Welcome to the epilogue.
"Soooo…when's the wedding?"
Six months after leaving New York, Eli and Clare had an apartment together. They lived together, went to school together, they even worked together because Eli introduced Clare to his boss who was quickly impressed with Clare's oozing intelligence and the fact that Clare also gushed about loving writing and editing. So with every aspect of their lives the same, they just practically became one.
They were at Bullfrog and Cece's 25th wedding anniversary celebration, seeing as 25 years was a very long time and since they were as in love as they had been when they got married, it definitely called for celebration.
Bullfrog was sitting with Eli at a table outside while they watched their ladies conversing at the foods table. Bullfrog, the nosy dad that he is, was inquiring Eli about his relationship with Clare. Eli confessed to them that he and Clare were only pretending that time at Eli's cousin's wedding and at first no one believed them. But Clare, who was not present when Eli confessed, confirmed it and everyone felt bamboozled. But then Eli and Clare confessed that they were definitely dating this time around and all was forgiven.
But now Bullfrog kept pestering Eli. "This girl that you're dating. She's smart, she's witty, she's beautiful, she's willing to put up with all of your crap. You better propose to her soon or someone will snatch her away from you," Bullfrog advised.
Eli rolled his eyes. "I agree with everything you said other than the whole someone snatching her away from me. She's mine and I'm hers, she knows that and neither of us would ever look at another person ever again."
"Fine, fine," Bullfrog sighed defeated. "But I'm just saying. Make it official soon. I know Cece's dying to throw a wedding."
"I know," Eli replied annoyed. "When Clare and I told everyone officially, Mom kept calling me asking when I was gonna propose. She even left a voicemail at our place and Clare heard it. Now I think Clare's waiting for it."
"And she should be!" Bullfrog exclaimed loudly. Everyone looked at him. "Go about your business, just having a father-son talk." Bullfrog made a hand gesture to everyone which made them go back to whatever they were doing and he leaned over from his chair and looked at Eli. "At this point in your life Eli, when you're in a relationship you have two options. One, you break up. The other is you get married."
"I want to get married to Clare," Eli admitted happily. "It's just…the proposing, I haven't found the perfect ring or the perfect timing."
Bullfrog lit up immediately. He got up from his chair and said, "I'll be right back."
Soon Eli was sitting alone beside a tree as the anniversary party went on around him. The Goldsworthy house and backyard was decorated nicely and all of their family was there. It was a small occasion, nothing like the wedding Eli's cousin threw, but it was definitely a soiree.
Suddenly Clare was sitting in Eli's lap sideways with her arms wrapped around his neck. "What are you doing all alone?" she asked him cutely, pecking his lips.
"Bullfrog ditched me," Eli laughed. "He said he'd be right back. What's up with you and my mom being all chatty?"
"Nothing, she was just telling me about the joys of being married for 25 years now," Clare said. She said this while a smile was plastered on her face. "Your mom really loves your dad, you know. You're lucky to have parents who can still be in love despite so many years of being together."
Eli remembered that Clare's parents were divorced and have been for 2 or 3 years now and the relationship between them hadn't improved whatsoever. Clare even admitted that there hasn't been a time since that they had a normal family dinner because of the tension between her parents.
"I'm very lucky," Eli agreed. "Cece's an angel for putting up with Bullfrog's craziness for this long and the fact that they made a kid as messed up as I am. She's a saint."
Clare chuckled and leaned her head against Eli's shoulder. "You're not messed up Eli. A little…different, yes. Messed up? Absolutely not. But you're right. Cece's a saint."
"Not as much as you though, my little Saint Clare," Eli teased. He kissed Clare's forehead comfortingly and wrapped his arms around her body. "So, how are you liking this little Goldsworthy parties? Not as fantastic as the one Lucy and Bennett threw for their wedding but I'd say it's one of the best yet."
"I must say, the Goldsworthies are very good party throwers," Clare told him. "This looks absolutely beautiful. And the fact that your parents are celebrating such a milestone is great too. It's just so nice to be back here, have a great family vibe around, it's just…it feels like home."
