It's disappointing when I open my eyes in the morning and see I'm alone in bed. After debating whether to get up or stay in bed... five minutes later when he still hasn't turned up, I decide to just get up. He'd switched on and put his phone for charging last night but a glance at the dresser shows it isn't there.
Sighing, I sit up and swing my feet down, stretching my arms above my head. The bathroom door opens just then and Jacob emerges with only a towel slung low on his slim waist, his abs splattered with drops of water.
His eyes meet mine and he smiles. "You're awake. I was hoping you'd sleep in some more." Walking over, he bends down and presses his lips to my forehead. "I couldn't sleep but I didn't want to leave you either so I was hoping you'd be sleeping when I came out."
"It's alright." Smiling, I stand up and stretch.
"Oh, there's a package for you."
"Huh?" I turn around and watch as he picks up a bag.
He shrugs, "Not sure. I'm thinking Ray." I take the bag from him as he continues. "He called me when I was getting gas for the car yesterday to ask if you were sleeping over. I think he sent clothes? Maybe."
Just as he finishes, I pull out a pair of my jeans, a light blue shirt, denim jacket and a deep blue and silver scarf. Wow. Everything matches! A paper flutters to the ground and picking it up, I see his handwriting.
Hey! Thought you might need these. I might have already left to pick up Amelia by the time you get home so I'll see you there. Love you
Chuckling, I slip it into the bag. "I gotta give him credit! He sure knows how to put an outfit together."
Jacob smiles, pulling a shirt on. "I'm sure it's all your training."
Laughing, I give him a thumbs up. "Ditto."
"Go. I'll have breakfast hereby the time you're out." He smiles.
When I come out of the washroom, Jacob's not in the bedroom but there's a delicious aroma wafting into the room that makes me change hurriedly. Jacob's at the counter in the small kitchen and I hop onto the stool, pulling the plate of delicious looking pancakes towards me.
"Mm. Looks good."
He grins, "Hope it tastes as good."
I lift up fork but then hesitate, looking up at him. "I don't remember there being any pancakes in the menu weirdly enough."
He shrugs, "I didn't order room service."
My eyes trail over to the oven behind him and I see traces of flour on the counter.
"Wait a minute. You made these?" I ask, smiling.
He shrugs again. "Yeah."
He raises an eyebrow. "I shouldn't make breakfast for my girlfriend? I felt like making something special for you so I woke up earlier. That was the only thing that helped me leave you alone in bed."
"Aaaaaww, that's so sweet." Sliding off the stool, I go around the small counter and pull him into a hug.
Jacob chuckles but as I look up at him I can see his cheeks slightly color. "I'm just hoping they'll taste good!"
"Of course they will!" Grinning, I pull the stool around by his and get my plate, slicing off a piece and popping it into my mouth. "Mmmmm! What did I tell you? Sublime."
"Yeah?" I look up from his laptop where I'm going through a website I usually read stories on.
Jacob's stretched out on the bed, watching TV and I'm lying on my stomach a little way away from him, doing both.
"What do you want for your birthday?"
"What?" I ask, thinking I've heard him wrong.
He smiles. "What do you want for your birthday. It's in little over a week."
"Nothing." I frown at him before turning back to the laptop.
"Chloe," Jacob tugs at my top and when I sit up, he pulls me back into his arms. "I need to get my girlfriend something. I've been racking my brain all week. Please help me."
I sigh, "But I don't want anything! Honest!"
"Chloee.." Whining, he drops his head down into my hair.
"Okay, okay. I know." He pulls back and I turn around to face him. "I know what I want."
"What?" His eyes scan my face.
"I want you to spend the whole day with me."
"That's what you want?"
"Yup." I grin.
Jacob looks up at the ceiling for a few seconds before sighing, "Well, too bad I'm already giving you that. Tell me something else."
"Jacob I don't want anything!"
He groans, "You're hopeless!"
"Thank you." Grinning, I turn back and snuggle down into his chest, my eyes on the television.
"I'll have to think up something on my own. You better not throw a fit when I give it to you."
"Oh! One thing. Don't spend too much money or I've got a great idea!" I snap my fingers, looking up at him. "Don't spend any at all!"
"I'll keep that in mind." He replies curtly.
Sighing, I smile. I know he's not really angry.
Crossing my legs, I turn to face him completely. "Men usually have a problem with the fact that my best friend is a guy."
I know he knows what I'm going to ask. He's just going to make me say it. "Doesn't it bother you?"
He shrugs, "Why? My girlfriend lives with her best friend of nearly eleven years. That shouldn't bother me."
"Even at the beginning? When you weren't... as sure as you are now?"
"Yup, even at the beginning. Everyone can see the bond both of you share, but not everyone understands it. We all need a... safe harbor in this crazy world. If anyone spends a few minutes with you and Ray together it's clear that you both need each other in your lives but that doesn't mean you have to be romantically involved." He smiles, leaning back into the pillows, his eyes locked on mine. "It's rare what the two of you share. Not many people love so selflessly especially in a friendship. I would never even dream about coming between the two of you."
He just needs to keep getting more wonderful with every breath. Smiling, I lean forward and press my lips to his.
The apartment's empty when I get home and I quickly hurry to shower and get ready for the date before Jacob turns up in a half-hour.
"So any topics I need to stay away from?" Jacob asks, straightening his collar, looking at his reflection in his car window.
