Suddenly, Caitlyn couldn’t breathe. She felt like someone was gripping her neck so tight she couldn’t swallow. She eked out, “Is something wrong?”
The Haggertys both nodded.
Caitlyn clapped her hand to her mouth. Terrifying thoughts swirled in her mind. “What is it?”
Brother Haggerty began, “You know Justin came down here to spend time with Troy.”
Caitlyn nodded. Tears formed in her eyes while her imagination exploded.
“He . . . well . . .”
“Is he okay?” Caitlyn’s voice cracked.
“In a manner of speaking,” his mother said. She shook her head.
“Please, tell us what’s wrong,” Caitlyn’s mother said.
“We were supposed to meet for breakfast early this morning.” His dad kicked at the ground. “Justin didn’t show up on time. After almost half an hour, Troy came to the restaurant.”
“And?” Caitlyn’s head pounded.
“I don’t quite know how to tell you,” Justin’s dad said.
“Just say it.” Caitlyn wasn’t sure she wanted to hear what he had to say, but she needed to know.
His mother blurted out, “Justin is on a plane for New York.”
“We rushed to LAX and tried to stop him. Really, we did. But, he wouldn’t listen to reason,” his dad said, anxiety evident in his voice.
“I don’t understand what you’re saying. Why would Justin fly to New York on the day of our wedding?” Her heart thumped in her ears. She felt her mother’s arm around her shoulder.
Justin’s mom let out a long sigh. “Caitlyn, Justin has gone to be with a girl he met while he was on his mission.”
“A girl he met on his mission?” Caitlyn blinked her eyes several times and her mother’s grip tightened.
“He’s not coming back. He said to tell you he’s sorry, but he couldn’t go through with the wedding when he’s . . .” her sentence trailed off.
“In love with someone else,” his father said.
The words sliced through her. She dropped the garment bag to the ground in a heap. Her perfect life was unraveling right before her. Intense sadness grasped her heart and squeezed it so tight she thought she might die on the spot.
“I’m sorry, Caitlyn.” His mom embraced her for a few moments.
“We didn’t raise him to act this way. I don’t know what’s gotten into him. He has a lot of explaining to do,” his father said.
Caitlyn stared at the ground. She’d been left at the altar, or as close to that as possible at the temple. How could he? Why didn’t he say anything? He led her to believe he loved her and would marry her today. Now, she was standing in front of the temple, deserted. Her life was shattered. All of her planning, her dreaming, and her love, was for nothing. She’d been abandoned on what was supposed to be the happiest day of her life.
“We’ll take care of everything. We’ll go in and speak with someone in the temple and call the caterer. We’ll let the bishop know and we’ll make sure everyone gets the word before the reception was supposed to start. Don’t worry about anything,” Justin’s father said. “It’s the least we can do.”
Caitlyn could hear Justin’s mom crying.
“Thank you,” Caitlyn’s mom said. She whispered into Caitlyn’s ear, “Let’s get you back to the car.”
Caitlyn sat in the backseat. She wasn’t sure how she got there. She was numb, floating somewhere between dreaming and awakening.
“What kind of a young man does this?” her father said from the front seat.
“Robert, don’t make her feel any worse. We don’t need to discuss it right now,” her mom said. “Let her work through this.”
Lindsay reached over and caressed Caitlyn’s hand. Caitlyn rested her head against the seat and stared out the window as they drove the freeway back toward Santa Barbara.
Today had not turned out at all like she had planned. She’d played it over and over again in her mind. How could Justin have fallen in love with another girl while he was supposed to be serving the Lord, and while knowing that Caitlyn was home waiting for him? She wrapped her arms around herself, amazed at the physical pain she felt deep within her chest.
When they arrived home, Caitlyn went directly to her bedroom. She closed the door behind her and collapsed on her bed. She never wanted to leave her room. She’d cried so many tears on the way home, she didn’t have any left. Her heart was smashed into a million pieces and her dreams were crushed. What about their apartment, their house on the Mesa, their four children?
In the blink or an eye, or the takeoff of a plane, it was gone.
Read Part 5 of Chapter One.
You can purchase Altared Plans at independent LDS bookstores.