had used. Overall, he was frustrated and miserable and nothing Kelly did seemed to help. Once they were settled on the plane he calmed down. Kristy had done a fabulous job with their seats as they were sitting in a row alone, which was nice. It was not a long flight, so they talked and played with each others ipods. Before they knew it they were landing. Kelly was becoming consumed with thoughts of what was going to happen with them, but Alex never said anything and she figured perhaps no news was good news. It felt like forever until Alex was settled back in his chair. He was miserable and so was Kelly. She could not imagine how he had dealt with this crap for all these years. Being as supportive as she knew how to be, she just tried to just grin and bear it.
Alex’s brother Mike picked them up. Kelly looked forward to seeing him again. Mike had a big old truck. He just threw their stuff along with Alex’s chair in the truck bed. Mike got Alex in and they were on their way. Alex’s whole demeanor changed. It was very obvious that he was happy to be home. He showed her all kinds of things along the way to his parents’ house. Alex’s home town was stunning; the nature was like nothing Kelly had ever seen before. The Miller’s property was this earthy midsized house that was cozy and comfortable. Kelly felt like she was at home.
As expected Alex’s family was nothing but nice and welcomed Kelly with open arms. “This weekend is a marathon not a sprint. I hope you two are ready to jump in!” Alex’s Mom Grace said with enthusiasm. Giving her full attention Kelly replied, “Tell me what needs done.”
“Alex, just help her get settled and then we can take it from there. Kelly we are just delighted to have you here.” Grace said while patting Alex on the back. They were both staying in Alex’s room. It was big; Kelly imagined it had been remodeled soon after his accident. The room was decorated in all neutral colors and had a large bed as well as a pull out couch. Much like Alex’s apartment there were pictures everywhere. His desk was large and Kelly imagined a younger Alex sitting there studying for hours.
Alex’s Grandma Kate was there and Kelly loved meeting her. Kate was older and Alex had mentioned that she had dementia and spoke her mind. Kelly hugged her and introduced herself. She was a tiny woman in her seventies. “Alex loves you, I can tell. Now don’t worry god will let him walk again someday” Kate said while looking directly at her grandson. “He better Gram” replied Alex while kissing her on the cheek.
Kelly got settled and went in the kitchen to help Grace. The Millers were hosting the rehearsal dinner at their house, so Kelly knew there had to be lots of work to be done. Grace tried to refuse Kelly’s offer but Kelly insisted. Alex was playing catch up with his Dad and brother in the other room. Alex’s family knew about the job he was up for in Washington. He explained to his Dad that he was waiting till after the wedding to discuss the opportunity with Kelly. Alex had just gotten the call from the recruiter the day before, letting him know that if he wanted the job it was his. His Dad Ed, trying to sound as rationale as possible said “son, you are playing with fire.” “Dad, this is not the time, trust me” Alex said while shaking his head.
Kelly went into Alex’s room to clean up and could not help but see all the pictures of Alex when he was younger. He was hot as hell even then. Alex popped his head in to check up on her. Kelly gave him a quick smile. “Alex Miller, were you ever ugly?” With a huge grin on his adorable face he rolled in and pulled her to his lap and said, “nope, but I love the way you look in Colorado.” Alex kissed her gently on the lips, making her melt. They were soon interrupted by commotion in the family room. Right away Alex recognized the rowdy voices of his friends. Kelly quickly jumped off his lap and he started to laugh. Alex said with a chuckle, “That would be my child hood friends, brace yourself.”
Together they went into the family room. Kelly saw four young guys sitting around like they owned the place. They were all good looking, some more rugged perhaps. Alex quickly did brief introductions. “I may need to move to San Francisco if this is the way they grow their women” his friend Benny said while giving Kelly a huge bear hug. “And that would be the one and only Benny” Noah said while shaking his head. They all talked for a bit and Kelly excused herself and went to see if his Mom needed anything.
She chatted with Grace a little while they prepped salads and other items for the rehearsal dinner. His grandma Kate came in and joined in the conversation, Kelly thought she was a riot.
Kate asked Kelly “Tell me dear, Is my grandson being a gentleman?”
“Oh, he certainly is, he is a wonderful man Mrs. Miller.”
With a patient smile Kate replied, “Well good, he was raised right, so don’t take any flack from him.” Grace jumped in and said with a smirk, “Mom, I don’t think you have to worry about that Kelly seems to know how to keep Alex in line.”
