Monday, January 2, 2017


Since the Halloween party I'd been numb emotionally.  I was attempting to act normal, but Aaron could tell something was off.  I was going through the motions but that was about it.  

I hadn't told anyone what happened, and hadn't seen or spoken to Zach since.  He had tried reaching out to me several times, but I ignored all attempts.  Aaron had asked me when the next time we'd be hanging out with Zach but I told him some lame excuse of him being super busy with med school.  He had followed up with, "I really like him."  And I mentally thought, you shouldn't.

I felt incredibly guilty.  But, the worst part of my guilt was that I didn't feel guilty for what happened, and THAT is what I felt guilty for.

"What the hell is going on with you?" Sarah demanded more than asked.  "I've hardly seen you since our party, and you're really, weirdly quiet."

I sighed, annoyed.  This was approximately the 83rd time she'd asked me.  "Nothing."  I couldn't make eye contact with her.

We were out for coffee because she'd basically been stalking me since the party to get together and I couldn't avoid her any longer.

"Alright, I'm just going to say it, because I know you.  I think something happened with Zach.  I saw you two disappear and he never came back and I found you passed out on the bathroom floor the next morning.  Now stop avoiding me like I'm going to judge you and tell me what happened so we can get you out of whatever this is."

I felt my coldness melting, and I sniffled.  I looked down at my hands, wringing.  "I made an appointment with my therapist.  I go tomorrow."

Sarah's voice softened.  "Le, what happened?"

I told her in gory detail what happened, looking around self-consciously making sure no one I knew was close by.

"Well, the good news is you stopped it!"

"That doesn't make me feel any better.  And why don't I feel guilty?  I think I'd feel better in a way if I felt guilty."

"I don't know.  Probably because you have loved Zach forever and you always will.  However, I think you now know that you shouldn't be around him unless you plan on ending things with Aaron.  Do you want to marry Aaron?"

I do.  "Yes, I do.  If you had asked me previously if it was possible to be in love with two people, I would have told you no.  Now, I think it is.  However, I don't think it's healthy.  And I can do much better emotionally not having Zach around for sure.  I think I need to tell Aaron, though."

"No!" Sarah practically shouted.  She quieted her voice.  "I mean, tell me what the point of telling him would be."

"Because it's the right thing to do?"

She cocked her head at me.  "But is it?  I mean, if you're telling him because of your guilt that may be selfish because you'd be assuaging your guilt and that's it.  And is it really the right thing to do?  I mean, do you think Aaron would leave you if you told him?"

I shook my head no.  "I don't think so."

"This was a one time thing.  I think if it had been more than 1 time and you hadn't stopped it, and it was a long drawn out affair, you would need to tell him.  For a one time mistake that you stopped before it went farther than it did, what good is it going to accomplish in your relationship with Aaron?"

I looked back down at my hands and frowned.  "I don't know.  To an extent you're right, I think.  I would be telling him because of my guilt of a lack of guilt and I feel like I deserve to be berated and yelled at."

"I don't think you should tell him then.  If you are ever - God forbid - in this position again, you need to tell him."

"I'm not sure.  I'll have to think about that angle."

She nodded, satisfied with that response.  Then she reached over and grabbed my hands that were still on the table wringing.  "Aleah, you can tell me anything.  ALWAYS.  Let me be here for you, even during the horrible times."

I nodded my head.

We finished our coffee, conversation much lighter, and headed home.

When I got there, Aaron was making dinner.  I called out to him, setting my purse down on the kitchen table.  He looked so sexy in a fitted t-shirt and basketball shorts, stirring something on the stove.  He looked over and gave me a sad smile.  

I did this to him.

I had been cold and standoff-ish with him.  Not that everything was ok for me, but I felt a burden lift voicing everything I had been internalizing.  And after saying it for the first time, the thought that had tickled the back of my mind for awhile, about loving two people, I knew it was true.  I made my choice, though.  Now it was time to make that choice actionable.

We hadn't had sex in the two months since the party.  I had done a great job of not only being unapproachable, but conveniently busy or not feeling well.  Luckily he had been legit busy the first 5 or 6 weeks because of that homicide.