"Umm... I don't think so. Ray never mentioned anything." I bite my lip, thinking. "Oh, her Mom's not really... well. Just ask how she's doing."
"Gotcha." Slipping his arm around my waist he pulls me towards the diner. "Did I tell you how beautiful you look?"
I grin, looking up at him. "Yup."
"Well, I'll tell you again." He drops his head down to my ear. "Breathtaking."
Flushing, I shoot him a smile.
Ray and Amelia are already seated at a corner booth when we enter.
"Hey!" I grin.
As Ray and Jacob shake hands, I hug Amelia. I've met her a couple of times but we haven't talked much.
"How are you?" I ask, sitting down opposite the guys.
She smiles, "Great! It's wonderful to finally sit down and talk."
"I know." I glance at Jacob. "Amelia, my boyfriend, Jacob."
Jacob nods, his charming smile on his lips. "Hi. It's great to finally meet you after listening to Ray."
She laughs, "What has he been telling you?" She shoots Ray a questioning look and I bite back a laugh.
She's perfect for him.
She chuckles, "Well, at least he isn't shy about it like some guys."
Jacob throws back his head and laughs, "He isn't trust me."
Ray groans, running a hand through his hair. "Maybe this was a bad idea."
"Oh no. It's just getting fun." Amelia throws him a grin and I watch as he smiles.
Meeting my eyes, he sticks out his tongue and I chuckle.
Yeah, she's definitely the girl for him.
"I got this." Jacob takes the check as it arrives.
"No way. This is my treat, Skyes. Back off."
Shaking his head, Jacob pulls out his wallet. "Next time Ray."
As Ray begins to protest, I kick his foot. He glances at me and then shrugs. "Only this time."
"Don't worry, we'll go somewhere fancier next time and you can pay." Jacob throw him a grin as he slides his credit card into the leather folder.
"I like Jacob." Amelia says as we walk out of the restaurant. The guys are ahead, talking about cars I think. I'm not sure.
"Thanks." I shoot her a smile.
"We should do this again. Ray talks endlessly about you and it's like I know you already." She gives me a sweet smile.
"I'd love to say the same but he doesn't get further than 'she's so beautiful!'"
Amelia chuckles, "I don't see why! But thanks."
Ray's taking her out for drinks and so we break up. Jacob leads me to his car, his hand protectively placed on the small of my back.
"Nice girl." He comments as we near his car.
"I know. She's perfect for Ray."
"I was thinking that too. She is."
I turn around and he pulls me close. Pressing his forehead against mine, he brushes his lips over mine. "And you're perfect for me."
Glancing around Little Miracles, I head to the counter.
"Is Tarek around?" I ask Foster, leaning against the end of the counter.
He nods, shooting me a smile before calling for Tarek into the kitchen at the back.
"Hey. What's up?" He comes around and joins me on the stool next to me.
"How's it going?"
He nods, smiling. "Good, good."
"That's great." I glance around before turning to him. "I'm actually here to talk to you about Chloe's birthday." When he nods, I continue. "Are you guys planning anything?"
He shakes his head. "We were going to but Ray told us you had something in mind."
"Yeah. I'm actually thinking about throwing a party. And I want all of you there."
He grins. "We'd love to be there!"
Smiling, I lean against the counter. "There are just a few things I need to talk over with you."
"Sure." He stands up. "Let's go into the kitchen."
"She won't be here soon?"
"Nah, she's stopped to get some things for the bakery."
He leads me around the counter and into the kitchen at the back. It isn't my first time, Chloe had showed me around once we'd started dating and I was as I always am with everything she does, very impressed. Tarek leads me to a corner and pulls out a notebook.
"Alright. Everything's going to be catered, but I was thinking you guys should make her cake. It'd be so much more special that way."
"I was thinking the same thing! Any ideas?"
"No, you know her well, do what you think she'll love."
"Alright, we're on it. I've got just the thing in mind. Next."
"Okay the most important thing. It's an afternoon party and it'll last a while. Has Chloe ever closed down the bakery?"
He shakes his head. "Not for her birthday! She only does it for New Years and a few days in the year."
"So what will we do?"
He taps his pen against the counter. "We could close it for the day."
"You do have the authority." I add.
He grins. "Exactly and we just need to make sure Chloe comes nowhere near here during the day."
"Oh that won't be a problem. I promised to spend the whole day with her. I'll keep her away."
"We've got a solution."
Chuckling, I knock my fist against the one he holds up.
"That's it then."
"Don't tell the staff about the day off until I send the invites. That'll be by tomorrow morning latest. And the waiters..."
Tarek nods, "No, I don't think we should include them. They don't really mix with the rest of us well. It'll just be a day off for them. I'll just tell them about the cake."
As I leave, my phone starts to ring and seeing Chloe's name I smile.
Chuckling, I unlock my car and get inside. "You know what that's always going to remind of?"
"The first time we met."
She laughs, "Well, at least now I know you'll never forget."
I roll my eyes. "Chloe, I will never forget not just because of that."
I can hear her smile. "Where are you?"
"I'm heading back to the bakery."
"Will you be there all day?"
"Yeah." She sighs and I can hear exhaustion in her voice.
"Do you want me to come and help?" I ask, my voice low.
She chuckles, "I don't think that would help Jake. When will I see you?"
