Chapter 30

JULIE

I'd gotten on the freeway and was trying to get out of town. All I wanted to do was drive away. Drive out of this town. Run away to anywhere but here. I didn't want to think about what I'd just seen. How could Peter do that? And he thought he could solve it all with a marriage proposal?

"He did what?" Mark's voice on the phone was disbelief. I was talking to him through my car phone connection while driving.

"I don't know what to think of his marriage proposal Mark. I just caught him kissing Jessica."

"Maybe you should call his bluff. Marry him. See if he'll really go through with it."

"What do you mean?"

There was a pause before Mark answered. "See if he'll take you to Vegas. If he's serious about getting married, he can fly you to Vegas, baby." He drew out the "baby" at the end. 

I chuckled. It felt weird to laugh, like all my emotions were tied in knots. I thought for a moment before answering. "Vegas? You think that's the answer."

He took a deep breath before speaking. "If he is sincere, he won't care about the when. He'll marry you now." He paused again. "It's the only way to know for sure. If he really loves you, he'll marry you under the circumstances you want."

"I didn't think he'd ask me like this." I couldn't help but laugh again. "But I have always dreamed about an Elvis wedding." It was a childhood secret. I always imagined myself walking down the aisle with Elvis singing. "I guess, if he's real about this, he'd do that, wouldn't he?"

"The only way to know is to ask him."

Mark's statement hung in the air. He interrupted the silence by asking, "You there?"

"Yes. I guess there is only one thing to do. Turn around and go back."

"That's my girl."

I changed lanes so I could take the next exit off the freeway. Then, asked him, "Are you still in New York?"

"Yes. I finalized all the fundraiser items. Go talk to your man, and call me back. I'll help with what ever you need. Plus, you owe me all the details after. Promise?"

"Yes." I took the next exit on the freeway. "I'll call you back later." I hung up, looking around how to double back on the freeway. Once I got turned around,  I punched in Peter's phone number.

I heard it ring and heard him pick up. "Hello?"

"Peter, we've got to talk. Where can I meet you?"

"Where are you?" His voice was filled with concern.

"On the freeway heading back to town." My stomach grumbled reminding me that I hadn't eaten. It gave me an idea. "I can meet you at the little Italian restaurant downtown. Probably in twenty minutes."

"I'll be there." I hung up before I could change my mind. My brain was spinning. What did I really want? I thought of him during the funeral. His vulnerable face flashed in my mind when he threw the flower into his father's grave. The commanding look when he addressed everyone at the fundraiser came next. Was he my future? My husband? The man I would bear children for? I tried to imagine what it would be like without him. That did it. I couldn't.

***

PETER

I saw her walk into the restaurant. I had the owner seat me at the same table where we had our first date. I was hoping this would remind Julie we were good together. I watched her slide into the booth across from me. I longed to touch her, reach for her hand. But I held off. I wasn't sure how upset she was from what Jessica had done.

I couldn't help but ask, "Have you decided?"

She licked her lips before answering. "I'm still thinking about what you said." She reached for the water glass and took a drink. "I need to know you're serious about this."

I folded my hands and leaned forward. "Yes. I am. What do I have to do to show you?"

"Take me to Vegas. Marry me there."

I leaned back. I was a little taken aback. "That soon."

I saw her eyes narrow, and that's when I realized it was a test. "Yes. Tomorrow. Marry me in Vegas, and I'll know it's not a way to get you out of trouble from being with Jessica."

"I wasn't with Jessica." I felt irritated she thought that of me. "She came onto me Julie. I was trying to stop her."

"Ok. I want us to trust each other. I'll forgive you if you marry me tomorrow."

This time, I couldn't keep from touching her. I reached across the table for her hand. "marry you tomorrow, if that's what it takes for you to believe I love you. I don't want anyone else."

She broke into a smile. "Tomorrow then." She grabbed my hand tighter.

I laughed, feeling a warmth spread through me. "I guess this calls for a celebration." I waved the waiter over. "Your best bottle of wine. We're celebrating."

"What are you celebrating, Mr. Mason?" The waiter looked from me to Julie.

She answered, "We're getting married tomorrow."

The waiter clapped his hands. "That's wonderful. Then, I'll bring you our best bottle, on the house. Consider it a wedding present for you both."

He rushed away as I grabbed Julie's other hand. "You've made me very happy. I've wanted you to become my permanent assistant for awhile."

"Do I get a raise?" She gushed with enthusiasm.

"You get me." I winked at her.

"That's the best promotion I can think of."

The waiter brought us the bottle and two glasses. He clinked them down, and uncorked the bottle. I took a glass of the champagne, and let the fizz tickle my lip. We wrapped our arms around each other drinking from each other's glasses. "To us."

"To us." Her eyes told me that this was the right move. Tomorrow, she would be my wife.

***End of Part 30***

So, there is just one more chapter left for this longer version. Let me know how I'm doing in the comments below. All feedback is welcome. It's been great adding to this story and bringing out more from the characters. I figured they have more to give. Felt good working on this story some more. Thanks everyone for your support!

-Marilyn

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