Bonus Chapter - Back to Where It All Began
“What are we doing here?” I asked Matt as we snuck through the darkened corridors of Alderidge High.
Waves of nostalgia washed over me as I remembered all of the memories here. Graduating three years ago; all of the pranks Cole and I had played on each other.
I hadn’t been here since my graduation, and it was strange to think of all the things that had changed. The lockers were a different color, walls had been repainted; everything was fresh and new.
“I’m pretty sure this is illegal,” I told Matt as I tightened my grip in his hand. “I mean, in school after hours when we aren’t even students. You broke in.”
“Hey, the door was open,” Matt pointed out. “They’re at fault here. Plus, you’re planning to be a teacher here, anyway. I’m figuring an early tour should do it.”
I rolled my eyes. “I’m not sure this is a good idea,” I sang quietly.
“Trust me, Grace,” Matt said.
I sighed and looked around at the posters. I had no idea where we were heading; only that we were somewhere in the east wing.
Just then Matt stopped in front of a pair of heavy double doors that I immediately recognized.
“Matt, why are we in front of the study hall?” I whispered.
He looked at me over his shoulder, giving me a crooked, mischievous smile that sent my heart plummeting. “I want to show you something.”
He pushed open the doors and stepped inside. I gasped as I looked around the study hall. Fairy lights were strung around the rows of seats, and rose petals led a trail to two seats that had a candle in between the desks.
“Matt,” I breathed out. “What is this?”
He led us through the trail of rose petals, and I looked around at the study hall that had been converted into some kind of romantic den. I breathed out as nervousness twisted my stomach. What was going on?
He led me through a row of chairs. “So, Grace, do these chairs hold any significance to you?” Matt asked, looking at me through his lashes.
I smiled immediately. “Yeah, these were our usual seats in study hall.”
He sat down in his usual seat, and I sat down in mine. Five years ago, these were where we sat habitually every day for study hall.
“There’s also something else really important about them,” he said.
“What?” I breathed.
“It was where we first met.”
I realized then that he was right. I had first met him fourth-period study hall on my first day in this very seat. This was where it all began.
“And I wanted to do it here.”
“Do what?” I asked, genuinely perplexed.
“Grace, five years ago, in this very seat, I first met you. Even back then, with your blouse stained with green liquid and your hair a mess and your eyes sad, I could see the happiness and life and joy inside you. I could see how beautiful you were, and your smile was the most captivating thing on Earth.
“I know most people don’t believe it, but I am a firm testament to love at first sight. Even if you couldn’t see it, from the very first moment I met you, I was in love with you. There was no girl like you. You were special; unique. You were amazing.
“And then we came closer and I felt like my chance to have you was slipping away. We had our ups and downs, and I honestly thought that I could never tell you how I felt. And despite everything that went on, somehow Fate was on our side. And these last three years with you have honestly been the best in my life. You have made me the happiest man alive.
“And that’s why we’re here, because I wanted to take it back to where it all began. To where our relationship first started.”
He got down on his knee and produced a sapphire velvet box from his pocket and opened it to reveal the most gorgeous ring I had ever seen. It was a gold ring with a thin band that intricately twirled around and let into a glittering diamond surround by other smaller diamonds. An involuntary gasp escaped my lips as I stared at the beautiful ring. I couldn’t believe it.
“Grace Marie Holland, would you make me the luckiest man alive and do me the immense honor of becoming my wife?”
For a second time seemed to slow down, and all I could see were Matt’s earnest hazel-brown eyes and the glittering ring. I had never seen this coming. My heart sped up in my chest.
“Yes!” I screamed, so loud my voice reverberated around the empty room. My eyes filled with tears as an overwhelming sense of joy overcame me. “Yes! Definitely yes!”
His face split into a relieved and overly-happy smile as he slipped the ring onto my left hand with slightly trembling fingers. It fit perfectly, and it caught the reflection of the fairy lights. It looked dazzling.
I leant forward and pressed my lips to his, but we were quickly interrupted as four people ran to the front of the stage and stared at us.
“Oh, my God!” Annie screamed. “My best friend’s getting married. My best friend’s getting married!”
“Good work, my man,” Cole cheered. “Sappy, but still pretty awesome.”
“Isn’t this the sweetest sight ever?” Emilie asked, smiling up at us dreamily.
Alyra grinned up at us. “You bagged a good one, Gracie.”
I looked back at my boyfriend—fiancé—with a wide smile and pressed my lips to his once more.
Because I had bagged a good one.
A very good one.