Author's Note: Argh, sorry for the long wait. I meant to have the final chapter up no more than a week after the last one. For some reason, though, the final scenes didn't want to get written. I guess it makes sense--I'm not ready to let go of this story! But here it is, finally.
Chapter Thirty One
After many awkward glances, coy kisses and talk about nothing in particular, Sevin and I found ourselves at a 24-hour diner. Not just any diner—Georgia's Fine Diner. It was almost two in the morning but I felt more awake than ever as Sevin and I laughingly entered the restaurant we used to work at.
"Now do you believe me that my car is a piece of crap?" I asked exasperatedly as we pushed open the door.
"I don't know Daphne, it's just so…classy," Sevin answered.
"What is classy about breaking down when I most need it?" I shot back. "That is not classy, that is inconvenient!"
"You never know, maybe if it hadn't broken down and you hadn't had to walk, things would have turned out differently. Maybe it breaking down was an act of fate that brought us together," Sevin said in a reflective tone of voice.
"God, that is the biggest load of crap I've ever heard," I replied with an eye-roll.
"Oh my god, you two haven't changed at all!" a loud, excited voice greeted us in front of the restaurant. I turned and saw a sprite-like girl with curly auburn hair and a huge grin on her face.
"Woah, you still work here?" Sevin asked.
Mikayla reached over the hostess counter and smacked him. "Of course I still work here, I still have school expenses to pay, don't I? What, you think I got a better job greeting guests at the Hilton?"
"It's nice to see you, Mik," I said, to make up for Sevin's rude comment.
"Sure is! It's been a fucking long while!" Mikayla screeched. I had forgotten how fond she was of cursing. "So, what brings you two here on New Years' Eve?"
"Um, food?" Sevin answered brilliantly.
"Oh, gee, I should have guessed that!" Mikayla replied sarcastically. "I thought you came here to fuck."
I felt myself freeze and smile nervously while I'm sure Sevin had a similar expression (I was way too embarrassed to look).
Mikayla turned back to us and must have noticed something odd about our reaction because she dropped the menus she'd been gathering and said. "You're joking. No fucking kidding, you guys actually got together?"
I nodded, trying not to blush and Sevin reached up and read his imaginary watch, "Yeah, and it's been exactly…fourteen minutes since I first asked her out. Wow, it seems like just yesterday we had our first kiss and now we're coming up on our fifteen-minute anniversary. I think this calls for cheesecake, don't you, honey?"
I smiled, embarrassed and tried to play along. "I think fifteen minutes is the wool anniversary, actually."
"Oh, I do tend to get wool and cheesecake mixed up, don't I?" Sevin asked, as though this were an easy mistake to make.
"Wow Daphne, you sure can pick 'em," Mikayla said with a wink. "Wait until Alla hears about this."
"She's here?" I asked hopefully.
"No, but she'll be in tomorrow and I'll be sure to tell her then," Mikayla replied. "You know, she was always saying what a cute couple you two would make and she kept trying to rope me into these stupid schemes to get you together."
This was kind of awkward to me and I guess Sevin felt the same because he didn't say anything after that. I mean, it wasn't awkward to hear that we made a cute couple (I certainly hoped so!) but it was weird hearing that our work-friends had talked about us and tried to get us together before we even had feelings for each other.
Mikayla filled our silence quickly by saying, "Well, I should probably let you guys sit down and eat or whatever…but it was nice to see you!"
"It was nice to see you, too, Mikayla," I said with a smile.
"You should come around more often!" Mikayla replied encouragingly. "And not just at two in the morning. I don't always get such crappy shifts, you know, it's just that holiday and overnight shifts get paid like, three times as much."
Sevin whistled appreciatively.
"Well, see you!" Mikayla said brightly, and Sevin and I smiled and went to sit in one of the booth seats that was near the kitchen (so we wouldn't be ignored by the waitresses…having worked here, we knew exactly how to strategize the best service.) Since there was pretty much no one else in the restaurant, we took up one of those huge six-or-seven person booths, the kind that wrap all the way around the table on one side.
"So," I said after we plopped down across from each other. "Let's talk."
"Aw, really?" Sevin said. "Wouldn't you rather just make-out?"
