JACK’S POINT OF VIEW
Looking over to my right, the sunset flooded the sky with endless streaks of pink, yellow, and red. It was one of the prettiest sunsets I had ever seen since I had moved to Bristol, and I hoped that it was a sign that things would go well that night.
Anna and I had been dating for just over a month, and our relationship had become unbelievably strong given the short time we had been together. It was especially strange for me, because although I had dated quite a lot of girls during the last few years, none of my relationships had ever been as serious as this one. And, to be completely honest, I had never really cared for a person as much as I cared for Anna.
As I bounded up the stairs to her hall, memories from the past couple of months began to flood my mind. I couldn’t quite believe that as a fresher, I had met someone I really treasured that quickly. Normally, I would never have imagined doing a scavenger hunt to ask a girl to be my girlfriend…that would have seemed like a complete waste of time with anyone else. Obviously, I really liked when we went out to restaurants and clubs, since I got to show her off to all of my friends. But I was also really fond of those nights when we just stayed in, hanging out with Liv or working on October’s stream of seemingly endless schoolwork. Finn had even made the effort to make the trek down from Leeds more often because he enjoyed seeing both of us so much.
My mind was babbling, and I couldn’t even put my thoughts about why I cared so much for Anna into words (which, for someone who’s receiving training in drama, shouldn’t be a problem.) Maybe it was the change in scenery, the transition from London to Bristol. Maybe it was the shift in people, moving to a place where I really only had one acquaintance coming in (and that was a girl from primary school who I had barely talked to in four years.) Maybe it was the absence of parental supervision – as much as I loved my parents and wouldn’t be the person I am without their guidance, it was definitely nice to start my own life away from my roots.
Or maybe it was the fact that I was growing up. The thought scared me, since the future was always so uncertain. I preferred to live in the moment, relishing everything that came my way, but that meant that I sometimes pushed my fears about growing older to the back of my head. Not that I was approaching some sort of mid-life crisis or anything, oh no. But you probably know what I’m talking about, right? Experiencing new things, new people and places, and figuring out what I wanted to do with my life was, frankly, terrifying.
That fear of the future had also prevented me from seeing my relationship with Anna in a clear light. What I thought was my enjoyment of spending time with her, sometimes every minute of every day, wasn’t just that. I appreciated everything about her – her smile, her beautiful eyes, the way she got embarrassed so easily. Her commitment to schoolwork, her dedication to her family back in the US, even just how she carried herself in public. For the first time in my life, I felt just as connected to a girl based on the little things about her as much as her persona, all of those tiny characteristics put together.
And, although I would be the first to acknowledge that I matured a lot after coming to Bristol, maybe it wasn’t just growing up that made me so infatuated with her.
Maybe it was…love?
I had been thinking that my head-over-heels approach to this relationship was turning into something else entirely during the last week or so, and after two or three days of not being able to get my mind off of that feeling, it suddenly dawned on me that I was probably falling in love with her. I had told girls I loved them before, but I had never felt this strongly about anyone else in the past. I’m not even sure I knew what love was before (and hell, I’m not even sure I know now), but I was pretty convinced that this was the closest thing to it.
I knew I sounded terribly cheesy, but as I gripped the dozen red roses in my hand and sat down in the lobby of her residence hall, I wanted to harness those emotions before we headed out on our most formal date yet. We wanted to celebrate a month of being together with a fancy night out, but since both of us had been bogged down with studying for exams and participating in various performances, we were obligated to reschedule our “monthiversary.” I had originally felt really badly about this, but as usual, Anna calmed my fears by telling me that if exams, concerts, or other big events in her family conflicted with major life events, that they’d simply push the celebration to a time when everyone could participate, stress-free.
She had a way with me, and although I know she thinks I am the “dominant” one in the relationship, it’s actually her who has the control. She made me feel so comfortable around her in every possible way, and without that, there’s no way I would have been as gutsy as I had been during these past few weeks.
Gutsy as in saying the first “I love you” tonight. Three words with eight tiny letters shouldn’t be a problem, but I was almost self-destructing waiting in the lobby.
A few short minutes later, I hear the clicking of high heels coming down the stairs and through the short hallway next to the main entrance area. Gulping, I swallowed my pride and tried to keep myself calm. After all, Anna was such an innocent character that I doubt she had any idea that this was coming her way. I hoped that she wasn’t going to be startled, or worse, upset by my statement tonight. I don’t know, even though nothing (and I mean nothing) had gone wrong in our relationship so far, Finn’s words had stuck with me and I still hoped that I wasn’t going to fuck the whole thing up.
