Sharp Pain to the Heart
A sharp pain to the heart is the only way to describe Elly's feelings when Mark uttered the words to her.
"What?" Elly spluttered completely caught off guard, "Pierce was here to...ask you for his blessing before he...proposes to Chloe?"
Mark shrugged, "Pierce loves her, hasn't stopped since the day he left town, he came back here for her. He was the first person Chloe told about her Huntington's, he's prepared to live a life with her and support her through that. He has the resources to give her the best medical care in the world when she needs it."
"But proposing to her? This soon? That's insane! Pierce doesn't even know her!" Elly struggled to get out as she felt like her entire world was closing in on her, "You told him he's insane right?"
"I gave him my blessing," Mark answered.
"Are you insane!?" Elly was shocked, "Pierce is the guy that paid Chloe to be with him and nearly made her book it overseas to get away from him! They're not even dating! He's been back in town for 2 weeks and you just gave him your blessing to propose to Chloe?"
"Pierce loves her," Mark repeated, "Why do you even care that Chloe's rich man has come back into town to sweep her off her feet and wants to marry her?"
Elly's breathing started increasing rapidly as she tried to think of a rational reason why there had been a sharp pain in her heart the moment she caught the end of Pierce's conversation with Mark and Mark had told her Pierce was set to propose to Chloe.
Mark was standing in their kitchen expecting an answer from her but Elly's whole world stood still as everything hit her at once.
Elly thought back to every time over the past few months that she had felt this sharp pain. It wasn't a new thing for Elly. It had been an ongoing pain every time Elly saw the blonde since she had gotten back together with Mark. It started out as a small pain, Elly reasoned it was due to losing a good friend after she had cheated on Mark with Chloe and she had chosen to go back to Mark when she thought she was pregnant.
Chloe had moved into Aaron's new place and every time she saw the blonde on the street that small pain hit Elly. The first time she acknowledged the pain to herself was at a neighbourhood pool party as Dipi and Shane and their family prepared to move next door to Toadie's once Aaron and David bought their place. Chloe had turned up at the party and as soon as Elly saw her she went inside and finding herself alone helped herself to a soft drink and then spotting a bottle of vodka in the drinks cabinet added it to the drink mix.
The people close to her thought Elly was pregnant and didn't know that she was turning to binge-drinking to hide her pain.
In fact when Elly's binge-drinking started Mark thought it was morning sickness and was treating her like a queen. He wasn't touching her and refused to be intimate with her after the cheating scandal but he looked after her. He thought she was pregnant with his child and it was the only reason he took her back.
The day after the pool party was the worst. From afar Elly saw Chloe moving in with Aaron and David. Elly couldn't handle the pain that kept stabbing at her as she watched the smile on Chloe's face. Was it jealousy that after everything they'd been through Chloe looked happy in that moment? Was there more to it?
Elly headed to the Back Lane Bar and got wasted; her binge-drinking took things to a whole new level. Before she knew what had happened she was flirting with a handsome stranger at the bar and the next thing she knew she woke up in his bed at Lassisters Hotel.
Elly tried to put it behind her as a one-time mistake and she would never cheat on her husband again even though she'd now done it twice.
Elly focused on Mark hoping to find a way that he would get her pregnant so he didn't know she wasn't but he still wouldn't go near her and the longer she found herself in limbo with him, this lie of been pregnant, the lie of cheating on Mark once more, the struggle of seeing Chloe around and the sharp pain in her heart at the thought of Chloe the more Elly turned to her new habit.
Elly's binge-drinking got worse as the weeks wore on. Elly was binge-drinking vodka-mixed drinks every time she bumped into Chloe. She didn't even need to talk to her; just spotting her across the room at the Waterhole was enough for Elly to abandon Mark at their table to order herself her new favourite drink from Shane at the bar - vodka lemonade - passing it off to Mark as lemonade when she returned to the table. Shane didn't know she was supposed to be pregnant and Mark didn't think anything was wrong when Elly started living on breath mints to hide the smell of the alcohol.
Every time she took her drinking too far, Mark once more was convinced it was morning sickness, a completely normal reality for the couple. He was working hard to provide for his anticipated family and wasn't at home as often as he used to be. He began taking night shifts for the additional bump in pay that would help provide security for his impending family.
Elly took the time he was away in the evenings to binge-drink at home, at the Waterhole or at the Back Lane Bar. What started as one or two drinks a night spiraled into a handful every night when Elly caught on that Chloe was having a fling with her new housemate Kyle. Elly knew it wasn't serious as Chloe could never love anyone else the way she loved her but just the thought that she was hooking up with a really nice guy only increased the pain in Elly's heart.
It's not like Elly could say anything to Chloe. What possible reason could she give to Chloe that she couldn't stand the idea of Chloe hooking up with someone else?
