Read Chapter 3 HERE
Melanie sits in the gazebo, alone, watching the Christmas lights twinkle. Small town stands surrounding her, selling the sweetest of homemade treats. Her cup of cinnamon, gingerbread hot chocolate-the only thing warming her hands. Once again she left her gloves home- up the road-a mile away.
She looks around and her breath catches at the mere sight of the winter wonderland beauty that lies before her. Its times like this when she’s conflicted in the worst possible way.
Because she remembers. She remembers him. She remembers the moments. The good. She remembers her heart’s home. She’s transported into a memory.
On that same bench. Side by side. Crisp, freshly fallen white all around them.
“I love it like this. This is my favorite time of year,” she says looking around in awe.
“Yup there’s not much that can top this,” he says smiling and looking around.
“I wish I could bottle this feeling, ya know. Like put it in a little box and lock it up, and when I feel sad or like life is just too much, I can take it out and it’ll be like a really well needed hug, a reaffirmation that it’ll be ok, it’ll get better.”
Oliver looks at her and smiles lovingly.
“Come here,” he says as they scoot closer to each other, he puts his arm around her and hugs her close, kissing her forehead.
“You know I can be that for you. I have a lot of hugs to give. I can do that for you whenever you need it.”
Melanie smiles up at him and leaning in, she places a kiss on his lips.
His eyes close as he cups her face with his free hand.
They part and look into each other’s eyes.
Melanie smiles up at him.
“I love you.”
“I love you too,” she smiles cupping his face.
“I don’t ever want to lose you.”
“Babe. We’ve been through this. I’m not going anywhere.”
Oliver looks at her and fidgets.
“What?” she says her eyes looking him over.
“I want to be with you forever, I mean, I’m not just saying words, here. You know that right?”
“I know that. Ollie? Is everything ok? Because I gotta say, I’ve never seen you this nervous.” She says laughing.
Oliver looks at her and laughs as he pulls out a small red leather box.
Melanie looks at him, she’s frozen.
Oliver shifts, kneeling in front of her.
“There aren’t really enough words for me to describe just how much I love you. All I can do is try. You mean everything to me. Hearing your voice after a long day is a lifesaver. Your laugh is like music. Your eyes and smile are my favorite things in the entire world, they’re like magic. I fell in love with them the minute I saw you. And that’s when I knew you were gonna be the one. You are the love of my life. And I treasure you and will treasure you for the rest of my life, if you’ll let me. Will you be my wife, will you marry me?” he says opening the box.
Melanie sits unable to speak.
“Hey?” he says willing her to look at him. “I know that it’s freezing out, but I’m sweating here babe,” he says with a small laugh.
Melanie snaps out of it.
“Yes.” she says barely a whisper.
“What?” he says confused if he actually heard right.
“Yes!” she screams, smiling as her tears spill over her frost bitten cheeks, she hugs him tightly.
“Oh, good.” He says laughing as he hugs her back.
She pulls away and grabs his face, kissing him.
Oliver smiles against her lips, as he takes the ring outside of the box, he parts from her-
“I’m thinking maybe we should make it a bit more official,” he says as he slides the ring on her finger.
“Oh my god! It’s beautiful!” she says her hands shaking, she covers her face.
“What?” he says laughing as he pulls her hands away from her face, cupping it in his palms her lifts her chin to will her to look at him.
“I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel real, ya know. To be this in love.” She says smiling brightly up at him through watery eyes.
“Yea I know the feeling. I guess we’re just going to have to get used to the fact that we’re stuck with each other, forever. It’s all a part of my evil plan.”
“Ah, I see. Operation forever.”
“Something like that. But I’m sure we could think of a better name than that.”
“What- why I like it.”
“Well if you like it, then I like it.”
Melanie smiles, reaching her lips up to meet his again, her hands laying softly on his forearms.
“I love you so much.” He says brushing her hair from her face.
“I love you, and now I get to be your wife.” She says making her eyes go wide to match her a shocked expression.
Oliver smiles and places a few kisses on her lips in a row, the last one lingering a beat.
Oliver hops up and shouts loudly into town.
“SHE SAID YES!” he says holding up Melanie’s hand.
Neighbors walking around town turn and cheer loudly.
