Okay all, here is part three in my Ray/Christine saga. The first two stories were "Just The Same" and "Love Never Dies" This was originally intended to be the final part, but...well, once you get to the end, you'll understand why I didn't end it just yet.
Thanks to my beta readers - Nikki, Becky and Jay. And to my AOL buddies, you guys have helped me in ways you'll never know <g>
This story is rated NC-17. There is a PG rated version out there.
The characters of Due South are property of Alliance and their creators. I'm just playing with them. Please don't sue, you won't get anything - maybe a few CD's if you're lucky. Please send all comments/flames/chocolate Mounties and/or Chicago cops to Audrid@aol.com. I gladly receive comments and candy, the flames I'll use in the next FK war.
By: Melissa Roule
Christine watched the lights of the Vecchio house recede and fade into the night. When the limo turned a corner, cutting off her view, only then did she turn around. David sat across from her, and with every passing street light, she could see the smug smile on his face. His eyes never strayed from hers, literally pinning her in her place. After a few moments, Christine broke the contact. She looked out the window, letting the tears fall freely down her cheeks.
*Oh Ray* she thought to herself. *How are we ever going to get out of this one?* Christine knew that now that David had her back, he would keep her under lock and key. Little did she know, he meant to do that literally.
All through the trip home, Christine found herself under the hawk like gaze of her brother David. The long flight on the family jet was made even more painful by the fact that David never let Christine out of his sight. When she got up to stretch her legs, he got up too. When she went to the bathroom, he was waiting outside for her. During one such excursion, Christine just sat there and silently cried. She wept with fear, with pain, and for Ray. She would never see him again. Never hear his laugh at one of her jokes. Never see the passion and love in his eyes whenever they were together. Never feel the warm comfort his embrace gave her. The tears for Ray were the ones that hurt her the most.
Christine was dragged to the present by a banging on the bathroom door. It was David and he was quite angry.
"What the hell are you doing in there?" he demanded.
Christine quickly drew herself up to her full 5'6'' height. "Just a second, David" she calmly called out. Splashing cool water on her face, she sought to hide the puffy eyes and tear marks her crying had created. Finally satisfied, she opened the door, ready to face her brother's wrath. "Here I am David" she coolly replied. The fear and agony she felt were pushed as far away as possible. David would truly be in control if he knew those emotions raged through her. "For your information, I was using the bathroom. I hope you don't mind" anger seeped into her quiet voice with those final words.
David looked at her with cold eyes. Christine looked back, totally amazed that his eyes were so dark, like hers, yet were so different. She could see no compassion, no love, nothing.
Grabbing her roughly by one arm, David pulled Christine into the main cabin. He threw her into a chair. "Don't move for the rest of the flight" he told her. The tone of his instructions left no doubt that she should obey, as much as she hated it.
The rest of the long flight was uneventful, and all too soon the jet was taxing on the runway. Christine was pulled from the jet to one of the waiting cars. The silence that enveloped the cars seeped into her soul. It smothered everything in her, leaving only a single burning ember. The love for Ray, and the faith that one day they would be together. Christine held onto that faith with everything in her. No matter what anyone did or said, true love would conquer all.
Christine's return to the Mercutio house had apparently become a public affair. It seemed everyone and his brother had shown up to see the return of the wayward daughter. Even though it was after midnight and she was bone tired, Christine still held her head up. When David grabbed her arm to lead her to the house, she roughly wrenched it away. Holding her chin up, she made her way to the front door. From there, she entered the main hall where it seemed her entire family was waiting. Her mother, Elizabeth, stood at the front of the group. Upon seeing Christine, she rushed forward, enveloping her daughter in a warm hug.
Christine returned the hug as best she could. "Hello mother" she whispered.
"Oh my beautiful baby girl" Elizabeth gushed. "You don't know how we have missed you. After you left, everything just fell apart"
A slight smile crossed Christine's lips, a smile her mother didn't see. "I'm sure you missed me mother, I missed you" she replied automatically. All the while, her mind raced. *Did you really miss me mother? Or did you miss the errand-runner? The baby-sitter? The fountain of knowledge that you took for granted? You never appreciated me, but Ray did. He loved me for who I was and who I am. He knew I missed you, because I did miss you. Honest. * But those words went unspoken, never making it to Christine's lips.
