All night staring at the ceilingLifehouse – All In
counting for minutes I’ve been feeling this way
So far away and so alone
But you know it’s alright
I came to my senses
Letting go of my defenses
There’s no way I’m giving up this time
Yeah, you know I’m right here
I’m not losing you this time
There’s no taking back
what we’ve got’s too strong,
we’ve had each other’s back for too long
There’s no breaking up this time
And you know it’s okay, I came to my senses
Letting go of my defenses
And I’m all in, nothing left to hide, I’ve fallen
harder than a landslide
I spent a week away from you last night.
And now I’m calling, calling out your name
Even if I lose the game
I’m all in, I’m all in tonight
Del Sol Valley Everett Cameron & Maeve Reed's rental house Everett 23, Maeve 20
Even after almost a year of living in their small rental property in Del Sol Valley now, progress was still slow, still only small to medium engagements but no big break. Life in Del Sol Valley wasn’t cheap, their humble incomes barely allowing a meager budget to make rent, pay for utilities, groceries and the occasional splurge on something special. It wasn’t the prestigious life that comes to mind when you hear Del Sol Valley.
One morning Rett came into the kitchen where Maeve was making pancake batter.
“Good morning Maevenator, listen to this! I had the best idea for a riff in my sleep last night … we could do the new song with this right when you hit the high pitch … tell me what you think!” Rett sounded excited and played said riff.
“Morning. What I think is that you need to get your ass out of the kitchen and clean off the table if you want food. Coffee’s already done. Now move!” she pushed him out towards the table, then resumed stirring in the bowl.
“Table’s clean, I wiped it last night and doubt anyone broke it to jelly finger it overnight.” Rett put down the guitar then pointed at the table.
“Duh, GET THE LAPTOPS OFF unless you want to use yours as a placemat! Geesh!”
“Geesh is right! Did we get married last night? All that’s missing is a leather outfit and a whip and you’d make a great dominatrix! New nickname for ya, ‘Maevenatrix’, yup yup.”
“You will think whip if you don’t move this shit – PRONTO! I am already cooking, because you burned two pans so badly that we had to throw them out, but I am not the fucking maid, nor your mommy. So get crackin’! Make yourself useful, we don’t need you for decor!”
“Okay okay, dictator Reed, I am on it. So what about the riff?”
“Sounds great! We’ll do a practice run later, after breakfast … IF you ever clean off that table!”
“We should get barstools, so we could use that part of the counter island over there as an office.”
“Sure, I’ll shit some dollar bills later. Electric and water are due, Rett. We have no money for extras right now. Barstools don’t even make the list. Not for a while.”
“Crap. Did we ever hear back from that guy who said he was interested?”
“First of all, I cannot even hear you over the two laptops STILL being on the table! And secondly, if we had heard anything positive from anyone, you think I’d be stirring up frigging batter like Betty Crocker? I’d have done backflips into your bedroom!”
“Now we’re talking …” Rett grinned, wiggling his eyebrows, then proceeded to move said laptops.
This was a pretty typical day for them, they had a comfortable routine together, at home and even when they were booked for gigs somewhere. A real team. Still purely platonic and just friends, but they had grown to be tight friends, despite their constant bickering, which was just part of who they were together.
Said comfortable routine came to a screeching halt the day Maeve got the call from her sister.
Cordelia and Julian had set a date for their wedding, in June, just as Maeve had predicted, so now Maeve was asked to come home to fulfill her duties as maid of honor and help plan the wedding. Her parents were paying for her ticket, she’d stay in her old room. Not wanting to be separated, Rett whined about it enough to his family, that his parents sponsored his ticket to come stay with them while Maeve was going to be there.
Windenburg Everett Heights Park
Visiting home was a welcome interruption for Everett, unfortunately this time though, Maeve was on a tight schedule with all the wedding-related things, which kept them apart a lot.
