It had been hard, money had been tight, and there was stress, but we made it work. And Kace had worked his ass off day in and day out, pulling doubles, working odd jobs on the side to save up for a wedding, for our future. And now that I was done with school and had my job lined up, it was my turn to take some of the pressure off of him. It was my turn to help save.
Although he’d told me many times that he pretty much wanted me barefoot and pregnant, which always put a little smile on my face, but also got me a little annoyed that he’d actually gone there, I couldn’t help a little thrill of pleasure that filled me knowing he wanted me all to himself.
Even all these years later it still felt as if it were the first time he touched me, the first time my lips were pressed to his as we kissed.
I blinked a few times and turned my focus to November. Tia, November’s best friend and someone I’d grown close to over the years, brought her champagne glass to her mouth and took a long drink as she people watched.
“Yeah, I’m good, just dazed about all of this, I guess.”
As I looked at these two ladies, I felt like they were just as much a part of my family as anyone else in this room. The years together had brought us close, and calling them friends seemed like a tame word for how tightly they’d woven their lives with mine. They’d let me cry on their shoulders about school and stress, let me bitch about the workload, even listened to me go on and on about Kace and how things were really hard, but my love for him was strong. And never once did they think I was a burden, like I was just some poor little small-town girl acting like my problems were too big to handle.
“Everyone is so nice to each other here,” Tia said then chuckled. “Not like the city, that’s for sure.”
The three of us laughed.
“Yeah, small towns always make you feel like you’re with family,” I said, meaning each and every word.
Tia waved down one of the servers for another glass of champagne and I looked at November again. She smiled sweetly at me and I returned the gesture, feeling my cheeks heat because I wondered if they’d noticed me staring at Kace. Then again, this was our engagement party, so surely they wouldn’t take too much notice that we couldn’t keep our eyes off of one another.
“So when do you start your new job?” November asked.
I cleared my throat and took a sip from my glass again before speaking. “Beginning of next week.” I’d met November at NYU, both of us hitting it off right away and becoming close. In fact, we were so close, she was one of my bridesmaids.
“How exciting,” November said genuinely.
I nodded and chanced another look at Kace, who still had his focus trained on me, this little smirk on his face.
“They must’ve really wanted to hire you right out of school.”
I felt my cheeks heat again, but for a different reason. “They acted very interested, and I was really lucky. I believe in being at the right place at the right time. But it also helped that I know the owners, that they’ve known me since I was a little girl.” I gave an awkward laugh. “Yeah, so that’s probably why I got the position.” Our lease had been up for the apartment shortly after I graduated. We’d been contemplating what to do, whether to renew it and stay another year in the city, or to leave and find a house that was more affordable. Something that would give us more room and we owned.
But then I’d received the call about the job, an interior design position at a local business back home. It had just seemed like fate was bringing us back to where it all started, to our roots.
I’d told Kace and he hadn’t hesitated in saying I should take it.
And so I did, and here we were, our wedding in a few months, my dream job lined up back at home, and the future looking so bright it blinded me.
“I’m really happy for you,” November said and I didn’t stop myself from embracing her.
“Thank you for being there for me all these years, for holding my hand when I felt lost, for being confident for me when I felt anything but.” I pulled back, feeling tears in my eyes. The whole moment of being here, celebrating my engagement, and having my loved ones close made me emotional. I turned and did the same to Tia, feeling so sappy, and blamed the champagne flowing for my flood of emotions.