Turn My 6's to 9's


Seven years later…

Beth speared a piece of asparagus and looked across the table at Will in confusion; something was off. He was pale and agitated, fidgeting. Beth had already asked him what was wrong, but he had tossed his head and said he was fine. She could hear his foot tapping under the table; their glasses were shaking because of it.

But it was just a typical Friday night. She'd left work around 5 pm and grabbed them take-out from the gourmet grocery a few blocks from Will's apartment. She had her own condo that she shared with Marianne. They'd been roommates throughout Pemberley, and good luck and timing had led them both to the same city after graduation. Will's city. Beth hadn't wanted to rush into living with Will, and so it had only made sense to keep rooming with Marianne. But Beth's weekends were always spent with Will at his place. On Fridays, he finished work about an hour after her, and she'd just let herself in to his apartment with her key, changing into the spare set of PJs that always stayed at his apartment and opening a bottle of red wine. She'd handed him a glass when he arrived home, and even then he'd seemed distracted. She watched him carefully over the rim of her glass as she took a sip, noticing the sheen of sweat across his brow. He actually looked ill, she thought, cocking her head slightly to the side.

"How was work?" she asked, lightly probing. Will was an analyst for a bank, and nothing exciting ever seemed to happen at his job. If there was drama, he stayed far out of it, or at least never shared it with Beth. She wondered if something had happened today.

Green eyes framed by long dark lashes met hers across the table, and it was almost as though she had startled him out of his own thoughts.

"W-work was fine," was all he offered, but Beth's brow furrowed. He was stammering, as though he'd shown up to a debate unprepared, as though she'd asked him what the meaning of life was. Will was always articulate, thanks to the prep-school upbringing. Beth had only seen him act this way once before in all the time she'd known him.

Her gut gave a sudden twist as she remembered the last time she'd heard him stammer like this. It had been the start of the worst month of her life...

Beth's senior year of college...

Beth took a sip of water and tried to keep herself from looking at her watch; she already knew what it would read as she had glanced at it only minutes earlier. Losing the battle, she stole a glance at her wrist.


Will was 32 minutes late. She sighed unhappily, listening to the clinking of glasses around her at the bar. She straightened her skirt and tried to look as though she was supposed to be sitting alone. Like she'd taken herself out to the bar. She was drawing circles with her finger on the table.

She'd been so excited for the evening that she'd been at the bar since 6:50. She hadn't seen Will in two months, and they'd been in a long-distance relationship for almost a year and a half. It was a few days before Thanksgiving, and they were both in D.C. for the holiday. She'd taken the train in from her parent's house, and Carla had offered to let the two of them stay at her apartment while she was gone for the weekend. This would be their weekend to reconnect, she'd told herself again and again.

Whenever she told anyone her relationship was long distance, it elicited looks of knowing sympathy, and to her chagrin, even comments about how relationships like that weren't meant to last. It was true that making their relationship work had been harder than she'd ever imagined. Loving Will was easy, and when they were together, everything was the same as it had been at Pemberley. But they were hardly together now...Will was busy with work. He'd received a new promotion, and with all the obstacles, it was becoming increasingly difficult for them to find time to be together. The time they spent apart seemed to be filled with fighting more than anything else. Little miscommunications via text turned into lengthy phone arguments. She found herself drained every time they talked on the phone, and she could feel that they were drifting apart. The stress of the distance, of his career, of her final year of school... it was almost too much. But it was temporary, she told herself, for the thousandth time.

She'd thought at first that Will was just running a little late. Perhaps the traffic was bad. But as more time passed, she realized it couldn't be traffic. Had he forgotten? Was he hurt? Her expectantly happy expression slowly slipped off as the time passed and was replaced by unhappiness and disappointment and worry.

She looked up in surprise as Will slid into his seat across from her.

"Hello," he said simply. He was slightly out of breath. She noticed he looked tired. He had the beginnings of dark circles under his eyes. She waited a moment for an explanation, but none seemed to be forthcoming. She looked off to the side and took a deep breath. She was angry.

"Where have you been?" she asked, desperately.

He winced. "I-I know. I…I'm sorry. I just…" He sighed, looking like he wanted to be anywhere other than here with her having this conversation. Will tiredly rubbed his temples. "Can we please not get into this now? I'm sorry I'm late. " Annoyance tinged the sound of his voice. She was used to this from their phone conversations, but it had never happened in person before.

She stared at him in disbelief. "When else are we supposed to talk about it? I don't ever get to see you."

"I-I know. I've been busy."

"I have too, but I still managed to make it on time."

He gave her an annoyed look from under his lashes. "It's-it's been a hectic couple of weeks for me. I-I don't have time anymore for…" he trailed off, looking down.

