Chapter Fifty five. Epilogue.
Song for this chapter: Ed Sheeran-Castle on the hill.
10 years later...
I stared out of the cafe window in front of me, a hot chocolate warming the cold palms of my hands. I had gone to college first, I got accepted into the school of my dreams with a full scholarship. Three years of hard work was what brought me here today.
But I wouldn’t be this successful and as graceful if it weren’t for Grayson, for he gave me the will and passion to succeed and live my dreams. It had been ten years, I still visited our secret place on his anniversary, birthday, Christmas, our anniversary. I would never stop.
When I visited his grave, it felt as though I were talking to a rock. There was no presence or life felt there, no Grayson. But looking up at the night sky with the Hollywood sign behind me, that’s where I felt most at home. I could feel Grayson’s presence there, I would talk to him for hours even if I did come off as crazy, I didn’t care.
Psychology says, always go with the choice that scares you most because that’s the one that is going to help you grow.
And so I did.
I had wanted to prove to myself that I was worthy of opening this cafe on my own. I didn’t just want to be given it, I wanted to work for it. I interned at local bakeries first and even worked as a waiter all throughout my three stressful years of college.
And that’s how I opened the cafe.
Angie and Grayson’s cafe.
I had renamed it but kept the sentimental value, I think Angie wouldn’t mind that and Grayson would be shaking his head at me with a boyish smile playing on his plump lips.
The cafe was flooded with customers until I finally closed over the open sign to closed. I hadn’t redecorated besides from changing a few wooden chairs to a more comfier option. But the homely feel I loved about this cafe from the first day I step foot in here remained.
I couldn’t bring myself to change it and matter of fact, I didn’t want to either.
The brownies had sold out within minutes and I wasn’t surprised in the slightest, my pancakes were also a top seller since they had no time limit as McDonald’s per say do.
I took my gaze off the dark sky glistened with dazzling stars and placed my empty mug in the dishwasher. I walked over to the cash register that was still manual and not automatic as I opened it to collect today’s profits that would go towards the cafe’s heat and electricity bill and the rest was good to keep.
The motion of someone wrapping their arms around my waist and leaning their head on my shoulder jolted me out of my place. But I quickly composed myself when the familiar aroma entered my senses.
″Have I told you just how proud I am of you?″ The familiar deep voice whispered into my ear.
I smiled and shook my head at his words, his voice on the edge of being seductive. ″I think you have, on more than one occasion″.
I turned around to face the man behind the seductive voice that never failed to send chills down my spine. ″And can you tell me why wifey that you have invited the whole town over for dinner tonight?″. His voice now dark, a hint of playfulness and boredom underlining his words.
I rolled my eyes at him and placed my hands behind his neck, ″We haven’t seen our friends in a while, Blake. Plus, I want to celebrate opening the cafe″.
He rolled his eyes at me making me quirk up a brow at his cockiness, ″You were with your friends yesterday, Libby″ He remarked. That was true, Becca and the three blondes and I never lost touch. We were as close today as we were back in high school. Against Blake’s wishes, they had all slept over in Blake and I’s bedroom while he stayed in the guest bedroom.
″And there’s plenty of other ways we could celebrate″ He added, wiggling his brows suggestively. I slapped him on the back of the head and mocked a surprised face even though I was used to his suggestive ways long by now.
″In your dreams, Blake″.
″I’m your husband″ He pointed out.
″And your point is?″.
He smirked slyly and shook his head at me, ″Are you ever not going to act like a seventeen-year-old with her first boyfriend?″.
I pursed my lips as if thinking long and hard, my forehead creased. ″Now that I think about it...″.
He wasn’t fazed by my sarcasm, he had grown accustomed to it just like I had become accustomed to his cockiness. He pulled me closer to his chest which was rock solid. Blake’s way of coping with anger or sadness was letting out all his built up tension on punching bags and other exercise equipment which I will never use in a million years.
So when Grayson had passed, he would spend all his free time in the gym working out, hours non-stop. It had all paid off though, so I wasn’t complaining. Not at all.
His ocean eyes gazed down into mine as his hand found my cheek, ″I love you″ He murmured.
″Funny, cause I think you’re still in the friend zone Blakey boy″.
He chuckled at my words before slowly leaning in close, his breathing fanning against the tip of my nose sending chills up and down my spine to the point of almost shivering. I leaned up so our lips were only inches apart.
