Read Part 2 HERE
Bailey looks in her mirror for the hundredth time, examining her outfit, fixing and primping herself.
Keegan stands by the door watching her, with a grin.
“You look amazing. Can we go already?”
Bailey looks up startled.
“Ugh, yes. I’ve basically tried on everything in my closet. Let me just grab my purse.”
Bailey and Keegan walk downstairs where her mom and dad are loading peach cobblers into a big box.
Bailey inhales deeply.
“It’s officially carnival season. I cannot wait to have a piece of your cobbler, mom!”
Her mom smiles and she hands her dad the box, as he takes it to the wagon outside.
“You girls can go on ahead, I know you don’t want your parents messing up your night.”
Keegan and Bailey exchange looks and laughs.
“Mom, it’s ok, we can wait. I haven’t been home in months, it’ll be nice for all of us to walk over together.”
“Hunny it’s ok really, dad and I have to set the booth up anyway.”
“You don’t want any help with that?” Keegan asks.
“We’ve got it covered, go!”
“Ok!” Keegan says grabbing Bailey’s hand and rushing toward the door.
“Wha- Keeg!” Bailey says looking back at her mom.
“Shhh. The quicker we get out, the longer you’ll have to spend with Cow boy Romeo.”
“Ah. I like the way you think.”
“It’s all up here. Master plans.” She says pointing to her head.
They walk along the dusty road, as the town fills with folks on their way to the carnival.
“See ya out there dad.” Keegan says linking her arm with Bailey.
“Do you really think I look ok, should I go change,” Bailey says tugging once again at her daisy dukes.
“Oh please, you’re a walking dukes or hazard fantasy. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t pass out.”
“But do I look slutty?”
Keegan gives Bailey a look.
“Are you kidding me, we all wear denim shorts in the summer, besides pretty sure those are mine. So if you’re a slut so am I,” she laughs.
“I’m kidding! You look great. Dad wouldn’t have let us out of the house if we looked…inappropriate.”
“Yea you’re probably right.”
“I am right,” she says smiling as they reach the town square.
Bailey looks around trying to spot Jimmy.
The smell of BBQ and Everdale’s Famous Sweet Cherry Pie waft through the air.
Red and Pink tents fill the scene. Hearts and roses dawn each booth.
Old Donny Fonny in a cupid costume. What a sight.
And carnival rides and games fill each free space.
Young girls in flowy skirts or sundresses paired with cowgirl boots lace arms with boys in cowboy hats and blue jeans.
“So, any sightings yet?”
“No. I guess we should have been a bit more specific.”
“Well don’t worry, you’ll find him. If you need me, I will be flirting with Hester- the Ferris Wheel guy.”
“Ohhhh?” Bailey says questioningly.
“Yea. It’s a thing. We’re in the earlier stages, but I think he’s secretly in love with me,” she says flipping her hair and walking off.
Bailey watches with a laugh.
“Damn country girl, Jessica Simpson ain’t got nothing on you.”
Bailey smiles to herself, turning around she’s greeted by his bright smile and sparkling eyes.
“Do you approve?”
“Sure. But I gotta think that if I’m thinking some not so pure thoughts right about now, some other guys may be doing the same.”
“Well lucky for you, I hadn’t noticed. You being the only one I have eyes for and all.”
She wraps her arms around his neck as he pulls her in by the waist, they fall into a kiss.
Jimmy pulls away and looks down at her.
“Come with me,” he says pulling her by the hand and walking out of the town square.
“What-where are we going? The carnival is this way, baby.” She says pointing in the opposite direction.
Jimmy stops and kisses her again, this time quickly.
“Just, trust me.”
“Ok. Fine. By we better be back-”
“Don’t worry, I’ll get you back in time for the fireworks,” Jimmy says smiling at her.
“You know me so well,” she teases.
Jimmy smirks and leads her toward the end of the road.
After a few minutes of walking, they reach their destination.
Bailey stops and looks at him; “The high school. Why are we back here?”
“Just trust me,” Jimmy says leading her toward the side doors, he pushes them open, pulling her inside.
“Oh my gosh, what are you doing? You’re going to get us into trouble.”
“Have you ever not been safe with me?”
Bailey looks at him with a soft smile and pulls him to her initiating another kiss.
Jimmy’s hands wrap around her pulling her closer to him, as a smile plays on his lips.
Bailey’s arms wrap around his neck as Jimmy leans her up against a nearby wall of lockers.
Bailey pulls away.
“Is this why you brought me here?” she says flirtatiously.
“No. But it’s definitely a bonus,” he smirks taking her hand and walking her down the hall.
They walk into the gym and Jimmy looks at her, he sits on one of the benches of the bleachers. The bench.
Bailey’s whole body stiffens as she uncomfortably looks away.
Jimmy looks down at the bleacher, and pats the seat next to him with his hand.
“Will you sit down, please?” he says his voice a pleading whisper.
“Why? So we could ruin a perfectly good reunion by hashing up the most painful moment of my life.”
