And now, in honor of Valentine's Day, a little something of which I own NOTHING- only the plot. To those of yall in a relationship, may tomorrow be a happy day for you. To those of yall not in a relationship, like myslef, then HAPPY SINGLE'S AWARNESS DAY! Thank you all so much for all the reviews. They've truely been amazing. It was almost like one of my literature in college where the professor stopped talking and the students carried the class with their discussions. There were always those that loved the story, and always those who had negative things to say about the story. I was overwhelmed that this story prompted that kind of discussions. I never would have expected it. Thank you so much!
A very special thank you to Anna. You've been my sounding board off which I could toss ideas. You told me when you didn't think something worked. You were my proofreader. You've been my encourager. THANK YOU!
With all that said... I hope yall enjoy!
One month. That was how much time had passed since Ashley and Scott's wedding. That was how long it had been since Zac and Vanessa's long awaited reunion. The two of them had spent all night following the wedding and pretty much all of the next day making up for the past month and a half that they had been separated. With no business obligations for either of them following the wedding until July when Zac had the premiere for his next movie, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud, all they really wanted to do was spend time together.
They finally made their way out of bed around 11:00 the next morning, showered- together, of course- got dressed, and made their way down to the kitchen, where they made a picnic lunch. Packing up the car with the basket and blankets, the two drove to a park nearby and enjoyed the sunshine and each other, with none of the paparazzi nearby to witness it- something the two of them were not used to- and they planned to take full advantage of it.
Within the month that had passed, they spent a lot of time talking through all the issues they encountered, which led to their time apart. Vanessa sat down in front of the computer one afternoon with Zac nearby and was finally able to look at the Johnson Mill on the internet. Needless to say, she fell in love with the place and couldn't wait until their week long reservations.
"Zac, this place is beautiful!" she gushed while looking at the resort one afternoon.
"That was my first reaction," he admitted, almost shyly.
"And you say that no paparazzi will be there?" she asked him as he nodded. Vanessa placed her hands on either side of his face, forcing him to look her in the eyes before continuing. "You promise?" He simply kissed her before he answered.
"Baby, I rented out the whole place for the week that we'll be there. It'll be just you and me, and the staff. Bart promised me that if he doesn't sign their paycheck, they will be thrown out on their ass and their camera will be broken by him personally, after he takes the memory card out and makes sure all the pictures of us are deleted. I promise you there will be no one there."
"What should I be wearing?" she asked, as she turned back to the pictures on the computer screen.
"When, while we're there?" When she nodded, still engrossed in the pictures, he continued. "Well, there's the lake, the hiking trails, the horses for riding, the waterfall, the bed. I'd say nothing."
"That's not what I mean! I mean, when you propose, what should I be wearing? Will it be at the lake, while horse-back riding, while-"
"I'm not telling you when I'm doing it! It's bad enough that you know where. 'When' is the only secret I have left. Let me have my secrets, woman!"
"Fine," she said with a giggle. "But how will I know what all I should pack? I mean, are we going out or anything, or just staying there the whole time?"
"Your mom and Stella will help you with the packing. You just relax and be comfortable in your knowledge that when we come back from Utah, you will have to start planning our wedding."
So now here they sat, two weeks later, at the airport waiting to board the private jet that will take them to Midway, Utah, for their private, romantic getaway. Vanessa was absolutely excited, not just because she knew she was getting engaged within the next few days, but because she and Zac didn't get away completely alone often. They both had been so busy lately and needed this time together, just the two of them.
When the couple pulled up in the taxi they found at the airport, which Vanessa didn't understand why they didn't just rent a car of their own ("We're doing everything normal while we're here. We're not famous, just two people here on vacation," was his simple response when she asked him about it), she just looked at the scene out the window on her side of the car and couldn't help the way her breath caught in her throat as she took in the picture before her.
"Zac!" she exclaimed.
"It looks so much better than the pictures on the internet, doesn't it?" he asked, with his own hint of amazement in his voice, as he leaned forward and watched her shiver as his breath tickled her neck, as he followed his words with a kiss to her secret special spot that he had discovered long ago.