"I don't know. Tomorrow maybe? If you're finishing late then I'll just tire you."
"Okay." She sighs.
"Did you buy a dress for your birthday?"
"No, I'll just wear something I already have."
"Chloe! You can't do that."
"Because I said so. If you don't go buy one then I'll take you out and buy one myself."
"Okay, okay. I'll go get one tomorrow."
"I'll call you later alright?"
"Sure sweetheart. I'll try to drop by."
"Alright. Take care."
"You too beautiful."
Just as I hang up, my phone starts to ring once more.
"I'm on my way."
"Okay." Ray chuckles before the line goes dead once more.
I pull up at the address Ray had texted me and park my car. Walking inside, I see him sitting at a window seat near the far side.
"Hi. Let's order?"
I nod, smiling and gesture for the waiter.
"Okay, so what needs to be done?"
My elbows propped up on the table, I lean forward. "The invitations are going to be finished tonight. I'll need your help giving them out. I called her parents a few days ago, but I'm not sure how to get the invites to them."
Ray nods, "I'll handle it no worries. Who else is coming?"
"The whole staff of Little Miracles, my Mom, a couple of my friends that she met in Victoria, Amelia, you... that's it. Oh wait. A woman was at Little Miracles once. I don't remember her name. "
"What did she look like?"
"Um... tall, brunette. Chloe mentioned a James."
"Ah, then it must be Erika. You want to invite her?"
I shrug, "They looked close. Are they?"
"Kind of. Erika is Chloe's ex's sister-in-law."
"But they do get along. We could invite them. It's a good idea."
"You'll have to send the invite since I know next to nothing about them."
"Awesome. So I'll give the staff their invites in the morning as well?"
"Yup. I'll drop them by when I come to pick up Chloe. Along with Amelia's and her parents."
"There is one tiny problem."
"Amelia can't leave her mother for a long time."
"Then we'll invite her as well." I shrug. "My mother and Chloe's parents will be here so she won't really feel left out."
"It's no problem. The catering is taken care of. The cake's being made by her staff. You need to drag her out to get her a dress tomorrow."
Ray nods, "Yeah, I was thinking of that as well."
"She said she'll do it in the morning "
"I'll take care of it."
"Thanks. I think that's about it."
"Where is it? Come on man tell me!"
I chuckle, leaning forward. "Okay, but not a word to Chloe."
"I'm heading to bed Ray-ray."
"Okay. Sleep tight sweet-thing."
"You too." Grabbing a bottle of water, I head out of the kitchen to my room.
"By the way, I'm taking you out tomorrow. To buy a dress."
I walk back to the living room. "Did Jacob tell you to?" I ask, a hand on my hip.
Ray grins. "Not really. But don't tell him I told you alright? He's planning a small party for the three of us."
"Really? Shut up!" I let my hand drop, shocked.
"Yup, really. But don't tell him okay?"
"Okay. I won't. But what else did he say?"
"Nothing! He just said he'll pick you up after lunch. That's it."
"Oh, okay." I scratch my head, thinking.
I'm getting a birthday party? "Night."
What else has Jacob been planning behind my back?
The next morning, the aroma of fried eggs wakes me up and I quickly freshen up before heading to the kitchen.
I grin. "Morning. Smells great!"
"Well, we need the energy."
I laugh softly. "What are you planning on doing? Dragging me around all of Brampton?"
He chuckles, "You want to? I don't mind."
"No way!" I grin. "We could just stop by Amelia's boutique."
A smile tugs at his lips at just the mention of her. "We could."
An hour later, showered and dressed, I follow Ray out of the flat and to his car. The drive to Amelia's workplace takes just ten minutes and when we pull up at her store, Ray's got a smile playing on his lips and I hide my smile.
"Hey Amelia!" I smile as she opens the door.
"Chloe! Great to see you!" She hugs me.
"What can I help you guys with?"
Ray leans over and places a kiss on her cheek, pulling back just in time as one of the employees passes.
"I'm looking for a dress for my birthday?"
Nodding she leads me towards the back.
Hearing the doorbell, I quickly throw the last of my makeup into the bag I'm taking to Jacob's place.
"I'll get it!" Ray calls out, walking past my room.
"I'll be out in a minute."
When I walk out of the room, Jacob's lounging against the wall looking delicious in jeans and a maroon v-neck sweater clinging to his chest.
"Hey." Smiling, he reaches for the bag in my hand, dropping a kiss on my cheek.
"Yup." I smile before turning to Ray. "Drinks tomorrow night?"
"Wouldn't miss it."
"Wow. Just when I think I'll get used to you taking my breath away. You do it again."
"Do what?" I ask, turning away from the mirror and looking at Jacob.
He pulls on a chocolate brown shirt that's got pink stripes. Rolling up the cuffs carefully, he comes and stands beside me.
"Look this beautiful!" He gestures at me and I glance down at the purple knee-length dress I have on.
Laughing, he drops a kiss on my bare shoulder. "Definitely a compliment."
"There he is!" Jacob lifts his hand up and I look up from my drink to see Ray making his way towards us.
"Hey!" Leaning forward he kisses my cheek. After ordering a drink, he turns to the both of us.
"So what have you been up to lovebirds?"
My cheeks heat up slightly as I remember last night but Jacob just chuckles. "Nothing.. much!"