″Am I still in the friend zone?″ He mocked, placing open mouthed kisses on my cheek making their way down to the nape of my neck tantalizingly slowly.
I bit my lip as his eyes met mine once again, ″You always were″ I commented before placing my lips on his. He smiled within the kiss as our lips moved in sync with one another’s, my hands found their way to his hair as I ran my fingers through his dirty blonde locks earning a groan from the back of his throat.
I smiled in glee as I pulled away from the kiss making him pout. ″We’ve got to get ready″.
″For what?″ He asked stupidly, tilting his head.
″For the dinner, dickwad″.
The table was set thanks to yours truly and the chicken in the pot was cooking in a homemade sauce from Blake’s mother’s recipe that we had always cooked when we knew she was coming over. It was her favorite dish but she had claimed she had cooked it herself too many times she got tired of cooking it for herself and so I always cooked it.
She loved it every time I did, but once Blake had attempted to cook it and it was in the trash within an hour since it was burnt to a crisp. I had scolded him for ruining dinner that time and he hasn’t attempted it since. Cooking really wasn’t his strong point.
″Do you need help with anything?″ Blake asked, leaning against the door.
I widened my eyes frantically, shaking my head. ″No thanks, do you really want to set our home on fire?″.
He huffed making his way over to me, ″Can I at least help with something?″.
″You can let people in when they arrive″ I smirked slyly, knowing he would be annoyed at that.
Blake didn’t like feeling helpless but the poor soul was terrible in the kitchen compartment that there wasn’t much he could do besides sit and watch as I did it all. He was okay at making ramen noodles but that’s all that I would trust him with cooking, and cereal.
Could I even call making cereal cooking?
I motioned Blake out the kitchen when I heard the front doorbell ringing, he threw his eyes up at me planting a quick peck on my lips before making his way towards the front door. No one was expecting what dinner had in store tonight, no one only me.
Happy with the chicken and vegetables I placed it all on pristine plates that were gifted to me and Blake by his parents alongside other kitchen utensils and cutlery. I knew the gifts were mostly for me since Blake didn’t even know what a spatula was used for.
It wasn’t too long before the doorbell rang, again and again....and again.
I had led Blake to believe only our friends were coming over, but shocker. I lied. I laughed at Blake when he came in with a frantic look, his hair disheveled and his face showing annoyance as clear as day.
″You invited my Parents?!″.
I rolled my eyes at him, he was being too dramatic. He’s acting as if I just invited Satan over for tea. ″Yes, I did″ I answered, waving him off, ″I don’t see the problem with it, my Mother is here too as are Grayson’s parents. It only seems fitting to invite yours too″.
He didn’t answer me but just let out a huff like a big child before making his way back into the dining room where I assume the rest of our guests are.
After Blake’s mother had scolded him for not helping me bring out the dinner after I slaved away making it, he ushered in not letting me bring out anything, not even a spare fork I forgot to place on the table for a guest Gabriela had brought without my knowing.
There was plenty of food to go around so it wasn’t a problem. Much to Blake’s dismay, I was seated next to Becca and Bethany as we all conversed about how our day went. Bella was seated next to Gabriela who was also seated next to her boyfriend Harry, who turned out to be the blonde’s little brother they had talked about once went we went camping years ago.
They had a relationship like Blake and I when we were younger and I could remember him so I told her to hold him close and cherish him even if I wasn’t totally okay with my little sister dating, even though she was now seventeen.
Stacey had never lost her love for food, she was already stuffing her face with the bread I had lain out on the table. Turns out she and Becca got along well, very well. They have been engaged a year now and when they told everyone about being together I wasn’t all that surprised. I knew there was something off with food crazed blonde when I caught her staring at Becca going to prom.
Kimberly and my brother were still together and already had two kids, I was an aunt five years ago. They had twins which ran in Kimberly’s family, two girls called Lilly and Violet. Jackson had desperately wanted one boy but his little girls lit up his world and they said they were trying for one more. Hopefully a boy this time.
Britney and Matt were now engaged and soon to be married, she was also heavily pregnant and about to pop any minute now and wants to get married before their son is born but doctors don’t see that happening.
I hadn’t seen Olivia since that night at prom, I heard she moved to England with a new boyfriend and was turning over a new leaf in a small town somewhere in the countryside. I was glad I didn’t see her again, she would only bring back bad memories. I could forgive, but I’d never forget.
