Thirteen Months Later...
"Hey, welcome back to Jay and Jaycee's Work Day, quickly becoming San Francisco's most popular weekday radio show." Jay said into his microphone. I was sitting with him in a sound booth, we both had our microphones turned on and the sound board was lighting up. After coming back to San Francisco, I used my experience as a radio show host to get a job at WSFX, and now I have my own radio show...that I shared with Jay. Jay was a nice, funny guy with the same sense of humor as me. He had dark skin, dark eyes, and shoulder-length black dreadlocks. He was a smart ass, but knew when he took it too far, which was what made him fun to listen to on the radio. He loved to tease me, today was no exception. "Man, I hate that we have to say that."
"Jay and Jaycee's Work Day made possible from contributions from viewers like you." I said with my fake announcer voice.
"Thank you from WPBS." Jay said, "Now we're going to talk about why Jaycee's boyfriend hasn't proposed yet."
"No we're not!" I argued forcefully.
"As our faithful listeners know, Jaycee and Greg celebrated their one year anniversary last month. It had been a year since their storybook romance was really born into the world, becoming the couple we all know and love. They lived together for months, they were friends, then the speeches began, and now, one year later, they're still just dating. So what's taking Greg so long?"
"He's old fashioned." I said.
"Of course he is. As are you, Jaycee. But what our listeners need to understand is how grumpy you've been since he didn't propose on your anniversary."
"I'm not grumpy!" I complained.
"Case and point." Jay smiled wickedly, "Jaycee has been moping around the station for almost a month now. So tell me everyone, what gives?" He looked at the call screen and pressed a button, "Hey, Sue, what do you think?" He asked.
"Maybe he's just worried that his proposal has to be as romantic as the rest of the relationship." A voice said, Jay had pulled one of the callers who was now talking on the radio and to us through a small speaker on the table. "I mean, the way you two described it, they had a very touching first kiss, and the relationship started out on that foot."
"Very Gone With The Wind." Jay confirmed.
"You realize that saying that just proved that you've never seen that movie." I pointed out.
"You're the one who's here for the movie trivia, Jaycee."
"Anyway, maybe he's just waiting for a grand gesture. After all of that he can't just get down on one knee at a restaurant." Sue said.
"I wouldn't mind that, though. It's still romantic." I said.
"But does it measure up? He might just be trying to give you a proposal to remember. It'd be a great way to start off your lives together. Of course, then you might be trying your whole lives just to keep that same romance alive, after setting such high standards."
"Sue, you're not a shrink, are you?" I accused. Ah, radio silence.
"It's okay, Sue. It's San Francisco, everyone sees a shrink." Jay said, "Except for us. We're perfect."
"Got that right." I confirmed.
"Sue, thanks for the call, Jerry, what are your thoughts?" Jay said, moving to the next caller.
"I think you're reading into this too much. Guys don't just sit around thinking about these things." Jerry said.
"See, my brother said that once." I said, "He was wrong, of course, but he said it."
"I mean they don't think about the future that way, worrying about having standards that are too high."
"Knowing Greg, he'll probably just keep meeting them." Jay said, "You guys don't even know, this guy freaking lives for Jaycee. That's why he eats and breathes. He'll do anything to keep her."
"What about proposing?" Jerry suggested dryly.
"Thank you for the call." Jay said, hanging up.
"Has anyone ever thought that he might not want to marry me?" I asked dejectedly.
"Oh, he wants to marry you." Jay said at once, "It's sickening, how much he wants to marry you."
"Then he would have asked me by now." I pouted.
"Well, maybe Sue was right. He's just waiting for the perfect moment. I mean, you've been watching those cheesy movies your whole life, and your relationship with Greg has kind of turned into one. Are you saying you'd wouldn't be disappointed if this wasn't absolutely spectacular? How did you always picture it?"
"Well," I said slowly, "I definitely wanted something in public, possibly on T.V, something that would make it a big deal. He'd get down on one knee, tell me why he loves me, then pull out the big ring. Nothing fancy, just traditional."
"Sounds pretty complex to me." Jay observed.
"No. He could ask at a party with our friends, or at a restaurant. That would have satisfied me. But you're all missing the point. I don't care how he proposes. He could ask me over a beer in front of the television at this point and I wouldn't care. I want to get past the proposal and to the engagement, and the wedding."
"Then sweet marital bliss." Jay teased.
"As a matter of fact, yes."
"For those of you listening out in radioland, I'd like to go on record saying that Jaycee just stuck her tongue out at me."
"Let's talk about something else." I said, looking sourly at my bare ring finger.
"I think we're due for a song." Jay said quickly, pressing a button that would put a song on the air and he turned to me, eyes serious, "I don't mean to make fun of you over city-wide radio."
