Authors: Sarah Daltry
Tags: #romance, #contemporary women, #sarah daltry, #series, #teen and young adult, #jack and lily, #coming of age, #marriage, #wedding, #college, #flowering, #new adult, #growing up, #contemporary romance
“I love your thighs,” I tell her. “I love your feet and your toes and your calves and your stomach and your earlobes and your nose and your eyelids and everything about you, Lily. But right now, I am going to focus on something else. Something I love quite a bit, in fact.”
I slip my tongue inside of her and show her just how much I adore her body. When we began this relationship, I was hungry for her physically in a way that was new to me. Yes, it was a driven intensity that started with the need to own her, to be inside of her, to make her beg for me, but the second I touched her, the first time I entered her, I knew I would never have enough. It’s evolved with time, and changed with my love for her. Now, I feel that hunger in a completely different way. My body craves hers, but this is something more.
Lily and I are a force together and I don’t care that it doesn’t make sense. I don’t care that I’m not supposed to be this lucky. I don’t care that she probably still deserves more than this, more than me, because right now, she seems pretty convinced that I have what it takes to make her happy. It’s not just in bed, although we definitely seem in tune sexually. Lily makes me feel like the entire world is possible. She smiles and I truly believe that everything can be okay. In all of my darkest days, coming home to her, knowing she will be here, has been salvation. It doesn’t stop the pain or make the darkness go away; instead, it gives me light and a reason to keep fighting.
After, we lie together, in our bed, in our home, which, after two years, is like a haven from everything else. No matter what goes on in the world, it’s always safe here. I don’t think I understood just how much I needed this, needed
until I ran into someone I had known in high school one day, and my anger drove me until I got home. And then, I held Lily and we ordered pizza and nothing else mattered. Because they can’t reach me here.
I want more tonight from her physically and I know we will stay up late, touching each other, loving one another, rather than watching the movies I’d rented. However, I’m tired and first, as we start to fall asleep, wrapped together, I just let the moment be what it is; her body, still perfect in my mind, is warm and fits against mine.
“In a few months, you’re going to be my wife,” I say, caressing her naked body and holding her tight against me. Saying it aloud doesn’t make it sound less strange. In fact, the word doesn’t even fall from my lips easily. It’s a foreign word, and it is too small for the immensity of Lily. One word could never encapsulate her, my life with her, and the entire future that she has given me.
What amazes me is that no one, including Lily, will ever know just what she means to me. We could have the biggest wedding ever. The entire world could stop for us and it still would never begin to show her just what she is. Sometimes, that scares me, because I feel incredibly inferior to her, knowing I could never begin to be for her what she is for me. And then, she smiles again.
’m gonna be late,” I complain, trying to get out of bed, but Jack just pulls me down and keeps kissing me. I have to get to class, but I really want to stay here like this. “Come on. You
I want to stay.”
“It’s Saturday, princess,” he says.
“It is?” I look at my phone. It
Saturday. I’ve been so busy lately that the days have all spread one into the other. “Well, look at that. Okay, then.”
I cuddle up against Jack and he wraps his arms around me again. I hate having early classes because I have to leave before him, but it’s the weekend and neither of us has to get up.
“What time is it?” he asks.
“Fuck. Don’t you remember last night was Friday? You didn’t have classes yesterday.”
“No,” I admit. “It’s hard to keep track these days. Usually it’s either school or something I have to do for my mom.”
“We have the florist today,” he reminds me.
“Ugh. Seriously. Can’t we just order that shit online?”
“You’re a terrible girl.”
“I know. My mom has told me no less than three hundred and sixty three times over the past two years.”
“Come here,” he says, even though he’s pressed against my back.
“Well, if we’re already awake...”
“Can’t. Gotta get ready for the florist,” I tell him.
“In like five hours,” he argues.
I wrap his arms tighter around myself and rest my head against one of them. “I love you. And I’m going to sleep now, so leave me alone.”
He sighs, but we fall asleep almost immediately and, a few hours later, when it’s a normal time to be functioning, he wakes me up with a mug of coffee and a Pop-Tart. “I brought breakfast in bed.”
