My gift to you
The warmth from the sun blanketed the front of my body as I laid on the think pink and white stripped towel on the sand.
Dark framed sunglasses shielded my eyes from harsh rays and I listened to the melody of the waves.
This time away had been a sanctuary. It hadn't always been the easiest and there had been days were my depression and dark thoughts had gotten the best of me but Alec had stayed by my side. He'd spoken words of encouragement and love.
He had slowly healed his own demons and we done it together.
I blamed myself for a long time and still a part of me felt guilty and I don't think I'll ever fully get over that feeling but it didn't cripple me as it had done before.
I let out a contented sigh and rolled over onto my stomach, letting the sun hit my back.
Today we were going to head back home, back to the chaos, back to the questions and scrutiny. We had been here for nearly three weeks. We had indulged in eachother in every way possible, mentally, emotionally and after some time physically.
We were being careful. We weren't ready for the possibility of another baby just yet, not for a while.
I groaned and leaned up on my arms and placed my glasses on the top of my head. I watched Alec walk out of the house and onto the sand. His khakis and light blue button up was a fashion crisis he had developed while we were here.
I made fun of him for it as often as I could. All in good fun of course.
He smiled wide as he came closer before crouching down next to me, his bare feet sinking into the sand. I gave him a grin, "Hey gramps"
He chuckled and shook his head "I don't know what you're talking about"
Rolling my eyes I pushed myself to my knees, brushing my hands off as I did. "I'm never going to let you live this down and I'm glad I have pictures of it"
"It's not that bad of an outfit"
I laughed "Yes it is. It's like your typical old man outfit whenever he goes on a tropical vacation"
This time it was his turn to roll his eyes before he stood back up and held his hand out to me. I took it gladly and came to my feet.
"I think I look good" he said before sweeping down and planting his lips on mine. I kissed him back fervently, my heart melting at his touch. He was my savior.
"I guess" I teased and laughed as he swung me around.
I couldn't express enough how much we both needed this.
He set me on my feet but continued to hold me close. His eyes bore into mine and I felt at home. "Its time to go" and I leaned further into him not wanting to leave but knowing we had to. We couldn't continue to run away from our problems at home. "The bags are in the car. The jet is here and the captain is ready when we are"
"I don't want to leave" I protested giving him a small pout.
"Neither do I but we have to"
"Adulting sucks" I replied and he laughed before gripping my hand and tugging me towards the car.
I said a silent goodbye to our escape as we drove away, the house disappearing behind us. The ride was shorter than I remembered when we had first arrived. The captain smiled at us, his face younger than I remembered but then again I wasn't focusing on the captain when we had boarded the jet three weeks ago.
I fell asleep again, Alec did as well.
When we landed I had a hard time pushing myself to get off of the jet. I knew the moment we arrived home everyone would be waiting for us.
We had left in a rush and with no notice to anyone and despite my phone calls to my parents I knew I would receive an ear full. There was nothing like being an adult and still receiving a scolding from your parents.
"Do they know we're coming back today?" I asked him hesitantly.
He gave me a side eye before focusing back on the road, "Yeah they know".
"All of them?"
He nodded, "Yours and mine" he replied referring to both his parents and mine.
I huffed and stared down at my hands as I fiddled with them anxiously. Taking a deep breath I silently prayed they wouldn't be at the house, silently hoping they would give us a day or two to adjust to being back.
We rounded the corner to my street and as we traveled closer I was happy to find no cares except my own in the driveway.
Alec pulled into the driveway and parked the car. He appeared relaxed.
Slowly I exited the vehicle and stared at the house we'd left behind. The house I was going to give up to make room for the baby. The house that had hid me away from the world as I'd sunk further into the darkness of despair and depression.
Strong arms wrapped themselves around me from behind. Alec let his chin rest on my shoulder and we stared at the house together "Are you ok?" He asked.
I didn't hesitate when I replied "Yeah"
He nodded against my shoulder and released me. We grabbed the bags from the back of the car and entered the house.
I was surprised to find the place had been cleaned, it smelt like fresh laundry and the curtains had been drawn open to let the sun rain in. When we'd left, the place had been a wreck, clothes everywhere, the garbage had been over flowing and the dishes hadn't been done in days.
There was a fresh bouquet of sunflowers on the dining room table, the laundry was done and all the floors had been swept, mopped and vacuumed.
I looked at Alec for an answer.
He set the bags in the bedroom before coming stand beside me in the living room "Our parents came together and cleaned the place, between your mother and mine they routed shifts on coming by once a week for the up keep. The flowers are from Bryan and his mother and father. There's also at-least five different types of lasagna and casseroles in the fridge that were dropped off yesterday night for us by everyone"
I was in awe at the love and support we had received and were still receiving. I had thought Aec and I were alone in this but we weren't.
Two days had passed since we had arrived home and things had gone as smooth as they could go. Alec had returned to work yesterday, or second day or being home. He had been away for far to long and I appreciated the time he'd spent away from work to be with me.
I'd always thought his work came first but that hadn't been the case.
Today was my first day back at the flower shop. So far things had been quiet and relaxed. I was arranging Valentine's Day orders. I loved working with roses, they were a favorite of mine.
I rocked on my feet and tied the black satin bow around the large twenty four flower bouquet.
"Cassandra" I looked over my shoulder at Mrs. Holtz who stood just outside of her open office door. She gave me a warm smile before gesturing me inside "May I speak to you a moment please?"
