Chapter 20: Kiss The Girl

Luis' POV By Star

      I sit with the Bash Lovers alternately acting like nothing is wrong and biting my nails down to the quick with worry.  I'm surrounded by people that I've met and a couple of people that I've only seen in photos and I can't seem to think of anything to say at all.  Every so often either Fulton or Portman squeeze my shoulder reassuringly, they've given up trying to get me to join in the conversation.

      My stomach is tied up in knots, my hands are shaking and I've accidentally pulled two buttons off my shirt while trying to keep my hands occupied.  I'm now shredding a napkin that Fulton has given me in the hopes of saving my shirt.

      Portman digs me in the ribs.  "Sorry."  I mutter and put the remains of the napkin on the table.  I might have to sit on my hands to stop me fidgeting.

      "No."  He says softly.  "Look."  He nods over to the entrance, where Annie is standing.  Her face is pale and hair is standing on end (I know for a fact that when she's nervous she runs her hands through it, she resembled a deranged poodle during exam week).  Despite this – or maybe because of it - I stare at her and wonder why I've never noticed how beautiful she is.

      I send a nervous smile in her direction, and to my amazement she returns it.  The Bashes wish me luck as I get to my feet and walk over to her.

      "Hey."  We both say at the same time.  We both smile and I try again.

      "Um, can we talk?"  I ask at the same time as she says, "Can we go for a walk or something?"

      Again we grin at each other awkwardly.  In a moment of panic I offer her my arm, I curse myself for such a stupid gesture, but then she smiles again and takes it.  Ok, that could have gone worse.

      We walk out of the bar and into the night air.

      "So, um, how are you?"  I ask.  Once more I'm kicking myself for my stupidity.  How on earth did I manage to steal Traci from under Riley's nose when I'm completely unable to talk to my very best friend in the whole world?

      Annie removes her arm from mine and perches on the back of a bench.  "Kinda messed up."  She admits.  "I can see that we make a nice couple –"

      I wince involuntarily.  I don't want to hear this, it sounds like the beginning of 'hey, I want a divorce'.  I'm going to kill the Bashes, assuming I live through Annie trampling all over my heart.

      " – what with me…"  She sighs then looks me in the eyes, brushing a stray curl out of her face, "being in love with you."

      I take it back.  I love the Bashes.  I must buy them something nice.

      She sighs again.  "But…"

      Ok, I will kill them after all.

      "I'm sure I was meant to date you before I married you."

      Or maybe I won't.  I suddenly laugh and Annie looks hurt.  I take her hand so she doesn't run off before I can get my laughter under control.  "Annie," I grin.  "We've been dating for years.  Except we didn't know it.  And I have to say that we're both incredibly stupid, because everyone else here noticed we were dating."

      She giggles shyly.

      "And just for the record," I add.  "I'm in love with you too."

      "I know."  She nods seriously.  "Peter told me.  So did the Bash Lovers.  And almost every single Duck."

      "Yeah, they told me too."

      We smile nervously at each other, and I realise this is it.  This is the part where I kiss her.  I've never felt so nervous in my life, and that includes the time Traci dared me to make out with her in Riley's room.  My heart is pounding madly as I move towards Annie, who decides to deal with my nerves in her own way.  She puts her hands on my shoulders and kisses me lightly.  I wrap my arms around her, pulling her closer and I realise that I should have done this a long time ago.

Annie's POV

      After several more earth-shattering kisses, we decide that it would be polite to go back to the bar and hang out with the rest of the Ducks.  Which we're doing right now.  Honestly.  It's not our fault that we keep having to stop and kiss.  We're making up for lost time here.  Ok, so maybe we should walk a bit faster, but nobody will notice we're gone.

      "I should buy you a ring."  Luis says.  "Or at least, a nicer one."

      I look down at my finger.  Somewhere along the line, we managed to acquire two rings before we got married, they're plain and simple.  "I think we should keep these ones."  I reply, and with a start I realise that I'm no longer Annie Jones, but Annie Mendoza.  I'm not too sure it goes, but given enough time I'll get used to it.  "I think you should save your money for gambling, I want to go to Spain."

      "You might want to move there when your mother finds out you got married in Vegas."  He points out as we start walking again, his arm casually slung over my shoulder.

      I pause.  "Oh dear.  She was really counting on one of those silly white weddings where half the city turns up with gifts that have been pre-ordered from Tiffany's, and my real friends aren't allowed to come because their dresses are from a shop in the mall instead of being imported one-offs."  For a moment I'm worried, but then I start to laugh.

      Luis joins in.  "I can't wait to see her face when we show her our wedding photo."

      "She'll flip."  I agree cheerfully.  I now can't wait to tell my Mom.  We're still grinning like loons when we enter the bar.

      For the first time I notice that Charlie looks happy.  Everyone does.  I'm going to have to thank him for organising this trip, it's pretty much the best thing that ever happened to me.

      Luis sits down next to the Bash Lovers, and I sit on his knee, my arm around his neck.

      "Either it went really well," Portman says.  "Or they've gone back to Just Good Friends and they're even snugglier than before."

      "I'm betting they're Just Good Friends."  Fulton replies.  "Anything else would be a minor miracle."

      Luis and I grin at each other.  I suppose we deserve this teasing.  "We're in love."  I confirm.  "And we're still really good friends."

      "And the marriage?"  Fulton asks.

      "We're thinking of Spain for the honeymoon."  Luis replies.

      Portman goes to the bar to fetch several bottles of champagne and passes it round to everyone.  The Fulton shares the news not just with the Ducks, but with everyone in the bar.  It gets to the point that he stops passing strangers to tell them the news.

      I sit on Luis' knee, drinking my champagne, giggling, talking, and sometimes kissing my husband (each time, this is accompanied by a sarcastic 'awwww' from the group), and I realise that this is what a 'happily ever after' feels like.