Disclaimer: Not mine.
So, my dear friend Julie had a birthday recently. And when I asked her what she'd like she asked for a future take of this story. Granted her birthday was like 10 days ago...but better late than never right? Happy birthday Millicent! -_-
Easing down onto the sofa, I clutched my coffee mug in my hands. I took a tentative sip of the steaming liquid, cursing under my breath when it burned my lip. I moved to put the mug on the coffee table only to realize the coasters were across the room. Setting it on the floor instead, I opened the drawer of the table and pushed around all of the junk that had managed to accumulate inside.
Spying an old coaster in the back, I plucked it from the pile. Just as I started to close the drawer, I spotted the edge of a familiar notebook peeking out. Smiling, I pulled it to my lap wondering how long it had been stashed there. I'd filled it up more than two years earlier. Flipping through the pages, my smile slipped when a folded sheet of paper fluttered from the back.
I knew immediately what it was, and my heart ached a little as I unfolded the worn piece of paper and smoothed it against the table. The lines were so deep that tiny tears had begun to form in the creases. The ink was faded and smudged, the paper bubbled in areas from fat, salty tears splashing across the surface.
It was the last thing I had of his, and even though he didn't hold my heart, didn't have my love, he had my memories, and good or bad that would never change. With a sad sigh, my eyes drifted to the words in front of me, and I let my memories of him wash over me once more.
March 21, 2013
I still don't understand how I let things go so wrong. How I could let the most important person in my world slip right through my fingers? Although, if I'm being honest with myself, which I rarely am these days, you didn't so much slip, you were pushed. By me.
I know you've moved on, and I want to say I'm happy for you, but that would be a lie. I'm not happy for you, because being happy for you would mean I'm okay with you being with someone else. I'll never be okay with that; I'm too selfish. I don't know how to move on, and I don't know how to let go; there will never be anyone for me but you.
Ironic isn't it? That I can say those things to you now when it's all you ever wanted to hear before. But that's the thing about hindsight. I finally finished unpacking my new apartment. One month out, and I'm still clean and sober. I know it doesn't seem like much, but it's longer than the last time.
Mom sent all of my things from back home; I wish she wouldn't have. There are a lot of pictures of you, me, us. Where you smiled and it was real, and I was clean and we had our whole lives ahead of us. She sent my old Nintendo 64 too― Mario Cart was still inside the console―I threw it in the dumpster after I smashed it against the wall. I can't handle being reminded of those times.
When I open those old boxes, I swear I can smell your lotion sometimes. Or maybe it's my subconscious' way of punishing me; it's no less than I deserve.
I wiped away the tear that had escaped the corner of my eye. Pulling in a deep breath, I read the second note he'd scrawled at the bottom of the page more than two months later. The last thing that Garrett would ever write to me.
May 31, 2013
I'm not doing so good today. Kate stopped by; she tried to talk to me, but she doesn't understand; she'll never understand. Only you will ever truly get me. And you're gone. But I have made some progress, because I'm glad you're not here. I'm glad you can't see me like this. I really hope that guy you're with loves you the way you deserve, the way I couldn't.
Three weeks later Garrett was found dead in his apartment, the needle still protruding from his arm leaving no question as to his cause of death. His parents had found the letter and thought I might want it. I refused at first, not wanting to read his final words, terrified of the effect they might have on me. But Edward thought I would regret not taking it in the long run. And he promised to be there for whatever I needed. He would always be there. He'd proved that time and time again in the three years since Garrett's death.
"You're going to be late," Edward murmured against my ear before placing a soft kiss on my neck.
I looked over my shoulder and laughed. His glasses had slipped down his nose from leaning over the back of the couch, and his smile was exaggerated and silly.
"What are you up to?" I narrowed my eyes and tried to look threatening, but something about my expression must have given me away because his smile slipped and his expression became one of concern.
