All the events of the years behind us continued to flood my mind throughout our long walk on the beach, while we enjoyed one of the last warm evenings of the summer.
It was five years ago that night, where my life changed forever on that very beach.
The look on Bella's face when we'd pulled up to it was indescribable, tears filling her eyes as she shakily got out of the car and barely registering when I took her hand. I had told her I was taking her somewhere special to celebrate our five amazing years together, but she thought I'd meant a fancy dinner somewhere or maybe even a night on the town up in Seattle. Her reaction made me a little nervous until she pulled me to her, pressing her lips to mine and holding me tightly against her.
"You are, without a doubt, the most wonderful man in the world. This is … perfect," she said, tears streaming down her cheeks as our foreheads rested together. "Now, I'm taking off these godforsaken heels. There's no way I'm attempting to walk through sand in them."
As soon as we'd both taken our shoes off and tossed them into the car, we wrapped our arms around each other and began our walk, enjoying the soft crashes of the waves hitting the sand. She shrieked softly when the chilled water washed up to the side of her foot, pressing her body against my side and blushing as it caught the attention of a group of college kids just starting up their own bonfire further down the beach. In almost the exact same spot where I'd spotted her, in that old green hoodie that she still wore every once in a while, despite my many attempts to permanently dispose of it. I remembered thinking how she was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen, but I was wrong. The woman she'd become in the time since was infinitely more beautiful; face, mind, and soul. And standing there, five years later, I was more in love with her that I could have ever imagined that night.
I gently rubbed my hand along her arm and kissed her temple, bringing her eyes back to me and she smiled. "Bella, I have something I'd like to say to you."
Our steps slowed to a stop and her gaze never left me, and I watched as she swallowed hard. "What's that?"
I moved in front of her, taking her hands in mine and lacing our fingers together. "I cannot imagine where my life would be right now if you had never come into it. I'd probably still be that nerdy loner who was too scared to go up and say hi to the pretty girl he saw on the beach, or who sweat profusely over making that first phone call. I will most likely never figure out what I've done in my life to deserve someone as patient and understanding, and who loves me as unconditionally as you do. So, I may joke around a lot, but I don't just want to make an honest woman out of you. I want to spend the rest of my life trying to be the man you see when you look at me."
Bella's lip trembled with her eyes welling again as I released one of her hands to reach into my pocket, blocking out the murmurings around us that once would have made me exceedingly self-conscious. But nothing could take away from that moment with her as I lowered onto my knee and opened the box in my hand, revealing the diamond ring that had been sitting in my father's desk since the day after we arrived in Forks.
"If you'll let me," I finished as I gazed up at her.
She chuckled softly, bringing her free hand to her lips as the tears made their way down her cheeks. "You're still a nerd."
My brow furrowed and I searched her face for a moment before replying, "Uh, okay. Thanks?"
Bella's head began to shake as she lowered down to kneel in front of me, taking my face between her hands. "I loved it about you then, and I love it even more now. I wouldn't want to spend the rest of my life with anything less than the man I fell in love with, right here in this spot."
My lips began to twitch with a smile as her thumbs brushed lightly over my cheeks. "Really?"
"Abso-freaking-lutely," she replied with a giggle, watching as I pulled the ring from the box and glided it onto her left hand. She gazed at it for a moment in its new home, before meeting my eyes again. "I love you."
"I love you, too," I whispered and our lips met slowly to the sound of catcalls and whistles behind us, but I still couldn't be brought to care.
Bella was going to be my wife. We were going to have our beautiful life, I looked forward to watching her grow round with each of our three kids, and maybe we'd even get a dog. And in that moment, once again, I didn't think it was possible to love her more than I did right then.
But I could be wrong. Wouldn't be the first time.
Thank you all so much for reading my little short fic that I could not get out of my head. Hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. Take care!