David was less than impressed with the reunion between mother and daughter. "All right, enough of that" He took Christine's arm, leading her up the stairs. "You'll have plenty of time to talk tomorrow" With a firm grip, he lead her to her suite of rooms. The same set she had set foot in not two weeks ago. Her vow to never come back here had been broken.
Christine scanned the room. Nothing had changed. She turned to face David as he led her into the sitting room.
"You'll stay here until the wedding, which will be in one week. All your meals will be brought to you and the family will visit" A smile of triumph crossed his features. In his eyes, he had won. His wayward baby sister was finally in her place. The disgrace of the family, with her free thinking, was finally put to shame. If this family were to be strong, there would be none of this type of nonsense. She would learn her lesson and be grateful for the wiser, older brother.
"See you in the morning...sis" David smiled before shutting the door. Christine heard the click of a lock being slid into place. This room, once her refuge had now become her prison. With a sob, Christine flung herself onto her bed. The tears came freely now. All the tears held back on the plane flowed down her face. Soon she fell asleep, completely exhausted.
Though she was a prisoner in the house of stone, the one thing not locked up was her dreams. That night, Christine dreamt of Ray. Dreamt of his rescuing her on a white stallion. Dreamt of them galloping off into the sunset to live happily ever after. Dreamt of a future together, a future where they were free.
The next day Christine was awakened by her mother's voice. "Good morning Christine" her voice echoed through the small suite. Christine slowly opened her eyes and sat up. The events of the night before had left her tired, flat out exhausted. Sitting up, she pasted on her best smile.
"Good morning mother" Christine grinned falsely.
Walking further into the rooms, Mrs. Mercutio carried a silver tray containing breakfast. She set it down before her daughter and sat on the edge of the bed. "My beautiful baby girl" she smiled. "All grown up and getting married. Your brother David couldn't have made a better match" Mrs. Mercutio didn't notice the troubled look Christine's eyes. Instead she went on, outlining the details of the grand wedding that was to come. The marriage of the youngest Mercutio daughter was going to be an all out affair. No expense was to be spared.
Christine smiled gamely as she listened to her mother go on. She ate her breakfast, allowing her mind to wander. She thought of the wedding details she and Ray had made. They were so close to completing their plans. Then a wrench had been thrown in the works. Christine had tuned out her mother's words, but one statement had made her look up.
"...I'm just so glad your brother got you away from that Detective Vecchio fellow before you did something extremely foolish" Mrs. Mercutio patted her daughter's hand, a reassuring smile on her face.
Christine paled at her mother's words. *That Detective Vecchio fellow? * she thought. How could anyone refer to Ray that way? The kindest, gentlest, most wonderful man she had ever known and her mother had reduced him to a few words. Christine was enraged, but a lifetime of keeping her emotions in check kicked in, and the feelings never surfaced to her face.
Instead, she got out a few words. "Foolish? Like what, mother?"
"Oh, I don't know. Getting married." Mrs. Mercutio laughed slightly. "Or some other silly thing. You youngsters, always rushing into things like that. Don't you know, parents know best? I've arranged all my children's marriages, just like I helped in yours, and look at how happy everyone else is. My marriage was arranged by my mother, just like hers by her mother. It's tradition darling, and we aren't about to break tradition, are we?" The last words were more of a statement than a question, yet Christine was compelled to answer.
"No mother" Christine answered quietly. She looked at her hands, clasped tightly. The diamond ring Ray had given her still graced her long slender finger. She hadn't taken it off, and now she planned to never remove it.
"Good, now don't forget it" Mrs. Mercutio patted her daughter's cheek and stood. She picked up the silver tray from Christine's bed, the meal having been finished. She stood, ready to leave, but turned at the door. "Remember darling, I love you and am doing this in your best interest"
Christine smiled once more as her mother left. Once the door was shut and locked, only then did she let the facade slip and fall. She was crushed, devastated by her mother's words.
"My best interest? Ha!" she whispered to herself in a sarcastic tone. If her mother wanted to act in Christine's best interest, then she would let her daughter go. Allow her to return to Ray where they could get married and live happily ever after. But unfortunately, Christine had never known when a mother and daughter's best interest were the same.
The hours of the day dragged by for Christine. She paced the floor of her quarters, never staying still for long. She picked up book after book, discarding each one. She even ventured out onto her balcony, trying anything to make the hours pass. Finally, the sun set casting the grounds in darkness. Christine had finished her evening meal, courtesy of her older brother David. Now she sat on her balcony, watching the night sky.