“Thankfully I don’t have to do it often, but he has the secretive side and getting things out of him can be quite the chore,” Kelly said with wide inquisitive eyes.
After a short pause Grace said, “He has always been like that and perhaps more so since the accident. Kelly, he had a really hard time after the accident and very little of his life was private. He needed someone to help him with everything, so I think now he is a lot more guarded.”
“Of course I understand it just seems he chooses to keep the strangest things a secret” Kelly said shaking her head. They laughed.
Kelly politely offered to stay back during the rehearsal and get everything set up for the dinner. Grace said she thought that was a great idea but there was no way Alex would allow it. Kelly heard Alex call for her so she excused herself.
Alex informed her that they were going to hang out with a bunch of people he graduated with that evening and Kelly said that would be great. They had dinner with his family, pizza because his mom could not imagine cooking one more thing. Kelly found herself falling for his family as well; they were very easy people to be around.
They went to Alex’s room to get ready to go out. Kelly asked if jeans would be OK and he said you could go in your ugliest sweats and you would look better than anyone there. Kelly blushed. Alex went into the bathroom and not even thinking she went in behind him. Neither of them noticed or acknowledged the awkwardness that hovered in the air. Kelly turned to get a towel and saw him cathing, she quickly turned and walked out. Alex called after her and said “Kel, come in and do whatever you want, this is your life too so we should just get use it.” She walked back in and he had a smirk on his face and his penis in his hand which was just weird to Kelly. She laughed and kissed his forehead and went about her business. Kelly did not know if it was being home or if maybe he was just learning to trust her, but something was changing and she loved it.
Kelly put on jeans and one of her dressier shirts. Alex wore jeans and t-shirt. He did not know how to break it to her that she was completely overdressed for a backyard fire pit. “Kelly, you look beautiful but we are going to Smitty’s back yard and you are very overdressed,” he said with a huge smile. “Thanks for heads up ass.” Kelly changed; apparently kitten heels were not going to be necessary. Kelly quickly put on a fitted throw back t-shirt and her running shoes. Alex said with pride, “You are so hot, and I am a lucky many.” Alex’s Dad promised to take her on a run on a famous trail in the morning. “Since I am going out with your Dad early tomorrow why don’t you let me drive?” She wanted him to have fun, and she was going to be too uncomfortable to really let loose anyway.
She liked his friends and she saw a side of Alex she had never seen before, he was so relaxed and happy. It made Kelly think maybe she should see about jobs in Colorado, but she had no idea how Alex could get around in the winter. They all sat around and told stories and laughed. Alex had his harem of girls as usual. To Alex’s credit he did a great job of including Kelly and ignoring the other females in attendance. They all teased her about being from Cleveland and said they could not believe Alex Miller was dating a girl from Cleveland. “You better believe it, I am headed out there this fall to see what all the fuss is about,” Alex said jokingly and then leaned over to give Kelly a sweet kiss on the cheek. The group broke up around midnight. Alex had clearly had his fare share of beers so she was glad she insisted on driving.
They got home and Alex did what he had to do and passed out. Kelly slept well and was up early and ready to run. Alex was in bed still when she left at eight to run with his Dad. He took her to a mountain trail that was stunning. It was a great 6 mile run. Kelly felt great afterwards. When they got back she grabbed a bowl of cereal as Alex was still sleeping. When Alex finally rolled in his Dad said he was impressed with Kelly’s run. “She is no joke Dad, I think she has learned a lot from me.” Kelly promptly hit him in the back of the head. “Ouch, I am wounded Kelly,” Alex said showing off his adorable smile while he kissed her hand. Kelly asked Alex what he thought of her staying back and making sure everything was ready when they got back from the rehearsal. He quickly said no and said that was stupid. Grace said not to worry, it would all be fine.
Alex took Kelly out during the day to do some site seeing. Kelly was happy to have him to herself. She broached the subject of him moving back home. “At one time I would not have entertained anything else, but things change,” and that was all he had to say about that. Kelly dropped the subject, not wanting to stir the pot.
The rehearsal went well, Kelly was glad she went. She met more people and Alex seemed happy she was there. Kelly noticed that everything was accessible and there were few if any obstacles for Alex to navigate. She assumed since it was his brother’s wedding they kept Alex’s needs in mind while planning. She realized that slowly over time she was starting to be aware of things that might be obstacles for Alex and realized if they were going to be together she was going to have to be more of a planner. Afterwards they all headed back to the house and Kelly did everything she could to help Grace get things in order. Everything looked great, very pretty as their property was exquisite and very natural not real manicured but gorgeous. The view from their wraparound porch was amazing, could be in a magazine. You could tell they had to update the home to be accessible for Alex, but it was done very tastefully. Alex was being very social and at one point he came to find her and told his mom he was barrowing his girlfriend. Alex told her she did not have to do all that and she said she was happy to.
