The birthstone engagement ring was the cherry on top. Macy will always be with them both.
That was an idea that occured to me at the last minute when I was writing that scene, to have her birthstone be the ring. It just seemed appropriate.
editing to add in: Song sounds familiar. Could this have been playing during a 'Naley' scene?
Okay, I'm going to be such a OTH geek here: It's from episode 9 of Season 3, called "How a Ressurection Really Feels." It plays during a coda mainly consisting of Naley and Brucas scenes. Confessions of love and then sex, that's what happens during those scenes. It's also on the second of the show's 3 soundtracks, I believe.
I think they are going to make it this time!
And there is definitely reason to think that. They've come very far.
Thank you for the feedback! I know I sound like a broken record here, but it's hard to believe we're so close to the end!
It was hard for Maria to not just blurt out to Tess that she was engaged again. Following their little trip to the church, Tess and Kyle’s was the first place they stopped, and Maria could hardly wait for her best friend to find out. But she wanted to subtly hint at it before just telling her. It would be more fun that way.
“Hey, guys,” she said, managing to keep her voice calm when she and Michael walked into their friends’ house.
“Back already, huh?” Kyle asked, barely glancing up from the video game he was playing in the living room. He sneaked a quick peek at her hand and grinned, though. Maria realized Michael must have talked to him about it.
“Where’d you guys go?” Tess asked. She was in the kitchen, digging through the refrigerator and apparently devouring everything in sight. Because there was a big block of Velveeta cheese with multiple bite marks taken out of it.
“Oh, just out for a drive,” Michael replied. “What’re you guys doin’?”
“Not havin’ sex,” Kyle grumbled, “that’s for sure.”
“Ooh, somebody’s grapes are sour,” Maria teased.
He rolled his eyes, paused his video game, and set the control down on the arm of the couch.
“Kyle, I feel like I weigh three of me,” Tess lamented. “It’s just not gonna happen.”
“Until you wanna induce,” Maria pointed out.
“Until then,” Tess agreed, nodding affirmatively. “But Maria, you know how it is. When you’re pregnant, all you can do is . . . be pregnant. You don’t think about anything else, you don’t talk about anything else, you don’t notice anything else.”
“Really?” Maria sauntered into the kitchen, sensing a segue. “You don’t notice . . . anything?” She used her left hand to tuck her hair behind her ear, then scratched the side of her face, making sure the engagement ring was within perfect view.
Tess stared at her confusedly for a minute, but suddenly, she laid eyes on the ring and her eyes bulged. “Oh my god, are you . . .” Her mouth dropped open, and she screamed with delight. “Ahhh!”
Maria just smiled as her best friend through her arms around her and squeezed her tightly.
“Ohmygod, ohmygod!” Tess squealed, moving back only so she could grab Maria’s hand and get a closer look at the ring. Then she screamed and hugged Maria again.
“Congratulations,” Kyle said, getting up off the couch to shake Michael’s hand. Apparently that wasn’t enough, though, because they gave in and hugged, too.
It was late afternoon when Michael and Maria found themselves back at Cresthaven. They’d actually had an appointment the next day, but Maria had insisted on going in light of . . . recent developments. Developments she couldn’t wait to tell her doctor about. He just smiled as she described down to the last detail how Michael had proposed. She was so animated when she talked about it, so lively.
Michael smiled as he watched her. Lively.
“Well,” Dr. Carlson said when she was done, “sounds like you two had a pretty big day then.”
“I’d say so,” she agreed breathlessly. “I really hope you don’t mind us dropping in. I know we were supposed to come tomorrow, but . . . well, to be quite honest, we plan on having a lot of celebratory sex tomorrow.”
“Is that an overshare?” she asked him quietly.
He just shrugged, not really caring what Dr. Carlson knew about their sex life since he knew so much about both of them already.
“Congratulations,” the doctor said warmly.
“Thank you,” Maria replied. Everything about her . . . her eyes, her smile, the sound of her voice . . . everything was just radiating. “And you should feel honored, because you’re one of the first to know.”
“About the engagement, not the sex,” Michael clarified.
“Right. The only other people we’ve told so far are Tess and Kyle and my brother Marty. I’m gonna call my mom tomorrow and clue her in. During a break in the sex.”
“Good luck. There’s not gonna be one.” Michael flashed her a grin, and she blushed.
“So have you told your daughter yet?” Dr. Carlson asked.
“No, we’ll tell her tonight,” Michael said, eagerly anticipating that conversation. “You know, I’ve had to have so many horrible conversations with her this past year. About her Grandma’s cancer, Macy’s death . . .”