“Yum. Cherry frosted. My favorite.” I grab the Pop-Tart, which is realistically my preferred and standard breakfast because I commute more than two hours to school and Jack works more than 60 hours a week.
He sits on the end of the bed, watching me eat. These kinds of things were strange at first, but they have become common. I kick him with my fuzzy socked feet, because it’s weird to have someone watch you chew, but he just leans closer and makes a big show of watching me.
“You suck,” I mumble around the Pop-Tart.
“You’re sexy. Even with cherry smeared across your chin.”
“I’m not sure about flowers,” I say, even though he didn’t ask. “Maybe I should just tell my mom to pick out whatever she wants. I don’t care at all what kinds of flowers are in the windows or on the tables.”
He lies down in bed beside me again. “It’s our wedding. I want it to be perfect, like you.”
I smile at him. “We should run away and elope. I don’t care about these things. I just want to be married. Finally. It’s been two years. I’m ready.”
“Nope. You’re stuck with this. With me.”
“I could never be stuck with you, Jack.”
“So, tell me what we need to do about these flowers,” he says, wrapping his arms around me. The Pop-Tart is gone and I’d like my coffee, but it’s hard to move when he’s holding me. I kind of want to skip everything today and stay like this, although now that I’m awake, I realize we basically have done nothing but lie in bed since Thursday night. We watched
in bed yesterday and we were going to watch
, but we got distracted. In the best possible way.
“Um, they’re flowers and they go places. I don’t know. Believe me, we don’t have to
anything. We just need to show up and let my mother do her thing.”
“Are you sure? It’s your wedding. I don’t want to marry your mom.”
“Well, that’s good. I don’t think she could handle you.”
He bites my neck and reaches between my legs. “Yeah? Why not?”
“Stop! We have to leave in a little bit. We definitely can’t be late because we were in the middle of fucking.”
He laughs, but moves away reluctantly and sits up to start getting dressed. “You’re crass, princess. I had no intention of fucking you. We were just going to cuddle.”
“Bullshit. You want to cuddle? Come here then.” I roll over, grabbing him before he can get anything on, and bring him to me. We don’t cuddle – and we end up being ten minutes late to the florist, but it is so damn worth it.
hat color is your dress?” the florist asks Mrs. Drummond.
This afternoon has been awkward, to say the least. Lily’s dad was standing in the parking lot waiting for us when we arrived, and we were late due to my inability to stop touching his daughter. It’s almost like he knew, but Lily just smiled and went in, leaving the two of us to uncomfortably discuss the timing belt in my car.
For the past hour, we have looked at a million pictures of flowers that look essentially the same. Even Lily seems bored and ready to leave. She had her checklist, provided by her mom in advance of course, which she’d completed, but now her eyes are glazing over as the florist and her mom go on and on about the type of ribbons on the bouquets.
I bought Lily a wedding planner from Barnes and Noble one afternoon on the way home from work, and she carries it everywhere. It’s tattered and everything is crossed out and rewritten and messy, but she clings to it like it’s all she has left of her control over this production. Less than a month after I bought it, her mom showed up with a file cabinet, complete with color-coded files for each task. I am a little happy to report that it’s buried under clothes Lily refuses to hang up.
“It’s light purple,” Lily says now, about her mom’s dress, and she looks between me and her dad for help. We can’t help. This is horror incarnate.
“Actually, it’s muted plum,” her mother corrects, which sends the florist into a room stocked with ribbons. Mrs. Drummond pulls out a piece of fabric, something she calls a swatch, and they team up to match ribbons for corsages. The worst is that when they finally finish, they do the same thing with Lily’s dress. It’s white. I don’t know how many possible shades of white there can be. Well, I
know until the florist takes out a tackle box with every shade of white that apparently exists. Twenty minutes are spent comparing the square of fabric to other squares and another twenty are spent holding the square up to various flowers.
“Did you have to cut that off your dress?” I ask, because why the fuck is there is a square from Lily’s dress?
“Oh, Jack,” Mrs. Drummond says, shaking her head. For the last year, I kind of feel like a toddler whenever she’s around and we’re planning anything wedding related. And, well, for the last year, we are generally planning something wedding related during every free second we have.
