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Chapter 9: I seriously need some new clothes.
This. Was. Ridiculous.
I mean, the bloke had seen me with nothing on. He’d seen me in sweatpants and a jumper when it was freezing cold and the generator was being a fucker again. He’d seen me with a Rudolf nose and hair scraped back into a facelift bun when I had the flu... he’d seen me sobbing my heart out because my mum had been taken to hospital again.
And yet I was even more nervous about what to wear now than I was when I first went to meet Potter in the Leaky Cauldron. My wardrobe seemed more empty than ever before, and I had a feeling that the one dress I owned was a little too fancy-arse for Wendy’s cafe. Not to mention it had a big tomato sauce stain down the side from where I’d dropped pizza on myself the night before.
Every piece of clothing hanging there was inadequate – too long, too short, too fancy, not fancy enough... the list went on and on. And as the list of problems got longer, I got more stressed.
I was supposed to be meeting Dan for lunch at half past twelve, and it was already eleven. That might sound like plenty of time to a normal person in a normal situation. But an hour and a half to shower, dry my hair, apply makeup that will have Dan believe that he was a twat for leaving me, style my hair so becomes convinced that I have changed profession to supermodel since he went away and somehow find something in this pile of shit than could make an attractive outfit was no mean feat.
And I was flipping the fuck out about it.
“Molly! Molly, I need you!” I breathed down the phone, holding the phone to my head by pressing my ear against the front and the back against my shoulder, and standing there like some kind of contorted crab. My free hands were pulling apart clothes in a vain attempt to find something that might be hiding – something I’d never seen, never bought, and wasn’t mine.
“Oh, really? Are you sure about that? Are you sure you don’t want me to go and get one of my next door neighbours? You’d probably tell them more than you’d tell me anyway.” I gaped at the phone and slammed my head against the door of the wardrobe.
“Molly, look I’m sorry about what happened with the whole Pot – James situation, I really am, but I need you. Please.” Molly sighed and I could tell that she wasn’t going to relent quickly. I didn’t have time to argue. “Molly, please.”
“Can you just get over here, please? I need you to calm me down and help me get ready. Seriously, I’m freaking out here. I know everything is going to go wrong and then I won’t know what to do and my life will be stupid and I’ll spend the rest of my life as an aging cat lady and –”
“Aimee, what’s going on? You’re freaking me out a little bit – are you okay?”
“Mol, Dan is back. He’s back from Tanzania. We’re supposed to be going to dinner.”
“I’m on my way. Don’t move a muscle.”
“I haven’t looked at this thing since the day I got that letter, and I put it back in the box and threw it behind the chest of drawers,” I muttered to Molly as she apparated into the bedroom and stared at me. I was sitting on the end of my bed, having moved there just after I had hung up. The soft velvet box that held my engagement ring was clutched between my thumb and forefinger, and I was staring as though hypnotised at the little gold ring.
Molly closed her eyes briefly and then opened them again, before crossing the room and dropping down on the bed next to me, and hugging me to her side.
“I’m still pissed off with you, you know,” she informed me, and I nodded. “For a couple of reasons. One, you should have told me. But I have a feeling you already know that one. Two, for dating James of all people. You know that he treats his girls like shit – you better not let him do it to you. But you’re strong, Aimee. I know you’ll be alright. And three, for this. Aimee, he destroyed you. Long before he left, I mean. Him leaving you with a fucking letter was just the icing on the cake – you... I hate what he did to you. You know I can’t stand him for what he did.”
I nodded again, knowing that Molly was going to have to get it out of her system. She’d started to dislike Dan shortly after we got engaged, about three months before we split, and after that it just got worse.
To Molly, his name was now mud. He could do nothing right in her eyes.
“He has the nerve to leave for months, and then come back and just be like... ‘Ooh, let’s go lunch with my ex-fiancée, who I left because she used to get angry about me being a prick’.” I rolled my eyes.
“Give him a chance, Mol – he was right, we never would have been able to get married or anything like that if we didn’t have a break. Things were getting too hard – relationships should be work, but they shouldn’t feel like a chore. And it did. I think he did the right thing by leaving.”
