Living With The Boys (Journey to Love, #1)

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Hope’s POV

Looking down at that podium, I just see a sea of black robes but somehow, I can recognise my guy out of everyone. Today has been such a long time coming for him, all the hours and months of hard work that he has put into this has all led to this. I have only just finished my first year while he has been working towards this for about five years.

I refrain myself from shouting since weirdly enough, even though the room is packed with students and family all here to celebrate, everyone wants to hear the names being called out. It feels so weird sitting up here with his parents, almost bouncing in my seat with excitement as they move up the line.

It feels so natural to be up here supporting him, being the proud girlfriend who could just cry looking down, I brought tissues just in case. The whole ceremony has been quite long but I have been the cliché girlfriend and have been posting on social media all the time. I might not like posting my whole life on social media but at times like these I just can’t help myself, I guess us millennials really do have a problem.

“He’s very happy with you.” Speaks Krissy, Mike’s mother from next to me and even though they make me feel extremely welcome and appreciated, I always fear that I’m going to say the wrong thing and make them hate me. That hasn’t happened yet and I lived with them for over a week.

“I’m happy with him too.” I reply because it’s the truth, we have our problems like every other couple but they’re nothing compared to how he makes me feel every single day. I have become that girl who is obsessed with her boyfriend, he is all I think about and I won’t even apologise for it.

Here at his graduation I am beyond proud that he is mine, we both have a lot of work in our future but like a couple of months when we made things official, I have enough hope to carry me forward. I am so excited for what is to come, it’s weird that I can’t wait for it to be 10 years into the future and for us to be in some completely different place in our lives.

Mike has already managed to secure an internship at one of the top companies in his field. Of course, he is not going to get paid a lot but this is his chance to start climbing up and actually make a difference, inventing is his passion and he amazes me all the time with the things he comes up with. While I have been looking for a part time job so I can at least make something, help with the bills even though I still get student loans, you can never be too safe with money.

We have all decided to rent a two-bedroom apartment as we no longer need four rooms or a house. Martin and Mark are on the other side of me, all of us here to support Mike at his graduation. He has just turned 23 so he’s a bit older than all the other people on his course but as he took a gap year and then switched courses in his first year, he fell a little behind.

All of that just makes this moment all the more special. Knowing how hard he has worked to get here, he has told me many times how he has wanted to give up and just go into some boring job because he couldn’t find one he loves. Now he is down there getting his first-class diploma in something that he loves, with a job already lined up and hopefully as happy with me as I am with him.

He looks very handsome in his robe as he is the next in line to get called out, I get my phone ready to take a video. I may be going overboard with how excited I am as his parents next to me are not both filming it but just his mother. I have found that his dad is mostly very quiet with the occasional moment when you can’t get him to shut up, mostly after a couple of beers.

I have everyone that counts around me, except for Lily because of course she’s not going to pay the fee to be here for someone she doesn’t really know. I hold my breath as they call out Mike, everyone starts to clap like they have for everyone. Of course, I can’t just clap so I stand up and blow him a kiss, while shouting at the same time. Not giving a single fuck as some parents and relatives give me the side eye because I am loud, this is only happening once so I can damn well be as loud as I want to be.

“I’m proud of you, babe.” I mouth and text him, knowing that as soon as he takes his diploma he is going to check his phone and see it. I rewarded with a massive smile as he looks up while walking off the stage and mouths ‘I love you’. The simple words which are now a regular in our relationship warm me every single time.

“You guys are so in love that is sickens me.” Complains Martin from beside me, of course living together as two couples now has been different. Surprisingly Mark has been very sweet and cute with Martin, not that he isn’t a nice guy. I just thought that since they were best friends before this and have always acted like the typical guy friends, that them being in a relationship wouldn’t be massively different.

Weirdly enough, Martin has become like one of my girlfriends. Just like me he loves to talk about anything and everything. If there is something going on with Mike that I need someone to talk to about, it’s most likely Martin. One of my more prouder moments is when we had a fight and I went to sleep in Martin’s bed and we grouped the twins together in one room, like they were little children.