"You okay?" He pushed off the couch and came around to sit beside me. His eyes found the paper on the table, a look of understanding slackening his shoulders and smoothing the lines from his face.
"Yeah. I just―I found it, and it kinda took me off guard."
"It's coming up isn't it? The anniversary?"
He didn't have to specify which anniversary, we both knew.
"It is." I reached for the paper, folding it back up and dropping it into the book.
"You sure you're okay?"
I smiled and reached for his hand, pulling it between mine and squeezing. "I really am." I let out a breath and looked at the clock, realizing I wasn't due at the school for almost an hour.
"Hey, are you trying to get rid of me or something? I don't have to be at work for an hour."
"Of course not." He grinned, trying to appear innocent. He failed.
"You, Sir, are a terrible liar." I leaned forward and pinched his side causing him to let out a girly giggle as he jumped back and grabbed for my hand.
"You really shouldn't have done that."
Before I could move an inch, he pounced. In one swift move he pinned me to the couch, his body covering mine. His hands shackled my wrists and held them by my side as he brought his face to mine, our noses brushing.
I pushed my legs apart so he could settle between my thighs and wrapped them around his hips. "I'm sorry, but I fail to see any reason why I shouldn't have done that if this is my punishment."
He rolled his eyes, a playful grin on his face as he tipped his chin and brought his lips to mine. My eyes fell shut, and like every time he kissed me, my stomach fluttered with butterflies. I tugged my hands free and pushed them into the soft hair at the nape of his neck as he slid his around my waist and pulled me closer.
"I love you," I whispered, sliding my hands down his back and hugging him.
"Yeah." He breathed, pressing two more quick kisses to my lips before pulling back a bit. He stared down, his glasses slipping as his expression turned serious. "I love you too, but I really need you to bounce."
My mouth dropped open in shock, and I dug my heels into his ass. "What the hell?"
He nodded. "I'm not kidding. Not even a little bit. Don't fight me on this, woman. I need to handle some bidness."
I laughed and smacked his back. "Bidness?"
He hardened his face and lowered his voice, the deep tone causing his chest to vibrate against mine. "Yeah, bidness."
"Okay, you've either lost your mind, or you have a split personality where your alter ego is Eazy E, gangsta Edward."
He chuckled and pushed off the couch, grabbing my hand and pulling me with him. "Don't test that theory; I've got mad rapping skills."
I lifted my brow and grinned. "You're such a dork."
"One of my many charms." His sigh was dramatic, his expression one of exasperation. "It's hard to keep up with them all."
"Did you dig your bong out of the attic?"
"Is that where you hid it?" He laughed, looking up the stairs toward the attic access.
"Well, if you aren't high, then I'm gonna have to call your parents and ask for a full family history of mental illnesses."
"Didn't Heidi give you every single, minute detail of my life in one of y'all's 'lets drink two pitchers of margaritas and giggle like fourteen year olds until we pass out' girls' nights?"
I smacked his chest. "You're awfully cocky today. Maybe I shouldn't do that thing I did last night again. It's obviously affected your brain activity."
He growled playfully and pulled me into his arms. "Don't tease me, woman. It's not nice." He leaned forward and nipped at my neck causing tingles to run up my spine and a moan to slip past my lips. He groaned in response and flexed his arms around me before letting them fall and stepping back.
"What?" I asked dragging my tongue over my bottom lip, my eyes dropping to his pants.
"No." He stepped back and put his arms out in front of him.
I grinned and stepped forward. "Where are you going, baby?"
"Bella, I swear to all that's holy, you're trying to kill me."
"Edward," I scolded, unable to keep the smile off my face. "You know I'm doing no such thing."
"You have to go. You can't be here. And you're...you're doing that," he waved his hand aimlessly in the air at me, his face flushed, "thing."
"That thing, with your voice, and your eyes, and―"
I reached for the front of my jeans and popped open the button.
"Oh, for fucks sake." He groaned, squeezing his eyes shut. "Please button your pants and go to work."