I could tell he was joking (but also maybe a little serious) and the offer was tempting but I laughed it off. "Come on. I know there's still stuff you want to ask me," I said, prodding him a little with my spoon.
Sevin took the spoon from me and caught my hand in his before I could move it away. He seemed to be lost in thought, staring at our entangled hands.
"Okay," he said finally. "Okay. Yeah. I do have a question."
I waited, and when he didn't elaborate I teased, "Is it a question for me? Is it, perhaps, something you'd like to ask me?"
He gave me a quick look of irritation, one that did not quite wipe out the adoring smile on his face. Then he became somewhat more serious. "Why did you tell me you didn't want to be friends anymore?" he said each word very deliberately in a way that made me realize he had been thinking about this question a lot lately.
I felt a familiar pang of regret for having hurt him, as well as a wave of embarrassment. "That…was another fantastic example of why I'm an idiot. I, um…I thought you had gotten back together with Laylee and I was well, kind of pissed that you had moved on so quickly. I realize that was really unfair of me, but I couldn't exactly help it so…I reacted by trying to cut you out of my life, basically."
There was a long stretch of silence after my explanation. Then Sevin asked, "You thought I was dating Laylee?" It sounded like he was trying hard to keep the laughter out of his voice. I nodded as Sevin continued to toy with my fingers. "That's…wow. Wow. Ha! So that's what you were talking about? That's why you were mad?"
I nodded again, blushing.
"Aw, Daphne, you were jealous!" he summarized, looking delighted with the notion.
"Fine, I was jealous," I grumbled, even though for some reason I really liked admitting that. I guess because I could admit it now—Sevin knew how I felt and I didn't have to hide it or pretend any different.
"You do realize, then, that when I said I didn't regret what I had done…I was talking about, you know—"
"Cornering me in your kitchen and kissing the hell out of me?" I finished.
"Yes. That." Sevin smiled at the memory, clearly recalling it with a fond nostalgia now that the sting of my rejection was cancelled out by tonight's confession.
"And when you said 'I know what I want' that meant—me," I said shyly. I just wanted to hear him say it.
"You thought I was talking about Laylee?" Sevin questioned. When I nodded he said, "Jesus Willows, no wonder you were so unfriendly!"
We were quiet for a little while and eventually a late-night waitress came over and took our order. I ordered apple pie and a glass of milk and Sevin ordered coffee and French toast.
Just as the waitress was leaving I felt something in the pocket of my hoodie start to vibrate. Then the polyphonic version of Ode to Joy started to play. Sevin glanced at me. I glanced back at him. It was two in the morning! Who could possibly be calling me?
I took my phone out of my pocket and saw that it was my dad. Shit, I had totally forgotten to call him when I got here! I gave Sevin an apologetic look and flipped open my phone.
"Hi, dad!" I said, trying to sound cheerful and nonchalant.
"Daphne?" my dad responded. "You were supposed to call me when you got back to Lancaster! Are you there now?"
"Yes, dad, I am," I responded patiently. "I'm really sorry. I just got—caught up—with…things…" I sneaked a glanced at Sevin who was looking away, a smile on his face.
"Well are you at home at least?" my dad questioned.
"No…not exactly," I replied. "I'm at a diner. With Sevin."
"Sevin's not the boy you went back for, is he?" my dad asked.
"Um, actually, yes, he is," I replied.
"So then it went well?" my dad asked. Aw! How cute! He wanted to know about my love life.
"Yes, I think we can safely say it went very well," I responded, staring at Sevin who now glanced back at me.
"All right, well, don't stay out too late," my dad warned. "And under absolutely no circumstances will you be staying at his house, all right? I'm going to call home in the morning and you better be there to answer."
"Yes, sir!" I said in a joking manner. "Happy new year, daddy."
"Happy new year, sweetie," my dad answered, and we hung up.
"Very well, hm?" Sevin asked mischievously after I'd hung up. "What on earth could that mean?"
"I think you know exactly what I was talking about," I replied primly. We sat in silence for a few moments, smiling at each other and, for me at least, reflecting on the past few hours.
Finally, I spoke up. "I've got one. A question, I mean. When did you first start liking me?"
