"Two minutes to spare."
Oblivious to the conversation in her former boyfriend's apartment, Copper
had completed her errand, pushing open the door of the DVD rental store
and stepping out into the Los Angeles sunshine. Her expression became one
of amusement as she registered the fact that the clerk behind the till was
coming to lock up behind her for lunch, and she laughed.
"Syl will be pleased, she spends enough of her life paying these
folk petty fines. That woman is a pain in the butt."
She glanced up at the sky.
"Another nice day." She mused. "Nancy's talking wedding plans, and Syl
and Topaz are shopping. Maybe I'll go for a walk. I'm starting to come to
terms with this whole wedding idea, actually. It's funny, but when I told
Violet all that stuff, I really meant it. Maybe I;m coming round full circle.
Who knows...perhaps I'll even enjoy the big day itself. Weirder things
At the sound of her name, the drummer swung around, her hand flying
to her mouth in surprise and consternation as she registered who had called
her name. Her cheeks flushed an awkward red, and she shook her head, slowly
taking a step away from him.
"Aaron, now isn't a good time." She murmured. "I...I have a lot to
"Yes, and so do I." Aaron said levelly, but there was a spark of determination
in his grey eyes that told her he wasn't going to be easily fobbed off this
time. "But I'll be damned if I'm going to let you run away from me again,
you know. At the very least, you owe me an explanation for why you turned
me down. If you cared about me at all, you should have given me that."
"Aaron, please." Copper's brown eyes became clouded and troubled.
"What I did was for the best for us both, can't you trust me on that?
It doesn't matter why. At the end of the day, I would be a terrible wife
for you, with all your hopes and dreams for the future. I can't be what
you want me to be and we'd only wind up with recriminations and fights.
I didn't want that."
"You could have told me that you couldn't have children."
"What?" She whispered. She grabbed him by the arm, pulling
him to one side. "Who told you that? Who? How did you know?"
"Stefana told me." Aaron said simply. Copper stared at him.
"I wouldn't tell that girl anything so private as that!" She exclaimed.
"What in hell has she to do with anything?"
"She overheard you talking to Topaz. She thought that I should know,
and she's right. I should." Aaron carefully extracted his arm from her
grip. "I thought that you at least loved me, Copper. In my book, couples
talk about things that bother them. They don't wait till one of them is
down on one knee to run off and cause confusion and heartache. That's not
right. It's not fair, either. You could at least have given me some indication
that you weren't ever going to marry me. I might have jumped the gun, but
I love you, what else would I think? And I wasn't alone. Syl thought it was
a sure thing too. She even helped me to choose the perfect ring."
Tears welled up in Copper's brown eyes.
"Don't you understand?" She murmured. "I said no because I
love you. You want a family, want children, and I'm already having a hard
time dealing with the fact that I may never have kids of my own. Your
proposal came out of the blue, I didn't expect it and I'm sorry if I handled
it badly, but I panicked." She glanced down at her hands. "Isn't it for
the best that we leave things here? Nothing is ever going to change the
reality of this, after all. I can't be a mother, at least, not naturally...and
you've always said you wanted to be a father. Those aren't little things
that can be easy pushed aside, Aaron. They're big deal issues."
"Yes, I know they are." Aaron nodded his head. "And I've spent some
time thinking them over, too. But Nancy reminded me of something Dad's
always said, and she's right, damn her. A couple who is worth something
can overcome anything in it's way...does our relationship really mean so
little that we're both gonna chuck it away at the first hurdle? Doesn't
the last three years mean anything at all?"
"Oh, Aaron..." Now Copper really wasn't far from tears and she swallowed
hard. "It means everything. I've never ever had a relationship like this
one before, when I'm so comfortable with a guy, someone who knows me so
well and understands me so easily. I've never ever hated anything as much
as I hated having to turn you down at Syl's party, but it wasn't time. You
said I should have talked to you, well, you should have given me some indication
of what you were thinking, rather than just springing it on me unawares.