As they ate dinner and Alex talked with some of the guys. The maid of honor was all over Alex. It was Amy’s sister so Kelly tried her best to tuck her crazy jealous girlfriend side away for the evening. It was not easy. Gail was very pretty, which made it all the worse, most of Alex’s “girls” were not all that attractive. Since she was Amy’s sister, Kelly gave her the benefit of the doubt. Kelly sat with Alex’s grandma Kate for a while; she was very sweet and kept Kelly laughing. She told her that Alex was her favorite grandson but begged her not to tell anyone. The evening winded down and Kelly helped clean up and then joined Alex on the porch. Alex pulled her to his lap and said he wanted to just enjoy that moment. The sun was setting over the mountains and it was beyond amazing. Alex kissed her gently and she hoped that moment could last forever. They sat there for a while and did not say anything. Alex asked her if she wanted to turn in early, and Kelly said that sounded great to her. They gently and ever so quietly made love in his room.
The morning of the wedding was just plain crazy, everyone was rushing around. Kelly did not know what to do or where to help. Alex went early with his brother and she went with his parents a little later. Kelly looked and felt great. She slept great, Alex was a little spastic in his sleep but it did not bother her much. He apologized in the morning, blaming spending way too much time in his chair. It was a gorgeous day for an outdoor wedding they had a huge tent that was just as pretty. A warm summer day just as Alex had predicted. Alex looked great; Kelly felt for sure he was the hottest guy there. He seemed nervous and it occurred to her that he had not said anything about his speech. Typical Ed had given a nice speech at the rehearsal but she totally forgot Alex would be speaking. Once again for whatever reason Alex did not want her to know or did not care to share a silly detail with her. She found it annoying but let it go, she had no choice but to just let it go.
Kelly thought the wedding site was beautiful, you could tell the guys had thrown a few back prior to, but it all flowed perfectly. Kelly really had not gotten to see much of Alex since she got to the wedding site, it was very busy and because it was outdoors things were scattered. Finally she saw him and before she could lose him she walked over and said “hello stranger,” with a naughty grin. “Well aren’t you a site for sore eyes, are you sure you are my date?” He had that million dollar adorable smile that melted her heart every time.
Ed had said to her that there was no doubt they were the most attractive couple there. Could this day have be any more perfect? Kelly sat behind his parents next to one of Alex’s buddies. Tim was very nice, and just went on and on about how great Alex was, and she wanted to tell him to shut up but she knew better. She saw Alex tear up during the vows and that made her tear up. After the wedding they all went off to get pictures. Alex had come over to check on her and she told him to go get pictures she would be fine. Before he went off Kelly had Tim take one of her and Alex. She went to the reception with the others, she was not nervous; she knew enough of them to be comfortable. There were a couple of his “girls” that she could tell did not like her but she honestly did not care, she thought their obsession with him was strange to say the least. Kelly wondered if it was some weird protective mothering thing, whatever it was, it was annoying.
It seemed that his graduating class was very close almost like family. She had heard of small towns like this, but never believed that they really existed. Kelly got a glass of wine and took her seat at his parents table. Alex and his parents came back and he pulled up beside her and grabbed her ass, which she thought was completely inappropriate but kind of liked the attention. Kelly could tell he definitely had been drinking with the guys. Kelly was notorious for getting drunk at weddings herself so she did not judge him at all. After a few minutes Kelly whispered, “are you making a speech?” “You know it,” he said with a shitty grin. “No I don’t know anything, because you never tell me anything,” she snapped back still whispering.
After the first dance, and the blessing Alex and the Gail went up to make their speeches. Amy’s sisters was sweet, nothing great but enough. Alex, quoted a poem, and spoke of family and good times and bad referencing without really referencing all Mike had done for him. He was eloquent, extremely well spoken, poised and gorgeous. Kelly wept. She was wiping her eyes trying not to mess up her eye makeup when he came back to the table. “See baby it’s the surprise factor,” he said while kissing her on the cheek. “That was amazing Alex, you continue to amaze me,” she replied with a sniffle. Chuckling he said, “I am pretty sharp.” Grace rolled her eyes and suggested Alex try the water.