Ray smirks and I roll my eyes.
Jacob calls waiter over and orders a bottle of champagne. It arrives shortly and he pours it into our glasses.
I glance up at him and he smiles, glancing at his watch.
"Happy birthday Chloe." His fingers curl around my chin and he presses his lips to mine. I kiss him back, totally oblivious to the fact that Ray's watching.
"Thank you." I hold his gaze for a while longer, not wanting to look away from the warmth in them.
"Happy Birthday love."
Ray hugs me, tight and I thank God for the millionth time for such a wonderful friend.
I blink in the darkness, trying to orient myself. Looking down at Chloe's sleeping form I smile.
She's beyond beautiful.
I softly brush my fingers against her temple, loving the feel of her soft skin. Ever since Chloe's come into my life, my nights have become so much more... peaceful. Yeah, at times I sleep as less as I used to when she keeps me up, demanding my attention, but it's so worth it. The feeling of bliss and wholeness when I fall asleep with her in my arms is second to none.
Smiling, I watch her. I really hope she likes the party. And her gift.
I'm so sure she's going to throw a fit.
Chloe sighs in her sleep and I watch as she turns around. Her arms slide around my waist and her leg is thrown over mine, her face buried in my chest. I swallow a groan. I don't think I'm going to fall asleep for a while.
I wake up frequently throughout the night and early morning but around 11 pm, I decide we've slept enough. Chloe's still fast asleep beside me and I take the opportunity to wake her up. My way.
I kiss her neck, my lips trailing up and along her jaw, nibbling on her earlobe before making a beeline for her lips. I know the exact moment she wakes up and turns her head towards me to meet my lips halfway. When she opens her eyes it's like I'm sucker-punched in the stomach. Her eyes, although full of sleep, are shining.
"Morning, birthday girl." Propped up on my elbow, I smile down at her beautiful face.
I watch as she stretches, her arms raised above her head. My eyes rake over her body but with much control I hold my hands back. I can't tire her from the morning. She has a long day to go.
"So?" She casually drapes an arm over my shoulder, tugging me closer.
"Ready for today?" I ask.
"What for? You never told me what you've planned."
I grin. "It's a surprise."
"Jaaaacob." She whines.
"I just hope you like it." I say, dropping my head down to the warmth of her neck.
"Of course I will." She runs her fingers through my hair and I close my eyes.
When I come out of the washroom, Chloe heads in and I quickly grab my phone to make a few calls. I call Ray first, checking to make sure everything's going to plan, followed by the caterers and then the planner.
We should be thereby three the latest.
I glance at Jacob on the other side of the room. He's pulling on a dark blue denim shirt over his white short sleeved undershirt over khaki pants. He rolls the sleeves of the denim shirt up above his elbows, straightening the collar of his shirt. His hair isn't gelled, instead he's brushed it to the side in a messy way.
I turn back to the mirror and glance down at my sea blue spaghetti strap dress Ray insisted I get. It falls down to mid-calf, allowing me to move with ease.
Lifting up the necklace from the table, I clasp it around my neck. It's the same shade of blue as the dress, a single gem shaped like a droplet on a silver chain. As I turn around, done getting ready, I notice Jacob standing beside me. His eyes run up and down my dress before resting on my face.
"Do I have to say it? Beautiful won't even cover how you look."
Blushing, I glance down before looking back up at him. "It's not like you look any worse."
He scoffs, "No one will look at me once they set eyes on you." He glances at himself in the mirror. "Ready to go?"
Taking my arm, he leads me out of the hotel room.
"Where are we going?" I ask as the city gives into more urban roads. I look around but I don't recognize anything.
"Jacob. Please tell me."
He just shoots me a grin and I groan. Fifteen minutes later, he pulls up on the side of the road and I look around, bewildered.
Smiling, he leans over and opens the dashboard near my legs.
"No. No way. You have got to be kidding me!" I watch as he pulls out a blindfold.
"We're less than ten minutes away sweetheart."
I glare at him. "So?"
"Please?" He looks up at me through his lashes and my heart stops. "I want to surprise you."
"Hm." I just stare at him.
"Thank you." He leans over further and slowly puts it on, careful of my hair.
"You know I hate you Jacob?"
"No, you don't." He replies as he continues driving.
"Yes, I do."
"Sweetheart, you don't. Would you rather see it or be surprised? Answer me honestly."
I open my mouth to say I'd like to see it but then hesitate. "Be surprised." I sigh.
"Exactly. I promise your eye makeup won't get ruined. Or your hair."
"Shut up Jake."
He chuckles and I feel his fingers weave through mine. "As you wish. We're almost there. About three minutes."
When the car stops, I strain my ears to hear something, anything that will give away where we are.
"I'll get your door. Sit tight. And don't touch your blindfold." Switching off the engine, I listen to Jacob get out and hear his door slam shut.
A cool breeze hits my side as my door is opened. I feel Jacob's hand on my shoulder and then my arm as he guides me out. Standing outside, I hear birds chirping and a sort of lapping sound.
"I hear water." I tell him.
"Really?" Jacob's tone is laced with curiosity.
"Yeah. The weather's great."
"I know. It's perfect for today." His slips his hand into mine. "Come on. I'll lead you there."
"When can I take it off?"
"In about two minutes."