“I thought it was what you needed. I thought in some way it was what you wanted. That maybe you were trying to spare my feelings, by not ending things yourself. I’m sorry. If I could take it back I would. I’ve come here so many times since you’ve been gone, since we’ve been apart, replaying that moment in my mind over and over again. Just wanting to change it, wanting to fix it. Now that your here I think we have a chance to rewrite history. A chance to give this bench a new memory, a happy memory. So please… sit down.”
He reaches for her hand and she looks at him. Their spark is undeniable. She never could fight with him for very long. Him and his damn blue eyes.
Bailey sighs and sits next to him. Her body still stiff and tense.
Jimmy turns to her and she follows suit. He grabs one of her hands in his, bringing it to his lips, he kisses it. As he places his other hand on her thigh, rubbing it, trying to calm her obvious nerves.
She inhales deeply and lets out a sigh, looking up at him.
“Jimmy, I love you. I love your mind and your heart. And I know that you were trying to do what you thought was best. But it wasn’t best. Not for you, and not for me. You didn’t let me choose, you just assumed that I wouldn’t make room for you- the man I am madly in love with-in my new life. So if we are looking to move forward, I need you to promise me that you will never do that to me again.”
Jimmy looks at her, and cupping her face he leans in and whispers, “I promise,” followed by a soft kiss planted on her lips.
“There’s a lot to figure out though, I mean I’m home for the summer, but in the fall, I will be back in New York.”
“Do you think we could make long distance work?”
“You know it’s funny you should ask that. On the subject of me promising you things, I actually have something to add to your list.”
“Do you?” Bailey says looking at her with a puzzled face.
“Ok. What is it?”
“I love you Bailey. I have loved you ever since that very first day we met in pre-k and you lent me your glue stick. It was kind of a sign, huh? That somehow you’d always stick with me.”
Bailey lets out a small giggle.
“And I know that I just may have lost some cool points by saying that, but it’s the truth. Your eyes and your face and your body have been burned in my brain. I have never not been in love with you. I have never let a day go by these past few months without thinking about you, or wanting to call you and hear your voice. And I know you have big dreams and we got a lot to figure out, but I just thought that you know people go their whole lives searching for what we got. Searching for someone to love. Well lucky me, I found my one and only when I was about 3. And I can’t be foolish with you again, I can’t let you go. So I just thought that maybe we could figure the future out together.”
He takes Bailey’s hand and stands up in front of her.
“Jimmy- what are on earth are you doing?”
He kneels down on one knee and reaches for the tiny box in his jean pocket.
“Bailey Ray, will you marry me?”
Bailey stares at him, frozen in time.
“Bailey, baby, did you hear me?”
“What?” she says in a daze, her hands shaking.
“Well I- I just asked you to marry me, in case you missed it,” he laughs nervously.
“Jimmy, I don’t know what to say. I’m just so taken back.” She says grabbing her chest.
Fireworks boom outside, as Bailey’s eyes look in the direction of the gym windows.
Jimmy follows her gaze, he looks down at the ring and closes the box, standing up he puts the box back in his pocket.
“Come on, let’s get you outside for the firework show,” he says reaching for her hand.
She snaps back to reality and stands up, following his lead. The looks of sadness and confusion shown on each of their faces.
They emerge from the side entrance of the school and start their walk back up the road towards the town square.
The pair continue to hold hands, but the silence between them is deafening.
Bailey’s stomach is in knots, this isn’t how this moment was supposed to go for them.
She holts and Jimmy looks back at her.
As town goers pass by heading into the town square. Some grabbing their goodies from the carnival booths.
The fire work display is lighting up the sky with all colors of the rainbow and little kids and adults “ooh and ah.”
“Can we talk about what just happened?” she says.
“You said no,” he whispers sounding defeated.
“I didn’t say no. I didn’t even get to give you an answer.”
“Well…I gotta be honest Bailey it wasn’t looking good.”
“And here comes the part of the story where you just write your own ending. It must be exhausting always knowing what other people are thinking or going to do or say. I mean how can you ever hear yourself think?”
“You’re mad? At me. For asking you to MARRY me?”
“No. I’m annoyed that you just don’t give me a minute to just be. You know me, you know that I’m not a hasty person. I never have been. My not giving you an answer was just me being surprised and in awe of a beautiful man kneeling down on one knee holding that beautiful ring.”
“Really? You weren’t internally freaking out?”
“Ok maybe slightly. But any 18 year old girl, in my position would. It’s just that I’m still trying to find myself. Trying to figure out who I’m going to be and what I want to do with my life. College is a start sure, but it’s a long road. I have no doubt that I love you. And I know for sure that I want you in my life in a big way. Marrying you is definitely on my to do list, but we’re so young. Does it have to be right now? Can I say yes and wear your ring but can we hold off on the wedding planning? Is that ok? Is that something you’d be willing to do?”
Jimmy looks up at her. He sighs of relief.
“That’s more than ok. It’ll give me time to save up for our wedding. I’m sure that’ll take a while anyway,” he laughs.