Safe to say that the next day both of them were very grumpy but apologetic at the same time, I have never seen Mark be so up his brother’s ass than that morning. It was very funny to watch. Ever since then, I don’t think we have had an argument that big.

Of course, the romantic softie in me loves the fact that Mike is avoiding big fights like that because it means we need to spend time apart. The spell has still not worn off, I sometimes have to pinch myself to remind myself that this life is real. There is a guy that loves me, cherishes me and is obsessed with me, the same way I am about him.

I have chosen to ignore the many people who have said that all of this is just the honeymoon period. That we are going to get sick of each other, given that we skipped a couple of relationship stages. Living together might just be the best thing in the world, I can’t imagine going days or sometimes weeks to see him again.

Every relationship is different, some need the time apart and cherish it. All of that is healthy to an extent, if I’m away from Mike for the whole day or night then I miss him like crazy. I guess I am just the lucky one to be in love with my best friend.

I don’t know what it is about today that has me feeling all emotional, it seems as though every single thought that makes it through my mind today is going to be something to do with how much I love him. On any other day I would be making myself sick, but why is it such a bad thing to be happy?

“You guys are no better.” I reply once I sit back down and turn to Martin, taking note that he is holding Mark’s hand and he is lecturing me on being in love. But I’m going to let this one go, there is no point in talking about who’s more in love anyway. Guys are sometimes weird about showing how in love they really are, but I see the little things like how Mark’s always makes Martin coffee in the morning or when they have an essay due. Or, how if he makes a sandwich or snack for himself, he makes the same for him.

“Who would have thought that we would both be in love by the end of the year?” Asks Martin beside me and I know that he is sometimes like me taken back by where we are. Not because we doubt how much the guys love us but everything has changed but not much feels any different.

“You guys are the worst to go anywhere with, this is why I don’t like watching movies with you.” Mark interrupts from around Martin, he really does hate when someone talks during and event or movie.

“Yeah, which is why we watch Netflix every night.” Martin rolls his eyes at his comment, as much they like to bicker it’s like having our own reality show for free in the house. Surprisingly, I hear his parents snicker beside me and they have been more than amazing with everything.

It’s very cute and entertaining to have his mother always ask for pictures when they come for dinner as a couple. They really are the best in laws I could ask for, they have accepted everything and I have never once seen them act in a mean or judging way towards anyone, I guess the guys have to have gotten it from somewhere.

“I need some air.” I whisper to them both and I know that it’s going to be awkward trying to get through the rows but now that everything is done, with Mike at least, I need to get some fresh air. The large room is packed with people and I rarely feel like this anymore but sometimes I am overwhelmed with feeling trapped.

The other reason for me needing to walk outside for a little bit is that we’re in London where the university rents the room for graduation. We are right along the river and I want to enjoy the view before everyone rushes out and starts taking pictures everywhere.

“I knew I could find you out here.” I hear someone call out behind me and I don’t have to turn around to know who it is. His arms wrap around me and just like that, any left-over anxiety seeps out of my body. I lean against him, both literally and figuratively, this being another one of those little moments that I will cherish forever.

“What are you doing out here? The ceremony is not over yet.” I ask because I wouldn’t think it would be easy for him to just walk out of the door like I did. I also want to know how he knew I was out here, that I walked out the room.

“I’ve got my diploma and its chaos in there with the hat throwing and everything. Maybe, just like you I needed a moment to take a breath.” He replies and know that probably Mark must have send him a message to check on me. Guilt comes rushing in that I am keeping him away from his special day and moment.

“You should be inside, you’ll regret not doing the cliché hat throw and whatever else happens at graduation.” I say as I stare out at the river, of course, it’s quite windy out here but since it’s the middle of July it’s not as cold as it could be.

“I’m right where I should be.” Is all that he says as he hugs me closer. I close my eyes and take in the warmth of his body and words. How did I get so lucky?

“You’re such a smooth talker.” I tease him because he sometimes comes out with the most corny and sweet things. Things that you read about in books and watch in movies, but you rarely hear them in real life.