Groaning, I slowly follow him. The sound of my heels against the ground tells me we're walking on pavement but after a few seconds it's a hollow-ish sound. Wood.
"Where are we?"
I feel him come to a stop and do the same. His hands are on either sides of my waist.
"Okay there are a few things I need to tell you."
"I had a feeling."
"Ray's not the only one invited."
"I may be in the dark as to where I am but I'm not stupid."
Jacob chuckles, "Relax sweetheart, it's nothing bad. No need to be sarcastic."
He brushes his lips across mine. "It's alright. But there's something else."
"Please don't throw a fit." His voice is weary.
I sigh, "I will once the party's over."
"Okay." He agrees quickly. "But enjoy yourself okay? I don't want you worrying or anything."
"And don't say anything that you might be embarrassed about when I continue leading you. There are people watching."
I roll my eyes behind the blindfold. "Sure. And Jacob?"
"Thanks." I lean forward and his lips meet mine in a brief kiss.
"You're very welcome. Now let's get this party started."
My heart's pounding in excitement as he leads me forward. I briefly hear footsteps but they disappear as quickly as they came.
Jacob stops and I feel his fingers slip under my blindfold. He removes it gently and my eyes lock on his. His eyes are shining, an excited smile on his lips.
He steps aside and I gasp, taking in the scene in front of me.
Mom, Dad. Ray and Amelia. A woman. I wonder who she is. Darren, Alice, my whole staff. Matt, Carter, Lora and Dana. Erika and James.
Wait. Erika and James?!
And I'm standing on a boat!
"Happy Birthday Chloe!"
I stare at everyone before looking back at Jacob, a hand covering my mouth.
Since I'm incapable of speech, or movement for that matter, Jacob leads me towards my parents.
"Happy Birthday baby!" Dad pulls me into a hug and that's when it really clicks that it's real.
My birthday party is on a boat!
"Happy birthday sweetie!" Mom kisses my cheek, her eyes flicking over to Jacob behind me.
Jacob leads me as I greet everyone and they wish me happy birthday.
"Jacob!" I turn to him, pulling him to the side.
"Happy Birthday!" He grins, but his eyes dart over my face, searchingly.
"I can't believe you! This is incredible!"
He smiles, visibly relaxing. "It's all for you. I'm so glad you like it."
"Pft! Forget like! I'm in love." I look around once again.
There's a stage set up at the start of the deck, decorated, complete with a 'Happy Birthday Chloe!' banner and flowers. Balloons and ribbons line the railings. There's soft music playing in the background. A couple of tables are set up along the end and waiters are walking around with snacks and juices. There's even a photographer walking around snapping photos.
The view from the boat is breathtaking as well. The sea blue water almost the same color as my dress, the endless sky, dotted with a few light clouds.
"Thank you." I say, meeting his gaze.
Slipping his arms around my waist, he pulls me close, dropping his head down to my lips. "You're very welcome." Jacob presses his lips to mine, briefly. "I think you should introduce me properly to your parents."
I shake my head. "You've thought of everyone!"
"But still! How did you invite my parents?"
"I called them a few days back. Ray sent the invitations on Saturday and they flew in last night and stayed in your bedroom."
"They were in my apartment? You thought of everything didn't you?"
He shakes his head, chuckling. "No I didn't. I had some help."
"Erika and James?"
"Erika came to the bakery once when I was there and the way you talked you seemed close. I asked Ray and he invited them."
"And Amelia's mom! You're so sweet."
Jacob rolls his eyes. "Amelia had to be here. It was a no-brainer."
"And even your friends made it! And your Mother! Come on let's go." Taking his hand, I pull him towards Mom and Dad. "Mom, Dad. This is Jacob. My boyfriend."
Mom smiles warmly while Dad nods, studying Jacob.
"It's great to finally meet you Jacob! This party's fantastic." Mom says.
He smiles easily, "The pleasure's all mine Mrs. Stevens. Thank you."
"Call me Emma."
"Emma." Jacob smiles and I can see my Mom's smitten with him already.
"Pretty impressive. I have to say I wasn't expecting anything so big." Dad offers, watching Jacob.
Jacob glances at me, smiling, and winds an arm around my waist pulling me close. "Only the best for my girl."
He holds my gaze for a second longer as he says this and my heart melts. When he turns back to Dad, my father's smiling and Jacob's definitely passed the test. As we turn to go and talk to his mother, Mom gives me a thumbs up.
Like Jacob said, the weather's perfect today. Even though it's late afternoon almost evening, there's only a slight breeze.
"Ray! You told me it was a small party!"
He grins, "Surprise!"
Rolling my eyes, I push him to stand bedside Tarek. "And you young man. You've closed my bakery without permission?"
Tarek smiles. "I am in charge when you're not around. And you weren't around."
"Oh sure, sure." I nod, trying to look upset but it doesn't work as I'm smiling.
"Jacob!" Matt slaps Jacob on the back, popping out of nowhere. "You've outdone yourself mate! This is fantastic!"
"I know!" Lora smiles, winking at me.
"I'm so glad you guys are here!" I add, smiling. "Ray, Tarek, this is Matt, Lora, Carter and Dana. Jake's friends I met in Victoria."
"Hey." Ray shakes hands with Matt and Carter, smiling at the women. Tarek does the same.
