Look at the way he's stacking up the wood, like he's some type of macho man. Obviously trying to impress me. He's completely clueless that he's overrated in my mind. And his jeans are way too tight. You know, he's not as hot as he thinks he is with sweat dripping down his forehead. And his neck. And his chest. And- Stop it.

... News flash, Owen. We're history.


22. Twenty-Two *Epilogue*

As the maid-of-honor, I'm required to make a speech. This is something I've been working on since February, and my paper of scribbles still isn't properly written six months later. My brother's best friend, Spike, the best man, just gave his speech. So I guess it's my turn. I stand up without forgetting to adjust my dress and clear my throat to settle some of my nerves. 

They're all expecting me to speak once Spike takes his seat. I gather up every word that I practiced in the mirror this morning and take a deep breath. "My brother James is the most determined person I've ever known, just like our dad. He's hard working and devoted to whatever he sets his mind to. His mind is strong and clever. And when he loves, he loves hard. After our parents passed away, I was the only female in his life. It was his job to protect me and to scare away any boys who showed up at our door." I take a second to look at Owen, my date, but I glance away so it's not too obvious. People laugh and I wait for the giggles to calm. "If you can imagine how I felt when Kaylin came along, you'd know that I was not exactly happy. I felt like she was taking away the only man in my life that wouldn't turn away from me. To be honest, I hated her guts." I laugh at that part because I remember how silly it was, but I also remember how painful it was to feel that way. I shove the thought away and look at her smile to remind me of who she is. "But something changed miraculously, and I'm glad to say that she's the closest thing that I have to a sister. She can go from being a sophisticated adult to a spunky teenager within two-seconds, and I've learned that she loves hard too. And there's no other person to love harder than my big brother who I love very much. I'll be going to college in a year, so I'll be out of your way soon." Kaylin rolls her eyes like I'm crazy because she knows that I'm not moving out any time soon. I laugh at myself for saying it to the crowd and finish my toast. "To the beautiful couple on this memorable day." I raise my glass of champagne (which I'm not exactly supposed to have, but one glass isn't so illegal.) and tilt it towards them, and the other guests do the same. 

Now I can sit down and be proud of myself, because I didn't think it'd go that good. Owen nuzzles into my neck and lets out a breath. I wonder how long he was holding it for, maybe he was nervous for me. I turn my face to look at him and press my forehead against his. "I love you."

"I love you more." I say.

"You did a really good job, baby." I want to kiss him but I don't because I feel like people are looking. So I just breathe in hard, to get a good whiff of his cologne. 

"Dance with me." the band is playing a slow song with a good rhythm, and I want him to sway me back and forth. He doesn't say anything, just pulls me up with him and lingers off the the dance floor with a grip on my hand. I see his mom watching us from her seat a few feet away. She's back to the way she was, with bright eyes and motherly ways. Her cancer is ninety-nine percent disintegrated, almost fully recovered. When Owen and I got officially together she went through a bad rough patch. I stayed over several times to take care of her when she needed me. It wasn't natural for Owen to help his mother with feminine problems, so he was certainly grateful for my help. He bought me a ring to thank me for all I did, and now I don't get out of bed without putting it on. I wave at Norma and she smiles while she nibbles on a piece of wedding cake. Owen swiftly pulls me with a grin on his mouth and kisses my off-guard pout. We manage to move to the music until it becomes a second language and we whisper to each other. 

"How many times have I told you that you look amazing?"

"About a hundred, but keep going." I feel the rumble in his chest when he laughs, even through his thick sand colored vest. 

This time around, Owen and I don't fight as much as we used to. I think we've learned to compromise, and agree to disagree when we have to. It's not so hard to work out our differences, or at least not as hard as it used to be. I know senior year will be good for us, and I'll try not to think about when we have to part ways at the end of next summer. Right now I'm trying to absorb the fact that I only have a year left of seeing him everyday and kissing him whenever I want to and laughing at his stupid jokes that i love so much. A tear falls on his neck, and it belongs to me. I look away when he grabs my face. "What is it?" I start shaking my head before he even finishes his words. 

"It's just- the wedding. An emotional thing for me I guess." I use my nail to stop the next tear in the corner of my eye and smile at him. "They're really happy." I squeeze him again while I look at my brother and Kaylin. Their noses are touching and their lips aren't moving. 

"Yeah they are. Maybe we can be happy one day." I know he means married. He wants to be married to me so we can be happy like them. It doesn't shock me or scare me when he says it. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside like I'm dreaming. But I want him to say it. I want to hear the actual words.

"I'm happy."

"I am too. I wanna be- I wanna have a wedding and watch you walk down the aisle with the dress and the rings and all of that." 

I play dumb. "So you're saying you wanna be married to me?" I can feel him nod against my ear. 

"Someday." I huff and try to make it sound like a giggle. 

"Okay." I pull away to look at his face and press my hands against the stubble on his hard jaw. We kiss for only a second until we're interrupted. 

"Madam, may I have a dance with the lovely maid-of-honor?" James offers me his hand and I take it with no hesitation. Owen grins at us and turns around to go for his mother. I begin to laugh when James starts a horrible waltz around the dancefloor with me. "Your speech was beautiful." 

"I worked hard on it." I look down bashfully and focus on my feet. "I'm glad you liked it." 

"Kaylin loved it too." He holds me closer into a hug. "She really does love you, P. I'm so happy you two finally worked it out." 

"Me too." I sigh. 

"Listen, chipmunk, I want you to know that you'll always be important to me. Just because I'm married now doesn't mean I'm gonna leave you behind." 

