"What about that huge, open field right next to your building?" Chaz suggested to Rae.
"I don't see why the view would be any different from there," she replied. "Let's do it."
Addison Circle consists of a couple apartment complexes, some small businesses and a shit ton of open fields. The KaboomTown festivities were going down in the main park, but apparently people thought the other open fields surrounding it were guarded by electric fences because they were practically empty.
I grabbed the cooler with one hand and let Cayden hold my other hand while we walked back toward Rae's building.
"We're finally going to get to see the fireworks together, baby!" Cayden said as he turned to watch me.
"About damn time," I said.
"What if I'd shown up to your rooftop party in Brooklyn like I was supposed to?" he asked.
It was a question we liked to think about from time to time. A good ol' game of "what if..." If Cayden had shown up, I would have been with Jon. Would I have ignored Jon? Asked him to leave so I could shamelessly flirt/makeout with the random British man I was probably never going to see again? Or would I have played it cool with both of them and then snuck off into a bathroom to makeout with Cayden?
It's hard to say, really. Jon was a sweetheart. So modest and respectful and genuine. I couldn't hurt him. I couldn't flirt with anyone right in front of him, either. That's for sure. So would I have blown Cayden off and missed out on my chance at real love?
"If I'd shown up and you'd been with Jon, I bet I would have kissed one of your friends," Cayden said with a mischievous smile.
I dropped his hand long enough to punch him in the shoulder. He didn't even flinch.
"Well, you didn't show up, which worked out perfectly for me," I said, teasing him. "You kissed me at the bar when we met that Friday night. Jon kissed me on the roof Saturday night. You kissed me, and, well, other stuff, Sunday night. And then you left and I was back to Jon by Monday. No complaints here!"
This time it was Cayden throwing the playful punch, which I dodged.
"Perfect!" Carson said as we turned the corner and saw that the field was still empty aside from two other groups who had congregated there. She and Geoffrey had met up with us after dinner, just in time for fireworks. It would be their first fireworks show together as well. Same goes for Joyce and Joey. And Rae and Chaz? Well, they'd probably seen three of four shows together already. Lucky bitches.
We unfolded our chairs and cracked open our beers as fighter jets raced through the sky, flipping and circling and spiraling for our entertainment. I'd seen too many episodes of Rescue 9-1-1 where those planes came down in a fiery crash, so I winced every time the plane dipped. Thanks a lot, Shatner.
"Did I tell you I wanted to do that?" Cayden asked me. "I always wanted to be a pilot."
Had he told me that? I couldn't remember.
"You mean you didn't always want to be a business systems analyst? You weren't always a big nerd?" I joked. Jokes were always a good way to divert someone from the fact that might have forgotten something important.
"I never said that. I was always a big nerd. But, yeah, I was dead set on becoming a pilot. But then I found out you had to have perfect vision, which I didn't have. So my dreams were crushed."
I winced again as one of the jets took a nose dive before swooping back up again. I was grateful Cayden wasn't behind the wheel of one of those death traps.
"Well, when I was little, I thought I'd grow up to work in a nursery taking care of babies," I said.
"Oh yeah? So what changed?" Cayden asked.
"Well, my high school didn't offer 'Baby Care 101.' So I took journalism instead."
Good thing, too, because something tells me being a baby nurse wouldn't have brought me to NYC to meet my future fighter-jet pilot British boyfriend. But then again, you never know.
A bright flash of yellow light tore my gaze from Cayden's face and into the huge, open sky ahead. The immediate explosion sound made me jump. The fireworks had started.
Cayden and I sat there with our cold beers, holding hands, as firework after firework lit up the sky.
"Oh, those are my favorite!" I yelled when a firework sizzled and a bunch of baby fireworks shot out from out of no where.
"That one was HUGE!" Cayden explained as a purple firework filled the sky so much that we leaned back in our chairs, afraid that a spark might land on our shoulder.
We commented excitedly to each other throughout the show, and I heard the other couples do the same. It was by far the best 4th of July weekend yet. I had everything I ever wanted.
And later that night, it got even better. Just as Cayden and I had kissed goodnight and I was reaching up to turn my lamp off, Cayden turned to me with his palm up.
"Happy anniversary, baby," he said.
My arm froze in midair. I stared at the white box in his hand in pure confusion. It looked like the same white box he'd given me for Christmas. Why was he regiving me the heart locket? Had he put new photos in it?
"Are you going to open it?" he asked, as I sat there frozen in that uncomfortable position.
We'd decided not to get each other anniversary gifts because his flight over here was so expensive. Of course, that didn't stop me from buying a Romance Package at Beaumont Ranch from Groupon.
"What is it?" I asked, staring at the box in an attempt to see through it.
"It's a present. You're supposed to open it to see what's inside."
I let my arm fall away from the lamp as I took the box delicately from his hand.
"We promised each other we wouldn't get presents," I said.
"I couldn't help myself," was his reply.
My hands shook as I slid the top of the box off. No matter what the occasion, I'm always awkward when receiving presents.
I tilted the box and looked inside to find a beautiful silver watch gleaming up at me. Tears steamed out the corners of my eyes and down my hot cheeks and I ran my finger along the black and white charm beads.
"Who told you?" I whispered.
"Who told me what?" he said, looking worried and confused.
"Who told you I wanted a charm bracelet? Who snitched?"
"No one told me, I promise," he said, lifting my chin to face him. "Is it really what you wanted?"
"Yes!" I said loudly. "I've been saying, 'If I were Cayden I'd get me a charm bracelet so I could add a new charm every time we saw each other.' Someone must have told you!"
"No one did, I promise! I actually didn't even think about that whole adding a charm thing. I probably should have," he said, scratching his head.
"No, no, baby. Don't worry. It's beautiful. It's perfect. And so much about our relationship is based on time. The hours, the minutes, the seconds. The countdowns until I see you. The way I beg time to stand still while you're here," I said. Tears were dripping onto my pink sheets. I didn't even know why I was crying, but I couldn't stop.
"I wish I'd thought of that, too! I just saw it and thought it was perfect for you," he admitted, shyly.
"It is. It's perfect," I said and leaned in to kiss his perfect lips. "You're perfect for me."
He didn't even laugh at my cheesy response. He just took my face in his hands and kissed me the same way he'd kissed me that night on the roof two years ago. And then we did other stuff, like we did in my bed two years ago. And then we did stuff that we didn't do two years ago.
I'll let you fill in the blanks.
And in case you're wondering what a charm bracelet watch looks like, here it is!