You know I’d fall apart without you
I don’t know how you do what you do
‘Cause everything that don’t make sense about me
It makes sense when I’m with you
Like everything that’s green, girl I need you
But it’s more than one and one makes two
So put aside the math and the logic of it
You gotta know you’re wanted too
I wanna wrap you up
Wanna kiss your lips
I wanna make you feel wanted
I wanna call you mine
Wanna hold your hand forever
And never let you forget it
Yeah I, wanna make you feel wanted
Anyone can tell you you’re pretty
And you get that all the time, I know you do
But your beauty’s deeper than the makeup
And I wanna show you what I see tonight
When I wrap you up
When I kiss your lips
I wanna make you feel wanted
I wanna call you mine
Wanna hold your hand forever
And never let you forget it
‘Cause Baby I, wanna make you feel wanted
As good as you make me feel
I wanna make you feel better
Better than your fairy tales
Better than your best dreams
You’re more than everything I need
You’re all I ever wanted
All I ever wanted
And I just wanna wrap you up
Wanna kiss your lips
I wanna make you feel wanted
and I wanna call you mine
Wanna hold your hand forever
And Never let you forget it
Yeah I, wanna make you feel wanted
Baby I, wanna make you feel wanted
‘Cause you’ll always be wanted
Wanted – Hunter Hayes
I hate flying, but I love arriving. Except in this case. Right now I feel as though there is the combination of a herd of buffalo in my stomach and a thousand tonne weight crashing down on my chest. I have never felt so nervous and out of my depth.
Christian and I have hatched this plan so that I can finally propose to Kate properly. And now I feel like a complete tool for thinking that I could ever pull off anything truly romantic. Of course, it was all meant to go down in Seattle at Mom and Dad’s place but then Christian decides last minute that we all have to go to Aspen as a surprise for Ana since she seems to be missing her friends but the sudden change of venue has thrown me for a loop.
Kate is excited to be going but pissed at me because I am acting like a douche bag and she is right. I am. I already made a big deal about Christian carrying Ana off to the bedroom when they boarded. When the plane levels out at 35,000 feet Kate reaches for my hand and I can’t let her touch me because my palms are sweaty and revolting. She is going to know something is up. Instead I all but lunge at the tray of champagne that the stewardess, Natalia, is handing out and almost upend it in Christian’s lap. He scowls at me in the same way he does when I throw out stupid comments full of innuendo at Ana. I have got to calm the fuck down.
So far Kate has done a good job of grilling Ana about Hyde as though she doesn’t know anything about him although I get seriously pissed when Christian tells her that their conversation is off the record. Ana seems to think that Hyde might be working with Elena which would not surprise me. Stupidly I tease Christian about marrying his first girlfriend and Kate whacks me so hard on the thigh that I’m sure my jeans have left an imprint on my skin.
For some reason that I don’t have the head space to analyze Mia is pissed at being here. She and Ethan are driving each other crazy, they don’t seem to be able to decide if they are on or off, together or not, yet at every function for the past two months they have accompanied each other. It’s just fucking bizarre and I would love it to stop. Hopefully Christian will have a word with one of them over this weekend and tell them to get their fucking act together. Nobody particularly cares. If they stay together, if they break up, it doesn’t matter now, regardless of all of that they are about to become each other’s family. Deal and move on.
Choosing the ring was the easy part of this exercise. I had a particular design in mind and I took it into a local artist to have it made. Only I have had a prick of a time getting a ring size from Kate. I had to a)work out which rings she wore on which fingers and b)lift a piece of her treasured jewelery to send the ring off to be resized. This left me no time to pick the damn thing up so I have done the unthinkable. I called the one person who I could rely on and roped Gia in to help. Kate would lynch me, quite rightly, if she knew but Gia was going to Aspen this weekend anyway. I knew this because we had been in meetings together all week and she mentioned needing to take a few days off to visit her property. Since her Dad died last year, Gia inherited the Aspen house but she had not had an opportunity to get there and check on it since the funeral. When I called and explained my problem she offered to pick the ring up and she is flying into Aspen later today.
