The Secret Sad Life of Mrs. Autumn Halls - 3

Part 3

Many praised her for being so pretty that evening. Engulfed in the richness of the Hamptons reception, in contrast, Autumn felt okay in the knee-length bridesmaid pastel dress that flaunted her feature very well, which clearly, she was not seeing it. She started to rub her cheek because somehow her make up was getting damper each hours. She could not stand the fishtail braid anymore. It was fashionably tucked onto the top of her head,  she did not even know where the end went, but it formed a sophisticated sweet bun which was rather uncomfortable to wear. Simply said, Autumn had to disagree. She would never felt pretty that night. Not until the gentleman on her far right said so.

Every time she stared at Wade Halls in secret, she asked this question in her head. "How did it happen?"

Autumn knew herself very well. Early playdate or even dating were something that she could not comprehend. She did not know how exciting it is and how it works. She had involved in series of dating for past years, but nothing of those had ever moved forward. Since most of girlfriends have sat on her couch, left her tissue box nearly empty, poured their hearts out about some boys they had met along the way, boys whom they bought expensive gifts for, they kissed and had sex with, the concept of love seemed very crystal clear to her - Love is an exhausting soul torture, completely the opposite of what the movies and lovesongs had been expressing. At least, when it is being experienced with the wrong person. Seeing her girlfriends sobbed about that particular matter, Autumn tried the very best to relate but she could not. She knew that there is a 15-year-old that might have more heart than hers. Deep down, she whispered, that she'd better of this way.

She had never urged herself to find her significant other, unlike most of her other friends, she did not even think of finding love. The thought of being together, calling cute names, watching movie and sharing a glass of strawberry milkshakes with a significant man would make her squeeze tears of laughter.

The moment she realised that she had been sneaking glance towards the tall, short-haircut gentleman in a sharp black suit with a tie that matched the hue of his eyes to her far left - she wondered which chapter she was, which boat she was on. All the desperation, obsession and the illusion, she never thought that she could transform into a completely different person. At last, she knew she had become more humane. That happened, not out of intimidation from  receiving wedding invitations from close friends. But, it was driven without a reason.

The moment she kept staring quietly, so intense and without a remorse towards the deep cobalt of his eyes, she kept wondering, "How did it start?"

They started their relationship perfectly as acquaintances, daily-commute mate, and until became friends. Then, Autumn begun to feel something more than that. The neediness and sudden alarm when she missed Wade when he was not around. They were strange, and again the question of "How?" appeared in her mind.

Was it because Wade is much more older? Did she misunderstand Wade's protective nature towards her? Was he attracted towards her or was he only a nice guy who welcomes everyone warmly?

For one apparent correct reason, she liked her man reserved. She never found a chirpy, loud men attractive, because she felt like girls should develop such personality. And, Wade was one reserved man. However, he was not a kind of guy who Autumn could share anything in common with. As if he was coming from another planet. He did not play music, but he liked to paint and Autumn's drawing was suck. Though, she found it surprising to find someone who is different from her expectation. Previously, Autumn dated several start-up musician, writer and several filmmaker, and Wade seemed like a complete stranger with a new world to exchange with. She remembered one day, he lectured her about some ancient buildings in New York on a bus ride home. She must admit that she almost fell asleep, but she would like to try again. Perhaps it could be one reason to answer Autumn's "how". She found him interesting.

Another reason might be when Wade furiously bit on the deli or food-truck meal as they passed by New York's street when it was getting late. He looked exceptionally young, despite of his age, she could not believe that the man would turn 32 next December. One other reason might be his gentleness when he let Autumn entered a room first and opened a door for her. One more reason could be stories he told about his family in Canada, a complete family of three,  a single mother and a younger sister. His father had passed away. But still, Autumn was fascinated by the closeness of those three. It is understandable since Autumn herself grew up fostered. She did not have to kiss or touch him, but she felt this strong intimacy when he begun to chat about his family.

Perhaps, it was her who had misinterpreted his good attention. Autumn felt misled when Wade, whom the she had seen rarely, showed up to her and asked whether she was invited to and need a ride to Grace's weeding. It had been a month that hey had not seen each other. Grace never forgot to put Autumn's named on her bridesmaids list, but what Autumn forgot was that Grace and Wade were actually co-worker, ex-coworker. By the time they were both invited to the weeding, Wade had resigned and set to start his own architectural bureau reportedly in the West Coast. It might not be surprising, an inner 16-year-old of herself leapt and jumped when he 'asked' her out.

Until, it turned out it was not an invitation for Autumn to be Wade's plus one, because he did not tick the box. The limo was occupied by Roger and Stuart with their girlfriends. There were six of them. Two each were couples, and the other two were sort of avoiding each other. They had been keeping each other company for the past 8 months as friends. They were close yet far from what Autumn though they would be.

