When I saw the clock strike six o’ clock, my heart rate increased dramatically. How had time flown by so fast?! My head itched to turn but I knew if I moved, I’d get in trouble.
“April!” I complained as she continued to blow dry my hair carefully. “I won’t have enough time to get dressed if you keep this up!”
I heard her sigh. “Well it’s your fault! You didn’t ask for an early leave!”
“I’m not going to ask for an early leave just because it’s me and my boyfriend’s fifth year anniversary,” I replied with a roll of my eyes. Although my boss would probably let me go (she was a romantic type of person), I didn’t want to do that. It felt weird asking for an early leave for something like that and also, I wanted to get my work done.
It wasn’t easy trying to meet deadlines. After my designs had been showcased by Mike, (I was forever grateful) a TV show producer had offered me a very good job, but I had thought that the workload would be too much while I was in college, so she decided to give the job to someone else as a contract. She had told me that she would give the job to me after I graduated from college.
The TV show was about renovating run-down houses, where the owners had a really heart-touching story. For example, last year, we had renovated a house that belonged to a woman with cancer and her four kids. That had been one of my favourite projects to do.
Also, I still couldn’t believe that this day, five years ago, Henry had been waiting for me on my doorstep to claim me as his again. After our kiss on the front porch, he had helped me clasp the locket back onto my neck and I suggested for him to come inside. Weston and mom hadn’t been home so yes, we had taken advantage of that and ended up exploring each other’s lips on the couch. Nothing more than that though.
While we cuddled, I had asked why it had taken him about three weeks to come after me. “I’m sorry about that. After a few days of uhh … moping around, I realised that I wanted that life you were talking about – where you could just live peacefully with your friends and family around you.” A small smile had appeared on his face. “So I was going to come to you, but there were a few more scenes to shoot and I decided to stay to finish the whole movie off. It was like … I was saying goodbye to my career.”
I had been so incredibly guilty that I ended up telling him that if he wanted to act then I shouldn’t be holding him back, but he told me that he had grown out of his Hollywood acting career. Keith had also commented that Henry already had enough money to last a lifetime anyway.
Speaking of Keith, Henry and I met up with him whenever he had time, because he was quite busy now, making a name for himself in Hollywood. I was so happy for him and really appreciated it when he’d deny statements such as ‘Everyone suspects you know what’s happened to Henry Parker!’ from the media. Basically to Hollywood, he’s just disappeared off the face of the earth.
It was quite funny actually. Sometimes there would be people in town who would recognise him, but our small neighbourhood was made up of such lovely people that they wouldn’t dare dream of ruining our happiness and pass the information onto the media.
It also turned out that the photos of him and Natasha at the beach wasn’t a date, but just a talk. Natasha had confessed all about how she had teamed up with Mr Parker and tried to destroy our relationship. Henry had been furious, but he had told me, “I couldn’t shout at her. She was crying and I didn’t know what to do, so I just walked away.”
I guess it wasn’t a surprise – she had burst into tears when I had found out too. Maybe she had been really regretful of her foolish actions …
But why was I supposed to care? I didn’t want to meet her again, because I didn’t want any more huge dramas in my life … or anymore pain.
I had been so happy that Henry and Natasha hadn’t gotten together. I hadn’t said it aloud, but it was kind of obvious by the way I had been smiling goofily at Henry.
“Well you should have,” April said, making me blink and force my thoughts away. “By the way, where do you think Henry’s taking you?”
As soon as she asked that question, my heart fluttered. I had no idea really. The guy was full of surprises and they always had a meaning to it, which was the thing I liked best. Maybe he would take me to enjoy a ride on an air balloon? Nah. I mentally dismissed that idea because that was definitely too much.
“I’m not sure actually, but I know we’ll be having dinner.”
April giggled. “Of course you will! Henry would never leave you starved!”
“Trust me, I’d kill him if he did,” I joked.