"Yes you do." I corrected simply. He smiled ruefully.
"Yeah, but that's just what we do. But I really am worried about your recent depression. It's bumming me out. Seriously, I want the guy to just hurry up and propose."
"Me too." I said sadly. I sighed and leaned back in my chair, "He'll get around to it in his own sweet time."
"If you want a proposal, you'll get one." Jay said, putting a hand on my shoulder, "Like I said, the guy lives for you. He'll do anything to make you happy."
"I don't want him to do it just for me." I sighed, "I want him to want to marry me."
"You must be blind, he wants to spend eternity with you. He wants to propose. I don't know what's taking him so long. But he wants it. And so do you, which makes him want it even more. He knows you feel this way."
"I never told him."
"You don't have to." Jay shook his head, disappointed at my lack of insight, "He knows. That's how these things work. And I bet it's torturing him as much as it is you. I don't think you have long to wait." He nodded encouragingly and turned back to the gizmos on the table, "Next we have to talk about the best and worst first dates we've ever had."
"I'm sure that'll be exciting."
The apartment was empty when I got home after the radio show, which was over at three. Minnie galloped at me, happy as ever. We'd recently hired a kid in the building to walk her during the day, so we didn't have to worry about it anymore. I just pet her head and went upstairs. The room I used to be in was empty except for the furniture, we used it as a sort of guest room. Which meant, of course, that it served as a crashing place for Magnus when he was too drunk to get home or when I had Kaya over for a girls' night. We didn't get guests very often. I was actually a little grateful, we were back to no one ever knocking on the door, which suited me nice.
I was in the room that I shared with Greg, taking off my shoes, when Kiyomi's voice shouted up the stairs, "Jaycee!" I jumped with surprise, Minnie took off down the stairs to the new arrival. I stumbled out of the room and stood at the top of the stairs, looking down at my best friend, who was all dolled up. She was wearing strappy white sandals, a white mini skirt, and a flesh-colored (not her flesh, more like my flesh) tube top. "We're going out." Kiyomi informed me.
"It's a little early for that." I said.
"No." Kiyomi insisted, "There's a double feature at the movie theater, and we're going. Come on! Get some nice clothes on!"
"Why do I need to wear nice clothes?"
"Have you seen what I'm wearing? Don't make me be the only one who looks this hot." My best friend put her hands on her hips and looked at me. I knew she wouldn't drop it, so I sighed in defeat and moved back into the bedroom. I put on a short, glossy teal dress that someone would have worn to homecoming in the city (we wore simple dresses at my homecoming) it was ruffled at the bottom and strapless. I then put on a pair of silver, knee-high boots that I probably stole from Kaya and teased my hair. I put in some simple silver earrings so that the holes wouldn't grow in from lack of use and stepped out of the room. Kiyomi grinned when she saw me, "Perfect."
"I can't believe you're making me dress like a slut to go see a double feature." I complained as we left the apartment, locking the door behind me.
"Don't worry about it, we'll do something fun after, okay? Then it'll be worth it. We can go to a club! How long has it been since the two of us have just gone dancing?"
"A while." I grumbled. Kiyomi looked at me with rapt attention.
"What's the matter?" She asked.
"Oh." Her face softened sympathetically, "He still hasn't asked, has he?"
"I really thought he would on our anniversary." I admitted, "But that was nearly a month ago. I mean, it didn't ruin the anniversary for me, which is good, I'm not trying to have a bad attitude, I just..." I shrugged, "I wish he'd move along with it."
"Don't worry about it, it'll happen. And you know what? The wait will probably make it better." Kiyomi patted my arm.
"That's such bull." I complained.
"Yeah, but it'll make a cute story." Kiyomi shrugged, dancing ahead, "Come on, the movie starts at four-thirty."
"Calm down, I'm right behind you."
One double feature later Kiyomi and I were walking down the dark streets of San Francisco (I had pepper spray, in case you were worried). I wasn't sure where we were going, but Kiyomi had said that she wanted to show me a new place. I wasn't liking it so far, the streets were far too deserted for my tastes. We went down an alley and Kiyomi put her hand on a door set in a grungy brick wall.
"This is it?" I asked, "Please tell me this is the back door."
"It's the back door." Kiyomi told me easily, "I promise, this place is worth it." She opened the door and held it for me, bowing for me to enter first. I rolled my eyes and walked through the door. I looked back, expecting her to follow me right away, only to see her slam the door behind her.