“I know you still have feelings for him, Aimes,” she said suddenly, her voice becoming a lot softer, “but please, for the sake of my sanity, do not tell me he did the right thing. Maybe I would vaguely consider that concept if he sat down and had a conversation with you about it, but he sent you a letter. Can you not see how insanely crummy that is?”
“And just think about James! You’re with my cousin now, and he’s head over heels for you, Aimes. He told me so. He rang me last night to try and convince me not to lay into you too bad, because you didn’t tell me for him.” My mouth dropped open a little as I considered the prospect of Potter doing something to try and help me, and not himself. “I think it would really hurt him if he knew you were going to lunch with Dan without telling him.”
“Who says I haven’t told him?”
“Does he even know that you used to be engaged to Dan? Does he know that you used to be engaged at all?” My gaping mouth gave Molly the wrong impression, and answered her question for me. She frowned and dropped her eyes to the box that was still clutched in my hand.
The ring was gold – nine carat, because we couldn’t afford anything more. I didn’t need anything more than that – it’s not like I could really show it off, working as a receptionist. There was a single diamond set in the centre – just a small one. Nothing on the knuckleduster that Molly wore. Molly’s wasn’t even large – it was just big compared to mine. But I had loved it. It was simple, it was pretty, it was plain... and I loved it.
And staring down at it, having not seen it for just over three months, I felt the strange urge to cry. I wanted to slide it on my finger and go to lunch and act like the last three months hadn’t happened.
I wanted to act like I hadn’t kicked my boyfriend out of our flat, and like he hadn’t left me with a letter to go and tour countries with names I couldn’t pronounce. I wanted to act like I hadn’t thrown my ring across the room and torn down all the pictures of us. I wanted to act like I hadn’t cut myself off from the male species, like I hadn’t started to push myself away from Molly because she was all happy and loved-up and I wasn’t.
I wished I could pretend that I hadn’t then been made redundant, and was forced back to our apartment with nothing better to do than hang around and try not to let myself get on my hands and knees and start scrabbling around for the ring box. I wished I could pretend that I hadn’t ran into James Potter when I wasn’t looking where I was going and then somehow managed to agree to become his false girlfriend for reasons that I still don’t fully understand.
I wished a lot of things, and I would have loved to be able to go back and stop all of them from happening. But I couldn’t.
I ran my fingers over the cold diamond of the ring and leant my head back down onto Molly’s shoulder, letting her once again wrap her arm around my waist.
“Can you help me choose an outfit, Mol?” I asked slowly. “I don’t know what to wear.” Molly chuckled and nodded, before pushing me back onto the bed and skipping to the wardrobe, adopting the usual look of distaste that a vegetarian would wear when walking into a kebab shop.
“Right, well, you’re going to have to wear something of mine. Your wardrobe is full of shit – is this Mark’s!?” Molly dragged out an old Quidditch jersey of Mark’s, with ‘Woods’ emblazoned across the back in large white letters, atop a large number 6. I nodded and Molly looked like she wanted nothing more than to toss the thing out the window and curse a bird into ripping the thing to pieces.
Honestly. Just because someone is a fashion freak. I’m perfectly happy sleeping in a t-shirt. It’s not like anyone is going to see me.
“Is dinner ready yet?” Dan asked, slamming into the kitchen and shoving the long strap of his messenger bag off his shoulder so the bag slumped to the floor. I whipped around and frowned.
“It’s on the stove – can’t you see it?” I asked, gesturing to the bubbling pan of pasta and the frying pan filled with vegetables, ham and cream sauce. Dan rolled his eyes and kicked the bag to the corner of the room, before pulling off his blazer and tossing it over the wireless that was propped up on the countertop.
“You know I was going to be home for six – why didn’t you have it ready?” Dan snapped, and I took my frustration out on the bottle of oil instead of him, by violently shaking it out over the bubbling pasta.
“I was home late from work – Healer Begley asked me to stay late because he had this huge Quidditch pile up disaster going on, so I had to stay and fill in all the paperwork about the ten or so blokes that had been involved. That’s why you should never play Quidditch whilst drunk.” I muttered grumpily, grabbing a wooden spoon and quickly stirring the sauce around.