"Oh Ray" Christine whispered up to the inky blackness. "I do miss you, with everything in my soul" She looked down at the open sketchbook in her lap. The book was open to the latest sketch she had been working on, a picture of Ray. Christine brushed her fingers across the page, careful not to smudge the drawing. If she concentrated hard enough, she could almost hear his voice in her head, reciting a poem she loved. A poem he had memorized, just for her.
Come away, come, sweet love
The golden morning breaks
All the earth, all the air
Of love and pleasure speaks
Teach thine arms then to embrace,
And sweet rosy lips to kiss,
And mix our souls in mutual bliss.
Eyes were made for beauty's grace
Viewing, rueing love's long pain
Procur'd by beauty's rude disdain.
The words echoed in Christine's mind, but it was her voice that recited them. A soft sob interrupted her thoughts as tears flowed down her cheeks. Hastily brushing them away, Christine shut her sketchbook. With a final look at the night sky, she wished upon each and every star. The same wish for every one, a wish for Ray. She only hoped he was doing the same thing.
As Christine was making her wishes, back in Chicago Ray was doing the same thing. He leaned on the back porch of his home, watching the sky. Its velvety blackness reminded him of Christine's hair and eyes. The way her eyes twinkled at him with love, the delicate shade of black that was her hair.
Ray shivered involuntarily. A dull ache had settled into his chest, covering anything else he felt. The police department was working to help him, but such a thing would take time. Time was one thing Ray didn't have. He knew now that David had Christine back home, he would force her to marry and soon. A week tops, perhaps a few days more was all he had to work with. Ray knew he would have to work fast if he wanted to save Christine from a terrible fate. All it would take was a lot of luck and some help from some friends.
Over the next few days, the wedding plans for Christine proceeded quickly. She would be wearing her mother's gown, but the thing needed to be fitted to her slender form. She stood still as a statue as the dressmaker fitted the gown to her. Christine didn't even bother to look at her reflection in the mirror. She didn't care anymore, just moved and turned when instructed and tried not to think of what she was doing.
Aside from the wedding gown there were other decisions that had to be made. There were flowers to be chosen, bride's maids dresses to be made, even the tuxedos had to be chosen. Christine watched from the sidelines as her mother made all the decisions. From time to time Mrs. Mercutio would look at her youngest child to see how she fared. Every time she was met with a blank stare. Christine had turned off the part of herself that cared. She felt nothing, her soul a black hole, giving nothing.
Preparations were also proceeding at a rapid pace with Ray. He had decided he would kidnap Christine back, even if it meant crashing a wedding. He didn't care anymore. His talks with Lieutenant Welsh and the States Attorney had bore no fruit. There was nothing they could do legally. Ray had decided to hell with the laws, he was going to get his love back. Come hell or high water, they were going to be together again.
On one night before the wedding, Christine and Ray met again. They did not meet physically, they met in their dreams. A wonderful, sensual dream.
In it, Christine found herself in a moonlit field. Above her was a inky black sky, stars scattered across it, the moon a bright presence. She looked around her, feeling the soft night breeze stroke her face, her hair. The strong scent of roses filled her senses although a single rose wasn't to be found. Turning again, she saw motion in the distance. Unsure of who it was, yet compelled to find out, Christine slowly walked towards the figure.
Ray too found himself in the same moonlit field. He turned, noting the billowing grasses that surrounded him. Their rippling movement caused by the breeze that ran across his skin. It's cool feel made him shiver a bit. He looked up, seeing the starlit sky above him, the gentle breeze scattering a few clouds among the stars. A rustle of movement to his right drew Ray from his reverie. Someone was out there, moving towards him. Ray crouched, scanning the field around him. When he was sure there was no immediate danger, he began a walk towards where the sound had come from.
From far off, Christine saw the distant figure crouch then begin to move towards her. She still couldn't make out who it was, but the movements were familiar. The swing of the arms, the slight sway to the walk, she knew it could be only one person. Breaking into a run, Christine sought to meet the person coming towards her.
Ray caught the sight of Christine running towards him. He just didn't know it was Christine. When he started down the final hill, he finally caught sight of her face. He immediately knew who it was. He watched as she ran towards him, the full skirt she was wearing billowing out behind her. Ray began running, eager to meet his love.
They ran towards one another, stopping only when they were approximately five feet from one another. Both Ray and Christine stared at one another, unable to believe what their eyes told them. Finally, Ray broke the spell and spoke.