“So, where are you going on your honeymoon?” the florist asks me once she has found the appropriate whiteness and is writing up an invoice.
I’m about to say Paris, until I look down at the paper she’s filling out. “Does that say fifteen
?” It’s rude and I shouldn’t have said anything. I haven’t asked and I try not to pay attention to costs for things, but there is no way flowers cost that much. There just isn’t.
Lily’s dad coughs and reaches for the invoice.
“Thomas,” Mrs. Drummond admonishes and he just gives up. I look over at Lily and she shrugs.
Maybe other people would find it grating, but there’s something about it that is also comfortable in a way that I hope someday Lily and I will have. Her parents have an internal communication system and yes, it may be about an obscenely overpriced bill for their daughter’s wedding flowers, but neither of them is angry. It’s just a clearly equal division of roles. These little moments with Lily’s family are odd and often a little irritating, but I recognize that they’re also the only times I’ve ever witnessed what it’s like to be okay. At no other point in my life have I seen such simple and easy living, and it burns in me. I want this for me and Lily. We have started to nurture something like it, but I want to be here someday. Well, maybe not here exactly, because I don’t want kids and I will never have fifteen hundred dollars to spend on flowers and really, I never want to sit through another afternoon like this, but I want that
Lily takes my hand and whispers, “I love you. It’s always going to be us.” I love that she knows what I’m thinking, and I almost answer, but there’s no need. Instead, I turn to the florist, who is waiting to be paid.
“We’re going to Paris,” I say in response to her original question.
“That will be fun,” she says absently and takes Mr. Drummond’s credit card. “Paris is romantic.”
“Yeah. It will be perfect,” I agree.
ell, that was awful,” I say as soon as we finish dinner with my parents and they head home. Dinner wasn’t bad, except my mom had a new set of printed checklists that she wants me to complete this week. I swear, I have more homework from my mother than I do with two senior literature seminars.
The first task is to see the DJ. It’s already after eight and we have that appointment in the afternoon tomorrow. Since I spent all day relaxing with Jack yesterday, I ended up accomplishing nothing for school and I have three novels to read by Tuesday. Plus an annotated bibliography, but I just don’t have the energy to turn on the computer or read right now.
“It was okay. I mean, the flowers were kind of ridiculous, but they’re really happy. You’re so lucky,” Jack replies.
I settle on the couch. “I guess. Do you want to complete these checklists?”
He starts making popcorn and doesn’t answer, so I turn on the TV. We decided we’d watch
tonight and return it on the way to the DJ appointment tomorrow, although I don’t know if I can stay awake for an entire movie. When he comes back, he mutes the sound, places the popcorn on the coffee table, and sits next to me.
“Can I tell you something?” he asks.
“I know your thoughts on it, but hear me out. We don’t talk much about the things that have happened-”
“It’s in the past,” I say, because that’s where I want it and that’s where we’ve mostly managed to keep it. I’ve grown so much with Jack and our relationship has evolved. I don’t want to hang on to mistakes we’ve made or the hurt I’ve felt. He squeezes my hand, though, and I don’t say any more.
“I just need to say it. Lily, you’re everything to me. It’s a burden, because I’m not easy, and I still fight with all the things that make me so wrong for you, but you have given me things that I am so glad I stayed alive to experience. You make me happy that I failed at dying, because with you, none of the other stuff can get to me.
“I still wake up some nights and think of my mom. I don’t know why, but sometimes, on the bus to work, I get a flash of watching her die. Over and over. It’s an image that plays in my head and it will for the rest of my life. I know people say I should move on. Therapists have told me I’m clinging to it, but I don’t want to cling to it. It’s my mind, though. It’s not like I can turn it off. But now, when it happens, princess, I have another image. I have the image of you. Sometimes, when I’m really low, it’s the image of the hurt I caused when I tried to give up. I can’t do that to you again, because I want to dedicate my life to keeping that kind of pain away from you. Sometimes, though, the images are just of you doing laundry or reading or dusting a lamp.”