After another minute or so, April declared that she was finished, so I looked into the gleaming bathroom mirror and grinned. My hair looked perfectly effortless, my eyes were bright from excitement and my lips were glossy and plump.
April then left the room so I could into the dress that I had picked for tonight. It was a dark navy colour made of chiffon and had a simple A-line skirt, which swished around when I twirled. The neckline came to a V point on my chest and on the base of my throat sat Henry’s locket, which I rarely took off. I slipped into a pair of black wedged pumps and headed downstairs quickly, to find April drinking a cup of juice in the kitchen. She looked guilty as I spotted her and quickly blurted, “I’m going, I’m going, I swear!”
I laughed. Did she think I expected her to be out of the house by the time I came downstairs? “I’m not angry,” I assured her.
She then gave me a wink and came to hug me. “I hope you’ll enjoy the surprise Henry has for you.”
I frowned. Why did she wink? Unless … “You know what Henry’s planning!”
April gave me a mischievous grin as backed towards the front door. “Yes, but I’m not telling you!”
I rolled my eyes and decided to leave it alone. As we both waved to each other before she hopped into her car, Henry’s McLaren smoothly pulled into driveway. I decided to shut the door for fun and waited impatiently for him to knock. After a few seconds, he did, and I laughed loudly. It felt so weird because this house belonged to both Henry and I. So really, he was knocking on his own door!
“I can hear you laughing, you pancake!” Henry scolded playfully. “Now open up!”
I shook my head and grinned wickedly, even though he couldn’t see it. “Now that’s no way to treat your girlfriend!”
There was a pause from the other side. “Just open the door before I smash it!”
“Alright superman,” I muttered as I walked over to unlock the door.
When I came face-to-face with my boyfriend, I was blown away as always. Why was I so lucky? I was just Lainie and here Henry was, looking all Greek God like. Then there was his personality: he still enjoyed teasing me, but I was his number one priority and if anyone gave me a hard time, he’d struggle to remain calm. He was the best boyfriend ever – charming, righteous, sweet …
“Now that you’ve opened the door … get in the car,” he playfully ordered.
So much for ‘sweet’. I poked my tongue as I walked past him and slid into the passenger seat. Although I was pretending to be mad at him, I couldn’t wait to see what he had in store for me tonight.
* * *
The car suddenly turned away from the motorway and into the neighbourhood nearby, where the winding roads led up and down hills full of lovely houses. I looked out of the window and watched as the sun was slowly setting. Where were we going?
Henry then parked the car by a children’s playground, making me turn to him with a baffled expression.
“Are we going on the swings?” I asked.
A smirk appeared on his face. “Maybe another day, but for now …” I watched curiously as he leaned over and fished out something from the glove compartment. “You’re going to have to wear this.”
My eyes widened at the small dark cloth in his hand. A blindfold? I looked at him, completely horrified, while he sat there grinning at my reaction. Then, he slid out of the driver’s seat and jogged over to my side to open the door.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I growled as he pulled open the passenger door.
He chuckled. “Tsk tsk pancake, don’t go around growling like that at your boyfriend.”
“And why the hell not?!”
Our eyes met and the way his eyes darkened me made shiver slightly. “It kind of turns me on.”
I gawked at him.
“Now don’t give me a hard time,” Henry muttered as he gently covered my eyes with the blindfold and tied it. I was still thinking about that comment he had made earlier. Who the heck just says something like that and brushes it off by another statement?!
Here I was shocked over his comment, while Henry was slowly guiding me out of the car and promising that he wouldn’t let me fall.
“Good.” I snorted. “If you do, this relationship is over, peanut.”
“Ouch.” I could imagine Henry having that little amused smile on his face as he said that, and that fake offended look. Being robbed of my sight bothered me. I wanted to see my surroundings, not completely lean on Henry. My hand then found his and I could feel the rope of the handmade bracelet I had made for him about nine years ago. That calmed me down a bit. “That really hurt my ego.”