"Hey!" I shouted, grabbing at the door handle, it didn't move. Scared, I looked around. I was in a dark hallway, probably near the bathrooms. I took a deep breath and listened. It was oddly quiet for a club. I didn't hear a pounding bass or the buzz of hundreds of voices. I stood for a second, feeling terror sweep over me, then I heard something, music. I listened closely and heard "Blue Moon" playing softly from the other room. I slowly made my way down the littered hallway, edging around the corner of the hallway cautiously. It let out into a big room that was a little better lit. It was some kind of classy club. The bar was near another hallway on my left, in front of me the room opened up. This was a place where people would sit at tables, drinking wine, and watching the entertainment. Most of the tables had been moved to the walls, except for one, which sat with a red tablecloth and a single candle, nothing else. To my right was the big stage, a group of four men in suits were on it, they were the source of the music. None of them were looking at me. A shiver ripped its way down my spine from my fear. I sucked in a breath, put on my brave face, and slowly stepped out of the hallway to the open floor. I was looking at the band, who still didn't look at me even as I walked straight toward them. I stopped a little bit before the table, biting my lip.
"Are you sufficiently creeped out?" Someone asked from behind me. I wheeled around, clapping a hand to my heart in shock. Greg was leaning on the archway to the hallway near the bar. He was dressed up in what was probably a suit, but he'd taken of his jacket and tie. He watched me with amusement as I took a moment to catch my breath.
"Greg, you jerk!" I gasped, "Why are you trying to scare me to death?"
"Ah, so this was a little scary." Greg said, satisfied.
"Yes, I was in a horror movie. Abandoned club, probably a ghost band. This was supposed to be when I get possessed or the monster sneaks up behind me and cuts me up. You know that the white girl in the slutty outfit always dies first."
"Then why are you dressed like that?"
"I went to a double feature with Kiyomi, she didn't want to feel singled out. We were supposed to be doing something fun right now, but she locked me in here." I looked at Greg's smug look and made a connection anyone else would have made a minute ago, "And she was in on this."
"Yep. Sorry for the scare." Greg said casually, walking towards me.
"Uh huh, what's up with the slasher movie setting?" I asked.
"I wanted you to know how I was feeling." Greg told me seriously.
"You're feeling tragic? Lonely maybe? Taking revenge on innocent clubers?" I asked, my heart beating faster than normal.
"I meant scared." Greg said agreeably.
"Oh." I said slowly, "What are you scared of?"
"Today? Well, that's kind of hard to explain."
"Couldn't you just be afraid of spiders like a normal person?"
"I'm a guy, I'm not allowed to be afraid of spiders, it's not macho."
"Ah. Sorry, please continue."
"Have a seat." Greg said. He pulled out a chair at the table for me. I slowly perched on the edge, watching my boyfriend curiously. In the background, the band continued to play, seemingly oblivious to everything we were doing. Greg walked around my chair and instead of sitting in the other one, like I'd expected, he stopped in front of my chair, faced me, and lowered himself smoothly to one knee.
"Oh my god." I said breathlessly, sitting up straighter, eyebrows shooting upward. No matter how much you complain about not being proposed to fast enough, no matter how much you're expecting it, the moment that he gets on one knee is still startling. I was still surprised, even though I should have seen this coming when Greg appeared behind me in this abandoned building. And even though you may already know your answer, you still panic. I was freaking out just a little bit. Greg looked at me levelly.
"Don't get ahead of me." He warned. I clapped my hands over my mouth, eyes still wide, and nodded. Greg kept eye contact with me as he continued talking, "Now, I've been thinking about this for a while. Timing is everything, you know. Magnus called me, he said he heard you on the radio. I turned it on after he said that you mentioned me. And just so you know, I'm not doing this just because of what you said. Jay was right, I want to marry you. I want to do anything for you. Forever. I've been working on this little scenario for a couple of weeks. I had to close out the club, get the band, find an excuse for Kiyomi to get here, complicated stuff. And it had to be done by today. I know you were expecting this on our anniversary, of sorts. But today is more important."
"What's today?" I took my hands off my mouth to ask. Greg took my hands in his and rested them on my knee.
"Two years ago today, I sat across from t he most beautiful woman in the world in a little coffee shop. She was reading a newspaper, drinking a Maple Steamer. She was looking at roommate ads. She told me about how her brother was moving away, and she looked like she'd miss him, and about how she missed out on her dream apartment. She then showed me that her dream apartment was, in fact, the place I had just moved. I knew right then that I needed this woman in my life. She was fresh, funny, beautiful, determined. She wasn't typical, she was better than that. Two ago today we met, Jaycee. Exactly two years since I fell in love with you. And those two years seem like long enough for this, so," He let go of my hands, reached into his pocket, and pulled out a ring box. I suppressed a squeal as he opened it, revealing a beautiful, white gold ring with a big diamond.