So Elly binge-drinked every chance she got and nobody noticed. She was so alone and nobody around her had noticed she had a problem.
At the same time of learning of Chloe's tryst with Kyle, Elly found out she was pregnant to the stranger she had cheated on Mark with and then learnt his identity, Shaun Kelly, the brother of the man who had tortured her family for years.
Some more binge-drinking and a few terrible decisions later Elly was playing off this baby as Mark's like she could somehow keep the conception date under wraps and Mark would be too stupid to notice she was 3 ½ weeks behind his perceived conception date.
With the knowledge of her pregnancy and then all of a sudden Chloe's fling with Kyle ended, Elly quit binge-drinking for a few weeks.
Then Pierce returned to town and Elly was there in the complex when she saw him surprise Chloe with his return. She was shocked, he swooped in and kissed her passionately. Elly watched as Chloe broke the kiss and pushed him back a little. She was still in Pierce's arms and though Elly couldn't hear what Chloe was saying she knew the blonde was telling him to slow down as she was in shock that he was back.
Elly went straight to the Waterhole for her favourite drink which turned into several more as Pierce bought Chloe there during her lunch break. Elly sat at the bar and eavesdropped on their conversation. Pierce was saying all the right things that he wanted Chloe back. He was there to give her the world and support her through everything life threw at her including been there for her when her Huntington's took over.
Every word Pierce said was a stab to the heart for Elly that Chloe would soon be moving on from her. Then Chloe told him to slow down, she needed time to think about everything he was there for, that she had been through an 'upheaval' in her life since he took off.
Is that all Elly was to Chloe? An 'upheaval'?
Chloe asked Pierce to spend time with her, to get to know each other better before she made the decision on whether she wanted him to be the one to catch her when she fell.
Despite been pregnant, Elly turned back to her binge-drinking to avoid thinking about the pain in her heart every time she saw Chloe with Pierce.
Two weeks later and even as an outsider who wasn't talking to Chloe, Elly knew she wasn't dating Pierce but they were spending time together getting to know each other again. Elly smirked every time she saw Chloe swat away Pierce's hand when he tried to hold her hand or placed in on her lower back as he was guiding her someplace. She'd spotted Chloe ducking away from Pierce trying to kiss her on multiple occasions. This was all while been in and around the Lassiters complex.
Elly feared Pierce was worse when he was alone with Chloe or was Chloe putting on an act in public with him and keeping a relationship with Pierce a secret from everyone too ashamed to find happiness so quickly after Elly and her had ruined Mark's happiness.
And now Elly's world had come crashing down around her and the sharp pain in her heart was an open wound for everyone to see if they looked hard enough.
Pierce wasn't just trying to win Chloe over with gifts and expensive dates; he had an engagement ring and was prepared to lay his heart on the line to make Chloe understand what she meant to him.
Elly couldn't stand by and watch it happen but was she able to admit the sharp pain in her heart could possibly be hiding a deep love for Chloe?
Time caught back up with Elly as she stood there in the kitchen of Mark's house.
"Are you even listening, Elly?" Mark repeated, clearly frustrated with his wife, "Why should you care that Pierce is proposing to Chloe? I thought you didn't have feelings for her and anything you had with her was over."
Elly fumbled for an answer, nervously fiddling with her wedding and engagement rings, "When is Pierce proposing?"
Mark shrugged nonchalantly, unable to see the distress the news had truly bought to Elly, "Pierce is meeting Chloe shortly."
"What? Now!?" Elly screeched, unable to contain her emotions at the thought of Chloe accepting the proposal, "Where? Did Pierce tell you where?"
"Down by the lake," Mark answered still not seeing that his wife was desperate to stop Pierce. Firmly believing his wife when she told him she never had feelings for Chloe and didn't want to be with her, Mark didn't see what was right in front of him the whole time.
"I know we've been avoiding Chloe for a while now but maybe we should be polite and take Chloe a bottle of champagne as congratulations, I think I still have a bottle of Chloe's favourite in the fridge," Mark offered.
Elly was shocked even more, her voice rising with every second that her world collapsed around her, "You think Chloe is going to say yes!"
"Why wouldn't she?" Mark asked, "Pierce is handsome, rich and can give Chloe the world. Give me one good reason Chloe shouldn't marry him."
Me!!!! Chloe's in love with me! And this sharp pain in my heart is for her! Everything in my heart is for her! Elly wanted to scream at the top of her lungs.
But Mark didn't notice. Instead he turned around to the fridge to check for that bottle of champagne. As silence descended on the house, Mark turned back around to Elly but she wasn't there. Mark frowned and was then shocked when he saw Elly's rings lying on the kitchen counter discarded without meaning.