We didn’t have any of those non-stick pans that fancy-arse people like Molly had, so I had to stir like a madwoman every minute or so, so that I didn’t end up having to scrape it off the bottom of the pan with a scourer at the end of the night.
“Yeah, because Merlin knows that he couldn’t have filled his own paperwork in. It takes a real genius for someone to be able to do that.” He scowled at me and I glared at the plates.
“Oh, fuck off. You get home early and make the dinner then, if you don’t want to wait. It’s only going to be five fucking minutes – make some coffee while you’re waiting. It will be done by the time you’re finished.”
Dan scowled at me again and plunged his hand into his pocket, pulled out a handful of sickles, thought for a moment and then shoved them back in with a giveaway jingle.
“I’m going to the Leaky Cauldron for a drink. You can reheat my pasta when I get back.” Before I could open my mouth to protest, Dan had turned on the heel of his cheap business shoes and was storming towards the door. I blinked and sighed, before grabbing the jar of coffee granules and making myself a mug.
Okay, Aimee, you can do this. Just keep your head down and make sure that no one that looks remotely like a wizard sees you. There aren’t going to be any people that work for the press sitting in a muggle cafe – you’re in muggle London. You’ll be fine. He’s just a bloke. He’s just a bloke – a bloke that is not important enough to break you. You can do this shit.
“Aimes – over here,” A voice called from behind me, and I whipped around to see Dan waving from our usual table, right at the back of the cafe, just beyond the beginning of the huge glass wall. My heart shuddered in my chest, and I internally roared at it to continue beating.
He looked the same as he always had; ignoring the glorious tan he had developed from taking a summer tour around some of the hottest countries on the equator. His hair was slightly more golden, clearly bleached by constantly being drenched in warm sun.
But all in all, he looked the same. Same square jaw hidden beneath long blond-brown flaps of hair, same bright blue eyes that cut through you, same wide smile thrusting his one slightly-wonky tooth into the limelight. He seemed smaller, though – he was never much taller than me, five foot nine in comparison to my own five foot six.
Maybe it was spending so much time with six foot something James Potter that my ideas of what constituted ordinary male height had been warped. I always knew he’d corrupt me.
I stumbled past a couple of tables and nearly fell flat on my face after some random brat jumped out into the aisle in front of me, but I quickly regained my balance and half-collapsed into my chair, the one opposite the seat that Dan was lounging languidly on.
He looked a little nervous, a worried smile slowly fading from the tips of his lips. I couldn’t find it in my heart to smile at him, so I just stared like a twat.
“You alright, Aimes? You look, well, beautiful.” I flushed and smiled down at the cropped leggings and floaty shirt that Molly had forced me into, thanking every deity going that she had sat me down in a chair and refused to let me up until she had brushed my hair straight and charmed ringlets into it.
“Still smooth then, Danny?” I smirked, and I almost winced when I realised how quiet and nervous my voice had come out. I had intended it to be strong and witty – come on, Aimee, strong and witty! You want him to think that you haven’t spent the last three months wondering what to do now you were living on your own.
“You know it, baby. Smooth criminals always remain so.” I smiled and glanced edgily at the harassed looking waitress that was chewing gum obnoxiously loudly and staggering through the packed cafe to get to our table. She halted when she reached a table that belonged to a rowdy family with no less than four under five year olds, who had pushed their chairs out from the table so far that the waitress had no hope of squeezing through the gap to get to us. Dan shook his head at her and stood up.
“Don’t bother coming over, love – we’ll have the burger meal for two, lemonade with a wedge of lemon and a wedge of lime, and a pint of bitter. No ice in the lemonade.” Danny dropped back down in his seat and smiled at me.
“You better hope that’s still what I order,” I muttered, but Dan smirked.
“Don’t try and fool me, love. You’re a creature of habit – you wouldn’t change what you drank if your life depended on it. I remember the time that they were out of lime wedges in Popeye’s, so you refused to have anything to drink.”
I flushed a laughed a little bit; remember the dumbfounded expression on the owner when Dan announced we were leaving because they were ill equipped to deal with our kind of people. He had no idea what the fuck we were on about, but Dan didn’t care.
