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Chapter 5

November 15th 2000

“I can’t believe it’s been a year!” Tommy shakes his shaggy hair. “I can’t believe little Rosa-Lee is eighteen!”

“We’re so proud of you sweetie. Of everything you’ve managed to over come.” My mom squeezes my hand, her eyes glistening in the dim light of the Pizza Hut we are in. “And managing to get yourself into that teaching program. You’re going to be such a good teacher sweetheart.” I smile back at her. I’d at least spent my time well, getting my high school diploma and sitting my SAT’s. I’d always wanted to go into teaching. It was what Dylan had been going to college for as well. I was happy I got to live out his dreams as well as mine.

I’d been deemed over my problems by the esteemed Dr Greene and released from Rainbow House a little over a month ago. Bryan had left nearly six months previously, but we’d been sending letters and the occasional phone call since. He’d even been allowed to take me out on a couple of dates. Supervised, which was really embarrassing. But it gave us hope that we really had something together. Especially on one date where I’d borrowed his Ramones hoodie and teased him as we walked along that he was never getting it back. He kissed me deeply in answer, sliding his hands down into my jeans to cup my bare ass, and then whispered while squeezing it slightly “You’re never gonna get this ass back.”

As per normal Rose family birthday tradition we were partaking in our dinner out. I’d obviously chosen my usual Pizza Hut. In a small change to the norm, my parents had allowed me to invite both Tommy and Bryan to join us. My brothers best friend had spent the last four weeks keeping me company whenever Bryan wasn’t around, and thankfully the two of them got on so he would hang with the both of us sometimes too. He had confided in me that he thought Dylan would definitely approve of Bryan. When he said that to me I felt as if my heart would burst with joy. I thought Dylan would have loved him too.

My parents however were not so keen on my new boyfriend. Especially when he turned up with black tribal-style tattoos running down both arms and across his shoulder blades. Teamed with his long hair and permanently attached army boots, I can kinda see where their worry came from. But after seeing us together, and my dad finding out Bryan was into soccer too, they had come around to the idea of us dating.

While I enjoyed my Hawaiian pizza, laughing at my dad who cannot eat pizza without getting stringy cheese all over his face, I notice Bryan and Tommy are having a quiet argument. I frown. I can hear Tommy saying something about ‘not now’. They normally get along great, why are they arguing on my birthday of all days! I clear my throat and the boys jump. Bryan grins guiltily, and Tommy avoids making eye contact with me, trying instead to start a conversation with my mom.

“What’s going on?” I demand. My dad frowns at Bryan.

“I...um...shit.” Bryan goes red, and look at Tommy for guidance. Tommy just shrugs and shakes his head. “Look, I wanted to do this differently, and I know we’re both only just eighteen but I also know I’m never going to find anyone else quite like you....” I realize he’s walked round to kneel in front of me and is holding my hands. “I love you Rosa-Lee Rose. And I wanted to know if you’d do me the great honor of becoming my wife?” He pulls a small diamond ring from his pocket.

“Yes!” His face splits into a huge grin, and he slides the ring onto my finger. We stand and he sweeps me off my feet in a massive hug.

Around us I am aware of my parents and Tommy congratulating us, and other people in the restaurant clapping, but all I can see is Bryan.

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