Melanie laughs happier than she’s ever been as Oliver takes out his camera and takes a few pictures of he and his future bride, as Melanie holds her hand up.
Melanie sits there, lost.
She looks around. The memory fading.
Her eyes begin to water.
She takes a sip of her hot chocolate.
She feels eyes. Familiar eyes staring at her from a far.
Melanie looks up and sees Oliver’s eyes watching her.
He smiles and walks up the stairs to the gazebo.
“Mrs. Bean’s famous cinnamon-gingerbread hot chocolate, huh?”
“Hey. Haven’t seen you around much.” She says smiling weakly.
“I figured maybe you needed a little break from me, you know since our last unplanned run-in.”
“Oh, Oliver I’m so sorry. I-”
“Mel, stop it. Don’t worry about it ok. You don’t have to apologize. Besides, Mrs. Krinston has been keeping me pretty busy, so even if I wanted to stalk you I couldn’t,” he says laughing.
“So she has you on photographer duty, does she?”
“But of course, and we all know you don’t say no to Mrs. Krinston.”
“Oh no,” Melanie says knowingly with a smile.
“You’ll never hear the end of it.” They both say in unison, as they smile at each other.
“God I’ve missed this town.” Oliver says smiling looking around.
“Missed it? I thought that you were living here?”
“I was. For a long time. I still have a place here. But work kinda takes me all around nowadays. I’m kind of a nomad.”
“I see. Traveling must be nice though.”
“It is. It’s really amazing Mel. I’ve been to Ireland, Italy, and France, I stayed at this little bed and breakfast in Paris, the couple that ran it were two of the sweetest people, and every morning they would make me blueberry waffles, sausage and bacon. And my room, it overlooked this little lake, it was breathtaking. You would have loved it.”
“I’m sure I would have,” she says smiling up at him.
“Maybe one of these days, you’ll let me take you there.”
“Maybe.” She says looking away, fidgeting with the cup in her hands.
“Always forgetting your gloves.” He says noticing and smirking at her.
She looks up at him, and smiles.
“So…what’s on your mind?” he asks standing before her.
“What makes you think that I’ve got something on my mind?”
“Because I know you and because you always do.”
Melanie sighs, exhaling heavily.
“That bad huh?” Oliver says looking on, with ease.
“No, not bad. Just difficult,” she says shrugging.
“Hmmm, you wanna talk about it?” he says sitting beside her.
Melanie stiffens, the similarities too much for her to handle.
She closes her eyes and takes a deep breathe.
Oliver looks at her and waits.
“I was just thinking about what this place represented for us.”
Oliver nods looking around.
“Not too long ago, we sat here in this very spot and you asked me to marry you.”
“Yea I remember.” He nods.
“And that was the happiest moment of my life. You know that right? Or have I just completely tarnished that memory for you?”
Oliver looks at her and smiles.
“Are you kidding me? The way your eyes lit up and the smile you gave me. I knew you meant it, when you said yes. You couldn’t tarnish that if you tried.”
“Well I’m glad. (She smiles simply) It was a beautiful moment. And now sitting here it’s just a memory, a beautiful one, but it hurts to think about. Because we’re completely different people now. And we’re in completely different places. And we’re not together. If you would have asked me after that moment where we’d be in the next 5 or 6 years, I can promise you this reality would not have been my answer. Not being with you, wouldn’t have been even a possibility.”
Oliver looks on, his calm and collected will threatening to fade.
“Life kicks you down sometimes, that’s just how it goes. Sometimes there’s no real reason, or rationale. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find that kind of happiness again. I mean I happen to think we’re still the same people. You’re still smart, and kind, and talented. You’re still the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my life. As far as I’m concerned that’s never going to change. And I am well still, my very handsome, self-made, rugged self.”
He laughs, smiling at her as she smiles back at him.
“It’s been 5 years and we’re both here, in the same place, at the same time. Long enough to have an actual conversation. Finally. (He says looking over at her with a smirk) So what do you wanna do about it?” He laughs, bumping his shoulder into hers, looking at her, his eyes questioning.
Melanie stiffens once again.
“Oliver, I can’t do this. I’m sorry.” She says rushing off.
Oliver stands up and stops himself. He paces for a bit.
But then he rushes off after her.
“Melanie! Mel!” he says running. “Melanie. Stop it.”