The 'how' questions might sound a little different at this point.

Her eyes locked still onto Wade, who was chugging to the cold bottled beer. Completely boyish. Another quality that might answers the "how". However, the more Autumn could not understand, the more she believe that this was love.

Before Autumn was other guests danced with their partners after the bride and the groom closed their annual dance as Mr. and Mrs. Paxton. She looked up the bright light of the chandelier hung from above the ceiling, did her utmost to hide the broken expression on her face. She had never thought to be so childish, but on that moment she was needy for affection. She hoped at least there was someone to ask her dance with.... someone who was honestly attracted to her best charm tonight. Many complimented her for being so pretty tonight, but she was not convinced yet until...

"Autumn," a voice called. She looked down. There was a man stood before her with a broad figure, blonde strains of hair even brighter than Wade's, eyes were blue and lighter unlike Wade's cobalt, but the smile in his face appeared like more than just a smile. It could be a grin. A guy like him would never approached Autumn if she had not lost any weight. He would be a constant bully if they had ever met in high school. Luckily for him, Autumn was draped in the ultimate silky gown that accentuate her woman's features.
"Autumn Halls?" he repeated.
"Chad Murray," he pointed to himself, "remember?"
She wanted to shake her head and said 'no', but something stopped her.
"We met in college, you must have forgotten..."
"I am sorry but..."
"... So you are friend of Grace?" he interrupted before she finished explaining.
"Bridesmaid, actually."
"Wow, I can see..." he murmured. "You look exceptionally pretty," there, someone had said it to Autumn. He saw her complementing at him, sincerely. The grin grew wider.
"Thank you," she said, almost sounded like a whisper.
"Let's celebrate. Shall we dance?" He stuck his arm at her. Autumn had usually refused to dance when the song was playing half-way, but she welcomed his arm anyway. The moment when she gripped and he pulled her weight by the arm, something stopped them to.


Wade stood inches away from him and it took her by surprise. Chad did not seem to welcome Wade's encounter.

"Dude," he said but was quickly ignored by Wade.
"The bride needs you." Wade informed Autumn without even glancing a permission to Chad.
"What for? I have just seen her sitting right ther..."
Before Autumn could end what she meant to say, Wade dragged her away from the table to the merrier crowd. She did not have any clue where did he take her. She closed her eyes as he maintained her hands hooked with his whilst they were strolling the slowdancing crowd. Then they stopped.

Above them was the chandelier which she had contemplated earlier. Imagining herself and a mysterious loved one dancing to her wedding song to be, strumming ukelele of Postcard from Italy.

For a minute, they only exchanged stares which Wade completed his with a smirk and Autumn seemed to be out of words.

"Boys and Girls. Boys and Boys. Girls and Girls. Would you please gather around because this is your moment..." the band's vocalist said afar across the stage.

"Well," Wade opened his palm to her, without losing the trace of his smile.
She hummed, "The bride is not looking for me, isn't she?" she responded to his gesture, and welcome his hand onto hers. He pulled her closer so that he soaked up the fruity scent of her perfume and she drenched into the fragrant musk of his scent.
"She is not, but another person was looking for you..."
"Who was it?"
The smile even grew more confident. "Me."

Autumn glanced the skies as if she was thanking God in discreet when the band was playing 'Coffee'. One of the dreamiest songs in her playlist that would be replayed over and over when she came across. She buried her face under Wade's shoulder, because she knew he wouldn't mind.

"Where have you been?" the question slipped out of her tongue in a whimper.
"I have been around,"

If it's not too late for coffee
I'd be at your place in 10
We'd hit that all night diner and then we'll see

"Do you know that there is a nice coffee shop nearby your office?"
She shook her head. She was much of a tea drinker and would only be drinking coffee when he was around. "No."
"Would you try it with me?"
"Where is it?"
"I'd pick you at 5.30 tomorrow, how does that sound?" he continued
"No that would be troublesome to pick me up. You don't even live in the city, do you?"
"Autumn..." he placed his hands on her upper arm to make sure she faced him and understand the meaning of, "this is a date."
It took seconds for her to absorb, "Oh," she was stunned.
"What do you say? It is a date. I'd pick you, returned you home and bought you flower if necessary. "
As if a light bulb appeared on the top of her head, she felt brilliant when finding out how a date works even though she had been there few times.
"Yes," she said, and more enthusiastically, "yes of course!"
A titter broke from Wade, causing her to feel embarrassed. "Why?" carefully she asked.
"No..." he shook his head and continued to lead her to a slowdance. For a second, Autumn sensed he might have been staring at her for too long. Until, she came to realise that their face are just less than an inch away from one another.
"You are funny, Autumn." he murmured appreciatively.
If Autumn did not buried her face again against his shoulder blades, they could have the perfect kiss. The right person with the right part of the song where it was about to end with silky vocalizing by the singer. But Wade let go his bittersweet smile with one arm hugged Autumn's back. He was thinking to save the kiss for tomorrow.


