Three Years Later
"Sarah, you should be resting, not lifting heavy things," Damien said, immediately taking the heavy stack of books out of her hands.
"Just because I look like I'm about to burst doesn't mean I'm actually going to," she replied, blowing a piece of hair out of her face.
It was true, Sarah did look like she was about to burst. But that was only because she was due any day now to give birth. Honestly, as much as she said she was surprised about the pregnancy, I wasn't. I knew Sarah has always wanted a child of her own. She complained about being too old and too inexperienced with kids, but I know she'll make a great mother. We all knew it.
"Honey, Damien's right. The doctor said you should be relaxing right now," Daniel said as he entered the room. "What are you doing, anyway?"
"I was just trying to put them on the shelf!" she bellowed.
"I know," Daniel replied calmly, rubbing her back soothingly.
She sighed. "I'm going to help Kate in the kitchen." Before Daniel could protest, she added, "I know, no heavy lifting."
I couldn't hold back my laughing once she left the room. I was sitting on the couch next to Damien, who just joined me after putting the books on the shelf like Sarah wanted.
"I bet she was a rebel when she was a kid," Damien stated, putting his arm across my shoulders.
I grinned up at him. "Aren't you used to this by now?"
He shook his head. "No way, I don't think I'll ever get used to the mood swings of a pregnant woman."
I laughed just as my mom announced it was time for dinner. Even though our families were busy with school or work, we always had Sunday dinners together. Lately they were at Sarah's house for her convenience, though I didn't mind. It allowed me to spend more time with my boyfriend.
Yes, Damien and I were still together, even after three years. In fact, while we both still lived in our own houses, he decided to go to a nearby technical school while I went to a college not too far from home. I once asked him what made him change his mind about getting the certificate to be a mechanic, to which he replied 'you'. Apparently, I inspired and encouraged him to do something more with his life. And that's just what he was doing. A few months ago, he got a job as a mechanic at a well-known shop while he finished up his last few classes for his certificate. Someday he wants to open his own shop, specifically for working on vintage cars. I was beyond proud of him.
"How's your classes, Leah?" Todd, my mother's fiancé now, asked me as we sat down to eat.
"They're great. I only have a few more finals left before my summer vacation starts. Then I'll start a couple summer classes in two weeks," I answered. I still had another year before I received my bachelor's degree in Elementary Education to be a teacher.
"How about your classes?" Todd asked Ben and Isabelle.
They answered, starting a conversation about a teacher Isabelle had in high school that everyone hated, including Ben and me. Isabelle was doing well for her first year of high school, getting good grades and joining a couple different sports teams.
Ben was doing well too. He was a year behind me in college, attending the same one as me. He was going for an electrical engineering degree. And he was still with Delaney, even though she was attending a college a few hours away. However, somehow they still managed to get cuter as a couple each time I saw them.
"Ready to go?" Damien asked me once we all finished dinner. He was taking me out on a mystery date, not giving me any clues about the location.
I nodded and said a quick goodbye to everyone before heading out. I put on the helmet that had become my own since I joined Damien on his motorcycle countless times. I securely wrapped my arms around him, trusting him with my life as he drove us to our date. When he finally came to a stop and parked the motorcycle, I simply had to laugh at the place he chose.
"The carnival? I was not expecting this," I laughed.
"I know, that's why I picked it. That, and I really wanted to play the games here. I never got to play any games here," he replied as we entered the carnival.
"Never?" He shook his head in reply. "But you worked here for months! How did you never get the chance to play the games?"
He shrugged. "I never wanted to. I always just wanted to come in, work my shift, and leave."
"Well in that case, I'll have to warn you."
"Warn me?" he said, an eyebrow raised in amusement.
"Yes, I'm warning you about how good I am at the shooting game we are approaching," I told him, gesturing over to the booth I was talking about.
"Is that so? I guess we'll see about that." Damien pulled me over toward the game, seeming very eager to play it. Or very eager to beat me, rather.
