Skyla returns to Chattanooga. Skyla has a talk with her mom about what happened in the weeks since she was gone. Shannon tells Skyla why Jared married her.
"So what do you think I should do in the meantime?" Skyla asked Shannon.
"Do what you meant to do in the first place, minus Jared: go back home and see your family. It might help with your decision," Shannon told her.
Skyla nodded and hugged him goodbye. As she left, she noticed that Shannon was clutching her necklace, the one that was similar to the one her brother gave her. She stared for a moment, then left.
She headed back toward the hotel room she shared with Jared; she packed her bags for her return to Chattanooga. When she was done packing, Jared came in to check on her.
"Hey. You going to Chattanooga?" he asked her.
"Yeah," she said.
"When are you leaving?" he asked.
"Today, at three p.m." she said. She went into the bathroom to get her things.
"Here," he said. He handed her a small gift. "We don't actually have to annul the marriage, but if your parents say so..." He trailed off.
Skyla opened the box and saw an empty ring box. She gave him a look of confusion.
"It's the box your ring was in. So you can put your ring in the box when you get home," Jared explained.
"Oh," she thought.
Jared walked over and hugged her. There were a few moments of tension as she packed the box snugly in her purse.
Skyla left with enough time to purchase a ticket back to Chattanooga. As she sat down and waited for her flight to be called, she watched as other people sat down and got up around her.
"May I sit here?" someone asked her. She looked up at the man standing next to her.
"Of course, go ahead," Skyla said, and moved her purse to the floor. She went back to reading the arrivals and departures on the board.
"What flight are you waiting on?" the man asked her.
"The three pm flight to Chattanooga," she said. "I'm going back home to see my family; then I don't know what I'm going to do after that."
"Oh. I'm going to Vancouver to see my girlfriend; she's staying with a friend while I find a new apartment for us to stay in. I know you probably have tons of friends, but here's my number if you want to keep in touch..." the guy handed her a slip of paper with his number on it.
"I'm sorry, but I'm in a relationship," she told him, and gave him his phone number back.
"But with who?" she asked herself. Just as she began wondering this, her flight was called and she walked toward the terminal. As she looked back for a last look at New York, she saw Shannon waving goodbye at her; she waited as he ran toward her gate.
"How could I have missed him?" she thought. "I can't believe I didn't see him."
Shannon gave her a quick hug before she got on her flight. "Promise me you'll come back, okay?" he asked her quietly.
"I promise!" she told him, and hugged him once more. She boarded her flight quickly as she walked away from Shannon.
Skyla sat down in her seat, a window seat, before the plane lifted off. She looked out the plane window and saw Shannon looking out the window of the airport, where he'd probably be standing a few weeks from now if she asked him to be there. He came to see her leave, but Jared, her "husband," didn't.
After a few hours on her flight, she landed in Chattanooga. She called her parents to have them come and pick her up from the airport.
"You're here? Now? We'll be there as soon as we can!" her mother had said. While she was waiting, Skyla reached into her purse and pulled out the ring box and put her wedding rings away. She felt a kind of nakedness without it; even though she had only been wearing the rings for four days, she had grown used to being married.
When her mother pulled up, the first thing she did was get out of her car and hug Skyla.
"Mom... not here, okay?" she begged her. Together they got her bags in the backseat and they drove off back toward their house.
"So... what have you experienced since you've been gone?" her mother asked her as she drove.
"A lot of traveling. A lot of flirting," she admitted sheepishly.
Her mother looked at her. "Did you do anything you'd be ashamed to tell me about?"
Skyla blushed a deep crimson. "I, uh... kind of did."
Her mom sighed and said, "We'll talk about it when we get home."
"Can it just be between you and me?" Skyla asked her.
"It depends on what you did." Even though her mother, Cecelia Miller, worked at a local college, it didn't mean that her upbringing was less than strict.
Neil Miller was sitting in his study when Skyla and her mother arrived home. He walked over and hugged her.
"I missed you so much! I hope your trip was great," he told her as he kissed her on the top of her head.
"I missed y'all too and the trip was amazing," she told them.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw her mom motion for her to follow her toward her parents' bedroom. Skyla had only ever been in her parents' bedroom when she was a kid, when she had nightmares about the supposed monsters under her bed and inside her closet. Her parents' bedroom had been off-limits ever since.
"So, what happened?" her mother asked her. She was sitting on the edge of her bed.
"I've done something extremely horrible and I think I made a mistake," Skyla said to her.
Her mother walked over to her and held her at arm's length. "Please don't be pregnant; you can be married but not pregnant."
"I am married; the problem is I'm in love with my husband's brother," Skyla told her mom.
"But you aren't pregnant?" Cecelia asked her hopefully. "You didn't get married because you were pregnant?"
"No, of course not," Skyla said.
"Then why did you get married?" her mom asked her.
Skyla sat down. "I-I never really thought about it. I just saw the ring and he asked me a few times..."
Cecelia sat down beside her. "If you don't know why you got married, then you ask him why he asked you. You've already said you're in love with his brother. Maybe the brother will return your feelings," she told her with a hug.
