Thank you so much for reading and for your comments! Here's the last installment . . . :)
"Hey, Betty - it's Christina. I know I'm springin' this on ye, but I'll be in the city fer a few days an' thought I'd pop by tomorrow fer a bit. Can ye text me yer address? Thanks, love!" Christina said on the message.
"Daniel . . .!" Betty yelled into the kitchen as she sent Christina their address.
"What? What'd I do? If you're mad about the puddle in the bathroom – I swear I was gonna clean it up after I saved the bagels from burning!" he defended.
"What puddle in the bathroom?" she asked suspiciously. "Never mind – we've got bigger problems. Christina apparently called last night, after I turned off my phone, and said she's coming over today."
"When?" he asked.
"I don't know – but I just texted her our address. We seriously need to clean up this place. It looks almost as bad as when I moved in," she said, throwing him some of his dirty clothes that were haplessly discarded on the floor.
"Betty, that was only a month ago," Daniel excused.
"I know – I got everything all organized and then it's like every day you throw sale papers on the end table or leave wrappers and bowls everywhere and don't pick them up when you're done. I can never find the entire newspaper in one place – I have to search for sections of it in three different rooms. I found coupons that had expired three weeks ago at the bottom of the pile and tripped over a pair of your shoes last night – there are four more pairs under the coffee table, by the way. And, I'm waiting for the day where I literally break my tailbone on the toilet because you keep leaving the seat up," she rolled her eyes as she searched for the right outfit to wear.
"Well, what about you and your stupid 'lucky' bunny on the dresser – that thing stares at me all the time like it's judging me. Or your damn coaster rule? Or your salsa music at seven in the morning? I wake up and think I'm at a freakin' cantina or something! And your makeup and crap is all over the counter! Yesterday, I thought I'd picked up toothpaste and ended up brushing my teeth with eye cream!" he argued.
Betty burst out laughing. She couldn't help it. Imagining the expression on Daniel's face when he realized what was in his mouth was too much.
"You think that's funny?" he asked, slightly annoyed.
"Yeah . . ." she admitted, hesitantly.
"You do? Well, let's see if you think this is funny?" he said with a twinkle in his eye as he hoisted her pajama-clad body over his shoulder and turned the shower on full-blast, throwing her in it.
Betty squealed as the ice cold water hit her and she pulled him in with her.
"Betty! I was already dressed!" he protested.
"Well, we'll just have to get you some new clothes then . . ." she smiled devilishly, turning the water to warm it up and removing his shirt and pants.
Daniel grinned and proceeded to peel off her clothes as well.
"I can never stay mad at you," he shook his head and covered her mouth with his lips, slipping his tongue in and exploring the depths, his hands roaming all over her naked body. Betty moaned with pleasure, almost forgetting why they had been fighting - then remembered.
"You know we still have to . . . mmmm . . . clean this place up and find a way to . . . mmmm . . . keep it that way, right?" she said, as she kissed his chest and ran her hands over his firm ass.
He picked up a bottle and poured shampoo in his hand.
"Promise," he vowed, massaging her scalp as he shampooed her hair.
"Good," she smiled adoringly at his face, hair soaked and water dripping off his nose. He couldn't get much sexier.
"What?" he asked, gently washing her skin with a loofa.
"Nothing . . . I just love this – moments like these," she told him, shyly.
"Me, too," he agreed and kissed her again.
"Christina!" Betty said, answering the door.
"Ohhh . . . C'mere, you!" Christina smiled, giving her a bear hug and walking into the flat. "Jesus, Betty! Ye didn't tell me ye lived in a penthouse! Yer magazine must be doin' well?"
Betty handed her a coffee.
"Yeah, it is, but this place isn't –" Betty started to explain when Daniel walked into the living room.
"Bloody hell! Daniel Meade? What are ye doin' here?" Christina asked, practically spitting out her café mocha.
"Hello, Christina," he said and hugged her, thoroughly amused. "You didn't tell her?"
"No – we haven't talked since I first moved to London. And you and I were a little pre-occupied this morning . . ." Betty answered.
"Oh," Daniel said and cleared his throat, slowly coming up behind Betty and wrapping his arms around her waist. "Well, Christina, I live here, too."
"Ye mean ye two are shackin' up with each other?" she asked, her eyes widening.
"I guess you could call it that," Betty answered, smiling up at Daniel.
Christina just stood there with her mouth open.
"I'll let you girls talk, shop, – whatever - and meet you back here for dinner?" Daniel suggested and briefly but firmly kissed Betty on the mouth before leaving.
Betty nodded, smiling giddily as she closed the door.
"Why didn't ye bloody tell me!" Christina exploded.
"I wanted to see the look on your face," she teased. "No – I honestly have been so busy; I haven't had a whole lot of time to tell anyone anything."
