Second Chance At Fate

Rachel cut all ties with most of the Jonas family years ago, the pain too much for her to live with. She had run to L.A. to pursue her dream of becoming a songwriter and had become successful enough to enjoy her life. But she had kept in contact with one brother and now he was getting married. He wanted his best friend there to share in his happiness.

Rachel can't say no and now she is in Long Island, New Jersey to be with him and share in his joy. But she couldn't expect his own brother not to be there. And now she has to face the pain and person again. But what if fate lets them rewind the past and give them a second chance? Will they take it or will they walk away again?

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1. Welcome Back

Rachel closed her eyes and leaned her tired head against the back of the seat as the long black limo glided quietly along the back roads of rural New Jersey, the twists and curves rocking her to a sleepy state.  She had flown across the country at the request of a friend, the only friend who could convince her to walk willingly into the thick ropes of emotions that would threaten to choke her if she wasn't able to cope with them.

She kept her eyes closed as she fingered the thick parchment paper she held in her hand.  The embossed type made distinct impressions in her fingertips as she ran them across the words she had already mesmerized the minute she had read them.  They were the same words people read every day, words usually met with a smile of fond memories or tears of happiness of friends you shared time with.  The words included ‘happy event’, ‘joyfully invite you’ and ‘unite in marriage’.

She had reacted in a way that most people would have considered strange.  She had felt a cold chill radiate through every bone in her body as if her blood had changed to ice.  The first response had been guttural, a protection instinct deeply seeded in her core.  She had quickly hunted for the matching response card and firmly checked off the ‘Not Attending’ option before nostalgia could rear it's head and drag her back to New Jersey.  She had hoped that would be the end of it but she should have known he would call her, pull the friendship card and insist she come. She could see his chocolate brown eyes and pouting lips through the phone when he called two weeks later.

Flashback - Six months earlier

Rachel walked into her apartment and threw her leather jacket over the back of the arm chair in her family room.  She pulled the pins from her hair that held it back and let her long curls fall loose around her shoulders, shaking them out to relax them from the long day.  As she sat down in the chair, she pulled off her pointy high heels and rubbed her crushed toes.  She hated meeting days, would rather be in a pair of old jeans and sneakers but they were a necessary evil and only happened once a month or so. In between, she got to live out her dream while paying her bills.  It was her dream life, mostly.

She heard her phone ring a distinctive tone in her purse on the table and pulled it out.  As she looked at the call display, she felt an initial urge to avoid the call but knew she owed him an answer for her refusal of the recent invitation. She flipped it open and put it to her ear.

“Hey Jonas.” Her stomach clenched at the name.  Not because of him but because of his brother.

“Hey Rachel.  Long time, no hear.”  He paused for a moment, waiting for her to fill the gap.  She didn’t.  “Actually, not really a long time.  I got a strange envelope today saying you wouldn’t be coming to my epic wedding.”  Rachel sensed a hurt tone but steeled herself not to give in.  Her heart had to be more important in the moment.

“I’m sorry but I just can’t get away."  A lie but a necessary one.  "I’ve got a lot of stuff coming up and I need to be in L.A. for it.”  She should have known he wouldn’t let it drop there.  He didn't.

“You’re a songwriter, you can do that anywhere. You don’t have to be in L.A..”   His voice sounded hurt and she hated that.  But she didn't see much of a choice and hoped it wouldn't permanently damage their close friendship.

“That doesn’t mean I don’t have obligations here.”   Keep it strong, she thought.

“I know you have obligations but I really want you to be here.  I can’t get married without my best friend!”  His voice developed even more of a pouty tone now, one he used to convince her to do what he wanted.  He had perfected it over the years and it usually worked.

“I’m sorry Jonas but I just can’t make it.”  She needed to change the subject but doubted he would go along with it.  She decided to pick a neutral topic and hoped he would just let it go. “ So when will you be in L.A. next? I am in some desperate need of some bonding time over popcorn and Jim Carrey.”