"Christine?" he whispered in awe.
"Ray?" she whispered at the same time, unable to believe it.
He came toward her as if in slow motion. The haze of the moon cast a dark shadow over her soft, billowing hair as it cascaded down her lovely neck. A breeze blew, causing her to shiver, both with cold and with the hunger for what only he could give.
Ray came to a standstill before her. Slowly, Christine reached up, her delicate fingers resting on his cheek.
"Is that you?" she asked, still unable to grasp the situation.
"Yes" he whispered back. With one fluid motion he swept her into his arms, placing a passionate kiss on her lips.
Christine returned the kiss with everything in her. She felt Ray's hands move over her back, searching for the zipper to her dress. As soon as his fingers touched it, the dress disappeared, leaving her completely nude in his embrace.
If either of them noticed this interesting turn of events, they didn't say. They were so intent on each other, touching, kissing, caressing. Christine brushed her hands across Ray's clothing, making it disappear just as quickly as her dress had. The feel of his skin beneath her fingers was the most wonderful thing in the world. She wanted to touch him, hold him, never let him go.
With gentle hands Ray lowered Christine to the soft blanket of grass surrounding them. He caressed her delicate form, listening to her moans of pleasure. How he loved that sound, the husky quality of her voice as she writhed in ecstasy. The feel of her lips against his skin almost drove him to distraction, but Ray was not to be deterred. Shaking his head slightly, he turned back to his task, the absolute worship of the body beneath him.
Christine tossed her head back, her thoughts in a tumble. The passion ignited by Ray's touch never ceased to amaze her. His touch was just as gentle as when they had first made love. His kisses were still as passionate as the first one they had shared. She arched against his hands, begging for the one thing she wanted above all else.
She was rewarded when Ray withdrew slightly then plunged forward, burying himself fully in her. For a moment, neither moved, instead lying still reveling in the feeling of each other. Slowly, Ray began to move his hips against Christine. She in turn lifted her hips to meet his every thrust. Their movements were excruciatingly slow, neither of them wanted to rush, but that wasn't to last.
As the flames of passion grew, Ray began moving faster. Hard, pounding thrusts, each one eliciting a small scream of pleasure from Christine. She wrapped her long legs around him, trying to draw all of him inside her. As Ray drove into her again and again, Christine felt her grip on reality slipping. Her body trembled with release as she tossed her head back, screaming his name. The tightening of her body around him pushed Ray past the point of no return. Giving one final thrust, he moaned her name. Falling forward, he gently lowered himself down until he covered her body with his.
Christine drew Ray towards her, wrapping her arms around him. The heat from his body combining with the musky scent of his skin made her slightly drowsy. Yet, she fought against the urge to fall asleep. She wanted to be awake for every moment she spent with Ray.
Ray too felt the same way. Rolling to his side, he pulled her with him, holding her form close to his. Christine looked up at him with her dark, shy eyes. They shone with love and the complete satisfaction that came with their lovemaking. Ray found himself smiling down at her, brushing her hair with his fingers.
"Soon, my love," he whispered to her.
"Soon," she whispered in response.
Ray reached out to brush her hair again but his fingers passed right through. In confusion he tried again, but to the same result. To his horror, he watched as she began to become transparent and out of focus.
"No," he pleaded, "please, no!" His grip on Christine was growing weaker by the second.
Christine's eyes grew wide as she began to disappear. She reached out to Ray but her hand passed through him.
"Ray" she tried to cry out, but her voice was flat, one-dimensional.
She faded from his view, the last things to disappear were her eyes. Before it was complete, Ray heard her voice carried on the wind.
"I love you" the wind whispered to him.
"I love you too" Ray whispered back, though he doubted anyone heard. Curling up on his side, he began to cry, praying for this wonderful dream turned nightmare to end.
Christine awoke in her bed, her body drenched with sweat. The sunlight poured through the window, promising another beautiful day, but that didn't matter to Christine. Instead, she rolled away from the window, averting her eyes. As she did, she felt the bed sheets stick to her skin, along with her pajamas. Giving a slight groan, she peeled herself from the slick sheets and padded to the bathroom.
As she looked at her reflection in the mirror, Christine gave a low groan. She was a total mess. Her hair looked like a rat's nest, all tangled and mussed. Taking a nearby brush, she began untangling the mess. As she did, she studied her own face. She looked at how the harsh bathroom lighting accented how pale she was. Made the circles under her eyes look like giant bruises. Made her face appear gaunt and lifeless.
