“Would it be terrible if I kicked your sister out if she finally arrived?” Dean half-jokingly asked.
I lightly smacked his chest. “No. You have to get back to your own room. I can’t do that to my own sister.”
We were laying down in bed after that inevitable confession. I felt exhausted from standing and offered to sit or lay down. The bed looked inviting as it did this afternoon, but we didn’t do anything other than make-out a bit. After that, we started talking until we noticed time caught up to us.
“And where’s your sister anyway?” He glanced at his wristwatch. “It’s nearly midnight. Aren’t you worried?”
I snorted. “Since my sister turned eighteen, she’d been sneaking out of the house and partying until dawn. I won’t be surprised if she returned late, Dean. Besides, she must be with Zoey to now talk about the wedding. I heard they have three months from now to prepare.”
“Yeah, Julian told me about it the same day he asked me to be his groomsmen. And we’re an odd bunch. There’s Jensen, his best man, then Zoey’s brother, and me. The rest are Albert, Greg, and Jeffrey.”
That information surprised me. “What? Those three are part of his entourage?”
“Trust me. I’m surprised too when we’ve all ultimately gathered after the dinner party.” Dean admitted.
“What did Julian want with you anyway?”
“Just a chat with his entourage about the bachelor party. And I’m not supposed to tell anyone from Zoey’s side about it though… and you’re obviously a part of that group.” He cheekily informed.
I rolled my eyes. Thinking of ways of how I’ll uncover that information later. I can’t start a fight now that we were officially together. A couple. The thought brought a smile to my face.
Half an hour later, I woke up from a soft knock on the door. Dean and I dozed off after waiting for April to come back. As expected, it was her. I blocked most of the view and kept her from barging in the room.
“Where were you? It’s late.” I scolded.
“I was just with Zoey, mom,” she sarcastically said and rolled her eyes. “I’m really tired right now, Ams. And I want to get some sleep.” She begged and took a step inside the room.
I quickly moved in front of her and shook my head. “April, I don’t know if you should…”
“Let her in, Amy. I’ll be heading back to my own room now.”
April and I turned in unison. We watched as Dean got up and put on his shoes before meeting us by the door. The fact my younger sister was stun to silence throughout Dean’s exit, without making any exaggerated reaction, got me worried.
To add more shock factor to my sister’s dumbfounded expression, Dean leans in and gave me a brief kiss before making his quick escape.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, babe.” He said to me then walked around April, who was obviously gawking him. Once he was out, he made one last awkward goodbye. “Goodnight, ladies. Sweet dreams.”
We both stood there, watching as Dean disappeared while making a turn towards the exit of the guestroom wing.
Then April snapped out of it.
“What was that?! What was that?! What the hell happened?!”
I grabbed her inside, and close the door behind her. “Would you keep your voice down? People are asleep already.”
She scoffed and waved off my attempt to divert her attention. “Speak up, sister.”
I sighed in defeat. “Fine. Okay, I’ll speak.” I took a seat at the edge of the bed. April was too excited to sit down. She wanted her answers now.
“So,” she gestured me to go on.
I gave her a brief recount of what happened since Dean’s mother gave me a quick visit, and then a short summary of how Dean and I were officially a couple. After that, she grabbed my arm, pulling me up on my feet, and giving me hug. Her enthusiasm was palpable. I could hardly breathe from how tight she held me.
“I’m so happy for you, sister. I mean… finally! You’re not single anymore!” She squealed.
“Yes. I know, April. Thank you for your enthusiasm. But, please, keep it down.”
She got the message, meeting my gaze. “Sorry.”
“Anyways, so that’s what happened. Now mind telling me why you and Zoey are up so late? Don’t tell me you two are behind the planning for the wedding? Dean told me the wedding is closer than I expected.” I said.
“Yes. It is closer than comfort. But Zoey and I got it covered. And I’m now, officially, telling you to help me plan the bachelorette party.”
“What? You’re telling me this now?” I sighed in frustration and sat back down on top of the duvet. “But I’m not saying no… okay. I see that you’re regretting making me part of this. I’m still helping out. Though I’m pissed you didn’t tell me sooner, April.”
“I’m sorry. You know I’ve been so busy… and Zoey had that…” She trailed off when I held up my hand.
“I know, sister. I know. Give me a day or two before I get back to you with ideas.” I said. “And does Zoey have a target day to do this?”
“Yes, she does. And she already checked with her sister, Kathy, so we’re good. So it’s just the event and place that needs to be… planned. I’m sorry, Amy.” She quickly apologized when she saw my expression.