I tentatively walked up behind him and ran my hands from his back around under his arms and tightened them around his muscular body.  At first, he tensed up, but then when I laid my head against his back, he relaxed.

I felt the tears falling down my cheeks before I even knew crying was going to happen.  Aaron must have felt my body silently shaking from the sobs.  He turned around, holding me at arms length.  The concern in his eyes finally made the guilt of what happened between Zach and I rise up.

I stared ferociously at his chest and quietly said, "I'm sorry, Aaron."

He pulled me into his body wrapping his arms around my miserable self.  "It's okay, sweet girl."

"No.  No it isn't.  I've been so terrible to you, in more ways than you know."

Before I could continue he leaned down and silenced me with a passionate kiss.  "Babe, I could tell you have been going through something.  I love you so much and of course want to be here for you in any way I can.  You know you can tell me anything.  I really want for us to get back to being us.  Please tell me you want that, too?"

I nodded my head and muttered another apology.  "I love you, too."

He kissed me again, harder this time.  After a few minutes he turned the heat off on the stove and we turned the heat on in the bed.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Waltz

Called out on a homicide.  I won't be home tonight, go ahead and stay with Sarah.  Love you.

I showed Sarah my text from Aaron and she high fived me.  All bets were off if I didn't have to find my way home!

After the next game, the room was spinning and I felt great.  It was time to finally break the seal, so I headed to the bathroom.  Once I was finished I flung the door open and Zach was standing there with his hand up, about to knock.  "Oh!" I squeaked, startled, but then laughed.  "What are you doing here?" I questioned way too loud and sounding way too excited.

He smiled, and placed his hands on my shoulders to steady my swaying body.  "I wanted to make sure you weren't sick."

"Nope, and not planning on it, either!" 

Right then two people drunkenly shuffled by, stumbling into Zach, pushing him into me, knocking us into the bathroom.  Zach grabbed me by the waist with one hand and the arm with his other, to keep me from falling.

"I'm sorry, Aleah," he apologized, steadying me.

I shook my head.  "You didn't run me over on purpose!"  And I giggled some more.

Zach was backed up against the vanity.  I met his eyes, and he released my arm to brush some hair behind my ear that had fallen out of one of my ponytails.  His eyes flickered between my eyes and my lips.  Without thinking, I pushed myself onto my tiptoes and pressed my lips to his.  At first he didn't react, but then kissed me back. 

Our lips and tongues familiarly danced, like long lost lovers.  Midway through our waltz, Zach stopped and whispered into my mouth, "Aleah, we can't."

My thoughts were swirling at the pace of the spinning room, but were just out of grasp of comprehension.  "I know," I said, simply.

I lowered myself back down and turned to walk out the door.  Zach grabbed my hand, effectively diverting my attention back to him.  "I'm sorry, Aleah.  I shouldn't have..." he trailed off.  He reached up and grabbed the back of his neck, and wouldn't look at me.

I turned to face him and grabbed his face gently between my hands.  "Zach, this wasn't your fault."

He nodded once.

I turned again to walk out, but couldn't step out of the door.  There was something that just wouldn't let me away from him.  There was part of Zach that I just couldn't let go of.

I shut the bathroom door and found my way back against Zach, kissing him hard.  He hungrily kissed me back, guiding me up against the vanity, then grabbing the back of my thighs, just below my butt and hoisted me up on the ledge.  I ran my hands over his bare chest and abs, as his lips made their way along my jaw, to my ear lobe, down my neck.  I sucked in a sharp breath as his hands lightly grazed over my breasts, down to my waist.  He inched my skirt up and pressed himself against me. 

He was so turned on, and I was, too.  There was a small voice that was starting to make its way through my clouded, drunken thoughts, telling me I needed to stop.  My body definitely didn't want to, though.

Zach started rubbing me over the thin material of my thong, and soon I was mimicking the favor.  He pushed the material aside and easily slid a finger inside of me.

As soon as he did, it seemed to awaken something inside of me.  "No!" I gasped.  And I burst into tears.  Zach immediately removed his hand and started apologizing.  I shook my head.  "Just, no.  Zach, I can't.  Please, go."