Maeve had only managed to sneak away a few times to hang out with Rett, and only ever for a brief time. One of those times, after another aggravating day spent with her sister, her sister’s bridesmaids and the girls’ mother, who according to Maeve had turned into momzilla, Maeve had called Rett and begged him to meet with her short notice. She didn’t have to ask him twice.
So they ended up at Everett Heights, which was half way between Rett’s parents’ home and the Reed’s residence. After relieved hugs, she vented her frustrations to him.
“Sorry for the last minute thing, but I needed to see you – NOW, to at least have one normal person to talk to for a while. Even my dad is completely absurd now. Not to mention everyone else related to me, no surprise there. Oof!”
“Well, if you consider me normal, things must be a lot worse than I thought.” Everett chuckled.
“You have NO idea! I just wished I had parents, grandparents and a brother like yours! I am gonna be on an episode of ‘Snapped’ if Cordelia doesn’t make up her mind soon! I swear she decided on bridesmaids dresses five times so far, I have tried on every imaginable style in every imaginable color of the rainbow and now, we are still no further then we were before I got here. She was THIS close to pulling the trigger on dresses today, we all sat there holding our breaths, and she suddenly starts crying hysterically and runs out of the store! AGAIN! Took mom half an hour to calm her this time! So we are doing it all again tomorrow! I am going to shoot myself. Or her. Maybe both. Urgh!”
“You know, we could make that happen …”
“Why, you got a gun on ya?”
“No, the other thing, about being part of my family.”
“I think we’re too late here, adoptions don’t happen after you turn 18. I am 20.”
“Not adoption …” he gave her the strangest smile.
“What? OMG – Cordelia’s condition is contagious! Are you going to turn into bridezilla too now? I cannot handle two of those! All joking aside, if that was intended to cheer me up, gotta say, not your best work, jokewise.”
“Wasn’t meant to be funny. I know it sounds crazy, but I am dead serious here. Why not, Maeve? I mean, let’s be honest here for a moment, we are both hiding from something obvious, or are you seriously going to tell me I am wrong? Because I know I am not. After spending all this time apart now I found that I hate being separated from you, plus I ran out of reasons why we are both even running from the truth. I mean, we literally have nothing to lose.”
“Holy crap! So we’re just gonna lay it all out there without warning like old man balls on a nude beach, huh?”
“Yeah. I mean, how else are we going to do this, lacking any surprise factor? Hard to ask you on a date, if we already live together. What for, anyway? Back home we have all our meals together, we started pooling our money a while back, so at this point were I to take you out, it would practically be like you paying for it yourself, we can’t afford anything fancy anyway, and you know pretty much everything about me. Even the dirtiest skeletons in my closet.”
“We haven’t even kissed yet … let alone … you know. That is a little weird, even by our standards.”
“That’s an even easier fix. Just have to say the word …”
“All right. The word.” Maeve smiled at Rett.
Rett leaned in for a kiss, tender at first, intended as a small first kiss, but when he started to pull away, she pulled him back, the kiss turned intense and heated, along with their bodies. An undeniable passion ensued quickly.
“Tents. There are tents …” Everett said quietly and breathlessly into the ever-renewing kiss, when he realized this wasn’t just a kiss anymore, but a prelude to something inevitable at this point. Both their defenses were now down. He could feel it, without her having to say it.
“Someone else’s tent? Eew. And what if they are in there?” Maeve grimaced.
“At this time of year the tents most likely belong to some birdwatching nerds who are out all day stalking some feathered rarities until dark. If not, we just tell them we thought it was our tent, sorry and then run.”
“Really? Sounds crazy enough for me to want to try it …”
“Why not? The tent thing is sort of a Cameron family tradition, you know I was conceived that way, right here, in someone else’s tent when the mood struck. And my parents weren’t the ones who started that tradition either … ” Rett grinned.
“Yeah, I remember you telling me, that’s hysterical. Man, I love your crazy ass family! Well, then let’s carry on that tradition! But without the ‘making-our-own-Rett-part’, please.”
