I woke late. Looking around my old bedroom, I sighed. My father had forced me to stay at home until last year, rather than go to college like I’d wanted. As soon as I’d been able to move out, I’d vowed never to see this bedroom again. Until Liam told me to stay here last night. Liam wasn’t to be argued with.
I lay in bed for a while longer, staring at the ceiling. Finally, I sighed and threw back the covers. I got up, showered and settled in to read, setting an alarm on my phone so I wasn’t late.
I was completely absorbed in my book when my alarm rang out. Time to get ready. I slipped into the purple gown I’d been given for tonight and let my hair out of its messy bun atop my head.
Looking at myself in my mirror, I sighed. My curly blonde hair had reached the bottom of my shoulder blades again. I’d have to cut it soon, or Liam would. He didn’t like it when my hair got too long. Thinking about my boyfriend of three years brought a tear to my eye and I quickly wiped it away and did my makeup. He didn’t like it when I cried, either.
I pinned my hair up in a stylish bun and grabbed my purse before heading downstairs. It was 5:24 by now and Liam would be here soon.
When I reached the bottom of my parents’ grand spiral staircase, I was met with a bone crushing hug from my mother. “Happy birthday, Lisabeth,” she whispered in my ear.
“Thanks, Mom,” I said, pulling back. I saw that she had tears in her eyes and sighed. If she cried, I would too. And as I already mentioned, Liam didn’t like it when I cried.
“Happy birthday, blossom,” said my dad, trying not to cry. “You’re getting old now, what are you, two-hundred?”
I laughed, even though it wasn’t funny. “Twenty, Dad.”
There was a knock at the door and Mom called out, “Liam, what have we told you about knocking? You’re practically family now!”
Liam walked into the living room in a tuxedo and holding a bouquet of white roses. The one flower I hated above all. “You look beautiful, Lisabeth,” he said in awe as he handed me the flowers. A flash of blue amongst the white caught my eye and I noticed a ring nestled in the centre of one of the roses.
“Liam,” I said slowly, “what is this?”
Liam ran a hand through his black hair, messing it up adorably. “Uh, I was wondering if you’d do me the honour of being my wife,” he said. He wasn’t asking if I agreed to it. We both knew what I’d say; the look in his eye told me I’d regret it if I didn’t.
I pulled the gold ring from the flower and looked at it. It had a large sapphire in the centre, surrounded by many small diamonds. It was a little too gaudy for my taste. I looked up at my parents and Liam, shocked. I placed the ring on my left ring finger and forced a smile, tears in my eyes. “Yes, Liam,” I whispered, “I’ll marry you.”
Pulling up to the town hall in a limousine was not something I was expecting. Nor was it something I could describe. I stepped out, wearing the engagement ring that felt far too heavy and holding the bouquet of flowers I hated.
And accompanied by the man of my dreams. And my nightmares. It was only 6:00 by now and my twentieth birthday ball wasn’t scheduled to start until 7:00, but Liam wanted to ensure that everything was being organised satisfactorily.
I sought out the one person who could make me feel better. Samantha Williams was my best girlfriend and I don’t know what I would have done without her.
“Oh my god! You look amazing!” Sam squealed when she saw me. She climbed down from her ladder and enveloped me in a warm hug.
I laughed, my mood instantly lifted. “Thanks. You look pretty great too.”
She pulled away and raised her eyebrows at me. “I’m in jeans and a T-shirt.”
“You look good in anything,” I told her honestly. It was the truth. With poker straight brown hair and big green eyes, she was beautiful. She just didn’t see it.
She waved me off and returned to hanging one of the lights. I glanced at the ring on my finger and sighed. “What’s wrong, baby doll?” Sam asked, getting off her ladder again.
I shrugged, causing the sapphire in my ring to catch the light and shine in Samantha’s eye. “Oh my god! When were you going to tell me about this?” she demanded, examining the ring.
I shrugged again and felt a tear leak out of my eye. I wiped it away quickly and looked around, making sure no one had noticed. “What’s up?” Sam asked.
I considered telling her. I thought about spilling everything. But I loved him when he wasn’t like that. And I was okay, really. Besides, she wouldn’t believe me anyway. I simply shrugged.
I saw Sam’s eyes go wide and I frowned. She subtly pointed at something behind me and I turned to see the one person I hadn’t thought I’d see tonight. It had been four years. It felt like forever. A smile stretched its way across my face as none other than Carson Lyle wrapped his arms around my waist and lifted me off the floor in a hug.
“Happy birthday, Lisa,” he whispered. He set me on the floor and held me at arm’s length, before pulling me in for another long hug. I inhaled his scent, which was the same as it always was, for as long as I could remember.
When he finally let me go, I felt as though a part of me had been taken away. But then I became aware of Liam watching us and I quickly backed away. “Uh, Carson, this is Liam; my boyfr-fiancé. Liam, this is my best friend, Carson,” I introduced them, hoping Liam didn’t blow up about this later.
“Hey, it’s nice to me-wait. Did you say, ’fiancé?’” demanded Carson in the middle of shaking Liam’s hand.
I slowly nodded. Some sort of emotion flashed across Carson’s face, one I couldn’t decipher. But he covered it up quickly. “Well,” he said, “I look forward to seeing you both tonight. Just thought I’d come by to wish Lisa a happy birthday.”
Liam frowned. “Why do you call her Lisa?”
Now it was Carson’s turn to frown. “It’s her name.”
“Her name is Lisabeth.”
Carson looked at me questioningly. “You’re the only person who calls me Lisa,” I explained.
He just nodded. “See you tonight,” he said. Then he left.
I faced Liam, hoping he wasn’t angry, but from the look on his face, I knew I wasn’t going to sleep very much tonight.