He sadly nodded, placed a hand on the side of my head and bent to kiss my forehead, and then he was gone.

I slipped off the counter, locked the door, placed my back against it and dropped to the floor, sobbing.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Downhill Fast

"So when's the big day?"  Zach asked casually, over a bite of lasagna. 

Lasagna was one thing I could cook, and cook well.  Aaron locked eyes with me and grinned and nodded at me, telling me to share.

I smiled back.  "We decided September 2, 2017.  Plenty of time to plan and get everything together, plus not too far out where people are going to question whether or not we actually will ever tie the knot."

"Well, congratulations again, to both of you."

"Thanks, man," Aaron patted his hand down hard on Zach's shoulder as he stood up to go get them each another beer out of the fridge.  Over his shoulder he called back to Zach, "What about you?  Any prospects?"

Zach met my eyes and I shifted uncomfortably, focusing way harder than need be on the bite of lasagna was I was trying to balance on my fork.

"No, not at this time.  Truthfully, I don't have a lot of time between medical school and helping take care of my parents' property," he responded simply.

I still couldn't make eye contact with him, so I just focused on finishing my food. 

The rest of the night was uneventful, and we sat around talking and watching football.


The following Saturday was Sarah's and my Halloween party we had decided to throw.  We had gotten a great response to our Facebook invite and were expecting a rather large turnout.

We set up a couple of card tables in the garage for a Beer Pong tournament and also planned on playing flippy cup and another drinking game called Boom.

Aaron and I had originally planned on dressing up in a couples costume.  We were going to be the classic football player/cheerleader combo.  However, the detective that was supposed to be on-call had a family emergency and Aaron had offered to pick up, so he wouldn't be at the party.  I was really disappointed. 

Before I'd left our house for the evening, dressed in my overly skimpy cheerleading outfit, hair in pigtails, Aaron pulled me close to him.  He's ran his fingers up the backs of my bare thighs until he was grasping my butt and squeezed. 

He leaned into my ear and kissed the skin right behind my ear, then whispered, "I fully plan on taking advantage of you when you get home tonight, assuming I'm here.  Do not get home and change clothes right away."  His hot breath tickled my ear, giving me chills. 

"Well, if you put on those football pants, you might have yourself a deal," I winked at him.

I grabbed my purse and started towards the door.  He grabbed my hand one more time, pulling me back to him.  "It's probably for the best I won't be there tonight.  I wouldn't be able to keep my hands off of you."  His eyes roamed my body from top to bottom and back up once more, then he slapped my butt and sent me on my way, reminding me that if I needed a ride to not hesitate to call him.

As people started to arrive for the evening, Sarah and I were pumped.  Most people were bringing some sort of finger food or appetizer to share and lots of alcohol.  We had provided several cases of beer for all the drinking games.  Sarah and her boyfriend had also done a couples costume.  He was Waldo and she was Carmen SanDiego.  It was adorable.

Sarah and I had always been beer pong partners and worked well together, and she had told the boyf that wasn't changing so he better invite someone that would be a good partner for him.  I had laughed when she told me that.

We were two games deep when Zach showed up.  He was in a man skirt and no shirt.  His abs were still defined, always the workout addict.  He looked really good.  I diverted my eyes back to the game, drunk enough to want to check him out, but not drunk enough to know that was going to lead my thoughts to nowhere good.  Before looking back at the game I made eye contact with Sarah who was giving me the side-eye with a raised eyebrow.  What, I mouthed defensively to her.

We won the second game, so we were still up.  By the middle of the third game I was dizzy and Sarah and I were both giggling a lot at things not worthy of that much laughter.  People were flocking around and the garage was pretty full.  Sarah hit a ping pong ball away from a cup and it went rolling across the garage.  I went in search of it, finding it had rolled behind the lawn mower.

I bent down to pick it up, and I stood up dusting it off and turned around and there was Zach is all of his ripping ab glory.  My breath caught in my throat as I quickly focused on his face.

