The final instalment! Thank you for reading, if you’ve made it this far. And for the favourites and votes and *cough* comments. Thank you especially to Charles, for critiquing this chapter before I submitted it.
Orla spun round. Rachel was walking awkwardly across the cobbled church yard in kitten heels, waving.
It was a gloriously sunny, spring morning and the quant little twelfth century village church was perfect. Frothy, pink blossom covered the trees, there was an abundance of white roses adorning the doors and windows and everyone was dressed up to the nines.
Ever since they were little, Vanessa had dreamt of a fairy-tale wedding, and Orla couldn’t help but feel happy for her.
“You look lovely in that dress. How’s it going?”
Orla smoothed the dress down again, in the hope it might gain an inch or two in length. It was a shift dress, similar to the one she had been wearing the night she met Greg, but a different colour. It had seemed fine during her fitting, but out in the bright sunshine she was well out of her comfort zone. Rachel, also one of Vanessa’s bridesmaids, was wearing a dress which was exactly the same shade of dusty purple, but a different style -longer and nipped in at the waist. They held matching bouquets and wore matching fascinators in their hair.
“Yours is lovely too, this colour really suits you.”
“Thanks, but I want to hear about London!”
The involuntary smile, that always crept onto Orla’s face when she thought of Greg, made its appearance. Rachel laughed.
“I don’t want to jinx it, but it feels like everything is perfect. We’ve found a lovely little flat in Neasden, with a little garden. You can see Wembley stadium from our bedroom window. Greg’s new job seems to be going well. It was a shock for him to be back in training at first, but he’s used to it now.”
“How’s your new job going?”
“It’s great, the people are nice and it’s a bigger organisation, with so much more happening. I’m mostly based in Kings Cross, but I get to spend time on the other sites quite a bit too. I’m so lucky to have got it. It’s such an amazing opportunity”
“Luck has nothing to do with it Orla, you’re perfect for that job, they’d have been mad not to hire you.”
Orla cast her mind back to that October evening. She and Greg had been seeing each other for nearly four months when Greg had been invited to apply for a post at the National Crime Agency as an intelligence officer. He’d taken her out to eat. That nice place near the station. And gently explained that if he went for it, if he got it, it would mean moving back to London; and if that happened, he wanted her to go with him.
It freaked Orla right bostancı escort out. It was a commitment she wasn’t sure she was ready to make. And it reminded her again, of something she’d been pretending wasn’t real. Greg was part of the police force.
The rest of the meal had been, awkward, Orla hadn’t voiced her inner turmoil, she’d just said she needed to think about it for a bit. But Greg was clearly disappointed. He was familiar enough with this reaction by now. They’d planned to go back to his afterwards. Instead they’d spent the night apart.
The following morning, first thing, Orla’s phone buzzed.
I’m outside. Can we talk?
Orla was up in a flash, in her dressing gown and opening the front door. It was Greg, looking as if he’d slept as badly as she had.
“I won’t apply if you don’t want me to.” He’d said, the moment she’d opened the door.”
Orla was stunned. This opportunity was the break Greg had been longing for. The NCA was infamously hard to break into, and he’d been invited to apply. It wasn’t in the bag exactly, but there was a pretty good chance he’d get it. She opened the door wider, and beckoned him inside
He sat down at the table, in the kitchen and looked around. They spent most of their time at his. Orla fiddled with kettle while she considered his words.
“Don’t be ridiculous. You must apply.” She said, with her back to him.
“Not if it means losing you.”
Orla stopped making coffee and turned around, leaning back against the counter for support.
“I’m serious Orla, I won’t do it.
She shook her head. “You must apply.” She crossed the small kitchen, and lowered herself down on his lap, straddling his thighs, so she was facing him and held his jaw in her hands.
“I’m sorry about my reaction. I spend so much time trying to forget you’re a copper, sometimes it works too well.” They’d learned to just avoid talking about his work. It wasn’t ideal. “It was just a shock that’s all. Of course I want you to apply. Apart from anything else, I’d hate it if you didn’t follow your dreams on my account. It’s an incredible opportunity and you’ll be amazing. You could make a real difference.”
“But what about us?”
“We can work around it, Greg but you’re going to go for it. You’re not side-lining your career on my account. I won’t allow it.”
Greg’s grin nearly split his face in half. He picked Orla up and swung her round the kitchen. Her cry of surprise was loud enough to bring Vanessa running to see if everything was alright.