Sevin glanced up at me with a sheepish grin. "Probably…at Alla's party."
I blinked. That was long ago! "You mean the party where Jason got drunk and mauled me?"
"Yeah, that one," Sevin answered. "I mean, when I saw Jason kissing you, I got so angry. I didn't even know how angry I was until I punched the guy. At first I just thought it was normal older-brother type instincts kicking in but—it was more than that. I was flat-out jealous. I wanted to be kissing you."
"Not very older-brotherly," I chided, smiling.
Sevin laughed. "No, I have long since realized that 'brotherly' is not one of the many things I feel for you."
"Oh yeah? Well if you've known for so long, why did you totally trash me when I asked if you liked me? After that party, when I sort of accidentally kissed Jason again?" I asked.
"Trash you? I didn't trash you, Daphne," Sevin said defensively.
"Yes, you did. You were like 'ha ha, what a ridiculous idea, Daphne, why would I ever like you.' That's what you said," I told him.
"That's so not what I said."
"It's close," I responded dismissively.
"No," Sevin answered. "It's not. But if you must know, I was being a total jackass because I thought you still liked Jason. I mean, you did kiss him, after all… and I hadn't quite figured out my own feelings so…I guess after you stormed out on me when I quote 'trashed' you I realized I really did care about you…I felt like a total jerk."
"Don't worry, those feelings weren't unfounded. You were a total jerk," I told him lightly.
"Hey!" Sevin said, pretending to be offended. After a moment he said, "So what about you?"
"When did I realize I liked you? Or when did I start liking you?" I asked. "I've probably liked you since…" I realized I didn't really know. The first time I could remember feeling anything more than platonic feelings for him had been when he almost kissed me at Ryan's party. "I guess at some point before Ryan's Halloween party."
From Sevin's expression I could tell he recalled in vivid detail what had transpired that night.
"That's…kind of a relief," Sevin said after a moment.
"Well, I mean, I basically acted like a total asshole that night, getting drunk and coming onto my best friend's girlfriend and all. You can basically ask anyone and they'll say that's the one of the sleaziest things you can do. It's good to know that at least when I was getting drunk and coming on to you, you weren't totally unreceptive to it," Sevin explained. "It makes me look like slightly less of an asshole and more like…we had a moment of weakness."
"Hey, you were the one who got drunk and tried to kiss me," I said. "I wasn't having a 'moment of weakness.' I was minding my own business."
"You were not!" Sevin protested. "You wanted me to kiss you, admit it."
I blushed and decided I'd go ahead and confess, "That was the best kiss I'd ever had."
Sevin looked confused. "I think I'd remember if I had actually kissed you, Daphne," he said seriously. "Zander interrupted us before we actually kissed."
"I know. It was still the best," I repeated emphatically. I waited a moment a took a sip of the ice water in front of me while I waited for this to sink in.
While I wasn't paying attention, Sevin crept closer to me on the booth seat until he was sitting right beside me. Shooting a quick glance behind us, he moved my water a few inches away from me and laid his hands on the back of my neck, the pads of his thumbs resting on my pulse just below my jaw line as he slowly guided me closer. I felt my heart do a sort of flip as he stared at me with an intense look in his hazel eyes and then let his gaze drop to my lips, still wet from the sip of water I'd taken. My eyes closed gently as I recalled the last, delicious kiss we'd shared and I felt myself aching to press my lips against his, to taste him once again. We were so close, but he was taking an agonizing amount of time to brush his lips against mine, and it was all I could do not to leap at him (lest he think I was some hormonal, over-eager nymphomaniac.) I breathed in as his lips came closer, his warm breath and the spicy scent of his aftershave clouding my mind completely. I tilted my head and succumbed entirely to his will as his lips skimmed over mine, still a breath away.
"Okay, so the apple pie is yours, so that makes the French toast for you, young man, and that comes with our home fries and a side of bacon. Did either of you order a tall glass of milk?" the dulcet voice of our oblivious waitress broke through, making Sevin and I jump apart immediately.
