While I have other stories in progress that need my attention, I've had a rough couple of months with a death in my family and needed something light and not so dramatic to get my mind off of things. The solution? A fic for one of my favorite movies, Love Actually. The main characters are all OC, but the story is an attachment to Juliet, Peter and Mark's and I suppose some others could drop in at some point too. Enjoy!
Five weeks to Christmas
The wedding had been beautiful. Every second of chaos, stress and moments of absolute terror that Ellie had felt as maid of honor along with Juliet in the weeks leading up to the big day seemed to have magically solved themselves and cultivated into the perfect day the bride had envisioned. Her best friend radiated happiness right now, Ellie thought as she sat at the table in the reception hall. She was the most beautiful woman in the room, just as she ought to be. Peter played the part of the besotted groom well and their love and bliss seemed to create a magnetic atmosphere around them, pulling their friends and family into the fold. Ellie watched as they danced and smiled as the DJ began to play that NSYNC song they used to drunkenly sing and dance to at the pub during their years at university. John had hated that song, the sudden dark thought intruded. It had driven him mad whenever they got up on stage and took over the karaoke machine to sing it…
Feeling the happiness of the moment suddenly leave her, Ellie's gaze fell to her glass of champagne. She swallowed a lump of sadness and tapped a finger against the sparkling stem, watching the bubbles within catch in the low lights of the room.
"Yeah I get sad when I hear this song too." A voice suddenly said above her.
Looking up, suddenly pulled from her sad thoughts, Ellie came face to face with a chiseled handsome face that nearly knocked her back from her seat. "Sorry?"
"This song." He indicated with a slight extension of his hand that held his own drink. "Just reminds me that Justin has gone solo. The pain is too fresh, Timberlake. Too fresh." His American accent was low, but humorous.
Despite herself, Ellie laughed lightly at the ridiculous comment. The stranger took that as an invitation to sit down beside her. "You're the maid of honor, right?" he smiled and she watched his handsome face light up with various dimples.
She nodded. "Yeah, I'm Ellie."
"Luke." He reached a hand over the table offering his hand and she took it without hesitation. His hand was soft and firm around hers and she felt her body suddenly flush from head to toe over the touch. "So," he continued, unaware it seemed of what she had felt, "Are you a maid of honor for hire or are you a friend of the bride?"
Ellie felt her smile retain. "A friend. Best friend actually, for over fifteen years now."
"And you're a friend of Peter's?" she asked the question already knowing the answer. He couldn't have been a friend of Juliet's. After fifteen years she knew nearly everyone that Juliet did and she certainly would have remembered a face like his.
"Yeah we met a few years back, about the time I moved here from the states. He was one of the first people that gave me the time of day actually and I mean that literally. That cross over the ocean really messes with your sense of time." At this quip he winked a smile in her direction.
Ellie laughed out loud and had to take a sip from her champagne glass to calm her nerves. Around them the music changed, the DJ opting for a more classic option in Earth Wind and Fire's "September", not exactly a wedding song, but danceable none the less.
"So did you have anything to do with the musical number at the end of the ceremony?"
"Oh that? No, I'm afraid that was all the best man, Mark."
The "All you Need is Love" number was both well done and memorable. Neither Peter nor Juliet had expected the display and though Ellie had a miner idea of what Mark was doing, she did not expect what he had given them. "He's always the one to count on for surprises. Do you know him?"
Luke looked over, taking notice of the best man who sat at a table by himself, video camera in hand filming the happy couple as they danced. "Nah, but I give him props for his dedication to his position." He took a drink from his glass. "Are you by yourself?" he then asked.
Almost ashamed, Ellie nodded. "Yeah."
"Same." He answered without missing a beat, immediately comforting her insecurity. "So how about some small talk to keep us occupied?"
He was oddly confident and very personable. Ellie could feel herself ease in the stranger's presence, forgetting the thoughts that had plagued her just a short while ago. "All right. What would you like to talk about?"
"What do you do?"
"As in work? I'm a dance instructor."
"Oh yeah?" his eyebrows seemed to life in amusement. "What kind of dance do you teach?"
Ellie lifted her shoulders. "All kinds." A twinge of discomfort shot through her again. Men didn't pay this kind of attention to her, or at least she didn't allow them to. She kept herself out of situations where it was even a remotely possible and now that someone was, someone she considered very far out of her league, it was odd and foreign. He was simply gorgeous and she guessed that he knew it. Blue eyes, chiseled jaw, muscles that were clearly visible through the cut of his suit. It was all terribly out of place for her. She needed nerve to get through this small talk. With an unsteady hand she reached for her champagne and took a large, stinging sip. "And what do you do?" she asked.