“You should have told me I’m doing this, April. At least. I’m not a miracle party planner like you.”
“If it makes you feel better, I’ll help get the venue you wanted. I know Zoey and I got contacts.”
“You mean, just Zoey with the Hawksley name attached to it.”
She mouthed another apology before slowly retreating towards our private bathroom. “I’ll go and clean up for bed now. And thank you, Ams. Love you for doing this, sis.”
“I’m going to bed. And don’t remind about this again until we get back home.”
“Of course, and I promise I’ll let you know next time, at least a month beforehand if you’re doing an important task.” She cheekily said.
“It’s all I ask.”
The morning after brought a different tone now that Dean and I are together. The next step would easily fall in to place. For one, I’ve already met and talked with Dean’s mother. His father wasn’t far off next on that list. As April and I headed towards the dining hall for breakfast, Dean was waiting for me by the entrance leading to the room.
April noticed him and quickly excused herself. “I’ll leave you lovebirds,” she whispered to me before walking past Dean. “Good morning, Dean.” She greeted him with a coy grin.
Dean smiled and greeted back, “Morning, April.”
Before I said anything, he reached out and enveloped me in a bear hug. Out of reflex, I placed a hand on his chest and lightly push him away. Dean arched his eyebrow.
I was surprised as well. “I’m sorry… It’s been a while since I’ve dated anyone.” I muttered embarrassingly.
Dean shook his head and smiled. “No need to apologize. I think I know it’ll take some time for you to get used to me being near you,” he paused and pulled me closer to him, “like this.” My face flushed at how close we were.
There was a brief moment of silence before we heard someone cleared their throat. Dean and I turned in unison. Seeing my co-workers standing in front of us made my body react yet again and shoved Dean away from me. My face turned more beet red.
“What’s this?” Greg clasped his hand and crossed them over his chest. “Are you two…” he trailed off and gestured between us in emphasis while wiggling his eyebrow.
I sighed and peered up at Dean, who looked at me as well. As our gaze met, Dean gave me a wink and turned back to our co-workers. “Well, I don’t think it’s anyone’s business if Amy and I are…” he paused and mirrored Greg’s gesture, “you know.”
It was difficult but I tried to keep a poker face.
It threw them off for a second. However, Albert wasn’t easily fooled. He tried to hide his expression, but a small acknowledging smile escaped his guarded lips. Albert lightly patted Greg’s arm, snapping him out of his trance.
“Come on, Greg. It’s not our business about Dean and Amy’s relationship status.” He stated.
Greg turned to him in disbelief. “Really, old man? After teasing them for weeks with me?”
“Have I?” He played innocent.
“Oh come on!” Greg sighed in frustration and peered at Sean, who was staring at me all this time. I winked at him. He shook his head in amusement and got in on the act with us.
“Greg, let’s leave the two this weekend, at least.” He feigned in frustration.
“What’s wrong with you two?” Greg turned his back on us and studied Sean and Albert in confusion. “I thought we’d finally break these two and have them admit that they’re finally getting together.”
While Greg did his short speech, I blew kisses at Albert and Sean while Dean grabbed my free hand and interlaced our fingers. He escorted to the dining hall in the direction of his table rather than mine.
It took me second but I finally understood why he was leading me there. Sitting in a round table across the engaged couple were his parents with Julian and Zoey’s parents. There were chatting idly for a second, laughing about something before Dalia waved us over.
When were nearly close enough to their table, I tugged Dean’s hand and pulled his shoulder lower to my level as he was much taller than I am.
“Dean, can we sit somewhere else?”
“Of course,” he replied. “But I’d like you to meet my dad first.”
I knew it.
“They’re busy right now. We can talk to him later...” I didn’t even finish talking. Dean slowly moved us closer and closer to their table until we stood behind Zoey’s mom.
She had to turn to see what caught everyone’s attention. It was then Dalia got up and Dean pulled me with him. He gave her a hug.
However, Dean’s father remained seated beside Dalia. From what I heard, the older Mr. Garcia was eloquent and charming. As the night manager for the Grand Hotel, the same hotel Jensen Hawksley managed, he’s one of the oldest and loyal managers in the Hawksley Holding Hotel business. He had managed the London branch while his wife, Dalia, had been working at the Hawksley Manor. Even after Dalia’s duties were over, James Hawksley enjoyed the couple’s company and kept Antonio Garcia in the same position for nearly three decades.
“Who’s that, Dalia?” Antonio peered around his wife. He gave me a scrutinizing and calculative gaze.