We land around midday and Taylor loads us into a minivan to drive to the house. Christian is being sickeningly sweet with Ana which seems like a joke given how pissed he was after cocktailgate. He tried calling me to yell at me for Kate and Ana going out for a night which lasted about two minutes before I told him to fuck off. Now he is all but molesting her at every moment which Mia snarls about for reasons unknown. Seems our boy Ethan doesn’t do public displays of affection.
I’m proud of Christian’s house. It was the first project that Gia and I worked on it was very much a shared design concept. I wasn’t brave enough to give her my complete vision so there are things I would love to talk Christian into doing that never made that first reno. When we arrive I hang back with Jason to get the luggage.
“So does Kate know that Gia has a place here.” Jason, ever the soul of discretion keeps his voice low as we pile the bags up outside the van.
“No, and I would rather we kept it that way for a while.” Gia and I met here as teenagers, our families spending time every winter skiing the slopes both here and at Steamboat Springs. Given that I have to find a way to meet Gia in town later to get the ring, not telling Kate is more like an exercise in self preservation. She will tear me a new asshole if she thinks Gia has helped with this proposal.
It seems that everyone has a plan to go hiking this afternoon which is going to seriously stuff up my plans. I look up at the sky before picking up the bags and practically will the skies to open up. Half an hour later they do and I develop a sudden belief in God. Kate is disappointed but I can’t quite hide my relief and that pisses her off even more. I will be lucky if she is even talking to me this evening, let alone answering my big question with a yes.
Luckily Mia suggests the girls go shopping in town and Christian and Ethan go fishing. That leaves me free to go and meet up with Gia. I text her to meet me at the jeweler. Just in case I get caught I want to be in the right vicinity to say “surprise!” knowing damn well that Kate will probably spear me with a stiletto through the temple. It can’t go wrong, I won’t let it, I won’t ever get this chance again. Fuck, I’m nervous. For weeks she has been telling me that she would say yes and suddenly all I can hear in my head is a resounding ‘No!’
When the coast is clear I take Christian’s Audi and drive into town, hoping like hell that the girls are further down the main street. Rushing into the shop I feel relief when I see Gia standing there. Gia is really a class act when she isn’t being a manipulative bitch. I guess growing up with money will do that to a girl although it doesn’t seem to have tainted Kate or Mia. I hope that one day she finds what she is looking for.
“Hey, Elliot. You made it.” She smiles, grabs my forearms and air kisses me.
“Gia, thank God. How was your flight? Do you have it? Is it the right size? Were there any problems?” She starts laughing at me and the store owner joins in with a quiet chuckle before schooling his face into something more professional.
“Calm down.” She smiles wider holding out her hand. I look at the box and I am almost afraid to touch it. Fuck, what if it is the wrong size or the wrong design? What if she hates it? Or says no? “Here.”
Gia takes my hand and leads me over to the glass counter where the jeweler has a red felt cloth laid out. She smiles at the store owner again who seems to know what is happening which is great because I really don’t want to have to pay for this ring again. Not that Kate isn’t worth it but even she would balk at the price.
The jeweler takes out a cloth and then removes the ring from the box, giving it a quick polish before laying it down on the red material. He then takes out the ring sizer and measures it for me putting my and ease that it is the right size.
“It is beautiful and classic just like Kate.” Gia murmurs beside me. All I can do is nod. God, this is it. She has to love it, she has to love me.
“You say that as though you like her.” I haven’t taken my eyes off the ring. I am almost afraid that if I do it will disappear.
“Funnily enough I don’t hate her. And I like what she does to you. You seem happy, settled. Not the vacuous blond that I’ve always known.”