The sunset is beautiful. As the sky starts turning pink, Jacob leads me away from the guests and around the back of what I assume is a suite and up to a higher deck right above it. I look down at everyone as they talk and mingle, laughter filling the air.
Jacob's arms come around me and leaning back into his chest, I look up at the sky, watching the sun as it sets. It's so beautiful, so romantic, it almost feels unreal.
When we go back down, we don't seem to be missed at least not much. Fairy lights hung up from all over light up the boat and the waiters are now serving champagne.
Tarek looks up from across the deck and Jacob nods, almost imperceptibly. I glance between the two, trying to figure out what's going on now but Jake's Mom calls me over and I'm distracted.
I sit down at the table beside her as she asks about what I've been up to. His mom's really sweet, and both of our mothers seem to get along well. I feel so comfortable around her and it's a pleasure to spend time with someone who cares as much as she does.
"Happy birthday to you.."
Glancing away from Janet, I look up to see Tarek, Foster and Claire wheeling in a big three-tier cake. My mouth, for the second time today, falls open in surprise as I see the masterpiece they've created.
Happy Birthday Chloe is spelled out in icing in the top, smallest layer, the second one has a 'We love you' written in pink icing while the bottom and largest layer has a miniature drawing of Little Miracles.
I'm actually tearing up as everyone circles around the table. My parents are by my right, Janet on my left and Jacob's behind her, watching me closely.
I quickly swipe at a tear that escapes and look up, smiling at my staff.
"It's amazing. You guys, I don't know what to say."
"Blow the candle! We want some cake!" Carter calls out from the back. A groan follows his remark and I see Dana elbow him in the side.
I cut the cake, amid applause, and taking the small slice turn to my parents, giving each of them a bite before turning to Janet. Jacob steps up after her and I slip it between his lips, my eyes locked on his. He takes the knife from my hand and cuts off a bite and feeds it to me.
The waiters cut and serve the cake and I feel kind of sad that all that hard work is gone, but it tastes fantastic!
"Foster." He turns around and pulls me into a hug.
"I hope you liked it."
"It's beyond beautiful! How could I not? And your decorations? That picture of Little Miracles? Spot on!"
He grins. "It took some time but I am pleased with it myself."
"As you should be!"
The music suddenly stops and we turn towards the stage in silence. A waiter's standing with a mic and he clears his throat.
"A birthday gift for Chloe." Saying this he jumps off and I glance at Jacob a few feet away. He raises an eyebrow at me before turning to the stage.
As the music begins, I frown, trying to place it.
"I know this song." I glance at Ray on my left and he shrugs. As the tune continues, I gasp. "Shut up!"
"What?" He whispers but I just wave a hand at him, telling him to be quiet. Taking Jacob's arm, I pull him a bit closer to the stage.
A figure walks along the stage,
"Living in my own world
That anything can happen
When you take a chance." A spotlight falls on him as Darren looks up and right at me as he sings the last few words.
I know it's Alice before I even see her. She starts singing, still in the shadows, taking a step forward with every verse sung.
"I never believed in
What I couldn't see
I never opened my heart
To all the possibilities
She glances at him and they both sing together,
"I know that something has changed
Never felt this way
And right here tonight
This could be the start
Of something new
It feels so right
To be here with you...oh
And now... looking in your eyes
I feel in my heart
The start of something new."
Grinning, they both descend from the stage and Alice takes Jacob's arm and drags him up while Darren holds his arm out in front of me.
"Oooh yeaah.. Now who'd have ever thought that... Mmmm," Darren's back is facing Jacob and I dance along with him as he sings.
"We'd both be here tonight," they both sing simultaneously.
Alice cups Jacob's cheek from what I can see, directly singing to him. What I'd give to see his expression!
"And the world looks so much brighter
With you by my side."
They sing the chorus together and I have to give it to them. They aren't great, but they're not that bad either. It's more entertaining than funny.
"I never knew that it could happen
Till it happened to me
Ooooh yeah." Darren winks, grinning.
"I didn't know it before
But now it's easy to see."
Taking my hand, Darren moves to the side and places it in Jacob's.
"It's the start
Of something new
It feels so right
To be here with you
And now looking in your eyes
I feel in my heart."
They both circle us singing and meeting at the front of the stage finish off the song, turning back to Jacob and me at the last verse.
"Happy Birthday Chloe!"
"Thank you!" I smile and grinning the both of them turn and send flying kisses as everyone claps. Ray's whistling and Foster's shouting out something but I can't make it out as the next song starts.
"That was a surprise present!" Jacob says, taking my hand and leading me offstage.
I chuckle, "I know!" I glance around and see the both of them standing with Ray. "You guys were great!"
"Yeah. What gave you the idea for that song?" Ray asks.
Darren groans. "We were remembering how we'd had a sleep over at Chloe's last year and the girl had forced me to watch three movies back-to-back."
"Which he so secretly enjoyed." I add and Darren rolls his eyes.
As Jacob joins in, I tug Darren off to the side.
"So, what's going on?"
"What?" He asks slowly.
"You and Alice."
He starts to disagree but then hesitates. "Is it that obvious?"
I shake my head, smiling. "Just know the two of you very well. So?"
He shrugs. "Nothing much. It just happened."
"Well then it's my job to warn you. If you hurt her Dare, I may love you, but I'll still be very upset."
Darren nods quickly, looking earnest. "I know and I won't I promise."