“Me leaving,” Maria added quietly.
He nodded, silently acknowledging that had been one of them. “It’ll be nice to have this kind of conversation this time.”
“I’ll bet,” Dr. Carlson said, sounding both sympathetic and encouraged at the same time. “Maria, speaking of conversations . . . you and I have had quite a few.”
“Yeah,” she agreed, “and they’ve helped.”
“How much do you think they’ve helped?”
“I think . . .” Maria exhaled heavily, drawing it out. But when she spoke again, she spoke with conviction. “I think they’ve helped to the point where I probably don’t have to come here anymore.” Even though she sounded decided, she asked her doctor anyway, “Is that okay?”
“It’s up to you.”
She nodded, contemplative. “I think . . . I’m good. I’m not so depressed anymore.”
Michael saw a chance to jump in, to speak up on his own behalf. Clearing his throat nervously, he revealed, “I would like to keep coming, if that’s okay.” It made him uneasy to say the words, because he hated having to ask for help. But Dr. Carlson had been helping him for a long time now, and he and Maria had discussed things. They both agreed this was for the best. “Not because I’m depressed,” he quickly clarified. “Actually, I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time. But I think I still have some issues with my past and my . . . past relationship that I wanna work through so I can be the best father and husband possible for my family.”
Maria reached over and lay her hand on top of his, squeezing supportively. Her touch was warm. Her touch alone was enough to reassure him that he was doing the right thing.
Dr. Carlson smiled at him and said, “You’re welcome here anytime.”
Even though he’d already known that was true, hearing it aloud made it so he was able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Evening fell, and Max sat outside on the porch, on the very step that used to be broken. He’d fixed it. It was solid now. No one could fall through.
Garret was busy chasing fireflies. The fun he was having made it difficult for Max to concentrate on what he was doing. He was looking through the latest budget report for the video store, trying to figure out just how much profit he’d made from the silent auction. But watching Garret was a lot more entertaining.
Garret had just lunged for a firefly and gone splat on the ground, a mess of giggles, when Liz burst out from inside the house with her cell phone in her hand. “Oh my god!” she exclaimed. “You’ll never believe what Tess just told me.”
“She’s giving birth to a baby rhinoceros,” Max guessed.
“Max!” she hissed. “Pretend to be interested.”
He rolled his eyes, feeling completely the opposite. But clearly his wife wasn’t going to let up until she told him, so he gave in. “Fine. What’d she say?”
“Michael and Maria are engaged again,” she revealed, sounding genuinely excited for them.
“Yippee,” he muttered, monotone.
“Max . . .”
“What? Why should I be excited for two people who I don’t even like, and who don’t particularly like me?”
“Because, our lives are, like, inevitably intertwined with theirs. And they’ve been through a lot.”
Well . . . it was hard to deny either one of those. “Fine,” he relented. “Joy, joy. Happy couple . . . yay.”
“Well, I’m happy for them,” she said steadfastly.
“That’s because you’re on the verge of a friendship,” he reasoned. “Me, on the other hand? Not so much. And I’m fine with that. I’m happily distant.” He tried to slip back into looking at his budget report, but still, his eyes glanced up at Garret on their own accord. He’d finally caught a firefly and was now busy examining it as it fluttered about in his cupped hands. “And speaking of distance . . .” His stomach clenched nervously. “Let’s hope Isabel keeps hers.”
Liz sat down beside him, giving him a confused look. “What do you mean?”
“She catches word of news like this? Could bring her out of hiding.”
“No,” Liz said quickly, though she shivered and scooted a bit closer to him. “She wouldn’t, right?”
“I hope not.” He sure as hell wasn’t going to contact her and tell her, and hopefully no one would. “The picture-perfect Guerins aren’t the only ones who have a good thing going now.” As much as he didn’t like Michael and Maria, he technically wouldn’t mind if their lives calmed down for awhile. And as much as he probably didn’t deserve it . . . he wouldn’t mind if his own life continued on like it was.
“And the girl and her . . .”
Michael waited a moment to see if Miley could sound out the word in the book she was reading, but when she couldn’t, he told it to her before she could get frustrated. “Prince.”
“. . . prince . . .” Again she trailed off, struggling to decipher what came next. She squirmed in his arms, a look of concentration on her precious face.
“Lived happily . . .” he hinted.
“Happy ever after.” She closed the book, and on the back cover was a picture of the prince and the princess standing atop their palace balcony, waving at the reader.