Anna walked through the door. My god. She looked incredible, and I think my jaw must have dropped a little because she giggled, bowing her head and sending her gaze toward the ground for a second. The black dress she wore perfectly hugged her curves, and I didn’t even know how she could walk in those heels – they were short, but somehow these looked much more dangerous than any other pair I had ever seen. Maybe it was the pointed toes that looked like they could be used as a murder weapon.
“Well don’t you look dapper tonight!” she said as she grasped hold of the lapels on my black suit. “No tie – good choice. One more thing, though.” I admired her glittery silver nail polish as she unbuttoned one more button on my shirt.
“Now, darling, don’t get ahead of yourself! We’ve got places to go, people to see!” I smiled and winked at her as the sides of her eyes crinkled with laughter. I presented her with the bouquet of roses as my heart started beating faster and faster. I just can’t keep myself calm, can I?
We walked outside into the brisk air, and I noticed that I could see my breath for the very first time. I guess winter was quickly approaching - what may have been our last string of warm, sunny days was coming to a close. I offered Anna my jacket, since her dress was sleeveless, but she had already come prepared with a shimmery silver shawl that she wrapped around her shoulders as we exited the building.
The thermometer in my car indicated that it was 2 degrees Celsius outside, a frigid temperature the UK hadn’t had to endure since the previous March when winter was on its way out. Anna was still shivering, even after covering her shoulders with her shawl, so I slid my arm around her shoulders as we walked to my car. “So I’m guessing winter’s not your favorite season, is it?”
She let out a big laugh, which ended up sending an additional chill down her arms. “No, not at all! I’m more of a spring girl, myself. Back at home, the scent of melting snow combined with the gradually warming air always makes me really happy. What about you?”
“I think I like summer the best. It’s always been about finishing school, taking trips with my friends, relaxing, and fun. Plus, added bonus of London being sweltering hot.”
“Always a plus – can we tell Spain to send up some of that warm, Mediterranean air?” she joked as she looked up at me.
“You know what, I’ll get the mayor of Ibiza on the phone right now,” I quipped as I pulled my phone out of my jacket pocket. “Oh, bollocks, I don’t seem to have that number. Can you get Michael Bloomberg on the phone?”
She giggled and said, “Oh believe me, I’m definitely not that powerful. Although one of my good friends had parents that were close friends with Obama…”
“Well then! They must owe your parents some sort of favor? Tell them to get the President to issue an executive order to send warm weather over to Bristol.”
“Um, I’m not sure that’s entirely possible. You know, Jack, you might need to go back to high school. Maybe review some basic knowledge about history and governmental systems?”
“I never was very good at history, I guess that explains that!” I paused, letting the last fact she told me sink in. “But hold on a second, you have family friends who know Obama?”
She laughed and began to tell me the whole story as we drove to The Olive Shed, a Mediterranean restaurant over by where we had our very first date. I wanted to take her someplace really nice for tonight’s dinner, so I had done a bit of research online and talked to a couple friends in my hall to figure out exactly where to take her. After all, saying what I wanted to say tonight was hard enough and I was terribly unsure of myself, so I didn’t want anything along the way to be wrong.
I had called the restaurant ahead of time, making a reservation and letting them know that we were celebrating our one-month anniversary that night. Just as we arrived, the maître d’ took us to the best table in the house, in a secluded corner by the waterfront (well, almost. It was too cold to sit outside anymore!) After we sat down and began examining the chef’s offerings, Anna’s eyes went wide when she saw the prices on the menu. I reached over the table, taking her hand. Yes, it was expensive, but it was completely worth it, especially for such a special girl. I reassured her that she could order anything she wanted, regardless of price – I knew it was hard for her, since she was notoriously thrifty, but she eventually decided on the grilled chicken with sautéed paprika potatoes. I chose the steak with chips, chorizo, and cherry tomatoes and decided to go ahead and order a bottle of red wine for the two of us.
The meal was perfectly cooked, and the ambiance was spectacular – exactly what I needed to set the stage for the rest of the evening. Because I had made a reservation for our monthiversary, the restaurant actually brought us a complimentary dessert, complete with two spoons. Knowing that Anna had a sweet tooth, seeing her face light up when she saw the crème catalan with berry sorbet made me the happiest man on Earth, if only for one night. We couldn’t stop smiling at each other during dessert, and I think the romantic tension at our table indicated that we were both ready to leave the restaurant to go walk by the water. I picked up the check, leaving an especially generous extra tip, and took Anna’s hand in mine as we strolled out of the front door of the restaurant.
We had downed the entire bottle of red wine between the two of us, and I think we were both a little tipsy. Not drunk, just tipsy. Anna’s heels weren’t even that high, but she had a little trouble not falling into the cracks in the sidewalk. The cold air helped sober us up a little, though, and I offered that we could walk down to the riverfront to see the ducks, just like she had wanted to on our very first date. After all, we hadn’t been back here since the night we went to Riverstation!
