CHURCH - THE BRIDE'S DRESSING ROOM
do you mean you can't let me marry Reginald?"
Jillian asked as she felt her
face start to flush with anger. "I don't think you have any say in
the matter! I knew that Paddy was wrong about you! I knew that you
hadn't changed. You and Dane are still out to ruin our happiness!"
Stephanie furrowed her brow slightly. "What does Dane have to do with
anything? I'm not here because of Dane."
"Well...you're still here
trying to cause trouble!" Jillian spat. "There's nothing you
could ever say that would keep me from marrying Reginald. When are you
just going to accept that you were nothing more than a mistake? He wants
nothing to do with you! Besides, I thought you'd latched onto Paddy.
Isn't one man enough for you or do you have to try and have them all?"
I...I..." Stephanie awkwardly looked away. Jillian's sharp
comments affected her deeply. "I'm not here to try and cause
"You said that you
couldn't let me marry Reginald! I don't know what that sounds like to you,
but to me..."
"M-maybe I should have
finished my sentence," Stephanie sighed awkwardly, almost apologetically.
"What I was trying to say is that I couldn't let you marry Reginald without
me talking to you first." She paused, looked away to avoid Jillian's penetrating
glare, and took a deep breath.
"There's nothing that you
could say that I would even care to listen to!" Jillian spat. "I
have no desire to listen to any more of your horrible lies."
"T-that's not w-why I'm
here," Stephanie stammered as she began to grow more and more
"Oh, just wait until I
tell Paddy! He'll see that you haven't changed! He'll see that
you're still the same awful, wicked girl you've always been!"
"If you would just shut
up and let me talk!" Stephanie snapped angrily
Taken aback by her sudden
outburst, Jillian bit her lip and looked away in discomfort. "Just say whatever it is
you have to say and get out! That seems to be the only way I'm going to
get rid of you."
Stephanie muttered. "I just couldn't let you marry Reginald without
telling you how sorry I am for...everything that I did to...destroy what you two
Jillian's eyes grew wide with surprise. Surely she couldn't have heard her
correctly. "What did you say?"
"I said that I'm sorry!" Stephanie repeated as her voice took on a more solid and confident
tone. "I had no business trying to come between the two of you.
It was...obvious, even then, that you two were very much in love and that
whatever he and I might have had had been over for a long time."
"I...can't believe that
I'm hearing this," Jillian muttered and shook her head in disbelief.
After a few moments, Jillian turned to stare at Stephanie and inspected her
expressions and demeanor closely for evidence that there was something else
behind the sudden apology---some nefarious scheme that was being set into
motion. "What are you really up to?"
Stephanie sighed as she hung her head. "I just couldn't let you marry
Reginald without finally putting all of the bad things to rest. I couldn't
let you marry him without telling you how...how sorry I am for everything that
"Why should I believe
you?" Jillian eyed her suspiciously. That couldn't be all that
there was. There had to be more behind her apology.
"I guess, considering
everything that's happened, you shouldn't," Stephanie confessed.
"But I am being honest with you. There are no ulterior motives behind
this. I should have given up on Reginald a long time ago. In fact, I
had given up on him, but I let myself listen to Momma and Dane. They
convinced me that he loved me and that we would have been together if it weren't
for you." She paused and bit her lip. "Only now I see that
they really weren't thinking of me and my feelings and what was best for
me. They were only using me for their own selfish agendas."
Jillian continued to eye her former rival carefully as she tried to weigh her sincerity
against everything that she already knew. "If...you're
really being honest with me, if you're really sorry for everything that's
happened, then I...accept your apology." Her eyes immediately took
on a more stern look. "Don't make me regret that."
"Oh, Jillian, you
won't," Stephanie assured as she began to look as if a weight had been lifted off of her shoulders. "And I...want to tell you that I
don't think that Reginald had anything to do with Momma's death. He
just...couldn't have had anything to do with it. I will never believe that
he killed my mother."
"I don't believe it
either," Jillian sighed, a little shocked that she found herself in
agreement with Stephanie, of all people. "And I never will."
"If I can do
anything---anything at all---to help prove that he's innocent, please let me
know." Stephanie reached out and grabbed Jillian's hands
urgently. Jillian was appropriately taken aback, but she didn't act on her
first instinct to pull away. "You two are so happy together.
You two belong together. I've...always known that, I guess, but I could
just never admit it to myself." She paused and hung her head.
"I've always been so jealous of you, Jillian. Not just where Reginald
is concerned, either. You've always had a sophistication and style that
I've always...well...wished could be mine."
know what to say," Jillian blushed, quite uncomfortable with Stephanie's
flattery. "Thank you."
"Well, I've taken up
entirely too much of your time," Stephanie sighed as she began to walk
towards the door. "I don't want to keep you from marrying
Reginald." She paused and turned around to look at Jillian
again. "I know that...that we'll never be friends or anything like
that, but...well...I just hope that we can finally put the animosity in the
Jillian nodded, quite shocked that the words were coming out of her mouth.
"In fact..." She bit her lip with apprehension and took a deep
breath. "Would you like to stay for the wedding?"
Stephanie's eyes grew wide with surprise. This invitation was quiet
unexpected and something that she'd never dreamed of.
"I...well..." She winced and looked away. "Thank you,
but I really don't belong here. Of all the people that deserve to be here
celebrating your happiness, I'm not one of them. I'm really happy for you,
Jillian---honestly I am---but I just don't belong here."
And, with that, Stephanie
quietly left a still stunned Jillian alone. Of everything that Jillian had
expected to happen on her wedding day, Stephanie's sudden and unexpected apology
had not been one of them. Taking a deep breath, she turned to
glance at herself in the mirror again and smiled when she saw that her bridal
glow had not diminished. When she checked the time, she immediately saw
that she was late and let out a sharp gasp. She was late for her own
wedding! Surely Reginald was getting worried. After taking one last
look in the mirror, Jillian opened the door and prepared to go make her grand
walk down the isle.