Lucy and Eric are a young couple caught up in the drama of their intertwined lives.
How could she? How could he?
My lungs were about to burst now. My head was throbbing. My heart was pounding its way out of my chest, threatening to rip itself into two pieces.
I wasn't even sure where I was anymore. The walls would not be still. The lights buzzed so loudly that my ears hurt. Every step I managed threatened to send me toppling into the wall.
"Lucy! Luce! Wait!"
I quickened my pace, willing the elevator doors to open before he had a chance to catch up. I could not deal with this right now. Not when I had been on my way to tell him that I loved him. That I was ready to make a real commitment to him.
Thanking God for small miracles, I ran into the elevator, pressing the button for the first floor and watching him disappear as the doors closed. Then, my cell phone rang, startling me. It was my dad. Choking back the tears, I answered the phone.
"Daddy!" I exclaimed, in the cheeriest voice I could muster.
"Hey girl! How is my baby?" he asked, his voice revealing the smile I knew he wore.
It took all the strength I had not to break down at the sound of his voice. My father; the one constant in my life. My mother had her moments, but she was not one for chit chat. She called only when she felt obligated; birthdays, Christmases, all the events that called for parental input. And I loved my stepmom, but she was pretty new to the family. My dad, though, was always there. Always.
"Great, dad. Is everything okay?"
He usually called just to chat, but I would not complain if he had a story to tell right now. The more talking he was doing, the better.
"Yeah. Things are great here. Shaun somehow made varsity. He is the only freshman on the team. And Beth just got finished with her certification. She is now officially a long-term substitute teacher. You know how she loves kids. So now she can spend time with them, but without giving up her time at home."
"Wow! That's great! All of it! I cannot believe Shaun, though. He finally traded the XBox for a bat, huh?"
"I can hardly believe Shaun either. It's something else, considering the only sport he's done before is... Well, there are none!" We shared a laugh at the thought of my younger brother's transformation from video game geek to the school's best ball player. "But enough about him. Is everything okay? You sound like you're upset."
God, was I that bad of a liar? My brain was working overtime, wondering how much more my words were conveying than I meant for them to.
"No, dad. I'm fine. My allergies are killing me, though. And the Benadryl just hasn't kicked in yet." It was not a complete lie. Whenever spring rolls around, it brings with it my own personal hell. And there was no shortage of demons this time around, even if it was only mid-March. It still felt like mid-January. The difference in weather from Callume, Georgia to Chicago, Illinois was drastic.
"Oh. Sorry, kiddo. Well, I was just calling to check up on you. And spread the news."
"Yeah. It was good to hear from you. And tell everybody I said hey and I love them. You know. The usual stuff."
I was out of the elevator now, rushing to make my way through the double doors leading to the streets. This building brought out my claustrophobia. And it was not a good idea for me to linger.
"I sure will. And I hope you feel better. And you better come visit soon."
That would probably be a good idea now. . . Not so much to worry about leaving behind, I thought sadly, realizing that it was the truth.
"I'll try, Dad. You know how it is."
"Yeah, I know. But it's been too damn long, kid."
Kid. He always called me kid. Darn old man, I thought with a grin.
"I know, I know. Well, I'm probably gonna drop the call soon, so I guess I'll talk to you later, huh?"
I could not keep up this cheery fa?ade. I said my goodbyes and put on some speed, no longer damming up the tears. They ran down my cheeks, smearing my makeup, making shallow puddles on my shirt.
I was off the block in record time.
As hard as I tried, I was not able to ignore Eric anymore. He flooded my phone, my computer, my friends' phones - text messages, emails, words passed along from ear to ear, phone call after phone call. It was nearly unbearable.
After a week of ignoring him, avoiding him, I finally gave in. He called for what must have been the thousandth time. And this time I answered. I was livid, at first. But then, when I heard his voice, the anger all faded. I was breathless. I realized then how much I had missed him. But still. . . what I saw. . . . That wasn't something I could easily forget... or forgive.
"Luce. Hey. I've been trying to get ahold of you for days now."
If I spoke more than necessary, I would lose it. I could control my tears as long as I could stay quiet. It was hard enough to fight the lump in my throat, much less talk through it. I had thought I could handle this, but quite obviously I had been mistaken.
"So... um... can you meet me somewhere? Like, now? I know it's late, but could you come anyway?"
Could I do this? Could I face him? Did I really have a choice? Not if I wanted to work things out. It was silly to drag this out any longer. The situation needed to be resolved. And the sooner it was, the better.
