Prelude

Prelude

It had happened at the end of the beginning, before the beginning of the end.

They stood on the concrete in the driving rain, not minding the bitingly cold wind and the stares of the spectators as they took in the scene before them before walking past. It was achingly public. In that moment, there were leagues between them, and it would be up to them to close the gap. One decision would determine it all.

And it was ultimately hers. He was in front of her in all his desperation, left with the possibility of a life without her and the life he knew she carried. Behind her was that life, that possibility, in the form of a six-foot-tall, blue-eyed male underneath a black umbrella.

“Elle,” began the dripping brown-eyed one in front of her.

She winced, grimacing at the sound of the nickname coming from his lips. It reminded her of better times, of different times. She pursed her lips together against the trembling that had broken out in the center of her body and was starting to move its way upward. If her lips started trembling, she would cry. And she promised she wouldn’t cry anymore. Not over him.

“Please don’t do this. You can’t expect to end it here this way.” Rainwater ran down his handsome face, looking like tears of sorrow. She had never seen him cry before, and the thought nearly shattered her resolve. This would not break her down. His weakness would not become hers.

“Then where is it going to end? How is it going to end?” she demanded quietly, surprised at the edge in her voice. “If it can’t stop here, then where the hell can it?”

He took a step toward her, she a step back away from him in response. Hurt flickered in his eyes at the movement, and he took another imploring step.

“Elle,” he repeated. “You cannot expect me to stay out of your life. You can’t expect to keep me out of my child’s life.”

“You have children,” she reminded him firmly and clung to the anger and resentment that came with the fact to help her remain strong. “Ones you made with your wife. My half-sister. I think it would be a good idea for you to go home to them where you belong.”

“That’s not where I belong, Elle love, and you know it.”

Her spine stiffened at the implication of his statement. “That sounds like something you should remedy for the sake of your son and daughter.”

He ate up the distance between them in three large strides and took her by the arms. The guy under the umbrella took an instinctive step forward to ward off his brown-eyed opponent. But he paused a bit to make sure that he didn’t cause her any harm.

“What about our child?” he demanded, gripping her hard enough to have her swallowing hard. “What about my child that you’re bleeding carrying inside of you right now?”

She shook her head, willing herself to meet those intense brown eyes with her own. She told him the truth, the cold, biting truth. “The child isn’t yours. It never was.”

His grip loosened on her arms, and she shook herself away from him. His jaw was slack, and those beautiful brown eyes were filling with tears he didn’t bother to fight. In the wake of the hope of something he had clung to being shattered, the shame of a few tears meant nothing.

“What…what do you mean?” he managed. “The child…?”

“Belongs to someone else,” she finished. “As it should. You had a chance to be with me, but you picked my sister instead. Now I am going to move on and leave you to your life. This is no life for either one of us.” She lifted her chin. “Goodbye. Have a nice life.”

With that, she turned her back on him and faced the man she was going to spend the rest of her life with—or at least that was her hope. The blue-eyed man wrapped her up in his tuxedo jacket, knowing that the midnight blue dress with its nonexistent sleeves was no match against the temperature and the rain. He offered her the refuge of his large umbrella as he led her away from her past and to a brighter future.

From Spectator Magazine the following week:

Sources have revealed that British megastar Orlando Bloom and England-born American songwriter-slash-thespian Eleanor Barton have finally put an end to their tumultuous nine-month affair. Witnesses say that Barton, whose first child will make its debut in early summer of next year, broke it off with Bloom very recently, and it seems that the break is permanent this time. Sources also divulge that the intensely private, tight-lipped Barton is getting more than moral support from close pal and Tudors star Henry Cavill, and he seems to be instrumental in her break from Bloom. Bloom is currently married to primetime TV stunner Samara Lewis, and the duo has a pair of twins, a thirteen-month-old son named Hayden and a daughter named Hayley. No word yet if the duo plans to dissolve their eleven-month union or work out their differences.

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