I laughed as he pulled me aside while we walked. I had probably nearly walked into a pole or something. “Your ego needs to be hurt sometimes.”
“Oh yeah?” he questioned in a tone I didn’t like. Io could imagine him grinning wickedly and I desperately wanted to know what he was planning to say … or do. Then in a louder voice, he added, “replaying your moans in my head makes me feel better about myself.”
My jaw dropped. Moan?! Why in the world did he decide to say that?! I had only done that a few times, and that was when Henry intensely devoured my lips or started to kiss his way down my throat. He made it sound as if we had done more than just that! In the next second, I figured out why.
“Teenagers,” what sounded like an old woman scoffed as she passed by. “All they care about is doing the nasty!”
Blood rushed all the way to my cheeks as Henry roared with laughter. So that was why he decided to say that! Now we looked like some hormonal not-so-innocent couple! I also couldn’t believe that she had called us teenagers. Did we really look that young? I was twenty five and in a few months, Henry would be turning twenty-seven. It was all so weird, because he still looked the same and he acted like his twenty-one year old self. Nothing had changed.
Take just then for example. About a month after being together, he reverted back to his jack-ass self, the same guy who liked to make little innuendos just to piss me off when I had just arrived in LA. To be honest, under the angry exterior, I was mentally laughing. I liked all the sides of Henry, because it’s what made him, him.
“You should have been the woman’s face!” Henry exclaimed as we stopped on the footpath. “She was giving us the dirty look!”
I whacked him in the arm. “You know, you can be a real jerk sometimes.”
I was suddenly pulled into his embrace and I felt his breath fanning my face. “Yeah, but that’s why you love me.”
Going on my tip-toes, I leaned forward and pecked his lips. “I know.”
He chuckled and then cleared his throat. “Ok, so are you ready to take this blindfold off?”
I quickly ripped the piece of cloth off my eyes and gasped at what was in front of me. A very familiar looking cottage sat in front of me. It was absolutely lovely. The lights inside were on, giving the light grey house a gleaming affect in the twilight. Beautifully trimmed green hedges and small gardens complimented the house and on the porch sat a few large pot plants and wooden chairs.
“You weren’t supposed to take it off,” Henry complained. “I was supposed to do that!”
I ignored his comment and threw my arms around him. “Thank you for bringing me here Henry.”
I felt him smile and kiss the top of my head. “You’re welcome.”
“Whose house is it?” Whoever lived there were lucky, but I couldn’t help but think that I had seen it before. Where though?
“I believe this house belongs to Henry Parker and Lainie Watson,” Henry replied carefully as he watched my face.
My eyes bugged out of my head. This was our house? This cottage was ours?! As in we owned it? Did he mean that I could waltz through this beautiful cottage every day, cook in it, and sleep in it? I knew Henry liked surprises, but I would never dream that he would go this far!
“I actually found this design in your sketchbook and I photocopied it, so it could be built,” Henry admitted, as he slung an arm around me and admired the cottage. “It took pretty long. They started building last year.”
My face broke into a wide grin as I studied the man next to me. How did I ever get so lucky? “I love you so much.”
His mouth twitched as I said those words. “I love you too.”
We then walked inside and immediately, I was greeted with a large plasma screen on the far wall. I laughed. That was definitely Henry’s doing. There wasn’t a lot of furniture yet, but on the porch in the backyard was a small table with aromatic food and rosemary candles. See? I knew we were having dinner.
“Mmm, it smells great Henry.”
He winked. “I know.”
I started on the sirloin steak he had cooked and for a while, we chatted about Henry’s upcoming gig. He already had enough money to last a lifetime, but he still wanted to do something other than sit at home, so he liked to do a few gigs at bars. He’s written a few songs, but doesn’t plan on becoming famous – he uses a pseudonym, just for fun and privacy matters. Our conversation then turned quiet because we were both eating. Suddenly, as I lifted the fork to my mouth, I heard a song playing softly and I frowned. Where was that coming from? Was that the neighbours?
