The personal conversation came the very next day, as it turned out. Griffin and Beverly had taken Felicity and Abe to school (per the kids' request), and, after Beverly showed Griffin her high school and her now-second favorite coffeehouse, they returned to her family's home.
Her mother was waiting in the kitchen with a too-wide smile and three mugs of coffee.
"Have a seat, my dears," the woman said, gesturing at the kitchen table and leading the couple over. Beverly plopped down anxiously, eyeing Griffin carefully and taking comfort in how calm he looked as he settled next to her, snatching up her hand underneath the table.
"What's up, Mom?" she asked, even though she knew exactly what was going on.
Her mother's smile never faltered, even as she turned to Griffin with calculating eyes. "Not much, Beverly. I just figured that, since your father's at work and the twins are at school, it might be a good time to get to know this beau of yours.
"That being said," her mom's smile fell, until she was looking between Beverly and Griffin almost grimly, "I think we know what conversation is about to occur. Would you like Beverly here for it, Griffin?"
Almost instantly, Griffin's hand sought out Beverly's, and she squeezed his fingers gently when he shook his head adamantly. "If you don't mind," he croaked, eyeing Beverly as though she would disappear if he turned away for too long, "I'd really prefer that she stay nearby."
The words won a slight smile from Jeanne, and Beverly felt herself relax slightly.
Maybe this interrogation won't be so bad after all.
Okay, I should have known better, Beverly decided a mere thirty minutes later. So far, her mother had touched on almost every sensitive topic related to Griffin's past: his parents, his father's personality, Griffin's decisions and brief jail time, and even Cynthia and Francis.
Honestly, Beverly had no idea how her mother had even known which questions to ask, but the woman was a mom, and moms just had that creepy I know everything ability.
Nonetheless, she wasn't blind to how tired Griffin looked, nor did she miss the fact that his grip on her hand had only gotten tighter the longer the discussion had gone on.
Tuning back in, Beverly caught the tail end of her mother's question: ". . . any plans for a career?"
Oh boy, here we go.
Griffin shifted in his seat uncomfortably, no doubt torn between whether he should be thrilled that they'd moved on from discussing his past, or horrified that they were now talking about the future. "As of right now, I plan to remain at the shop. Cynthia and I have discussed it in depth, and I'll either be taking over this shop for her or be put in charge of the new one we plan to open a few cities over."
That certainly caught Beverly's attention. Turning to him with wide eyes, she couldn't stop herself from asking, "Do what now?"
A tiny smile quirked his lips, the only sign of happiness she'd seen from him since they'd sat down at the table. "Yeah, we just spoke about it a few days ago; I was waiting to tell you about it until more of the details were ironed out, but I don't think it'll hurt for you to know early." He shrugged nonchalantly, but his spine remained stiff.
"And if you leave the city," Beverly's mom spoke up, "what happens to your relationship with Beverly?"
Griffin straightened, his shoulders rolling back and his chin coming up as he set himself up on defense. Beverly was almost touched that he was willing to stand up for their relationship to the same woman who had just been digging into his old wounds. "Nothing at all, Ma'am. This wouldn't happen for a while, but—regardless of what's decided—I have no plans to lose Beverly."
A surge of warmth spiraling in her stomach, Beverly leaned closer and pecked a kiss against his cheek. "Love you," she murmured against his skin, inwardly cheering when his grip on her hand loosened slightly.
"Well," their attention snapped back to Jeanne, who now looked more like a kind mother than an evil police interrogator. She reached a hand across the table for Griffin to shake, her smile gentle and apologetic. "I think you'll do just fine for our Bev. I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable, but it's kind of in my job description as 'Mother Hen.'"
Griffin had the grace to take her hand and return her smile. "Of course, Jeanne. It's good that you're watching over her; Beverly is special and only deserves the best."
Her mother, who had apparently returned to her normal, obnoxious self, laughed brightly and shot Beverly a wink. "Oh yes, I think you should keep this one for sure. Have you bribed him or something?"
The woman was teasing of course, and Beverly rolled her eyes dramatically, pushing away from the table and standing with Griffin's hand still clutched in hers. "So funny, Mom. Griffin and I are going to go for a walk, if that's alright?"