Elly had bolted it from Mark's place as soon as she realized what she'd been trying to ignore for the last month, the sharp pain in her heart could only be mended by admitting her feelings for Chloe.
Elly knew she had little to no chance of convincing Chloe to give her a chance. She was married to Chloe's brother, pregnant to another man, lying to everyone about that, had a binge-drinking problem and a severe case of sexual identity crisis.
But now that she pictured what it could be like to see Pierce proposing to Chloe or even watching her marry him, Elly knew she couldn't keep denying her feelings for Chloe any longer. The sharp pain in her heart would be there for the rest of her life if she didn't at least try to convince Chloe she could come to terms with her sexuality and wanted to be with her. It was amazing how five minutes had changed everything for Elly and made her see what she was about to lose.
Elly ran from Mark's house all the way to the lake out by the Lassiter's complex. She didn't stop. For once Elly was glad that she was in her fitness gear and runners instead of a cute red dress and heels.
As Elly reached the edge of the entrance to the lake, she saw Pierce in the foreground pacing nervously on the bridge clearly waiting for Chloe to turn up. Though she was far away, Elly spotted him fiddling with a small black box in his hands. He really wasn't joking to Mark that he was going to propose to Chloe to show her how much he loved her.
Elly then spotted Chloe walking from the other direction, whilst she was in front of Elly she was hidden from Pierce as she walked next to a lane of bushes at the opposite entrance to the lake. Elly booked it after Chloe, hoping to reach her before she was in Pierce's eyesight. Elly called out to Chloe several times but the blonde had her headphones in listening to music and didn't hear a word.
As Elly ran up behind Chloe she didn't think she was going to reach her before Pierce saw her but in a desperate attempt to shield Chloe from him so they could talk Elly wasn't thinking when she ran full pelt behind Chloe, grabbed her by the back of her jacket to pull her back from Pierce's view, hidden next to the bushes.
Unfortunately not realizing her strength in that action or Chloe's unpreparedness, Elly accidentally spun Chloe around so she nearly fell to the ground but Elly's hands reached out and grabbed the front of Chloe's jacket, Elly's foot slammed into the ground to balance the weight of stopping Chloe from falling onto her butt. Elly found herself holding an utterly shocked Chloe halfway off the ground.
"Bloody hell, Elly, what the hell was that for?" Chloe demanded, as she yanked her headphones off her, feeling like Elly had just thrown her around like a rag doll.
Elly's hands gripped either side of Chloe's jacket tighter and she dragged Chloe back to a standing position in front of her. Chloe's hands landed on Elly's hips to help regain her balance and once regained she still didn't let go.
Elly didn't release her grip on Chloe's jacket as she stood there out of breath, "I'm sorry...I needed to...to talk to you...before Pierce saw you walking towards him."
"Oh now you want to talk to me," Chloe stated, "Because you haven't done so in more than a month, Elly. Whatever it is, can it wait? Pierce is waiting for me, he asked me to meet him here for something important."
"No," Elly begged, and then before she could stop herself she blurted out, "Pierce is going to propose to you!"
"What? Don't be ridiculous, Elly! I'm not even dating him, we're just...hanging out so I can work out if I want to start dating him," Chloe claimed.
"Look at him," Elly offered as the pair of them glanced behind the bush they were standing in front of that was blocking him from seeing them.
Chloe's eyes widened as she noticed Pierce was pacing and fiddling with a little black box, "That could just be another piece of jewelry? A pair of earrings? Maybe a bracelet?"
Elly pulled Chloe back from Pierce's view and continued holding onto Chloe's jacket, "Pierce told Mark his plan and seeing as though Mark is the eldest brother he asked for Mark's blessing to propose to you."
"That's insane...I mean romantic as hell and talk about putting your heart on the line," Chloe thought, "Wait, why are you here warning me Pierce is going to propose? What does my love life have to do with you anymore, Elly, because you have made it quite clear you and I were a mistake?"
Elly cleared her throat, begging the right words to come to her, "Chloe, I have had this sharp pain in my heart since the moment I nearly faltered during my vows to Mark at the wedding. It hasn't gone away and has gotten worse every day you and I have been apart. But when Mark told me Pierce was proposing to you and making his intentions that he wants to be with you...this sharp pain in my heart Chloe...I knew I couldn't keep ignoring it."
Chloe stared into Elly's eyes, "What are you saying?"
Elly held her nerve, "I'm not brave like you. Despite how much you love me you watched me walk down the aisle and marry Mark. I can't do that...I can't watch Pierce propose to you and promise you the most perfect future let alone watch you walk down the aisle to marry him."
"What are you saying, Elly?" Chloe repeated, this time it was a whisper.