I laughed and fastened my pants, realizing I really was making it hard on him. He was obviously up to something, and I didn't want to ruin it for him, whatever it was. "Fine."
He peeked an eye open and let out a harsh breath through his nose. "So, I'll see you later."
My eyes widened as I realized he wasn't moving. His shoulders were rigid and his fists were balled at his sides. "What in the hell is going on with you?" I couldn't help but laugh because he was being so weird.
"I'm trying not to attack you. You're making it very difficult."
"And I can see your nipples through your shirt."
"Edward!" I choked, looking down to see if he was telling the truth. He was.
"Just...I'll see you at the bar at six. And grab a sweater."
I rolled my eyes and walked over to him, pressing my lips to his before backing away. "Bye, you crazy man. I love you."
"Hu huh. I love you too. Now get."
After leaving Edward to his weirdness, I headed to the college I'd graduated from a couple of years ago. When word had gotten out about my music, the school had contacted me about an opening in their music department. I really didn't know what I could contribute, but I was more than happy for the opportunity at a steady job that didn't involve the night shift and handsy drunks.
As luck would have it, they needed a music teacher, and that...that I could do. I'd never really had any solid plans about what exactly I wanted to do with my life. Until I met Edward, everything had just been one disaster after another. But teaching music suited me. I didn't believe for one second I'd be able to do any other type of teaching, but music was my passion. To be able to pass along that skill and knowledge to others was one of the best things I could do with my life.
I still played at the bar every week, and it remained my favorite way to express myself. Maggie and Edward had pestered me relentlessly to record some songs, and after putting up a weak fight, I finally rented a studio and recorded a few songs for a CD. It had made a bit of money; people who came to see me play at the bar every week had bought some. And a couple of the local music stores kept them in stock as well. But it didn't matter that I wasn't making wads of cash, and I really hadn't done anything to push it in that direction. I was happy with things the way they were.
I spent the rest of the day submerged in music lessons. My thoughts occasionally drifted to Edward and his bizarre behavior, but I just chalked it up to him being, well him. By the time I finished up with work and made my way to the bar, I'd almost forgotten about it entirely. That is, until I walked through the door.
I realized immediately that something was off. First, the place was virtually empty, which was unusual for a Thursday night, but that wasn't what caught my eye. The bar looked different. There were strands of white twinkling lights strung all around the stage and bar, and candle centerpieces adorned all of the empty tables.
I scanned the room, my eyes widening and filling with tears when I spotted Maggie leaning against the bar, her arms crossed over her now swollen belly.
"Oh my God," I yelled, running to close the distance between us as fast as possible and throwing my arms around her neck. "What are you doing here? When did you get here? Where's Alec? Oh my God, you're huge."
"Thanks a lot, bitch." She laughed, hugging me the best she could.
"Sorry." I'm sure the expression on my face showed I was anything but sorry.
"Eh, I'm freaking enormous. That's what happens when you eat a lifetime supply of Twinkies in two months." She sniffed and looked down at her hands, inspecting her nails in mock disinterest. "I regret nothing."
"Nor should you." I nodded and slid onto the stool beside her. "So how've you been, really? I've missed you."
"I've missed you, too."
Alec had been offered a job in North Carolina two years ago, and the opportunity was just too good to pass up. He'd proposed to Maggie right after she agreed to move with him, saying he wanted them to start their new lives together as husband and wife. The ceremony was small and intimate and absolutely perfect.
Seven months ago, Maggie called and gave me the good news she and Alec were expecting. I'd tried to brush off the sudden feelings of jealousy that washed over me. It wasn't like I wasn't happy. Edward and I had finally moved in together, I had a job that I loved, and a man that treated me like I was the most important thing in the world. Still, I knew that my issues, my insecurities, were holding me back from having what Maggie had, and I hated myself more than a little bit because of it.