"Are you ready to lose?" I smiled up at him.
A secretive smile slowly formed on his face. "Let's make this game interesting," he suggested.
I raised an eyebrow in return. "Alright, what do you suggest?"
"Whoever wins gets something," he said, his eyes holding something back.
"Okay, if I win, you have to teach me how to drive your motorcycle," I stated. For the past year, I've wanted to learn to drive his motorcycle, yet he wouldn't let me. He claimed it was too dangerous and that I was going to get hurt. It's not like I wanted to drive it all the time, I just wanted to know how.
After a moment of debating my offer, he nodded. "Fine, and if I win, you have to move in with me."
I almost laughed at that. "Damien, I think Sarah's house is a little too full for another person to be living there."
"No, I mean you move in with me in an apartment," he added seriously. His warm brown eyes looked directly into mine, waiting for me to agree to his offer.
I was taken aback by his suggestion, mainly because we never really talked about living together yet. Sure, we spent more time in each other's houses than our own, but getting a place of our own? That was a huge step for our relationship.
And that's why I agreed to his offer. "Okay, game on," I smiled, shaking his hand to set the deal.
Damien handed the employee the money to play. Once the bell rang, I started pointing my laser gun at every target I saw popping up. The object of the game was to shoot as many targets as possible in a minute. The person that shot the most targets was the winner.
"Yes!" I exclaimed the second I saw I had won. Damien seemed extremely disappointed that he didn't win, especially since the scores were so close. I chose a big bag of cotton candy as my prize.
"Are you really going to teach me how to drive your motorcycle?"
"A deal is a deal," he said simply, walking over to a bench.
We sat on the bench in silence for a moment while I ate a couple bites of cotton candy. "The scores were close though."
"Yeah," he muttered.
"It's quite possible that there was something wrong with your gun. Maybe you really did beat me, but the score didn't register."
Damien shook his head and wrapped his arm around my shoulders. "I don't know about that."
"Seriously! I saw how many targets you were hitting. I think it's safe to say that you should have won. So what do you say? Are we going to get an apartment together?"
He looked over at me seriously. "You don't have to do that, Leah. You won, not me. I don't want you to make this decision based on the fact that you feel bad at the moment."
I shook my head and turned my body to face him. "No, I want to do this. We've never been happier in the three years we've been together. I think this would be a great thing for us. Besides, I wouldn't want you to go crazy once Sarah finally has her baby," I grinned.
He smiled instantly before kissing me. As much as I wanted this kiss to last forever, my phone started to ring loudly.
"Ignore it," Damien said against my lips.
I ignored the first call, though it started ringing again right away. I sighed and broke away from Damien to check the caller id. Ben's name scrolled across the screen. I thought that was weird since he knew I was on a date with his brother.
"Yes, Ben?" I greeted, too happy to really be mad at anyone right now, even for interrupting my moment with Damien.
"Sarah's having her baby!" he exclaimed loudly through the phone. In the background I could hear Sarah's shouts of pain. Ah, the joys of being in labor.
"We'll meet you guys at the hospital," I replied, pulling Damien with me as we exited the carnival.
"What's going on?"
"Sarah's having her baby now. We need to head over to the hospital," I explained, quickly putting on my helmet.
"It was probably that heavy lifting she did earlier," he said, putting on his own helmet.
We were at the hospital in no time, though all we could do was wait in the waiting room. Not that I wanted to see Sarah giving birth. I found the whole process quite disturbing. I'm sure my opinion of giving birth would change once it was me in Sarah's place, but for now I would remain far away until it was over and her baby was sleeping in her arms.
Hours later, I was shaken awake gently. My eyes opened and focused on Damien's exuberant face. "I have another younger sister," he announced.
I grinned and stood, following him into Sarah's hospital room. She was holding a beautiful baby girl, while Daniel stood next to her. Somehow everyone was in the hospital room, which lead me to believe it was only a short amount of time before a nurse ordered us to leave.