"I hadn't had a chance to say hi to you, yet!" he cheerily exclaimed.  I could tell by his animated voice that he had already had multiple drinks, too.  He pulled me into a tight hug, one of his hands dangerously low on my back.  The hug lasted a few beats too long, and I pulled away.  "You look really... sexy, Aleah."

I blushed.  And before I could respond, I heard my name being called by Sarah.  I held up the ping pong ball to him and gave him an apologetic look before rushing away.  Hearing him say that made my heart beat a little faster, and I felt uncomfortable that I had that reaction.  You just like the attention, I told myself, then pushed thoughts of him out of my head.

After Sarah and I somehow managed to win our third game in a row, we both agreed we needed a short break to get something to eat to help soak up some alcohol. 

Later on in the night, Sarah and I were drunk, and we had moved on to the game Boom.  Zach was next to me in the circle, and it was a battle to make my ball in the cup before he did.  I could tell he was letting me beat him, though, probably because he knew how drunk I was and no one wanted anyone to start throwing up.

After the first game was over, some people were filling more cups for the middle of the table.  Zach and I were making small talk with some of our friends that we both mutually knew.  While standing there talking, I felt his hand on the small of my back, casually.  It felt normal.  Like an old habit.  My guess was that's what it was for him, too.  We were laughing and all drunkenly joking around. 

The next game started, and things went downhill quickly from there.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


"Wait, you what!?" Sarah exclaimed at me, more statement than question.  "And this was your idea?"

I had just gotten done telling her about the upcoming dinner I was making for Zach to hang out with Aaron and I.  She was looking at me skeptically. 

"What," I snipped.  "This isn't weird."  Or maybe that weird?

She shrugged her shoulders.  "If you say so.  Just be careful."

I rolled my eyes and went back to the task at hand.  We were taking our first run at looking at wedding color options with the wedding planner.  Sarah was helping me because Aaron didn't care.  He said he'd come along if I wanted him to, but he trusted my judgment and wouldn't be much help.  I knew him well enough to know that that was his passive way of saying please don't make me.  He agreed to go to everything final with me, and to any appointments that were super important like food samplings and such, as long as I just kept him in the loop.  I had agreed.  I cared much more about this stuff than he did, and I knew that.

The wedding planner, Wendy, flipped another page in the portfolio she was showing us with pictures from weddings she had planned, showing some of the themes and how they came together.  "You know," Wendy started," it would probably be helpful if you know exactly when you were getting married."

I frowned as I turned another page.  "Yeah, that would.  The problem is I've always dreamt of a spring wedding.  But I think I love the fall, rich colors more than the pastels.  Or even winter colors.  But definitely not summer. I don't want to be sweating in my pictures." Then I looked up and smiled at Wendy.

Wendy clasped her hands together.  "Oh, lady, all weddings no matter the time of year are beautiful.  If you are loving fall colors and really don't have strong inkling either way, why don't you go for the fall?  Plus, unless you're thinking spring 2018, it may be hard to find a beautiful location for your reception."

I nodded my head in agreement.  "When I get home tonight, I'll talk to Aaron about some dates.  Before our next appointment, I'll have a date nailed down."

"That seems like a good plan.  Now, let's move onto the next book."


Later, at lunch, Sarah asked me who was going to be in the wedding party.  It occurred to me I hadn't even asked anyone, yet.  I had been so caught up in all my feelings and excitement, that I hadn't gotten to the next phase!

"Well, obviously, you will be my maid of honor."

"Obviously," she rolled her eyes, "you didn't even need to tell me.  And I'm glad you didn't ask.  I would've been offended." She stuck her tongue out at me.  We laughed.

"Elena and Maddie will be bridesmaids.  I'm playing with the idea of Victoria, too.  But I'm not sure yet.  I need to talk to Aaron, too, about how many people will actually be in the wedding party.  Since we haven't been in a rush to set a date, I haven't thought this many details through."

"That makes sense.  I'm sure that no matter what, we will have a blast and your wedding will be quite the celebration."  Her expression turned serious, then.  "But, Aleah, seriously, I am so happy for you.  After everything that happened... I just love that you are happy."