Beth froze. She tried to breathe normally, but the sudden weight on her chest made it hard. "Time for what? Time for us? Time for me?" When he didn't speak, she felt her eyes widen. "That is what you were going to say. You don't have time for me." The lump in her throat made it harder to speak. "But that's what a relationship is; it's making time for the other person."

"Maybe we shouldn't be in a relationship anymore. Maybe we-we should take a break," he stammered, not meeting her eyes.

Beth's jaw dropped open. Whatever she'd expected, this wasn't it. Clenching her jaw shut, she narrowed her eyes. Whatever hurt or shock she felt was slowly being replaced by anger. He was breaking up with her? 'Well, fine,' she thought, bristling. If he wanted to break it off, well, fine.

"You know what? Fine. Fine." She hastily stood up. "This," she waved her hand back and forth between them. "It's over. We're over. Happy? You and your company can live happily ever after together," she said, sarcastically.

She waved off his protests and turned on her heels, quickly leaving the bar with as much dignity as possible. She stepped out into the cold night air and walked quickly down the street, drawing her coat closer about her. Whatever anger she had felt was slowly burning away, and she could feel the horrible dread and panic trying to rise up. The lump in her throat was threatening to dissolve into tears. It was still early enough to catch a train home, but then she'd have to talk to her parents about why she was home early and she wasn't ready for that. The cool November air was already stinging tears from her eyes and a long train ride home wouldn't help.

She ordered an Uber to Carla's, relieved beyond belief that one was just around the corner. She was somehow holding herself together, but only because she was in public and she didn't know how much longer she could keep it up.

She unlocked Carla's door and stepped inside, slumping against it. Her keys and purse fell from her limp hands. She felt like lying down on the floor and dying, but instead she slowly sat down on the floor. Had they really just broken up? She hadn't wanted that at all, but her temper had gotten the better of her. And if Will wanted to end things, what else was she supposed to do? She felt a small sob escape at the thought, and then it was like a dam breaking as a tumultuous wave of emotions ran through her at the thought of losing Will. This was not the ending she had predicted for the evening. This was a nightmare. She hadn't known anything could hurt so much. And she couldn't stop thinking about Will. He had been a huge part of her life. Everything concerning college and Pemberley was all wrapped up in her memories with him. She couldn't separate the two. They had been so happy in the beginning. It had been perfect. It had been amazing. She didn't know what had happened to them; she didn't know how it had gone so wrong. She only knew that she would never be quite the same without him.

Beth walked into her senior apartment at Pemberley the following week and her stomach sunk as she looked around; there was so much of Will's presence in her room. Over on the chair was a sweatshirt he'd left at some point, and on her desk was a framed picture of them. Everywhere she looked there was something that reminded her of him. They'd had one phone conversation, confirming the break up, and she hadn't heard from him again since that night.

Feeling a surge of tangled emotions, she grabbed an empty box from her closet and began piling everything that was remotely related to him into it. In went pictures, items of clothing, jewelry, and everything he had ever given her. But later that day, she found herself she smiling tiredly as an object in the box caught her eye. It was a framed picture of her and Will, which was taken earlier in the year by Marianne and once resided on her desk. They'd been in a thrift shop, and in the picture she was wearing an enormous pair of sunglasses while he wore an outrageous cowboy hat. She was laughing and looking up at him while he made a goofy face for the camera. Standing arm in arm, they looked so happy.

She wondered what had happened to them. 'His job happened,' she thought gloomily. He received a new promotion at the beginning of the year, and she had been busy with school. They'd both let other things get in the way of their relationship. She curled up on her bed, looking at the happy picture. 'God, I miss him,' she thought, tracing her finger over their outlines in the picture. She knew that if he'd called in that moment she would have gone back to him right then and there without a second thought.

She was completely exhausted. She didn't want to go to class. She didn't want to go anywhere near campus. That was where their relationship started. She couldn't be at Pemberley and not associate it with Will, even though he'd graduated.

She went through the motions in class, present physically but mentally adrift. Beth closed her eyes unhappily, wishing that she could think of something else besides him. She kept going through all the memories; their first kiss at Carla's, their second kiss in his room, their first night together... She tried to drive the thought away with a shake of her head. She couldn't think about sex, not while she was in class and not when she couldn't be with Will, because being with him was wonderful. She loved getting so caught up with him that she couldn't think straight. She loved being so close that she didn't know where he ended and she began. She pressed the palms of her hands against her eyes, trying to force back the images and feelings that were trying to overcome her. She concentrated fiercely on her text-book.

Everyone told her it would get easier with time, but after a month without talking to him, she didn't feel any better. She still thought about him constantly, and she still missed him with an ache that was almost physical.

She threw herself into her studies and spent nearly all her time working on homework. She was trying to go back to her routine from before they had been together, but something was so obviously missing. There was a void in her life that hadn't been there before, and no amount of studying or school work could fill it.

