"She flew to Chicago to see you, but she saw you with someone else."
I snorted. "So that's when you decided to swoop in and rescue her, right?"
He inched closer until we were toe-to-toe. He was only an inch taller than I was, so I'd have no problem taking him. The fact that we'd been friends for most of our lives didn't seem to matter to either of us.
"She was a mess because of you and she needed a friend. I won't apologize for being there for her when she needed me," he growled.
"Does she know you're in love with her?"
Jeff went quiet and looked down. I wasn't an idiot. A blind man could see he wanted to be more than just friends with Demi. He thought I hadn't seen them together on the dance floor earlier, or the way he'd stormed off. He was wrong. My eyes had been on Demi all night and my guess was the conversation hadn't gone the way he wanted it to.
"That's what I thought," I snarled.
"Will you stop?" Huntley said angrily. She stepped next to Jeff and fixed her glower on me. "Jeff was there for Demi when she needed you, but you weren't there - "
"And whose fault is that?" I threw my arms in the air. "You can't blame me if I had no idea what the fuck was going on."
"She did it for you," Huntley said. Her face fell slightly and I saw sadness in the depths of her eyes. "You wanted to leave, so she let you go."
Huntley's words sunk in and my vexation gave way to the insurmountable sorrow that had settled in my chest. I was only now starting to see the aftermath of my decision to chase after more than what I had, when the truth was, I had everything I wanted right in front of me. I grabbed the nearest chair and sat down, resting my head in my hands. "She couldn't even tell me what happened," I said softly, struggling with my own emotions. I couldn't tell which way was up.
Huntley and Grayson exchanged a few words, and then she was gone. Grayson took a seat next to me and sighed deeply before turning his gaze my way.
"Look man, I'm sorry I didn't tell you, but Demi asked me not to and it wasn't my secret to tell. I feel like shit for keeping it from you, I really do, but Huntley and I had a hard enough time keeping Demi together as it was."
I contemplated pressing him for more answers and as enraged and anguished as I was, I needed to hear them. It was my own form of torture, knowing how destroyed Demi was, knowing how much she'd gone through while I was gone. I knew I wasn't entirely to blame but I still carried the responsibility of throwing away more than I could've imagined.
"I need you to tell me what happened," I said, finally looking at Grayson.
"Shit," Grayson muttered, pulling his fingers through his hair, "I don't know if I can."
"Please," I begged, "You owe me that much."
"I guess you're right," he paused, and then continued, "but are you sure you want to this now? Here?"
I nodded, preparing myself for only God knows what.
"From what Huntley told me, Demi was twelve weeks along when you left. She was excited, and scared, but asked us not to tell you because she wanted to be the one to do it. One night, Demi called us, and looking at Huntley's face I knew it wasn't good. Huntley said Demi was in a lot of pain, and she was bleeding a lot, so Huntley took her to the hospital. She was only twenty weeks along at that stage so we were all worried." Grayson stopped for a second and I could tell he was struggling, obviously trying to figure out how to tell me the rest. "Demi was rushed into the delivery room and the Doctor said she had what they call a Placental Abruption. I don't know specifics but apparently it could be fatal to the mother, but when they did the ultrasound, they saw that the baby had already died
. Demi had no choice but to deliver the baby naturally, and afterwards," he swallowed hard, his voice thick with emotion, "she almost bled out. She was in the hospital for a few days, and then she had to go for grief counseling. They had her strung on all kinds of pills to help her with depression and not sleeping. She stopped eating too, until Huntley made her realize that we didn't want to lose her too - " when Grayson saw me face, he stopped midsentence. He remained quiet and simply put his arms around my shoulders. My body shook and I didn't care if people saw. I was a grown man, crying like a baby, because of what the woman I loved had endured. Alone. I felt like a coward, and more importantly like I'd failed Demi, and our child. I had nothing left of myself to give, so I gave in. I surrendered to the desolation that had annihilated my heart and soul. Was I being punished for leaving Demi in the first place? I didn't know. All I knew was that I could feel my heart breaking, feeling every piece slip away until there was nothing. In the end, I walked away from everything I'd ever wanted, and now I would never get it back. That last thought took what little fight I had left in me, leaving me bereft. I had no idea what to do, except weep. So I did.
My aunt Emma and I stopped outside of Demi's house and I raced up the stairs, wedding gown and all. As soon as I saw Brody walk into the marquee tent with the murderous, tear stained expression on his face, something deep down stirred and I knew why he'd come back to the wedding. He was right though, we had betrayed him, but we had to respect Demi's wishes at the time. I realized after seeing Brody's reaction that it was wrong to keep something so important from him and there was absolutely no excuse for it.
I knocked on Demi's door, and grew more frantic when there was no answer. I grabbed the handle and then saw that the door was unlocked. I pushed it open and stuck my head in. When I saw Demi hunched over on the floor, I immediately walked towards her and bent down at her side.
She was crying, and chanting "I'm sorry" and "she died" between her hiccups.
Her head flew up and she looked dazed, like she was looking right through me. It took her a few seconds to focus and realize that it was me I front of her. She threw her arms around me and cried into my neck.
'I'm sorry, I tried to be strong but I couldn't anymore."
"It's okay girly, I'm here now. Everything is going to be okay," I replied softly, rubbing up and down her back. I hated seeing her like this. It only reminded me how fragile she still was, and how hard it had been for her to pretend that everything was fine when it wasn't. Part of me felt responsible because we 'hovered' constantly, asking if she was okay instead of allowing her to take the time she needed to deal with cards life had handed her.
My aunt appeared at the doorway and looked at the two of us with a sympathy-filled gaze. "What can I do?" she asked me. Demi's puppy, Coco, was lying next to her and rested her head at Demi's feet.
"Would you mind feeding Coco?" I asked. "I'm going to try and get Demi to bed."
My aunt, the amazing woman that she was, nodded and quietly picked the brown Labrador up before disappearing into the kitchen. I helped Demi to her feet and get her to her bedroom. It was late, just after midnight, and I was tired after a long yet perfect day, but my best friend needed me and I wasn't going to let her down, married or not.
I sat her down on her bed and waited for her to catch her breath. She was distraught and I wondered what had happened between her and Brody.