Thank you all for reading and for your comments - they mean a lot! :) Here is the final chapter . . .
Daniel mindlessly stared at the ceiling, trying to calm himself down. She was toying with his heart, playing with his emotions. Maybe it wasn't intentional, but it didn't make it any better. First she wanted him, then she left without a decent discussion about what happened between them. And then when he came here and said he wanted a chance to be with her, she fought him on it. And after inviting him to a party she left him on his own only to flirt with him on the way home. And now she was pissed because he wrote how he felt about her. Wasn't that his choice? He was the one who put his heart on the line for her to shatter it into miniscule pieces. Couldn't she see what this was doing to him?
Or maybe Betty was right. What the hell was he thinking, hoping she would see anything more in him than a friend with benefits? After all, the longest committed relationship he'd had in his life only lasted a few months – not that it was his fault, but it still didn't make for the best track record. That, and his impulsiveness in throwing himself in head-first and thinking later about the consequences.
But this time, he had thought it through – so much it had made his head hurt. He wasn't truly happy at MODE – not without Betty there. She had been his only motivation to succeed – other than to spite his father and Wilhelmina, that is. But that wasn't even worth it anymore. He needed a change . . . a job he truly wanted . . . where the woman he truly wanted was. The only problem was that she didn't want him – not enough to screw the freakin' media and take a risk on their relationship, anyway.
Maybe he should call Alexis . . . spend some time with her and DJ in Paris. It wouldn't be the same as having Betty in his life, but it would still be a fresh start . . . a start to get his mind off of her.
He felt his stomach growl. Lunch. That would give him time to mull things over a little more. He got up and opened the door when he heard a crunching sound under his feet. He looked down to find a crumpled piece of paper – a note from Betty. Lunch could wait.
Daniel finally reached the spot where she had asked him to meet her; apprehensive the entire way about what she wanted to tell him. That it was over, probably . . . that seeing him was too hard anymore and even their friendship couldn't withstand the awkwardness. He opened his mouth to let her know he was there, but she spoke first.
"I know it's not our bridge in New York, but I was hoping we could make it ours now that we're both here," Betty said, pensively looking out at the view of the Thames River as she leaned against the railing of the Tower Bridge.
"Are you sure you want that – me in your new life?" Daniel questioned, careful not to get his hopes up.
"Daniel, I'll always want you to be a part of my life – no matter what we are to each other," she assured him, turning toward him.
"So what are we, Betty?" he asked.
Betty took a shaky breath in and hesitated for a moment. The words she said next would impact the state of their future together and it scared the hell out of her. She took his hand, half for comfort and half in apology.
"I guess that's up to you – if you can forgive me for the way I treated you. I was so focused on the risks for both of us . . . how the media would react . . . and I didn't think you were that serious. I didn't want to be responsible for the fallout. I should have believed you. Deep down, I know you've changed. But quitting your job . . . moving here for me – it seemed so old-school Daniel that I was afraid to accept the truth – that all of this was real. I'm so sorry, Daniel. I never meant to hurt you," Betty apologized.
"It's okay," Daniel smiled and squeezed her hand. "I was probably a little too bold for you – showing up out of nowhere . . . telling you I quit my job because of you; it was a lot of pressure – especially when you'd just moved here yourself, and were still trying to find your footing. But I want you to know that I didn't come to this decision lightly. I honestly didn't feel like I belonged at MODE anymore. I've never had a chance to decide what I've wanted to do – it had already been decided for me when I was born. And I didn't want to lose you. So it only made sense for me to start over in the place where you were," he explained.
"Looking back, this is the sweetest, most incredible thing a guy's ever done for me. It's the kind of thing that only happens in fairytales, you know?" she shyly looked up at him.
"Well, I wasn't really going for that, but if you must, just call me Your Highness," he chuckled.
Betty shoved his chest, rolling her eyes.
Daniel playfully pulled her into his arms, causing her to giggle from his affection.
She rested her head on his chest, happy to simply have him back . . . laughing, joking . . . like it used to be.
"I love you," she grinned, surprised at how easily it rolled off her tongue.
"I know you do," he said, sighing in frustration, knowing she still meant it as a friend.
But as if Betty could read his mind, she clarified her words.
"No, Daniel. I mean it – I'm crazy in love with you. I kept denying it, trying to reason with myself that it was lust . . . nostalgia – that we both were deluding ourselves - but I love you," she confessed.
Daniel stood silent, unsure if he had heard her right. After all of the drama between them it seemed surreal for her to be saying the three words he had longed to hear from her.
"A-Are we still good?" Betty asked, skeptical of his reaction.
Daniel's mouth slowly curved into a giant grin.
"We're better than good – much better," he told her, planting a soft, tender kiss on her lips.
"Good," she smiled, gently pressing her forehead against his.
Betty knew he could have easily turned her away – not even shown up at all. But he did. And even though she was still terrified of what the future held, she realized that having him with her wouldn't make it worse, but instead, not as bad.