"Yeah. I guess. I'll meet you at the coffeeshop in ten."
"Great. And, uh, Luce?"
"I love you."
"I... I'll see you in a few."
Still a bit shaky, I threw on a jacket, grabbed my purse, and stepped into the cold, black night.
As I made my way to the place where Eric and I met for the first time, I tried to brace myself for what the next few minutes could hold. I went through every scenario in my head, telling myself that I had to be prepared for anything that he might say. I couldn't lose it in the middle of the coffeeshop. And I was so close to the edge that I knew it wouldn't take much to set me off. Or to make me fling myself off. So I kept up my internal pep talk as I continued on my way to the coffeeshop, devising a speech for every possible argument. I didn't know how to feel, either. My emotions were scrambled now. I felt disgust at the memory of what first pushed us apart, hate and anger for what he did, love for him, hope at the thought of a possible reconciliation, sadness that I wasn't sure he and my future were mutually inclusive,and bittersweet happiness when I came to the realization that I wanted him in my future, that I wanted him forever. And everything was intensified when I walked through those familiar doors, knocked unsteady by that sweet, rich, unmistakable aroma that only freshly brewed coffee can have. But it wasn't only the aroma that sent my head whirling. . . .
Thanks to another small miracle, I spotted Eric before he spotted me. He was sitting in a booth in the far corner, our booth, macchiatto in hand. I always teased him about his girly drink choices. God, this place brought back memories. Wow. I was getting pathetic now. It had not even been a week since I saw him, and I was reacting as though it had been years. Thinking about the memories that seeing him brought back. Those memories were only weeks old. God, I had to get this over with before it got any more pathetic.
I stole another glance at Eric, half-heartedly fighting the crowd to get to our booth; he still hadn't seen me, and I was in no big hurry to change that. His hair was mussed, proof that he hadn't been here long enough for the wind's handiwork to fade. But he had been here long enough to shrug his way out of his leather jacket. My favorite. He was wearing a deep green shirt that did wonders for his hazel eyes. He looked tired though, and I wondered how much damage my ignoring him had done. . . . As I was mulling that over, he spotted me. Relief washed over his features, but it was immediately replaced by a new sort of tired sorrow.
And who could blame him? I knew that coming back from this wouldn't be easy. And I dreaded it as much as I knew he must. But we couldn't put it off any longer. So I slid into the booth. He passed me a steaming cup of cocoa. I wasn't one for coffee, though I loved the atmosphere of this place. It was amusing to him that I spent so much time in coffee shops, despite the fact that I couldn't stomach the java.
When I finally met his gaze, the anger was back. And then I almost giggled, which shocked the hell out of me. It was a bizarre feeling, being screaming mad and stifling a laugh simultaneously. My body was distracting itself to avoid the sadness, I guessed. Speaking of pathetic. . . .
As I calmed myself down, he began to speak.
"So. I thought we could finish up here, and then take a walk so we can really talk. I know we're supposed to get some rain later, but I think we'll be okay."
Did he mean okay as in safe from the rain? Or did he mean okay as in we would get through this? Did he even know what he meant? Oh boy, double entandras were fun.
"Sounds fine to me."
I sipped my hot chocolate, wincing as it burnt my tongue, and then my throat. Eric took the last sip of his macchiatto, and then started playing with the cup it came in. He always fiddled with inanimate objects when he got nervous. He also started watching me. I was looking anywhere but at him, sipping away at my cocoa. I gazed at the stars, the passing cars, at the people waiting in line for that late evening caffeine boost, the tired baristas looking as though the next customer with a special order would get coffee in their lap rather than in a cup. It was all just a distraction. Delaying the important stuff.
But I had procrastinated enough. It was time. I took another couple of sips of my hot chocolate and told him I was ready to go. We tossed our cups into the nearest trash can, and exited through the side door, trying to avoid the line of late workers on a coffee break.
I knew we were headed to the park as soon as we crossed the street. It was another one of our places and I knew he was hoping that nostalgia would work in his favor. And I knew that he was probably right. The walk to the park was shorter than I thought I remembered it being. We strolled through the outskirts of the park, silent. When we got to the fountain, the place we went on our first date - wow, he was desperate - he stopped and turned to face me.
I felt a raindrop land on my cheek. Eric brought his hand up to my face and gently wiped it away. He let his hand linger there a moment, holding my gaze for a few seconds before dropping his hand and looking away. He turned away and started to pace. Then he turned back to face me.
The rain was falling harder now, but the tree cover blocked most of the moisture.