"That's her milk, thanks," Sevin said as our food arrived in front of us. I had still not shaken myself entirely from the trance Sevin had put me in. When I did glance over to him (now safely out of reach across the table) I was infuriated to see a lazy grin on his face as he carelessly dug into his French toast, looking as though nothing of interest had happened in the last two minutes. When the waitress turned her back, Sevin glanced up at me for no more than a split second, but in that second he caught my eye with a mischievous glance, looking all too proud of himself.
I let out a dramatic gasp. "You bastard!" I hissed. "I can't believe you just did that!"
Sevin looked like the epitome of innocence as he glanced back up at me, finishing his bite of toast. "What?"
"You know what!" I replied, keeping my voice low but conveying my anger nonetheless.
"Hey, you said it was the best kiss you'd ever had," Sevin said with a shrug. "I thought I was giving you what you wanted."
I ignored the pleasurable shiver that ran through my body at these words and responded, "Oh, yeah because just everyone loves getting teased by boys who think it's okay to almost kiss them and then purposely get interrupted by the waitress! That's exactly what I—"
I was cut off as Sevin leaned over the table and planted his lips on mine. I was about to push him off, just, you know, to teach him a lesson but his hand had a pretty firm grip on the back of my neck plus I could taste cinnamon and sugar on his lips, which was delicious and more than enough reason to kiss him back. When we finally broke apart (mostly because of how uncomfortable it was to kiss with an entire table between us) Sevin looked pretty pleased with himself and I didn't have the heart to tell him off again, especially with his curly hair sticking up adorably. I refocused my attention on the food in front of me and quickly came to the conclusion that kissing and pie is possibly the best combination ever. If this was how my new year was beginning, I couldn't wait to find out what else it would bring.
I stood nervously in front of my mirror, biting my bottom lip absently as I surveyed my appearance and tried to balance my phone on my shoulder. It was February 22nd—my birthday.
"I don't know Flo," I said into the phone.
"Are you wearing the dress I told you to wear?" she demanded.
"Yes," I answered. "That's not the problem."
"What's the problem, then?" Flo asked.
"It's this haircut Jess insisted on giving me!" I shrilled. "It's just so—short."
"Daphne, that's the cutest haircut I've ever seen. I wish I could have that haircut—but you know it would never work on my straight hair. You look like one of those actresses in black-and-white films," Flo assured me.
"Okay," I replied, staring at my reflection. "But on the subject of the dress—"
"Daphne, don't start, okay? I already made sure you look totally adorable. I've seen you in that dress with your hair. You look amazing," Flo said.
"I know, but it's just—it's sleeveless," I said, playing with the hem of my dress. "And, well, it's February."
"Then take your wrap," Flo suggested. "It'll look great."
I glanced over at my beautiful pashmina—the same one my dad had given me over a year ago for Christmas. I picked up the fabric from where it hung over my bedpost and swirled it around me. It actually did look nice with my dress, offsetting the delicate spring green color.
"Okay," I said into the phone. "I think I'm ready."
I could practically hear Flo rolling her eyes. "You sure you don't need more moral support?"
"I'm fine," I replied coolly. "And anyway, I'm supposed to meet Sevin in like five minutes."
"Okay. Have fun!" Flo said before we hung up. I stayed, still staring at the reflection in my mirror when the doorbell rang.
"I got it, Daphne," my dad called from the living room.
I stepped out of my room, curious. I saw Sevin standing in the doorway, chatting amiably with my dad. He smiled when his eye caught mine, and then his whole expression widened when he took in my appearance. My dad stepped back, noticing I had arrived.
"Um," Sevin said, still staring at me. He held his arms out. "You look great."
I rolled my eyes, though of course I was pleased. I knew spending all that time on the phone with Flo would pay off. I glided into Sevin's waiting arms and kissed him, careful to be chaste in front of my dad. He liked Sevin just fine, practically treating him like a son what with all sports-watching and hotdog grilling they did together (things dad could never do with me) but I had it in my head that it was better to be pretty hands-off in front of him.
"Thanks, you too," I replied after our quick kiss.
"Well, you two have fun," my dad said, smiling at us. "Now, are you just going out to dinner? What time should I expect her back?"
"Actually I thought we might go back to my house to watch a movie or something," Sevin said. "Flo will be there, of course," he added, as if to placate any over-protective instincts my dad may have been fighting off. As if he didn't know Sevin and I spent loads of time alone in the house together. I was turning eighteen, for goodness sake.
