"All of the colors fade into blue, beautiful blue fades into you. All of the colors fade into you, beautiful you.
I wanna set sail, like a sailor at sea, it's just you and me.
You are the ocean, the land of the free. Rolling along on your way to embrace me, resting in your shade of blue...
I have been waiting for you..." - Tyrone Wells "Shade of Blue"
The moment Gabriella let his nickname slip; Troy gripped the railing tightly just stopping him from making a break fro it. He wanted to run, run from this undeniably plummeting situation that was about to unravel. He couldn't breathe, just listening to the soft sound of Gabriella crunching through the frosted grass before he could sense her behind him. He could imagine how her arms were probably wrapped around herself, that wild black hair slowly whipping across her face and her big brown eyes probing the back of his head. Simply urging him to turn around.
"Why'd you run?" she asked quietly, her voice thick with emotion. Gabriella could feel the rapid beat of her heart in her throat, a flush to her face as she took in his physique. Her eyes took in the way his light scruff seemed to spill on to strong jaw and trail up into buzzed sides and lush hair on top. The last time she had dared to look at him, his 5 o'clock shadow wasn't prominent but it still ached for her hands to feel its scratchiness that she had always loved on him. Not Cole.
Troy sagged in his posture, resting weight on the railing and breathing in the cold air hoping for some clarity in his mind. Silence passed through them as the sun shined through mid winter branches and catching like on the frost that covered the ground.
"Look at me..." Gabriella whispered, unsure of her own voice. Seeing that Troy hadn't heard her or was still refusing, Gabriella threw her hands down to her side and took steps closer. "Fucking look at me!" she seethed. "Why the hell did you run away? What the fuck were you thinking!"
Troy's ears rang as she screamed at him, his body reacting in turning around and taking in the picture of beauty behind him. His mouth hung open as he first noticed the tears clinging to her long lashes and falling on to flush cheeks. Her eyes, though red, stood out the most. Her eyes pierced through him and gave him the shock of his life; what the hell had he left her with?
"How dare you leave your brother to explain things to me! Do you think I wanted to hear him say those things to me and then see the women he left me for?" Gabriella was so far gone in her anger she didn't notice Troy taking cautious steps towards her until her head tilted back to look up at him. "Why did you lie to me?" was the last thing that came out of her mouth before she was crushed in against Troy's body, his arms wrapped around her back and his head tucked into the crook of her neck.
Speechless couldn't describe what Gabriella was thinking, she had no words to string together what was happening but she accepted it. She wrapped her own arms around his shoulders, breathing in his sent and pushing up on her toes to be closer.
They stood together moments long letting the wind blow around them, shivers causing them to pull each other closer. Reluctantly Troy pulled back letting his lips linger by her throat before searching her face. He could tell she was stunned and confused as to what had just happened so he took the lead.
"I know hearing 'I'm sorry' is the last thing you want to hear right now and I'm guessing Cole told you pretty much everything but I just need you to know that I don't regret any of this." He brought his hands up to cup her face and softly stroke her cheeks with his thumbs. He refused to look away from her eyes even if that was all he wanted to do. Look anywhere else except that beautifully hurt expression in her eyes. "Yes, I regret hurting you and lying to you but I don't regret taking Cole's offer to marry you because it had to have been the best decision I have ever made."
Gabriella begged him to go on, hoping he would continue talking so she could wrapped some sense around her brain before she opened her mouth again. She hadn't moved, her arms now resting on his hips and her body still flush against his.
Troy hopped that her silence was a good sign and had taken notice that she hadn't pulled away from him before he continued. "I meant everything I said last night and this morning. Cole could never have loved you as much as I do right here, right now. And I know you love me too. I know you were testing her that night when you asked if I liked it when you ran your hands through my hair..."
Gabriella took in an amount of shock as she realized Troy knew she had tested him. That had been the breaking point for her that night after he had answered her questions. "Cole never liked it when I did that..." she said softly, a new light coming into her heart.
"And I'm guessing Cole never appreciated that little move you did, which is fucking ridiculous." Troy let out a light chuckle, which earned her a small smile from Gabriella.
"No, he told me he was ticklish there." she said looking back into his eyes. She paused before saying "What do I say now? What do I do with this?"
Troy looked at her with confusion. "What do you mean?"
Gabriella pulled back to look at Troy in full. She was being pulled in two different directions and simply wanted to go back to being ignorant. "How am I supposed to respond to all of this? Taking in this situation, I can either go on with you and pretend none of this is as fucked up as it actually is or leave and start over somewhere without possibly the love of my life?" Fresh tears started to fall as she started to wave her arms in the air. "What am I going to tell my family? What are YOU going to tell your family? How do I even start to explain that I dated one twin for two years and then got married to another for about 3 weeks!"
"I don't know the answer to that but what I do know is I don't care." Troy smiled tucking his hands into the pockets of his jacket. "All I care about is having you back. But as my own."
Gabriella looked taken aback. Why the hell did he have a smile on his face? This was FAR from being over! "What are you taking about?"
Troy kept his eye on her face as he pulled out a small velvet box from his pocket before walking up and kneeling down in front of her. He watched her eyes grow big and her hands jump to cover her mouth. He was smiling up at her but inside his heart was racing fast enough to give him a heart attack. His breathing started to labor but he pushed through taking deep intakes before continuing.
"Gabriella, I know I am certifiably crazy right now," He let out a laugh when she nodded with her hands still covering her mouth. "But I'm taking this one step at a time and all I know is that I need you in my life. Even if you disappear for two months after this, as long as I know you'll be coming back to me, I'll be a happy man."
Troy fumbled to take in breaths as he opened the box to pull out a small delicately woven band with a rose colored diamond stationed in the middle of a nesting of gold wiring. Trying to control his breathing, Troy looked up again. "This was my grandmother's promise ring from her first husband who died in the Vietnam War. We always called him Grandpa Jacky since my dad was named after him but when she passed away, she left Cole and I some stuff and I came out with this."
Rising to his full height, Troy reached out tentatively to take Gabriella's left hand and slip the wedding band Cole had given him and put it into his jean pocket. "I want to give this to you as a promise to you. A promise to no more lies, no more pretending, just you and me. I want to eventually marry you correctly but I know it will take a while to get to that point so I am asking you to trust me and take a chance because you are it for me. I believe whole heartedly in what I am doing right now." Troy waited, his breath becoming more and more shallow, the difficulty to take in air becoming harder and harder but he needed to see her reaction. His mind was swimming and his vision becoming blurred.
Gabriella stared at the ring Troy was holding out for her, her left hand still in his. Rationality be damned, the only this she was for sure on was that she did love him, Troy and couldn't see herself without him. Holding out her right hand, she smiled up at him, finality in her tone. "I love you too."
Troy felt a pressure in his chest lift as he left out a breath he didn't realize he was holding as he slipped the ring onto her right ring finger. He tired to calm himself as she took in the ring wrapping one arm around his waist.
The last thing Troy remembered was Gabriella leaning in before his vision cut out and his mind slipped into a crushing darkness.
I have no words but the most sincere apologies to those who have been waiting and will still read this. If I could make Zac Efron give everyone a big ass hug, I would.
ps. here's the ring I used: wanelo . com p/ 516113 / promise-valentine-ring-dreamy-romantic-gold-by-sparklethots