*Like I'm dead* she thought to herself, brushing out the last knot. Setting the brush aside, Christine stripped and stepped into the shower. She washed her long hair, trying not to think of the day ahead. She tried not to think that this day was her last day of freedom and tomorrow was the wedding.
Ray woke from his sleep with a start. He sat bolt upright in bed, his heart pounding. Trying to regain his composure, Ray ran his hand across his scalp and down his face. Only then did he notice how his body was soaked with sweat. The thin material of his pajamas stuck to his skin, making him feel all clammy.
"Ray?" Frannie banged on his closed bedroom door. "You okay in there?"
"Yeah, I'm fine" Ray answered back. Swinging his feet from under the covers, he stood and opened the door a tiny crack. Outside, Frannie stood, looking at him with some concern.
"Geez Ray, you look like hell" It was true, he did look bad. His normally olive skin was pale; he looked a little more gaunt than usual.
"Thanks Frannie" Ray answered sarcastically. He opened the door more, and brushing past his sister entered the bathroom. There he was able to catch a glimpse of his reflection. Frannie was right, he did look bad. He was tired, so very tired. These past nights had been spent tossing and turning with disturbing dreams. That was when he did sleep. Sometimes, Ray found himself unable to rest, instead staring into the darkness worrying about Christine.
*Christine* Ray thought with a shiver. *I hope she's all right* His plans to rescue his love were complete. All there was left was to put them into action. He had taken off, calling in to Lieutenant Welsh saying he was sick. Welsh knew Ray wasn't really sick, but let him off anyway knowing the detective wouldn't have shown up for his shifts.
Quickly, Ray stripped off his pajamas and showered. After getting dressed, he headed downstairs for breakfast with his family. As he ate, Ray's mind raced ahead to the things he had to accomplish today. His flight was set for that night and he still had to pack. If everything went well, he and Christine would be back together tomorrow.
*I just hope it isn't too late...* Ray mused.
Christine spent her final day of freedom locked away in her room. If she stepped out onto her balcony, she could see an army of gardeners preparing the north lawn for the wedding. Curiosity had made her step out once, but once she saw what was going on, Christine refused to look out her windows again.
In the afternoon, her mother had come to deliver the wedding gown. All the alterations had been completed the day before. Now, the lace and satin gown hung in her closet. Christine found herself staring at the dress, it was actually quite beautiful, a white satin gown with lace accents. If the simple sight of it didn't make her queasy, Christine would have admired the gorgeous dress. She might even have worn one like it for her marriage to Ray.
As the evening wore on, Christine tried everything to take her mind off the fact that tomorrow would be the first day of an interminable sentence. She tried to read, write, draw, anything to keep her mind busy. It was difficult, but she managed to wile away the hours. All too soon, it was past eleven at night and Christine was dead tired. With a silent prayer that tomorrow would never come, she slipped into her bed, falling into a deep dreamless sleep.
But alas, her prayer went unanswered and at long last the day of the wedding finally arrived, much to Christine's dismay. This was a day she had been dreading for so many reasons, one being that she would be marrying a total stranger. Another being that she would never see Ray again, a fact that ripped at her already wounded heart.
A knock sounded on the door, pulling her to the present. Cowering under her covers, Christine tried to hide from her overly cheerful mother, grandmother and sisters. Yet try as she might, she could not hide. Her relatives had all come to get her and themselves ready for the wedding. They were not to be deterred from their task.
With a flourish, Christine's mother pulled the silk sheets off her daughter. Pulling her up, she gave Christine a hearty push towards the shower. There she found a plethora of rose scented soaps and shampoos laid out for her. Groaning inwardly, Christine showered using the scented soap on her hair and body. By the time she stepped out, she was nauseous from the strong scent.
Christine dried herself off and began to towel dry her hair. Running her fingers through the long strands, she remembered how Ray used to love to brush her hair. He'd sit and do it for hours if she let him. Letting out a sad sigh, Christine pulled on a pink robe and grabbing a comb began to unsnarl her hair.
"Oh darling, you don't have to do that. Let me" Christine's mother's words startled her. Relinquishing the comb, Christine sat still, letting her mother work.
As she sat there, she took the first good look at her reflection. Dark circles ringed her large eyes, her skin was much paler than normal. *My god, I look dead* she thought. *A fitting look for today*
When her hair was finally detangled, Chris' sisters moved in setting her hair in hot rollers. The heat emanating from them burned her scalp but Christine didn't say a word. The pain didn't affect her, it was merely sucked into the black hole that already filled her.