"One, then?" my dad said.
"Sure thing," Sevin agreed, and for a second looked like he was winking, but he was guiding me out the door, his arm wound around my waist.
"Have a good time, kids," my dad called, waving as we went down the steps towards Sevin's car.
After eating delicious thai food at Thai Palms, Sevin and I were back in the car and heading toward his house. It was about half-past nine, though I felt like only a few minutes had passed since we left my house. Dinner had been a whirl of yummy peanut sauce, awkward kisses (made awkward only by the presence of the table between us), thai iced tea and no dessert (I had refused, citing the fact that I felt I had already consumed a large, female hippopotamus).
I sat in the passenger seat, smiling in delight and listening to the calming music Sevin had put on, which was sung in some extremely strange-sounding language.
"Are you tired?" Sevin asked me, glancing over.
"Nope," I answered. "Just full. So are we really going to watch a movie?"
"Maybe," Sevin answered ambiguously, turning back to face the road.
"Well you can at least tell me if Flo is really going to be there," I told him.
"She didn't say anything?" Sevin asked.
"I didn't ask," I replied.
Sevin was silent for a moment. "Well, would it make you happy if she were there, or not?"
"That depends," I answered. "I love Flo and I want to see her again today, but I also like just being alone with you."
"We were alone all of dinner," Sevin reminded me.
"You know what I mean." I blushed, unable to ignore the half-smile that lit up Sevin's face.
We rode in silence the rest of the way, but it was a comfortable silence. When we finally arrived at Sevin's house, he pulled up to the curb and shut the car off, but made no move to get out.
"Happy birthday," he said quietly in the dark. I turned to him and before I could respond he was kissing me. Soon we were making out, which lasted a good five minutes before I jammed my knee on the glove compartment trying to get closer.
"Let's go inside," I said, my voice coming out in a breathy whisper.
Sevin nodded, pushing open his door and coming around the other side to open mine for me. He hardly ever did silly, chivalrous things like that (because he found them silly and unnecessary, which I agreed with for the most part, the exception being the small part of me that still thought I was a Disney Princess). I took his hand and we walked up the path to the front door. And that's when I heard the music. And the people talking. And realized exactly what was about to happen.
The door opened in front of us to reveal Flo in a beautiful sleeveless red draped dress. She looked like a Greek Goddess.
"Daphne!" she exclaimed, throwing her arms around me. "Happy birthday!"
I returned her hug.
"Oh, and surprise!" she added, gesturing behind her at the party going on in the house. As Flo bounced off, Sevin leaned over, his hair still slightly mussed from our enthusiastic display of affection.
"Is this okay?" he asked, his brows knit together in concern. "I wasn't sure if you wanted a party…"
"This is great," I told him, smiling. I kissed him on the lips, but the kiss was nearly as chaste as the one I've given him in front of my dad. "I'm definitely surprised."
"We'll still get some alone time," Sevin assured me. "I'll make sure of it. After all, I still have to give you your present."
"My present?" I asked mischievously. "Can I have it now?"
Sevin pretended to consider this. "Sorry. No. You have to wait. At least pretend you want to see all of your friends."
"I do want to see them!" I protested as we went into the living room.
"Daphne!" Ben's cheerful, eager voice greeted me. "Happy birthday!"
He swept me into a big hug, grinning ear-to-ear.
"So who else is here?" I asked.
"Can we just pause for a second so I can acknowledge how beautiful you look?" Ben asked.
I smiled. "Aw, thank you Ben."
"You don't know how flattered I am that you dressed up for me," he added.
"Ha ha," I said dryly. "This was a surprise, remember?" I added, glancing around Ben at everyone else in the living room, kitchen and backyard.
"Yay, Daffy and Sevin are here!" I heard Jia's excited whoop above the normal buzz of people. She leapt up from Martin's lap, looking gorgeous and positively carefree. Martin followed at her side to greet me.
Behind them I spotted Jess with a half-empty beer in her hand. I made my way over and she grinned as she caught sight of me.
"Wow Daphne, you sure clean up," she said. Then in a stage whisper she added, "You could probably do better than Sevin now, looking like that."
