The whole week before we leave I’m constantly trying to figure out where we are headed and trying to imagine this other side of Elliot that I’ve barely gotten to see. Despite my best efforts, it takes me until Friday before I finally wear Everett down enough to let me in on where we were going. I told him the reason and tried to explain to him that I just need a day before everyone arrives, just one day. There are things we need to talk about on our own before they get there. So when he finally caved he gave me the address and the key. I planned to go a day earlier and surprise him.
I drove the two and a half hours blasting the music on my stereo and singing my heart out. I pulled up around one, the massive vacation house looming in front of me. I grab my suitcase and my duffle and using the key that Everett gave me I head up the stairs, not sure where he’ll be or if I’ll get the chance to surprise him. My heart leaps in my chest when I hear his voice, he must be on the phone I think as I silently set my things down inside the door. Following the sound of his voice I tiptoe through the massive house and finally I see him.
His back is to me and he’s distracted with the phone call, while he sits trying to shove something down into his cast. I have to force myself not to laugh at how boyish his behavior is as I spy on him.
Finally he hangs up and I tuck back behind the wall waiting to see what he’s going to do next. I watch as he opens the french doors and rolls out onto the porch. I feel the breeze coming in through the doors as I wait to make sure he’s occupied before I pull the instant camera out of my bag and snap the picture. The clear blue sky enhances his silhouette as the picture develops in my hand and it’s breathtaking. Securing the camera back in my bag I again creep forward, just waiting for him to catch me but he never does. I try to decide where I’m going to leave it for him to find when I spot the picture I sent on the fridge. The wheels start turning in my mind and I quickly replace it with this new image before turning tail and looking for our room.
“Taylor?” I hear getting closer to where I’ve been waiting for almost an hour, “Where are you?”
I keep quiet, I want him to come to me. I can hear the whoosh of his wheels on the tile floor as he comes down the hall and then he finally appears in the doorway. I don’t quite expect what happens next. He makes no move to come to me but I watch as tears form in his eyes and his breath hitches.
“God, I’ve missed you so much…” he breathes.
“Ditto…” I answer, still unsure, maybe a little awkward.
“I almost can’t believe you are really here. I have so much… so much I want to say… but at the same time I just can’t wait to hold you…” he says, unsure of himself.
I get up from the bed and walk over to him, the look on my face questioning whether or not I can take up my perch on his lap. When he nods I throw myself at him, wrapping my arms around his neck and just breathing in his scent.
“I know, Taylor, I know…” he whispers mimicking my actions.
“Don’t ever do that to me again,” I say, squeezing a little tighter.
“I won’t,” he answers so sure of himself as he pulls me back, looking at me.
“You don’t know that,” I answer honestly.
“No. You’re right. I don’t know that. Doesn’t mean I want to do that ever again… I’ve been through so much Taylor but do you want to know what the worst thing, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was?” he asks me.
I give him a questioning look, waiting to hear what he has to say but he just sits there looking at me until finally, “It was knowing that because I screwed up, I had to walk away from you… the sheer thought that you may not be there when I was ready was crushing. I had to do it, though, because no matter how much I thought I was dealing with things, on some level I wasn’t and that would never be enough for you. I had to take that risk and hope that you could see that it was for the best. Not just for me but for you too. I wouldn’t want to waste another moment of our future ever feeling like that, or being the person who frightened you. I saw the look on your face, I couldn’t live with myself knowing that you could or would ever be scared of me or my reactions,” he says, breathless near the end.
I don’t respond right away but I take his face in my hands, staring into his eyes and then finally, “Yes.”
It takes him a second to grasp what I’m saying and as he does I can feel the heat rise in his cheeks under my palms, the way his smile spreads slowly.
“I can’t wait to be your husband…” he says before crushing his lips onto mine.
“Sure did take you long enough, how long was that box hidden under your motorcycle seat anyways?” I tease him when he reluctantly pulls back for a breath.
“How did you… when did you…” he pulls back a hint of defeat on his face.
“Elliot I knew you didn’t just hang out in the garage for like two minutes every night just to do it. I didn’t realize it at first, but after awhile you would come back in looking guilty, I knew you were up to something,” I say with a laugh.
“I’ll find a better hiding spot for your next gift…” he laughs.
“I think I already have a good spot for you…” I answer with a devilish grin as I grab his free hand and guide it where I want it, “What do you think?”
“I think that is a good place to start…” he whispers, the warmth of his breath in my ear enough to drive me insane.
Before we get too intense I pull a bag from my suitcase and after rummaging around a little I whip out his pills and wag my eyebrows suggestively at him. Snatching them out of my hand before whipping himself into the bathroom, he shakes his head in disbelief.
