Three Years Later
"Why do you look so nervous?"
"What? Me? Nervous? No, I'm not nervous," I replied, clearly flustered.
Matt raised an eyebrow, not buying my obvious lie. I sighed and moved my hair out of my face.
"Okay, maybe I'm a little nervous," I blurted.
"Why? We're seeing all our friends again," Matt said, until he noticed I was playing with the diamond ring on my finger. "You're nervous about telling them?"
My eyes flashed to Matt's. "Of course not! I'm excited to tell them that we're engaged! I'm just a little nervous about their reaction I guess. I don't know, I'm weird, okay?"
Matt grinned, which had an oddly calming effect on me. "Yes, I know. That's just one of the reasons I love you and want to marry you."
"But not for a while, remember?" I added with a smile. There was no doubt in my mind that Matt was the one for me. Yet I didn't want to get married until after we graduated college. I liked to take the big life milestones one step at a time.
Matt laughed lightly. "I remember." I shook my head, smiling. If he had his way, we would've already gotten married somewhere in Las Vegas or at a nearby court house. That didn't exactly scream 'dream wedding' to me.
A minute later, we pulled in front of Elaine's house. Every summer, Elaine hosted a huge barbeque for Independence Day, even though she usually held it the day before the actual holiday. When we were in high school, almost the entire student body would attend the summer celebration. She continued to do it while we were home each summer from college, except now the crowd of people was much smaller. And filled with local college students, not high school students.
Before I got out of the car, Matt stopped me by putting his hand on mine. "Darcy, I'll understand if you don't want to tell them at this barbeque. I can hold the ring for you until it's over," he suggested. From the look on his face, he wasn't too happy to suggest this. And I was equally unhappy with this suggestion. Of course I wanted to tell them! I waited a whole week just to tell them in person!
I leaned forward and crashed my lips against his. Matt's hand went to the back of my head, holding me in our passionate kiss. Honestly, he didn't have to hold me; I was more than a willing participant. When we parted, I looked into his eyes with a serious expression.
"Don't think you're getting out of this engagement that fast, Mr. Williams. Now that this ring is on my finger, it's never coming off," I teased, grinning at Matt. He automatically smiled back and kissed me again, though this kiss was short and sweet.
"I was hoping you'd say that," he breathed. He kissed my forehead before getting out of the car. I got out as well and grabbed the plate of patriotic-looking cupcakes I made. Matt supported me as we walked to Elaine's backyard, putting his hand on the small of my back. Although his touch was barely there, that was all the support I needed from him. I felt like I could go up against anything when Matt was standing right there with me.
"Darcy! Matt! It's so good to see you both!" Elaine exclaimed, running over to us. Robin and Heath started walking over as well.
"You too! I brought cupcakes," I said, holding up the plate. Elaine glanced down at them and up at me again, until her eyes widened.
"Oh my gosh!" she shouted, flailing her arms in the air. Her sudden action caused her arm to flip over the plate of red, blue, and white cupcakes I made for the holiday. But I was more focused on her unexpected reaction to something, not the cupcakes I spent hours making.
"What's wrong?" I asked, holding my hands up, as if to help her. I thought she was going to freak out over something in about two seconds.
Then, she flashed a bright smile between Matt and me. "You're engaged!"
I smiled back, still not quite sure if she was going to be angry in the next few seconds. Elaine always managed to surprise me with her range of emotions. "I wanted to tell you in person," I said, looking between Elaine, Robin, and Heath. And Jack, who joined us right before the cupcakes went overboard.
"I'm so happy for you!" Elaine shouted happily. She jumped up and down like an excited five year old for a moment. Then she attacked me with the tightest hug ever, before moving on to give Matt one.
I laughed at her excitement, feeling relieved that she had such a welcoming reaction. "Thanks, Elaine."
Robin, Heath, and Jack also congratulated us, giving Matt and me hugs. Well, Jack and Heath gave Matt a manly hug, but that still counted.
"We're really happy for you," Robin smiled.
"Thank you," I told her. I never thought I'd get engaged before Robin and Heath, yet I was content to see they were just as happy together now as they were three years ago. Actually, the only reason they weren't already engaged was because Robin was against the idea of marriage. But no one doubted that she and Heath would still be together for many more years.
"So that's the ring you went with? I thought you would've picked the other one," Jack commented. I already knew Matt talked to Jack before he proposed. However, this news seemed to upset someone else.
"You knew? Why did you know?" Elaine demanded.
Jack narrowed his eyes at her. "I'm Matt's best friend," he said in a 'duh' tone of voice.
"I can't believe this!" she exclaimed, throwing her hands in the air. Clearly Elaine still had issues with Jack. Yet the way they looked at each other said otherwise. Maybe there was something going on that no one was supposed to know about. I'd have to interrogate Elaine later.
"Don't blame me for being out of the loop! It was supposed to be a surprise. It wouldn't have been one if anyone told you," Jack said to her before storming off.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Elaine called after him.
"He thinks you have a big mouth," Robin said bluntly. Ah, still the same Robin—always saying whatever was on her mind.
Elaine huffed and rolled her eyes. "Whatever," she said, turning back to Matt and me. "There's a ton of food over there. Sorry about the cupcakes, by the way."
"It's okay. I should've prepared myself for your reaction," I joked.
"True. Now let's get you two some food," she added, guiding us toward the tables of endless food. Glancing at the wide variety of food available, I knew my cupcakes wouldn't be needed. At least that was a good thing.
"Well well well, if it isn't Darcy Roberts. The one who got away," someone spoke as I dished different foods onto my plate. My attention focused on the nearby person, realizing it was someone who I hadn't thought about in a very long time.
