Bryan: Age 19

Chapter One


Bryan sat in the living room of Bella’s parent’s house. He had just had his nineteenth birthday. He had celebrated it with Bella and had called his mother to see how she was doing. She had said she was fine, but he knew she was lying. He refused to go back though, he couldn’t do it. Bella’s parents, Nathan and Karmin, had rented him an apartment when their daughter told them his situation. They had been proud of her for sticking up for him. They were on their way home from a long trip and he had come over to greet them with Bella. Her birthday was also in two days. He got up and started pacing nervously. He was afraid her parents wouldn’t like him. They were rich and he wasn’t. Their daughter was a beautiful angel and he was a broken young man afraid of his own shadow.

“Stop pacing love, everything’s going to be alright.” Bella said as she came downstairs.

“I really want them to like me.” He expressed his fear openly to her, knowing she wouldn’t judge him for it.

“They will I promise.” She grabbed his shirt and pulled him to her. She wrapped her arms around his waist and rested her head against his chest. She hated how anxious he was and wished she could do something to make him feel better. He usually exercised when it started to get bad, but he couldn’t because her mom and dad were almost home. She tipped her head back and smiled at him.

“You light up my world Bella.” He tangled his fingers in her hair and kissed her. His heart beat so fast. He heard car doors close and he felt scared again. Bella smiled and went to the front door, throwing it open and squealing excitedly.

“Look at my little angel.” He heard a male voice say.

He stood in the living room, shifting nervously from foot to foot. He heard footsteps and was surprised by her parents. Karmin wore a long skirt with a peasant top and sandals. Her hair was in a French braid, a ribbon tied at the end. His first thought was she was going to cast some voodoo spell on him. Her father was tall and muscular dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. Bryan was scared of him. He averted his gaze when the older man looked at him.

“Well isn’t he handsome.” Karmin said as she sat her suitcase down. He blushed and Bella moved to stand next to him.

“Nice to finally meet you son.” Nathan said and held out his hand. Bryan took it, almost jerking away at the strength he felt.

“Nice to meet you too sir.” He replied, still looking at his feet.

“Please call me Nathan.”


Bella took his hand and squeezed it reassuringly. Her parents knew about his fears. How big men put him on edge and raised voices terrified him. They knew he had nightmares and had scars both physical and mental. They were very understanding and had willingly opened their hearts and home to him. They already loved him for saving her life. To them that was the greatest act of devotion.

“We’re very glad you could come and see us. We’ve been wanting to meet you since Bella’s little accident.” Karmin said and he looked up at her. “Is it okay if I hug you?”

“I guess.” He said and she quickly wrapped him in a gentle hug. He hugged her back, smelling some type of strong perfume clinging to her.

“So would you kids like to go out for dinner? You both look hungry.” Nathan was trying hard to show Bryan he wasn’t a threat.

“We’d love to daddy. I want to hear all about your trip.” Bella grinned and it helped push away some of the anxiety he was feeling.

They sat on the couch, waiting patiently for Bella’s parents to unpack their bags. Bryan held her hand between both of his, his thumb brushing her knuckles. He looked at the floor, feeling the all to familiar knots forming in his stomach. He heard footsteps and tensed. He looked up, his eyes meeting Nathan’s for a brief moment. His heart skipped a beat and he looked away. Bella noticed her dad’s look of sorrow. She knew he was thinking what kind of monster could make a young man so scared. She smiled at him and he nodded in understanding.

“You two ready?” Karmin said as she followed her husband.

“Yes mom.”

Chapter Two

They drove in silence, Bryan staring out the back window. His mind raced, trying to get used to the man and woman up front. He wanted to like them for Bella. She was so beautiful and bright. He could see why. Her mother and father were so amazing, so open. Nathan took them to Red Lobster. He had never been to a restaurant. His father never wanted him to go anywhere. He got out of the car and Bella walked around to hold his hand. Her touch made him feel better. He had found himself falling madly in love with her. It was hard not to. She drew him in with her warm smile and trusting gaze. It wasn’t fair how easily she had broken through that wall he had erected around his heart. She pulled him into the restaurant, her joyous smile at seeing her parents again making him happy. They were led to a booth by a waitress and Bella made sure he sat on the outside so he could leave if he needed to. There were so many people it was overwhelming.