“Good job,” Michael said, squeezing her shoulders gently. “You’re a good reader.” He glanced up and noticed Maria standing in the doorway, her arms folded across her chest, just watching them. She looked like she’d been there for awhile, so she’d probably heard the entire story Miley had read. But then again, she’d heard it dozens of times before. Every time Miley either read it aloud or had it read to her, it was like she was hearing it for the first time.
“Do you think she and the prince got married?” he asked his daughter.
She nodded right away.
“You do? So do I.” He peeked up at Maria, smiling.
She took the hint to come into the room. “Got any room for me?” she asked.
“Hi, Mama.” Miley scooted over.
“Hi.” Maria squeezed into the small bed, settling comfortably on the other side of Miley.
“You think you can stay awake for a few more minutes?” Michael asked her, well aware that the conversation they were about to have totally defeated the purpose of a bedtime story. “Your mom and I have something to tell you.”
She tensed, a worried look sweeping onto her face. “What’s wrong?” she asked quietly.
His heart sank. The poor little thing. She’d been through so much, of course she would assume this was something bad.
“Oh, nothing’s wrong, sweetie,” Maria assured her quickly. “This is happy news.”
Immediately, Miley relaxed. “What?” she asked, looking up at her mom.
“Well . . . remember almost a year ago when you were the flower girl at Max and Liz’s wedding?”
“And remember how you were gonna be the flower girl for us, too?”
She lowered her head and mumbled sadly, “But you didn’t get married.” The way she pronounced the word made the double-r sound like a w.
“No, we didn’t,” Maria acknowledged quietly, her eyes glazing over for a bit. It was only for a moment, though, and then she was right back into the conversation again. “But we were sorta wondering if you would still be our flower girl. Because Daddy proposed to me again today, and I said yes. So we are gonna get married.”
Miley’s eyes grew wide with excitement. “Really?” she gasped.
Maria laughed. “I know, it’s cool, right?” She stroked Miley’s hair, and Michael caught sight of the ring on her finger. It felt really good to see that there.
“So are you gonna be our flower girl?” he prompted.
“Yeah!” she exclaimed.
“Good. That’s good. ‘Cause we wouldn’t want it any other way.” There wasn’t a doubt in his mind that watching Miley walk down that aisle was going to be just as rewarding as watching Maria.
“When?” Miley asked.
“When? When are we gonna get married?” Michael asked in return.
“Well, we don’t know yet,” Maria replied. “But we just wanted to let you know it’s gonna happen. It will happen this time.” She looked Miley right in the eyes as she said it. She sounded . . . determined wasn’t even a strong enough word. Sure. Absolutely, positively sure.
“I love you, Mama,” Miley said, shifting a bit so she could sit up on her knees and hug her mom.
“Oh . . .” Maria wrapped her arms around her, holding her close. “I love you, too, Miley.” There was a look of complete joy on her face. And Michael couldn’t tear his eyes away from either of them.
“Okay, Kyle, do me a favor and run downstairs and get the company plates.”
Kyle stopped just as he set foot in the kitchen, his towel in his hand. “But I was gonna go swim,” he protested.
“It’ll take you, like, two seconds.”
“Well, why do we need ‘em?”
“Because we are gonna have a magnificent feast.” Tess laid her recipe book out on the counter and flipped it open to a random page, deciding that whatever she landed on was going to be the first item she would make. Quesadillas, as it turned out. She could do that.
“Magnificent, huh?” Kyle said skeptically.
“Because Michael and Maria just got re-engaged, and we need to celebrate.”
“Honey, I think they’re . . . celebrating all on their own today,” he informed her, as if she didn’t already know.
“Exactly,” she said. “After all that sex, they’re gonna be starving. Ergo, magnificent feast. It’s like the first of many wedding presents.”
“Kyle, would you just go and get the plates?” She was starting to get impatient. “I wanna cook up a storm here.”
“But why do we need the company plates? Michael and Maria aren’t company. They’re here all the time.”
“We have to use the company plates,” she insisted.
“Because it’s a magnificent feast.”
He groaned, giving in, and teased, “Well, with logic like that . . .” He grinned, relenting to her request as he set his towel down on the counter and headed downstairs.
What a good husband, she thought, looking down at her recipe book again. This was her mom’s quesadilla recipe. If done right, it turned out in such a way that it was spicy enough for those with adventurous tastes but tame enough for those who couldn’t handle it as well. She’d only tried making them a few times, but even though they were always good, they never seemed to turn out just right.
Oh, well. It was a challenge then. She had nothing better to do all day. She’d make several batches of quesadillas if that was what it took to get them right.