"Well I nearly pissed meh damn knickers seeing his face here! What happened with ye two? The last I heard, the jackass wouldn't even give ye the time of day," Christina asked.
"He showed up a week after I'd moved here, in the middle of Trafalgar Square. He apologized, said he'd resigned from MODE, and asked me to dinner. He never said anything about wanting a relationship, but he kept looking at me like I was the only woman on the planet and flirting like crazy. It took us a couple of weeks to make it official, but we finally kissed when I helped him move in here. I moved in about a month later. That's pretty much it," Betty elaborated.
"That's a lot, love. It's about time Daniel finally recognized what ye mean to him. I never thought it'd ever happen, though. Ye always went above an' beyond to save his sorry arse. But Daniel was always too shallow to see true love – even when it was right in front of him fer four years," Christina replied.
"Well, it's not like I saw it coming either," Betty defended. "Claire was the one who came up with the theory. That's the first time I even thought about it."
"Does he make ye happy?" Christina asked, protectively.
"Insanely," Betty grinned, dreamily.
"Treat ye right?" Christina questioned.
"Like a queen," Betty smiled.
"The shaggin' as good everyone claims?" Christina grilled.
"Christina!" Betty protested.
"Well, get out with it!" Christina teased, shamelessly.
"Better . . ." Betty reluctantly, yet satisfactorily giggled.
"Then I'm happy fer ye, love," Christina sincerely told her.
"Thank you," Betty said and stood up. "So, you wanna go shopping?"
"Sounds good. I can show ye meh new line at Harrod's an' then we can eat lunch at that little bistro with those really good seasoned chips," Christina agreed, following Betty out the door.
"Betty . . .! What's taking you so long? We're gonna be late for graduation," Daniel knocked on the bathroom door, a few weeks later.
"Go without me – I think I'm coming down with something," she answered weakly, kneeling over the toilet.
Daniel opened the door.
"That bad?" he said, kneeling next to her and feeling her forehead. "You don't seem warm?"
"I know. I don't get it – must be some new virus or something," she replied. "You need to go."
"No – I can't leave you when you're sick," Daniel said. "Besides, it's not really my graduation anyway - just some of the guys from my classes. I was only going to support them, and wanted them to meet you, but it's not a big deal."
"Daniel, it is a big deal – you're still getting a certificate, and you've accomplished a lot in the past few months. I'm really proud of you and you should be proud of you, too. So go – have fun!" Betty insisted.
"Baby, are you sure?" he said uncertainly, handing her a glass of water.
"Yes," she said, rinsing out her mouth.
"Do you need anything before I leave?" he offered.
"Can you help me to the couch? Oh – and get me those brownies we made?" she asked as he pulled her up and led her to the living room.
She slowly laid down and he put a blanket over her and got the brownies.
"Do you really think this is a good idea on an empty stomach?" Daniel questioned.
"But I'm hungry and it sounds good," she whined.
He handed them over.
"Are you sure you're gonna be okay?" Daniel asked, skeptically.
"Fine. I'll just watch some TV and take a nap," she assured him.
"Okay. Feel better," he said, kissing her forehead before leaving.
Betty shoved a brownie in her mouth and couldn't stop. She had finished the entire plate and an entire jumbo bag of potato chips with a jar of French onion dip by the time Ricky and Fred had forgiven Lucy and Ethel yet again on an afternoon marathon of 'I Love Lucy'. What was wrong with her? She usually didn't pig out unless she was upset or nervous and she wasn't either. And the throwing up? She didn't have a cough or a runny nose . . . She hadn't felt like this since – Oh god! She shot up and threw on some decent clothes, grabbed a light jacket, and ran out the door.
She could not be pregnant! She and Daniel had been extremely careful. And there was no way they needed that responsibility in their lives right then . . . that is, if he even wanted it at all. What if he didn't? She loved him so much, but having a baby could change everything. It could break them apart, even if he was willing to help raise it. Just the stress and 4AM feedings and the having no idea what to do and not having any time for themselves . . .
She found the correct aisle in the pharmacy and pondered the million choices of tests. Should she go with the fastest time or the clearest response? Did she want a digital one or the classic pink or blue result? She sighed and her mind wandered back to what would happen if the test was positive.
What about her career? She had just put out her second issue. Of course she had about seven more months to work, but she knew how much taking care of a child could impact her business future. Hilda was never able to go to college or even start her own business for years after Justin was born. And what about Daniel? He had just finished taking extra classes in order to find a job he enjoyed. She couldn't ask him to sacrifice that in order to take care of their child . . .
She finally decided on a digital one with the fastest response time, paid for it, and absently walked back to their flat.