Hunter was sentenced to life without parole for first-degree murder and attempted murder. I couldn’t bring myself to go to the trial and be faced with evil again. They used the police men’s recording of me for the eyewitness statement which was a huge help in the case.
He was gone for good and I wish they would just throw away the key and leave him to rot where he belongs.
And as for Blake and I, we remained best friends all throughout college. It wasn’t until I graduated that we began to grow closer, much closer than the average best friend. When I had first kissed him, I had pushed him away not believing that it was I that made the first move.
But his lips didn’t make me feel any form of regret or that I was betraying Grayson like I thought they would, they brought me comfort and they lit up that spark in me again that I had lost when Grayson died.
Grayson will forever hold a special place in my heart that can never be replaced, but Blake made me fall in love all over again and showed me that it was okay to love again. That’s what Grayson would have wanted, I could feel it.
We had gotten married two years after I graduated and it has been history ever since. I even was reunited with Selena, our best friend from our childhood. She was a bridesmaid at our wedding, it was an unlikely chance that she would accept the offer, but she did.
I explained to her what had happened and why we lost touch with each other and she didn’t dare not believe me. She’s a really sweet girl, we just have conflicting schedules so we can’t spend as much time as I would like together but we did when we could.
Everyone was seated at the table laughing and eating, Stacey doing most of the eating alongside Brittney who claimed she needed more food as she was eating for two which Matt shook his head at and stated that she would eat the fridge itself if she could.
Blake was seated next to Matt and Jackson but his eyes never failed to meet mine every time I glanced his way, he sent me a wink that made a blush rise to my cheeks. We may have been married five years, but he still never failed to make me blush at even the most simplest of gestures.
I let out a nervous breath as I stood up from my chair, Blake’s watchful eyes on me, his brows pulled together in confusion.
I raised my class and hit it with a spoon that I had seen everyone do on TV shows and movies. ″Attention everyone″ I called, my mother rolling her eyes at me thinking I was probably going to announce something stupid like I had just farted.
My Mother and I had grown incredibly close over the last ten years and she had even met a new man named Ted who she has yet to marry. I was a bit hesitant at first but I soon grew to love him, he was like a big teddy bear and had the worse Dad jokes around. He hadn’t had any kids of his own so he cherished us like we were his.
He would never be my Dad but he definitely filled that aching hole in me that desperately searched for a father figure. He couldn’t attend tonight due to visiting his mother in out of state who was ill but we had him on facetime which was good enough for me.
″Libby if you’re going to tell us you ate all the brownies you baked, we will kill you″ Stacey joked as Brittney nodded her blonde head in agreement.
I looked at them in bewilderment as I laughed them off. They were crazy, that never changed. I think Kim was the most sane out of the three of them, especially since she was now a Mother.
All eyes were on me making me more nervous than I had thought I would be, I was never nervous like this around family. My friends were family to me now, they had stuck by my side through my good times and my bad and that’s what family does.
I kept my eyes on Blake who had an amused look playing on his features, he was waiting for me to say something idiotic just like my Mother was. Go figure.
″As you all know me and Blake have been married five years now″ I began, everyone nodded as Blake furrowed his brows.
I licked my drying lips, ″Oh what the hell″ I exclaimed not bothering to make a big speech about this, it was very un-Libby like to make a big deal out of this when it was the biggest deal to most.
Everyone’s faces dropped, Stacey choking on her chicken. But I kept my eyes on Blake, the smile swept off his face his eyes now wide. Oh no.
A look of disbelief washed over his face as Matt and Jackson patted him on the back welcoming him in on the fatherhood train. Blake kept his eyes on mine as he got up from his chair, we hadn’t talked about having kids. We hadn’t prevented it but we hadn’t planned it either.
I gulped down the nervous bubble in my throat not knowing how he was taking this, his face didn’t tell me anything. He made his way over to me, his tall body towering over me. He didn’t say anything before pulling me into a tight hug surprising my numb body.
″You’re pregnant?″ He asked rhetorically, his voice just barely above a whisper.
I nodded within in the hug, ″Twelve weeks″.
Something he always did when he was overly happy over excited was to smell my hair when he hugged me close. I told him many times that it weirded me out when he did that, but he never listened and still continued to do it and that’s exactly what he did.