"I believe you."
He smiles. "Thanks."
I head over to where Ray is standing seeing that Jacob's speaking to his Mom. The song ends and the next one begins, one of my favorites, Sway by Michael Buble.
"May I have this dance?" Jacob holds out his hand in front of me and smiling, I accept.
He leads me forward and takes me into his arms. In a few seconds I realize it isn't just an ordinary dance.
This guy knows how to properly move to the beat.
Okay, it's official!
For the first time in quite a while, I let myself go, give myself in to the music as he twirls, dips and even lifts me up once throughout the song. We're both breathing hard as the song comes to an end and on the last note, Jacob leans in and presses his mouth to mine, hard.
"Great party." James says as we stand and watch the couples on the dance floor.
"Thanks." I shoot him a smile. "How's your brother?" I ask, hesitating slightly.
His eyes flick over my shoulder as he starts to answer. "He's fine."
Jacob's arm slips around my waist and he pulls me close. "Care to introduce?"
"James, this is Jacob. Jacob, James, my ex's brother."
"Nice to meet you." Jacob holds out his hand and James shakes it.
For dinner, my table occupies my parents, Jacob's mother, Ray and Amelia and Jacob and myself. Once everyone's seated and waiters are going around and serving the drinks, Jacob gets up.
"I'll be right back."
Curious, I watch him as he walks up to the DJ in the corner. I shoot Ray a questioning look but he just shrugs so I turn back to our parents.
"Excuse me." Jacob's voice comes through the speakers and I quickly turn around. "I'd like your attention for a moment please." The chattering dies down as everyone turns to him. "I want to thank you all for coming today and helping me make a special day as memorable as I could." He pauses, his eyes trailing over and locking with mine. His voice is much more serious. "It's difficult for me to believe that just a few months back I didn't know the beautiful, accomplished woman some of you have had the pleasure of knowing all your life. I can't imagine having to start the day not seeing her."
Here Dad leans in and whispers, "You're still living with Ray right?"
"Yes Dad." I shoot him a reassuring smile before turning back.
"Or more often than not, just hearing her voice. Of not having her delicious pancakes with her strawberry and whipped cream toppings or ending the day without her pasta." He chuckles, glancing away for a mere second as everyone laughs and I drop my eyes, feeling self-conscious. "I guess what I'm trying to say is, Chloe, you've become a very important part of my life and I just want you to know I'm planning on keeping it that way. Happy Birthday sweetheart."
A big 'AW' comes from where my staff is sitting and I look up to see Jacob handing over the mic and jumping off the stage.
"He's a keeper." Mom says quietly, leaning over.
I nod, biting my lip and glance at Ray who just winks back, smirking.
"You see, that's romantic." Amelia says.
Ray raises his eyebrows. "And a stroll in the park isn't? Let me just tell you I'm not renting you a boat to tell you all of that. I can tell it to you everywhere and it should still be romantic!"
Amelia rolls her eyes and turns to me. "See what I have to put up with while you have Mr. Swoon?"
I chuckle but as the chair beside me is pulled back my heart stops. For some reason, I'm feeling shy. As conversation starts up at our table, I slip my hand under the table and into his hand resting on his thigh. I squeeze it and just the gesture of him linking his fingers through mine and squeezing it back seems erotic.
Mom and Dad are the first ones to leave a little after dinner. After promising that they are going to be in town for a few more days. Amelia's next as she needs to get her mom home.
"Where's your Mom staying?" I ask, turning to Jacob.
"With me." Ray answers. I shoot him a questioning look. "Yup. Your parents are staying in my room and Janet's staying in yours."
He shrugs, "On the couch."
I shake my head. "No way." I turn to Jacob. "Can't your Mom stay with us?"
"No, Chloe it's fine." Ray says.
"Actually not a bad idea. Could you drop her at my hotel?" Jacob asks and pulls out his hotel card key and hands it over to Ray.
"Yeah." Jake nods and smiles down at me.
His friends are the last to leave and after my round of hugs and thanks, I step aside to let him see them out.
Once I'm finally able to kick Matt and Carter off the boat, I head into the suite. Everything is set up and after making sure we won't be needing anything else, I head out to find Chloe.
She's leaning against the railing, a mouth-watering vision in the moonlight and I drink it in as I quietly approach her. Wrapping my arms around her, I pull her back against my chest and let out a breath.
We're finally alone.
"How are you?" I ask, after a few minutes of silence.
She doesn't answer immediately, instead she turns around and wraps her arms loosely around my neck. "Great. Happy. Wonderful. Grateful. Blessed. Surprised. Scared."
I hide the worry behind the last word and instead, smiling, I tuck a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "Okay. Let's start with the first. Great?"
"I feel great."
I chuckle. "Happy?"
"I'm with you. I've just had the most amazing birthday party ever."
"How can I not feel wonderful, standing on a boat beneath the moonlight with you?"
"When you put it like that.." I grin. "Grateful?"
"I've got so much to be thankful for."
"To have someone like you. To realize that you mean to me what I've found out I mean to you. Maybe more."
"Surprised?" I ask, raising an eyebrow.
"That you feel the same way I do."
"Scared?" I whisper, pressing my forehead against hers. She drops her eyes and I feel my heart leap in concern. "Chloe?" I breathe softly.