I reached across the table and squeezed her hand.  "Thanks, Sar.  And I'm glad that you are happy, too!"

She blushed.  "I am."

We ate in silence for a little bit.

"Oh hey, I was thinking," she began.  "We should host a Halloween party in your old, my current house."

I grinned.  "Love it.  Make the Facebook invite now!"

And we spent the rest of lunch planning what would hopefully be the best party of the year.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


Zach stood up from the high top as I approached it, and pulled my chair out.  I hopped up on it and sat down, and he slightly pushed it back in.

I smiled cautiously.  I was nervous, though I don't know why.  We sat there awkwardly, quietly for a few minutes and then we both spoke at the same time.

"How are you?"
"How's medical school?"

We laughed, and he re-asked how I was.

"I'm doing really well.  I've been extremely busy between work and then still teaching tennis lessons at the racquet club."

"Oh yeah, I forgot you were still at the racquet club.  Have you been playing much?"

"Not as much as I'd like.  I do play in a league weekly, though.  We have matches every Thursday night."

"My parents tell me that your family is doing well, and that Tom has a new girlfriend?"

I laughed.  "Yeah, funny story.  Tom is back at Purdue, however, he does have a new girlfriend.  No more momfriend.  He's dating Victoria.  Funny, right?"

His eyes widened.  "Isn't that weird for you?"

I wrinkled my nose at him. "Kinda.  They're doing the long-distance thing for now since Tommy only has 2 years left at Purdue and then who knows where he'll end up.  Plus, she is finishing up her degree, too, and there's no point in transferring now.  I see her more frequently, though.  My parents invite her to all the family things.  How are your parents?"

"Ben and Gloria are fabulous," he grinned at me.  "They're looking at houses in Arizona and Florida right now."

"What!" I yelped.  "Do my parents know?  I can't believe they won't be their neighbors anymore!"

"Oooh, no no no," he quickly replied.  "For winter homes.  I guess with me back here for the foreseeable future, they have someone to watch the house in the winter."

"Oh.  Ok.  That makes sense."

We both took a moment to finish our drinks.  Then, again, we spoke up at the same time.

This time I repeated myself.  "So, I don't mean this in a bad way, but why did you want to get together?"

"Well, I thought it would be good to catch up."

Just like Zach could read me like a book, I could also read him.  I cocked an eyebrow at him.  "Really?"

He sighed.  "Yes, really.  That, and I do miss you."

"Zach, I'm getting married," I quietly said, looking at my hands.

"I know.  I don't mean like that. I mean, I would mean like that if you were single," and he smiled.  "But you aren't and I'll respect that.  I'd really like to get to know Aaron, if that's okay with you?  I mean, he is marrying my favorite Husker."

I rolled my eyes but blushed.  "I'd really like that.  You've been my friend forever."

He reached across the table and squeezed my hand.  I tried to ignore the feel of his skin against mine.

We spent another half hour or so catching up, and then went our separate ways.

When I got home, Aaron was making dinner.

"Hey, babe!  I didn't know you'd be home already."

He grinned and made his way to me, wrapping an arm around my waist and kissing me quickly on the forehead.  "I missed you.  Where were you?"

I hadn't told Aaron that I was meeting Zach for drinks after work.  "Well, um, I had drinks with a friend after work."  Aleah, what is wrong with you.  Do NOT lie to this man, I internally scolded myself.  "And by friend, I mean Zach."

He raised his eyebrows at me.  "Oh yeah?  And how was that?"

"It was oddly good.  He had asked me to get drinks a couple weeks ago, and we just now were able to make it work.  I wasn't sure what he wanted, but it turns out he has missed our friendship and wants to get to know you.  I'm so sorry I didn't tell you beforehand."  I was rambling.

"Aleah, I am not mad," he laughed.  "I know he was a big part of your life for a long time.  I trust you.  And if he's that good of a guy that you two were together for so long, then I would be more than happy to get to know him."

I sighed a breath of relief.  "Excellent.  I'll try to set something up sometime.  By the way, it smells amazing, what are you making?"