Eli couldn't help but grin at the fact that Clare thought that being around his family was a feeling of home to her. She was so comfortable with his family, his family adored her just as much as he did, and it was a perfect match. Eli wanted to get married but he just could not find the perfect ring. Clare wasn't a material person but Eli knew that Clare wanted that fairy tale proposal and wedding and he just wasn't sure how to approach it. He had gone ring searching so many times with Adam and Alli and Valerie, and even Emilee who was now dating Mark, but he never had that moment when he looked at a ring and thought, "That one's it!" So he wasn't ready yet but he did know he was gonna do it as soon as he found a ring.
"Excuse me but I'd like to have a word with my son." Cece approached them with a cheerful expression on her face. Eli kissed Clare chastely and walked off with Cece, going into the house and he was dragged into their den where Bullfrog was also waiting.
"What's this about?" Eli asked curiously. His parents weren't very predictable and their surprises were often big and we wasn't really looking for a surprise right then.
"We have something to give you," Cece said. Bullfrog walked up to them and held out a small box to Eli. He took it from his father's hand and opened it.
The first thought in Eli's mind was, 'This one's it!' It was a modest sized ring, a small emerald was surrounded by tiny diamonds and a platinum band finished it off. Eli realized that the emerald was the exact color of his eyes. "What is this?" he asked astonished. "Where'd you get it?"
"I proposed to your mother with that exact ring," Bullfrog told Eli. Bullfrog wrapped an arm around Cece and pulled her to him. "26 years ago I found this ring and I knew that Cece's favorite color was green and I had to get it. We only started dating recently but when I saw that ring I knew I would propose to her with it. I knew I was gonna propose to her eventually and I think it's the ring that made her say yes."
Cece nudged Bullfrog in the side laughing. "The ring was an amazing addition but don't worry babe, I said yes because of you. But Eli, in all seriousness, when we had you I stopped wearing this ring and kept it safe so we would give it to you when you're ready to propose to the girl you'll be with for the rest of your life. That moment is now, Eli. When you're ready to propose to Clare, please use this ring."
"I cannot imagine ever getting a different ring for Clare," Eli said honestly. "It's so…beautiful. I seriously wonder…how Dad picked this out by himself."
Bullfrog pointed at a laughing Eli. "Hey, I'm saving you tons of money, remember that. If it wasn't for me you'd be having to spend three month's salary on an engagement ring that Clare deserves."
Eli held his hands up in defeat. "Okay, okay, I know. Thank you so much guys. Now I just have to figure out when I'll actually propose."
"Now," Cece suggested. "Well not right now but at the party!"
"But this is your guys' party, I don't want to make it about Clare and myself," Eli honestly said to his parents.
But Cece just shook her head. "We've had 25 years of celebration, Eli. I honestly can't remember what we did for last year's anniversary celebration. But now we'll just have another memory to add onto our 25th anniversary if our only son proposes to the love of his life."
Eli sighed and thought about it. He wanted to propose as quickly as possible and now that he had a ring, it was perfect. But was he really ready to do it right at this moment? "Of course I'm ready," Eli thought to himself. "It's Clare. I've been ready forever to officially make her mine."
"Okay," Eli breathed. "I'll do it soon."
"Yay!" Cece exclaimed happily. She tightly hugged her son and Bullfrog just messed up his hair and walked out of the room. Cece let go of Eli and looked at him. "Clare's really a wonderful woman, Eli. She is nothing short of perfect."
"I'm glad everyone else can see that too," Eli blushed. Cece kissed him on the cheek and walked out as well, leaving Eli with the ring and his thoughts. He tried to plan out what he would say in his mind and he stayed in the room for at least 10 minutes by himself, just wondering.
Then after a while he realized that Clare was probably where he was so he rushed outside. He searched for her and saw that Clare was talking to his cousins. The female cousins seemed to be very animated and Clare looked uncomfortable. Not that she didn't like them, it was just because their energy was intimidating.