Rett ran to a tent, waiting for her to follow, which she did, much to his surprise.
“No worries there. The only thing we are gonna create is euphoria. Let’s see if you are all bark and no bite.” he grinned.
“Oh, I bite all right …” she gave him a coquettish smile and a wink.
Rett carefully inspected the tent, then unzipped the door and peeked inside.
“Well, first try a winner. It’s meant to be! Come here …”
“All right, get in there already – move it – before the owners come back. Hurry!” giggling she gave him a shove sending him tumbling inside.
“Always so bossy!” he complained as he pulled her inside now.
What followed started out with the usual bickering and teasing, giggling, then quickly transformed into a different form of teasing, the kissing turned heated and passionate, both forgot the world around them completely for a while as the friends became lovers.
Once finished they tumbled out of the tent laughing, ran over to the lake and sat down, still laughing hard.
“That was weirdly the most romantic thing I have ever done! Including you sling-shooting that first condom across the tent, butterfingers. Such a rookie move! Lucky that thing didn’t hit me or there would have been hell to pay!”
“It would have been love with extra feeling … joking aside, to tell you the truth, I haven’t been this nervous about being with a girl since my very first time. You really are something else, Maeve. You get to me on levels I didn’t even know I had.”
“Did you just use the dreaded L-word? OMG – did that hurt? Do you need therapy now?” she giggled, teasing him.
“I did use the L-word and never felt better thank you very much. I am not afraid to say it. Here, I’ll come straight out with it: I LOVE you, Maeve Reed. With all I got. BAM!”
“Wow. That was unexpected … so we went from barely able to stand each other to kissing, nookie and confessions of love in one day.” she giggled with a smile. A big, genuine one, mirrored in her eyes, and her cheeks got slightly flushed.
“Nice to hear you NOT say it though. Who needs therapy now, huh?” Rett playfully frowned. She didn’t have to anymore, at this point, Rett had never been surer of anything before in his life than her feelings being genuine and that realization made him feel ten feet tall and invincible.
“I love you, Everett Cameron. With every fiber of me. Thought that was kinda obvious now though. But yeah, feels good to say it: I love you. Every sarcastic, arrogant, amazing, aggravating, incredible, beautiful inch of you.”
“I just realized that it’s probably safe to say that we are never gonna be your average couple.” he chuckled.
“Nope! Nor do I ever want to be average or conventional. Add that to my list of things I love about you. We aren’t and never will be, which makes you even more perfect in my book. Can I tell you a secret?”
“I have been hoping for a long time that all we just did would happen. Now it finally has. Been wishing it would ever since our trip out to Del Sol Valley. I mean, I literally slept in the same bed with you, I even squished onto a narrow couch with you, after crawling all over you – yet, NOTHING. You just were not making a move. I realized even when I was still living with Mariko that I had a major crush on you, still, after all those years and despite all you have done to me. You broke my little 14 year old heart and still … as soon as you came back into my life, there I went again. You on the other hand – nada. You’ve even seen me barely dressed a million times, walked in on me in the shower TWICE now, yet, you whored around with everyone BUT me. Not a confidence booster.”
“It wasn’t anything like that. I really wish you would have shown me you were interested, just a little sign, something definite. I thought you just trusted me, but didn’t like me in that way, and I respect you way too much to have wanted to risk it anyway. Besides, you were always so different from all the other girls, you never reacted the way they did, totally unpredictable, and it was frightening to me. Still kinda is. And then you went off about how revolting my hair is to you … luckily it was dark in that tent. Not sure how that is supposed to work now.”
“Want another secret?” she smiled.
“Lay it on me.”
“I only said that about your hair because I didn’t want you to just add me to your list of conquests. I frigging love your hair. It suits you, fiery and flamboyant, just like you. Any other color or even another shade of red would be just wrong on you. And also, when the light or the sun catch it just right, it looks like an afternoon walk in an autumnal forest, calming and like a work of art … I could dream forever just staring at you … and those freckles are to die for.”