"You're right," I stage-whispered back. "Which is exactly why I'm planning to dump him and move to Italy with my new model boyfriend."
Sevin looked hurt, appearing to be on the brink of tears. Then he grinned at me. "You know you could never find someone who would put up with you for as long as I have, Daphne."
"Oh yeah, aren't you guys like, married now or something?" Jess asked sardonically.
"Or something," I agreed. "By the way, where's that new boy of yours?"
"Colin? He's with Laylee and Brandon, I think," Jess said absently. "Out in back."
"Oh, so you haven't dumped him yet?" Sevin asked.
Jess looked miffed. "Excuse me, just because not everyone can stay in a relationship for over a year doesn't mean I dump everyone, okay?"
"Just most people," Sevin agreed.
Jess didn't bother to answer, instead choosing another beer out of the fridge. "Come on, let's go socialize."
She led us out the door to the back, which is where the real party seemed to be happening. I soon found myself caught up in laughter, teasing, and frivolous conversation. Alicia was, as expected, making out with one of Colin's unattached male friends by the birdfeeder as I struck up a conversation with Laylee and her boyfriend, both of them slightly tipsy and therefore much more entertaining. One of Brandon's friends, I noticed, was busy flirting with Flo. Right next to me, Martin and Jia were arguing loudly about some stupid thing (Martin thought he was right, Jia would undoubtedly blast his argument to dust, whether it was correct or not).
"So Daphne, how's it going with Sevin?" Laylee asked.
"It's going great," I answered truthfully, sipping a minty concoction that Flo had made with copious amounts of her parents' brandy.
"Do you guys know where you're going next year?" Laylee asked. Laylee had gotten into all her top schools, so this question, coming from her, put me on edge.
"Um…well, I applied to a lot of different places," I said. "Some in California. A lot are on the East Coast…it's far away, but the schools are so good there."
"So have you heard from anywhere?" Brandon asked.
I shook my head. "Not until early April. It's kind of scary, not knowing where I'm going to be next year."
"Yeah, it must be. But exciting, I bet."
"Laylee, I forget, where is it you're going in the fall?" I asked. Laylee had taken a gap year before going to college. She had stayed in Holland with her relatives and traveled to Belgium and England before returning home.
"Laylee got into Brown," Brandon said, a hint of pride and something else in his tone.
Laylee flushed a little. I couldn't tell if this was a topic that was sore between the two of them.
"Oh, well, that's great!" I said. "I'm sure you'll totally love it."
"It is far," Laylee said.
"You'll manage," I told her firmly, with a quick look at Brandon. I couldn't help wondering if the two of them would survive being at such a great distance from one another. This was often the fear that plagued me about next year with Sevin and I. Only a few of the school we applied to overlapped, and none of our top choices were the same. Chances were, we'd wind up states away from one another, or even across the country. I didn't really know what would happen then.
As I was growing more anxious over this, Sevin appeared behind Laylee, Brandon and I.
"Hey guys," Sevin greeted us. "Do you think I could steal Daphne for a second?"
"Of course," Laylee said, turning toward Brandon. "Steal away."
I got up, taking Sevin's hand as he led me back in the house. "Where are we going?"
"That's a surprise," Sevin replied as we climbed the stairs.
I started to think about all the uncertainty that lied ahead of us. I didn't doubt that we'd still be together in six months, but after that? What would we do when we didn't see each other for months and months, and when we finally did it was only for a couple days, here and there? Our time together would get less and less as our lives overlapped less and less and we became busy with new things, new people…
"Here we are," Sevin announced as we reached his door.
"This is your room," I said stupidly.
"The surprise is what's inside," Sevin assured me.
I bit my lip, hesitant to enter. I had a sudden thought of what Sevin might have planned. In the year we'd been going out, we still hadn't taken our relationship to the infamous 'next level.' It wasn't for lack of wanting to, but rather that both of us (or at least I) didn't really know how to take that step. Or when was the 'right time' if there was such a thing. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought that the day might come on my eighteenth birthday (or Sevin's, which was at the beginning of January). But I didn't really imagine it at a party while all my friends were there. Not to mention Sevin's sister.