With her hair set and drying, Christine's sisters, mother and grandmother left for their own rooms to get ready. They would be back soon, but Christine enjoyed the brief silence, their overly happy voices grated on her nerves. Deciding to take advantage of being alone, she walked over to her bedside table. Glancing about her, Christine took a tiny key from a hidden spot and unlocked the single drawer. There inside lay a single photograph, a snapshot of Ray and her taken during a family picnic. They were both so happy in that picture, neither knowing what lay ahead. Christine gently brushed the glossy surface, it seemed like a lifetime ago this picture had been taken. No tears fell this time, for she was beyond tears, there was only the emptiness. With a deep breath, Christine placed the picture back and locked the drawer. Hiding the key again, she returned to her spot at the dressing table.
By the time her sisters returned, Christine had begun to dress herself. Out of sheer boredom she had sorted through the various undergarments set out for her and had pulled on a few. The only thing left was for someone to lace her corset up, a thought that made Christine smile. As her sisters braced themselves for a tug-of-war with the laces, Christine held perfectly still. At her mother's command, the laces were pulled. Christine inhaled slightly and the laces zipped shut, cinching her narrow waist down to 18 inches. A slight smile briefly flashed across her features at the shocked faces around her. Bit by bit, the other articles of clothing were put on, until all was almost ready.
Two hours later, everything was ready. Christine looked like a china doll with her flawless make-up and her raven hair styled perfectly. The fitted bodice of the dress molded to her body, flaring into a full floor length skirt. Underneath, she wore white heels.
Holding her bouquet of roses like a shield, Christine looked as miserable as she felt. The veil hid most of her blank expression, but nothing could hide her body language. Every move she made spoke volumes, she did *not* want to be here.
As if reading Christine's mind, her mother came by and gave her a slight tap on the back, a signal to stand up straight. Christine threw her shoulders back, her spine already forced straight by the corset. With her back straight as an arrow, she waited for the music to begin and her life to end.
Ray Vecchio, detective extraordinaire, watched the Mercutio house from his perch outside the gates. As he held the binoculars to his eyes, a small part of him was filled with glee. This spying business had long been a fantasy for him, a child's dream. Now, he was playing out his dream roll, ready to jump into action and rescue his damsel in distress. But he had to get a glimpse of her first.
Then he saw her, his beautiful Christine. Ray drew in a breath, she was so gorgeous standing there in the sunlight. The beams played across her raven hair and white dress. The veil she wore obscured the emotions on her face, but Ray could read her actions very well. The way she stood, the way she held her bouquet of flowers all spoke of how miserable she was.
*Don't worry love* Ray thought to himself *I'll get you out of this* Continuing to scan the yard, he looked for a way to gain access and save Christine.
Lost deep in thought, Christine almost didn't hear the wedding march begin. She was drawn from her reverie by a tugging on her arm. Turning, she came face to face with her brother David.
"Ready sis?" he asked, a smile crossing his face. To the casual observer, the smile on David's face would have looked like an older brother caring after his baby sister. But Christine knew better. She saw the gleam of triumph in his eyes.
Not daring to open her mouth, lest she break down into tears, Christine turned away from David. She was miserable enough as it was, she didn't need to watch her brother gloat. Turning away from him, Christine looked out over the crowd. Her eyes scanned the gathered crowd, searching for Ray. She knew she wouldn't see him here, but she looked all the same.
Taking a deep breath, Christine drew herself to her full height. She would be strong, even though her heart was breaking, she wouldn't cry. Watching the bridesmaids and groomsmen start down the aisle, a tiny flutter of fear awoke in Christine's stomach. What if Ray didn't show up? What if he was too late? Would she be able to stop the wedding? Tightening her grip on the bouquet of roses, Christine knew she could. If Ray weren't there to stop the wedding, then she would stop it herself. No matter what happened.
The next person to walk down the aisle was Christine's mother, accompanied by her brother David because their father was still in jail. Christine would walk down the aisle by herself, a figure in white. With a slight toss of her head, she began her descent down the aisle, heading towards her destiny.
As Christine strode down the aisle, Ray was busy working his way onto the grounds. When he had worked for Mercutio as Jason Marciano, part of his job was to know the intricate details of the grounds. Now that information came in handy as Ray moved around the side of one of the buildings. Stopping at a corner, he peeked around, trying to see just what the layout of the wedding party and guests were.