Elly brushed her tongue over her bottom lip, "There are a lot of things that Pierce can offer you, he's rich, handsome, successful and he is so in love with you that he wants to prove it with a big romantic gesture. You could have an amazing future with him, never have to work another day in your life, not have to live with your brothers, have all the fancy things your heart desires, he's prepared to live a life with you knowing what your Huntington's will do to you in the end, he has the resources to get you the very best medical assistance when that time comes...there is only one thing you'll live without if you choose him."
Chloe nodded, already knowing the answer, "True love."
Elly nodded back, "Yes, you'll never love him the way that you love me."
"Is that so bad?" Chloe asked quietly, "You can't always get what you want."
Elly felt assurance as she felt Chloe's hands grip tighter on her hips, the pair were still holding each other, "This sharp pain in my heart...I realize now that you are the only person in the world who can mend it."
"What are you saying?" Chloe pleaded with Elly once more.
Elly closed her eyes for a second before opening them and staring deeply into Chloe's eyes, "I am an absolute mess, Chloe, every single thing that Pierce can offer you...every tick on the 'pro column' for Pierce...it's just a cross on the 'con column' for me. I am broke, unemployed, and afraid of big romantic gestures for fear of embarrassing myself. You could have a pretty ordinary future with me, having to work all the time, live with your brothers until we could afford a place of our own, have nothing fancy that your heart desires, whilst I would support you in your fight against your Huntington's when it finally takes hold of you, right now I couldn't even afford a specialist appointment let alone the medical treatment you might require one day. I've developed an addiction to binge-drinking alcohol that I need to address. I've spent the last two months having a sexual identity crisis been too afraid to admit I am actually attracted to you. I'm married to your brother, I'm pregnant...the baby isn't Mark's..."
Chloe's eyes widened in complete shock before she uttered, "You cheated again?"
Elly felt tears streaming down her face, as she nodded, "I've barely admitted it to myself. But you need to know so you don't go into this blind. Mark doesn't know. The baby is Shaun Kelly's, Finn's brother. I had a one night stand with him. I didn't lie about the pregnancy at first, the home test was positive but then the GP came back with the blood test and it was negative. Mark wouldn't go near me after he took me back. He only took me back because of the baby. He couldn't touch me after knowing what we'd done. We've been married two months and we still haven't...been together. And I know been clingy and needy and wanting to feel loved is no excuse for cheating on Mark again...in fact you can probably add those traits to my 'con column' and jump 'cheating on Mark twice' to the top of that list...but you have to know that the love I feel from you...if I lived and breathed it...there couldn't possibly be a day I could ever be clingy and needy and wanting to feel loved by anyone else."
Chloe stayed silent processing what Elly had told her.
Elly got back to her original point, "Pierce can offer you the world. I can't offer you anywhere near that. There is only one thing you'll live with if you choose me."
Chloe nodded, repeating, "True love."
Elly nodded, before declaring, "I am a complete mess, Chloe Brennan. I am the biggest mess in the world but the only thing I want is to be your mess."
"I don't want to be a mess for long. I want to get myself together and start sorting my life out. I want to stop drinking. I want to tell Mark the baby isn't his. I want to be a better person for this baby I am carrying. I want to find a way to love this child the way he or she deserves despite how he or she came to be. I want to find a job. I want you to be the person who helps me sort through my mess. I am struggling with so many things and I am still struggling with my feelings for you. But this sharp pain in my heart needs to heal and you can help me do that if you'll allow yourself to," Elly insisted.
Chloe breathed deeply unsure how to respond and then she noticed, "You’re not wearing your wedding rings."
"I took them off," Elly admitted, "I left them with Mark but I didn't tell him why I can't stay married to him."
"Why can't you stay married to Mark?" Chloe asked lightly, hoping Elly would give her the answer she sought.
Elly gently pulled Chloe closer to her, "Because I don't love him the way that I love you."
Chloe smiled without responding.
Elly felt a smile on her own lips, "I know it took something drastic as Pierce wanting to give you the world for me to see it. I know my life is a complete mess. I know I am still afraid of my feelings for you. I know you could live a very different life with Pierce than what I could offer you. I know you never signed up to a future involving me been pregnant to someone who isn't Mark. I know you never thought raising a child could be in your future. But I know you have the same sharp pain in your heart that I do whenever we are around each other and we can help each other heal from it. I know with a bit of time we could be great together and have a great life together as a couple."
Holding Elly softly by the hips, Chloe made her choice, "I want all these things you want if you can do one thing...prove it."
For a moment, Chloe and Elly both ignored the fact that Chloe was going to have to break Pierce's heart, preferably before he got down on bended knee, and Elly was going to need to leave her shamble of a marriage with Mark.
Elly grinned as she lent forwards and captured Chloe's lips with her own. The pair melted into the kiss as the sharp pain in their hearts begun to dissolve.