I try to keep my eyes on the road but I can’t stop glancing back to check Heather in the car seat. She’s fast asleep but that doesn’t stop me worrying every second of the day about her.
Last night I ended up falling asleep in the bed with Al just to be near her, Heather was sleeping between us before Jayce came in and tucked her into her own crib. Of course this was after he took photos of his three favourite girls then proceeded to tuck us both in too, he’s taking the dad thing a little seriously if you ask me.
How can she be three weeks old already? I swear every time I blink she grows just a little bit more.
“Just keep it on, we’re almost there.”
My stomach was being torn apart by the butterflies within it right now. When Jayce asked me to help with his plan I cried for a solid twenty minutes before agreeing, now it was time to actually do it, my heart couldn’t stop racing.
The docks came into view and I could see Tara waving from the pier to show me where she’d saved a space for the bug. I pulled in and watched her race back towards the Wilson to tell them all we’re here.
“Okay, at least tell me why I had to wear this dress? It hardly fits me anymore and the last time I wore it I was like seventeen!”
Hardly fits? She looks incredible! That girl ate nothing but chips for nine months and look at her! No wonder all the other mums at the baby class hate her... Although they all seem a lot happier when Jayce is there...
That dress, this pier... She’s going to die when she sees it... When she sees him.
He wanted to make everything the same, Denise had already sold the boat so we were using the Wilson but it was the same red roses, the same petals, the same gorgeous little dress and the same two people completely in love.
Their first date made reality all over again... although her friends and family weren’t hiding in the cabin watching last time, but none of us wanted to miss this moment...
... let’s just hope she says yes.
Stopping the car, I walk around and take Heather out of her seat before passing her to her eagerly awaiting grandmother. Tara nestled that little girl in and looked at her the same way she has every time since the moment she saw her in the hospital – with total and unwavering love. I don’t know which one is going to spoil her more, her or Cole.
Guiding Al out of the car she grips my hand tightly, luckily it’s feeling a lot better but I can still sense the tremble in it under her hold.
“Okay, just walk straight.”
She attempts to take a step but almost immediately stumbles, I pull her upright but she only takes about two more before almost sending us both into the water.
A small chuckle comes from ahead of us and Al’s head shoots to that direction like a dog sensing it’s dinner.
“Is that Jayce? I thought he was at practice?”
Walking over he scoops her up into his arms as she giggles and begins to carry her towards the boat, with me running ahead so I can get a good seat for the show.
“Some things never change, do they princess?”
Stepping up on deck I take a minute to admire the scene we’ve created for her. It’s exactly the same one me and him made all those years ago, these two have come so far since then.
I never thought I believed in true love before I saw them together, they give me hope that no matter the distance or circumstances, the uncertain path of life will find a way to end up at the destination you were meant for.
Ducking into the cabin, May runs up and wraps her arms around my hips before immediately sprinting back to sit on Cole’s lap and stare endlessly at Heather. She can’t seem to take her eyes off her gorgeous little niece whenever they’re in the same room, they’re so bloody sweet together.
Kal and Drew are looking as loved up as ever, while Josh actually seems more interested in whatever Milo is playing on his phone than the fact his best mate is about to have the shock of her life.
Jayce smiles at us all as he carries Al to the middle of the deck and sets her down on her feet amongst the rose petals. I open the door just enough we can all hear what they’re saying and even Milo stands to attention as Jayce starts to talk. My heart is racing but I know this is everything she’s ever wanted, there’s only one possible outcome.
The music plays gently in the background as my stomach starts to knot with anticipation, this song – a thousand years – their song.
“Okay Lee, count to three then take off the blindfold.”
She’s got no idea her whole world is about to change.
The moment she pulls it off her eyes widen, her hands shaking so much he has to hold them in his own just to steady her.
He smiles at her before placing the most delicate kiss on her cheek. You’d think he’d be nervous but I think deep down he’s been waiting forever to do this.
“Lee, I once asked you on a date to come to this very spot and you said yes. I once held you in my arms after telling you I loved you for the first time and asked you to be mine, you said yes. I just need you to say yes for me one more time princess.”
We all huddle closer to the door of the cabin just to watch, Tara can't stop sobbing and there's even a tear falling down Coles cheek as we all squeeze in closer and surrender ourselves to the moment we’re finding ourselves secretly a part of.
Heather starts to grumble in Tara's arms so I quickly scoop her up and place her on my chest, even at this age someone can appreciate a good set when they're head is getting buried between them. She’s a boob girl just like her daddy and this works every time with them both.
Jayce slides the box out of his pocket, a small red velvet cube that is about to make all her dreams come true. Dropping to his knee gently before her, I can see the tears falling freely from her eyes, but the smile on her face tells me that she's never been happier than in this moment.
This, them.. In so many ways their story is just beginning.
“Aleah Heather Davies, I have loved you since I was six years old, I plan to love you until I have no years left. I never thought I could ever love you more until I watched you bring our daughter into this world. You are my everything Lee, you are all I've ever dreamt of... You're mine... Will you please marry me?”