"I'll talk to him, and see what he says," she told her mom.
"Talk to them both," her mom urged her. "Take a walk before you do, and then call them."
Skyla nodded. She hugged her mom as she left her parents' bedroom and went to her own; she flopped on her bed as she thought over what she should do. After a few minutes, she decided to go for a jog and laced up her sneakers; she walked outside and jogged a few blocks before she came back home. When she came back home, she grabbed her phone and a quarter, and tried to decide who to call first.
"Shannon is older, so he gets heads..." She flipped the quarter; it landed on tails. She dialed Jared's number and waited. About five minutes later he answered the phone breathlessly.
"Hello?" he asked.
"Hey," she said. "I have a question: why did you marry me?"
"I don't really know why," he told her truthfully.
"Can't you come up with a better explaination besides 'I don't know?'" she asked him desperately.
"Because I felt a connection to you?" he guessed. "I don't know, okay?"
"Later," Skyla told him as she hung up. She then dialed Shannon's number. He answered on the first ring.
"Hey, what's up?" he asked her.
"You don't... like me, by any chance, do you?" she asked him.
She heard Shannon sigh deeply on the other end. "Yeah, yeah I do."
Her stomach dropped. "How much do you like me?" she asked him.
"More than I should for my sister-in-law," he said sadly.
Skyla curled up with the phone on her bed. "Do you know why Jared-"
"Married you? Yeah. To make me jealous. The one thing I loved and Jared has it," Shannon told her.
"Not necessarily. You have things that Jared doesn't have," she told him.
"Oh, really? Like what?" he asked her.
"You have my heart. Jared just has a piece of paper saying he has my heart," she said with a smile.
"Your heart..." she heard Shannon's smile over the phone; when the moment came for them to hang up it was a sad parting.
"Call me later," he begged her.
"Of course," she told him. The silence that followed the loud -click- didn't seem to end. When she finally hung up, she realized she wanted to talk to Shannon some more. She called him back.
"We just hung up!" he laughed.
"Yeah, but I wanted to talk some more," she whispered to him. "So how have things been since I left?" she asked him.
"Okay. I've been horrible, Jared's been better, but I've been missing you more than he has," he told her.
"For obvious reasons," she giggled.
"Yeah. Jared just doesn't seem like he'd miss anyone all that much, does he?" Shannon asked her.
While they were talking, a storm started up outside on Skyla's end. Shannon had to persuade her to get off of the phone.
"I don't want to, though..." she told him.
"It is thundering and lightning there! When it stops you can call me back!" Shannon waited for her to hang up.
"Mmmkay. Bye," she said sadly, and hung up. The storm raged on outside, and she had to wait until almost three am to call Shannon back. She had caught him in mid-snore.
"Skyla! What're you doing calling me at-" she assumed he was checking his bedside clock. "Three in the morning? Damn, and I was having a nice dream, too!"
Skyla had to giggle. "The storm has passed; so was the dream about me?"
"If you want to say so." Skyla heard him reposition himself on his on the other end of the line.
"How's Jared been?" she asked Shannon.
"Same. He has said he misses you, though," he told her.
"Really?" she asked him. She had abandoned all hope of loving Jared and instead focused her love on Shannon instead.
"Yeah. Give him a call when you get up," he told her. "He might give you a more 'in-depth' explaination than the one he gave you last night about why he asked you to marry you."
"I thought it was to make you jealous," she said.
"Not just that. Just call him later, okay?" Shannon told her.
"Okay," she agreed, and that was her goodbye.
"No goodbye? :( " he texted her.
"I thought the 'Okay' was my goodbye! :/" she texted back.
"Oh. :/ Sorry, just call me when you get done talking to Jared, okay? :( " he asked her.
"Of course, lol!" she texted back. She fell asleep right after and woke up at eleven am. She looked at her phone and decided to call Jared later on in the day. She went downstairs and saw her mom in the kitchen.
"Hi, mom!" she smiled. She walked over and sat down at the table.
"Hey, sweetie," her mom said as she kissed Skyla on her forehead. "Did you take my advice?"
"Yes; the brother was more help than my husband about why he married me," she said grumpily.
"Talk to your husband again; maybe you can get more out of him today. It was really late last night when you called," her mother encouraged her. She put a plate of blueberry muffins on the table in front of Skyla.
Skyla sighed as she grabbed one and left the kitchen. She went back to her room and called Jared.
"Hello?" he answered.
"Hey, I've been told a bunch to call you. What's up?" she asked him as she flopped on her bed.
"I know why I married you," he told her.
"Really? Why?" she asked.
"Because Shannon loved you, and I thought that if I married you then you'd love me too. But it didn't work out like I planned, because you still love Shannon. And I'd annul my marriage for my brother over any other reason," Jared explained hurriedly.
Skyla choked on a bite of muffin. "You'd annul our marriage for your brother?" she asked him.
"Yes," he said.
"Let's do it. Claim we had irreconcilable differences," she told him.
She heard Jared's grin in his next words: "Alright. I'll send you an annulment notice soon."