"Leah, this is Diana Marie Stavros," Sarah said to me.
"She's beautiful," I whispered since she was sleeping.
"I'm sorry but you can't all be here. Visiting hours is over and Sarah needs her rest," a nurse said, leaving once we acknowledged what she said.
We all started saying our goodbyes to Sarah and Daniel, who were obviously staying the night at the hospital.
"Before we leave, we have some more good news to add to this night," I said to everyone. Damien looked over at me curiously, probably not expecting me to share our new living arrangement plans.
"Damien and I have decided to get an apartment together!" I shared excitedly, careful not to wake the baby up.
Everyone seemed to share my excitement as they hugged Damien and me. Surprisingly, my mother was excited for us too.
"You're okay with this?" I asked her.
"Of course! I've been waiting for you to get along with your life," she answered happily, hugging me.
I grinned and hugged her back. We left Sarah, Daniel, and Diana after that, getting into our cars to go home. Damien took a longer route home, wanting to spend more time together since we didn't get to finish our date earlier.
I got off the motorcycle and stood next to Damien. "Sorry, I couldn't hold back my excitement. I had to tell them our plan," I said sheepishly.
"You know what that means?" he asked.
I shook my head. "What?"
"It means we'll be spending all day tomorrow looking for an apartment. Now that you told everyone, nothing is holding us back," he grinned.
I smiled back. "Alright, sounds good. But I'm not going to settle on any random apartment. I want our place to be perfect for us, even if that means you have to suffer through some nights of a crying baby."
He wrapped his arms around my waist, pulling me towards him as he remained seated on his motorcycle. "Oh yeah? How about I kidnap you when you least suspect it and tie you to a chair to endure the baby's cries along with me."
"You would willingly put your girlfriend through that torture?" I asked innocently.
"Maybe," he replied with a smirk. Before I could retort, he pulled me down to kiss him. I eventually forced myself to break away from him and sighed against his lips.
"I'll see you tomorrow to go apartment hunting," I told him.
He nodded. "See you tomorrow."
I backed away as he started his motorcycle. "Hey!" he called over the rumble of the vehicle. I turned back to face him.
"I love you!" he yelled, making sure I heard.
I beamed like a lovesick idiot. "I love you too!" I yelled back. I saw him grin before putting on his helmet. He was on the road seconds later, so I continued going inside.
After shutting the front door, I stopped for a moment to just process everything that happened today. Not only did Sarah give birth to a gorgeous baby girl, but Damien and I were finally taking the next step in our relationship. I was more than thrilled to live with him in our own place.
I thought back to when I first met him at the same carnival we went to tonight. Saying that he annoyed me would be an understatement back then. Our personalities completely clashed right away until we started to get to know each other.
Thinking back to when I first met him also brought up the set of rules I made. Sure, they helped me get through those tough moments in life, but ultimately, only one rule in life counts.
Rule #18: There are no set rules to live life.
As much as we may sometimes want to live using directions or instructions, we can't. Confining our lives to using a set of rules means we are unable to enjoy what life has to offer outside of those rules. If I seriously followed the rules I made up, I probably wouldn't be with Damien, which means I would be missing out on the happiest years of my life so far.
In the end, stating that there are no rules to live life is truly the best rule.
Author's Note: It's over! As always, I'm sad to end a story, yet also happy that I was able to finish it. Once again, I want to thank everyone who has given this story a chance. I loved reading your feedback throughout this process. I don't know how much I could stress how important all of your support was, but it was seriously what kept me writing. Please feel free to post what you thought about the epilogue, or the entire story!
Also, I posted a new story! I came up with the idea for it out of nowhere and decided to go along with it since I have some extra time on my hands. I will say that it is very different from my other stories in the sense that the characters are not in high school, or even college (since that's reoccurring in my other stories). So if you want to read the summary or story, go check it out! It's called Back to Bluewater.