"Um," I said intelligently, staring through the doorway unsurely.
"Come on," Sevin urged, pushing me inside. Once we were in his room he sat me down on his bed while he went over to his desk, leafing around for something. I wondered if he was just nervous and killing time, but I didn't say anything. I just sat rigidly and traced the threads of his comforter as it slowly dawned on me what he must be looking for.
"Ah, finally," Sevin breathed, obviously talking to himself. "I was scared for a second, I thought I lost it."
"It?" I repeated, hardly daring to wonder what he meant.
"Your birthday present," Sevin answered, turning around and coming toward me, something clenched in his hand. Before I could discern what it was, he was kissing me. I leaned back, tugging him by the shirt so he was laying over me, pressing his lips against mine in a way that was familiar and yet thrilling. I let out a pleasurable little moan as Sevin pressed a kiss to the corner of my mouth and another one right on my pulse beneath my jaw.
"Ready for your present?" he asked, his voice husky and low.
I froze, a jolt of electricity coursing through my body. I wanted this, I really did, but…but I had no idea what to do!
"Daphne?" Sevin asked, his voice now concerned. His hand reached down to toy with my dark locks just above my shoulder and suddenly our lips met and we were kissing again.
"Okay," I said, my breathing labored from our intense make-out. I was sure now. "I'm ready."
Sevin disentangled himself from me and rolled over on his side, facing me but no longer touching me. His eyes were expressive, but it was an expression I couldn't decipher.
"Sevin?" I asked, mimicking his tone from before. Was he…rejecting me? Now, after all this time, did he not want me? I refused to think that—it was silly. There had to be a reason he had pulled away.
Without saying a word he reached around me and pulled out a white envelope. It was unsealed and unmarked except for a printed address on the corner. He held it out to me.
"What's this?" I asked, pushing myself up on my elbows and taking the envelope.
"Your present," Sevin replied.
I tried desperately to keep the surprise off my face. The present was not what I thought it was. He had not, in fact, taken me up here to have sex. There was something, an actual physical gift, that he wanted to give me. I felt like ten types of idiot, but I vowed not to let Sevin know.
I opened the envelope and was surprised to find my hands were shaking. What came out were two tickets.
Plane tickets. Two of them for a flight from Bob Hope Airport to Athens, Greece. This time, I didn't even attempt to keep the surprise off my face.
"Oh my god!" I yelled. I didn't care how loud I was, even when Sevin flinched at my volume. "Oh my god, are you serious? Greece? When is it? When are we going?"
Sevin's face broke into a grin. "So you like it?"
"Sevin, this is the best idea ever. Wow. Why—what—how?" I asked, breathless with excitement.
"I knew you've always wanted to go to Greece and this way I know you won't get swept up by some Greek god," Sevin replied.
"But oh my god—is it going to be okay with our parents? I mean, it's going to be just us two, right?" I asked.
"Yeah, and I already talked to your dad," Sevin replied. "He's cool, though I think he might be sending some of your relatives to swoop in on us when we least expect it. And you know my parents—I can sell basically anything to them."
"You have given them a lot of reasons to trust you," I agreed. I scooted over, snuggling into him. "Me too."
"Good," Sevin replied, kissing my temple. "So you're excited?"
I rolled my eyes, but I was grinning like a fool. "For the second time, yes, I'm super excited. I love that you thought of it. I love that we're going away together. It sounds so clandestine. Like Aladdin and Jasmine."
I could tell Sevin was now rolling his eyes. "Daphne we're not running away together. We're just sightseeing for a few weeks in June after graduation."
"I know," I huffed. "But still. This is like—major!"
"Really? You see it that way?" Sevin asked.
I turned to him. "You don't?"
He shrugged. "I guess. I mean, it'll be pretty cool just being with you and not having to worry about anything else. I'm definitely looking forward to that."
"Well, good," I said, reaching up to kiss him. "Me too."
"Sevin," I said after a long period of silence.
"Hm?" Sevin replied, trailing his fingers down my arm.
"What if we don't go to the same college?" I asked in a rush.
"We probably won't," Sevin replied easily.
"But what if we end up really far away from each other?" I pressed.