"This is beautiful!" she told him as she turned her face slightly to meet his lips with her own for a brief kiss.
When they had their luggage out of the trunk and the taxi drove off after having been paid, they made their way inside and immediately spotted Bart waiting for them at the front desk.
"Zac, Vanessa! Over here!" he called out to the young lovers. They made their way over to where he was standing. He came around the desk to greet them, as Vanessa ran forward giving him a big hug as he picked her up and gave her a small twirl as she let out a squel. He then took Zac's hand gave it a firm shake. "How are you, Vanessa? I heard you've had a busy couple of months here lately."
"Busy and lonely," she said, giving Zac a pointed look. "But it's all good now. I'm doing great. How are you? How're Robyn and the kids?"
The three old friends spent a few minutes catching up before Bart told them about the amenities that he offered at his inn.
"Let me show you around the place and each of the rooms. You two can have your pick of any of them."
They walked around the grounds, with Bart showing them about everything they would need to know about the week, before making their way back to the desk.
After Zac had filled out all the required paperwork, Bart then handed him the key to the Waterfall Room. Once the younger actors were settled in their room of choice, they then decided to have a walk around the resort on their own. They visited the lake, saw the waterfall, and walked through the gardens, before Vanessa mentioned that she was hungry. They made their way back to the main house and to the dining room.
After dinner, they went back to the room to relax, only for Vanessa to be surprised by soft lighting and romantic music playing in the background. She spotted a bottle of sparkling cider chilling in a bucket of ice on the table and a bowl containing a dozen chocolate covered strawberries sitting next to it. Rose petals were sprinkled across the bed, just waiting for Zac and Vanessa to find themselves in the throws of passion. They enjoyed just being together, sharing soft kisses and whispering sweet nothings to each other, while they danced, drank their bottle of cider, ate their strawberries, and made love well into the wee hours of the morning.
The next morning, the young couple awoke to a knocking at the door. Zac reluctantly got out of bed, after giving Vanessa a kiss and telling her to wait and he'd be right back, and found a pair of shorts to throw on and went to answer the door. When he opened it, there wasn't anyone there, just a rolling cart with covered trays and a note. He picked up the note and read it. Smiling, he called for Vanessa.
"Hey, Van, come here!"
"Who was at the door?" she asked groggily, while wrapping a robe around her tiny body.
"No one, but look at this," he said, opening the door wider so she could see out into the hall. When she came closer, she took the note that Zac was holding out to her, seeing the cart for the first time.
"Wow," she said, opening the note to read it out loud, while Zac was busy taking the lids off the trays. "'Dear Zac and Vanessa, Welcome to Johnson Mill! We're so excited to have you both here and promise to stay out of your hair as much as possible. We understand that this is an important vacation for you two and hope to make everything as memorable as possible. If there is anything we can do for you while you're here, please don't hesitate to ask. We will be more than happy to comply with your wishes. Sincerely, the Johnson Mill staff'. Holy cow! Zac, can you believe this?" she asked.
"Well, Bart did tell me that he'd make this the most perfect, most peaceful vacation we've ever had. Check this out!" he told her, gesturing to the cart and it's contents. Omelets, muffins, Danishes, fresh fruit, orange juice, and coffee, all rested on the cart waiting to be consumed by the young lovers.
"Is Bart trying to make us fat?" she joked, as she grabbed a grape and stuffed it in her mouth.
"Well, if you gain some weight while we're here, I can think of some ways to help you work it all off," he whispered in her ear before kissing it.
"Save it for later, Efron. I'm hungry!" she told him, as she playfully pushed him away and picked up a plate. Glancing at him out of the corner of her eye, she saw his pout and leaned over offering him her lips. He quickly accepted her offer of a kiss. When she pulled away, she told him "Quit pouting. You're the reason why I'm so hungry, causing me to work up such an appetite." He gave her a smirk as she continued to fill her plate with breakfast goodies.