“I’m not that bad, stop making me feel like a tyrant,” I laughed, and Dan grinned.
“Well, you said you hadn’t had a burger meal since... since everything happened. Did you mean that you’ve been coming here and ordering something else? Because then I really will be worried.” The smile on Dan’s face was beginning to look forced, and I could easily read the concern that was lacing his eyes.
“No, I haven’t been here at all. I’ve avoided pretty much everywhere that reminded me of... erm... anyway. How was... Cameron? Did you like it there? Which place was your favourite?” I started to stammer, and Dan quickly cleared his throat and sat up straight.
When did we get so awkward with one another? And why?
Oh yeah, because he called off our engagement to go and make notes on deserts and massages or whatever else he was going to look at on that holiday of his.
“My favourite place was probably... erm... probably Thailand. I loved it there. It was so culturally rich – it was incredible. And the things I discovered about the Ministry over there were fascinating – you know, the building that they work in was actually built by a man that... you don’t care about who built the Thailand Ministry, do you?” I laughed and shrugged, before shaking my head.
“No, not really. I just want to know what you thought about it.”
“I loved it. Really, it’s everything that England never was. I didn’t want to leave when the month was up – I wanted to just stay there forever. And they really aren’t kidding when they talk about Thai massages – they are the best fucking thing since sliced pumpkin pasty. Seriously.” I forced a plastic smile on to my face.
“Oh. Well, I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.”
Dan seemed to suddenly slip into the midst of an internal struggle, and he ran his hands over his eyes with the heels of his palms to try and clear his head. He blinked up at me and leant a little closer over the table, his elbows resting solidly on the table cloth.
“Yeah, I really loved it there. Aimes, I... I was thinking about taking up a position with the Thailand Ministry – I got on really well with a man that worked there, and he told me that I would fit in really well with the British Ambassador Team. They asked me if I would consider applying for the job, and gave me a load of paperwork to fill in.”
My heart was hammering again as I considered what he was saying. He wanted to move to Thailand. Which was pretty much one of those things that would put the permanent caput on our relationship.
You know, you never really hear of any happy relationships that involve a breakup of the engagement, a possible rekindling and then the man moving to Thailand to talk about Britain. Seriously. When was the last time you read a romance novel that consisted of that?
Never, is the answer that you are looking for. Fucking never.
“Oh. So you’d be moving to Thailand, then?” A crease appeared between Dan’s eyebrows and he sat up in his chair like someone had zapped electrodes at the bottom of his spine.
Neither of us noticed the waitress climb her way through the cafe and drop our drinks down in front of us. She stood next to us; looking like she wanted to speak, but Dan waved her away with a brusque flap of his hand. He waited until she had stalked away, looking mildly offended, before he resumed talking.
“No... If I apparated there every day, then there would be no need for me to actually move there. I may need to spend the occasional night in a hotel, but... no, I wouldn’t have to live there. I want to live here. I want to be near my family and... and whatnot.” I couldn’t help a small sinking in my chest. For one moment, I was convinced he was going to say that he wanted to be near me.
But, I had to remind myself, if he loved you that fucking much, then he never would have left you.
“Oh. Well, that’s a good thing. Where are you staying at the moment, if you’ve been home for two days? Just because, well, you lived with me before you left and you don’t live with me now, so...” I trailed off and glanced down at a small stain on the tablecloth.
It looked like a stain, to anyone who was not in the know.
But luckily, being the ultra cool beast that I am, I happened to be in the know as to what the small back smudge actually was. I bet you’re all dying to know what it is. Well, since I am so lovely and all, I will also let you know.
The black smudge was originally an ink stain that read ‘A.W & D.R’, which faded and smudged into nothing other than a mark when it was found by the owner and subjected to Merlin knows how many layers of soap and water in a vain attempt to remove it.
Being a muggle, removing ink from a cotton tablecloth was no mean feat. This meant that the owner failed miserably at getting it to go away.
