Author’s note: I missed my own deadline on this story, but since it’s my own deadline you don’t need to hear my excuses. It was actually a good learning experience since this is the first writing project I’ve started and walked away from for awhile. Being able to return to it was good, since I’ve had this fear about returning to the YA novel after such a long hiatus. Amanda’s objects won and she’s going out of town this week, so I returned to the story yesterday with a new deadline of tonight. The story was half finished when I came back to it. Hope you enjoy.
Sparks from Amanda: Graduation gown, Las Vegas, wedding ring
‘Vegas’ – by Ro
We were a close knit group of kids when we left high school to pursue our dreams. For my twin brother Scott and his girlfriend Kim, the dream was to have a family which began with a small wedding, seemingly as the ink was drying on their diplomas and Kim was pregnant before we were twenty.
Kim’s best friend Nicole went off to college in Pennsylvania and I played college ball in our home state of Arizona. Nicole had always just been my nerdy friend, in my life because of Scott and Kim, that is until I became friends with her on Facebook. Something about watching her life through the ether made my view of her change. She was a go-getter, chasing her dreams with an intensity I admired. She was such a geek and so proud of it that she posted her achievements in her status updates and I found her pride endearing. I would comment with ridiculous statements about chemistry, which I knew nothing about and she reciprocated by telling me what I should have done with a play at short. The girl knew baseball. I looked forward to our online bantering and was surprised when I found myself feeling pangs of jealousy when her status changed to ‘in a relationship’, and relief when it reverted back to ‘single’.
I did my fair share of dating in college. Girls were drawn to the uniform but not necessarily me. I was signed to a minor league deal after my junior year and made my way to Las Vegas to start my minor league career.
That Christmas, we all got together back in Arizona and that was when Nicole and I moved from Facebook flirting to quickly falling in love. We knew a long distance relationship would be difficult but thanks to Facebook and Skype, we kept in touch easily. I was elated upon receiving the email from Facebook asking me to confirm that Nicole and I were in a relationship. That is how you go steady these days, you see.
When Nicole graduated from college the following spring, the four of us decided to celebrate in Las Vegas so Scot, Kim and Nicole could watch me play and we could spend time together before Nicole headed off to England to start her graduate work. It might sound crazy, but I decided to propose to her before she flew across the sea. I loved her; it just felt right.
I led Nicole onto the terrace of the quaint little restaurant the four of us dined in one night. She was completely surprised as I nervously popped the question and she threw her arms around me as she said yes. I was thrilled to know the wedding ring I had purchased to match the diamond solitaire would live on her finger someday.
Scott and Kim cheered when Nicole proudly showed them her left hand and Scott kidded us saying we should marry soon since we were in Vegas. I looked at Nicole and raised my eyebrows.
“I don’t have a dress,” she blurted, understanding the implication of the look.
“For two people so ideally suited, why wait?” Kim asked, giggling. We were all a little tipsy except for Kim, who was pregnant again. I had liquid courage.
“There’s a chapel next door,” I slurred. “I’ll be there in the morning. You think about it.” We all laughed and Nicole blushed, something I rarely see her do.
The next morning Scott pounded on the door of my apartment, waking me to remind me I had told Nicole I would meet her in the chapel.
“I did? Oh, I did,” I stammered groggily as I dropped onto the couch. “Do you think she’ll show?”
“Justin, if she does, and you’re not there, you’re an idiot,” Scott shouted, pulling me to my feet. Angry grumbles issued from my roommate’s room, cursing the noise at such an hour.
After I showered and dressed, Scott and I headed to the little chapel. My heart was pounding and my mouth dry, wondering if Nicole would be there. During the drive I kept thinking it was crazy; Nicole wouldn’t show. But what if she did? Were we ready for marriage?
When Scott and I arrived, Nicole wasn’t there. I wanted to turn and bolt but Scott wouldn’t allow it. I told the minister all about the previous night, explaining why we were there without a plan, giving him a chuckle.
“Son, nothing surprises me here,” he drawled.
“Justin?” came a voice from the doorway. I turned and saw Nicole standing there and I had to suppress a laugh. She was wearing her white graduation gown.
She approached me slowly, almost shyly. I grinned at her like a boy at his first baseball game as relief flooded through me. I reached out and tugged the sleeve of the gown and she blushed almost as crimson as her auburn curls.
“I don’t know why I threw it in my suitcase,” she said,pinching the fabric of the gown nervously. “Everything happened so fast after graduation, packing and hurrying to get to the airport, I just threw it in, it was the only thing I have here that is white,” she was speaking a million miles a minute, her nerves bubbling out into shaking syllables.
I bent and gently brushed my lips against hers. “You look beautiful,” I whispered, inhaling the sweet vanilla lingering on her skin. Her eyes were glistening as her smile reached them. “Marry me?” I asked stupidly.
“Yes,” she whispered.
We were apart a lot in the first years of our marriage, however we made it work. Nicole continued her education and I made the majors. Somehow we found the time to raise two amazing little girls. I’ve hit a lot of beautiful home runs in my career, but nothing looked so lovely as Nicole standing there in that silly graduation gown framed by the doorway of the little chapel, ready to become my wife.