Part Five: The
Truth Shall Set You Free
Theresa walked into the church and the site that greeted her literally stole her breath away. Her dream wedding
was staring her right in the face only she wasn’t the bride. The decorations looked just as they had in all her
dreams. Every last detail had been seen to. And she couldn’t help but wish it all just disappeared.
She shook her head and walked further inside. She saw Sheridan standing beside Ivy and immediately looked around
for Luis. She didn’t see him so she figured she was safe. Although, Luis being there would no longer matter. As
soon as Ethan said I do to Gwen, her life as she knew it would be over anyway and that convent Luis threatened
to send her to would probably be a welcome relief to fight the pain in her heart.
She saw Gwen’s barracuda mother walk her way and immediately took a step back. She felt two hands wrap around her
waist and when she turned she saw Julian Crane standing there with a funny smile on his face. "Sorry, Mr.
Crane. I wasn’t watching where I was going."
"That’s all right, Theresa dear. I didn’t mind at all." He leaned his head closer to her neck and sniffed.
"Mmm, what is that delicious perfume you are wearing? I love it."
"Oh, it’s –"
"Mr. Crane," her mother interrupted. "Take your hands off my daughter!"
Theresa turned to meet her mother’s flashing Irish eyes and wondered what was going through her head. From the
way she was acting it was almost as if she thought Mr. Crane was putting the moves on her, which from her point
of view was utterly ridiculous. But judging by the look in her mother’s eyes, she obviously didn’t think so. "Mama,
calm down. I backed up not realizing Mr. Crane was behind me."
"Yes, Pilar. Theresa backed up right into my arms. I was afraid she was going to fall so I tried to steady
"Yes, well, she looks fine now so kindly remove your hands."
Theresa felt Mr. Crane back away and then she felt his hand on the small of her back. He said a quick goodbye then
let his fingers lightly trailed her backside as he moved off. She shivered in the realization that his touch had
been anything but innocent. Maybe her mother was right. She shook her head and decided to think about that later.
She had more important things to worry about – like how to hide the fact that she did not want this wedding to
take place. A tear threatened to fall and she closed her eyes tight in the hope to stop it. When she opened them
again, her mother was standing in front of her with a face that warned her another lecture was coming.
"Theresita, why do you persist on putting yourself through this? You don’t have to do this. Ethan will understand
why you can’t."
"No, Mama." Theresa said meeting her eyes with more determination than she actually felt. "I have
to do this. I have to do this for me. If this wedding takes place, then I have to be here to see it. It’s the only
way I’ll believe it. You know that."
Her mother nodded as if she actually understood. "Okay. But I don’t like to see you in so much pain. You’re
my daughter and I love you. I just want to –"
"I know, Mama. I know you want to protect me and I love you for that. But this time, you can’t protect me.
This time I have to learn for myself."
Her mother walked toward her and placed her arms around her in a comforting hug. Theresa returned it then quickly
backed away knowing if she didn’t she would lose the control she was determined to maintain today. She had promised
herself that she would let Ethan go. He had made his choice and she had to accept that. It hurt knowing that even
after the wonderful night they shared last night, he was still determined to go through with this wedding. It was
a sham. Gwen didn’t love Ethan anymore than he loved her. She knew she didn’t, but she couldn’t prove it and even
if she could, she wasn’t sure it would matter. After all, Ethan knew he loved her, had even admitted it to her,
but he was still choosing to marry Gwen.
"Theresa," Sheridan called from behind her mother. "Gwen asked me to tell you to come into the bride’s
room. She wanted you to help her with her veil or something."
Theresa swallowed hard, exchanged a look with her mother, then sent Sheridan a small smile. "Okay, I’ll go
help her then."
She walked down the aisle toward the front where the wedding would take place and almost lost her footing when
she saw Ethan standing there. Their eyes met and memories of last night past between them. She saw him suck in
a breath and then he lowered his eyes and boldly raked them over her body. The maid of honor dress fit her perfectly
and she knew from the way his blue eyes darkened that he thought so too. When his eyes found hers again and he
started to take a step toward her she shook her head. He stopped instantly.
She broke the eye contact between them and lowered her gaze toward the floor. Then she brushed past him and started
walking toward the bride’s room. She could feel his eyes on her as she walked away, but she refused to turn around.
She’d give anything for him to call off this wedding, but she knew he wouldn’t. That was the reason she couldn’t
allow herself to talk with him today. She knew if she did she would beg him to change his mind, but she knew it
would make it harder on him and she didn’t want to do that. She had promised herself she wouldn’t do that. Because
seeing the regret and sadness in his eyes would kill her.
When she raised her head again, she found herself standing in front of the bride’s room. She raised her shaking
hand toward the doorknob then closed it around it and turned the knob. The door opened with a creak and Theresa
took a deep breath when her eyes connected with Gwen’s in the vanity mirror. She swallowed hard then forced herself
to speak. "Uh, Sheridan said you wanted to see me."
"Yes, I did." Gwen said reaching for the veil on the edge of the vanity. "Do you think you could
help me put this on? Sheridan and I tried but neither one of us could get it to fit right. I thought since you
designed the dress and veil you might be able to do something."
Theresa stood frozen for about ten seconds then finally nodded and walked toward the veil. She picked it up and
ran her hand over the smooth satin that acted as a hat. When she started to place it on Gwen’s head, her hands
shook so bad she dropped it to the floor. "Oh, I’m sorry Gwen."