Anna jumped with joy as soon as I told her that we could walk down and see the ducks, being the avid animal-lover she is. I loved how the littlest of gestures could make her so happy – we lived in a money-driven world of instant gratification, and to be able to find a girl that was delighted by the slightest things was really refreshing. I felt my phone buzz in my pocket, and as I looked at the screen, I realized it was Finn texting me and wishing me luck. I had the best brother in the entire world.
“Is that Finn? Why is he wishing you good luck?” Shit. Why I haven’t stopped these texts from displaying what they contain on the lock screen, I have no idea.
“Erm, um…” Stalling for time, I decided to go the mysterious route and slyly replied, “You’ll see soon enough! Patience!”
Putting on a playful pouting face, she looked far too cute for me not to lean in and give her a quick smooch. “Go on!” I motioned for her to run down to the barrier, and she leaned over the railing like a five year old. I never fully understood girls’ fascination with talking to animals, but I played along as best I could, waiting for the perfect moment to arise.
The shawl wasn’t quite enough protection from the elements, so she shivered violently, reacting to the sharp gust of wind that blew through the harbor. I knew she would never willingly take my jacket, so I slid the black coat off of my shoulders and laid it on her shoulders. “Anna, you’re freezing. Take it!”
“Oh my gosh, are you sure? Now you’re going to be cold!”
“I’ll be fine. So, since we’ve been together for a month, what’s been your favorite part of our time together?”
She paused, the wheels turning in her head. “Probably that one night when you came over to Liv’s room and crashed our girls night. All of those ways you woke me up again and again were so adorable, and I couldn’t tell you how much I liked you, since we had only just gone on our first date!”
“You could have! I felt like I had to make all of those major first few moves, which was totally nerve-wracking!” In all honesty, yes, it would have made my life a lot easier to know exactly how she felt early on in our relationship. She was quite quiet, which made her a little difficult to figure out.
“No I couldn’t! I’ve had so many bad experiences in the past that I just…didn’t want to mess it up by overcommitting too quickly.” Her glance darted towards the ground, and I would have done anything to know what was going on in her head right then.
The conversation lulled, and I took this opportunity to launch into my plan. “Anna, I’m really glad I found you. You’ve made my first couple of months at Bristol as perfect as they can be. I’m in this just as much as you are. I promise.”
She looked up at me, and I stared into her big brown eyes. “That really means a lot to me, Jack. I mean, I probably could have deduced that from the scavenger hunt you put together for me, since that was the sweetest thing in the entire universe. But I’m just so used to guys not committing, suddenly leaving, that I guess I wasn’t prepared to like you as much as I do.” Shaking her head, she continued, “That was really deep, I’m really sorry. But I don’t think I’ve ever liked a guy as much I like you, so I figure I might as well just say it.”
We stood there, probably for about 30 seconds, just looking into each other’s eyes. Finally, I leaned in and kissed her, a little more intensely than I had before, and she deepened the kiss as she wrapped her arms around my neck.
Pulling away and taking a deep breath, I figured it was now or never. “And I don’t think I’ve ever liked a girl as much as I like you. You’re amazing, Anna, and…I honestly don’t even know what to say.”
A few seconds later, I continued, “You’re perfect, there’s no one I’d rather have in my life right now. I…uh,” I could feel my face flaming up, something I normally teased Anna about. “Anna…I love you.”
I couldn’t believe I actually said it. Relief flushed through my system for half a second, that is, until I began to await her response. I was afraid that I had maybe said the phrase too early, and I didn’t want to push her into anything she wasn’t comfortable with. Why the hell did I think this was a good idea?!?
I was too wrapped up in my own thoughts to notice Anna’s face, which had softened tremendously since I said those three words. She reached up and caressed my cheek, bringing her face closer to mine. With the slightest whisper, she answered my declaration: “I love you too, Jack. I’ve never said that to anyone before, but I mean it with all of my heart.”
I picked her up and spun her around, smiling into a passionate kiss. It meant the world to me that she felt the same way I did, and wasn’t hesitant to say it. My whole body felt like jello as I placed her back onto the ground. It had been a long trip from New York to Bristol, but considering that she could have easily chosen to attend university in the US, I wrapped her in my arms and whispered in her ear, “I’m so lucky to have found you.”
It didn’t hurt to say it one more time, did it?
A/N HI GUYSSSSS!! I hope you’ve enjoyed this chapter - honestly, I’m running off to a big fancy dress ball tonight, so I haven’t even had time to look it over :( I will read and edit it later tonight, so I hope there aren’t any glaring mistakes! I just wanted to get it out this afternoon like I said I would :)
Love you all so so SO MUCH!!! Elise xx