"So are you going to tell me what you're doing here? And why you didn't bother to tell me you were coming?"
She grinned at me in a way I was familiar with. A grin that told me she had a secret, and she had no intention of sharing it with me. I narrowed my eyes and tried to make her flinch, to give some tell as to what she was hiding, but pregnancy had apparently given her quite the game face.
"You'll see." Her smirk and smug all-knowing face made me want to press for answers, but the sound of the mic being tapped on stage distracted me. It was then that several things came into focus. First, I noticed Heidi and Felix sitting toward the back of the bar, but that wasn't what had my attention. No, what had my attention was Alec on the stage adjusting the mic for Edward who was perched on a stool with my guitar in his lap.
My eyes widened as I took him in. His face was red, and his eyes were darting over the room as he fidgeted with the stool, yet he refused to make eye contact with me. Alec clapped him on the back and leaned over to whisper something in his ear. With a nod, he stepped down from the stage and crossed over to where I sat stone still.
"Hey, Alec," I responded, my eyes never leaving Edward.
He chuckled and hugged me briefly before sliding onto the stool on the other side of Maggie and wrapping his arm around her shoulders.
"Hi everyone," Edward said, his voice cracking, his nerves obvious.
I took a moment to look around the room. It was then I realized how many of the faces I saw around the bar were familiar. And not in the sense that I was used to seeing them at the bar as regulars, but these were people I knew. People who were friends. I saw faces from school, people who worked with Edward, and lastly both of our parents.
My heart hammered in my chest as my mouth went dry. I tried to imagine that all of these people gathering here tonight had nothing to do with me. But as I watched Edward's hands shake as he lifted it to the mic to adjust it a little lower I knew. I knewmy life was about to change forever.
"So my girlfriend," he paused, blinking quickly and looking down, "she's amazing. She's talented and beautiful and loves with her whole heart. She's the most amazing person I've ever met. And I thank God everyday that he saved her for me."
I stared at Edward, his image blurry as fresh tears gathered in my eyes. Maggie gave my leg a light squeeze, but I if she said anything, I didn't hear her.
"I'm pretty sure I'm about to make a fool out of myself, but all things considered, it seems appropriate." Edward let out a nervous laugh which was echoed by our friends and family. He finally turned to me and smiled. I'd never seen him so nervous, and the sight somehow calmed me. "I promise I won't break your guitar."
I laughed remembering all the times I'd told him he'd do just that with his atrocious playing. "It's okay, I know where you live."
He looked around the room and shifted on the stool. "I have no idea how she does this all the time. It's terrifying."
"Quit whining!" Felix yelled from the back of the bar. Edward glared at him the same time Heidi smacked him, causing everyone to laugh.
"Maybe," Edward hesitated, looking at me once more. "Maybe this would be easier if you'd come sit closer so I can see you?"
I nodded and slid off the stool. I weaved my way to the stage, sitting at the table directly in front of Edward. "Better?"
"Not really." He cleared his throat a final time before his face transformed into a mask of concentration. He leaned forward and spoke into the mic as he strummed a few simple chords that sounded vaguely familiar. "I didn't write the music. As I'm sure all of you know, this is not my area of expertise. But the words, well, they're all mine."
The familiar chords of Iron and Wine's Such Great Heights floated into the air. My mouth fell open a little at how amazing it sounded as well as the words that started coming from Edward's lips.
It happened late one night,
when you blew into my life
and stole my breath away
and when you looked at me, I knew it then.
A girl, who didn't have a clue
what a simple smile from her could do to me
she had just gone and changed it all, you see.
And true, things did not go smooth
we had so many things to fight against
but I never doubted that you'd be worth it all.
When you felt so far away
I almost lost all hope
but then you went and opened up to me
and I knew we would be.
So I ask you to be my wife, my love
I need you, come on baby
'Cause everything is perfect when I'm with you
it's all I want, is to stay.