“You better not have that same reply on our wedding day when I say my vows.” He comments and I can tell that he is rolling his eyes, just before he places a small kiss on my neck. The comment of course takes me by surprise because we’ve talked about our wedding but in a more general sense, never hinting that we would be marrying each other.

“You think about marrying me?” I ask even though I know it’s probably going to ruin the mood but hearing me talk about our wedding vows is making me even more emotional than I already was. I didn’t know that he was thinking about any of this, I mean we have known each other for less than a year.

Honestly, the thought of marriage at 18 should freak me out, and it does, just not as much as it should when I imagine it with Mike. At the end of the day, I know I’m not ready for this step or anywhere near it but knowing that he sees that kind of future for us makes me extremely happy.

“Of course, I see us married down the line.” He answers straight away, as if this was a no brainer for him.

“You don’t think we’re too young to think about marriage?” I ask because he is only 23 and I just turned 18. It seems like people are waiting more and more before tying the knot, and some people never do it at all.

“It’s never too early to think about it. Doesn’t mean we’re getting married tomorrow.” I can feel him shrug behind me. Another thing going for him is that he doesn’t seem to be afraid to voice his feelings. A lot of people keep things buried, myself included in the past, as it’s easier to hide things if you never said it out loud.

“That’s good to know.” I say with a smile as I cover his hands with mine, trying to convey my feelings without saying anything. I don’t want to say one of those long speeches about my feelings since those in real life are quite awkward, at least for me.

“Everyone is going to be coming out soon.” He says as we slightly sway on the spot, leaning on the railing right by the river. It is not that busy on the sidewalk as it is the middle of the day but there is the expected group of tourists here and there.

“You ready for the mini photoshoot that’s going to happen in a couple of minutes?” I ask, secretly looking forward to it. I have said it a couple of times that Mike looks a model with his dirty blonde hair and green eyes, now I finally have an excuse to take as many pictures of him as I want.

“You’re going to enjoy this, aren’t you?” He asks and groans behind me, reminding me of a similar groan this morning before we left the house. He hates taking a lot of pictures at once, hates them even more when they’re staged. As he has a thing for taking pictures of me when I have no idea and then weeks later I find them on his phone, somehow, they’re always good pictures of me. Except, for the occasional one where I am stuffing my face or sleeping and not exactly beautiful.

“This is going to be one of my only chances.” I reply honestly because I have been looking forward to this day for weeks now. Seeing his hard work pay off and him looking so handsome in his black robe is something I want to capture on film, and have those photos fill in any blanks that appear of this day with time.

“Well, you’re going to be the star in most of those photos.” He kisses my cheek and takes out his phone. Switching the camera on us and we take a couple of selfies, I’m loving the whole thing because I am not faking my smile for the camera and every girl secretly loves having cute photos with her boyfriend.

Photos where you’re gazing lovingly at them, kissing them, posing or simply being silly with them. You might have hundreds of the same photos but each one is more special than the next. In those random moments when you look back on them and smile at the memories. They say that a picture speaks a thousand words, I would have to agree with the old saying as I stare at one of the pictures we just took and somehow, it’s clear to see the love in our eyes.

The next couple of hundred photos however are a mix of him with his friends, family and professors. He might have been complaining about the photos a while ago but his smile is genuine as he goes around the maybe hundred people from his class to take random and staged photos left, right and centre. I don’t think I have ever seen him this happy, his happiness radiating from him and the whole mood is amazing from everyone. Not a single thing has gone wrong today.

I stay with his parents chatting while he goes around laughing and chatting with his friends, occasionally some of them ask for me to be in the picture as well. Some of his closer friends from university of course, I have met them a couple of times so I have no problem being in the pictures with them. Mark and Martin disappeared after a couple of minutes and pictures, I don’t even want to know where they’re hiding, or they might just need a break from all the chaos and shouting people out here.

As some people start leaving, the crowd starts to thin down to certain groups of people staying behind. Many of the people leaving are heading back home or to the nearest bar to celebrate. Mike didn’t want to spend the night getting drunk at some bar but he chose to have a barbeque at his parents’ house, where he invited his friends and some close family.