“So Bryan,” Nathan said, “Bella told us that you were allowed to graduate early. That’s a big accomplishment.”

“I just worked hard. School was all I had for a long time.” He replied and forced himself to meet her father’s gaze.

“It’s certainly something to be proud of. Have you had sex with my daughter?”

“Daddy!” Bella said with a smile tugging at her lips. Karmin punched his shoulder. Bryan blushed and Nathan laughed.

“Don’t worry son, I was just teasing you. What you two do in your alone time is none of my business.”

Bella had forgot to warn Bryan about her dad’s weird sense of humor and need to try and embarrass someone on first meeting them. He had made a lot of friends with the things that came out of his mouth. She was sometimes surprised someone had not hauled off and punched him in the face. It probably had something to do with him being a bigger man. A waitress showed up and they ordered their food. She smiled and left.

“What exactly do you plan on doing in life Bryan?” Karmin asked.

“I’m not sure. I hadn’t planned for a future while living with my parents because I didn’t think I’d have one.” He answered truthfully.

“Would you like to come work for me?” Nathan asked and he swallowed.

“I don’t know. What do you do?”

“I run a publishing company. You can read manuscripts for me and pick the ones you believe should be published.”

“I’ll have to think about it if that’s okay.”

“Of course it is dear.” Karmin reached over and patted his hand.

Their food and drinks arrived quickly and they thanked the waitress. Bryan ate his shrimp and rice quietly. He felt rude for not making conversation, but it was what he was used to. Nathan cleared his throat and he jumped. “Sorry.” Bryan apologized and kept eating. He felt like he was making a bad impression. He looked up at Bella’s parents and they both smiled at him.

“Bella your birthday is coming up, what would you like to do?” Karmin asked sweetly.

“Surfing. We should fly over to Cali and hit the waves.” Bella answered and his anxiety increased. He could swim, but he didn’t like the water. His dad had thrown him into a river when he was ten and told him to swim or drown.

“That sounds like a lot of fun. Then we can really get to know Bryan.” Nathan said after he swallowed what was in his mouth. “We can leave tomorrow and spend a few days enjoying the beach.”

Bella could see the fear playing across Bryan’s face. She wanted to pull him into her arms and comfort him. He looked about ready to bolt, his leg bouncing under the table. She rested her hand on his knee and he stopped, a look of embarrassment flitting across his face. She planned on staying at his apartment tonight. They finished dinner and Nathan paid the bill and left a large tip for the waitress.

“Dad, can you drop us off at Bryan’s place after I pack?” She asked.

“Of course baby.” He answered.

“I love you daddy, mommy.”

“We love you too sweetheart.” Karmin replied.

Chapter Three


Bryan sat on the couch with Nathan while Bella ran upstairs with Karmin to pack her suitcase. He felt really scared being alone with this man who was so much bigger than him. “You two are using protection right?” Nathan suddenly asked and Bryan’s face turned red.

“We haven’t had sex yet.” He said softly and he saw Bella’s dad look at him in shock.

“Really? I wasn’t expecting that. Two teenagers alone in a house. I thought for sure something was going on.”

“I’ve just been busy trying to cope with everything that has happened recently. Honestly, it’s not that I didn’t want too, it’s just I wanted to be sure of my feelings first.” Nathan gently patted his back.

“Thank you for that and how do you feel?”

“I love her, I really do. She’s been so great to me. I have horrible nightmares and she helps me through them.”

Nathan smiled and Bryan could see the pride on his face. Bella came downstairs with her mother close behind. Bryan stood up and smiled at her. He took her suitcase and said goodnight to Karmin before taking it out to the car. Bella kissed her mom on the cheek and followed. Nathan popped the trunk for Bryan so he could put the suitcase in the car. He drove them six blocks and stopped in front of the very nice complex. Bella kissed his cheek and said goodnight before getting out. Nathan popped the trunk and Bryan grabbed the suitcase. He waved bye as her father pulled away. They went upstairs and he unlocked the door. Once they were inside and the door was closed, Bella pulled him into a kiss. He dropped her suitcase in shock and kissed her back. She pushed him up against the wall, her hands pulling at his shirt.