Melanie runs into the woods, blanketed. Perfect. Untouched.
She keeps running.
Oliver finally catches up and grabs her arm.
“Will you just stop running for once!” he says.
“I can’t. And trust me I know it’s screwed up. I know I’m horrible. I know I’m hurting you all over again. And I am sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry. Just talk to me. That’s all I’ve ever wanted was for you to talk to me about this. Talk. to me.”
“Can’t. Or won’t?”
“It hurts. Seeing you and being near you- hurts. I love you. I have always loved you. I loved you then, I loved you through these 5 years and I still love you. We have so many amazing memories that I will never forget. But you were also part of the most difficult, most traumatizing experience of my life. And when I’m with you, all that pain comes rushing back. And I remember how crippling it was. It still is, even today. I can’t go through it again.”
“You don’t think I feel that too? You don’t think I think about how we would have a 4 year old running around, how we’d be husband and wife right now, in our own home, one big happy family, had it gone the way we hoped. I think about it every day. My heart’s not the same. And it won’t be ever again. But running away from the fact that I am still crazy in love with you, isn’t going to help me heal. It’s just going to make it harder.”
Melanie looks at him and starts to cry.
“I just I need a reason. I need to know why?”
“Maybe it just wasn’t the right time for us and god knew that… Come here,” he says reaching for her.
Melanie moves away.
Oliver reaches for her anyway and grabs her into a hug.
“I will always be here for you, whether you like it or not, no matter how much you avoid me, or push me away. Because guess what- I am the only person in this world who actually can say that I understand what you’re feeling. Because Melanie it was my baby too. And I miss him, every day. As much as I miss you. But somehow when I’m with you that pain hurts just a little less, because I know he’s with us, in my heart and in yours.”
Melanie looks at him
“I know that, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry, I miss you too,” she says wrapping her arms around his neck and he hugs her close.
Oliver and Melanie continue to walk through town.
Melanie takes his hand.
He looks over at her surprised.
“Thank you.” She says tears still in her eyes.
Oliver stops and turns to her, he brushes his thumb across her cheek wiping her tear away.
“Don’t mention it.” He says smiling.
Melanie looks up at him and before she can talk herself out of it she leans up and places a kiss on his lips.
Oliver reacts quickly as his hands wrap around her waist pulling her into him.
The kiss lasts longer than either of them expected.
Melanie pulls away.
“Wow. So that still works,” Oliver says his smile inevitable.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.” She says covering her lips and turning away. The spark undeniable.
“What? Why? You have nothing to be sorry for,” he says walking after her.
“Yes. I do. I have a lot to be sorry for. I waltz back into your life and just kiss you out nowhere, after driving you crazy and avoiding you and running from you. It’s just so misleading and I’m such a mess, I shouldn’t be dragging you into all this.”
“Do I look upset?” he says with a smirk.
She looks at him with a glare, shaking her head, she lets out a small laugh.
“Wow. She laughs.” He says. “It was always my favorite sound.”
“Ugh, Why are you so perfect?” she says covering her face with her hands.
“Ah, I was just born that way.” He smiles, winking at her.
Melanie looks at him, her nerves evident.
“Go ahead. Get out of here.”
“I will resist my gentlemanly urge to request to walk you home, you seem like you’re ready to take flight. So go.”
“It’s ok. I get it. Don’t worry. Go.”
Melanie looks up at him, wanting to say something, but unsure of what.
“Ok, I guess I’ll see you around,” she says starting to walk away.
Turning back, she pauses looking at him.
“Something you wanna say, Mel?” he says smiling.
“Do you have plans for Christmas?” she asks.
“No not at the moment.” He says smiling.
“Would you like to come have dinner with us? I know it’s been a while so I understand if it’s weird for you-”
“If you honestly think I’m going to pass up an Evans Family Christmas dinner, you don’t know me as well as you think you do.” He says his eyes flirting, as he smirks.
“Ok, good, I’ll see you then,” she smiles.
“And this time it’ll be on purpose.” He says smiling back.
“I think we’re long overdue.” She says her sassy side showing through.
“I agree, I’ll see you this weekend.”
“Ok.” She smiles as she waves and walks off, Oliver’s eyes following as usual.
To be continued…
* I do not take credit for any images, or gifs used in my edits or otherwise.*