That wasn't fair, either, in a way. It meant that I had to face up to the
thing I'd tried to forget about. I've known since I was sick that there was
a chance the chemotherapy would stop me having kids, but at the time, well,
I just wanted to get better. Who cares about having a baby at eighteen or
nineteen when your whole life is in the balance? Then it only mattered that
the cancer was gone, and gone for good. Now..." She shook her head. "I can't
Aaron was silent for a moment, then,
"You do realise that turning me down solved nothing." He said quietly.
"I still love you as much as I did then. Yeah, I'm a lot more hurt than
I was then, but it doesn't change the way I feel about you one bit. You
can't turn love on and off, Copper, however hard you try. I don't know if
I will ever get over you. It sure doesn't seem like it right now."
"I still cry myself to sleep some nights." Copper admitted, as her
tears began to fall. "And I'm sorry I hurt you, Aaron. I really truly am.
But...I didn't...I didn't know how to talk about this, I didn't want.."
She shrugged. "Oh, what does it matter?"
"I'm sorry I accused you of seeing someone else." Aaron told her,
gently reaching up to wipe away her tears. "I should have known that you
would never do that to me, but I was upset and I didn't understand." He
shrugged. "But I'll be straight with you. I didn't kow how to settle this
either, when I found out. I bugged Cameron this morning, even though the
poor guy was still jetlagged, and picked his brains for information. He gave
me some internet sites to look at, and when I got back to my apartment
we went hunting on the internet after information on chemotherapy, on fertility
problems and everything else. I wanted to understand, and, well, having
read through a few pages of letters and emails from people who are going
through what you are, I began to realise just a little how badly this has
affected you. Reading through some of those letters, well, I began to see
things from your side as well as mine." He smiled slightly. "Maybe it's even
affected your judgement."
"What do you mean?"
"What I mean is, that you've only stopped to look at the problem,
but Copper, you haven't thought to look at the solution." Aaron said gently.
"Even if you can't get pregnant naturally, there are options - fertility
treatment, IVF, even adoption. Think of the Foundation, and all the children
there who don't have a Mommy or a Daddy? Who said family had to be blood,
Copper stared at him.
"And what if none of that worked out?" She demanded. "You're clutching
at straws, Aaron, you're not facing the facts!"
"Then, if none of that worked out, it was never meant to be, I guess."
Aaron shrugged. "I did a hell of a lot of thinking about this, Copper,
and every time I come up with the same conclusion."
"That I love you and that I'm not giving up on you without a fight."
Aaron told her firmly. "I'm a Pelligrini, and we don't quit. Mom told me
herself that Dad never gave up on her, even though she wasn't having any
of it to begin with. They're happy and still together, and I intend to
follow his example. As far as I'm concerned, my proposal still stands."
"But...what about children?"
"Yes, I want children." Aaron nodded his head. "But Copper, I don't
want them with just any old woman. I'd rather have you and have the adventure
of trying to overcome this, even if, in the end, it failed, than have some...well,
some airheaded bimbo I didn't love, and who I'd wind up divorcing and fighting
for custody for the rest of my life."
Copper's brown eyes softened.
"Really?" She murmured, as if unable to believe her ears. "Really?
You've really though this through? I don't want you to regret it, and..."
"How could I regret it?" Aaron interrupted her, putting his finger
to her lips. "When I'd be with you?"
A slight smile touched Copper's lips, then, impulsively, she flung
her arms around him, kissing him.
"Then you will have me." She said softly. "Always and forever, Aaron."
"Was that a yes?"
"I guess it was." Copper nodded. "Yes, Aaron. I love you and I want
you so of course I will marry you." She grinned through her tears. "I'm
sorry to have put you through so much. I guess you must really love me
a lot to still be here now, trying over again."
"I do." Aaron said simply. "I couldn't even take the ring back, Copper,
even though Steffi tried to get me to let go of you. She's done her best
to snap me out of things, whatever you think of her motives - she's been
a good friend and if she hadn't told me about this, I would still be wondering
what on earth went wrong and what I did. So really, it's thanks to her
that we're here right now, making up."
"I suppose it is." Copper acknowledged, though a wry smile touched
her lips, for she strongly suspected that was not the outcome the young
guitarist had hoped for.