I don't think she realizes that I notice the way her fingers tighten around my hair which is woven between her fingers as she looks up and answers. "Of the thought..." She takes in a deep breath and I have to forcefully push the panic down my throat to breathe. "Of ever losing you."
Once the words are out, she drops her eyes once more and I'm left staring at her carefully made up eyelids. Gently pulling us away from the railing, I cup her face with one hand and tilt it up before slowly leaning down and pressing my lips against her warm ones.
The short kisses stolen all day, the fact that I was away from her the most of the part, standing beneath the moonlight on a boat all by ourselves and everything she's just said all combine into the kiss and I feel myself on the edge of control. In the chilly night air, her hands are warm and as they trail up the back of my neck, leave hot trails behind. Her body, so soft, warm, is pressed up to mine and only the thought of her needing my support gives me the strength to stand up. The kiss is literally knee-weakening in every sense.
When we pull away, Chloe drops her head down to my chest, breathing in deeply. We stand quietly for a few moments before I decide it's better we go in. She's only in a dress after all.
I pull her towards the suite and once I open the door she gasps. I have to agree, it's a beautiful room, just right for a couple.
It isn't cluttered, it just has the essentials, a bed, walk-in wardrobe, two night stands and a mirror on the wall with a small table underneath. An oriental carpet covers the floor by the foot of the bed and dark curtains cover the small windows. There's a small bar in the corner, a bottle of champagne already standing by the two glasses.
A small suitcase stands in the corner.
"You like it?"
"Like everything else about this boat. Love it."
Smiling, I lead her in and close the door behind us. "We'll be staying here tonight."
She smiles, turning to look up at me. "That's why you were so willing to give your room to your mother." She says, falling onto the bed.
I grin. "I can't have her in the same room as you!"
"Why?" She raises an eyebrow and I chuckle.
"Let's just say, there's only one bed in that room and one bed isn't enough for two of us, imagine three."
Chloe rolls her eyes.
"So did you like the party?" I ask, leaning against the bedpost.
"Like? Jacob, I loved it. There was nothing about it that I merely liked."
"My speech?" I ask hesitantly.
She smiles. "That was the best part."
"How about seeing you parents?"
"Second best. I can't believe you got them to come here." I watch as she kicks off her heels and folds her legs beneath her. She's so comfortable around me. That's another thing I love. Other women would be conscious about how they looked every second of the day.
"I wasn't sure how to do it. If I should meet them before the party or if it would be fine to just have you introduce me after. Ray helped a lot."
She smiles, "My mom immediately loved you. So did my Dad."
"Did he really?"
She nods, "Yes, I'm sure. It's been awhile since I saw them."
"Yeah," I figured. "Why?"
She shrugs, "I've been busy."
"We should go down and visit them."
"I'd like that." She smiles, "And it was wonderful to see your Mom again."
"She was really happy to come." I hesitate. "Chloe?"
"There's something I..." I trail away, not sure how to say it.
"What is it?" She asks slowly.
Sighing, I walk over to the suitcase and unzip it. Pushing aside clothes, I pull out a small box.
"Jacob..." She bites her lip, watching as I walk over to her and sit down on the bed beside her.
"It's nothing I promise. I almost feel embarrassed about giving you something so small, but you didn't want me to spend too much money and this reminded me of you." Opening the box, I turn it towards her so that she can see it.
A gasp escapes her lips and she runs her fingers over it.
"Do you like it?"
"It's beautiful." She whispers.
Taking it out of the box, I lean over and clasp the necklace around her neck. She removes the blue one she has on and looks at me.
"Looks so much more beautiful on you."
I watch as she gets up and walks over to the mirror. The purple butterfly pendant shines on her throat, the thin silver chain hanging almost gracefully around her neck.
Chloe walks over to me and sits down in my lap. I pull her close as she closes the distance between our lips.
"Chloe," I tilt her face up, moving back the smallest bit. "You're not going to lose me. And I'm more lucky to have you than you'll ever imagine."
Before she can argue, I press my lips against hers.
Replies to comments
Grace - Hey! It's alright but you were missed! It is! I dunno I can't tell! :D I'm still writing chapter 30, I think the last chapter will be 31, so you still have 10 chapters to read, don't worry!
Praiser - Thank you! I'm glad you're happy! He's great isn't he? Enjoy!
DaniGirl - Thank you! Yeah the four of them will really go well together, I've got to agree with you there! LOL same here!
Maddz - Aww thank you! Yeah Jacob is like everything a girl could dream of and never know she wanted all put into one! Thank you so much! AW you did? I'm super glad you liked it! Thanks!
PH - Sorry! I posted earlier but it took time to get put up I guess! Haha I love reading your list of things you love, he did date before but it's been a long time since his last relationship... Yeah me too Carter's my fave as well. I'm posting before I get 15 comments, you can't complain. You're very welcome, I will! And remember I'd said I love chapter 21 and can't wait to see your reactions and you'd told me to stop teasing? Well chapter 21 is here! Time has flown.
MayJuneJuly - Glad you enjoyed hun! Aw thanks a lot! You'll be getting more of them don't worry! Love you too.
Cheykdfdjagv - Okay. Could you please specify what part exactly? Thanks!
Sants - ÀW thanks a lot! Haha I won't make you wait! Enjoy!
Rashmi - Thanks! I'm with you there!
Maha - Thanks so much!