He’d got it of course, and moved back to London to begin the training a few weeks later. It hadn’t been plain sailing though, not by any stretch. Orla didn’t go with him as ümraniye escort bayan he’d hoped, at least not initially. She hadn’t wanted to leave her job, and so they’d agreed to try the long distance thing. Except, the NCA’s fast track training was exhausting, and stressful. And London was an expensive place to get to, however Orla did it. They’d missed each other desperately. In fact, Orla had missed Greg far more than she’d imagined she would. So when she spotted a job going with the London Wildlife Trust as a project manager, she’d gone for it. She hadn’t expected to get it, so she didn’t tell Greg until she’d been shortlisted for interview.
“I’ve never seen you like this before.” Rachel said, pulling Orla back to the present.
What do you mean?
“The faraway look on your face when you think about him, the dreamy smile.” Orla felt her face heat and Rachel laughed out loud. “You have gone the most extraordinary shade of puce, it clashes terribly with that dress.”
Orla sighed. “I’m crazy about him. Please don’t say anything, he’s already unbearably conceited as it is.”
Don’t say anything about what? Greg asked, from behind her,
“None of your business, Rachel told him, quick as a flash. “We’re talking about you, not to you.”
Orla was mortified. How much of that did he hear? She needn’t have worried; when she turned around, his face transformed.
Orla had spent the night before the wedding at Vanessa’s. Greg had travelled up that day. This was the first time he’s seen Orla in her bridesmaid’s outfit. There was an appraising look in his eyes, as they roamed over her body. His smile was both possessive and self satisfied. She rested a hand over her tummy to calm the predictable stab of arousal, cross with her self for being so pleased with his reaction, so responsive to him, while he was being such a smug git. Of course, he looked breathtakingly handsome in his suit, which wasn’t helping in the slightest.
He walked over, taking big strides, closing the gap between them. He wrapped his arms round her and trailed kisses down her throat. “you look beautiful babes,” he said against her neck, “I love you in this dress.” And then quietly, so no one else would hear he added. “I don’t know how I’m going to manage to keep my hands off you until we’re alone again.” The knowledge that this was the only time she’d worn a dress, other than the night they met, lay unspoken between them. A lurch of attraction did a somersault in her stomach. His lips met hers in a gentle, chaste kiss, but his eyes, like his words, spoke of the promise of later.
It sounded like Rachel was coughing, but Orla knew she was trying not to laugh. Greg was big on public displays of affection, in a way kartal escort that Tim had never been. It was something Orla was still getting to grips with. But this seemed over the top, even for Greg.
“Shut up,” she grumbled. “You know perfectly well I wouldn’t be wearing this if I wasn’t a bridesmaid.”
He pulled her against his chest into a tight, possessive embrace, and with his lips up against the shell of her ear he whispered “You’ll have to wear one when we get married.”
Greg had raised the subject of marriage before. Always, flippant throwaway remarks. He hadn’t asked her outright, but he talked as if it was a given that they would get married. He seemed to delight in her reaction, which as ever, was panic. Orla squirmed and tried to escape his embrace, but Greg didn’t mind her obvious discomfort in the slightest, he just chuckled and held her tighter. The deep rumble vibrated through her, doing all sorts of funny things to her insides.
“I’ll get my way Orla,” he said, in a low voice. “I always do.”
There is something so inevitable about it. Her ma loved him, even her taciturn father was a fan and Greg was so determined. Although Orla had always been certain she was never going to marry to anyone, she found she minded less and less when she thought about doing it with Greg.
“I think it’s time for us to go in” Rachel said, “if you two love birds can bear to be parted”.
Greg released her. Orla smoothed her hair down, and took a deep breath. That’s when she noticed Tim standing by the entrance of the church. He was with the best man, and a few others. They all looked dashing in matching grey suits. He wasn’t joining in with the conversation. He was standing slightly apart from the group, arms folded. His eyes wandered over to Orla and Greg, darting away again as soon as he saw she was looking at him. Greg slipped an arm around Orla again, pulling her back against his chest; suddenly his possessive behaviour made sense.
“How did you know that was my ex-boyfriend?” She asked.
“It wasn’t hard to guess. He was staring at you like he wanted to eat you for dinner when I arrived.”
She twisted around in his arms, so she could see his face. “You don’t have to rub his face in it, you insufferable git.” She tried to look cross, but her mouth twitched, as a smile threatened to break through, past her scowl.
Greg, on the other hand, was deadly serious when he replied. “You’re with me now. I wouldn’t want him getting any ideas to the contrary.”
Orla wrapped her arms around his neck. “It doesn’t matter what he thinks, you’re the one I love, you idiot.”
Something flared in Greg’s eyes, and Orla belatedly realised she’d never told him that before. She’d never exactly said the L word. She hadn’t meant to say it, it had just kind of popped out.
“You better get yourself into that church, before I throw you over my shoulder and carry you off into the woods.”
She kissed him on the nose and grinned. “See you after the ceremony.”