Eric started to speak, but his voice caught. He cleared his throat and started again.
"Lucy. Luce. I'm..."
"Well, I was going to say sorry, but I guess that works just as well right now."
"Damn straight it does."
''Lucy. Will you give me a chance?! Please."
I stayed silent.
"I wanted to say I'm sorry. And I know that doesn't do a bit of good. But I've got to say it. There is nothing I can say to make you know just how nasty I feel. How worthless and horrible I feel. I can't believe what happened, and I'm sorry that anything did happen. Because it shouldn't have. I never should've let her-"
"Oh. So you didn't have any part in it? It was all her. And you just let her kiss you? And it's her fault you were groping her?"
The rain was falling even harder now, breaking through the trees' leafy canopy. It was cold outside, and the rain was freezing. . . .
"Yes! I mean no! I mean, she came onto me. And I didn't stop her! But I definitely wasn't groping her! I was trying to push her off me! From what you saw, it probably seemed like I was groping. But I wasn't! It doesn't matter, though! I'm trying to apologize, here."
Normally I would have laughed at him, hearing him all tongue-tied. But this was no laughing matter.
"You're right. It doesn't matter. What matters is that you're scared to take the blame for what you did. And I'm not going to just stand here and let you twist this around to make it seem like anyone's fault but yours that you couldn't keep Eric Jr. in your shorts."
"Luce. It's not like that. Nothing happened besides that kiss. And you know it. I told you that I would never hurt you. I know what you saw, what you think you saw. And I swear to you that I can never forgive myself for it. But I don't want anyone else. I want you. Always have, and always will. Look. We've had our moments. And we've always bounced back from them, stronger."
I wanted to believe him. I wanted to run to him now, and to tell him that I was sorry for jumping to conclusions. To let him hold me, warm me, protect me from this bitter cold. To let him show me that all was indeed right with the world.
"It's not about our 'moments,' Eric. Lord knows we've had plenty of 'moments'. This is much bigger than one of our petty little arguments. This is. . . This is real. I mean, just seeing you. And her like that. I just. . . can't forget that. I know what I saw. "
I paused then to catch my breath, fighting back the tears that were accosting my rain-stung eyes.
If only he knew how much it hurt to fight with him. . . .
"Well then, what is it that you saw, exactly? Please clue me in. You seem to know a hell of a lot more about it than I do. I mean, I was there and all, I was the one involved, but I guess you know better than I do. So please. Enlighten me. I'm trying to apologize, and explain myself, but I guess I need to know just what to apologize for, huh? God, Lucy. Just listen to me for once, and try to understand."
"You know what, Eric? How about you take your enlightenment, Mr. High-and-Mighty, and shove it up your ass. How's that? I mean, here I stand, showing you just how much I am hurting, baring my soul. And yet, there you go, rambling on and on about how I don't understand you. About how I don't take the time to listen to you. About how I caught you with your tongue down her throat, groping her, and yet 'nothing happened'."
It was getting colder by the second. I was shivering now. The rain soaked through my hat, and was working its way through my jacket. I was chilled to the bone.
"Baring your soul? Honestly? You don't know shit about baring your soul. You keep everything locked up. You're afraid to let anyone near you. You're scared that somebody might actually want to get to know you. And, Heaven forbid, they might see that you actually have a heart. Now, I've told you that I am sorry for what I did. I am sorry that I hurt you. And I cannot tell you just how much I wish I could go back and change things. But I can't. And since I can't, I'm just going to be here with you, and hope that you can forgive me and that -"
He continued to talk, my heart aching because I realized how much I didn't want to lose him.
"No. I'm not done. I want you to forgive me so that we can move on. Do whatever you need to to forgive me. Tell me what I can do. I mean, just hate me. Blame me for every little thing that goes wrong. Do whatever you need to do so that we can stay together. I don't want this to end just because of a stupid move I made. You've had me from the time we met. And you've still got me. Whether you want me or not, I'm here, babe. For good, for bad, for everything in between. And, God knows that that's probably the most cliched, reflicted thing that has ever been said, but it's the truth. I'm too far in to this to back out and pretend like I'm the same person I was before I met you. Things just aren't that simple anymore. Things are more complicated that I honestly ever thought possible, especially right this second. But I really don't have a choice here. You're a part of me now. Of who I am. And honestly, even if I did have another option, I'd still choose you. Over anyone and anything else. You. And only you. Forever. Until you get tired of me. Until you can look me in the eyes and tell me that you don't want me. Until you can tell me honestly that you don't love me. And I promise you... that the day you decide to do that, I will leave. Then you can live your life the way you want to live it - without me. And I'm hoping that day will never come, but if it does, I will do whatever it takes to make you happy, even if it means walking away."