Daniel pulled her tighter into him, releasing a breath of relief and contentment. He was truly the happiest he had ever been in his life. He wondered if at any minute someone would wake him up to reality.
"Um . . . Daniel? A group of tourists are starting to stare at us," Betty said, self-conscious of them exposing their vulnerability to the public.
"So. Let them," he shrugged and kissed her with every emotion he had in him.
As they broke, Betty felt her cheeks warm from embarrassment and a slight rush of adventure.
"You're impossible," she muttered into his lips. "Let's go - I'm starving, and I know you are too," she grabbed his arm and led him away from the crowd.
"How about we postpone lunch and go back to my hotel?" he seductively whispered in her ear as he wrapped his arm around her waist.
"Wasn't jumping into things how we got into this disaster in the first place?" Betty pointed out.
"But it was a beautiful disaster – it got us to where we are now," he countered.
"True. But I still think we should take things slow - lunch, dinner, movies, for a few weeks and go from there," she maintained.
"We can still do those things too, you know," he reminded her.
"Daniel . . . I don't want to mess this up again," she insisted.
"Whatever you want," Daniel shook his head, knowing there was no use in continuing to argue with her.
Betty woke up the next morning to find herself snuggled against Daniel's bare chest. Uh-oh – this was déjà vu. Wait – no . . . she was fully clothed. He, on the other hand . . . not so much, she discovered as her hands explored Daniel's lower region to find only a pair of boxer briefs.
"Happy to see me?" he teased, grinning sleepily.
"Ha. Ha. I was just wondering if we had . . . you know . . ." Betty answered him.
"Worrying, you mean?" he smirked.
"Shut up!" she playfully poked him.
"As much as I would love to say we did, I assure you I was the perfect gentleman," he told her.
"Thank you. You think I'm stupid, don't you?" she avoided his gaze.
"No . . . A little paranoid maybe," Daniel joked. "But seriously, I think we just need to relax and let things happen,"
"You're right, I just want this to be perfect . . . well, you know what I mean," she said.
"Yeah, I know. We didn't exactly start out that great," he mused.
"We can make up for it, though," she coyly smiled.
"Definitely," he agreed, seductively kissing her lips, neck, and shoulder.
"Mmm . . . Down, boy!" Betty giggled. "I wanna know how and when you talked me into this situation," she light-heartedly commanded.
"Sometime after the end of that movie, if I remember correctly. You freaked out about a crazy guy coming after your arm with a chainsaw. It was either me or that weak, scruffy old bunny of yours to protect you," he chuckled.
"And I picked my scruffy bunny?" she joked.
Daniel attacked her, causing a fit of giggles to ensue.
"You're still here – with all four limbs, aren't you?" Daniel prompted.
"Okay, okay. I picked you – my strong, scruffy new boyfriend," Betty flirted.
"That's better – wait – scruffy?" he feigned offense.
"Mmm-hmm. But it's sexy scruffy," she assured him, nuzzling his cheek.
"So you think I'm sexy?" he mischievously raised an eyebrow and toyed with the strap on her cami.
"You're not getting anywhere with this, Meade," she replied, knowing exactly where his mind was going.
"Thought I'd give it a shot. I mean, I've got the most gorgeous, smartest, amazingly talented girl in bed with me - who wouldn't?" he defended himself.
"Still not gonna work. But I appreciate the compliments," Betty perkily kissed him.
They lay still for a while when she began to contemplate if this was really what Daniel wanted. She could finally admit to herself that with him was where she belonged, but she still couldn't get over how much he was willing to sacrifice to be with her. The guilt continued to loom over her head.
"Are you really happy . . . leaving everything in New York behind?" she wondered.
"Completely. I can find a job anywhere, but there's only one you," Daniel sincerely answered.
"You're the sweetest man I know," she smiled and reached for his hand.
"Are you?" he asked, slowly weaving his fingers in and out of hers.
"Undeniably. I can't believe I made such a big deal out of this. I'm sorry," she said.
Daniel wished she wouldn't be so hard on herself. He knew he had expected her to make a snap decision and it wasn't how she worked.
"You don't have to keep saying that. And you wouldn't be you if you didn't overanalyze all the pros and cons. I guess it's why it threw me that night at how spontaneous you were. Not that I minded," he slyly grinned, toying with a lock of her hair.
Betty shyly gazed into his blue eyes.
"You were definitely worth the risk," she told him. "And for the most part, we balance each other out . . . bring out the best in each other," Betty added.
"Exactly," Daniel agreed, his arms pulling her as close to him as they could without hurting her.
Betty curiously looked up at him.
"Are you okay? You seem . . . pensive, a little emotional even," she observed, brushing her hand through his disheveled hair.
Daniel shook his head, a bittersweet smile on his face.
"I was just thinking how lucky I am to have you. I've lost so much in my life, but you stood by me through everything. Now that we're finally in that place, I never want to let you go," he confessed.
"You won't have to," she promised, earnestly parting his lips with hers, silently vowing never to go anywhere without him again.