“Vacuous blond?” This time I do turn to look at her and for the life of me I can’t imagine what had us each other’s throats a few weeks ago. She has gone from being a friend with benefits to simply being a friend. Her giggle reminds of me Kate. I know that it will take a miracle for Kate and Gia to like each other which is kind of sad because I know that through all those insecurities Gia can be a great person. But when it comes down to my heart there is no contest and if that means that I have to cut ties with Gia, then that is what I will do. I might have needed Gia this weekend, but I can’t lose Kate.
“Kate is my life, you know.” I turn serious and she steps over to the counter to take the box from the jeweler who has repackaged everything for me.
“I know.” There is a moment when I look in her eyes that we both understand that our business relationship might survive but our friendship is over and this is the last favor I will ever be able to ask of her.
When we get out the front of the shop I can’t help but pull her into a hug. If we have to end our friendship it is good that it ends here in the place where it all began.
“Good luck, Elliot.”
“Thanks. And thanks for being there for me.”
“Yeah, well that was the old me,” she laughs, and there is no malice in it. She turns and walks away down the street. Without watching her, I move quickly to the car and race back to the house. If I am going to get my head together then I might need a little space.
When the girls arrive back at the house I sneak outside. I figure some fresh air will do my head good so I take advantage of a break in the weather to wander one of the tracks into the hills behind the house. The air out here is refreshing, crisp and I breath deep into my lungs then picking up a stick, I start beating the grass as I rehearse what I am going to say to Kate.
I am on my third time through my little speech when I notice a movement to my left a little further up the track. Standing there staring at me is a goat. I look around a bit to see where it might have come from but there are no animals around here. Then I notice that it has a collar on and is dragging a rusty metal chain behind it. The chain is about 15 feet long and doesn’t appear to be attached to anything at the other end. It seems that this particular goat might have been chained in back of one of the local properties, probably to keep the grass around the house down while the owners are in off season and the house empty. Now that I think of it there is a structure that looks like a dog kennel further back at the base of this track so it might even be Christian’s goat.
As calmly as possible I start to approach the goat to lead it back down to the shelter but as soon as I move its head goes down. Seems that this particular goat might have a problem with authority. I step back, holding the stick out in front of me for protection and the goat bleets. I step to my left to start circling and the goat moves with me. When I stop moving it strikes the ground with its hoof. I drop the stick and we both freeze.
“Mmm… seems to me that we are having a Mehican standoff, eh Jose?” I’ve gone into my worst impression of spaghetti western, which I know the real Jose would kick my ass for. And fuck me, if I’m not up a fucking mountain talking to a fucking goat. “Are we going to have a proper negotiation here or are you going to wind up in a goat curry tonight. It is your choice, Senor.”
The goat breaths heavily and strikes the ground again. I try moving towards it and it back further up the path. We haven’t taken our eyes off each other. I lunge for the chain but Jose the goat lowers his head and starts towards me. I quickly bend over to pick up the chain and he freezes.
“You have been outsmarted once again, my little friend.” I have the end of the chain in my hand and I begin to wind him in but when I get down to the last six feet of chain held taut between us and tug he refuses to budge. He digs his little trotters into the soft earth and will not move. Looking around desperately I see the stick on the ground a couple of feet away from me. Letting out the chain a bit I turn around to pick up the stick when Jose charges in and head butts me in the ass, knocking me to my knees.
“Motherfucking bumfucking sonofawhore cockadoody goat! That fucking hurt Jose, you little shit!” I roar not caring that my voice is probably carrying over the valley towards the house. “You fucking touch my ass again and I’ll poison your water, you gay little fucker.”
Jose bleats at me and then calmly starts walking down the track away from me. Still carrying the chain and rubbing my throbbing butt cheek, I follow him down. The stupidity of the whole hits me and I start whistling the Lonely Goatherd as we head down the hill. The little fucker just wanted me to get off his fucking track. He wanders calmly towards his water trough and makes himself at home on a grassy knoll. I reconnect the chain and make sure it is secure.