She wondered when it would get easier. She got up each day and carried on, but part of her still felt empty, even a month later. Today was no different as she blew absently on her mug of tea, sitting on a stool in the kitchen of her and Marianne's senior apartment. A magazine advertising athletic-wear had come in the mail and Beth flipped through it absently until there was a brief knock on the door. She padded over and undid the lock, expecting a Fedex package. But it was a different kind of ex entirely.

Her heart pounded painfully in her chest at the sight of Will. It was a weekday; how was he here? Why was he here? He hadn't texted her. Had he come for his things, she suddenly wondered with horror.

"Uh, come in," she said with confusion, too overwhelmed to say much more. He had on the gray zip up that she liked so much, and his hair was disheveled from the wind. His green eyes were running over her face and she felt herself blush in response. He was standing there only a few feet in front of her, and she had to fight the irrational urge to tackle him to the ground. Her body was going through extreme Will withdrawal. But she couldn't do that. They had broken up.

She didn't think she'd ever seen him look so tired. He looked like he needed a hug… No! she told herself sharply. Whatever reason he was here, she couldn't get her hopes inhaled sharply, fighting the sudden urge to cry. She tried to speak over the lump in her throat.

"Hi," she managed to croak, and even that sounded riddled with confusion.

"Hi Beth," he said, and the warm sound of his voice saying her name melted everything that had frozen and died since they'd broken up. They were standing less than a foot apart, and Beth was overwhelmed by his presence. She had missed him so much.

"I'm sorry to show up out of the blue like this, but I knew you didn't have class right now."

"It's okay," she said quietly, drinking in all of her facial features and watching his mouth. The silence was deep and intense between them.

"Are you thirsty?," she asked, when it all became too much for her and she had to look away. "I don't know what we have. Maybe iced tea. I can go check." She started toward the kitchen but stopped when he shook his head no. She stayed where she was, a few feet from him in front of the stairs. She figured the more distance between them the better.

He seemed to be of a different mind. In only a few strides he was there in front of her. Her hand was resting on the banister, and he placed his on top of hers.

Beth gulped and took a step back and up, now at his eye level.

"Beth," he started, in a tone that made her swallow hard. "I'm sorry. I mean that. I was wrong about us, and I made a huge mistake." His eyes were so green and she couldn't look away. "I haven't been able to concentrate. All day, I sit and think about you. I didn't even go to work today; I knew I had to come see you and see if I could make things right. I've regretted what I said that night, so much. I don't know what I was thinking. You mean so much more to me than anything else ever will."

Beth held her breath. She hadn't realized how much she'd missed those eyes until they were right there in front of her. As he spoke, she could feel the weight that had been crushing her finally lifting.

"I tried to call, but you wouldn't pick up…not that I blame you. But I had to come see if…" He swallowed and looked down. "I understand if you don't want to get back together, but I had to ask," he said in a low voice. He looked up. "Beth…"

Beth felt such a wave of relief that she had to fight to keep from breaking down into hysteric sobs. He wasn't there to pick up things he'd left. He wanted to make up!

She threw her arms around him and buried her face in his sweater.

"I forgive you," she said, relishing the feeling of being close to him again. His arms tightened around her almost painfully, and she heard him sigh in relief.

"I should have answered your calls. I was being stubborn," she muttered almost incoherently as he rained kisses over the back of her neck. He lifted his head and kissed her roughly, making up for weeks of total hell. She backed up, pulling him with her. He easily followed her lead, and they wasted no time making their way upstairs to her room, as they had so many times before.

Snapping back to reality, Beth put her fork down; she'd suddenly lost her appetite. He wasn't breaking up with her, was he? He couldn't be breaking up with her. Things had been going so well. They weren't fighting. The relationship was the best it ever had been. Breaking up had been bad enough the first time. It was four years later now, and she didn't think she could handle it if he did. It would be like total annihilation.

Perhaps she was overreacting. She might be reading too much into the situation. Perhaps he was nervous for some other, totally inexplicable reason…

"Will," she croaked. Her voice was half-strangled. "What's going on?"

Will looked up, surprised. He opened his mouth to speak and then shut it again. He swallowed before finally managing to speak. "I was going to wait until after dinner to do this, but I guess now is as good a time as any. I've-I've been thinking about-about us lately," he said unsteadily, avoiding her eyes.

Beth felt her stomach lurch horribly. He was breaking up with her.

"We've been together for a long time now, and it's hard because I feel like we never see each other anymore. The drive between my apartment and your condo is just…it's horrible. I hate driving it. And you're over here all the time anyway…"

She wondered if he was drawing it out on purpose. If he was going to prolong it to try to make it easier for her, she couldn't take it. She cut him off. "Will, if you're breaking up with me, just say it already."