After showering and getting dressed, they went back out and rented a paddle boat, taking it for a leisurely trip around the five acre lake, and then went back to the main house for a quick, yet filling, lunch. They went back to the lake with some bread, which they managed to get from the kitchen, and spent an hour or so feeding the ducks and geese that were swimming around. After that, the couple decided to take a horseback ride down the south slope of Tate Creek Canyon. Bart had told them about this area, which was a secluded mountain meadow only accessible via wagon trail used by early settlers, and suggested they try it out, so they decided to do so and visit Soldier Hollow. While they were there, they opted for the optional chuck wagon dinner before returning to the resort.
When they arrived at the room this time, Vanessa was surprised to find that, once again, the lights had been dimmed, soft was music playing in the background, and two massage tables were set up with two masseuses standing beside them.
"You never cease to amaze me," she told Zac, as she turned to wrap her arms around his neck and give him a gentle kiss on his lips.
"I didn't do this," he told her, giving her another kiss.
"You didn't?" she asked shocked, pulling back to look in his eyes.
"No," he admitted.
"Mr. Efron, Ms. Hudgens, we were sent here at the request of Mr. Johnson," one of the masseuses told them.
"Wow," Vanessa said in awe. "Really?"
"Yes, ma'am. Now we can give you two some time to get settled on the tables, or we can leave and-"
"No!" Vanessa exclaimed, and then suddenly blushed at the forwardness she had exhibited. "I'm sorry. What I meant was, please stay. Just give us just a moment?"
"Of course," he replied and the two masseuses stepped into the other room after giving instructions about laying on the table with their faces in the hole at the top and how to cover with the blanket that was provided, and that they would check on them before coming back in the room. Once they were gone, Vanessa turned to Zac.
"Are you okay with this?" she asked him.
"You mean with the fact that there are two guys, one waiting to massage me and one waiting to massage my girlfriend?" he asked her uncertainly.
"Yeah. I know I reacted before we talked about it, but I thought after the horse back riding and all that we did today, we could use a little loosening up for later," she said seductively, as she came closer to him and ran a finger down his chest.
"Babe, when you look at me like that and talk to me in that voice, I can tell you that I am 100% certain of my masculinity and have no problems at all having a man massage me. Now, get undressed and get on the table so we can get this show on the road. I'm ready for it to be over so we can 'relax'."
"You mean, so we can have sex, right?" she asked him in a knowing voice.
"Well, if you want to. I mean-"
"Zac!" she exclaimed, hitting him in the chest playfully, before laughing and rolling her eyes. Zac just chuckled at her reaction, and there was no more talking as they undressed and climbed on their tables, and covered themselves with the blanket. They basked in the feel of their couples' massage, and spent time together in the jetted bathtub afterwards before taking their time together into the bedroom and the massive bed that awaited them.
The next morning, breakfast was not waiting. Instead, the two had to get dressed and go down to the dining room for breakfast, which was okay by them. Especially for Zac, since he was able to use the excuse of going to the restroom to sneak away from the table to speak with Bart about the last minute preparations for the day.
"So it's all ready?"
"Ready whenever you are. Just give me a signal and I'll make sure the champagne is on ice and the basket is set as well."
"Sweet. Thanks, man," he said leaning in to give his on-screen dad a hug.
"Anything for you two. You know that," Bart told him, returning the hug with a manly pat on the back. "Now get back to her before she gets suspicious."
Zac walked back to the table, sneaking up behind Vanessa and startling her.
"Miss me?" he asked with a chuckle, as she jumped, placing her hand over her heart.
"Of course I did," she finished the infamous line from their second movie together for him with a smirk.
Once he sat back down, the two of them continued their breakfast. Vanessa sipped on her mimosa, laughing, while Zac was telling her a story about something that had happened to him and Corbin during their time apart. It of course wasn't humorous at the time, but to retell it now, it really was quite funny and the two enjoyed the laugh that they shared on their friend's behalf.
"Poor Corbin? I'm the one that the stupid raccoon was after! What about 'poor Zac'?!"
"I'm sorry, Baby, but you were able to outrun him. Corbin had fallen and hurt his ankle. Unless you made up that part of the story and it was really you who had fallen and hurt your ankle?" she asked, taking another sip of her drink to hide her smile as he threw his napkin at her.
