"Can I look now?" Annie asks, giggling softly as I guide her up the stairs to the roof. "Eric, please?"

I grin, "Almost there," I reply, squeezing her hand gently. "Okay, stand still and don't peek until I say so."

She giggles again. I wave my hand in front of her face to be sure she is not peeking. I know she's not. I move quickly as I can, I move the chair away from the table I set up. I guide Annie to sit, grinning.

"Open your eyes," I tell her.

When she does, she gasps. Her hands cover her mouth as she looks at the candle-lit table before her. The flower vase with six red roses. The Chinese lanterns that took me forever to find and Jacks' help to hang. I requested my mother's help with the dinner before us. I pretty much blew a lot of my money on the roses, the candles and lanterns. Everything else is on lease. I don't care if I go broke. Annie is worth it.

"You did this for me?" Annie asks, blushing. "Eric, wha-"

"It had to be done," I reply, returning the smile as I walk towards the ice bucket. "I hope it's okay, but I got us some champagne."

"I would love some."

I pop the cork in the bottle and pour the golden liquid into two flute glasses. Annie is beaming when I bring her a glass. I kiss her cheek.

"You put a lot of thought into this," she says, biting her lip before sipping the champagne. "Wow, this tastes amazing."

"I don't intend on getting you drunk," I warn her, taking my seat across the table. "I just know that a glass of bubbles helps my parents relax when they need it. We're here to relax and have a good time."

Annie's smile grows brighter, if that is even possible, as she raises her glass to touch mine. We talk and laugh about random topics. After what has been a rough couple of days, Annie is more herself again. She's smiling and all bubbly. We have a week of no classes. Something about faculty needing to regroup or whatnot. Whatever the case, I'm grateful for the free time.

"I love seeing you smile," I say, leaning forward. "Your million dollar smile."

"I honestly don't know how I will ever thank you for this," Annie says, shaking her head. "For everything."

"Hey, none of that right now, okay? I'm not saying we ignore it, I just want to keep that smile on your face a while longer."

Her smile grows soft as she nods.

"Dessert?" I ask, hoping to bring back the happy mood.

"Sure," Annie replies, nodding as her bright smile returns. But it's forced.

I smile back, pretending not to notice the change. I'm starting to learn that unless it is completely necessary, I shouldn't it up. I'm also starting to learn that Annie is my forever, whether we have the time or not. I borrowed one of my mom's old books to read with Annie last night. I might have misjudged the plot, because the girlfriend of the main character dies right when their relationship was taking off. But both Annie and I agreed it was good story. She said the main characters were just like us, and that she would visit me in my dreams just as the girl in the book did. But the guy had married, had a family, without ever loving his wife the way he loved the girl. I could never do that. That is unfair to the spouse.

I mean, it is true that no one ever loves someone in the same way they loved someone else. I should know. I've never felt what I'm feeling for Annie towards anyone else; towards Karissa.

"Annie," I say as I bring her a piece of chocolate cheesecake. "What we have is gold, you know?"

"The cheesecake?" she asks with a teasing smile.

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