The rain calmed for a bit, but then picked right back up, heavier than before.
There was no end in sight for the tears now. And talking was more difficult since the lump in my throat had tripled in size. He too was crying now, causing me more pain than I thought possible.
I wouldn't forgive him just because he made a convincing speech.
But I would forgive him. And I realized it as he said the words that let me know just how right we were for each other. So I told him how I felt, no holds barred.
"I... I... I've tried. I've tried to hate you. I really have. I've tried to blame you. I've tried to tell myself that I didn't need you. I've done everything I can to pretend that you're not worth my time. But you are. We are perfect for each other. I never planned to get in this deep. I planned to be able to just walk away from you without looking back. To just be able pick up with my life, as if you'd never existed. But I can't do that now. And I don't want to. What I want is to forgive you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want this mess to just go away. But it's not that simple. You don't know how hard it is when I hear you saying that nothing happened, and yet all I see when I close my eyes is you and... and her... I... Just... just tell me why. Tell me why. . . ."
It was hard to breathe now, sobs racking my already shivering frame. And then, seconds later, I was suddenly warm. His arms were around me and his tears were joining the raindrops on my body.
His voice came in a ragged whisper.
"I want you. That's it. And with Brooke... we were talking and then she kissed me. Out of nowhere. And I let her. I wasn't thinking. And even though that kiss meant nothing, it still shouldn't have happened. And I'm sorry. I know that talk is cheap, but I have never been more sincere in my life. This is so cheesy. But it's so true. I love you. More than you could ever know."
I loved him, too. And it had taken me way too long to figure that one out. So long, in fact, that it would be a waste tp give up on us now. I looked up at him, salty drops obstructing my view. I could see the pain in his eyes. And I knew he could see the hurt in mine. Eric placed his finger under my chin, guiding me as I stretched to bring my lips to his. And it was then that we both knew he had been forgiven.
Brooke came looking for me the day after Eric and I reconciled. I opened the door to my apartment, on my way out, and found Brooke, hand poised to knock. At first, I was tempted to slam the door in her face and go back to bed. But then I realized, what good would it do to avoid her? So, with a sigh, I stepped into the hallway, hoping that I didn't regret it later.
"Hey Lucy," she said, dropping her hand to her side.
"Ummm.... God, this is hard. Can we talk?"
"Yeah. Sure, Brooke. But I'm on my way out, so can we walk and talk?"
"Yeah. That works. Look. I'm... I'm sorry, Lucy. I really am. And I know you must hate me, and I feel so bad. And I mean, there's no excuse for wha-"
"Brooke. I know. I mean, yeah, I was pissed. I hated you at first. But I really do believe you when you say it was nothing. I hope I don't regret believing it. I hope that you wouldn't lie to me like that. I mean, I know we're not exactly the closest of friends, but I don't want to ruin the possibility for a friendship."
"Shouldn't you be slamming me to the ground and pulling out handfuls of my hair right about now?" she asked with a nervous laugh. She leaned over to press the down arrow for the elevators. We were standing beside them idly, waiting for the doors to open.
"I guess I'm just having a saintly day," Well, a good day anyway, I thought. Things were better now. Much better. Last week had been the longest week of my life. "But, I mean, if you insist, I guess I could rough you up a bit... toss you around. Some scratches, maybe some bald spots."
We made our way into the elevator. I hit the button for the ground level.
"Can you guarantee a black eye, though? That's the important part, you know. None of those girly claw marks."
"Sure. Want any broken bones, concussions, goose eggs? Those are my specialty. And I've got this elbow drop that is just mad crazy."
She laughed, noticably more relaxed.
"Oh, might as well. It'll give me more stories to tell. Entertain the kiddies, all that jazz."
The elevator doors opened to let in more passengers. We didn't have to fill the akward, nervous silence between us any longer. I knew that things would be okay between us. Yeah, she would always be the girl that made out with Eric, but she was just a footnote in the grand scheme of things. We could actually get a friendship out of this - as long as she and Eric were never alone together. She waved goodbye and smiled as the metal slid open and revealed a path to the street. I returned both the smile and the wave, and made my way out the door.
I looked at my watch. Eleven minutes to go.
I was supposed to be meeting Eric at 8.
It was 7:49.
And I had gotten the restaurant's address wrong.