"Then…we make the most of the time we spend together," Sevin replied. "And try not to miss each other too much in between."
"Yeah, but…aren't you scared?"
"Yes. But I also know that I love you," Sevin replied. "And there's no reason for us to worry about things like distance when we feel that way."
I fell silent, deep in thought. He didn't really sound concerned at all. But that didn't stop me from feeling anxious. This summer was going to be amazing, but after that, everything was shrouded in uncertainty.
"Daphne," Sevin said, and there was a seriousness in his voice that made me look up. He stared into my eyes, making it impossible for me to look away. "I love you. And we'll make this work."
I believed him. Whatever my expectations were for the coming year, I knew Sevin would outdo them all. Before Sevin, I had thought that happily-ever-after and magic carpet ride kisses were only for Disney princesses. Now I knew that I didn't have to be Sleeping Beauty or Snow White or Ariel or Jasmine to get my heart's desire. I was just Daphne, and that had been enough to get a boy who loved me, who kissed me like he couldn't get enough and who wanted to be with me whether we were across the country from one another or together in the same bed. And unlike a Disney movie, our story didn't have an end, but would continue for as long as we were still in love. I didn't need a magic genie or a mirror on the wall to tell me it would go on a long, long time.
End Notes: There it is! The final chapter. I hope you guys enjoyed this story as much as I have enjoyed writing it! Now, to answer some of your questions...
Q: How did you get the idea for this story?
A: I can't even remember anymore…but the Disney aspect of it came from both my continued obsession with Aladdin (that is seriously the best movie ever, guys) and a facebook group called "Disney Gave Me Unrealistic Expectations About Love."
Q: Why did it take thirty chapters for Daphne and Sevin to get together? (Why is this story so long?)
A: I honestly don't know. I really didn't think this story would be that long—in fact if I recall, I was shooting for 16-20 chapters when it suddenly became chapter 16 and Daphne was still dating Ryan! I think the main reason this story turned out so long was because it started with Sevin and Daphne working at the diner and then continued on into their school year, introducing all new characters.
Q: Is Sevin based on a real person? Are any of the characters?
A: No, Sevin is not based on a real person. Flo is, though! She's based on a friend of mine, though she turned out quite a bit different from my friend, as it happens.
Q: Is there any particular song that you think of while writing this, or that reminds you of this story when you hear it?
A: Yes, and it's actually not "Walk With You" by Dispatch. It's Daniel Powter's "Bad Day." I don't even know where I got this song, it's so random and ubiquitous, but for some reason whenever I hear it I picture Sevin and Daphne and all of their moments together in this story, like a music video or a montage.
Q: How do you go about writing and editing? Do you do them all at once or both?
A: Well, I very rarely sit down and get out an entire chapter. It really depends on what part of the story I'm at—sometimes I can sit down and write for pages and pages without distracting myself, and sometimes I literally have to go sentence by sentence, or even word by word until I can get something out. As for editing, I tend to go back and fix things up whenever I stop writing (for whatever reason…I slightly stuck, I need to go look something up, etc.) I'll go back and do this many times, and my final edit happens after I've uploaded the chapter onto fictionpress and sometimes I end up cutting out or adding a lot more at this point.
Q: Do you have any weird writing quirks/rituals?
A: Not exactly, though I can't write while playing music, but I think this is true of most people. One really weird thing that I do that is bordering on OCD is I will often open up the calculator application on my computer and take my total number of reviews and divide that by how many chapters I've written to see how many reviews I get on average per chapter. I've been doing this since I first signed up for fanfiction and I've continued it on this site. It's just a weird thing, it's not like I try to get a certain average, I just like knowing.
Q: Did you enjoy tricking us into thinking Daphne and Sevin were about to do it?
Q: Are you planning on writing more stories in the young adult/romance genre?
A: I don't have any ideas currently, but my daydreams tend to be young adult/romance day dreams, and it's more than likely that one of those will turn into a story. I might have to take a break and write something with a little more substance, but there is something so satisfying about writing stories like this! Especially when I have readers like you guys!
Thanks again for reading! Writing this has been an awesome experience...I can't believe it's over. Please review one last time and tell me what you thought of the last chapter and the story as a whole.