Authors: Lauren Pacaccio
I loved his kisses. They were sweet, yet extremely passionate. We really were going to miss the reservations if we didn't get going soon. I giggled and sweetly pushed him away. He smiled, with his perfectly straight teeth and grabbed my hand as we walked out.
The restaurant was amazing. I was just finishing up my crème brûlée when the champagne came out. Braden was smiling like a crazy person and I suddenly realized what was happening.
Maybe I was wrong. How embarrassing would that be if it was just champagne that he ordered just because it was our anniversary? "Never jump to conclusions." Some of mother's advice. He poured me some champagne and I took it. He held up his glass, proposing a toast.
He cleared his throat. "Happy Anniversary, and to many more." I smiled, and said, "To many more," and we clinked glasses. I sipped the champagne.
Suddenly, Braden's fork flew off of the table. He blushed and looked very embarrassed. He got on the floor to pick up the fork, but when he put the fork on the table, he didn't get up. Instead, he was on one knee, with a little box in his hand.
I gasped. This was it. He really was doing it.
"Paisley Rose Johnson, I love you more than anything. We've been together for three years now and I have honestly never been happier. When I picture my future, no matter what, you are always in it."
I was crying now, with a huge smile on my face. I was nodding, but I didn't think he noticed it. He was looking into my eyes, holding my hands, smiling along with me. People in the place were watching with anxious anticipation.
He was still talking. "From the moment I saw you, studying your ass off in the library sophomore year, I fell in love. And I just knew. I knew you would be the biggest, most important part of my life. I knew I wanted to be your friend, your lover, and soul mate. Forever and always. Now, Paise…"
I nodded at him, happy tears rolling down my face, smiling like crazy, "Now, Bray?" I said, laughing.
"Will you marry me?"
I made a face, pretending to think about it. I looked down at the ring he had just presented to me. It was beautiful. Simple, but elegant.
"Braden Alexander Abernathy, of course I will."
After that night, I was so excited, I could barely sleep.
I had to tell everyone I knew. But, for my family, I had to tell them in person. So, Bray and I would go down for the Christmas holiday. The holidays were only a few days away. I had talked to my parents and asked if we could stay with them for two weeks. I rarely get to see them, so me wanting to stay with them wouldn't give anything away.
I called work for the fifth time that day. Double, well fifth-checking that I was indeed off for the two weeks I had requested.
"Honey," Nancy, the desk assistant said, chuckling under her breath, "yes. You are all set. You can go and visit your parents for Christmas."
I laughed and blushed, looking down at my ring, "Nance, wanna hear a secret?"
I could practically see her looking around before replying, "Oh, honey," she said, "you know I'm always here to…well hear some gossip. What is it?!"
I laughed, "Well, it's nothing like bad, Nancy. It's just that…"
I paused, trying to torture her a little bit.
"Well, get on with it, girl!" She said, whispering.
"Braden and I are engaged."
There was silence for a second, but then some sort of noise came through the receiver. "CONGRATULATIONS, baby doll! Oh my gosh, well good gracious. I got so excited for a second. I had to put the phone down so I wouldn't scream. Oh, that Braden is such a good man, Paisley. Good, good choice."
"I was thinking the same thing," I said, laughing. "Nancy, you're totally invited to the wedding by the way."
She laughed, "Well, that's great! Have a great vacation, and tell Braden I said, 'Congrats!'"
We hung up and I got so much more excited, I couldn't even sit down.
I went into my room, where Daisy was taking a nap. I got my suitcases out and started to pack. I didn't know what we would be doing during the vacation. We could be going to dinners, church, or hell - we could be going in the hot tub one night. You never know with my family. I had to pack everything. And packed everything I did.
Braden came over that night. He wanted to tell me about his day and we would have dinner at my place.
"Babe," he started, his serious tone caught my attention. I looked over at him, making sauce for the noodles.
"What is it? Did something happen today?" I was boiling the noodles. They could wait. I walked towards him, and put my arms around him.
He exhaled slowly, "I have some good news and bad news."
Oh, Lord. That can never be good.
"Okay, what's the good news?"
"Since I am a teacher, I definitely get two weeks off for Christmas vacation."
"However, since my principal has something up his ass at all hours of the day…"
I cringed. Here comes the bad news. He was right. His boss was some sort of Nazi.
"…he asked me to stay for three days during vacation to help him brainstorm his next 'big idea' for the school."
I frowned, "But…Bray, didn't you tell him why we were going out of town?"
He nodded, "Yeah, but like I said…the stick was firmly in place. He told me that after those few days, I could leave and do whatever I wanted for the rest of vacation, but if I wanted to keep my place in the school, I would have to stay with him, along with a couple of other teachers."