“Wow. Dayum girl … I think I will take you back in that tent and never let go again. Never ever.”
“I’d wouldn’t mind that one little bit. I don’t want you to let go again.”
“I already told you, that’s not off the table … my family could become yours …” he spoke the words softly, but sincerely, while placing his hand on hers, squeezing it gently.
“Are you seriously talking about marriage after one time of … tent tradition?” she wondered.
“I am. I know this sounds funny coming from me, but with you, it never has been about the sex. Don’t get me wrong, that is definitely a bonus, but I always felt we connect so strongly on such a different level, we had each other’s backs when we had no real reason to. Man, listen to me, I sound mushy like my brother. If I start talking about Star Wars cosplay, please put me out of my misery! The world can only handle one Declan.”
“You got it. But I know what you mean. I didn’t want to like you, Rett. I was so angry with you all those years, I wanted to hate you. But I couldn’t … and then when I needed help the most, you were right there when nobody else wanted to come to my aid, you never asked for anything in return, never even tried to kiss me … You were the first person to believe in me and my music dream, you kept believing in me when I wanted to give up, that is huge to me. You are the best friend anyone could ask for, the only one I would ever want and need in my corner. You know what? Fuck it all! Get up, will ya?”
Maeve got up, held out her hands and pulled Rett up to her. When both were standing, she kissed him with an intensity beyond words. That kiss already said more than any words ever could.
“I have no ring, nor money to buy one anytime soon, obviously, but Everett Cameron, will you marry me? Be mine and I promise you I will be yours all yours for as long as you want me! I hate being apart from you more than I can say and I never want this again! I need you close!” she said, breathlessly, but with a sincerity that allowed no questioning her intentions.
“Dayum girl! Hell yeah I do! I DO! I so want to marry you! And you are right, fuck it all! I am ALL IN! I love you so fucking much, girl! I hate being separated more than anything!” Rett answered equally breathless, partially from the intense kiss, but also for excitement. His heart was beating out of his chest, he felt the ground move beneath them.
He pulled her closer and they kissed again.
They had to go separate ways soon after, both had family dinners to attend to. He walked her home, kissed her outside her parents home, and couldn’t stop smiling as he walked away. Did that just really happen?
During the family dinner at Rett’s grandparents’ home, his parents and brother Declan present, Declan’s girlfriend Rory was at her own parents’ home located across the lake. At some point when the usual banter had subsided, Natalie suddenly spoke up.
“One thing I would like to know is why both our boys are so slow with their relationships! One has been in a stable relationship for three years, in his mid-twenties now, still just girlfriend/boyfriend, still living in the same tiny apartment they moved to right after college, and the other doesn’t even have a relationship because he likes to play STD roulette too much. Nobody at this table is getting any younger. I don’t understand the hold up. Most of my friends already have grandchildren, I don’t even have a daughter-in-law. And that happening to us, who have lived out the most harmonic marriage for them, I just don’t get it!”
His mother’s rant caused Rett to burst into brief hysterical laughter.
“Sorry. Just funny you should say that, mom … I have been wondering how to bring this up, but I came here straight from hanging out with Maeve at Everett Heights and … well … I guess we’re engaged now.”
“WHAT?!” was the nearly simultaneous response from around the table, all stared wide-eyed at Rett.
“NO! I was gonna do that!” Declan sounded horrified.
“You were going to propose to Maeve?” Brendan wondered confused.
“No, not Maeve, dad! Rory of course! I already have the ring, just haven’t had the … well … But I had the idea first! Now it will just look like I am copying my little brother. How could you just go and ask her without even saying anything to me?! I thought we told each other everything!” Declan rambled on.
