Here's the real epilogue! I hope you guys like it. A million thank-yous to all of you who have shown your support throughout this story. Please favorite it if you enjoyed it. Also, please go check out the "companion novel," The Back-Up Plan. i know that sequels are never as good as the original, but i promise you won't be disappointed! It's basically its own story, just with some of the same characters (from Jake's POV). So please give it a chance. Thanks again. Until next time, XOXO
It was the end of March – Hunter's birthday, to be exact. We left school together that Friday, planning to spend a relaxed afternoon alone until his mom got home. Even though he was turning eighteen, Hunter insisted that we didn't do anything big. His friends tried to force him to go out with them, but he refused.
"You could have gone with them," I said as he opened the car door for me.
Hunter chuckled and leaned down to kiss me, resting his hand on the back of my neck. "Don't be silly," he said, breaking the kiss. "All I want for my birthday is to be with you." My cheeks instantly blushed, causing Hunter to laugh and playfully ruffle my hair.
When we got back to his house, Hunter grabbed the mail, and I followed him inside.
"Alright," he boomed, dropping his backpack on the floor. "We have water, soda, coffee, tea – what do you want?"
"I can get my own drink," I replied, grinning. "I've been here enough times to know my way around." We walked into the kitchen, and Hunter leaned against the counter as I picked out two glasses from the cupboard. I then opened the refrigerator and pulled out a jug of ice tea. When I turned back to the counter, Hunter was watching me with an amused grin.
"Anyone ever told you how adorable you are?" he teased, taking the ice tea from my hands.
I rolled my eyes and laughed. "You do every day," I replied. "And you know I don't like it."
"Oh come on," he said, wrapping his arms around my waist from behind. "What's so wrong with being adorable?" he whispered next to my ear. I twisted around and narrowed my eyes at him.
"Girls don't want to be adorable. Girls want to be smart, sexy, and sophisticated." Hunter laughed, shaking his head.
"Fine, you're smart, sexy, sophisticated, and adorable," he told me, cutting off my retort with a kiss. "Now let's stop talking." I giggled as he picked me up and set me down on the counter, resting his hands on my hips. I started laughing and tried to push him away.
"Hunter, what if your mom walks in?" I said, failing to sound forceful through my giggles.
"She won't be home for a while," he replied, kissing my neck and pulling me closer.
"She came home early last Friday, remember?" I warned, feeling my cheeks turn pink at the thought of the last time we got caught.
Hunter pulled back, shaking his head. "Please, she was kidding when she said she was 'appalled at our behavior.' Trust me." He leaned in to kiss me again, but I put my hands on his shoulders to stop him.
"I don't want her to think I'm a bad influence."
"You? A bad influence? Nah, you're too adorable," Hunter teased. I began to scold him again, but he succeeded in cutting me off with a kiss. Hunter then picked me up and carried me to the living room. He threw me down on the couch, and I landed with a squeal. "Fine, I'll stop, but only because I'm hungry," he said. "God, I can't believe you won't let me kiss you on my birthday." I laughed, rolling my eyes as I sat up. "I'll be right back."
I reached for the remote and turned on the TV as Hunter went back into the kitchen. When he didn't come back after a few minutes, I called out, "Need any help?" I waited for a second, and then muted the television when he didn't respond. I was about to get up, but he walked into the doorway, holding a piece of paper and an envelope in his hand. He looked up at me, his face pale and his eyes wide.
"What's wrong?" I asked, jumping up and walking towards him. "What is that?" Hunter didn't respond. I took the paper from his hands and quickly skimmed over it.
"I got in," he murmured. I looked up at him, a slow smile spreading across my face. "I got in."
"You got in!" I shouted, dropping the letter and throwing my arms around his neck. Hunter lifted me up and kissed me as I wrapped my legs around his waist. "I'm so happy for you," I said.
"And they're offering a major scholarship. Mom's going to flip." Hunter's eyes glistened in excitement.
"With good reason," I said. "That's amazing! Happy birthday!" Hunter laughed and spun around.
Just then, we heard the front door open. Hunter set me down and picked up the letter. "I gotta go tell her."
"I told you she'd be home early," I called out as he ran to the front hall. I was more than happy for him, but there was one, itching thought at the back of my mind: Hunter was going to college. He was going to be gone.
Five months later…
"Alright, are you sure you're all packed? I don't want you to be running around tomorrow morning," Mrs. Donovan called from the kitchen. Hunter and I were in the living room, double checking every bag to make sure he wasn't forgetting anything.
I had been trying to pull Hunter aside all day so I could talk to him, but we kept getting interrupted. It was the day before move-in, and Hunter had been avoiding a serious conversation all summer, saying that we needed to just have fun and not worry about anything. But I couldn't do that. I had been worrying since March.