He held my face in his hands as he stared lovingly into my eyes, ″I love you″.
I let out a small laugh and winked, ″I love you too″.
Our family cheered as he planted a soft kiss on my lips, they cheered as they did when we kissed at our wedding. ″When can we find out the gender?″ He asked in excitement, no nervous bone left in my body.
″At least five more weeks″.
He pouted at that, ″I want a girl″.
I was taken aback by his want, isn’t it stereotypical that a guy would want his first child to be born a boy? Or was that just Jackson and Matt and every male character on TV and movie screens?
But then again nothing about my life is cliche or stereotypical. I should know that by now.
″I just want a baby with five fingers and toes″.
″So you don’t want our child with ten fingers and toes?″.
I nudged him with my elbow playfully, ″You know what I meant″.
We sat back down as more congratulations were thrown across the table, my Mom already crying with joy as was Blake’s Mom and even Bethany. Is it a thing to cry more often when you get older? I’ve noticed that too, I have seen a plastic bag get run over by a car two weeks ago and I cried thinking it was a rabbit.
But then again that could be the hormones.
″I’m going to be an aunt...again?″ Gabriela groaned, she wasn’t very fond of kids, especially not their crying.
″Yes you are, and you are on babysitting duties when we come over″ I joked, shooting her a wink.
She shook her head at me, ″Mom, tell her she can’t do that!″.
Teenagers these days.
″Quieten down Gabriela″ Mom answered, using a napkin to wipe away her tears. I stuck my tongue out at Gabriela at our Mom’s response. I still had that inner child in me, that never left.
Gabriela glared at me in response to which I simply ignored and began eating the brownie Blake had placed on my plate as well as everyone else’s.
Dinner went by smoothly, Blake didn’t dare take that bright smile off his face throughout the two hours our dinner and conversation lasted. I hugged everyone goodbye one by one as they all had their own kids to get home to or get home to try to have kids as Kimberly commented making me gag.
″Congratulations again, Libby″ Becca congratulated pulling me in for a hug.
″And you too″ I whispered quietly, making sure no one else could hear me.″Stacey let it slip about the adoption. I won’t tell anyone″.
Becca sent a death glare to Stacey who simply shrugged back in response, ″I am going to kill her when I get home. I am taking away all of the food″.
″Enjoy that, I’m sure that won’t go down very easily with her″.
She waved me goodbye promising to see me this week as she dragged Stacey out the door behind her.
Everyone had gone by now, all but Bethany and Clyde. She held her hands on my arms as she stared at me lovingly, her eyes glassy. ″Grayson would be so happy for you, Libby″.
I smiled at her words, my eyes were now dampening. ″I would like to think so″.
″I know so″ Clyde chimed in making me smile brightly. ″He had always said he was going to do this all with you, what was it he wanted to name his first child?″ He looked down at his wife for an answer.
″Grace″ She answered, ″Only because it was remotely similar to his name″ She laughed as I joined in, that sounds just about right. Of course Gray would want his first child to have a name similar to his. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wanted to name his son Grayson junior.
That name felt right on my tongue. As a matter of fact, I didn’t like it, I loved it.
It was as if it rolled perfectly off my tongue when I said it, like a missing puzzle piece. I hugged Clyde and Bethany goodbye as Bella complained about wanting to go home. Again as I’ve said previously, teenagers these days.
When I closed the door shut, I waled into the living room where I knew Blake would be cooped up watching TV. ″Blake?″.
He didn’t turn his head away from the TV but a smile was still playing his lips that hadn’t yet left. ″What do you think of the name Grace?″.
″Grace?″ He mimicked as if testing it out on his tongue.
I nodded even though he couldn’t see me.
″Grace″ I confirmed.
″You know what Libby, I think you hit the jackpot with that one″.
I smiled to myself feeling a gush of happiness and content rush through me. ″Grace it is″.
I didn’t know what life had in offer for me when Grayson passed away, I thought the life and stars in my eyes were forever darkened and drained from within me and could never return but I needed a star to guide me back home.
Blake was my star.
And it was grace itself that brought us together, the light in my eyes slowly returned, the laugh Grayson loved soon returned and I slowly but surely lived my life like Gray had always wanted me to.
I knew that when I woke up at 3am and couldn’t go to sleep and stared at the dazzling sky out of my bedside window that Grayson was there watching over me and I find myself falling to sleep as though I were in his arms.