“Uh – okay. First of all, chill! Second of all, we do tell each other everything. It all just happened right before I came over here. Thirdly, I didn’t know I had to get authorization for relationship status changes from you, and fourthly, I didn’t ‘just ask her’. Maeve asked me. None of that was planned, not by her and certainly not by me.”
“Oh my! But, wait. Didn’t you just tell me earlier today that you two were still ‘just friends’ – when I specifically asked you about your and Maeve’s status? I believe you followed it up with the request that I would – and I quote – ‘quit riding your ass about it’. Oh yeah, I am quite sure that happened just hours ago! Something smells worse than fishy here, son!” Natalie chimed in.
“Uh, yeah. That was all true then. It’s kinda complicated, mom. Long story. Well, actually, not a long story at all.”
“All right, uncomplicate it for me then! I am all ears, Rett!” Natalie demanded.
“I can try. And sorry, but when you asked me earlier today, we were only friends. Not even a kiss yet, let alone anything more. Not for lack of wanting, mind you, just …. I guess I respect her too much and didn’t want to lose her, she is just way too important to me. Then earlier we somehow just ended up kissing, and then we … well … more … and then she asked me to marry her. And I said hell yeah! That was pretty much it. I am still in a daze, but I am happy. Feels right.”
“Oh dear lord! You must be a helluva lay if the girl proposes to you after one roll in the hay! And you are one helluva nutjob, kid. If anyone here tries to blame these wrecking ball news on my genes I will personally toss you in that lake out there! Either way, congratulations. We all need drinks! Stiff ones!” Blaine said now while shaking his head.
“Blaine-y … you know what the doctor said … no alcohol with your meds!” Viktoria stopped her husband, earning her a pouty response but he stayed put.
“The doctor can kiss my ass! I don’t pay him obscene amounts of money to prescribe nasty ass horse pills I don’t really need, just so he can line his pockets with our money, while I suffer through all this shit sober! And Declan, quit being whiny! Shit, or get off the pot! That girl’s loved you for so long now, been so patient with you and your screwed up ways, as soon as you flash that ring she won’t give a shit about timing or how and where! And listen to your mother, move into a decent house with her for God’s sake or one day you and your nerd collection will be single because she moved on! Couldn’t blame her!”
“Uh .. okay. Will do grandpa …” Declan said.
“How are you even gonna pay for a wedding, Rett? Or are we supposed to pick up that bill now? If I may remind you, you didn’t even have the money for the plane ticket down here. No matter what you ultimately decide on doing, a wedding is a lot more than a coach class return ticket between Windenburg and Del Sol Valley, kiddo. ” Brendan wondered.
“Ahem … we haven’t really thought that far ahead yet. To be honest with you, I barely had any time to wrap my own head around it yet. And there really isn’t a rush on the wedding part. And no, I would never ask any of you to pay for it. We will pay for it. Or we’ll elope. Hell, I don’t even know how fast she wants that or what she wants. Maybe we’ll just be engaged for a while. Or maybe we can slide in with Cordelia and Julian and make it a double wedding. Ha ha ha … sorry, just kidding, that was probably funnier in my head. Although, Cordelia would have a stroke! HA HA HA!”
“Yeah, incredibly hilarious, kid. I am just gonna get it out there, because we all are thinking it, if not now, then definitely later: you know how things go with sex at Everett Heights and the whole Cameron curse stuff, right, Rett? Did you both take a second to consider all that or did you hump first and ask questions later?” Brendan said.
“Uh, yikes, dad, don’t hold anything back, will ya? But yeah, we did. I am always careful, you know that. No Cameron curse for me, not before and not with Maeve. You all can rest assured. Funny story about that too … but … uh … I just remembered my audience and retract that statement. Just know we were twice as careful.”
“Oh Brenny! Congratulate your son, you too Natty! You just got through complaining that nothing is happening, and now something has happened and you two are looking for hair in your soups still. Congrats, boys! To you as well Declan, even though you haven’t asked yet, but I have no doubt in my mind she will say yes, and to you Rett, I am very happy for you, Maeve and you seem like the perfect match, but I would like for you to think about the old adage that lust rushes, while love waits. Just something to keep in mind from here on out.” Viktoria told them.