“Yep,” he replied, popping the ‘P’.
“Do you hear that?”
“As a matter of a fact, I do.” He then proceeded stand up and walked slowly towards me, making me fidget with my fingers. What was he doing? “Lainie, will you dance with me?”
I blinked. He planned for the music to play? “But we’re still eating …”
“Don’t worry, we can eat later,” Henry replied chuckling.
Hesitantly, I put my hand in his and he sharply pulled me to him. I let out a surprised gasp and before I knew it, he was waltzing me around while ‘Hero’ by Enrique Iglesias was playing in the background. I rested my head on Henry’s shoulder, contented, while he whispered the lyrics in my ear.
“I can be your hero baby … I can kiss away your pain … I will stand by you forever … you can take my breath away …”
I smiled like an eleven year old girl as he sung the heartfelt lyrics of the song to me. Had he chosen the song for a particular reason?
With my arms locked around his neck and his arms resting on my waist, we danced like this through the whole song. Our bodies moved slowly and swayed perfectly to the beat. The only blunder was when I accidentally stepped on Henry’s shoe, and we had awkwardly stumbled to the side. When I could tell it was slowly coming to an end, I sighed. Dancing with Henry was quite calming, especially with my eyes closed and his husky voice singing to me.
“You can take my breath away … you can take my breath away … Lainie, will you marry me …”
I jumped. Had I heard that right? Had he just really sung that line?
Henry chuckled and my heart pounded faster as I watched him struggle to take something out of his pocket. Since he had sung to me if I would marry him, it would quite obvious what he would take out, but I didn’t dare dream …
A smooth, silver band with three stones made my eyes widen. The middle stone was a beautiful amethyst sparkling in the moonlight and two smaller diamonds sat beside it.
This was real. This was happening. This wasn’t a dream.
“I want to do this right,” I heard Henry mutter as he sank down on one knee. I felt so … so feminine standing there in the summer night’s air, staring into those pair of gorgeous eyes.
“Lainie, from the first time I met you I knew you were different, and – hey! Don’t make that face.” He laughed as I scrunched up my nose. “Before I met you, I wasn’t perfect. Heck, I still ain’t perfect, but you make me strive hard to be perfect … for you. Trust me on this, I promise you that I’ll treat you the way you deserve to be treated and I promise I will love you forever. Yes, I’m talking about after I die as well.”
A small smile grew on my face as I felt his small speech tug at my heartstrings. “I promise I’ll love you too,” I whispered.
“Hey, I’m supposed to be making the promises here,” Henry joked. I giggled and felt heat rise in my cheeks. Then in a softer tone, he continued. “The last time I proposed to you, it wasn’t a proper one. So now I’m going to ask you … will you marry me Lainie? Will you be my real pancake wife?”
I laughed as I remembered he had asked the same thing when he had ‘proposed’ at the Wilshire restaurant in Los Angeles, but instead he had said, ‘fake pancake wife’.
“Of course, Henry!”
With that, he slipped the ring ever so carefully on my fourth finger and placed a light kiss on it. I then drew him in for a hug and I couldn’t help but think that once upon a time, I had just been a part of Steve and Henry’s plan for fame – his fake fiancée. And now?
Well, I was finally his real fiancée.
And these two :P
ENDING NOTE: I loved writing this novel. Loved it. And I love each and every one of you who have supported me through the whole process. YOU ROCK! :) I can't believe I've finally finished my first ever novel!! Hehe. Anyway, tell me your thoughts on the epilogue? It'd be greatly appreciated! Thank you SO much for reading! You guys have all been my inspiration to keep writing :)
ALSO, I'm starting a new novel and I would love to hear your thoughts on a new novel I'm starting. Here's the link: http://www.booksie.com/romance/article/vanessaxoxo/when-lightning-strikes-character-pictures-&-summary
Lots of love, Vanessa xoxo