"Shrimp risotto.  There's a glass of wine sitting there for you."

"Thanks!  I'm going to go change, and then I'll be back."  I grabbed the glass of wine off the counter and headed back to the bedroom, more anxious than I probably needed to be about rekindling my friendship with Zach.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

First and Last

*2 Weeks Ago*


It sounded like my name, but I felt stupid turning around if it wasn't.  I kept walking briskly, enjoying the summer heat, but needing to get back to work.  I'd already taken an extended lunch so I could eat and stop in a couple shops.  Aaron and I weren't planning on getting married until next year, but I'd already started perusing bridal shops and created Pinterest boards.  You never know when lightening may strike!

"Aleah!!" I heard, louder.  This time I turned around.  Zach.

He gave me his killer smile.  "I've been calling your name for like a full block now!"

I giggled, embarrassed.  "Sorry.  I was lost in my thoughts."

"It's okay.  I was going to see if you wanted to grab lunch, but I see you already ate," he nodded towards the leftover food box I was carrying.

"Oh yeah, I had grabbed lunch with a friend." I don't know why I felt the need to lie.  "With Aaron."

"How's he doing?"

"Good.  He's been working a lot, going through training for SWAT."

"That's awesome!  Tell him congrats for me."

"Will do."  I lifted my hand to check my watch.  "I really have to get going, I'm..."

Before I could finish, Zach let out a low whistle and grabbed my hand, pulling it closer to his face.

"Aleah, I didn't know," he said softly.  "Congratulations.  He did a good job."  I blushed and looked at his face, but his expression was unreadable. 

"Thank you," I replied, looking down at the ring sparkling on my finger.

"Hey, anyway, I know you need to go, but would you want to get lunch or dinner or a drink sometime soon?"

"Oh, yeah, sure, that'd be great."  I mentally scolded myself for how awkward I now sounded.  "Just, um, text me.  You still have my number?"