“Just don’t wait too long or you get complaints from the parents for that, too.” Declan grumbled.
“Have you thought about how and where to ask Rory?” his grandmother asked Declan.
“It took me a long time. I have had that ring for about two months now, just couldn’t figure out how and where to pop the question, but then it came to me. Listen to this guys! She and I are going to that Star Wars theme park in a couple weeks and I thought I’d do it inside the Millennium Falcon! How many girls can claim that as a proposal story?” he smiled contently and satisfied with himself, while everyone just stared at him.
“Oh for fuck’s sake! NONE of them! You know why?! Because most dudes realize if they did that, they’d be single, not engaged, you dork! What the hell has gotten these boys’ wires crossed so badly?! Turns out one’s been siting on a ring for months on end and can’t figure out how to get down on one knee and mutter the fucking words without being surrounded by nerdy bullshit, the other goes and nails some chick in a park and comes back quasi-married! We need to mash both of them together and start over in the middle!” Blaine growled.
“Blaine!” Viktoria reprimanded her husband.
“Really? That’s bad? I thought it would be really special …” Declan retorted deflated.
“Honey, it would be special, but I think grandpa is right in his way too blunt way, honey. Rory is so patient with all your obsessions, the video games, the comics, Star Wars … give her something that has nothing to do with any of that. Just you and her. No franchises of any kind.” Viktoria calmed her grandson.
“Oh, right … I never thought about it that way. How did you two do it, Rett, if you don’t mind me asking? I promise I won’t copy it, just looking for an inspiration.”
Everett burst into laughter, then told him
“If I am sure of one thing, it’s that you won’t copy that! At Everett Heights, outside someone else’s tent, which we just got done screwing in. Our very first time ever, by the way, right after our very first kiss. Yeah … everybody here proud yet? If not, I can continue with more details about flying condoms … “
“Oh my God! I am literally in shock right now. I’ll go get a head start on the kitchen cleanup! Maybe stab my ear drums out! That is what I raised. Ugh.” Natalie quickly took off towards her in-laws kitchen, followed by her husband Brendan, who was trying to stifle laughter. Natalie was a true romantic at heart and both boys straying so far from the usual proposal ways just didn’t sit right with her. She’d come around and snuggle her sons later. After the shock wore off.
At the same time Declan’s grandmother looked at him, smiling softly, before gently stroking his cheek.
“It may seem hard, but it doesn’t have to be, sweet baby boy. Do you remember where you asked her to be your girlfriend?”
“Of course, I will always remember that, but … well, she asked me … I was too … you know … But that’s a great idea, grandma! Why didn’t I think of that!? That’s perfect!” Declan told her, excited again.
“Settled then, she took you both up one level there, now you get to return the favor. You got the how and where covered. As for the when, you do it as soon as you feel ready. Be brave, sweetie, you know Rory won’t say no. She loves you so.”
“You’re right! That’s it! Thanks grandma!”
“You’re welcome my beautiful boy. And you too, Rett, come here.” she hugged Rett too, who then turned to Blaine.
“Hey grampa, I just realized something: I found my own babygirl …” he told him.
“Well, duh, kid. I called that months ago, but my babygirl forbade me to say anything because you both were doing that idiotic ‘just friends’ dance, wondering why everyone had such a hard time believing it.”
“Gramma probably knew we’d get there on our own … probably thought sooner and a little different, but hey, we did, that’s all that matters, right?”
“Yup! She always just knows things while I am still chasing my tail. Take this piece of advice from me though, don’t be a stubborn dumbass like I used to be at your age and listen to your girl. If you got yourself a good one, you want to make sure you don’t take her for granted. Nothing in life is ever guaranteed and everything worth having is worth fighting for.”