“Bella, please.” He said against her mouth and grabbed her wrists.

“Hush now, don’t over think this. I love you so much.” She whispered and wrestled her wrists free.

His heart stuttered at her words. He felt tears in his eyes. He lifted her and carried her into his room, pressing her into the mattress. He let her pull his shirt off and he suddenly felt very self conscious. “My scars.” Was all he managed to say.

“I love everything about you, scars and all.” She traced her fingers lightly over the ones on his abdomen, making him shudder. He swallowed the lump in his throat and kissed her as he slowly undressed her. He tossed her clothes on the floor and pulled back to look at her. His breath caught in his throat. She was so beautiful, her skin slightly bronzed, her body all lean muscle from all the hiking and lifting and running she did when she went with her parents on their trips. He didn’t know why he was so shy. This wasn’t his first time, but it was his first time with someone he loved. He stood and pulled the rest of his clothes off. She smiled up at him and grabbed his hand, tugging him back down. He ran his hands slowly over her skin, exploring every dip and shadow. He opened the drawer to his bedside table and grabbed a condom. “I’m on the pill.” She said.

“I want to be doubly safe just in case.” He tore the package open and rolled it on. She wrapped her legs around his waist and he laced his fingers through hers as he thrust into her. She gasped and he moaned. He watched her face as he made love to her, finding pleasure in her cries and whimpers as he moved slow and then fast. He captured her lips with his as he brought her up and over the edge before finding his own release. He rested his forehead against hers and supported his weight on his elbows. He kissed her gently then pulled back to look at her. Her eyes were closed and there was a smile on her beautiful face. “Good?” He asked.

“Amazing, took me by surprise.” She opened her eyes and the love he saw there warmed him.

“We should shower and then get to bed.”

“Agreed, I’m sure my dad will be over here bright and early.”

Chapter Four


Bryan washed Bella’s hair, his fingers gently massaging her scalp. She moaned with pleasure and he smiled. She tipped her head back and he rinsed the shampoo out. He grabbed his body wash and squirted a good amount into his palm. He washed her, running his hands lovingly over her skin. She took her turn washing him then they rinsed off together and got out. He dried both of them and carried her to bed. He wanted to cover up his scars, but she pulled him down with her before he had the chance. He snuggled in close, resting his head on her chest and draping his arm over her abdomen.

“How long have you had condoms in your drawer?” She asked and he could hear the smile in her voice.

“Since the day after your parents bought me all this furniture. I figured we’d be having sex at some point and I wanted to be ready.” He answered.

“I’m glad I have a man who is always prepared.” She kissed the top of his head and stroked her fingers through his hair.

“I love you so much Bella.”

“And I love you Bryan.” He closed his eyes, falling asleep.

He was falling through the sky, people screamed all around him. Bella was next to him. The side of the plane suddenly ripped open and she was sucked out. He screamed, reaching for her as she fell out of sight. He woke screaming with sweat causing his hair to cling to his forehead. Bella was on her knees, her hands gripping his shoulders. He pulled her down on top of him, his mouth finding hers in a kiss of fearful desperation. He rolled her beneath him, pushing her legs apart and thrusting into her. He held tightly to her, making love to her hard and fast, his fear driving him. They finished together and he clung to her as he cried.

“It’s okay babe, I’m here.” She kissed his cheek and ran her hands up and down his back.

“I’m sorry, so sorry. Did I hurt you?” He looked into her eyes worriedly.

“I’m fine love. I would have stopped you if you hurt me.”Β He lay next to her and found his favorite sleep position. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“We were on a plane and it was crashing. I lost you when a hole ripped in the side of the plane. I kept screaming your name, but you just kept falling until you were gone.” He brushed his thumb over her scar. “I’m such a coward.”

“No you’re not. You’ve had so little love and zero guidance. We’ll take this one step at a time.” Her heart broke every time he had a nightmare. She hated the lost look on his face. “Everything will be alright. Get some rest.”

He woke to Bella tickling his nose. He opened his eyes, smiling up at her. “Is it really already time to get up?” He asked and kissed her neck.

