"Stuart didn't remember my birthday," she said softly. She turned her head to look at him, her eyes large and sad. "Am I that forgettable, Tony?"
"No Liv. Definitely not."
His jaw clenched in anger. Didn't Stuart know how special Liv was? How could a man who professed to love her stay away from her so long? How could he possibly forget her?
The irony of his thoughts almost made him laugh. He'd been in love with Liv and yet he'd let her go. But no matter where he went and what he did, he'd never quite managed to forget her.
Liv remained quiet the rest of the drive to Tony's condo. She leaned on him for support as he helped her from the car, laughing as she walked unsteadily on her high heels. He knew that tomorrow she’d be horribly embarrassed about losing control and getting so drunk, and hoped she was drunk enough not to remember.
He unlocked the door and deposited her on the sofa, after carefully untangling her arms from around his waist. "How about I make us some coffee?"
"How 'bout we have some birthday cake? I though you said we had birthday cake." She pouted prettily.
Tony couldn't help smiling. She was even cute when she was drunk.
"Dani's bringing it. She'll be here soon."
Liv kicked off her shoes and followed him into the kitchen, weaving a bit as she did so. She climbed awkwardly onto one of stools next to the island. "Don't tell anybody, but I think I drank too much." She brought her finger to her lips and made a shh sound.
Tony grinned. "Don't worry. It'll be our secret."
"That's good. Stuart wouldn't like that I got drunk. He's pretty strait-laced, you know."
The mention of Stuart's name had his jaw clenching again. This time he couldn't keep quiet. "Do you love him, Liv? Do you really want to marry him?"
She just smiled. "I want to get married."
"How do you know he's the right one for you? He didn't even remember your birthday. What's he going to forget next, your name?"
"That's funny." Her laugh was a little trembly. She slid sideways on her stool and nearly fell off before grabbing onto the counter and managing to right herself. "Maybe he will forget my name." Her smile suddenly disappeared and she sat staring at him, looking completely vulnerable.
"That was a stupid thing for me to say, Liv. Of course he won't forget your name. I'm sorry."
She waved off his apology. "S'okay," she slurred. "Perfectly understandable. You forgot me, so why shouldn't Stuart? I guess I'm not the kind of woman men want to remember."
Tony felt like a stake had been driven through his heart. "Liv--"
"S'okay. I understand. There's just something about me that's unlovable, I guess." She folded her arms on the counter and laid down her head.
Her words hit Tony hard in the gut. He'd known eight years ago that he'd hurt her, but until this moment he hadn't understood the depth of her pain. He wanted to explain how he'd felt eight years ago, why he hadn't gone through with the wedding. But Liv was in no condition for explanations right now.
A powerful emotion welled in his chest, making his voice choke in his throat and his heart pound in his chest. He laid his hand on her dark, silky hair and gently stroked. "You're wrong, Liv," he said softly. "You're the most lovable person I know."
With those words a door opened in his heart, and for the first time in eight years he dared to look inside.
He knew with complete certainty that he loved her, that he'd never stopped loving her all these years.
His elation at finally acknowledging the truth was quickly tempered by the knowledge that Liv was engaged to marry another man. Now what did he do?