Beyond him, not twenty yards away, the rows of chairs began. Walking between the two sections was Christine. Her head held high and proud. Ray allowed himself a small smile at her bravery.
"Hang on love" he whispered, "not much longer"
The wedding march ended as Christine took the last few steps towards the arch that was the altar. A part of her noticed how the arch was decorated with green vines and flowers. It was actually quite lovely, and she might have appreciated it if her mind wasn't occupied with other things.
The old priest, Father Donne, smiled at Christine. He had known the young lady all her life. He had baptized her, given her first communion and now he was marrying her. Just like he had done for all the Mercutio children. It was truly a happy day and the old man was glad he had lived to see it.
"Dearly beloved" he began. "We are gathered here to join this woman and this man is the bonds of holy matrimony..." Father Donne looked at Christine then at the young man beside her, a thing even she hadn't done. Smiling at the young bride, he continued giving the wedding sermon.
Christine didn't hear the words Father Donne spoke. She turned her gaze beyond the old priest, northwards towards the direction she knew Chicago lay. *Chicago...a city where I was truly happy* she thought. A silent tear slid down her cheek, falling from her jaw to land in the edge of her veil. There the tear lay, glistening in the warm sunlight.
The sermon continued and Ray lay in wait. In his lifetime he had sat through many a Catholic wedding. The perfect moment to interrupt lay ahead. All there was to do was to wait.
The moment arrived and Ray was ready. When Father Donne spoke the words "Now if there is any reason why this man and this woman cannot be married, may they speak now or forever hold their peace," Ray waited a whole second before stepping out of his hiding place and saying in a loud clear voice "Stop!"
All heads turned to face him except one. Christine didn't need to see who spoke, she knew that voice so well. She knew every tone, every whisper as intimately as she knew her own voice. It was Ray, her love and her savior.
The complete and utter silence that surrounded Ray's single shouted word was eerie. The adrenaline rush coupled with the fear, making him feel slightly nauseous. Swallowing the fear, Ray began to walk towards the chairs.
"This woman cannot marry this man" he stated simply.
"And may I ask--" Father Donne began but David cut him off.
"Vecchio" he growled, "what the hell are you doing here?" David stood, his dark eyes flashing with anger at the detective.
"I've come to get Christine back" Ray answered simply. He continued moving down the aisle towards the altar. Christine turned to face him then, a warm smile crossing her lips. Flicking his eyes to meet hers, Ray offered a tiny smile back. "I love her and I want her for my wife"
David's eyes widened in shock and disbelief. There was no way he was going to let this happen. Not while he was Don of the Mercutio family. Drawing his gun, he took aim at Ray and fired.
At Ray's words to her brother, Christine dropped her bouquet of flowers and pulled off her veil. She couldn't believe her ears. Here, in front of her entire family Ray had professed his love and his intentions for her. Her heart bursting with joy, she ran towards him.
Three things happened at one time for Christine. She heard Ray's shouted word of warning and the gunshot as one. At the same time, she felt the pain blossom in her lower back. The feeling made her stop short, slightly confused before she started her fall forward.
The next seconds seemed to go in slow motion for Christine. The fall seemed to take forever before Ray caught her. His hands gently cradled her, applying pressure to the gunshot wound on her back. Looking up at him, she heard the panic in his voice as he called for a doctor and an ambulance. She could see that same panic briefly in his eyes as he turned to her.
"Don't be afraid" Ray whispered, holding Christine tightly to him. "An ambulance is on the way"
Christine smiled softly. Despite the massive amounts of pain it caused, she reached up to him, gently caressing his cheek. "You're here. There's nothing I fear" she answered, her voice so soft against the background.
Applying pressure to her back, Ray held tight to Christine. He began slowly rocking back and forth, whispering to her all the while. It seemed to take forever before the ambulance arrived, but it finally did. Only then did Ray relinquish his hold on Christine, turning her over to the expert hands of the paramedics.
He held her hand as they loaded her onto a gurney, following beside her into the ambulance. He watched as the medics fed IV's into her slender arm, pumping fluids into her body. When Christine squeezed his hand, Ray leaned close to her.
"I love you Ray" she whispered. "Never forget that" Then, taking a deep breath, Christine closed her eyes and slipped into darkness...
The End (Please refrain from flames, I promise it'll be okay in the next part!)
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