“I’ve been staying with my mum and dad,” he informed me, also looking down at the table. “I hadn’t spoken to my mum since I called her to tell her that I’d called off our... anyway. You know what I mean. She hit the roof about that, by the way, and called me many names that I don’t really want to repeat. Told me that if I was going to do something as stupid as that then I didn’t deserve you if you did take me back when I returned. That was actually the first thing she said to me when I apparated back into the house the other day – ‘I hope you’ve come home to try and win back that lovely girl, Daniel. She was the best thing that ever happened to you, yadda yadda yadda...’.” I grinned.
“I always loved your mum. She’s such a sweetheart.” I smiled.
“She likes you too,” Dan shrugged, and I rolled my eyes.
“Yeah, I kinda got that impression from what you just told me.” I laughed, and Dan rolled his eyes again.
“She almost had a fit over the coffee this morning when I told her she had to iron my best jeans because I was going out to meet you for lunch. I think she expects me to come back tonight and tell her that the engagement is back on. So prepare yourself – I have a feeling you might have a voicemail on your machine when you get back to your place.” I laughed.
“Right, like we could just go back to being together the day after you come back.” I laughed again, and the smile once again slipped off Dan’s face. I was almost getting a whiplash, trying to keep up with all his emotions that day. It was like he couldn’t decide what kind of mood he was in – do you reckon that’s an indicator to some kind of social disorder? It would be just my luck if word got out that I was once engaged to a sociopath that went off his hinges and murdered a load of innocent people.
“So... you didn’t come to lunch today with the intention of giving things another go?” Dan asked quietly, and for some reason that lit a match under me. How could he do that to me?
He left me. Not the other way around. An anger that Molly had felt but I myself had never been afflicted with suddenly filled my stomach and hazed over my eyes, and I wanted nothing more than to seize the vase of flowers sitting in the middle of the table and toss it at his head.
“No,” I said, and I was surprised to realise that I was using the Ice Voice that I usually reserved for puppy stranglers and crazed psychopathic murderers. “No, I didn’t. I came here to see you. I came here to... I don’t even know. I came here because I wanted to. I – well, right now I want to leave. So I’m going to.”
“Aimee,” Dan protested, standing up with me and holding out a hand to try and seize me around the wrist. I pulled it away from him and pushed the chair back with the pads of my knees, ignoring the waitress that was weaving her way towards us with a plate piled high with some of my favourite foods balancing just above her shoulder.
“Look, I do want to talk to you again, but I – I want to leave right now. You have my number. Call me.” I squeaked as Dan stepped out from around his chair and tried to grab my wrist again, and quickly dove out around the next table.
“Aimee, don’t just run away because things are a little complicated –”
“A little complicated? A little – please, Dan, tell me what is a little complicated about you calling off our engagement via a letter, before fucking off to Merlin knows where for nearly four months.” The ladies sitting at the tables between us gasped, and instantly swivelled around to shoot Dan disapproving glares. I resisted the urge to smirk.
“Oh, stop being such a coward and just come and sit down and talk to me about it – you need to eat, anyway, you look like a skeleton. You look fucking ill.”
“You’re calling me a coward? You said yourself that you took the coward’s way out.” I shot him a glare with eyes filled with tears and he sighed, looking like he wanted nothing more than to tie me to my chair and force him to talk to me.
“Look, you went to Durmstrang, so you might not understand this, but love – I was a Hufflepuff. It’s not my job to be bold and upfront.” With a sympathetic shrug I struggled around and started to stagger back to the front of the store – where I promptly crashed into a random busybody.
“Woah, sorry – I didn’t mean to –” My voice died my throat as I looked up at the man’s face.
With chiselled cheekbones, a chest as hard as an ironing board and a figure that hovered nearly a head over me – not to mention the cold brown eyes filled with every colour of the landscape that were glaring down at me with untold contempt – there was no mistaking who it was.
“Well hello, love,” Potter sneered, and I gaped at him. “So nice of you to tell me that you were going out to lunch in public to meet the man that you used to be engaged to.”
Dan was silent behind me. Potter became silent in front of me. I was silent on my feet. The old ladies sitting right behind my arse, however, were not silent. And had no problem talking about me from a metre away at the tops of their voices.