"It sounds so weird when you say it." I laugh and he does too because I'm sure he feels the same way. My big brother is married. I find myself sighing again. "We've been through a lot."

"Mom and Dad are proud of us, P. I know they are." he still seems unsure. I can hear it in his voice. So I give his back a quick rub while the song comes to an end. 

"I know." We smile at each other when I pull away. I look at him until I spot someone waving at me across the room. A familiar face is all I see and then it hits me. So I gasp. 

"You came!" I jump into Yenni's arms and she's squealing. After a minute of hugging and jumping, I look up and see Jamie. I lean over to hug him. "Hi." he tries to kiss me and I re-direct him to my cheek. The move is sly and casual but I'm still nervous. James and I drove passed the group a couple of months ago and I invited Yennifer to meet me here. I didn't know if she would find a ride, so I didn't expect her to come despite how much I wanted her to. 

"You look so pretty, mamita!" we have to yell over the fast song thats playing, and her compliment draws me into her arms again. I squeeze her hard until I feel a hand on my back. 

I shift over and get under Owen's wing. "Owen, this is my friend, Yenni. From when I left home." I look at Jamie and he's only staring. Staring at my guy that I told him all about. Yenni seems surprised too, and she's not good at hiding it. "And that's Jamie." They shake hands as men do and Yenni just gives him a big smile. I rest my hand on Owen's chest. "This is the guy I was telling you about."  My friends just nod. 

"Nice to meet you. Presley talks about you guys." 

"Yes, we miss her so much." Yenni takes my hand and squeezes it. I think she wants to talk so I make a plan to shoo Owen away. 

"Baby can you go to your car and get me my flip flops? These heels are killing me." 

"Course." He kisses me gently, an action that embarrasses me in front of Jamie. And I'm left alone with them. 

"What the hell?" Yenni says it like she's sad. She's not angry but she's frowning. "You were supposed to forget about him." 

"I know." Sigh. "We were gonna forget everything. But the baby wasn't his so... Now we're together again." I'm nervous because I don't know what her reaction will be. 

"No other girlfriend?"

"No other girlfriend." I shake my head until she smiles. Jamie still hasn't said anything. 

"Well if he makes you happy, then I approve." She does a little happy dance and I giggle. 

"There's cake." I point to it and her eyes get big. And she's gone. I look at Jamie but I can't help but feel guilt in my chest. "I'm so sorry." Another sigh. I'm confused when he puts his hand up.

"Don't apologize. I figured you'd have someone else by now. I just didn't think it'd be him." He huffs out a laugh but I'm still sad. I want to say sorry again and again. 

"Thank you for coming. It's so good to see you again." I hug him and the guilt is starting to fade. I see Owen walking to us and smile. "Thank you." I kiss his chin because I'm too lazy to stretch, and take the flip flops. Yenni returns with frosting on her face and I smile when Jamie uses his finger to remove it. Maybe this can be a thing, it'll take his mind off of me and how I totally used him as a rebound while I was heartbroken. She smiles like she's bashful and I can imagine what she's feeling. The electricity in her veins that triggers the goosebumps on her shoulders. The hairs on her neck are probably up and her adrenaline is charged. I smile and pull Owen away from them so we can give them their moment. "Enjoy yourselves! Dance, eat, do whatever." I wave them off and return to the dance floor with Owen. 

"Did you see how that kid was looking at you?" 

"Yeah." I clear my throat to make it easier to break it to him. "When I ran away, we kinda had a thing." 

He doesn't look upset or surprised, he just nods. "Interesting." I don't know what that means. I can't read his expression so it sounds like a different language. 

"You aren't mad?" My frown triggers his frown. 

"No." he says, shaking his head. "Because I have you now." His hold on my waist tightens and I stretch my back. This action is a tease to get him to kiss me, and it works with no difficulty. The warmth of his mouth disappears. Now our lips are just brushing. "I don't think I'll ever stop being in love with you." I know he felt me shiver. My spine is shaking in the best way possible. He doesn't say stuff like this, ever. He's Owen. 

I'm on cloud nine. "I have to say, you've really stepped up your game." My big smile turns into a giggle.

"Well maybe I'm just getting it right this time." he sighs in what sounds like relief. "Finally."

"I love you." it sounds like a joke when I say it, like I'm stressed out about how much I've fallen for him. It's what I feel, so it comes out that way. 

"I love you too, Pres." He finishes his sentence with a hard rumble to his laugh, and we keep dancing until the guests are gone and the caterers are packing up.


In this experience, I've realized that having history with someone doesn't necessarily mean it's a red flag. In most situations, it just means that you've been through a lot with that person, and it took a while for both of you to give up. If you really love that person, and they love you, hopefully you won't give up. Owen and I have a lot of shit between us, and we kept returning to each other no matter what. We know one another inside and out. What makes us happy, sad. What annoys us, what turns us on and off. Childhood tragedies, broken bones, memorable scars. Any new information about each other only makes the love stronger, even if its bad. When two people are meant to be, you'll know it. You'll feel it. What's the point of being in a relationship with someone who doesn't trigger the sparks?; who doesn't start your goosebumps or make the pit of your stomach jump. Like I said, you'll know. Every person on this earth was made for one person to love for better or worse. You know the deal, in sickness and in health and all that. If you believe that the love is real then don't let it go. Just like me, you'll have that part that wants to hate him, and the stronger part that craves to love him. If you know he's the one, then love him hard. I guess my advice might be confusing, and I know people have mixed feelings. And who knows? I might be talking out of my ass. There's a chance that I have no idea what I'm talking about. All I know is this: 

You'll find him. 





+ The End +

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