"Of course.  I would never lose it."  He smiled at me again, causing me to melt just a little, and he turned to walk away.

~~~~~~~ Current Day ~~~~~~~

I wiped sweat off my forehead with my forearm and sighed.  "This is taking forever," I complained to Sarah.  Since moving in to Aaron's, he had graciously agreed to let me do some painting and upgrading.  I was currently painting the bathroom and Sarah was helping me.  She was much more into home project stuff than I was.

"Stop whining.  I already told you I have a bottle of pink moscato waiting for us as a reward for when we're done."

"Will you two keep living here, now that you guys are getting married?"

"I don't know.  We haven't talked about it. I'd like to get a bigger house, to plan for the future."

"Your kids would be absolutely adorable," she gushed, as a best friend should.

I rolled my eyes.  "That is no where on my radar yet."  She laughed.

"So tell me what happened with Zach."

I told her about seeing him, and how he wanted to get some sort of food.  I told her how awkward I still felt around him and I didn't like how he made me feel, because those feelings made me feel guilty.

"Do you still love him?" she asked, turning her head to watch me.

"I think part of me always will.  We were together a long time.  He was my first love," I finished, quietly, hating to admit that.

"Okay?  But do you want him to be your last?"

And that was the question I wasn't sure how to answer.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

I Choose You

*3 Weeks Ago*

"Let's go for a walk," Aaron suggested.

I internally breathed a sigh of relief.  "Okay."

We were in Chicago visiting Aaron's family.  It was my first time meeting all of his 8,000 sisters.  By 8,000 I mean 4.  But it sure felt like 8,000.

His mom and Rosa were of course welcoming.  His oldest sister Emma, was super warm and sweet.  She embraced me as soon as we walked in the door.  I think if we lived closer we would be super close, shopping and hanging out a lot.  She's 26.  His next sister, Ilianna, is my age (23).  I think she hated me before we were ever born.  His two youngest sisters, Olivia (18) and Uma (16) were teenagers.  Olivia was indifferent to my presence.  She wasn't rude, just uninterested.  And Uma instantly latched on to me.  I think only because she loved my clothing, to be honest.

Aaron glanced at what I was wearing (spandex shorts and oversized tank because we had gone running a little earlier and I hadn't showered yet).  "Actually, why don't you shower first.  We're going to go into Chicago and go for a short walk to get some fresh air, but then we'll go to dinner."

"Oh, okay.  Any requests?" I winked at him.

He grinned.  "Yeah, wear the pink dress."

I rolled my eyes at him and laughed.  "Anything for you."  I knew he really just liked my legs in that dress.

When I was ready, we drove to the train and took it into Chicago.  I had on nude pumps so we took a cab out to the lakefront path.

"Aaron, it's gorgeous out here," I commented, as we were walking along the lake switching between the Chicago skyline and the lake.  Aaron squeezed my hand, and pulled me over to a vacant bench, guiding me to sit.  He sat next to me, his body angled towards me, and grabbed both of my hands.

"Aleah, it is gorgeous out here.  However, there is no skyline, no lake, beach, mountain, or any view on this earth that can outshine your beauty.  Your beauty may be breathtaking, but your inner beauty is even more radiant.  Every day since I've known you, I have tried to be the man you could be proud of, that you would want to be with, that makes you smile.  You make me want to be the best man I could possibly be.  You bring out emotions in me that I've never desired to show anyone else before.  You make my life vibrant.  Aleah, I love you with my whole heart.  It has been my honor to have had you by my side for this long, and I could only hope, dream, and pray that you would be willing to continue to be by my side, for the rest of our lives.  I can't promise you that we won't fight, that we'll always like each other, and that we will always make each other happy.  But I can promise you that I will spend every day of my life giving you, and only you, all of me.  I choose you forever, sweet girl."  He slid off the bench down on to one knee, pulling a ring box from his pocket.  "Aleah, will you continue doing me the honor of letting me love you, for the rest of our lives?"

My hands were covering my mouth.  I had never thought I would be the girl to cry when being proposed to, but yet here I was: tears streaming down my face.  Aaron's eyes were soft and excited.  Expectant and nervous.  But mostly, full of adoration.

I lowered my hands.  "Yes, Aaron.  Yes!  One hundred thousand times yes.  I will choose you over and over every time!"

He took a thumb and wiped my cheek free of tears, then left his hand lingering and gently kissed me.  He picked the ring up from the box and shakily slipped it onto my left ring finger.  He pulled me up by both hands and wrapped his arms around my waist, easily lifting me from the ground, kissing me hard, smiling against my mouth.  When he set me down, we slowly remembered it wasn't just us in the world, and we heard people aww'ing and clapping.  He leaned down and kissed me again, linked fingers with mine and started leading me back from where we had come.

Then, as if he hadn't already won my heart, he secured it by taking me to Geja's CafĂ©: fondue.  A lot of people think fondue is cheesy (lol, pun intended) but I love it.  Because, food.

Once we were done eating, we Facetimed my parents, who apparently had been waiting for our call.  He knew I was old-fashioned and would've wanted him to ask my dad's blessing, which he did.

My mom cried.  My dad promised a celebratory dinner and drinks when we were back in Nebraska.

When we finally got back to his mom's house, it was dark outside.  When we walked in, they were all still up and waiting.  Apparently everyone knew what was going to happen.  There was champagne already poured in glasses.  There were congratulations all around.  Well, from everyone but Ilianna.  No surprise there.  She was present, but definitely not congratulatory.  Girl doesn't even know me.  *Sigh*

Anyhow, once we finally were settled into the room we were staying in, we collapsed into bed.  Aaron leaned his body over onto mine and gently kissed along my jaw line.  "I love you Aleah," he whispered between kisses.  "I really have no words for how happy I am."  More kisses.  "Today has, by far, been the second best day of my life."  He gently nibbled my ear.  "Only second to the day you agreed to go on a date with me, because without that day, this day wouldn't have been possible."

His lips made contact with mine, and we made out like it was the first time.  We had agreed to nothing heavy while in his mom's home.  We had one more night out here before we left.  Aaron had already told me he booked us a hotel in Chicago.  Originally, I thought it was because it would be closer since we were flying out O'Hare.

Now, I knew it was so we could have a whole night to ourselves in celebration.