Everyone kept asking Alex what he was doing and he used every trick possible to avoid the subject. At dinner they talked about how beautiful Amy’s dress was and how great they looked together the usual wedding dinner banter. Grace was worried about the brunch they were hosting in the morning. She said she was just throwing some stuff out and that was it. Kelly did her best to assure her it would be perfect.
As the reception rolled on Alex seemed very tired but he kept going. He loved that he did not have to hold Kelly’s hand the entire time; she was fine on her own. Mike asked Kelly to dance, and she was delighted. As they danced to Michael Buble Mike whispered in her ear, “you two are next. “ Kelly smiled and said, “one can hope.” Kelly had met everyone but had such trouble with names. Lots of people asked Alex if he was next and he would simply reply, ”stranger things have happened.” Sade was playing and Kelly realized they would never dance; it was a fleeting thought though. She went over to him during the song and played with the hair on the back of his head. Alex pulled her to his lap and whispered in her ear, “I don’t do those wheelchair dance thing.” With as much sarcasm as she could muster she replied, “I can’t imagine” and quickly looked away so that he could not see the hurt in her eyes. Kelly understood but that was honestly the first time she had given thought to the things she would not be able to do with Alex. Kelly true to form did not dwell on it. Alex kissed her and said he had the most beautiful girl on his lap and that he felt so lucky. Kelly said she felt the same and was going to miss him next week. He promised her that the time would fly. Kelly said, “you know when I get back we need to sit down and figure out what we are going to do.” “You are absolutely right,” Alex replied hoping that the subject would quickly change.
At the end of the night, the bride and groom took off and his Mom and Dad tied up some loose ends and made sure everyone had rides home. There was a group of guys and a few girls that were hanging around. Kelly had not had too much to drink so she was given the keys to Amy’s car to drive back to Alex’s when they were done. They all just sat around listening to music and reminiscing. Kelly was bored but she knew Alex was having a good time. One of the girls, Julian did not like Kelly and it was obvious, Kelly knew her type. She would bet Julian use to be one of the hottest girls in the class. Kelly would admit she was attractive, but nothing over the top. Kelly figured Julian had probably dated Alex at one time. She had asked Alex earlier if he had ever dated her and he said not really which meant he probably had and it was probably serious, she was learning how to decode Alex speak. Kelly knew they still talked because she was always on his facebook page.
Around 1 AM, Julian who was very drunk and said to Alex, “so did you decide what you are going to do about the job in DC?” Kelly felt like someone had knocked the wind out of her. Everyone shot Julian a look and she said “what” innocently. Alex’s face went blank and very pale. Time seemed to stand still. Kelly looked at him and he quickly said, “Kel I was waiting for the right time.” Kelly was confused and deep down she knew what was happening even before it had a chance to happen. It was one of those moments, the make it or break it type. With a cracked voice she said, “what, what, what.” Kelly felt tears welling up fast; she got up and said, “excuse me.” Alex looked at Julian and said, “Fuck You” and went after Kelly.
Kelly was crying and he grabbed her in the foyer of the main building where the bathrooms were. Kelly She said, “Alex get away from me right now. “
“Kel let me explain.”
“NO,” she screamed.
“Alex, how could you, I have been worrying non-stop about all this and you get a job without saying two words to me. “ As she wiped away the tears she looked right in his stone cold blue eyes.
Kelly continued, “when did you interview?”
“When you were in Boston, this is not how I planned this, I swear.”
“So you’re taking it. - Don’t answer that, of course you are taking it.”
Alex went to respond but Kelly quickly put her hands up and said, “you just get away from me.”
“Kel, please let me explain.”
“Explain what, that I am once again not good enough to be a part of your entire life. I am just good for show and sex and any other need you might have.”
“It is not like that and you know it.” She was starting to scare him; this was getting out of control and fast.
“No Alex, no I don’t know. I thought I knew you, I thought we were on the same page.”
Alex had no idea what to say or do, he had never seen her like this she was broken, shaking and crying and the clincher was it was all his fault. “Kelly I want you to come with me, that is what I wanted to talk about when you got back.”
“No you didn’t. Don’t you dare patronize me.”
“Kelly, why would I stress you out about it if I was not going to get it, it seemed like talking about it would be presumptuous.”
“Because I am your girl friend, and we are supposed to share our lives. Apparently, I am the only one doing any of that. How could you Alex, how could you? I love you so much, I would never do this to you ever, I am mortified.”