"That’s all right, Theresa. You know I think you’re more nervous than I am!" Gwen laughed at that. "If
I didn’t know any better I would think you were the one getting married today."
Theresa straightened and she must have straightened a little too soon because she suddenly became dizzy. "Oh!"
She said clutching the back of Gwen’s chair.
"Theresa?" Gwen asked scooting out of the chair and helping her to sit down. "Are you okay? You
look really pale all of the sudden."
Theresa glanced in the mirror and saw that Gwen was right. She did look pale. Her face was drawn so tight she couldn’t
have forced a smile to save her life. If she looked like this before the wedding what was she going to look like
after the fact?
Ethan watched Theresa walk down the hall toward the bride’s room and couldn’t help the feelings of guilt that washed
over him. He had seen the sadness in her eyes and knowing that he caused it, put an ache the size of Mt. Everest
in his chest. His closed his eyes as her shaking hand closed over the doorknob. He could feel the pain rushing
through her as she turned it and walked into the room. He knew what it was costing her to do so and it broke his
heart. Hell, he thought clenching his fist, if the tables were turned, and today was Theresa’s wedding day, he
would not have been able to do what she was doing. Just the thought of her with another guy was enough to set his
teeth on edge and his heart lurching to his feet. There was no way he could stand by and let her marry another
guy. It would kill him. But he knew eventually that it would happen. After all once he said I do to Gwen, he would
ultimately be saying goodbye to Theresa. He knew whatever connection they had between them would die up there at
that alter the moment Father Lonigan pronounced Gwen and him husband and wife.
He’d give anything and everything he had to be able to call of the wedding, but he couldn’t. Because there was
no way he would risk his father or grandfather going after Theresa. And he had no doubt in his mind that they would.
If they thought, even for a moment, that she was a threat to this merger of a marriage, they wouldn’t hesitate
to try and destroy her and the rest of her family. He could deal with Luis’ wrath of hatred for him and his family,
but he knew Theresa couldn’t deal with the wrath of his. His father and grandfather were ruthless in business and
lethal when the family was threatened. He knew without a doubt that they would see Theresa as a major threat. The
Crane-Hotchkiss merger had been planned for years and they would stop at nothing to see that it went off without
a hitch. He had to protect Theresa at all costs and if that meant he had to break her heart and marry a woman he
didn’t love then so be it. He would do whatever he had to do to protect the woman that held his heart in her slender
He opened his eyes and looked around the church, when they landed on Gwen’s mother and he saw the suspicion in
them, he knew he had to get out of there. He had to get some air. It was starting to get a little stuffy. He pivoted
around and made his way toward the back exit of the church. He had just started to turn the doorknob, but when
he heard his mother’s voice, he froze.
"Are you sure you hid those papers in a safe, Pilar? If Julian ever found them… if he learned my secret that
Ethan is Sam’s son… that he isn’t a Crane? It would ruin everything… everything I’ve -."
"Mrs. Crane calm down. Someone could hear you. The papers are safe. No one will find them. No one will know
Ethan is a Bennett and not a Crane."
"I hope you’re right, Pilar. Because everything depends on it. Everything depends on Julian never finding
out that Ethan is Sam’s son that he is a Bennett, not a Crane."
The door suddenly opened and when his mother saw him standing there her face turned pale… very pale. Her eyes widened
and she let out a startled, "Ethan."
He could see the fear in her eyes and in that one instant everything he had wished for fell into place. He knew
he should have been mad that his mother had kept the truth from him, and he was, but right now he had more important
things to do – like calling off a wedding! A Bennett...not a Crane. His wish to be someone else had actually come
true and because of that he and Theresa could be together. No one could stand in their way now. No one would have
a reason to. If he wasn’t a Crane then his father and grandfather… or rather Julian and Alistair… would have no
reason to go after Theresa. And Luis wouldn’t be able to object to Theresa marrying the son of the police chief
because Sam was his boss not to mention the fact that Hank Bennett was his best friend!
God, Ethan thought shaking his head, Sam Bennett, the man he’d tried to have fired, was his father. At one time
that news would have turned his stomach sour, but now… now it was practically music to his ears. He didn’t have
to marry Gwen. He didn’t have to break Theresa’s heart. "Theresa," he whispered breaking out into a huge
grin. "I can finally be with Theresa."
"What!" his mother screamed. "Ethan what are you talking about? What do you mean you can finally
be with Theresa?"
"What I mean mother dear, is that finally fate is on my side. If I’m Sam Bennett’s son then that means I’m
not a Crane and I don’t have to marry Gwen. I can marry the woman I love and THAT is Theresa Lopez-Fitzgerald."
Pilar placed a hand over her heart and muttered, "Dios mio." His mother grabbed the wall to steady herself,
but Ethan he didn’t even blink, he just turned and ran toward the other side of the church. He ran toward the woman
he loved… the woman he was going to marry.
Theresa had just finished fixing Gwen’s bridal veil when the door to the bride’s room opened. She glanced up and
her eyes connected with Ethan’s. She sucked in a deep breath at the look he gave her and when he broke out into
a huge grin, she knew. He wasn’t going to marry Gwen. He was going to call off the wedding. She let out a squeal
of happiness then whirled around and ran straight into his open arms. As soon as she raised her head to look at
him, he covered her mouth in a passionate kiss. She met it with eager anticipation. She could hear Gwen yelling
in the background, demanding to know what was going on but she didn’t care. The only thing she cared about was
the fact that she was right where she belonged… in the arms of the man she loved.
to part six