When they finished eating, Vanessa excused herself to use the restroom and Zac made his way to the lobby area to wait on her. He caught Bart's eye and gave a small nod letting him know that they were ready. Bart nodded and smiled in return and picked up the phone, speaking to someone on the other end, letting the person know that his guests were ready and to make sure everything on his end was ready as well.
He watched as Vanessa returned and wrapped her arms around Zac's middle and back, connecting them on his right side. He watched as his young co-stars spoke to each other in quiet tones and saw the love that the two of them shared. When Zac pulled Vanessa closer in, Bart caught Zac's eye over Vanessa's shoulder and gave him a small wink, which Zac returned with a wave of his hand while the two of them walked out the door and headed to the field off the east side of the property. He was happy that he was able to have a hand in their future.
As the two of them rounded the corner and headed to their destination, Vanessa was surprised to see a large hot air balloon sitting there.
"Wow!" Zac exclaimed.
"Did you not know about this?" she asked.
"No, I knew about the hot air balloon, but I didn't know it'd be so-"
"Massive?" she finished for him.
"Yeah! Let's go check it out."
"But Zac, is it for us?" she asked uncertainly.
"Yeah, it is," he told her with a smile. "Now, come on." He held his hand out to her and led her to the balloon waiting for them. As they climbed in with the help of the pilot, the two of them noticed the picnic basket waiting for them in the center of the gondola. Vanessa approached the basket and went to open it and look inside, only to be stopped by Zac.
"Hey, why don't we wait until we get in the air to open the basket?"
"Um, okay, but does it really matter?" she asked.
"Well, no, but I don't want to ruin whatever kind of surprise Bart may have set up for us," he told her, trying to cover the nerves he was feeling. When he saw Vanessa shrug her shoulders and walk away from the basket and back over beside him, he breathed a sigh of relief and wrapped his arms around her.
"Mr. Efron, Ms. Hudgens, my name is Eli and I'll be you're pilot this morning. The ride will last approximately an hour and we'll be flying over the Herber Valley, making a stop in the valley itself for a picnic lunch, packed by Mr. Johnson himself just for the two of you, and about an hour back. Do you two have any questions for me?"
"No, sir, thank you. And I'm Zac, by the way, this is Vanessa."
"Nice to meet you, Eli," Vanessa told him, holding her hand out to shake his.
"I would mention that my daughters are huge fans, but I'm sure you've heard all that before, so I won't." The three of them shared a laugh and Eli continued. "Are we ready?" When Zac and Vanessa nodded, Eli moved to the burner and took his position, taking the time for the last minute preparations it took to lift the balloon off the ground.
Once they were in the air, Zac and Vanessa stood at the edge of the gondola, looking over at the scene below them, Zac standing behind Vanessa with his arms resting on either side of her on the side of the gondola. The two of them enjoyed the ride, sharing kisses along the way. Before they knew it, they were descending for their lunch. They looked down at the ground around them before touching down and noticed a blanket spread out, waiting for them.
"Bart really thought of everything, didn't he?" Vanessa asked in disbelief.
"Actually, this picnic was my idea, but Bart did get everything together for me. I don't have a clue what's in the basket."
As they sat down on the blanket, Vanessa quickly reached for the picnic basket and opened it, finding a bottle of champagne inside. She gasped as she pulled it out, showing it to Zac.
"Wow! Zac, look!"
"Yeah, I knew that was in there," Zac said. As she kept pulling things out of the basket, she failed to notice as Zac wiped his sweaty palms on his pants. She opened containers to reveal all the food choices as Zac proceeded to open the bottle of champagne. The cork came off with a loud pop! and the two lovers jumped back and laughed as the liquid came oozing over the side of the bottle. As Zac poured the alcoholic beverage into the glasses provided, Vanessa continued to dish the food onto the plates.
Once they were done eating Vanessa laid on her back on the blanket, looking up at Zac as he laid beside her, resting on his elbow and looking down at her. She raised her hand up to stroke his cheek and smiled.