Jeanne waved them off before snatching up the empty coffee mugs. "Sure, sure. Be back in time to pick the kids up from school, will you?"
The couple was already halfway out the door, but Beverly hollered, "Alright! See you soon!" over her shoulder before closing the door behind her. They remained in silence for several minutes as they began to trek along the sidewalk lining the quiet suburbs, and Beverly was glad to see Griffin's shoulders relaxing.
"I'm sorry," she blurted after a moment. "Had I known she was going to do all that then I would've—"
"Beverly," Griffin stopped walking, turning to face her and plucking up her other hand with his. "Shh, it's fine. Like I told your mom: It's nice to know they care about you so much. I understand why she wanted to know, and I'm not mad."
Beverly blew out a heavy sigh, her eyes falling to the cracked sidewalk beneath them. "I guess. But stuff like that is hard for you to talk about and I never want you to be uncomfortable, you know?"
He stared at her for a long moment, his eyes searching as they trailed over every inch of her face. She opened her mouth to ask him what was wrong but stopped when she saw something click in his eyes, as though he had just come to a decision and there would be no changing his mind.
Pulling one of his hands away, Griffin grasped her left hand in both of his and raised it to his chest, settling it over the spot where she knew his peach blossom tattoo resided.
"I love you, you know? This," he ducked his chin down, as though gesturing to the inked skin hiding behind his jacket, "proves that."
Beverly quirked a brow, more than a bit bewildered by the sudden change of subject and mood. "I think you've proved your love for me in a lot of ways, Griffin. What's going on?"
"I love you," was all he said before swallowing thickly. "I adore you. You're essentially my whole world. I don't want to think about what would happen if something ever happened to you." his eyes darted away, until he was looking at something over her shoulder. "I love you." He confessed once more, his tone faraway. "I love you, but you can't get a tattoo like I can since your mom would kill both you and me."
Beverly wasn't entirely sure how to respond to that word jumble. "Okay . . . So?"
"So," he blew out a breath, and then launched into another rant, "Instead of getting a tattoo, I thought that you could get something else, so I called Francis the other day—"
"You called Francis?" What the Hell? Why on earth would Griffin reach out to Francis of all people?
Griffin ignored her. "—and he told me some things and I agreed, so then I called your parents—"
"My parents? Say what?"
"—and they told me they had to meet and approve me first, but I talked with them again this morning—"
Well, at least that explained why he hadn't been in bed with her when she woke up.
"—and they said that they think we're moving a bit fast, but it's your decision in the end, which I guess is why your mom was a bit harsh in her questioning—not that I blame her, of course. Anyway, I've thought about it a lot and it's totally up to you but you're my favorite thing and we don't have to do it right away." His words were nearly unintelligible by the time he finished speaking, and then he sucked in a breath and asked, "What do you think?"
He looked shy and adorable, and Beverly had to force herself to refocus on what he was saying, as opposed to how cute he looked. "Wait," she muttered after a beat, her brows furrowing in bemusement. "Did you ask me something? What do I think about what?"
Griffin's eyes rolled upwards as he replayed the conversation, and then they widened comically as he came upon a realization. "Oh, shit," he laughed, though it sounded panicked, "I'm such a screw-up."
Beverly's gaze hardened, and her fingers curled into his top. "Hey now, none of that."
He shook his head, passing her a sheepish look. "Right. Sorry; I know you hate it when I say things like that—I love you for that. Will you marry me?"
She blinked once. Twice. Three times, and then she croaked, "What?" Surely she hadn't heard him right.
Griffin swallowed nervously, shifting lightly from foot to foot. "I just . . . Oh!" he pulled away and fell to one knee, and Beverly knew her mouth was gaping by that point.
"Will you marry me?" he asked again, his words soft and infused with vulnerability, his eyes pleading. "I love you, and I'd like to be able to love you forever, if you'll let me. We don't have to get married now, of course," Ah, now his words make sense—he is sooooo sweet, "but I do have a ring that I would like to put on your finger."