"Yeah, Mom," he yelled back, plopping down on the couch. He then patted his leg and held out his arms to me. I hesitantly sat down in his lap and put my hands on his shoulders.
"Hunter, we need to talk," I blurted out before he could say anything.
He threw his head back and huffed. "I've been talking all day," he groaned. "Can't I just have one quiet moment with my girlfriend before my mom starts yelling at me again?" I furrowed my eyes and sighed. "Come on, don't frown," he said with a fake pout, leaning in for a kiss.
"Hunter, can you come here a second?"
Hunter groaned, leaning his forehead against mine. "See what I mean?" I forced a laugh and slid off his lap. Hunter stood up and turned back to me before leaving the room. "I'll be right back," he said with a smirk.
I stood up the second he was gone and began nervously pacing the room. Why wouldn't he just talk to me? I needed to know what was going to happen once he was gone. Were we going to break up? What if he met someone else? If we did stay together, how long would it last?
"Carly? Are you okay?" I looked up in surprise as Hunter cautiously walked over to me. I bit down on my lip, staring up into his bright blue eyes.
"Hunter, I'm serious," I began. "We really need to talk about this." His face drooped, and he looked like he was about to completely lose his temper.
"No, let me talk," I demanded, putting my finger up to stop him. Hunter put up his hands in surrender and fell silent. I sighed. "We need to talk about what's going to happen over the next nine months."
"Oh my God," he whispered. "You're pregnant?!"
As mad as I was, I still couldn't help but smile. But then I shook it off and smacked his chest. "No, you idiot. Come on, Hunter, I'm being serious." Hunter sighed and put his hands on my shoulders.
"Don't w –"
"You better not tell me not to worry, Hunter. I've heard that way too many times this summer, and it's not making it any better." I shrugged his hands off my shoulders and crossed my arms. Hunter huffed and ran a hand through his hair. "We need to talk about what's going to happen with us while you're at college." My voice grew faint as I became more and more scared for what he was going to say.
"Carly, please," he whispered, looking down. "I really can't talk about this right now." At that, I was done.
"Fine. Let's just never talk about it. I'm leaving." I pushed past him, grabbing my purse and coat from the couch as I left. I walked quickly, hurrying for the door before Mrs. Donovan could catch me.
"Carly, wait!" Hunter's footsteps pounded behind me, but I didn't stop. I rushed outside and ran to my car, yanking the door open and starting the engine as quickly as I could.
Hunter ran out the door, but he was too late. I was already driving away from his house and down the street. I drove straight home in complete silence, ignoring my continuously-buzzing phone. By the time I pulled up in front of my house, my eyes were stinging with tears. No one was home, so I went straight up to my room and slammed the door shut.
There was a moment of utter silence as I lied down on my bed. But it was gone in an instant as all of my worries came flooding back. My phone began to ring again, so I turned it off and shoved it under my pillow for good measure.
He wanted to break up. He didn't want to talk because he was going to break up with me, but he was putting it off. How long was he going to wait? A day? A week? Maybe he would slowly stop talking to me until I got the picture.
I lied on my bed for hours – literally. I turned my music up loud and tried to shut out the rest of the world. So what if he dumped me? I didn't need him. I could manage life without a boyfriend. And I would probably meet someone new, anyway.
Those thoughts didn't last long. I wasn't going to meet someone new because I wouldn't let myself. I knew exactly what would happen: anytime I would grow close to someone, I would make up some ridiculous reason why I couldn't go out with him, when really it would just be because I was still hung up on Hunter. I loved him more than I could ever imagine. There was no way I could just get over him and move on right away.
So after a while, I got up off my bed, fixed my hair and clothes, and ran out the door. At that point, it was close to midnight. Everyone else in my family was asleep already, so I snuck out without getting caught.
When I pulled up to Hunter's house, all the windows were dark except for one: Hunter's room. He was probably still getting ready for tomorrow. Or maybe he was trying to call me. My phone was still under my pillow. Mustering up all my courage, I got out of the car and softly knocked on the front door, hoping not to wake his mom.
After a few seconds, Hunter opened the door, and relief was clearly visible on his face. "Oh thank God," he said, pulling me into him. Hunter stroked my hair and squeezed me tightly, but I was reluctant to hug him back. When he pulled back, holding me by the shoulders, tears began to trickle down my face. "Hey, what's wrong?" Hunter cupped my face with his hands and brushed my tears away with his thumbs.