Will froze, mid sentence, with a look of complete astonishment on his face. "Break… ... I'm not—I wasn't…"He shook his head and seemed to really see her for the first time that night. "I wasn't breaking up with you. Do you want to break up?" he asked, furrowing his brow.

"No! I was…" she trailed off. "You were stammering and fidgeting, and the only other time I've seen you do that you were breaking up with me, so I thought…" She shrugged, nearly laughing in relief. "If you weren't breaking up with me, then what were you doing?"

Will half-groaned and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I—I was trying to ask you to marry me," he said softly.

"Are you joking?" she asked quietly, eyes wide as saucers. He laughed then, really laughed, and Beth didn't quite know what to do, but his smile pulled her own lips up into a bewildered grin.

"No. I'm not joking." And with that he pushed his chair back from the table and walked over slowly with his hands in his pockets. "I suppose I should have just done it the right way from the beginning..."

Beth stared at him, speechless for a moment and then scooted back as well. She didn't think she could get up. She was having trouble forming a sentence as he got down on one knee before her. She inhaled sharply and clamped both hands over her mouth.

"Oh god," she said, catching sight of the ring. Definitely not joking. Her heart was beating painfully in her chest, but she couldn't keep the huge grin off her face.

Will was smiling, too. "Beth, I love you." He no longer seemed nervous. "Will you marry me?"

Beth blinked, sat for a moment in complete shock and then vaulted off her chair, throwing her arms around him. They collided with such force that they both fell backwards into a heap on the floor.

"Yes! Yes! Yes," she said excitedly, raining him with kisses. "You're so stupid. Why did you act like that in the beginning? You made me so nervous!"

"I was nervous too!" he protested laughingly, while slipping the ring onto her hand.

He rolled them over so that he was on top and settled between her legs. His mouth was warm on her throat, and he was already nimbly undoing the first buttons of her shirt.

"Hey, Mr. Happy Hands," she said, laughingly scolding him. "Dinner..." she trailed off. The hands under her shirt were so distracting.

He let out a low, amused laugh. When he spoke, his mouth near her ear made her shiver. "I have a microwave you know. We can always reheat this stuff later."

She smirked, and running a hand through his hair, she drew his mouth down to hers.

Much later that night, Beth sat atop the counter top in the kitchen eating some reheated pasta. Having never quite lost her propensity for wearing his clothing, she wore the button down shirt he had occupied earlier that night. Swinging her feet, she looked at Will lounging next to her in his boxers.

"I don't know who's going to be my maid of honor. Jane is already married," she said, continuing the conversation they'd been having. "Do you think your sister would do it?"

Will smiled happily. "I think Anna would love to be your maid of honor. She was very excited to help pick out the ring."

Beth eyed him with sudden suspicion. "How long have you been planning to ask me?"

Will shrugged. "For a while. I bought the ring a couple months ago."

"Months ago!"

"I had to wait until I had my proposal perfectly prepared. Couldn't you tell?" he asked, and they both laughed at the memory of his botched speech.

"Do you know what I love most about you right now?" she teased playfully a few minutes later, leaning into him.

He chewed, for a moment, pretending to think. "That I am a bona fide sex god?" he quipped.

Beth laughed and shook her head. "Not what I was thinking. What I love most is that you're filthy rich." She held up her left hand and waggled her fingers as he groaned and then smiled ruefully.

"It figures."

"Do you see this ring? Look how pretty it is." She held it up to her face for closer inspection. It only got better. The big, beautiful, shiny diamond and the gorgeous platinum band were the definition of perfection for Beth.

Will snorted. "I take it you like the ring."

Beth nodded enthusiastically, trying and failing to suppress her grin.

"And I suppose it's the only reason you said yes?" he continued.

Beth slowly shook her head no and drew him closer. "No. I said yes for a different reason…" She walked her fingers up his chest before throwing her arms around his neck.

"Because I'm a sex god?" he asked again.

She laughed and buried her face in the crook of his neck. "Yes. That's it."

"Good. I'm glad our relationship has such a firm basis."

"Will," she added in a more serious tone as she looked up at him. "All joking aside, I really do love you."

Will nodded and smiled happily down at her. "I know. I love you, too."

After so many years of saying it, the effect of those words still hadn't worn off. He still made her toes curl in delight. She looked down to their entwined hands, smiling as the ring glinted in the dim kitchen light. She knew that this was how she wanted to spend the rest of her life. Sitting in a kitchen eating reheated pasta at 11:00 at night with the one person she truly loved seemed like a pretty perfect picture to her. She was exactly where she belonged.

The End.

1/26/21: I still read all the new reviews that come in for this story and appreciate them more than I can say! Thanks for taking the time to read! Let me know what you think :)