As Eli approached them, the ring box firmly in his pocket, he could finally hear what it was they were talking about. "How did you guys become official? When? Why did you lie before?" they were asking all at once and Clare was getting flustered. So Eli took it upon himself to take Clare away from the pouncing group.
"Mind if I steal away my lovely girlfriend for a minute?" Eli asked his cousins. They all waved the couple away and Eli grabbed Clare's hand and the two walked to the other side of the backyard.
"They haven't changed," Clare commented with laughter. "Still as emotionally involved in our relationship like I remember."
"They will always be like that until someone else in the family finds their one true love." Eli and Clare reached the large tree in the backyard and Clare's back came in contact with it and Eli pressed her into the tree and leaned down to kiss her.
Clare wasn't really one for PDA but whenever Eli kissed her she forgot about everyone. Eli kept it sweet, keeping his hands at her waist and not devouring her as he'd like to. It was just as nice as it was their first day in New York. Like testing the waters but still passionate. Clare had her hands around Eli's jawline, one of her favorite parts of him, still not aware of the people around them. They hadn't had sex ever since their first night together and after one night of extreme making out, Clare made it clear that she wasn't ready to do it again and Eli promised to wait for her. Ever since then all of the kisses had meaning, nothing was ever rushed.
"Just propose to her already!"
Eli and Clare pulled away from each other quickly and Eli turned around to glare at his father, who was pointing at him. Eli gave Bullfrog a look and Bullfrog merely shrugged and said, "Time's a ticking, son!"
Eli turned back to Clare who was gazing at him in amazement. "You're gonna propose?"
"Well I wasn't planning on it right at this very second," Eli said loud enough for Bullfrog to hear him. "But yes, I was…I've been thinking about it and now is a good time as ever." Eli pulled out the black box and got down on one knee, taking Clare's left hand in between his own.
"Clare Diana Edwards, I promise to love you completely every single day of my life and be the husband that you deserve. Will you do me the honor in becoming my wife?" It wasn't what Eli had planned out in his mind that he would say but he liked what did come out of his mouth and waited for an answer. When Clare whispered "Yes" and he went to put the ring on her finger, the applause and cheering began when they kissed once more.
"My son's engaged!" Clare and Eli heard Cece shout and they both laughed into the kiss and just continued to kiss until Eli was pulled away. Cece hugged him tightly, almost crying into her son's shoulder. Eli comforted his mom and over Cece's shoulder saw Clare being pulled into one of Bullfrog's hugs. It made Eli laugh how tiny Clare was compared to his towering father. But he also smiled genuinely as Clare and Bullfrog had a special moment between them.
"Welcome to the family!" Cece told Clare and went to give her a hug as well.
Bullfrog patted Eli on the back, saying, "Good job kid."
"Thanks," Eli replied. He saw over Bullfrog's shoulder that his cousins were all shrieking and jumping over at the other side of the backyard, probably imagining his and Clare's wedding. He then imagined it himself but all he thought of was seeing Clare walk down the aisle in a white, beautiful, classic dress. He also saw a church in his vision, seeing as that was Clare's dream. But he figured that although he didn't believe in God, Clare's wishes would always come before his own personal values. Whatever she wanted for the wedding, she'd get it.
"Where'd you get this ring?" Clare asked curiously as the excitement over their engagement wound down with the guests.
"Cece and Bullfrog gave it to me and said that I should give it to the person I'm gonna spend the rest of my life with," Eli told her smirking. "It was Cece's engagement ring."
"Really?" Clare asked amazed, gazing at it once again. "It did a fantastic job predicting your eyes. They're the exact same color!"
"I thought so too but I think that one's more shiny and expensive," Eli joked, lifting Clare's hand to take another closer look at the beautiful ring.
"I love your eyes more but this ring…this ring is a good second," Clare joked back. Eli rolled his eyes and kissed Clare's knuckles as her hand was already near his lips. "I love you," Clare said to Eli whispering.
"I love you too," Eli whispered back. They shared another sweet kiss but pulled away before any of Eli's relatives could make a comment.
"So," Clare said with a deep breath back at the regular volume. "What should we do for our wedding?"