Bailey looks up at him, her eyes sparkling.
“So…You’re saying yes?”
Bailey shrugs her shoulders and a sweet smile plays on her lips.
Jimmy smiles brightly as he reaches for the box in his pocket.
“Wait! Pause.” Bailey says throwing up her hands.
Jimmy looks on confused.
Bailey smirks and grabs his hand pulling him back toward the school.
As their walking turns into sprinting, Bailey pushes through the doors and makes her way into the gym. She sits on the bench and looks up and him.
Jimmy smiles down at her and laughs.
“Hey you wanted to rewrite history, so that’s what we are going to do.”
Jimmy smiles and knees down on one knee, taking her hand.
“Will you marry me?” he asks staring up into her eyes.
“Yes,” she says as he slides the ring on her finger, “Ah!” she gasps.
Standing up, they meet in a kiss, as he lifts her in his arms and spins her around.
-A Few Months Later, The End of Summer-
Bailey is in her room packing up her suitcase.
She pauses and looks at her ring, she smiles as she looks at the picture of she and Jimmy from their high school graduation sitting on her night stand. She picks it up and places it in her suitcase.
“Hey, you ready, he’s outside.” Keegan says standing in the doorway.
Bailey scans her room, she closes her suitcase and zippers it.
Bailey’s dad grabs her suitcase and heads outside as her mom gives her a cooler packed with homemade goodies.
Bailey walks outside to find Jimmy leaning against his pickup, packed with all his stuff and her stuff.
“Hey you,” he says.
Bailey hands the cooler off to her dad, who places it in the trunk as she rushes into Jimmy’s arms, hugging him tightly.
“You about ready?” he asks.
“Yea. Are you?”
Jimmy nods with a big smile.
Bailey and Jimmy turn toward their families and town friends. They all hug and say their goodbyes and give their well wishes.
Keegan and Hester-the Ferris Wheel guy hold hands as Jimmy and Bailey pile into the pickup.
“Bye!” everyone shouts.
“Bye!” Jimmy and Bailey shout in unison as they wave, Jimmy starts the truck and they set off onto the road.
“Be careful, drive safe,” Bailey hears her mom say.
“Call us when you get there,” her dad says.
“Let me know when you decide to start wedding planning!” Keegan yells.
Jimmy and Bailey look over at each other and share a laugh.
“There’s a big world out there, there’s more than you think. We’ve lived here our whole lives and it’ll always be home, but there’s so much more beyond Everdale. And I can’t wait to show you,” Bailey says excitedly.
Jimmy looks over at her and puts his hand on her knee. At a red light, he leans over and kisses her.
“I love you,” he says.
“I love you,” she replies with a smile.
“So how stoked are you to be moving into our own apartment?” she says.
“Well I mean that depends?” he says his gaze forward and steady.
“On what?” she says her tone elevated and curious.
“On whether or not we get to sleep in the same bed.”
“Jimmy, you dog!”
“What- I like to cuddle,” he says laughing.
“Yea sure,” she huffs with a laugh.
“Yes ma’am,” he nods.
“So if I let you sleep in my bed, cuddling- that’s all you wanna do?”
Jimmy looks over at her.
“No. That’s not all I wanna do.”
He pulls over to the side of the road, and leans over to her, she smiles as their lips meet.
Unbuckling her seat belt, Bailey climbs over to Jimmy as he smiles he reclines his chair slightly and she laughs as they continue to kiss.
In between kisses, Bailey says “Wait, don’t we have to be at the new apartment by tomorrow afternoon, we have a long drive.”
“We can be a little late, we can just say we suddenly hit traffic.”
“Bite your tongue,” she slaps him on the shoulder as she kisses him.
“That’s your job,” Jimmy smirks teasing another kiss.
“Hmmm, making out in your pickup while you spit out sexual innuendos- just like old times.”
“Mmm Hmm. I’m glad this old pickup is coming with us, it’ll be nice to bring a little bit of old to mix in with the new.”
“Agreed, now shut up and kiss me,” Bailey says as Jimmy looks at her they laugh and fall back in the seat, kissing. Bailey’s leather brown boot hits the car horn and the honk sounds.
They gasp in uncontrollable laughter as they look over at each other.
“You ready?” he says nodding back to the open road.
“More than ever,” she says kissing his cheek and leaning back up in the passenger’s seat.
Jimmy straightens his driver’s seat and puts his seat belt on as Bailey follows.
“So where did we land on the whole bed issue?”
Bailey laughs and glares over at him.
Jimmy laughs and glances back over at her.
“In all seriousness though, you know how much I love you, right? he asks his eyes gleaming.
“I do, cause I love you just the same,” she smiles reaching over and squeezing his shoulder.
“Good. Let’s go meet our new home.” He says grabbing that her hand and kissing it. He peels out onto the road again.
“I am so in love with how that sounds.”
Jimmy and Bailey smile at each other as they drive along.
*I do not take credit for any images used in my edits or otherwise.*