“I was going to ask Mark to swing past the house…” he says.
“One step ahead of you buddy,” I say before he can finish the sentence.
I pull one more thing out of that bag and set it on the bedside table before I strip down to my bra and panties. While I’m waiting I stare at the little blue box, something I’ve done a lot of over the last month. I knew he wanted me to wear it, but it didn’t feel right, I want him to put it on me, I want that grand moment. I don’t wait long before he emerges, shirtless and down to his boxers. I’m still trying to figure out how he’s managing with the cast, but he seems to be doing fine. He catches me watching and stops just shy of the bed, grinning he holds up the cast and points to a piece of black tape that looks a little chewed up.
“I’ve gone through almost a whole roll since I’ve been here…” he admits.
“You’re an idiot…my idiot, but still an idiot,” I say not really sure if I mean for getting into the fight in the first place or that he is so proud of himself.
He grabs at his chest as though I’ve stabbed him with my words, “You wound me!”
“Hey, you did it buddy…” I say with a chuckle.
“That I did, Cupcake… and now I’m going to do this…” he says eyeing the box on the nightstand.
I feel like my heart is going to explode, I’ve been waiting for this for what feels like forever. In a way I’ve been waiting for this type of love my whole life so, yeah, forever. I watch him carefully open the box and then the velvet box inside, I can’t wait to see it. I’ve opened and closed that box at least 350 times since he left but never once did I open the little box inside. Without missing a beat he pulls the ring from the box and takes my left hand.
“Taylor, will you marry me?” he asks, his voice so soft.
“Yes, yes, yes…” I answer as he slips the gorgeous ring on my finger.
“It’s a Tiffany Novo…” he says after we kiss.
“It’s the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen,” I say unable to take my eyes off of my hand.
He’s watching me with a smile as I assume the position. You know the position, hand out, fingers flexed, in complete and utter amazement that you have this delicate piece of jewelry on your finger.
“I’m glad you like it…” he says with a hint of relief.
“You could have given me a 25 cent machine ring and I would have loved that too,” I answer still staring at the diamond.
He gets my attention as he moves to transfer onto the bed. I scoot myself over as I feel the mattress dip when his weight crosses onto it, and I watch. I’ve missed watching him, the way his body moves, or doesn’t in some cases. I’ve missed everything about him and it doesn’t hit me just how much until I’m snuggled up using his arm as a pillow. I bring my hand to his chest and we both watch my fingers do the familiar dance, except now there is a shiny new bauble dancing along with them.
In my mind, I’m doing backflips at hearing her say yes. I’ve waited for this moment longer than I should have and I know it was my own doing. I’m okay with that. I wouldn’t be able to love her as much if things hadn’t gone just the way they did. Emma used to say that everything happens for a reason, and I use to laugh at her. I don’t think I really ever understood her words until I had to give up everything to search for myself. I’ll never be a perfect person, no one is after all but the person I am with her is who I was meant to be.
I’m lying here after some incredibly mindblowing makeup/just engaged sex and I’m watching her trace circles on my chest and I can’t believe she’s mine. Her delicate fingers wind their way up to my face and she rolls over so she’s staring at me.
“You are my everything, you know that right?” I say, sounding as sappy as I feel in the moment.
“Ditto…” she says with a small smile as her fingers trace each of the scars on my face.
The newest of the bunch tingles a bit as she runs her finger across it, but the others, they are like distant memories.
“Are these from your accident?” she asks softly, the fingers of her right hand behind my ear on my chin.
“Yep… even with the helmet, I managed to get a few dings,” I answer, wondering silently what made her ask.
“They’re hot…” she says with a smirk.
“I’m a badass, what can I say,” I laugh.
“My badass,” she winks at me before she moves in and nips my ear.
Four days later
I’m still on my mother’s shit list, but she’s starting to come around especially after she took me back home to have my cast removed today. It was a silent trip that we were pretty much both forced into but my father knew what he was doing. When we pulled back into the beach house I stopped her from getting out of the car and I spoke my peace. It was my only chance at getting her alone long enough to do it. I know it made a difference because instead of taking the stairs like she did when we left, she rides up with me in the elevator giving my shoulder a squeeze before she gets off. I watch as Alex nearly bowls her over to get to me begging me to get in the pool with him now.
I’m lounging in the pool watching them. My family. Every person I care about is here splashing laughing and genuinely enjoying life and I couldn’t imagine it any more incredible. Taylor arriving early was the best surprise I could have gotten. The fact that she stuck it out while I sorted through my crap amazes me every time I think about it. Watching her with Alex I catch the glare off of her ring and for once I’m not nervous or scared or angry about anything. It’s not something I’m used to.