Magnolia, was an unlikely flower for a date. Nevertheless, Wade brought it to Autumn on their first day to symbolize how unusual their first date was. As admitted by him it was indeed unlike any other date. He did not need to impress anyone. All he had to be is himself. Thanks to Autumn who had brought him to the most comfortable place he could never imagine. That particular magnolia was resting inside the glass vase in their living room with one petal soiled but the rests bloomed in pink and white.

The couple had went to many dates before then, until they sat on their living room's sofa. Facing the television which was broadcasting re-run episode of The Apprentice. They both did not seem to watch the show, even though it was their favorite.

"I am sorry," she tried to break the ice as she cupped his chin with her hand. She turned his face and flew a gentle peck over the wound, when the next second he beamed from ear to ear, as if the stretching wound did not him any hurt. "You took me by surprise."
"I thought you like surprise."
"That was a scary surprise."
His brow crooked. "Was I scaring you?"
"A bit," she said before she diverted the conversation. "How was New York?"
"It is just as good as the old time. How is LA treating you?"
"Excellent, I have a good news?"
"Really?" he draped his arm on her shoulder, "Spill,"
"I got shortlisted into Masters scholarship in Utrecht."

She waited until she saw the glow on his eyes, the exact same one as she was having in her eyes. But Wade was showing otherwise. His arm were still hugging her shoulder but she could feel it frigid.

"Wow," was his first reaction, before drawing his arm away from her. "Wow." he repeated, as if he needed time to absorb.
"Are you excited as I am?"
Wade delayed to answer, instead he took a long gulp from his beer can to soothe himself. "Wow."
Next to him, was Autumn's eyes that piercing at her, expecting his response.

Clasping his hands in front of him, he begun to asses. "Are you sure about your decision?"
"Honey, I know what you are thinking right now. It is just a shortlist and Utrecht is indeed very far from here. But I need your full support on this, at least to motivate me to give the best. Whether I get it or not, it doesn't matter. I have always wanted to know how far I can take myself."
He gazed back at her, "Wow, you are one warrior princess, aren't you?"
She did not know what to answer but to smile back.
"Why do you think Masters is important to you? I mean you have a good job and growing career and you have me..."
"I am 25, Wade," she was not aware that she called his husband by his name instead of his call name, "...and I feel like I have not reached my full potential. I wanted to meet intellectual people and interact with them and contributing back to the community."
"My 25-year-old was one hell of a wreck compare to you today," he commented honest but she could hear a tint of bitterness on his voice. "Of course, I wish you a good luck, but you know... you should have raised this issue much earlier before you were deciding to be dependent with me."
"What do you meant by dependent? We depend on each other..."
"Exactly, you have to invite me to involve to make a decision within this household."
"What household? It is my academical issue that I am raising,"
"Halls household," he stressed. "... we bare the same household."
"Wade, relax. For the time being, I won't go anywhere far from LA..."
"More than a surname. It stands for household, Autumn." he continued almost impatiently. "Imagine there would only be me. I won't call myself a family. Honey, you were amongst the first-class graduates. You have a good career on the field that you love, you acquainted yourself with writers and professors, some of your articles were published in the national media if you are taking this for your financial growth later on, then you have to remember that I am here to support you. We are one entity now. I bear everything for you. I support you financially and I will open the door of opportunities for you." he ran out of words. Meanwhile, Autumn felt flattered that her husband pointed her underrated achievements. She thought that she was an inferior compared to what Wade had accomplished.
"It is not just about financial or career opportunity, and how can you be so sure that you can hand me opportunities with the fact that you are in a different professional path from me,"
"I have connection,"
"Honey, I appreciate all of your good intention for me..."
He snapped, "well, do you?"
"I do," She reaches for his hand that was now balled into a fist resting at the side of his body. "But, I'll always be this person who enjoys being challenged." A smile beamed across her face. "After all, I am your warrior princess, aren't I?"

By the look on his face, he does not seem to agree with her. She looked at Wade's stern expression. The wound on his lips seemed really matter when she noticed how tight the jaw clenched. Autumn knew that she had lost it when Wade buried his head on his hand and walked away. She started to think that the family argument he threw is not the real reason he was upset. Although, her comment came as an irritation.

"Where are you going, honey?"
"I-I-I need to sleep, I am just too tired..." he tried to answer as polite as possible.

She stared at his broad shoulder that move tense the moment he walked, and then to the lone stalk of magnolia in the vase. Hoping for she had given him all the right answer.


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