A/n: So. This is it. I honestly don't know what to do. These were my favorite boys out of all the stories I've written and now I have to stop telling their story. I mean, I know I could continue writing them and I've thought about it, but no. It needs to end here, as depressing and heartbreaking as it is.

Anyway. Thank you all for reading, reviewing, favoriting, etc. this story and Clean Up. You all are the best readers I could ask for. If you're interested in what's going to happen next with me, look to my profile page.

And now with that all said, enjoy the last chapter of Back to the Drawing Board.


Chapter Forty

And Life Goes On…

Laughter sounded behind me, loud and happy and distracting.

For the first really gorgeous Saturday of spring, that was normal, especially in the park. There was no reason for that particular laugh to stand out to me and catch my attention.

Except this laugh was strangely familiar yet not at the same time. Curious, I looked over my shoulder, in the direction it had come from, and what I saw made my eyebrows rise high on my forehead.

Brady was several yards away, being spun around and tickled by a guy with light brown hair who I vaguely recognized from the GSA meetings I had gone to. Davy, I thought his name was, but I couldn't be sure.

Honestly, in light of realizing why that laugh had sounded both familiar and unfamiliar to me, who the guy was hardly mattered. What mattered was Brady had been right. He and I had never made each other as happy as we needed to when we'd been together. That was clear enough just by listening to him and seeing the way he grinned at the guy before looping an arm around his neck and pulling him into a kiss. I had never been able to make him laugh or grin like that, just like he had never been able to do the same for me.

And that was okay. So was us not working out. We had never been meant to; Brady and I simply weren't right for each other. It definitely could have ended better between us, but it was what it was.

Besides, all of that had happened over a year and a half ago. I was long over it and him by now. From the expression on Brady's face and the guy in his arms, I would say that he was over it too.

I smiled and looked away from them, sincerely glad that Brady had found someone. No matter what mistakes he had made, they were in the past and he had learned from them. Now, just like everyone else, he deserved to be happy and have someone in his life that would be a source of happiness for him.

My smile turned into a grin when my source of happiness suddenly pounced on me from behind. All thoughts of Brady and everything else fled my mind as I laughed and grabbed a hold of Ryan's forearms to hold him in place. The only thing I could think of now was his familiar scent pervading my every breath and his hair brushing gently along my cheek.

"What are you all excited about?" I asked because I could feel and sense him smiling. I could also sense the way he was practically thrumming with excitement. "Who called you?"

"It was Ash," Ryan told me. "He found someone willing to bring me into their shop."

I turned my head to look at him with eyebrows raised. "To finish your apprenticeship while Ash is out?"

"Yeah," he said excitedly. "And to give me chair once I'm done so I can start taking clients."

"Oh, my god." I felt another grin break across my lips as I pulled Ryan off my back so he was standing in front of me instead. "That's amazing, Ry."

"I know," Ryan said, grinning himself as he grabbed a hold of me and spun me around.

In the next second, though, he stopped and pinned me with a grave, slightly upset look. All signs of excitement were gone. I touched his cheek, concerned.

"What's wrong?"

Ryan stared at me with large, sad amber eyes. "The shop isn't in this town. It's actually a few hours away. I…if I take this offer, I have to move."

The bottom fell out of my stomach hearing that. I had already been dreading leaving for college in a few months, knowing that would put me several hours away from here—away from him. If he had to move too, and the distance between us became even farther…

I couldn't do it.

Feeling like my world was seconds from falling apart, I closed my eyes and took a shaky breath. Then, I forced myself to ask the question I really didn't want to know the answer to, lest it was the one I was dreading.

"Where?"

Ryan told me.

And my eyes immediately shot back open. I stared at him, unable to believe it. The incredulous look I was giving him made Ryan give me an odd, questioning frown in return.

"What?" he said. "Is there something significant about that town?"

"Yeah," I said with a breathless laugh. My stomach had a bottom again, allowing it to pool with elation and relief. "It's about twenty minutes away from the university I'm going to."

Now, it was Ryan's turn to stare at me, his eyes wide and his jaw slack with disbelief. I beamed at him as an idea—a crazy, wonderful idea—suddenly popped into my head.

"Hey, Ry," I said slyly. "Want to get an apartment with me?"

He stared at me some more. An entire minute almost went by before a huge, incredible grin spread across his lips.

"Would you believe me if I told you I was about to ask you the same thing?" he questioned, and I beamed.

"Of course."

"Of course," Ryan echoed before letting out a joyful laugh and grabbing me by the waist. He pulled me close so he could kiss me hard and quick, resting our foreheads together afterwards.

"God, I love you," he murmured against my lips.

"I know," I whispered back.

Ryan grinned. Then, he pressed his mouth to mine and kissed me again, slowly and sweetly. Still grinning myself, I wrapped my arms around him tight as I kissed him back.

There wasn't a time I could remember being happier than I was in that moment.

What made it even better was knowing my life with him—our life together—was only just beginning.

The End