"What are you thinking?" she asked him.
"How happy I am right now, being here with you. It's been just the two of us for the past few days, with no interruptions."
"I know," she said smiling. "It's been perfect. Thank you for this trip, Zac. I've had a great time. We needed this."
"We did need this. I'm glad you've enjoyed yourself." He took her hand in his and kissed the back of it before intertwining their fingers. He waited until he saw her take a deep breath, breathing in the fresh air, and close her eyes before he sat up to reach in the picnic basket. When he found what he was looking for, he let go of her hand, causing her to open her eyes in surprise.
"Zac? Are you okay?" she asked curiously.
"I will be in a few minutes," he told her. When she picked up on the seriousness in his voice, she instantly sat up facing him and noticed for the first time that he was nervously fiddling with something while looking down at his hands. He took a deep breath before looking up in her eyes and continued.
"Van, I love you. I've loved you from the first note we sang together. The times that we spend apart just solidifies that feeling for me. I never thought I'd find someone as special, as beautiful, as sexy, as- as intoxicating- as you and I hope that I never have to find out what it's like to not be with you." He paused to look down at their hands, joined together as he held both of hers in one of his as he still fiddled with the item in his other hand, and licked his lips and swallowed to moisten his dry throat. Looking back up into her intoxicating chocolate brown eyes, he noticed as she tried to blink back the tears that had instantly appeared. Taking another breath, he continued.
"The month that we were not speaking and were separated physically, I felt like I had this hole in my heart, like my whole world was falling apart around me and there was nothing I could do about it." He paused to take another calming breath, looking down at their hands once again. Vanessa pulled one of her hands from his and reached up to stroke his cheek. Feeling her calming gesture, he looked up and continued.
"Van, I can't wait to raise our children together. I can't wait to grow old with you. I want to be there when our hair starts to turn gray. I want to be the one holding your hand when our skin starts to wrinkle. I want to be the one who's sitting beside you nervously in the waiting room at the hospital when our grandbabies are born." He paused when he heard her sniffle. Giving her a small smile, he continued.
"The point is that I want to be with you everyday for the rest of our lives. I don't want a day to go by without you there with me."
He then felt his own tears start to form and didn't even stop to realize that there was a possibility that she could say no. He didn't let that thought enter his mind as he continued.
"With that being said, I have one more thing to add." At that moment, he got up on one knee and opened the box, holding it out for her to see to exquisite diamond ring that he had purchased while in Vancouver the previous summer. He heard as her breathing stopped and she pulled both of her hands out of his and brought them to cover her mouth. He took a deep breath himself before finishing his thought. "Vanessa Anne Hudgens, will you marry me and be not only my wife, but my partner in life for the rest of the days that God will let you have me?"
She struggled to maintain her tears, but found herself failing miserably. Unable to find her voice for the moment, she nodded her head vigorously and pulled her hands from in front of her mouth and threw them around his neck. Finally, she was able to speak and get out a tiny, whispered "Yes". Zac immediately gave her a loving, gentle kiss and managed to get her left hand from around his neck so he could slide the ring on, only to pause with the diamond halfway on.
Feeling his hesitation, she looked down to see why he stopped. Noticing the blue topaz ring on her finger, the newly engaged couple laughed and Zac pulled the diamond back off so she could take off the blue topaz. Taking it from her, he finally pushed the diamond ring all the way on her finger. When she felt the added weight to her hand, she pulled back so she could look at the ring again.
"Oh, my God," she whispered. "It's beautiful."
"When we get back home, we'll take your blue topaz and get it sized for another finger if you like," he told her as he put the blue topaz ring in the ring box that just a few moments before had been home to the diamond ring that now sat on her finger. She nodded, not really hearing what he said as she was still mesmerized by the new ring adorning her finger.
"This is really happening, isn't it? I'm not dreaming?" she asked him. When she looked up, she noticed the huge smile on his face and the tears coming from his own eyes.
"Yeah, Baby, it's really happening!" he said, as he leaned in to give her a passionate kiss. She placed both her hands on either side of his face, as if holding him there, and deepened the kiss. She pulled away from the kiss before he was ready, however.
