I've Got it All
Julie looked at Matt and giggled as the East Dillon Lions broke out into some silly celebratory dance on the field. Her dad was beaming from ear to ear, the proudest and happiest she had ever seen him after a win, and there had been many of them over the years.
"I'm going to go congratulate the team y'all!" Tami exclaimed, her eyes shining.
Julie watched intently as she ran off, hustling through the crowd that was just starting to thin out of the stadium and jumped into Eric's arms at full force, planting a celebratory kiss on his lips. It used to totally gross her out when her parents would show affection in front of her (especially in public) but now she couldn't help but look on and hope that she and Matt would be that happy 20 years from now.
Matt swung Julie around to face him, that famous crooked smile spreading across his face.
"I think this is the first time that you and I actually get to spend the night in a hotel room together after a state game,"" he drawled, his voice low and raspy.
Julie giggled nuzzling her head into the crook of his arm.
"Um, you might not want to lead with that line when we see my dad."
Matt grinned. "One of these days, probably a very long time from now, there will come a time when your dad doesn't scare the living crap out of me."
Julie grabbed Matt's hand and they started heading down the steps of the stadium, the celebration still in full swing on the field. She looked into his eyes mischievously.
"Let's go congratulate the champ and then maybe we can sneak away for the night."
Later that night, after the celebrations had thinned out, Julie came out of the hotel bathroom rubbing her wet hair with a towel, wearing one of Matt's worn in Dillon Panther t-shirts. She gazed over at him on the bed, shirtless, just a pair of boxers on, his sketchbook on propped up on his lap, his brow arched deep in concentration. She smirked to herself thinking of how impressed she was that Matt still hadn't lost those rock hard abs, even though he was strolling the floors of an art gallery every day instead of playing football and hitting the weights.
She looked down at her ring still in disbelief over the events that had transpired over the last few days. That long, miserable ride from Chicago back to Burleson, just a few months ago, was still fresh in her mind. The unsettled feeling of leaving him, not knowing what the future held for them had sat like a brick in her stomach, all the way back to school and really never stopped as much as she tried to distract herself with schoolwork and new friends.
She had been doing some thinking ever since the talk she had with her parents after their "conversation dinner" and knew that in order to get her parents completely a hundred percent on board with their engagement they were going to need some sort of strategy. Given their age and the fact that they had spent more time in past year apart than together, a long engagement was probably the smartest route to go, and would show everyone, most importantly her parents, that they were being mature and not rushing into anything.
Julie slid into bed next to Matt and lied on her side to face him. He placed his sketchbook on the floor, sensing she wanted to talk.
"I still have a semester to finish up at Burleson, but after that's over in May, I'm thinking that it would probably be a good time to move to Chicago" she said, glancing at him pensively twisting a strand of wet hair around her finger.
Matt's entire face lit up as he pulled her into his arms.
"Jules-it's going to be amazing to have you there with me. You're going to love it so much."
She traced a straight line with her fingertip up and down his arm and smiled, looking up at him.
"How did we get so lucky?" Julie asked, her eyes dropping shut, snuggling up against him.
Matt grinned and held her tight as they drifted off to sleep.