Having a child meant giving up a lot of things, but then she thought about how great Justin had turned out to be . . . how proud Hilda was of him . . . Betty remembered helping her raise him . . . how amazing it felt when she first held him in her arms . . . those little fingers and toes . . . the long eyelashes . . . the laugh he gave when he was a few months older and more aware of his surroundings. Then there were all the milestones – crawling, walking, talking, his first day of school . . . There were so many good things that could come out of this.
She remembered when Wilhelmina had handed little William over to Daniel to hold. She had been right – he did look like a 'grinning idiot', but it was adorable to see him so unabashed with affection. And when he had thought DJ was his son, it took him a while, but he stepped up and he loved that boy as if he had been his own, even after the results proved differently. Betty knew, without a doubt, that Daniel would make an incredible father. The question was whether he wanted to with her or not.
She looked down at her stomach and realized that there might be a little person inside of her that had Daniel's eyes and smile and her hair and complexion. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all . . .
She went into the bathroom and took the test, then flipped on the TV to distract herself. Only, the commercials showed ads about baby formula, diapers, and toys. She couldn't help but smile, thinking that could be her in seven months.
The timer dinged and she jumped up, eagerly anticipating the results. But what she saw made her heart sink a little more than she thought it would. She laid down on the bed and felt tears escaping her eyes. Why was she so upset? She should be glad. Everything in her life would stay the same; she wouldn't have to alter anything in it – well, except for trying to burn off the 5,000 calories she had consumed in only one afternoon – which only made her cry even more.
Betty woke up a few hours later to find Daniel sitting next to her playing a game on his IPad.
"When did you get home?" she asked.
"About an hour ago. Feeling any better?" he asked, putting the tablet down and stroking her hair. "Hey . . . have you been crying?"
Betty looked down at the comforter, wondering if there was even any point in telling him.
"Betty, you can tell me anything - you know that by now. What is it?" Daniel said, gently encouraging her.
She looked into his kind blue eyes and knew she couldn't keep it from him.
"I um . . . I-I'm not pregnant," she burst into tears again.
Daniel wasn't sure how to react, so he just held her until the sobbing stopped.
"So, I take it this is a bad thing, then?" he carefully assumed. "I didn't know we were trying – were we?"
"We weren't – I would've discussed it with you first . . . I just thought I might be when I got sick this morning and then pigged out on junk food in the afternoon," she explained.
"Oh," he responded. "So you already took the test?"
"It's stupid. I know I should be relieved, but a part of me thought it'd be kind of nice," she admitted. "Crazy, right? We've never even talked about getting married – why would throwing a kid into our lives be a good thing –"
Daniel cut her off, kissing her briefly but passionately.
"We've never talked about it because I didn't want to push you. But Betty, you're it for me. And whatever happens – good or bad – I want to be there for you," he confessed.
"You do?" she said.
"Betty, if you had been pregnant, did you think I would have left you?" he asked.
"I-I didn't know. I was hoping you wouldn't . . . and deep down I knew you'd probably do the noble thing and stay . . . but if you didn't really want the baby, then what would be the point?" she told him.
"Hey – listen to me. I will never leave you – not because of obligation, but because I love you," assured her.
"I love you, too," she smiled and hugged him.
"And just so you know, the thought of a baby that's part you and part me sounds amazing," he added.
"Really?" Betty said.
"Really . . . I want a life with you Betty – and that includes children someday. And if one ends up coming before we planned, that's okay, too," he told her.
"You have no idea how glad I am to hear you say that," she confessed.
"Then I hope you'll be happy with what I say next," he said, going over to his suit jacket and pulling out a small blue box from the inside pocket. "I was going to ask you after the ceremony, before we went to the party."
Betty's heart fluttered as Daniel revealed the intricate five carat, three stone, princess-cut diamond ring.
"I've had this since you agreed to move in with me . . . I was just waiting for the right time to ask you," he said, getting down on bended knee. "Betty Suarez, will you do me the great honor of being my wife?"
She couldn't believe it was actually happening. From a day that started out horribly, it was ending on an insanely good note. She felt a tear trickle down her cheek.
"Yes. Yes!" she answered and shakily held out her left hand.
He slipped it on her finger and zealously captured her mouth. When they finally broke, Daniel took her hands as they sat back down on the bed.
"There's something else I wanted to tell you," he said. "I had an interview last week with an advertising company. I didn't want to say anything if I didn't get the job, but I found out that I did. I'm their new COO – I start in a couple of weeks."
"Oh my god – Daniel, that's great!" she hugged him enthusiastically, so hard that he fell backward and she fell on top of him. "I guess we have a lot of things to celebrate . . ."
"Definitely . . ." he agreed, seductively pressing his lips to hers.
Betty got lost in the moment as he deepened the kiss, realizing no matter what happened in their lives, she and Daniel would always be there to love and support each other. She would never lose him and that was all she needed to know.