Even though he is not big on drinking and partying, I thought tonight might be an exception to that as he would want to celebrate all those years of hard work. Don’t get me wrong, him and his dad bought plenty of alcohol for the party tonight so I don’t think many people will be leaving sober or tipsy. Another thing he has surprised me with, I would have enjoyed going out with him but he said we have time for that all summer.

Tonight, he said that he wants to enjoy drinking, and remember the night the next say. I have nothing against that as it would be a lot more comfortable for me to be around his friends and family than in a packed club where I have people rubbing against me that I don’t know. I am quite looking forward to meeting some of his more distant cousins and seeing the others again. I quite liked his first cousin Lexy who is a fashion designer and always turns up in something special, and bring the energy with her.

I think it’s just Mike and I left from the group here, as his parents left about half an hour ago to finish some things at the house. Mark and Martin emerged soon after and said they were going back to the house to change before driving to his parent’s house. My feet are also starting to become unbearable in my own heels, I rarely wear them but today was obviously a special occasion.

My tight black cotton dress is also something I would love to change out of. It’s comfortable but I would love to be back in my jeans and old shirt, which is not going to happen until tomorrow but it’s not often that I really dress up so I am forcing myself to enjoy it. Like most things, getting ready was more fun than actually being dressed up.

“You’re dying for a seat, aren’t you?” Asks Mike as we walk slowly to the car, my poor feet can’t exactly pick up the pace or walk any faster.

“You would think I have been running.” I answer and happily sigh as he unlocks his mum’s car and I jump into the front seat. Immediately taking off the heels, even though the drive is about 40 minutes, that times is going to be heaven for my feet.

“You look hot thought.” He says while staring at the hem of my dress which has risen up as I sat down. His gaze sending a rush through me, a simple look is enough to make me want to climb over to him and repeat this morning, and last night.

“Glad you think so.” I say with a large smile, flirting with him as I smooth my hands over my dress but that’s kind of ruined when I hate to put my seatbelt on and that never leaves an attractive sight. I can never be sexy for too long with him, at least he doesn’t expect me to know how to be sexy.

“We have a lot of celebrating to do tonight.” He says once we get on the road, glancing briefly at me from time to time. I can’t stop smiling as I listen to him sing out of tune to the latest sing on the radio, even more when Despacito comes on and he tries to sing in Spanish.

“You’re parents sure are cool with a lot of people getting drunk at their house tonight.” I say as we’re about ten minutes away from their house.

“They’re going to be drunk too, babe.” He laughs at me. He has told me some stories about the rare times his parents have been drunk in front of him and Mark. It’s safe to say those are some of the moments I am most looking forward to tonight, after going to bed with Mike.

“I can’t wait to see that.” I laugh with him as everything has fallen into place. I cannot believe how easy it has been to be taken into their family, I honestly don’t feel like someone on the outside but like the door is open to me and I am slowly walking in.

“Let’s hope they don’t get too drunk where they start making out and dancing together.” He looks clearly disturbed with the image and a small part of me wants to feed his parents more drinks to make sure that it happens.

“You’ll be too busy dancing with me.” I say instead as it’s true. I love dancing, and the amount of time they have made fun of me for dancing around the house is a ridiculous amount.

“That I have no problem doing.” He replies as we turn onto his street and park in the space left for us. It’s still a couple of hours before people start coming so I can sneak in a quick lunch as I’m starving.

That night we celebrated Mike doing something so amazing, everything was as close to perfect as it could get. Everyone was having fun, drinking and dancing for hours before stopping to pig out once in a while. I was happy the whole night, dancing with Mike’s dad and mom at one point, with his cousins and friends.

We trashed the garden and most of the kitchen with all the food that had to be made, drank all of the alcohol and at one point it started raining. No one cared for a while we drunk danced in the rain. Some went to the local club but I don’t think we went to bed until 5am.

When I think back on the times when I have been this happy, it seems they are all linked to Mike. Everyone comes into your life for a reason, and he is in mine to make it so much better. Best thing I ever did was take that jump and follow my dreams, because now I know I know that my dreams were not a ‘what’ but a ‘who’.

The End

A/N: look out for Lily's book which is next!

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