"I'm just scared," I whimpered. "Are we –"
"Carly, I'm not going to break up with you," he said sternly, like he read my mind. "I love you so much. Listen to me," he said, tilting my head up to look at him. "I'm just going to college. I'll be an hour away. I'll come back every weekend if I need to. You can come up any time you want. Okay? Just please, please stop crying." As I looked up at him, I realized how exhausted he was, with dark circles under his eyes. He had been up late the past few nights getting ready. I didn't even think about how stressed out he must have been.
I threw my arms around his neck and buried my face in his shoulder. "I'm sorry," I muffled.
Hunter chuckled, tightening his grip around me. "About what? I'm the one who should be sorry. I didn't want to talk about it because I was worried. But I shouldn't have put you through that." He then pulled back and rested his forehead against mine. "I love you."
"I love you, too," I whispered. I then closed the gap between our lips, wishing the moment would last forever.
"Why don't you sleep over tonight?" he asked in a low voice. "I can loan you some clothes." I nodded in response, and Hunter took me by the hand, shut the door, and led me up to his room.
After I changed into a large t-shirt, I climbed into bed next to Hunter. We lied there silently for a few minutes, with his arm around me and my head resting on his chest. Our breaths were synchronized, and I listened to his heartbeat.
"It's going to work out, Carly," Hunter said softly after a while. I hugged him tighter. "I promise you. I'll do whatever it takes to make this last."
The next morning, Hunter was already up when I woke. He was dressed, going through all of his dresser drawers. He seemed anxious.
"Good morning," I said with a yawn, flattening my hair. Hunter turned and gave me a weak smile.
"Good morning, beautiful," he replied.
I stood up and walked over to him, putting my hand on his arm. "It's going to be okay," I assured him. "Don't be nervous."
"I'm not nervous," Hunter said, opening up the next drawer.
"We already looked through the drawers yesterday, remember?" Hunter glanced up at me and continued to ruffle through the remaining clothes.
"I know. I just want to make sure."
"We made sure yesterday," I said, grabbing his arm and pulling him towards the door. "Relax. Let's go get some breakfast." Hunter begrudgingly followed me down the stairs and into the kitchen, where his mom was already cooking.
"Morning, honey – oh, Carly, I didn't realize you slept over," Mrs. Donovan said, flashing Hunter a surprised look.
"Mom," Hunter said warningly. "Nothing happened," he added in a whisper. My cheeks flushed, and I quickly looked down to hide it.
"I wasn't asking, sweetie," she teased, rolling her eyes. "Anyway, I'm making bacon and eggs."
"Sounds good," Hunter replied, opening the fridge and pulling out a carton of orange juice. He grabbed two glasses and poured some for both of us.
"Are you excited?" she asked eagerly, scooping the eggs onto a plate and setting it on the counter.
"Uh, yeah, I am," Hunter replied. I gave him a skeptical look, but he stuck his tongue out in response. I rolled my eyes at him and shook my head.
"Good. You're going to love college. I know it!"
After breakfast, Mrs. Donovan and I helped Hunter pack up his car. Mrs. Donovan was going to follow him there. Once he was all packed, she went back inside to "go take care of something," but we both knew she just wanted to give us a minute alone.
We stood in silence for a second before Hunter said, "Are you sure you can't come? I'd really like to have you there."
I looked up at him and frowned. "You know I wish I could," I said softly. "But I have a doctor's appointment in two hours."
Hunter nodded solemnly, looking down at his feet. "That's fine." He then walked up to me and put his hand to my cheek. "Thanks for all the help, Tanner," he said softly, pressing a kiss to my forehead.
I smirked, crossing my arms. "That's all I get?" I teased. Hunter grinned, cupping my face with both hands. He pressed his lips to mine, slowly deepening the kiss until my heart was thudding in my chest.
Hunter let out a low chuckle, resting his forehead against mine. Just then, his mom came back out, ruining the moment.
"Hate to interrupt, but we really need to get going if we're gunna get there on time," she said, putting a hand on Hunter's shoulder. "I'll be in my car."
I stood next to the car as Hunter got in the driver's seat and put the key in the ignition. He paused, looking at me with a small smile. Before he could say anything, I leaned in the window for one more kiss.
"I'll see you soon, Little Piggy." And with that, I stepped back from the car, and Hunter drove away. I stood in the middle of the street and watched as his car grew smaller and smaller in the distance.
When I got back home that morning, I turned on my phone and went through each text and voicemail he left me the night before. In every single message, Hunter ended with "I love you."
Later than night, Hunter texted me again:
I'm all settled. Everything worked out, but it still would've been better with you here. Just wanted to remind you: don't you ever think about us breaking up ever again. You'll break my heart just thinking about it. I love you. Sweet dreams, Carly.