Which he might have been.
He placed the first book down on the table. I opened it and gasped. “Daniel…”
Inside the book cover was the promise ring Bentley had given to Gabby. And the book had already been signed. It read the words, “Will you marry me, Ms. Jennings?” signed by Mr. Daniels himself.
The tears fell down my cheeks and I smiled up at him. He nudged me gently. “You have to write your answer and sign your name.”
Of course I wrote the word yes.
And then I autographed it with who I would be for the rest of my life.
~ Romeo’s Quest
Ashlyn went back to school, finishing off the last two years of her college degree. We made it our job to visit each other as often as possible, and when she came back to Edgewood, Wisconsin she moved into my big kid’s apartment. We spent the next year falling more in love, finding out more facts about one another. She kept writing, only growing stronger at her craft and decided she wanted to get a Master’s degree—but she stayed a lot closer to home for that program.
That’s what we were… We were home.
And today I wasn’t nervous. My hands were just sweaty and the damn bowtie wouldn’t tie. “Breathe, Daniel…” Where the hell was my best man? Wasn’t he the one in charge of the damn bowties that wouldn’t tie? Of course not. Jace wouldn’t know how to do it either.
My hands rubbed against the back of my neck before giving up on the tie and moving to the cuffs on my shirt.
“How are ya doing?”
I looked up to see Henry standing in the doorway, his tuxedo fully put together, his tie perfectly crafted.
There was a slight hesitation when I looked at him, my fingers shaking from some weird feeling—but it wasn’t nerves!
Well, maybe it was nerves.
“This damn bowtie is killing me and Jace is nowhere to be found.”
“Let me,” he said, walking over to me. His began helping me out and I sighed. Now I was extremely nervous. Henry always made me feel that way. “She’s something else, isn’t she?”
“Yeah, she is.”
His hands worked as if he had been a professional bowtie expert in a past life. “If you hurt her, I will kill you and make it look like an accident.”
I laughed out loud until I looked into his scary, stern eyes on me. Swallowing hard, I felt him tightening the bowtie. “Henry,” I coughed.
“You’re choking me.”
A sly smile found his lips and he loosened the bowtie. He stepped back and nodded toward me before he held out an envelope to me. “Be good to her, son.”
The word son hit my ears and I nodded, taking the letter from him. He turned to walk away and I called after him. When he looked back, I smiled. “Thanks for your help.”
“I just tied a bowtie. No big deal.”
But we both knew he had done so much more than that.
He left me alone with the envelope and I opened it, finding two letters inside. I pulled out the first one and began reading Ashlyn’s words.
The answer to where I want to be in five years? Simple.
P.S. I saved a letter from the fire.
I’d never known it was possible to love someone so much. My hand reached into the envelope and pulled out the second letter, and I pounded my fist against my lips, taking it all in.
To Whom It May Concern,
Hi there. I’m not sure if we have met, but since today is the day you’re marrying my sister, I thought I would say hello. Since I can’t stand up in front of everyone to give my maid 0f honor speech, I’ll give it to you.
When Ashlyn and I were seven, she found a spider in our room, and instead of smashing it, she wanted to take it outside so it could live a nice spider life. It later crawled on her and she killed it by mistake. She cried for three days straight.
When we were fifteen, she dated a total loser, and when he broke up with her, she cried for four days straight.
When she found out I was sick, she cried more days than I could count.
She has the biggest heart in the world, and I know you have seen all sides of it. It takes a strong man to love my sister. And you are a strong man. So here are some twin-tips for you from yours truly:
Read her Shakespeare when she cries.
Take walks in the rain and jump in the puddles with her.
Don’t mind her when she calls you an ass**le during ‘that time of the month’—she’s a total bitch at those times.
Buy her flowers because it’s Tuesday.
Make her do things that scare her.
Don’t be a pushover—we don’t like that.
Don’t be a dick either—we hate that.
Smile at her when you’re mad.
Dance with her in the middle of the day.
Kiss her just because.
Love her forever.
Thank you for loving my best friend, brother.
Keep up the good work.
-Your new sis, Gabby
I stared at the words for the longest time, tears streaming down my cheeks. The door to the room opened and Jace peeked his head inside. My hands brushed against my eyes and I turned to him.
“You ready, Danny? The photographer wants a few shots of the groomsmen before the ceremony,” he said smiling my way.
I walked over to him and wrapped my arm around his shoulder. “I’m ready.”
He smirked my way. “You know how to tie a bowtie?”
I snickered and rolled my eyes. “Of course. Don’t you?”
“So help me God, if you move, I’ll kick your ass. Don’t. Breathe,” Hailey muttered behind me, my hands resting on my waist. I stood as still as possible, staring out the window at the beautiful landscape. The sun lay golden-soft over the huddle hills.