He didn’t bite.  “Rachel, I know why you don’t want to be here.”  His voice was soft now, comforting in its tone.  He knew her so well and knew her deep pain just as much.
Rachel felt tears sting her eyes at the turn of the conversation.  It was moving exactly where she didn't want it to go.

“Please don’t go there,” she said while squeezing her eyes tightly shut to keep the tears in and the memories out.

But he had never been gentle with her, nor had she been with him. It wasn’t what their friendship was based on.  It was based on honest and brutal truth when they needed to hear it.

“I am going there.” He hesitated for a moment, sensing the emotional bomb field that he was about to cross. “You don’t want to come because he’ll be there.”

‘He’ was his brother, a pain she had walked away from five years earlier for her own sanity.  And his she believed.  Of course he would be at his own brother’s wedding, probably one of the wedding party with how tight they all were.

“Yes, he will be there.”  She sighed as tucked her feet underneath her in the chair, curling tightly against herself.  “I doubt you want to have that cloud hanging over what is supposed to be the happiest day in your life.  It will be better for everyone if I just stay away.”

She heard him fidget, pictured him rubbing the back of his neck in frustration mixed with concern.  He knew the story, knew why she had done what she had done.  He was not the brother she had been closest to when they had been such a part of her life but they had bumped into each other at a coffee shop six months after she had run back to L.A.. They had talked for awhile and exchanged phone numbers, Rachel thinking he had done it only out of politeness.  But he had called her the next day and asked her for dinner.  She had accepted out of curiosity, surprised when he had brought Chinese takeout.  They caught up on each other’s lives but the conversation eventually turned to his brother with him asking why she had left so suddenly.  And then she couldn’t hold it in anymore.  The pain came out as she told him about why it had become too much.  He had held her as the pain had overcome her, silent in his deeply comforting hug.  They had talked for hours before he finally had to leave.  And he had continued to call her as he travelled the world with his brothers.  He learned what subjects were to be avoided and she became his confidant.  She was the one who had finally made him realize that he was ready to make the step and propose to his girlfriend.

“I know it won’t be easy but I really need you there. It won’t be the same without you.”

Rachel took a deep breath.  “Jonas, why are you doing this," she asked with trepidation.   "Why can’t you just let me crawl into a deep, dark hole and avoid this awkward situation?”

His voiced laughed through the phone, warm and soft.  “Because I want to be selfish and have you there.”  The laugh stopped quickly though. “And because you need to face him.  Face him and move on.”

Rachel felt her spine melting and she smiled into the phone.  “I accept reason 1 and dispute reason 2.”  She took a deep breath and steeled her fears.  “But I will be there. For you.”

“Thank you Rachel. It will be great.”

“You owe me Jonas.”

They talked for a few more moments before hanging up, talking about the plans for the wedding. It would be a large wedding because of the size of each family but still simple in style, just like the couple.  It would be perfect for them, not for Rachel.

Six months later, he had arranged for a private plane and the car she was currently travelling in, his way of making sure that she wouldn’t back out.  And now she was in Long Island, New Jersey, heading to her best friend’s wedding.  A wedding that she knew would be one of the most painful weeks she had lived through.  But she would slap on her most realistic fake smile, drink the flowing champagne (a lot of it!), dance in more painful shoes than she had ever worn and not let him see an ounce of her pain.  He wasn't worth letting it be seen.

Her recollections were interrupted as the limo slowed down and turned into the long drive that led to the Jonas summer home.  They had purchased it three years ago, a respite from their busy lives in the spotlight. It was not what many expected from them. It was a large house but not the white marble or shining glass that most stars would have.  It was an overgrown beach cottage with a large wraparound porch, expansive deck with a hot tub and pool and big white furniture.  She had stayed there with him a few times and it was one of the most relaxing places she could be, just not now.  As the car stopped and the driver came around and opened her door, she saw him standing in the doorway, the large smile on his face and his arm around his beautiful fiancé.

“Here goes nothing,” she muttered as she stepped out of the car.  And as he walked quickly towards her, his arms reaching out to wrap her in them, she wished she was right back on that plane to L.A..

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