"Julian. How are you?" I asked, ignoring his comment about me.
"I'm great. Looks like you're doing well for yourself," he said, flashing a smirk. Honestly, Julian looked like his prime days were long over. It was only three years ago that we were seniors in high school, yet it could've been ten years judging from Julian's worn out appearance. Perhaps college or work was severely affecting him.
"I am, all thanks to this guy here," I replied, gesturing to Matt. He was beside me the whole time, though he wisely kept his focus on piling food onto his plate, rather than his uninteresting former teammate.
Julian let out a short laugh. "Seriously? You're still together?" He got closer, adding in a whisper, "you ever still think about me?"
I forced a polite smile on my face, even though I really wanted to slap him. I was pretty sure Matt heard his comment, since he took a sudden step toward Julian. I wrapped my arm around his, stopping him from doing anything rash at this festive barbeque. "No, I don't. I can honestly say I haven't thought about you since high school," I told Julian.
He frowned, then quickly shot me a bitter smile. "Good, I wouldn't want you to. Have a great life." He made the right decision to walk away after that, allowing Matt to take a calming breath.
"I actually feel bad for him," I laughed to Matt. He rolled his eyes and grunted before continuing to put more food on this plate. When we were done getting food, I gave him my plate.
"Here, find us somewhere to sit. I'll get us drinks," I said. He nodded and went off to find us seats, while I headed toward the line of filled coolers. As I searched through the available drinks, I saw someone suddenly stand right in front of me.
"Roberts," he said seriously.
"Harris," I replied, in an equally serious tone. But I could only hold my stern expression for a few seconds before grinning. "Gosh, it's been so long!" I exclaimed, giving Trey a hug. The last time I saw him was over a year ago.
He shook his head, smiling at me. "I know. How've you been?"
"I've been pretty great. How about you?"
"Same. I hear congratulations are in order," Trey said, looking down at my ring.
I lifted my left hand, awkwardly holding a can of soda. "Thanks," I said.
"Matt's a lucky guy. I know you two will be very happy together," he commented.
I smiled. "Thank you. What about you? Any girl I can call lucky to be with you?"
Trey laughed. "Yeah, I guess. My girl's over there," he said, gesturing to a pretty girl with long red hair. "Her name's Danica."
"Well I'll have to tell her myself how lucky she is to be your girl."
"Don't worry, she already knows," he joked.
I rolled my eyes, barely refraining from remarking on his cocky attitude. I was kind of glad he kept that part of his personality from when I knew him in high school. It was an essential part of the Trey Harris I came to care about. "How are your siblings? I haven't seen them in years."
"They're all doing well. Kim mentioned a few times how she missed you."
I smiled slightly, remembering how well I got along with Kim. "I miss her too. Charlotte and Tim, too. Do you think they'd mind if I visited them?"
"No, they'd love that."
I paused for a moment, before asking another question. "Would you mind?"
Trey shook his head. "No, I wouldn't mind either."
I nodded, feeling relieved that things between us weren't as awkward as I thought they'd be. After I chose to be with Matt instead of Trey three years ago, my friendship with Trey didn't immediately repair itself. But we slowly built back our friendship, and Trey was even on good terms with Matt. However, once we graduated high school, Trey and I slowly lost contact with each other. Every now and then we texted or messaged each other, yet it wasn't as easy as it used to be. Except now that it was summer, I didn't see any reason holding us back from catching up with each other.
"Oh, hey," Matt interjected, greeting Trey.
"Sorry, I should've given you your drink sooner," I apologized to him.
Matt waved that off. "No, it's fine. I'm guessing you two were catching up?"
I nodded as Trey spoke. "And I was congratulating her on your engagement, which I offer to you as well."
"Thanks," Matt smiled.
Trey's eyes glanced behind us, causing him to nod to someone. "I should get back to my girlfriend. You two should stop by my house sometime. I'd love you two to get to know Danica. I need some unbiased opinions about her," he said, smiling.
I smiled in return and looked over at Matt. Ultimately, it was up to him if we went. I always wanted to make sure he was comfortable around Trey, considering the past we all shared.
"I think we can manage that. We'll give you a call," Matt told him without missing a beat.
"Awesome, I'll see you later," Trey said before walking over toward his girlfriend.
"You know you don't have to go, Matt," I said, wrapping my arms around his waist.
"I know. I want to. Believe me, I hated the guy at first, but now he's not so bad. I mean, you chose me, not him." Of course Matt was being his typical genuine self by disregarding the negative aspects of his past with Trey.
"Yes, I did. Because I love you."
"I love you too," he replied. I gave him a chaste, yet meaningful, kiss and leaned into his comfortable body.
"Let's go eat some food now," I suggested, as we started walking to the picnic tables.
"I might have already started eating," he said sheepishly. I looked up at him with a raised eyebrow. "Okay, I finished my food. But I can easily get more and eat with you." For how fit and lean Matt was, the guy ate the same amount of food an army would consume.
I laughed and shook my head. "I hope you don't expect me to cook for an army each night as your wife."
"Of course I don't expect that!"
A moment later, Matt added, "but it's something to hope for."
"Matt!" I laughed, smacking his arm.
"Just remember that I love you!" he defended, as if that made it all better.
Actually, it kind of did. After all, from the moment I knew I loved Matt and he loved me back, I knew everything would be perfect. And so far, so good.
Author's Note: Again, thank you so much for reading this story! It was fun to write and I really enjoyed reading your comments on it! Of course I'm a little sad to finally end this story, but hopefully I'll think of a new story to write eventually. I look forward to reading any last comments/questions you may have!