She held her right hand to her side as she skimmed the ingredients list, feeling the familiar strain of cramps around her midsection. They hurt most around her back. She’d gained thirty-one pounds by now, and lugging it around all day was really starting to take its toll.
“Here they are,” Kyle announced when he came back upstairs, carrying a box of not only the company plates, but the company silverware and glasses as well. He set the box down on the kitchen table and asked, “Happy?”
“Very. Thank you.” She went over to him, rose up on her tiptoes, and gave him a quick kiss. He snuck another one in there and brushed his thumb across her cheek. “Anything else you need?” he asked.
“Nope.” She arched her back, grimacing slightly.
“Uncomfortable today?” he asked.
“Maybe you should stay off your feet,” he suggested, “let me cook.”
“You can’t cook.”
“Yes, I can,” he insisted halfheartedly. “I can make . . . Hot Pockets.”
“Hot Pockets aren’t magnificent.” She smiled, shaking her head. “Go swim.”
“You sure?” he asked, already picking up his towel.
“Yes.” Summertime was in full swing, and Kyle loved being outdoors. She wasn’t going to deprive him of that just because she was a little cramped up.
He opened the sliding door and went outside. She watched as he set his towel down by the side of the pool, kicked off his sandals, and then lifted his shirt above his head. He took one glance back over his shoulder, grinned at her, over-exaggeratedly showed off his muscles for a moment, and then jumped in the water, creating a big old splash.
As tempting as it was to watch him frolic for awhile, she knew she had things to do, so she forced herself to tear her eyes away and focus on the food situation again. She wasn’t sure she was feeling in the mood for quesadillas, though, so she flipped to a macaroni and corn casserole instead. They’d had it before, and she knew for a fact that Michael in particular really liked it. “Okay, two sticks of margarine,” she read aloud. “Two full sticks?” She glanced down at her feet, where her dog was looking up at her expectantly, his ears perked up and his tongue out as he panted lightly. “That doesn’t sound healthy, does it, George?”
He gave a little yip in response.
She smiled at him, feeling that they were truly communicating somehow. “Maybe if there’s extra, I can mix a little in with your dog food. Wouldn’t that be tasty? A little feast of your own.” She reached up into the cupboards and took out an 8x11 casserole dish that would hopefully be big enough. Glancing out at Kyle again, she saw that he had found some of Miley’s floaties and was now trying to fit one onto his own arm.
She shook her head, still speaking to her dog. “He’s like a big kid, isn’t he?”
George pawed at her foot.
“Hey, now speaking of kids . . .” She opened the refrigerator and took out the required two sticks of margarine, setting them right beside the casserole dish. “You’re gonna be nice to the baby, right?”
Excitedly, George stood up on his back two feet, pressing his front paws against her leg to keep his balance.
“Yeah, you will be,” she said, reaching down to pet his head. “Because you’re a nice dog. Yes, you are. You’re a nice dog. You know that?” All of a sudden, she felt a sharp stab of pain in side. “Uh . . .” she groaned, pressing her hands to her waist, bending towards the right. For a few seconds, it felt like it was fading, going away. But then all of a sudden, she felt another wave of pain, and she bent over farther, crouching forward this time. “Ah . . .” She’d never felt anything like it before. It was like a normal cramp multiplied by a thousand. It felt like someone was squeezing her midsection so hard that her insides were about to pop out. And it wasn’t letting up.
Just breathe, she told herself, trying to stay calm. This would pass. This had to pass.
But it wasn’t.
She tried to stand up straight again, but the pain made it unbearable to do so. She stayed bent over, nearly halfway over, breathing in and out raggedly.
And then she felt it: a little trickle of liquid running down the insides of her legs. She stood there and watched it go, knowing exactly what was happening.
Her water had just broken.
“Oh . . .” The nerves kicked in, and the pain in her abdomen intensified. She crumpled to the floor, knowing that this was not normal. To be in this much pain, to have her water break this early . . . something had to be very wrong.
“Kyle . . .” she whimpered, one hand braced against her back as the other wrapped around her round belly. George, thinking that she was getting down on the floor to play, tried to crawl up onto her and lick her, but she pushed him away.
She looked outside where he was still swimming, completely unaware that anything was going on. His back was to her now. He couldn’t see her.
“Kyle!” she yelled, but it still wasn’t loud enough. He didn’t hear her. She tried to move, to crawl towards the door, but she only got a few inches. Her entire body was in agony.
Apparently sensing now that something was wrong, the dog ran to the back door and started to bark as loudly as it could. Tess started to cry.
TBC . . .