"I'm a football player."
"No, European. American soccer." He laughed at their conversation misstep. "I was trying to sound clever for you. "
"Oh." Ellie was shocked by the answer. "Wow, I'm sitting next to a sports star then?"
"I'm not quite there yet, but yeah maybe someday you can brag to your friends you had a drink with me."
"Do you play for a team?"
"Tottenham, right here in London."
"You don't see a lot of American players on football teams over here." She took another drink, her glass rapidly becoming empty. She could feel her cheeks grow warm as she took in more of the liquid. She did not drink often, her life did not allow for it so when she did it only took small doses to affect her.
"Yeah," he relaxed in his chair, his fingers lingering on his own glass, "I played all through high school and college, but the sport just isn't as big over there as it is here. I was glad to be recruited to tell you the truth. Love living over here. Pink Floyd is like my favorite band and Monty Python…well, how could I pass it up?"
"There's a bit more to Britain than that." Ellie smiled.
"Oh yeah, the women are gorgeous too." His eyes lingered on her as he spoke, kindling something within her she couldn't describe. He was flirting with her. Openly, publically, flirting with her. It had been so long since she had been in this kind of situation, Ellie found herself struggling with an inner panic. From out of nowhere one of the waiters appeared at the table with a tray of fresh drinks and she found herself quickly accepting one from him. She managed only a half second smile in Luke's direction before turning away embarrassed and downed half of the champagne in a single drought.
"I didn't mean to embarrass you." He acknowledged that he had seen the entire display for what it was. His handsome face was still smiling and with the warmth of the champagne spreading without her, Ellie felt comfortable enough to turn back to him.
"You didn't…well, that's a lie," she struggled with the words and push an errant curl back into her expensive up do. "...but Thank you." And then she took another drink, just as large as the one before, draining the glass for a second time.
He leaned in closer, heating the air between them. "Would you like to dance?"
"Dance?" her head was swimming now, but whether it was from the alcohol or the attention he was giving her, she wasn't sure.
He laughed, "Yeah. You being the dance instructor, maybe you could teach me a few things."
Desperate, Ellie looked at her empty champagne glass and then quickly around the room. Couples were now swaying slowly against one another to a song she only half recognized. Juliet and Peter were off in their own world in the center and her other friends, bloody hell she couldn't even make out a face in her panic. There was no way she was getting out of this, at least not without embarrassing herself and causing a scene. Gulping, she turned back to the Adonis in front of her and forced herself to push the words out. "All right."
Her first thought as they joined the others on the dance floor was that she fit too well in his arms. His hand at her waist burned and hers on his shoulder sent her heart beating fast and hard within her. She was sure she was shaking with every stem they drifted through, but the way he smiled down at her said otherwise. "Don't let me step on your toes." He joked as they swayed with simplicity.
"I won't." her voice cracked, but she found herself able to smile back at him.
The danced for a long torturous while. The more time that passed though, Ellie felt herself begin to relax in his presence. He made small jokes, a smiled and winked at her, making sure his attention was on no one else in the room but her.
His hand fanned out against her back and with a choke of breath, she felt his fingertips begin to caress her through her dress. She should have pulled away then, but for whatever reason it drew her closer to him, close enough to feel his warm breath against her neck. It was enough to heat her blood and make the long dormant feel of desire begin to run through her body. She looked back up at him, her eyes focusing on his. The song changed, but their dance kept on and their gazes stayed locked. His fingers continued their own small dance against her back and he leaned in closer to whisper a breath against her skin. "You're driving me crazy."
"Am I?" her voice was low and dripped with its own desire.
"I get the feeling you know exactly what you're doing too."
The words made her smile to herself, but she said nothing in reply. Instead she shifted her position and allowed herself to lay her chin on his shoulder. His scent engulfed her. A mixture of Ralph Lauren cologne, shaving cream and soap. It was clean and satisfying and oh so pleasing to her senses. Maybe this was okay, she thought to herself. A dance or two couldn't hurt anything. He didn't know her, she didn't know him and the odds that they would ever meet up again after leaving tonight would nearly nonexistent. Yes, she said to herself, pressing closer to him, this was okay.