“Yes, I’m sorry. I’d love to spend all the time in the world with you in this bed, but my dad will be here to pick us up at six. That’s his favorite time for everything.” She said, sounding slightly irritated.

“I take it you had a lot of early mornings?”

“You don’t even know.” They got out of bed and dressed, Bryan a lot quicker than he meant to. He needed to cover his scars. He packed a suitcase, double checking to make sure he had everything he needed. Bella had bought him all new clothing, saying he needed a fresh start and that meant new everything. He had donated all his old clothes since they were still in good condition. “You still look worried.” He jumped as Bella’s voice broke into his thoughts.

“I am, scared actually. I’m not going to be any fun on this trip. You should just go and leave me here.” He ran his fingers through his hair and slipped his glasses on.

“No, I promised we would always celebrate our birthdays together. I keep my promises.”

“I’m not going to be able to get in the water. It’s one of my biggest fears.”

“You don’t have to, no one will force you.”

Chapter Five


At exactly six there was a knock on the door. Bryan answered, trying to smile up at Nathan. “Good morning.” He said.

“Good morning son, are you two ready?” Nathan said and Bryan nodded. “Would you like my help with the bags?”

Bryan moved aside so Bella’s dad could come inside. They each took a suitcase and took them down to the car. Karmin waved and smiled. Bella locked and closed the door then hurried downstairs and climbed in the back seat. “How was your night?” Karmin asked and Bella found herself blushing. “Oh I see.”

“It was eventful. He had another nightmare. He’s never been on a plane.” Bella said sadly.

“That poor boy. It’s amazing he’s still alive. I’m glad fate brought you two together.”

“Me too, he’s so sweet.”

Bryan and Nathan got in the car, the former freezing at the knowing look in Karmin’s eyes. He swallowed nervously and felt his face grow red. He buckled up and looked anywhere but directly at Bella’s parents. He could feel their eyes on him. “You two stop staring or you’ll give him a heart attack.” Bella finally said and Nathan laughed. He started the car and pulled away from the apartment.

Bryan leaned close to Bella, his lips right next to her ear. “What did you tell your mom?” He whispered.

“She guessed and it’s okay. They’re not mad at you. I also told her you had a nightmare.” She whispered back.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be used to how open you are with your parents. It scares the crap out of me.”

“You can be just as open. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind around them. They don’t keep secrets from me or each other.” She smiled at him and laced her fingers through his. She kissed him, her lips moving gently over his.

“If you two plan on making babies I hope you plan on getting married first.” Nathan said.

“Daddy, stop!” Bella thumped him in the back of the head, making him laugh.

They arrived at the airport in half an hour. They checked their bags in and went directly to their flight. Bryan froze at the gate, his hand squeezing Bella’s painfully tight. She didn’t say anything, just waited for him to calm down. She could feel him shaking, sweat beaded on his brow. She took a step, tugging him gently until he moved forward. “There you go, one step at a time.” She said warmly. She handed their tickets to the woman standing there who gave them back with a big smile. They made their way slowly onto the plane, going straight to first class.

Bryan sat down and quickly buckled up. He clenched his fists so no one could see them shaking. He felt sick to his stomach, like at any moment he was going to be running to the bathroom. He heard the pilot talking, but didn’t understand a word. He was too focused on not screaming to really pay attention. The minute the plane started moving, a whimper slipped passed his lips. “Look at me, Bryan.” Bella ordered softly and he turned his fearful gaze to her. “Just keep looking at me.” She slid her hand over his, rubbing her fingers over his knuckles until he started to relax. “Everything’s alright, I’m right here and I’m not going anywhere.” He took slow, deep breaths. They were in the air before he knew it.

“How long is the flight?” He asked.

“Four hours, but it’ll go by fast. Just keep your eyes on me.” He nodded, loving having a reason to look at her even if it was a bad one. He wished he was braver. He let her become his whole world, blocking out everything else. He didn’t even notice her parents smiling at them. He just needed her. He rested his head on her shoulder and kissed her neck. She giggled at his breath blowing against her skin. He loved her laugh. It was like music to his ears, warm and loving and so full of everything that was good and right in the world. He thought about what her father had said about marriage. He wanted that with her. He wasn’t so sure about children. He was terrified of becoming his father. He wondered if his dad had been good natured before becoming a father. He decided they would cross that bridge when and if they got to it. He closed his eyes, his muscles tensing when the plane hit turbulence. Bella whispered to him and he fell asleep.