I was upset, sure, but there was nothing I could do about it. I didn't want to upset him even more by being too upset. It was only a couple of days. I could handle it.
"Well, that's alright, babe," I said, going back to the noodles to drain them, "I understand."
"I knew you would, but I really am sorry, hun," I felt his arms, once again, come up from behind me. I leaned against him and I felt him kiss the top of my head. "But I have some more good news."
"Oh, really?" I said, turning to him.
"The sauce is done!" He yelled excitedly, motioning towards the pot.
"Oh, goodie!" I chuckled and got some plates for us. We made our dinner and ate together.
We talked about all sorts of things like we always did. Our relationship had the most communication in it than any of my other relationships combined.
We already knew that we wanted kids, how many, and when we would start. We already knew where we would live after we got married. We had even talked about getting married before he proposed. "I am so excited to tell everyone," I said, smiling like crazy. We were watching a movie then on my couch. It was a movie we had seen a dozen times, but for whatever reason, was one of our favorites.
"Me too," he said, lazily tracing patterns on my shoulder. His arm was around me and I was nestled up against him. So comfortable and right. Just perfect.
He was tired, though. I could tell. You get his stomach full, and he is practically done for the night.
"Hey," I said, sitting up quickly.
"Hi!" he said, laughing. He looked at me quizzically. I ran my hand through his hair, slowly. It was just so soft; I couldn't keep my hands out of it.
"Hi," I said, kissing him.
"Oh," he said, catching on, almost whispering now, "Hello."
"I was thinking," I said, between kisses.
"What were you thinking?"
"We should make up for the fact that you won't be there with me for three days…"
"Oh, you vixen, you," he said, pulling me onto his lap. He brushed the hair out of my face, and tugged at my t-shirt.
And made up for it, we did.
Being engaged was a weird concept. Now, when people looked at my hand, they knew. They knew I was about to commit myself fully to another person.
And if I was any happier, I think I really would have passed out.
I didn't want anyone to harsh my happy buzz. I felt like I could fly, that's how happy I was.
I was not happy, however, about the fact that when I knocked on my parents' door, I was standing there alone.
Braden would be there in a couple of days, but I would be essentially alone for those few days. And I wouldn't be able to tell anyone about my big news. My ring was tucked away in the pocket of my jeans.
The door opened. My poor mother looked old. Not like crippled, but much older than the last time I saw her. And she looked surprised. "Is it 3 already?" She looked down at her watch. It was.
"Hi to you, too, Mom," I said, walking in to my childhood home. "Where's dad?"
My mom gestured to the kitchen. "He's in there, but," she said, while hugging me, "he's not alone."
"Well, that's alright, Mom," I said, hugging her back, "I'll just pop in to say hi and then go put my stuff in my room."
She nodded. I expected her to go back to whatever room she was in before I got there, but she followed me into the kitchen. I heard two very familiar voices, and my heart sank.
One was my father's, who turned and smiled when I raced in and said, "Guess who is here!"
Holding my hands up like a fool, smiling like a loon.
Like I said, my heart sank, along with my arms. My smile was gone.
The other person, sitting at the table with my father was looking at me, slightly smiling with an amused expression on his face.
"Hey, honey. I guess we just lost track of time. How was your drive here?"
I blinked a few times. No, I was definitely awake.
"Um, the drive here was alright. The same as always." I looked at my father, trying to get him to explain to me why the person that was sitting at the table was there. That person spoke.
"Well, hey, stranger. I didn't know you were coming in for Christmas."
I gave him a "duh" look. It was Christmas after all. I knew I didn't visit a lot, but come on.
The other person got up and walked towards me.
What was he doing here? That's all I could think at that point.
Him, of all people.
I was too shocked to do anything, so when he hugged me it was all I could do just to hug him back.
While he hugged me, he said,
"It sure has been a long time, huh? I've really missed you, Pay."
I was shell shocked.
He was here. He was here during the vacation that I was going to tell my family that I was getting married.
I hadn't talked to him in almost four years. And he had the nerve to come up and hug me like we were old buds.
Now, I was in my room, on the phone with Braden.
"I'm glad you made it there alright," he was saying. He sounded so bored.
"Yeah, me too. But I'm all alone. I wish you were here."
He sighed, "Me too. I miss you, Paise,"
"Everyone was wondering where you were," I said, lounging on my bed. I was debating whether or not I should tell him about Hunter. It wasn't a big deal, but I didn't want to mention it just in case, for whatever reason, Braden might get annoyed. Of course, he knew all about Hunter. We had gotten together about a year after Hunter and I had broken up. I was still a tad upset about it, but I had buried myself in my school work all of freshman year. The beginning of sophomore year, I was doing the usual: holed up in the library, researching for one thing or the other. And that's when I saw him.