“Let that be a lesson to you Jose. Don’t mess with me next time.” Jose bleats in a way that says ‘fuck off, Elliot’ and I laugh as I head back to the house.
As I approach the house my nerves set in and I know I can’t face Kate. I feel guilty about Gia, I feel nervous about tonight, I’m a fucking emotional wreck and she is going to know the moment she sees me. I need to hide so I go into the garage to cut wood. A little while later, just when I am thinking of taking one of the trail bikes out, Ana comes out and finds me there.
“You ride?” She is staring at the bikes with something like longing.
She whirls around, “You’re back.”
“It would appear so.” I try to plaster a smile across my face but she doesn’t look convinced. In fact, I would swear that she is pissed at me. “Well?”
“Sort of.” Her voice is like ice. Fuck. She has spent all afternoon with Kate, doing girlie things and talking girlie talk which can only mean that Kate has unloaded some shit on her that has her believing I am sort of lousy shmuck.
“Do you want to go?” If ever I needed time alone with Kate’s bff, now might be it. I need to know what she is angry about. And if not, I need to show her that I am a nice guy.
“Um, no…I don’t think Christian would be very happy if I did.” She’s stalling.
“Christian’s not here.” I know I’m smirking but I’m hoping it looks bad boy enough that she will want to play hooky. Grabbing one of the bikes I throw my leg over and look at her expectantly.
I almost have her convinced that she should take the risk when Kate comes out to the garage.
“There you are. Oh, Elliot – you’re back.” She looks like she has been crying. Fuck, leaving her with Ana wasn’t such a bright idea. All I have is the old Elliot charm to turn this situation around and right now it between my nerves and a chance encounter with a randy ass-butting goat, I don’t think it is working for me.
“Hey, baby.” I smile as broadly as I can trying to look smooth but inside my fucking heart is beating a million beats per minute.
“Catch anything?” I try not frown as she says this. She knew I wasn’t going fishing.
“No. I had a few things to take care of in town.” Jesus, she knows. I am sure she knows. I am so fucking screwed.
“I came out out see what was keeping Ana.”
“We were just shooting the breeze.” Shit, you can cut the tension with a knife. Thankfully Christian and Ethan choose that moment to arrive back which gives me the chance to do what I do best. Take the piss out of my brother and divert attention from the fact that the woman I love most in the world might want to castrate me. When she storms off into the house in a huff I can’t help it. I race after her.
“Baby, please. Stop.” I finally catch her arm and swing her around outside our bedroom.
“Just fuck off, Elliot. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with you but you can leave me alone until you get your shit together.” She wipes an angry tear and then slams the bedroom door in my face. With all this fucking excess energy to burn I storm back out to the garage, past everyone, grab the trail bike and take off across the paddock towards the river. The wind in my hair feels good and the speed takes care of the adrenalin.
After half an hour of racing around pointlessly churning up mud I stop the bike. Dismounting on the side of the river I start skimming stones across the water. A few minutes later I hear the sound of another bike and Ethan rides up to join me. He stands his bike next to mine and without saying anything starts to pick up pebbles and throw.
“You need to talk?” He gets the question out between throws. The kid is pretty damn good at this. I watch one of his rocks glide and bouncy four times across the water.
“Not much.” I shrug, wiping my hands I sit down on a flat rock and watch him work. Outperformed yet again. I have got to stop feeling fucking sorry for myself.
“So I take it you are going to propose to my sister this weekend.” Fuck me, and outsmarted. “Don’t worry. Dad told me.”
Shit, I had the discussion with Sam and Julie a few weeks back. I needed Julie’s advice on who to get to make the ring and I thought I should let them know that we were finally at that point. Of course, they were meant to be present when it happened but Christian’s change of plans thwarted that.
“No fucking secrets around here.”
“No. You know you need to calm down, man. She is going to say yes.”
“How do you know?” Just because she has pretty much told me so for weeks now doesn’t mean that she can’t be a woman and change her mind. Especially if she is monumentally pissed at me.”