"I vote we go back to my apartment, so I can give you the ring and
we can talk somewhere a little less public." Aaron suggested, holding out
his hand to her. "That is, so long as the ring is okay, I mean..."
"It's beautiful." Shyly Copper accepted his hand. "And I'd be honoured
to wear it. I'm not sure I deserve to."
"I think you do." Aaron told her gently. "Look, Copper, I admit that
it's been a rough few weeks, for me as well as for you, and I wish you'd
told me what was up from the start. Maybe we could have come to this conclusion
sooner. But when Cameron showed me those websites and the letters from those
people, it explained a lot of things and I realised that I wasn't really
the villain - you were just frustrated and frightened and you didn't know
what to do."
"I'm not sure I even do now." Copper glanced down at her hands. "But
I promise, Aaron, no more secrets and no more running away. If we have
problems, we face them together, right?"
"Right." Aaron agreed softly. "As any good couple should."
"I was going to go for a walk." Copper reflected. "But somehow your apartment
suddenly seems a lot more appealing."
"Then let's go, huh?" Aaron looked amused. "My car isn't far from here."
"Sounds good to me." Copper agreed. "I think that there is a lot to
still talk about, Aaron. I will marry you - of course I will, I'd be nuts
to turn down such a special guy twice when I love him so dearly - but
I think I still need time to come to terms with everything I've been told
these last few weeks. Do...do you mind a long engagement?"
"No, I don't mind." Aaron told her. "So long as I get you in the end,
I don't mind at all." He smiled. "We're only twenty two now, we've plenty
of time yet."
"Yes." Copper nodded. "And I don't think we should mention it to the
others yet. Not till after Vi and Taylor's marriage is past, anyhow. I
don't want to steal her limelight, and this is her big day on the horizon."
She giggled. "After all, I'll have my own big day soon enough, won't I?"
"You'll be the most beautiful bride there ever was when it comes to
ours." Aaron laughed. "I agree, though, no sense in taking Taylor and
Vi's thunder. We'll drop the idea on them at the reception, or something,
and see how they react."
"Okay." Copper agreed, then, "You know something? Mama always says
that if something feels right then it almost always is right. She
told me that when Papa asked her to marry him, she knew right away that it
was the right thing for her to do, and that they were meant to be together.
Even now he's gone she still loves him and she's never even looked at
another guy, even though she has plenty of admirers who'd love to take
her out. I didn't know then precisely what she meant, but I think I do now.
This feels right. Turning you down hurt a hell of a lot, even though I was
the one doing the turning down. Accepting you feels like the decision I
should have made all along." She looked sheepish. "Thank God you're stubborn
enough to give me a second chance!"
"Always." Aaron told her. He unlocked his car, pulling open the passenger
door for her and with a grin, Copper slipped inside.
"Maybe Violet's wedding is better timed than I thought." She mused. "I
should be angry at you for discussing this with Cameron, but I could actually
give him a big hug and a kiss for helping sort it out."
"I think Topaz might object to that." Aaron laughed, getting in the other
side and closing the door, leaning over to give her a kiss on the cheek.
"Besides, I want you all to myself."
"Okay. You hug and kiss Cameron. I'll just tell him thanks." Copper's
brown eyes twinkled with amusement, and Aaron rolled his eyes.
"Oh yes, this feels back to normal." He decided, putting the vehicle
in gear. "It's good to have you back, Copper. I've missed you like hell."
"It's good to be back." Copper murmured. She cast him a smile, then.
"Guess I know for sure now, that this is where I belong. In your
car, going to your apartment - this is right." She stretched, settling
herself more comfortably in her seat. "I guess I owe Steffi a thank you
too, huh? Mm, maybe I'll hang on to that one. She doesn't like me all that
"I think she's mad you upset me. She's been a good friend, really." Aaron
responded. Copper laughed.
"I'm sure she has." She acknowledged. "Oh well, I'll let you thank her
on my behalf. For my part, I'm going to enjoy being someone's bonafide
fiancee, I'm gonna phone home and see how loudly Rosita shrieks about it,
and then I'm going to look forward to Violet's wedding with a passion."
She winked at him.
"After all, I'll be taking notes for our perfect wedding day!"