I ducked into a small diner for some shelter from the wind. I ordered a cup of coffee and headed to the bathroom. Then I whipped out my cell phone, and dialed Eric's number, as fast as my chilled fingers would allow.
I told him that I was running late, never mentioning that I was lost; he would tease me about it as soon as I revealed the reason for my tardiness. He told me it was fine; he was a bit behind schedule, too. I told him goodbye and that I would see him in a few minutes. Then I called Information and got the telephone number for La Bella Italia, the ritziest place in town. As the phone rang, I touched up my makeup, gazing in the diner's cracked mirror. La Bella Italia's hostess answered, sounding friendly but weary, and gave me a better idea of where the restaurant was. I silently cursed MapQuest for its not-so-brilliant sense of direction. Then I silently cursed myself for relying on something like MapQuest. I closed my phone and rushed back to the bar of the diner, taking a few quick sips of my unsweetened coffee. Then I placed a five-dollar bill beside my nearly full mug and headed back to face the bitter cold, with six minutes to spare.
I eventually found my way to the restaurant. I was not as far off as I originally thought. The sign outside displayed its name proudly. La Bella Italia, I thought to myself, the beautiful Italy. I just hoped the restaurant did not bring shame to the country. The country that was always number one on my list of dream vacation destinations. Italy had fascinated me since I was a little girl. The beauty, the rich history, the food, the music, the language. Everything pulled me in. La Bella Italia was no Italy, but it was close enough for me to settle for now.
And being with Eric only made it better. This was where we meant to meet for our first date. But then his car broke down. So I picked him up and we went for pastries at the coffee shop instead. Of course, it was not nearly as grande as La Bella Italia, but it was comfortable. Like something I'd known my whole life. Like Eric was. There were no fa?ades to break through. It was a coffee shop. And that was all it had to be.
Listen to me. I'm psychoanalyzing a coffee shop now. What is wrong with me? I thought as I stepped into the warmth of Chicago's own personal Italy. The air smelled of tomatoes. But not in a way that deterred me. It took me back to the days with my great-grandmother; she had a garden to rival Eden.
I opened my mouth to ask the hostess where Eric was seated, and was interrupted by a waiter that gently took hold of my arm. He lead me to the table where Eric waited. Eric stood as I arrived at the table. The waiter left, and Eric walked over to me. He helped me out of my jacket, and pulled out my chair, draping my jacket over the back. I couldn't help but smile at his romantic antics as he returned to his seat.
"So how long have you been here?" I asked.
"Long enough to get us drinks," said, gesturing to the bottle of wine between us. "But not too long. Then again, I didn't use MapQuest to try and find this place," he replied with a smile, that special grin that made me melt everytime he used it. The Lucy smile, he called it
"Me? MapQuest? Never," I said. I could feel the blush rising in my cheeks, something that always happened when he cracked that special smile. I rolled my eyes playfully and laughed. I had been found out. "So... changing the subject... what's good here?"
The waiter came back then, bringing with him the most scrumptious looking breadsticks I had seen in my life! His name was Stefan, he told us, and I asked him the same question I asked Eric. Stefan rattled off the Chef's Specials, followed by a explanation of each. After what seemed an eternity of broken English, I ordered a dish of spicy chicken cacciatorre. Eric got brave and ordered the seafood sampler, complete with calimari, which I assured him would not bite back. We talked quietly for a while and devoured the basket of breadsticks before us. Eric poured us each a glass of wine, telling me how beautiful I was. I blushed again and he told me he meant it.
"It's not something I say a lot. But I should. You are way more than I deserve, Luce. Way more. I mean, you're smart. And beautiful. Gorgeous. And funny. And forgiving. And perfect. And I am nothing. Not without you." He gazed into my eyes, and I into his. These were the moments that I lived for. The cheesy, for-the-movies moments that put everything bad into the past, where it should stay. Where it should never leave. These moments made my heart ache with happiness.
I leaned forward to take his hand. Our fingers entertwined as I whispered, "I love you." He lifted my hand to his lips and whispered the same sentiment in return. We stayed silent for a moment, lost together in our own little world.
It was then that Stefan returned, with steaming plates in his hand. The food looked delicious, and smelled even better. Eric and I said our silent blessings and took hesitant bites of our meal. It tasted just as amazing as it looked.
I looked back up at Eric with a mouth full of chicken and pasta. He was staring at me again, a bemused look upon his face. He had hardly touched his food.
"Is everything okay? How's the food?" I asked.