Chapter Six


“Wake up sweety.” Bella said softly, kissing his forehead.

Bryan opened his eyes as everyone around them stood up. Had he slept the whole four hours? He raised his head and stretched before standing. He took Bella’s hand and they walked quickly off the plane. They retrieved their luggage and left the airport. He had never felt so happy to be on the ground and out in the open. San Francisco was huge, overwhelmingly so. He had never been to such a big city. “Where are we staying?” He asked as Nathan hailed a cab.

“Half Moon Bay. There is a beautiful lodge there within walking distance of the beach.” Karmin answered happily. “Nathan called ahead of time and had surf boards delivered to our room that way we can get on the water as soon as we get there.”

Bella bounced happily over to the cab and put her suitcase in the back. It was a van so they all climbed in and Nathan told the driver where they needed to go. She rested her head on Bryan’s shoulder, glad that he had come with her. It wouldn’t be a very fun birthday without him. She was proud of him for riding on a plane without having a full blown panic attack. She had seen how bad he could get, especially after his nightmares. She sometimes feared he would slip into a catatonic state and never come out. Sometimes he would sit in the shower, crying and rocking back and forth, begging for the images to go away. Those were the times he needed her the most. She had cried herself to sleep on more than one occasion.

The drive went by quickly and Nathan gave the man a little extra for getting them there promptly. They got out, retrieving their luggage and checking in at the lodge. Bryan thought it was beautifully crafted. He had never been to such a nice place. Nathan’s and Karmin’s wealth made him feel very inadequate, like he had no real worth. He would never tell Bella that, never do anything to make her unhappy. She was used to being rich so it didn’t mean anything to her. She wasn’t one to just toss around money to get her way, she wasn’t a stuck up young woman who saw herself as queen of the universe, but she knew her parents had power and so did she by default. Nathan had made sure to get them their own room down the hall.

Bella took his hand and pulled him into their room. They sat their bags down next to the solitary surf board and walked over to the window. Their room over looked the golf course which was well manicured. He wrapped his arms around her waist from behind and rested his chin on top of her head. “I like it here already.” He said.

“We used to come here at least once a month to surf and relax.” She replied and turned to face him. Her arms went around his neck, her fingers playing through his hair. He admired her, taking in every detail. If she wound up leaving him because of his issues then he wanted her image burned forever in his memory. It would break his heart if she ever walked away, but he would never blame her for wanting a normal man. “What are you thinking right now?” She asked.

“That we should get changed so you and your parents can enjoy the ocean.” He lied and she frowned, but didn’t push the issue.

They changed into their swim wear and Bryan carried the surf board for her out to the lobby where Nathan and Karmin waited patiently. There was a jeep waiting outside for them that Nathan had rented and then had delivered. Bryan helped him tie the boards to the top. They got in and drove to the beach. Bryan had to admit that it was breathtakingly beautiful. The sound of the waves crashing against the beach was a comforting sound. He had only seen the ocean one other time in his life. It was on a short cruise where his father spent every day drinking. He had been terrified the whole time, the movie Titanic playing over and over again in his head, in his nightmares. He helped with the surfboards, handing Bella hers before finding a nice place in the sand where he could watch her.

She rode the waves with ease, never losing balance as she raced her dad across the water. He could see her smile even as his heart raced uncontrollably. She lay flat on the board, diving under a wave and then coming back up again. He was so afraid she would hurt herself. They stayed out there for a long time, until they were so exhausted that Bella almost couldn’t pull her board out of the water. He raced down to the waters edge and lifted it for her. She smiled even as she tried to catch her breath. They sat down on the beach, watching the sun starting to go down. The sunset on the ocean was amazing. “Beautiful isn’t it?” She laid her head on his shoulder.

“The only thing more beautiful is you.” She laughed softly and he kissed the top of her head.