I will try my best to be
the man that you deserve
and show you that you're the most precious thing
that my world's ever seen.
And I know that you will fight
but we will be alright
because you know it's only 'cause
I love you more than my own life.
So I ask you to be my wife, my love
I need you, come on baby
'Cause everything is perfect when I'm with you
it's all I want, is to stay.
I cupped my hands over my mouth to try and quieten my sobs. My entire body shook as I watched Edward set my guitar on the floor and climb down until he was in front of me. Reaching up, he pulled my hands into his own and kneeled on the floor.
He shook his head and offered me a small smile. "I was worried you'd think it was terrible. But had I known it'd be so bad you'd be a sobbing mess, I would have stuck with the singing telegram idea."
"Shut up," I choked, pulling a hand free to wipe under my eye. "It was amazing. How did you― when did―"
"Shhh, we can talk about that later. Right now, I have a very important question I'd like you to answer. Will you, Bella? Will you let me love you for the rest of our lives?"
"Of course I will. Oh my God, there's nothing I want more in this world than to be your wife." I threw my arms around his neck and kissed him with everything I had. Catcalls and cheers erupted around us, but I couldn't be bothered to care that we were making a spectacle out of ourselves. Because the most perfect man in the world had just asked to spend the rest of his life with me, and nothing was more important than that.
When we finally broke apart, he reached down and slipped a beautiful, but simple ring onto my finger. Turning to our friends, he laughed and squeezed me close. "Well, it looks like we'll be having that engagement party after all, guys. Thank you all for coming and watching me make an ass out of myself."
I laughed along with everyone else and burrowed into his side as I clutched his shirt in my hand.
"Although, I gotta say," he continued with a sly smile. "It was worth every second of humiliation."
"You really outdid yourself," I told him once we were finally able to pull ourselves away from everyone.
"Oh yeah?" He smiled, his eyes a little glassy from the shots Alec and Felix had plied him with earlier..
"Yeah. I'd say you handled yo bidness."
He cocked his back and to the side and crossed his arms over his chest in some ridiculous pose that made us both laugh. "Damn straight I did."
"You gonna tell me how you managed to learn to play that song?"
He dropped his arms and shoved one hand in his pocket, reaching out with the other to clasp a hold of mine. "You know, learning to play wasn't nearly as hard as I first thought. It's amazing how much easier it is to pay attention when I'm not wanting to rip my instructor's clothes off."
"Is that so?" I asked, to which he nodded in response. "So you're a regular pro then?"
"Hell no." He laughed, shaking his head. "I told the old guy I wanted to learn one song and that was it. I didn't care about the notes, the chords, nothing. I wanted him to teach me where to put my hands and when."
"So how long have you been practicing?"
He ducked his head and peered at me out of the corner of his eye before mumbling, "Six months."
"You're joking!" I gasped. I didn't know what shocked me more: that it had taken him six months to learn one song, or that he'd been planning his proposal for that long.
"Not even a little. I was only joking about learning to play not being that hard. I seriously have no musical talent whatsoever. The old guy teaching me agreed with my sentiment on more than one occasion."
"Edward," I whispered, my throat tight. "How long have you been planning this?"
"It was perfect. Everything. The song, you getting our friends and family here, all of it."
"Well, I figured since it was the way you tell me so many things you have trouble putting into words, I could return the favor."
"So we're really doing this, huh?" I looked down at the ring on my finger, unable to hold back the tears already filling my eyes again.
"This whole forever thing. Until death do us part?"
He smiled and leaned down, his lips ghosting over mine as he spoke. "I've been living my forever since the first time I saw you. You were always going to be my until death do us part. This just makes it official."
"Take me home?" I asked, my heart hammering in my chest as the reality set in that he would always be my home.
"Yeah, baby. Home sounds just about perfect."
Big thanks to Perry Maxwell for betaing and ModernSafari1 for pre-reading!
Hope you guys enjoyed this little peek into their lives!