He flips open the lid of the box to reveal a gorgeous white gold band covered in tiny diamonds, a large blue teardrop stone sitting in the middle encased in crystal. It matches perfectly with the bracelet that never leaves her wrist, those two boys coming together again to complete her.
She’s sees it, she knows the significance of him making this choice and sobs as the meaning washes over her.
Her hand trembles as she places it in his. “I'm yours Jayce Thompson, forever.”
The moment that ring meets her finger nobody can hold it in anymore, the whole cabin erupting into cheers that force Al to break their tear stained kiss and laugh as she spots us all.
Heather seems to be the only one unhappy in this moment as she cries at the sound of so much noise, but I jiggle her on my chest gently whilst stroking her little cheek and she soon returns to her usual passive state.
Body’s pour out of the cabin and engulf the happy couple in so much love I’m surprised they don’t suffocate on it.
Al spots Heather on my chest and smiles before I wrap my arm around her. My girl is getting married to the best fucking man I know, it’s perfect.
“Nice ice bitch. If this doesn’t work out then we’ll pawn it and go on one of those cruises with Denise, bag us some cute Spanish waiters instead.”
She chuckles, glancing from the ring on her finger to the man that put it there.
“I don’t think we’re going to need to worry about that chick. I already got the man of my dreams.” Yeah you did girl. “Do you want me to have her back?”
I shake my head. “No, you guys celebrate a bit, I’ll take a walk with her and see if she’ll settle.”
Taking her blanket, I tuck it over the sleepy princess and make sure the cool spring air can’t hit those little ears of hers before strolling my way along the pier.
I only get a few docks down before Josh catches up with me.
“Hey... Um... You know Steve is leaving today... He’s going to stop by now to say goodbye before he goes, if that’s okay?”
Bless him. It’s sweet he’s telling me but he didn’t need to, Steve should be able to say goodbye.
“Of course it’s okay babe, he’s your brother. I’m gonna stay up here though... I um..”
He casts his eyes at me with that same sympathetic look he’s been giving me since the day Steve said he was leaving. “Can’t say goodbye again?” I nod. “Are you sure about this Brie? About the two of you?”
Honestly, I don’t know. I can’t say it isn’t killing me, I can’t say I haven’t almost called him every night over the last three weeks to beg him to stay, but I do know I can’t be with him right now.
“I need to get better Josh.” Looking down at the angel in my arms I know what I need to do. “I have to get better for her, for May, for me. I can’t keep being this hollow person I was becoming. I have to sort my shit out, I have nothing to offer him right now.”
Josh nods, he may not want to hear it but he knows it’s true. “He needs it too Brie, he can’t be here when that baby’s born. He needs to find a way to deal with what’s happened and I don’t think he can do that here... I just hope you two..”
“I know you do.” Stroking his arm gently I make sure he knows that no matter what, I love him.
The pier is peaceful, sitting on the edge I let my legs dangle over the side as Heather snores gently against me. Her tiny fluttering breath tickling my skin so delicately
Looking up to the sky I realise I haven’t made some very important introductions.
“Here she is you guys, this is what you lot made sure happened. Harl, seriously look how cute she is. She’s you all over though Heather girl... I’m not sure which one of you decided food poisoning was the way to make it happen, my money is on you bad boy, but thank you. She’s bloody perfect...”
They’re all going to have a full time job watching over this one, she’s got trouble and heartbreaker written all over those gorgeous blue eyes.
“... Granny, I’m gonna look after her, I’m gonna look after all of them. I’m going to be the best aunt, the best sister and the best friend they have all ever had. I’m going to make sure I’m the one they can run away from home to, the one that feeds them and calls them out on their shit when they need it. I’m going to make sure that I’m the person they need, just like you were. I’m going to make you so damn proud... just watch, okay? I’ll prove it.”
A breeze so much warmer than the air I’ve been breathing wraps me up and I can feel her arms holding me even now.
I sit and just watch Heather sleep for a while, the noises of the world falling to silence as the minutes move by and the time keeps ticking on.
Her mama will kill me if I keep her much longer but she’s kind of impossible to give back.
Rising to my feet I make my way down towards the Wilson, the air becoming colder and the light of the sun fading as we welcome the evening rays.
Then I freeze.
My deep dark chocolate orbs meeting his crystal clear blue ones just as he was about to step back onto the bike.
There’s no-one else, it’s just us, but neither of us seems to be able to move. Steve’s gaze is locked on mine until it wavers as he takes in the bundle sleeping against my chest.
I thought it would hurt him to see a baby right now but he doesn’t look upset, in fact he seems to melt as he just stares at me holding the most innocent of lives.
Neither of us make a sound, there are no words left to say and any hope we have of getting better relies on us both being strong in this moment.
Eventually we both do the only thing we can, smile.
Steve glances one last time at us, that smile still present on his face before he nods at me, pulling on his helmet and taking the bike off into the night.
We both know this isn’t goodbye...
See you later stranger.