They went back to the lodge and Bella asked her dad to order pizza because she was to tired to go out. Bryan carried the board back to their room and propped it up against the wall. “We should shower.” He said.

“Why, does my ocean stink gross you out?” She teased and he grinned at her. She loved when he smiled, it made him look his age.

“Oh yes, it’s incredibly disgusting.” He lifted her into his arms and carried her into the bathroom. He sat her on the counter and switched on the shower. He moved to stand between her legs and untied her bikini top. He held it up for a moment. “This little thing is liable to get me in trouble.” He said sweetly.

“Does it draw to much attention?”

“Most definitely.” He dropped it on the floor then untied her bikini bottom. “You are far to pretty. It drives me crazy.”

She pulled him closer and kissed him. They were all hands and mouths, touching and nibbling. Before they knew it they were on the bathroom floor and he was making love to her. She was glad their room was so far away from her parents. She was a lot louder than she meant to be. They might be very open, but her dad would still try and embarrass her. He lay there kissing her when they finished. He didn’t think he would ever get enough of her. He lifted her off the floor and into the shower. They bathed and dried, walking hand in hand to the small courtyard where her mom and dad were already eating.

“What would you like to do tomorrow?” Karmin asked her daughter.

“I don’t know, maybe take Bryan to Las Angeles for the day. He’s never been. We can take him sightseeing.” She answered and took a big bite of pepperoni pizza.

“If that’s what you want then we’ll do it.” Nathan said with a smile.

After dinner they went to bed. Bella was exhausted, her legs cramping. Bryan carried her to their room and lay her gently on the bed. He sat down next to her and pulled her feet into his lap. He rubbed her sore muscles and she sighed in contentment. He was such a good boyfriend. He made her so happy that she couldn’t see living without him. She thanked him when he finally stopped and held her arms open so he could pillow his head on her chest. She liked sleeping like this, holding him and being there if he had a nightmare.

Chapter Seven


Bryan woke alone. Bella’s side of the bed was cold like she had been gone for awhile. He started to panic, thinking he was having another nightmare. He got out of bed and pulled on a pair of shorts. He left the room, knowing she wouldn’t be far. He heard laughter and followed it. He came to the pool and Bella was sitting on the edge with her feet dangling in the water talking to a guy who looked about his age. He felt a pang of jealousy and didn’t know what to do about it. She looked up and waved at him then motioned for him to come over. He frowned, going around the pool and taking a seat next to her.

“Good morning.” She said happily. “Did you sleep okay?”

“Yeah, just fine.” He answered then turned his attention to the guy in the water with his arms propped up on the edge of the pool.

“This is Ethan, he works for the coast guard. Ethan, this is my boyfriend Bryan.”

“Nice to meet you.” Ethan said and held out his hand. Bryan shook it and smiled as best he could. “You’re very lucky, she seems like the type that would be hard to catch.”

“Not as hard as you might think.” Bryan replied and took her hand.

“Anyway, we must be going Ethan. It was really nice chatting with you.” Bella said and stood.

“You too, both of you.” Ethan swam off and Bryan came to his feet.

Bella pulled him away from the pool and into the lobby where it was quiet. “Is everything alright?” She asked as they sat down.

“I’m fine, I just wasn’t expecting you to be gone when I woke up and…” He trailed off and looked at his feet.

“You were jealous.” She finished and he nodded. “There’s no reason to be. I love you, I mean it.” He felt very guilty. Of course she didn’t want anyone else. She wasn’t the type of person to flirt with someone else even if they were flirting with her. He knew she was just being nice.

“I’m sorry, I love you too and trust you. I’ve just never felt like this for anyone. My emotions are still on the fritz.”

“It’s alright love.” She leaned in and he kissed her. “Now, lets get dressed and wake my mom and dad. I want to get to L.A. so you can see everything.”

They walked hand in hand back to their room, passing Ethan who nodded as he dried his hair. Bella pulled Bryan into their room, shutting and locking the door. She jumped into his arms, her legs around his waist and he spun in circles so she laughed. He got dizzy and flopped down on the bed, laughing with her. She kissed him, her hands moving over his bare chest. He grabbed her wrists and pulled them behind her back. She lifted her head and arched an eyebrow in question.