“Look, if you just stop acting so fucking weird it will be alright. My sister loves you. And you love her. I of course think you’re nuts but you know, it’s your funeral. But if you keep acting like such a fucking douche she’s going to stab you in the nuts before she admits she can’t live without you.”
“Such wisdom from one so young and yet you don’t seem to be scoring points with my sister.” Turning the tables on him seems like a good bet right now. I don’t like the way he can psychoanalyze me so well sometimes. It’s like he has a fucking sixth sense about everyone.
“Yeah, well, scoring points isn’t my problem with Mia. Somehow that one was never the issue.” Seems like a bat shit crazy thing to say but I let it slide.
“Just go for it man. You’re a nice guy and she really likes you. I don’t see what your problem is unless you aren’t into her. Is that it? Do you feel like you have to date her because of my and Kate? Cos you know you don’t have to, I can have a word with her, get her to back off.”
“Things with Mia are not that simple. We have a complex relationship and some of that is about you and Kate but mostly it is just us. But don’t worry, we will sort it out and I promise it won’t get weird, well not too weird. No matter what happens.”
“Could you be any more fucking cryptic?” He chuckles.
“Let’s just get you and my lunatic sister hitched first. Then worry about me and Mia. I’ll race you back to the house.”
A few hours later I get to go into the bedroom and dress for the evening when Kate goes off to Ana’s room to help her with her makeup. Dinner feels like a disaster about to happen. I can’t keep calm, I talk too loud, make the worst jokes in my fucking life and Christian keeps putting the boot in under the table reminding me that I am being a fucking idiot.
In the five minutes that I got to talk with Christian we decide that the restaurant is the best place for me to ask her. I know traditionally a proposal should be between the happy couple alone but it just feels like we have danced around this for so long and I want her to hear me do this in front of everyone. So there is no mistaking my intent. I don’t want her to think there is any opportunity for me to take it back.
Out of the corner of my eye I see Gia walk in to the restaurant. She sends a sad smile my way then moves to her table. I kind of knew that she wanted to see this with her own eyes. The fall of the great Elliot Grey, the last bastion of my prolific bachelorhood. I guess in some ways I am glad she is here because I want Kate to know that Gia has seen this. That it is over, forever.
Abruptly I stand up and drop down on my knee beside her. The movement is so sudden that I almost dislocate my own knee which is still sore from the goat incident but I’m running on pure adrenalin now. Ethan laughs and I resist the urge to tell him to fuck off. Instead I turn all my attention on Kate who is staring at me in shock as complete hush falls across the previously noisy restaurant. Oh well, I wanted an audience.
I reach for her hand. “My beautiful Kate, I love you. Your grace, your beauty, and your fiery spirit have no equal, and you have captured my heart. Spend your life with me. Marry me.”
Mia gasps but in a kind of fake, ‘I am acting so surprised’ way which means that Ethan didn’t keep this from her. The only person who seems completely surprised is Ana. Kate makes me wait. She looks shocked at first then I see when she takes it in and there is that moment of fear as well. I know she’s scared, and it isn’t about us. It is about kids and what it might mean if she never changes her mind about having them. There is probably a small seed of doubt that we might not stay together without a family but she is my family now. She is all I need. All I will ever need. I try hard to communicate all of that to her with my eyes. Tears start to roll down her cheeks and she is with me.
“Yes,” she whispers in that way that only my Katie can. The applause starts to ripple around the room and Ana and Mia are both crying. I pull the ring out of my pocket and open the box. She takes one look at it and I know she loves it. She throws her arms around me and plants her lips on mine in a chaste kiss. To appease the audience I stand and take a bow then sit and slide the ring on her finger. Thank God it fits perfectly and when I lean in for another kiss it is with this amazing sense of relief and rightness.
“I love you, Kitten. And none of the other stuff matters. I want you. I will always want you.” I whisper in her ear. She nuzzles my neck before looking up at me through her tears.
“I love you too, Elliot. Always.”