“So, are you two like…together now?” Faye asked one night as we sat on the seesaw in the park. Emma was running around with another kid, playing on the slides and swings. It’d been a few months since the accident with Tanner, and ever since then, Tristan had been back in Mr. Henson’s shop, turning it into his own dream.
“I don’t know. I mean, we’re good, but I don’t know what it means. I don’t think I have to know what it means, either. It’s just nice to have him around.”
Faye furrowed her eyebrows. “Nope,” she said, jumping off the seesaw and sending me slamming against the ground.
“Ouch!” I said, rubbing my behind. “You could’ve given me some warning about your leap of faith.”
“Where’s the fun in that?” She snickered. “Now, come on.”
“Tristan’s shop. This whole ‘I don’t know what we are but I’m okay with it’ bullshit you’re talking about is annoying, and we are going to demand answers from him. Come on, Emma!” she shouted toward the slide.
Emma hurried over. “Are we going home, Mama?” she asked me.
“Nope. We are going to see Dick,” Faye said.
“You mean Tick?” Emma asked.
Faye laughed. “Yeah, that’s what I mean.”
They started walking down the street and I hurried behind them. “We should really do this another day. He’s been stressed out with the store, working with his dad to get everything set up for the grand opening next week. I don’t think we should bother him.” They didn’t listen, just kept up their brisk pace. When we got to the shop, all the lights were out. “See? He’s not even here.”
Faye rolled her eyes. “I bet he’s just sleeping somewhere.” She turned the doorknob—which was unlocked—and pushed her way in.
“Faye!” I whisper-shouted. Emma followed her inside, and I hurried behind her, closing the door. “We shouldn’t be here.”
“Well, maybe I shouldn’t,” she agreed, flipping on the light switch, illuminating thousands of white feathers sprinkled around the room. “But you definitely should be.” She walked over to me and kissed my forehead. “You deserve to be happy, Liz.” She turned and left the shop, leaving Emma and I standing still.
“Do you see all the feathers, Mama?!” Emma said excitedly.
I walked around the room, touching Tristan’s wooden masterpieces, which were covered in white feathers. “Yes, baby. I see them.”
“I’m in love with you,” a deep voice said, forcing me to spin around. At the front door stood Tristan in an all black suit with his hair slicked back. My heart skipped a few beats, but in the moment they didn’t seem that important.
“I’m in love with you,” I replied.
“You two haven’t seen any of my pieces yet, have you?” he asked, walking around the room, looking at all of the wooden carvings that he and his father had created.
“No. It’s amazing, though. You’re amazing. This store is going to do great.”
“I don’t know,” he said, sitting on top of a dresser. The knobs on the dresser drawers were carved with words, and the dresser drawers had different lines from children’s novels carved into them. It was stunning. “My dad kind of backed out on the idea of opening the store with me.”
“What?” I asked, confused. “Why? I thought this was a dream you both shared?”
He shrugged. “He said he just got his son back, and he didn’t want to lose him by going into business together. I mean, I kind of understand, but I don’t think I can do this alone. I just need to find a new partner.”
“How do you even start looking?” I asked, sitting beside him while Emma ran around the room picking up white feathers.
“I don’t know. It needs to be the right person. Someone who’s smart. Who understands interior design a bit, because I only know how to sell wood pieces, but I think the store would do better if we had more household items, you know?” My cheeks heated up as he kept speaking. “Do you happen to know anyone who might be into interior design? I need to hire someone soon.”
I smiled wide. “I think I might know someone.”
He slowly ran his finger across my bottom lip before he hopped off the dresser and stepped in front of me, placing himself between my legs. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, and I’ll probably make more. I mess things up. I messed us up. I know you can never truly forgive me for what I’ve done, for how I left, and I don’t expect you to. But I’m never going to give up. I’m never going to stop trying to fix this. To fix us. I love you, Lizzie, and if you give me the chance, I will spend the rest of my tomorrows proving to you that you have all of me. The good, the bad, and the ugly parts.”
“Tristan,” I whispered. I began to cry and he wrapped his arms around me. “I missed you so much,” I said, falling against his chest.
He pulled open the drawer on my left side; a small black box was sitting inside. Picking it up, he opened it and I saw a beautiful, handcrafted wooden ring with a large diamond in the center. “Marry me.”
“I…” My eyes moved over to Emma. “I have baggage. I’m part of a package deal, Tristan. I wouldn’t expect you to have to step up into Emma’s life, but with me comes her.”
He pulled open the drawer on my right side, which held a smaller black box. My heart melted right then and there. He opened it up, and I saw a smaller, almost identical ring.
“I love her, Lizzie. I adore her, and there is nothing about her that is baggage. Emma is a luxury. I’ll take care of her for the rest of my life because it would be an honor. Because I love you. I love your heart, I love your soul, I love you, Elizabeth, and I’m never going to stop loving you or that beautiful girl of yours.” He walked over to Emma, lifted her up, and sat her on the dresser beside me. “Emma and Elizabeth, will you both marry me?” he asked, holding the two ring boxes in his hands.
I was speechless, unable to find any words. My sweet baby poked me in the side with that big goofy grin upon her lips—the same one I was probably wearing on my face. “Mama, say yes!” she told me.
I did exactly as she said. “Yes, Tristan. Yes over and over again.” He smiled.
“What about you, Emma? Will you marry me?”
She tossed her hands in the air and screamed the loudest yes I’d ever heard. He slid the rings onto both of our fingers, and a few seconds later, the shop began to fill with all our best friends and family. Emma went rushing over to Zeus, who came dashing her way, telling the faithful dog that they were now each other’s family.
Everyone began cheering and congratulating us on our future together, and I felt as if my dream had somehow turned into my new reality.
Tristan pulled me toward him, my lips connecting with his as he kissed me for the first time in what felt like centuries. He held his lips to mine, tasting all of me, and I kissed him back, silently promising to love him from that day forth. Our foreheads pressed against one another, and I sighed, staring down at the ring on my finger. “Does this mean you want to hire me?”
He swept me into his arms and kissed me deeply, filling me up with happiness, hope, and all of his love. “I do.”
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