I had to agree with them. I was, indeed, fucked.
“I’m exhausted,” I sighed, running my fingers through the thin smattering of hair that covered Dan’s chest. Dan chuckled and pushed my head back by forcing my chin up gently with two of his fingers, before leaning down and pressing his lips softly against mine.
“Are you, now?” he chuckled, dropping his arm to my shoulder and pulling me a little closer into his side. I made an effort to tilt my chin and breathe softly against his flushed skin, until he shivered against me. I giggled and his biffed me over the top of the forehead, before leaning down to kiss me on the same spot.
“Seriously, I’m really tired. I might just curl up into a ball and become a hedgehog,” I sighed, trying to stifle a yawn as I spoke.
“Why a hedgehog?” Dan asked in confusion.
“Because they’re one of those animals that sleep for ages and ages every now and again, right? They hibernate, or something. And I want to hibernate right now. I want to hibernate so that I don’t have to go to work tomorrow and I don’t have to ever be this tired again.”
“Are you too tired to go and make me a sandwich?” Dan asked slowly, and I flicked my eyes up to shoot him a withering glare. I could barely keep my eyes open long enough to do so.
“Yes, I am too tired to go and make you a fucking sandwich,” I snapped, and Dan pouted. Sighing, and wondering whether my entire life was going to consist of running around like a mad woman after this bloke, I pushed myself off the bed with an almighty yawn and tugged one of his shirts over my head. Dan groaned from behind me.
“I didn’t say you had to get dressed, beautiful,” he whined, and I rolled my eyes.
“I either stay in bed and wear nothing or make you a sandwich and wear something all night,” I said coolly, and Dan flipped over in the bed so his back was to me. I didn’t even have to look at him to know that his bottom lip was jutting out in a pout.
He could be such a brat when he wanted to be.
I padded out into the ice cold living room and winced as my bare feet hit the floorboards, which were covered in random flutters of pencil shavings and chunks of graphite stick from the random artistic phase that Dan was going through.
I hurried into the kitchen and pulled out two slices of cheap white bread, spread them with uneven and liberal amounts of basic butter and a few slices of blueberry cheese, before slamming the pieces of bread together and slicing them roughly in half to make two different sized, right angled triangles.
Slamming them onto a reasonably clean plate next to the sink, I hurried back across the living room and hip bumped the door open, keeping my eyes on the sandwich to make sure that it didn’t suddenly flop off the plate and onto the floor. Dan had always been funny about eating things off the floor – when I’m not being funny, but the floor was probably cleaner than our plates.
We were nineteen years old – we had better things to do than wash the dishes.
“Here’s your sandwich,” I grumbled, dropping the plate down onto his bedside table and sliding down into the bed next to him, letting him turn on his side so his chair was pressed against mine and my head was resting on his pillow. Well, we had to share a pillow, really. We had a single bed between the pair of us.
“Thank you, baby,” he smiled, leaning down to give me a quick smacker, “you’re too good to me.” I cocked an eyebrow and flicked him between the eyes.
“And don’t I fucking well know it.”
Dan completely ignored the plate and grabbed one of the triangles, crammed it into his mouth whole and grinned at me with a mouthful of half chewed bread. I grimaced and tucked my head into his chest, ignoring the jerking of his jaw as he chewed. The moment he swallowed, he forced the other half into his gob. The bloke was like a human dustbin. That was where the majority of our food budget went to – feeding him.
“That was a delicious sandwich, well done,” he praised, and I rolled my eyes. “And yes, I do know that you’re rolling your eyes at me, missy. Stop that. Anyway, I need to talk to you.” I blinked a couple of times and leant my head back so I could look up into his face.
“Do you? What about? Is it about this month’s rent? Because I’ve worked out that if we manage to make the petrol in the car last until next week, then we have enough to give in the rent, and buy a loaf of bread and some more pasta and some fruit and whatnot – you know, the stuff for the cupboards – we’re nearly all out.” Dan frowned and shook his head.