“God Kelly this is all wrong, that Is not how it is.”
“Alex, then tell me how it is.”
Alex did not know what to say, he knew no matter what it would be wrong, but he had to try. “I won’t go.”
“Oh no you are going.” She was crying so hard, he felt like his heart was being ripped out.
“You know, I would have gone with you, I would have insisted that we do what was best for you, and I would have changed my entire life for you without thinking twice. But you did not even think enough of me to ask me or tell me. “
“Then come with me.”
“No not this way, I am not some dumb girl that is going to follow you around like a puppy dog; no one treats me this way. You go, and while you are at it Alex Miller go to hell.”
Kelly went into the bathroom and sat and cried. She felt so alone and scared because she was stuck out in the middle of Colorado alone. She tried to call her sister but she did not have any reception. Alex sat out there for a while and cried and had absolutely no idea how to make this better he felt awful.
Julian came in and said, “Alex I am so sorry.”
Again without hesitation he said, “Fuck You.” He then went on to say, “you had no business doing that, Kelly’s right you are a jealous bitch.”
Julian softly said, “Alex she is not right for you.”
He was about five seconds from boiling over he said, “What are you talking about who do you think you are?”
“She is not like us.”
Trying to stay calm he said, “you are fucking crazy.”
“Do you want me to talk to her?”
“Don’t you dare go in there, leave her alone already.” Julian left but Kelly heard the entire conversation.
Tim came in and said, “buddy I am so sorry, is she OK?”
Alex quickly replied, “no, I think its over.”
“No you two are in love,” Tim said confidently.
“What I did was bad, I was not even thinking, she is done with me and I don’t blame her.” He had his head in his hands and felt like the weight of the world was on his shoulders. Alex continued, “never in a million years would want to hurt her like this, fuck. Just go.”
About an hour later Kelly came out and Alex was still sitting there. She looked awful, she calmly told Alex that she was going back to his parents and in the morning someone was taking her to the airport first thing. Alex said, “of course.” He knew there was nothing he could say, but god he had to try.
“Kelly, I love you so much.”
She looked at him and said, “shut up.” While walking to the car Kelly said, “I have no idea how to get to your parents, please go get my purse and then tell me how to get back to your parents.”
“Of course,” was all he could get out before rushing off to find her purse.
Alex went back to the table and everyone asked if he was OK. In almost a whisper he said, “no, not at all.”
Kelly waited for him to get in and then said, “which way do I go?”
“Kelly, can we please talk.”
Without hesitation and in a stern tone she replied, “No, not now and I honestly don’t know when.”
Alex replied, “OK, but just let me say one thing.”
“What Alex what could you possibly have to say now.”
“I love you and I know you are hurt and angry but this is not how this was supposed to happen and I love you.”
“Point taken, now which way do I go?”
They got home and Kelly went in and put on some pj’s, brushed her teeth, washed her face and started packing her stuff up. Alex came in and had no idea what to do. She grabbed a pillow and blanket and slept on the couch. “Kel sleep in the bed,” he said with a pathetic tone. Kelly firmly said, “Alex please just leave me alone, all I want to do is get the hell out of Colorado.” He started to get undressed. She heard him say, “fuck, fuck, fuck.” She wanted to ignore him so bad, so very badly she wanted to just go to sleep. He was pounding the wheels on his chair and she would swear he was crying. Reluctantly, she looked up and saw that he was trying desperately to undo the buttons on his tux. Nine times out of ten you would never notice that the dexterity in his hands was compromised by his injury. Either he hid it well or had just mastered adapting. Ordinarily, Kelly would handle this situation with grace and care, but she was incapable of either of those things at the moment. She stood up, wiped her eyes and went over to Alex. Without making eye contact she grabbed his hands and put them in his lap. He was so shocked that he did not even react. She undid the buttons and took a moment to look deep in his eyes. What she was looking for she was not sure but in that moment she hoped to see the answers to all her questions. Nothing looked familiar anymore, it hurt so badly. She turned around and went back to the couch.
Alex, put his head in his hands and cried. He cried because he loved her more now than ever, he cried because he hated that it took his pathetic inability to undo his buttons for her to look in his eyes. He just sat and silently cried. She cried herself to sleep and he listened to every tear. Having to say something Alex said, “Kelly this isn’t over, it can’t be.” Kelly stayed silent. Alex did his thing and went to bed.