“We’ll never get out of here if you don’t stop that.” He said, trying to be serious and failing.

“It’s my birthday, I can stay in all day if I want to.” She wiggled her arms, but he didn’t let go.

“I want to go out with you, experience new and exciting things with you even if it scares me half to death. We have all our lives to stay in bed, but I want today to be special like you made my birthday. Lets go do something you love.”

“You have no idea how amazing you really are. Alright, I can wait. I’m just so happy to have you here with me.”

“Believe me when I say that I love being here with you.” He stroked her cheek and kissed her one more time before letting her get to her feet. They changed clothes, her taking her bikini off slowly making him grin and shake his head. He had to look away from her before he changed his mind. Once they were dressed he lifted her onto his back and they ran down the hall to her parents room. She knocked on the door and Nathan opened it.

“Come on lazy bones, I thought six was your favorite time.” Bella said teasingly.

“We thought we’d let you kids sleep in since it’s your birthday.” He replied and pinched her cheek. “Give us a couple of minutes and we’ll be right out.”

“Okie dokie.” Bryan carried her around the building, threatening to throw her in the pool. She clung to him, not wanting to get her clothes wet and have to change again. Nathan and Karmin called for them and they all headed for the jeep. Nathan drove them to Las Angeles and Bryan gasped at all the huge buildings. They took him to the Natural History Museum where he practically ran up and down the halls to see everything. Karmin pulled out her camera, taking pictures of everyone. Next was the Science Center which he loved even more. It warmed her heart to see him looking so young and carefree. They made their way to Little Tokyo where they found a good place for lunch. Bryan ate fast, finishing his meal before everyone else. They all laughed at how eager he was, making him blush furiously. The last place they decided to take him was the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum because no trip was complete without doing something strange. He looked at a lot of the things with either wide eyes or confusion.

He shook his head as they went back to the jeep. “The weird things people do.” Was all he said.

Bryan thought about a lot of things as they made their way back to the lodge. They would be going home in the morning and there was one more thing he had to do. He had the perfect gift for Bella if she would accept it. They pulled up and everyone got out. “Excuse me Nathan, can I talk to you alone?” He asked nervously.

“Sure you can. Why don’t you girls go on in and order something delicious.” He said and both Bella and Karmin looked confused.

“Is everything okay?” Bella asked, worried.

“Yes, please just go on in and wait for me.” She nodded and she walked away with her mother.

“What’s up son?” Nathan asked and leaned against the jeep.

Bryan ran his fingers through his hair and cleared his throat. He looked into her father’s eyes and took a deep breath. “I want to ask Bella to marry me. I know we haven’t been together that long, but I really love her. I wanted to get your blessing and see if you would take me to pick out a ring.”

He didn’t break eye contact even though he was scared out of his mind. Nathan clapped him on the back and smiled. “I would love nothing more. Get in the jeep.” Bryan let himself breathe and did as he was told. They found a jewelry store and Nathan helped him pick out a beautiful silver band with a tanzanite stone. It was very expensive, but Nathan bought it anyway. “There’s no such thing as to expensive for a beautiful young woman.” He said and handed Bryan the little blue box.

“Thank you.” They went back to the lodge and Bryan found Bella eating by the pool with Karmin. He grabbed her hand, making her put her fork down and pulled her out back where the golf course was so they could be alone.

“Bryan what’s going on?” She looked scared and he kissed her, taking her by surprise.

“You love me right?” She nodded, looking suspicious. “You always want to be with me, forever?”

“Of course I do, now tell me what’s going on.” He dropped down on one knee and pulled out the little blue box, opening it. Her eyes widened in shock and he swallowed nervously.

“Please say yes. I want this, I want us. This is probably the bravest thing I’ve ever done. You can break me so easily, Bella. With one word, you determine my future. Please say yes.” Tears started streaming down her face and she dropped down in front of him, wrapping her arms around his neck.

“Yes, I’ll marry you. I love you.” She finally said and she leaned back so he could slip the ring on her finger.

“Thank you for loving me.” They kissed each other as the sun set, excited for the beginning of their life together.


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