"Wait, there's just one thing I want to do," she said jumping up off the blanket. Grabbing his hand in hers, she pulled him up to his feet and led him back to the hot air balloon. As they started climbing back in, he finally asked her the question that had been on his mind ever since she pulled him up.
"Van, what are we doing?"
"You'll see, come on! Eli, take us back up!"
"Yes, ma'am." Once they were back up in the air, Vanessa rushed back to the side of the basket.
"There's something I've wanted to do for a while now," she said, turning over her shoulder to look at Eli and her new fiancé.
"What's that?" Zac asked nervously, almost afraid of her answer.
"This," she turned back around to look over the edge of the basket with a huge grin on her face. She cleared her throat before speaking again.
"I'M ENGAGED TO ZAC EFRON!" she yelled out to whoever could hear her down below. Zac appeared behind her shaking his head at his crazy fiancée's antics while Eli laughed. He took her by the shoulders and spun her around so she was facing him and placed his hands on her hips and leaned in, touching his forehead to hers.
"I love you, Vanessa Anne Hudgens," he said softly. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him down so his face was closer to hers.
"I love you, Zachary David Alexander Efron," she whispered in response, pressing their lips together once again.
When the young couple returned to the resort, they could hardly wait to get back to their room. The whole balloon ride back had been spent with kisses, gentle caresses, plans for their future, and trying to not let things go too far knowing that Eli was nearby. As they walked in the front door, Bart looked up from the computer at the front desk and noticed them.
"Hey, you two! How was the ball-" he called out. "Okay. I guess they have other things on their mind," he smiled to himself when they just kept walking past the desk to the stairs that would lead them to the room. Once they were out of Bart's sight, Zac leaned in to kiss Vanessa once again. The two struggled to make it down the hall. The only reason they made it to the room without getting too badly injured as they bumped into the walls along the way was because Zac managed to somehow find some sort of reserve. He knew in the back of his mind that even though they were the only two guests, there was still the staff and he wasn't really ready to give a show to anyone.
As they approached the door to their room, Zac reached in his pocket to get the key. Vanessa however, was only making the task more difficult as she kept pressing soft kisses to his neck, moving up to his jaw line, finally taking his earlobe in her mouth and gently sucking. Her hands were all over his fully clothed body. As she brought her lips back to his and swept her tongue into his mouth, beginning the familiar battle with his, he struggled to place the key in the key hole. He pulled back just enough to let her know his thoughts on their current actions.
"Babe, as much as I love what you're doing to me-" he stopped talking and she heard his sharp intake of breath. She smiled as her hand grazed across the front of his jeans, pausing in the middle to make sure he knew exactly what plans she had for the rest of their day. He then took her hand in his and took the lead himself, turning her around so he could push her against the still closed door, and attacked her neck with his mouth. This time it was her who drew in a sharp breath.
He stopped just long enough to answer her. "Yes, Baby?"
"You need to get that door open now!" she demanded as he continued his pursuit of the column of her neck, nipping and suckling on her sweet spot, causing her to go weak in the knees. She reached up and grabbed onto the front of his shirt, holding him in place. Her heavy breathing turned into quiet pants and moans as he finally managed to get the key in the door and pushed it open. The two of them fell into the open room and Zac proceeded to push the door closed with his foot as he reached out and picked Vanessa up bridal style in his arms, carrying her into the bedroom and gently placing her down, never once breaking the kiss while he walked.
She reached up to bring him down with her, meeting his lips halfway with her own. After a moment, she began the task of unbuttoning his shirt and pushed it off his shoulders, tossing it to the floor. He then reached down to the hem of her shirt and pushed it up, bringing his hand up further on her skin, sending sparks all over her body wherever he touched. She broke the kiss and leaned her head up just enough so he could pull the shirt over her head, tossing it so it landed on the floor with his. Before long, the two young lovers were fully undressed and found themselves on the threshold of the passion that they were no strangers to, celebrating their love and the future that they now knew finally belonged them… Forever.