"It's great. I'm still a little worried about the calamari, though. I swear I saw it move," he said, laughing.
"Well, you've got a fork, in case it gives you too much trouble. But then again, I've never heard of an attack by fried calamari, so I don't think you've got too much to worry about. Just try it." I reached my fork over to his plate, spearing a piece of the dead, breaded squid. I popped it into my mouth, trying to prove that the food was bearable. It had amazing flavor and I told Eric that he didn't know what he was missing.
I reached my fork over again, and speared another piece. This time I led it to his mouth. He glanced at the calamari, and then back at me. I tilted my head and raised my eyebrows, daring him to object. He spread his lips and slid the calamari off the fork with his teeth, never taking his eyes off mine. He feigned choking, and then smiled, mouth closed and still chewing. I waited for him to finish, and then asked for the verdict.
"It's actually not that bad. You were right. I bow down to you."
"Well, that's nothing new," I said with a laugh.
We continued to eat, neither of us feeling the need to disturb the quiet around us. A band in the corner quietly began to play.
Eric broke the silence first, "So, I talked to your dad today."
"Really?" I asked, surprised. Dad and Eric got along great, but were never ones to pick up the phone to chat.
I grabbed another bite of my cacciatorre. It was cooling quickly, and it was too good to waste.
"Yes, really," he said, seemingly amused. "Is it that hard to believe? We talked about Shaun, and your stepmom. And how storm season is rolling in over good ole' Georgia."
I nodded, my mouth still full.
"I, uh, also asked him if I could marry you. He seemed to like the idea."
I swallowed my food whole and almost choked. I was coughing and reaching for my wine, when I saw Eric's face. He was smiling, that special smile. Yet I had never seen him this serious.
I finally got my throat cleared, my face burning red. I could still hardly breathe, and I was shaking, but neither was caused by my near-choking.
"Well, if I had known you were going to react like that, I would have waited. Death by choking is not the answer to avoiding this," he said, with nervous laughter. I tried to laugh, but I could hardly remember how to make my lungs work.
Eric got up from his seat, all humor replaced with sincerity. He walked to my side of the table, stopping right in front of me. He pulled me up to stand alongside him.
"I love you," he said, "and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Every second of every day. "
The room started to spin as he dropped to one knee. I dropped into my seat, tears forming in my eyes. He pulled out a small, black, velvet box. I swallowed hard and leaned toward him.
"Lucy Elizabeth Braislin, will you marry me?"
He opened the box to reveal the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. It was not of remarkable size, the thin silver band supporting a round diamond, braced on each side by a smaller diamond. It was gorgeous.
I could hardly speak now, I was crying so much. But I managed to muster, "Yes, Eric. Of course!" He slipped the ring onto my left ring finger. It was a perfect fit.
Everyone in the restaurant clapped, some cheered, others whistled. Stefan dabbed at his eyes like a proud father would. The thought made me laugh.
Eric finally stood, and pulled me up, holding me tightly against his body. Our lips met, and more cheers came. We stood for a moment, and then seperated, returning to our seats. I stole a glance at the fixture on my left hand. It was unreal, this happiness. I thought I was undeserving of it. My life had been less than one of self-sacrifice. I had not always taken the right path. But yet, here I was, lost in this perfect moment. Beginning a whole new part of my life. It wasn't quite a fresh start, but it was something closer than I deserved.
Eric grabbed my left hand, stirring me from my daze. He was amused; we were still being stared at. People were most likely taking bets on how long we would last as a married couple. And if that was the case, I couldn't blame them for their cynicism. I had been burned, too. I knew what it was like to think that happiness was something only seen in the movies. But now, I knew that real, true happiness did exist. And I had found it in Eric.
Still shaken, I thought that if I even dared to breathe, I would faint. Or explode. Or possibly both, simultaneously. As I was wondering if that was even possible, Eric broke the silence.
"What are you thinking about?"
"Honestly? I was thinking about fainting and exploding simultaneously," I said, only partly joking. He laughed. "And about how I wish I could eat, because the food is delicious. But if I do, I know I will puke it right back up. I'm still shaking!" I held my quivering hand up for him to see that the jitters hadn't left me.
"Well. I don't know about the exploding thing. It would be kinda cool to see though," he said, laughing. "But I agree with you about the food. What do you say we go grab some coffee at our spot?"
"That sounds amazing. I've gotta use the bathroom, but I'll meet you out front, okay?"
"Alright. See you outside," he kissed my hand and as I gathered my purse and jacket. I was well on my way to being Mrs. Eric Brady.