Suddenly Sophie burst into the café. Zane wrapped a protective arm around Rikki as he cursed himself for not locking the door tight, as if it was a full moon, once they all had arrived. The entire group groaned but before anyone could say a word she stormed up to Rikki.
"Why the hell did you take him back?! You know he can't change! Zane is cheating on you again! And with her of all people" she said pointing an accusatory finger at Kiada. "And don't tell me I'm crazy! I have proof! He should be with me! I can keep him in line!"
Pulling out a set of photos she shoved them toward the group. Within were glimpses of Zane and Kiada, at the jewelry store picking out her locket chain. They both leaned in to look closely. Zane breathed a sigh of relief. As they had hoped you couldn't tell that there were rings involved. In the photos you could just see Kiada showing off the locket on the chain.
"See! He even bought her jewelry."
"Soph…you don't know what you're talking about." said Will trying his hardest not to laugh in her face, "You really should go before you make a bigger fool of yourself."
"Why are you defending him? I know you can't stand that Rikki took him back!"
"Soph, Zane and I may not be on the best of friends, that goes without saying. But, I can see Rikki is good for him. He has changed…I can see it. He's treating her the way he should have all along. You're completely mistaken as to what you think you saw and are making a fool of yourself here."
As Will defended Zane the rest of the group was trying their absolute hardest to contain their laughter after seeing the photos. A small smile crossed Zane face hearing that Will was starting to trust him. He still had his arm wrapped tightly around Rikki and her body shook against him with silent laughter. After a few moments of silence Kiada stepped forward extending a hand to Sophie and introducing herself.
"Hi. I'm Kiada, Kiada Bennett."
"What?! Are you serious?! This is even worse than I thought! He's freaking married! How are none of you losing it about this!?" Sophie shouted looking around.
As she said that the twins turned to look at one another grimacing. The expressions on their faces said it all. Both looked like they were somewhere between trying not to gag and laughing out loud in her face.
The rest of the group, including Will, could no longer contain themselves after seeing the twin's expressions. They all burst out laughing, clutching to anything they could to keep from falling on the floor. Tears began to drip from Rikki's eyes as she laughed while holding onto Zane tightly.
"Ewwwwwww gross!" exclaimed Kiada.
"Seriously, that is just wrong Sophie." Zane said shaking his head.
"Then how does she have your last name?" she demanded incredulously, looking more at Kiada than Zane.
"Because…I'm his freaking sister…twin sister to be exact! Sooo thanks for taking about 15 years off my life with that accusation. Ugh…!" she said shuttering, "And those photos you got. Yeah, we were at that jewelry store together, he was helping me get a new chain for my locket. The one I got when I was a kid so it no longer fit anymore. My BROTHER was nice enough to come with me so I wasn't there alone. I haven't been lived here since I was 10 so I'm not exactly familiar with my surroundings anymore."
As proof she took the locket off her wrist and flipped opened the clasp to reveal the photo inside of the young twins.
"This is just not fair! What does she have that I don't Zane?" Sophie asked changing her direction from Kiada to Zane.
"Yes! I could give you so much more than her! Why not me?"
Zane took a moment before responding. His voice filled with passion and love as he spoke.
"Because, I was already hopelessly in love. It took me a while to realize it, but I was in love with Rikki for years before I even met you Sophie. It has always been her since the day she stole the spark plug from my zodiac. When I watched this blonde woman launch herself from the dock onto the zodiac as it floated away there was this gleam in her eyes as she made eye contact with me. She held up the spark plug as smirk across her face and in that moment, I was a done. She was the only woman who could make me feel that way. I always wanted to be closer to her after than and it took me months to ever get her to even give me a second glance. And then I screwed up the first time but I managed to get her to take me back. I was so stupid to ever let anything come close to ruining that. I lost track of that feeling when I was trying to make my dad proud of me. In the process I almost ruined everything forever. It took her leaving me again to realize just how shitty I had been."
Zane looked down at Rikki who smiled up at him taken aback by what he was saying. She had never realized he loved her for so long. Continuing Zane went on…
"I love the way she smiles when she is with her friends. I love the way her eyes light up when she is happy. I love the fire behind those eyes when someone messes with those most important to her. I love the way her hair shines in the sunlight. I love the fact that she allowed me to get close to her. I love that she's never lost herself during everything. I love that she would never let someone change who she is. I love that she makes me weak every time I see her. And most of all, I love that she loves me back and has put up with everything that I have done and put her through. "
Everyone in the room stared at Zane. No one, other than Kiada, had ever heard him speak with so much passion before. As he spoke he never broke eye contact with Rikki. He wanted her to know that all of his words were true. He was putting his heart out there and on the line for all to see. Each and every one of them could tell, in that proclamation, that he really did love Rikki and that he was never letting her go ever again. He had learned his lesson and would never put anyone else before her or her friends ever again as long as he lived.
No one even realized that Sophie had left until they heard the beads knocking into one another as she retreated out the door. Kiada walked over to the door pulling it closed tight and locked it securely before returning to the group.
"Did you mean that Zane?" asked Rikki.
"Every word. You are my world. When you broke up with me everything came crashing down. I was miserable without you. I was dumb to believe the nonsense Sophie was feeding me but I did and it was the worst feeling in the work. The look you gave me at the beach party was a look I hope never to see again."
"I missed you too Zane. Every time something happened all I wanted to do was call you but I couldn't. Those months after the dive competition were terrible, ask the girls, I was not good company."
Cleo and Bella nodded remembering those months after Rikki and Zane broke up. Neither had ever seen Rikki that defeated. During that time Rikki pretty much spent all her time alone at Mako, trying to repair it. She didn't feel comfortable going to Rikki's unless she was there to support someone else. And she just couldn't be around Cleo and Bella with Lewis and Will much. It just was too hard, not having someone to share her experiences with. She didn't want to be the odd one out so she just spent her time reminiscing.
For Cleo it almost reminded her of the time she got moonstruck and went to Mako. Emma and Cleo had found her curled up in the brush fire all around with Zane passed out next to her. She had looked so lost that time – the only other time Cleo had ever seen her that way before.
"So…Sophie wasn't completely wrong. There was another reason Kiada and I were at the jewelry store." Said Zane pulling the group back into the moment.
"I meant every word of what I just said Rikki. You were and are the best thing to ever happen to me. I couldn't handle another day without you. I had all these plans of how I was going to do this in my head but at the end of the day none of that matters. The only thing that matters to me is having you, there with me forever and always. So Rikki Chadwick…. will you marry me?
Zane got down on one knee pulling out the ring he had purchased earlier that day. The ring gleamed in the light as he waited on baited breath.
See profile for a picture of the ring I envisioned for Rikki as I wrote this.