"Wellllll…." Eli's cousin and Cece showed up out of nowhere and began giving Clare and Eli suggestions on what they should do for their wedding. They heard yellow flowers, lots of classic decorations, and other different and wild suggestions and they listened the best they could. Once in a while Eli and Clare just looked at each other and smirked. They were more prepared for ideas than Eli and Clare were.
"How about green?" Clare heard one of them suggest and she immediately perked up.
"I think I think the green idea," she told them. Clare turned over to Eli. "What do you think?"
"Perfect, just anything but pink," Eli said honestly. When the party ended and everyone went home, Clare and Eli stayed back to held Cece and Bullfrog clean up but it turned out to be Eli and Bullfrog cleaning up while Cece and Clare made wedding plans. in the kitchen.
"An outdoor wedding would be great." Eli was turning a corner into the kitchen when he heard Clare's voice say that. Did she not want to get married in a church? She did say that before… Eli went into the kitchen and Clare and Cece looked up from Cece's magazines. "Hey," Clare said cheerfully. "What do you think about an outside wedding like Lucy's was?"
"Not in a church?" Eli asked curiously.
"You want to get married in a church?" Clare said confused.
Eli shook his head. "No but I figured you would."
"Eli, I know what you believe in and I am not going to force you into getting married in a place that you don't believe in. Besides, I think a church would make us want to invite tons of people so we can fill up the entire place but I'd like to keep the wedding intimate and small, just our close friends and family." Clare perfectly described Eli's dream wedding. Small, intimate, original.
"Have I ever told you that you're the most perfect woman ever?" Eli said, leaning down for a quick kiss.
"Yes but I do enjoy hearing it," Clare laughed. "Can't believe that we've been engaged for just a few hours and Cece and I have already figured out some crucial details. Wait…when do you want to get married?"
"If we could get everything set up for tomorrow, I'd marry you tomorrow," Eli replied honestly. "Whenever you desire, I'm there. Just as long as I get to say 'I do' when I'm asked if I want to be yours forever. But you know…sooner could be better."
Clare didn't realize the innuendo until she looked up and saw Eli wiggling his eyebrows. Cece took that as a cue to leave and she left the kitchen to find Bullfrog. Once Cece was gone, Clare was pulled into Eli's lap and he started kissing her earnestly.
"I can't wait to do this when we're married," Eli sighed and rested his forehead against Clare's.
"You do know that we can do more than just this when we're married right?" Clare asked this not meaning the sexual aspects of a marriage. She reminded Eli that they would be bound together forever through their marriage.
"Even when we're married, kissing you like this will make my heart race." Eli took Clare's hand and rested it on his chest, letting her feel his heart beating very fast. Clare dragged her hand up to Eli's neck, cupping it softly, and leaned in for another kiss.
"One more thing…" she said once she pulled away. "Do you think you'd want kids?"
Eli adjusted his posture in his seat, keeping Clare firmly in his lap. "I think the world is ready for another crazy Goldsworthy, don't you think?" he asked, smirking proudly. "I also think that when we have kids, they'll have the best eyes."
Clare thought about Eli's glowing green eyes and her own sea blue. "You're right," she agreed smiling. "No one will be able to resist them, eh? Wait, you said when! So you do want kids?"
"Of course Clare, I wouldn't pass up the chance to experience parenthood with you. You're gonna be a great mother," Eli said honestly.
"And you're gonna be a great dad," Clare smiled. "Imagine the stories we're gonna be telling them when they're older."
"Well we'll just leave out a lot of…other details," Eli laughed. He leaned into Clare once again, capturing her lips and ran his hand over Clare's shirt and slightly under it.
"Watch your hands Goldsworthy, I'm engaged now. My fiancé wouldn't approve," Clare winked as she showed off her engagement ring.
Eli grinned. "Your fiancé's a very lucky guy." The two smiled at each other once again, leaning in for another kiss.
AND IT'S OFFICIALLY OVER! Thanks for reading everyone. :) I'm definitely overwhelmed with the amount of reviews, readers, and support I've gained through this story. I hope that my next stories will continue to amaze you all.