Finally understanding his babbling, Beverly stepped closer and cupped his cheek with her right hand, her thumb rubbing soothing circles against his skin. "A ring since I can't get a tattoo, huh?"
Griffin shrugged. "I would've gotten you a ring either way, but I didn't want to wait any longer to give it to you."
She nodded, a bright smile tugging at her lips. "And where is my bauble?"
"Aw, crap." he hopped up suddenly, and Beverly let her hands fall while he dug in his jeans pocket. A beat later, he pulled out a jewelry box, popped it open, and slid a ring onto her left hand.
Allowing herself to turn into a lovestruck teenager for a minute or two, Beverly raised her hand and admired the ring greedily. It was perfect—a simple gold band encrusted with tiny diamonds and boasting a square, tinted gem right in the center. "I love it," she whispered, and she had never seen him look so relieved than he did in that moment.
"Thank God," he breathed, bending down and pulling her into a tight embrace. "I love you, Beverly, more than you'll ever know."
She wrapped her arms around his neck, still admiring the ring over his shoulder, noting the color of the stone with amusement. "Don't think I haven't noticed the color. Let me guess—"
"A peach for my Peach," he cut her off with a chuckle, and she rolled her eyes as she pulled back slightly, just enough to catch his gaze. "May I kiss you now?"
Beverly grinned. "We're engaged; you may kiss me whenever you want, Coffee-Man."
He stared into her eyes, shook his head with a light chuckle, and then captured her mouth with his. The kiss was sweet but short, and he pulled back to murmur, "Love you," before pressing his lips to her cheek, nose, eyelids, and brow. "Love you more than anything."
She cracked open her eyes and squinted up at him. "What if I said I loved you even more? Is that too cliché at this point? Would a pun be better?"
Griffin released an exaggerated groan. "God, please don't."
Beverly chuckled before sobering, pulling up her ring-clad hand up to cradle his face once more. "Are you sure you're okay? I know talking about your past is hard."
He cradled her hand with his, tilting his head into her touch as though he craved it. "It is, but it's about time I started. Your mom needs to know all that stuff; I promised I would tell her when I asked them if I could marry you."
She sighed, knowing he wouldn't admit to anything else. "Alright, if you're sure."
His lips tilted upwards in a sweet half-smile. "I'm sure, Beverly. Are you sure you want to marry me? You can back out anytime, you know, and I won't ever pressure you into anything and we can wait as long as you want and—"
"Griffin!" she cut him off sternly, her eyes narrowed. "I wouldn't have said yes if I wasn't serious. I know you won't push me into anything, and I'm glad you don't mind waiting, since I don't want to get married until I'm out of school. Are we good now? You bean the world to me and I love you a whole latte, so I don't plan on leaving you."
They stared at one another for several beats, before Griffin let his head fall back, and he asked the sky, "Why did you have to fit puns in there?"
Grinning deviously, Beverly stood on her tiptoes and dusted a kiss against his cheek. "Because I love you, but I also love puns." Falling back onto her feet, she wrapped her arms around his waist and snuggled further into his embrace, soaking in his warmth and thanking God that she had him, this man who was so genuine, caring, and sweet.
Thinking back to what had flitted through her mind at the dinner table the previous night, Beverly smirked into his neck. Am I a lucky bitch?
She wiggled her left hand against her back, feeling the ring and holding back a squeal as she remembered its pale pink sparkle. Oh yes—a lucky bitch, indeed.
*sobs on a rowboat that floats atop a river of my tears* I can't believe this chapter is the last one! What a wild ride it's been, eh, kiddies?
Thanks for sticking with me! If you want some more romance, feel free to check out my other stories (or don't - no pressure here, m'dears), or do what I plan to do and wallow in #Grifferlywithdrawal-induced depression. Whatever floats your personal rowboat. :D
Rae-07: *blows nose* Oh, how I'll miss you! (Also, how's about the engagement I totally just gave you? I thought you deserved #happilyengagedGrifferly) Here's hoping inspiration strikes me sooner rather than later so we can be reunited. ;) Until then, stay happy, healthy, and try not to melt in the last remnants of summer heat. (Seriously, where's Fall? I want Fall.)
So long, kiddies - seeya next time!