“Stop making everything in the world about money – you’re going to get wrinkles if you keep worrying about all that shit.” I rolled my eyes. Dan had always been too cavalier about whether or not we were going to be able to make that month’s rent, or whether we had enough to go to a supermarket and get both bog roll and kitchen roll – we always went with bog roll, for the record. We had a slightly higher demand for that.
“Sorry, I’ll try and relax,” I sighed.
“Good. Because I have something to show you.”
Dan rustled around under the covers for a while, looking like he was sticking his hand under the bottom of the mattress, and then pulled something out. I cocked an eyebrow at him, but he didn’t even notice. He just looked a little apprehensive.
“Aimes?” he asked slowly, and I blinked at him, searching his face for any hint as to why he was suddenly acting like a weirdo.
“I love you.”
“Aw, bless you. I love you too, darling.” I leaned up to peck him on the lips, but he only met mine briefly before he leant back.
“No, I really need to talk to you – stop distracting me with all your feminine whatsits.” I rolled my eyes and leant my head back onto his chest so he could continue on with whatever he needed to talk about. He didn’t want to seriously talk a lot, so it must have been something important if he had bothered to bring it up.
I had just closed my eyes softly when I felt something shifting in the bed next to me, and then something slightly scratchy had been laid on my collarbone, just beneath my lifted chin.
I opened my eyes slowly and nearly choked on nothing at all. A small jewellery box was sitting on my chest – black velvet, no clasp, quite small. Just sitting there, staring at me. For a second I was convinced it was honestly looking at me, but then I regained my grip on reality.
“Is that...” I murmured, and I glanced up to see Dan smirking down at me.
“Why don’t you open it and have a look, instead of asking?” Dan grinned, leaning down quickly to give me a chaste peck on the lips.
I brought a shaking hand up from under the duvet and wasted no time in flicking the little lid open, revealing the winking diamond ring nestled inside. My mouth dropped open a little bit.
“Why now?” I murmured softly, and Dan grinned.
“Lorcan is proposing to Molly tonight – he told me in secret, said I wasn’t allowed to tell you. And it made me realise that I really wanted to spend the rest of my life with you – so I asked him to help me choose a ring for you. This was the best I can afford, but I thought you’d like it – do you?” Dan grinned at me hopefully and I couldn’t help but giggle.
“I love it – it’s perfect.” I grinned, running my fingers over the plain golden band.
“So is that a yes?”
“It’s a yes – and I can’t believe Lorcan is proposing to Molly!” I giggled again, suddenly overtaken with an uncharacteristic surge of cheerfulness that didn’t really suit me at all. Dan grinned and leaned down to recapture my lips in a kiss.
The ring was pushed to the side of the bed by one of his hands, the notion of putting it onto my finger for me not even occurring to him.
“I love you, Aimes , and I know I take you for granted at times – but I do want to marry you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to wake up to you every morning for the rest of my life and known what a lucky bastard I am to have you.”
A slow smile crept its way onto my lips and I couldn’t help but lament on the difference between the man that had been ordering a sandwich five minutes ago and the man that was curled up in my arms now. This was the man that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
“That might be the most romantic thing you’ve ever said to me,” I smiled, and Dan rolled his eyes.
“Yeah, well don’t get used to it. I can only be romantic for so long,” he laughed back, and I shoved him away from my face so I could pull myself back down to his chest. “And oi, don’t think you’re getting away with no proper engagement night, beautiful – I don’t care how tired you are.”
Dan shifted on the bed and leant over me, his elbows on either side of my body to hold him up.
“I’m exhausted, Dan – can we do it tomorrow?” I batted my eyelashes.
“Nopes. Get here and give us a snog, Mrs Richardson,” laughed Dan, and I tipped my head back to laugh. He swooped down and pressed a kiss to the base of my throat.
“I’m not Mrs Richardson yet, I’m still Miss Woods,” I giggled.
“You’ll be Mrs Richardson one day,” he promised. And I believed him.
disclaimer: nothing in this chapter belongs to me.
i didn't half laugh when reading the lurvely reviews for the last chapter ~ about half of you loved dan, and the other half hated him. i was chuckling like a weirdo for ages. but anyway, yeah ~ any new opinions on him in this chapter? and what do you think is going to happen with james?
ellie :) xx