“My love, this is Amy Nolan. The young lady I told you about last night. Dean’s friend.” The way Dalia said a friend had a slight insinuation that meant something else.
“Oh!” He exclaimed in understanding. He gave me a welcoming smile, though he looked too rigid and versed. He got up from his seat and offered his hand to me. “It’s nice to meet you, Ms. Nolan.”
“Likewise, Mr. Garcia.” I shook his hand.
It was then Zoey’s mother, Theresa, interjected. “Amy, dear, it’s been a while. How are you?”
I smiled and greeted her. “I’m well, Mrs. Curtis. And how you’ve been?”
“Oh, we’re well, my dear.” She replied. “Richard and I forgot to thank you for helping out Zoey at work. Also, I know April is helping out with the wedding, which Kathy felt troubled that she couldn’t be there for her sister.”
“Oh no! Mrs. Curtis. Please let Kathy know that Zoey does understand and if she does want to help out in any way she can, I know Zoey would be happy to have her as part of the team. Zoey knows she’s busy with work.”
Dalia got in the conversation too, which put the men in defense while the ladies started firing questions in my direction. Even Julian’s mother, Emma Hawksley, slipped in a question and two about Julian’s attitude at work.
Thankfully, Dean saw how uncomfortable I’m becoming being the center of attention. So he excused us both to grab some breakfast. The three ladies let me go, and the men were glad to find a way to stop their wives from making a ruckus.
But even as we walked away, Emma, Dalia, and Theresa were still engrossed about the main couple – Julian and Zoey. Their light chatter nearly filled the dining room.
“Are you okay? That wasn’t bad, was it?” Dean coyly said.
I groaned and playfully smacked his arm. “No. That was like feeding me to the sharks.”
It was then Antonio Garcia cleared his throat, getting our attention. I didn’t even notice him silently standing behind us.
“Dad, what is it?” Dean was surprised as I am but kept his composure. “I still don’t know how you’ve countlessly caught me off guard, every time, even if I’ve been trained to keep my guard up.”
Dean’s remark made Antonio smile. “And I’m glad no one dangerous has snuck up on you yet,” he jested, which was borderline dark.
However, Dean didn’t see it that way. It must be an inside joke between them. “I’m fine, dad. I’m no longer doing something dangerous like that. No one’s ever going to sneak up on me, other than you.” He smirked. “So, you’ve finally found a reason to get out of that table, huh?”
Antonio’s eyes twinkled mischievously. “I love your mother, but you know how she gossips.” He then turned to me. “And I’m sure you’ve seen what she can do, my dear.”
I held back a smile but failed miserably. “I did, indeed.”
“I’m sorry if she was being critical and interrogative. She’s just…”
I interjected. “You don’t have to apologize, Mr. Garcia. Your wife was very good to me. Too good, actually. I don’t know if I deserved her kind words.”
Antonio studied me for a moment. Finally, he gave me a genuine smile. “I see now. I see what she meant.” He muttered to himself. “Don’t be too rough with yourself, my dear. It’s not our final call who our son chose to be with. Dean knows what he wants. He always had been.” He then turned to his son with a proud twinkle in his eyes. “It’s his choice. And we’ll just have to suck up and accept it.”
Dean rolled his eyes at his father’s comment. “Dad.”
Antonio chuckled and slowly retreated. “I’m only joking, Dean. However, I agree with you and your mother, she’s a lovely girl.”
I flushed at his words and snuck a peek at Dean’s expression. His face brightened up at his father’s approval. “I know, Dad. I knew it from the start.”
We watched as Antonio returned to his table before I broke the silence. “What do you mean you knew from the start?” I asked.
Dean looked like he got out of a trance. “What?”
I scoffed. “You heard me, Garcia.”
He chuckled and grabbed my hand again as he escorted me towards the buffet table lined neatly on the right side of the room.
“I knew when I met you that whoever broke your heart was their loss. For that, I’m the luckiest man to be there when it heals.”
The old me would have made a witty remark about his ego. Yet he’s right. He was there when time caught up and healed my broken heart. However, one truth he might not know unless I told him, he was the reason my heart healed. If I haven’t met him, I wouldn’t continue denying myself of what could have been.
Thank you so much for reading! Leave a comment, and like, if you enjoy the chapter. I like to know what you think.
As I’ve said in the previous chapter, we are near the end of the story. I haven’t written the ending yet, and until I do, I’ll still do weekly updates.
Until next update! Have a lovely day everyone!