I nodded and wiped my hands on my apron before following her inside her small office. She gestured for me to sit in one of the two plush black leather chairs and I did as she closed the door behind us.
Her office was slightly cramped as the flower shop wasn't exactly a giant store. There was enough room for her desk and office chair, the two guest chairs, a large book shelf full of plant and flower care and a bit of walking space. Her light violet painted walls were decorated in family pictures, a large picture of her dead son peter was hung behind her as he was looking up at Bryan laughing. Our heart breaks were the different yet the same, we had both lost our child.
"How are you doing dear?" She asked as she took a seat.
"I'm doing better" I replied honestly.
"Good I'm glad to hear that. It's not easy and only those who have lost what we have will know the pain you'll carry in your heart but you're a strong woman and I know you'll move forward and do great things"
"Thank you" I said giving her a small grateful smile.
She nodded and leaned forward across her desk grabbing a large folder filled with paperwork. She looked up at me and held out the folder. Hesitantly I took it.
I was surprised to find it was filled with all the shops information, everything from the insurance down to the blue prints and sales documents.
I jerked my head up and looked at Mrs. Schultz.
"Cassandra as you know I'm getting far to old to handle this place anymore. My husband and Brian have been doing more than I have this last year and after a lot of consideration I've decided it's time to retire. Brian mentioned you may be interested in purchasing this place and making it your own"
Slowly I nodded, I was speechless.
"Good. Except I don't want to sell it to you. I want to gift it to you. It's yours if you want it. I paid this place off a few years ago. But this is your decision, if you decide you don't want it then I will sell it"
I didn't even hesitate a moment after she finished before I said "Yes, I'll take it" I laughed nervously, "I mean are you sure you don't want anything for it? I could make payments and -"
She held up a hand forestalling me "No, this is my gift to you. I see the passion you have for this place. Not many people get it or take our choice of career seriously but you do. You've read almost every book in here, you dedicated yourself to know everything there is to know about plants and flowers. You've assisted me on bookkeeping and managing this place with and for me several times. I think this is perfect and I would love to be able to give it to you as a gift"
I had left the flower shop in a daze. I still couldn't believe it. We'd sat together and talked for nearly two hours about everything that would need to happen in the next few weeks.
She was ready to retire and I was ready to take over. At least I hoped I was ready.
I drove home jittery and nearly bouncing in my seat. I couldn't wait to tell my best friend the best news i had gotten in what felt like forever.
I pulled into the driveway and was slightly disappointed to find Alec not there but I also knew he'd been away from his work for so long his boss had no doubt unloaded a lot on him the moment he'd gotten back.
So I walked into the house, changed into a pair of comfortable loose grey pajama pants and short sleeve v neck shirt and began making dinner.
By the time the ribs were done and the sides had been covered and set aside to stay warm while i waited for Alec.
Right as I was beginning to call him, the front door opened and he walked in carrying a dozen of my favorite pink roses.
My heart leapt into my throat, "Hey" I said walking over to him and giving him a kiss on the lips.
"Hey yourself" He said handing me the roses.
"They're beautiful, thank you"
Alec was radiating happiness. We felt like a new couple again, except this time without all of the drama. "I love you Cassandra"
"I love you too Alec"
I wanted to hug him but my hands were full. I turned to find a vase and he went back into the bedroom to change. I placed the flowers on the kitchen counter and made two plates full of ribs, mashed potatoes and corn and set them on the table.
Alec came back in and we both took a seat. Half way into the meal and our usual everyday chit chat I decided it was time to tell him the news.
"So I have something I want to tell you and it kinda effects both of us since we're together" I started.
He looked up from his meal, his eyes exploring my face searching for a giveaway sign as to what I have to tell him. "Well there's actually something I'd like to discuss with you too" he said.
"Do you want to go first?" I asked before taking a sip of water.
He shook his head, "No no , you go"
"Well Mrs Schultz pulled me into her office today and told me she's retiring soon." I gave a slight dramatic pause and couldn't help the giant smile that slipped across my face. I couldn't hold it in anymore "She's giving me her shop"
Alec blinked at me, his eyes slightly widening in his surprise. He recovered quickly, "That's amazing Cas! She's just giving you her shop? She's not going to sell it to you? What's the catch?" He was throwing out question after question and I couldn't keep up.
But he seemed happy about it.
So I gave him a run down of everything her and I had gone over and suddenly I was dealing with the Business side of Alec. He was very intense looking, brooding and almost mean looking.
Finally after finishing up the food and clearing the table I leaned back against the counter and realized he had never told me what he had to say.
He made a small noise in the back of his throat as he was looking over a series of paperwork that he'd scattered across the dinner table.
"Alec?" I called again and this time his head lifted and he looked back at me.
"What is it you wanted to tell me?"
He pondered for a moment as he had to slip back out of business mode. "It's not something to tell you, it's more of something to ask you" He said.
I nodded, urging him to continue.
"Cassandra would you move in with me?"
I blinked at him before replying slowly "But we pretty much do live together"
He shook his head "No, I mean will you move into a new place with me? Will you go house searching with me?"
"You want to buy a house together?" I asked.
"Here? In this town?"
He hesitated before replying "If I have to commute I will. I know that with your new business you'll want to be close and I'll make that sacrifice. Whatever makes you happy. But there's no sense in me having a place of my own in the city that I never use and you having this place which is going to be to small for us one day"
I took a deep breath. I had thought about this a lot. The fact that he was willing to commute to make me happy and to keep me closer to my new business made my heart swell. Alec wasn't perfect but he was trying and he was a good man.