"Jaycee Marsh." He said, smiling at me, eyes full of something that made my heart swell, "I love you. Will you marry me?" There was a pause where that sunk in, even though I expected it.
"Yes." I said, barely able to get the word out past my smile. I giggled, I was so happy that I couldn't keep those giggly bubbles in my chest. Even though I never cry for happiness or movies, I only cry for stupid, selfish things, I felt the tears running down my face. It was strange because there was no heaving breaths or sobs, no awkward lip tremble or rapid blinking. Just tears streaming down my face. "Yes! Of course!" Greg took the ring from the box and slipped it on my ring finger, which had looked so empty earlier that day. I admired it only for a moment before I was on my feet, my arm's around my new fiancee's neck. He twirled me around, set me on my feet, then kissed me. And, believe it or not, my foot popped. "I love you." I said when he pulled away just enough, my hands were still around his neck and his hands were placed on my waist.
"Yeah, I know." He said with a smile, "I love you too." He nodded to the band, who stopped mid song. There was a moment of silence before the music started again, I inhaled sharply when I recognized the song. It was, of course, "I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore". Greg adjusted our grips and started swaying.
"This is the first song we really danced to together." I said, leaning into him. The song, in my opinion, said everything about our relationship, it was like it had been written for us.
"My ballroom dancing still impresses you, admit it."
"I'm very impressed." I sighed contentedly, leaning against Greg, letting him lead. I looked at my left hand, which was resting on Greg's arm as we moved back and forth to the music. It was a perfect ring. Duh. How could anything Greg planned not be perfect? If anyone said that he wouldn't be able to come up with something romantic enough for the proposal, they had nothing to worry about. Move-quality romance was something that Greg carried with him. It wasn't necessary, I would have said yes no matter when or how he asked me. But he went above and beyond to make me happy. He never did anything halfway, he was properly committed and knew exactly how to make me happy.
That was part of why I loved him.
The song wound to a close and we still stood together. After a moment, a new song didn't start, so I pulled away, suddenly excited, the reality of my engagement finally setting in.
"I'm getting married!" I said happily, practically vibrating with happiness. "I can't wait to start planning the wedding! Kaya has to be my maid of honor, and Kiyomi as another bridesmaid. And Faith! Her too! I told you about her, right?"
"What about her?"
"She's moving to the city! She'll be here next month! Isn't that great? I didn't think she'd ever come out here. We have to look out for her, and introduce her to all of our friends. And she has to help with the plans! It's going to be great."
"That sounds like it will be interesting." Greg said.
"Count on it."
I finished writing this on what is my last full day of High School. I don't know when I'll be posting it, but this feels kind of like a salute to the year since I spent so much time in school writing. Thanks everyone for reading! I really loved writing this story.
Which is why I'm not stopping...
Want more Jaycee, Greg, Magnus, Kiyomi, and the others? Check out:
Faith Miller was a small town girl who never wanted anything more from life...until now. In this spin-off of Close Courters, Faith feels that she needs to find herself, to become more independent. With help from some of her new friends, Scooter and Jessalyn, she tries to make her way in the city. She experiences a fresh dating life, jealousy, modeling, and epic changes. Her new roommate, Kaya Marsh, can always be depended on to try and get the shy Faith out of her shell. And, of course, Faith also has to worry about helping her best friend Jaycee plan for her wedding while also trying to find out more about her mysterious suitor while avoiding the scrutiny of Jaycee's "new" best friend.
Join Faith in her journey to figure out who she is in this funny adventure.
Now available on my profile. Check it out, guys, this is gonna be awesome.
Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Independent Faith
I'd never seen myself getting out. The thought of leaving had never even crossed my mind, and I'm not entirely sure of what changed. I grew up in a little farm town in Nevada. It was three and a half hours to San Francisco, less than that for Reno, and I'd never been anywhere. In fact, I was still working in the same Starbucks that I had been since I was sixteen.
I was now twenty-five years old, serving coffee to my neighbors. But this was going to be my last day, I looked at the clock anxiously, waiting for my shift to end so that I could untie my green apron strings once and for all.
"I see you watching that clock." My boss, Linda, said from behind me, making me jump. I turned around and smiled at her sheepishly.
"Sorry." I apologized automatically as I straightened.
"Don't apologize. I'd be watching the clock too, if I were you." Linda came and rested against the counter next to me. The Starbucks had a few customers that were sitting at chairs and tables throughout the room with Styrofoam cups in front of them. It might seem a little strange that I called my boss by her first name. But I'd known Linda for most of my life, along with everyone else in the town. It was a sleepy town and most people there had lived there for their entire lives, it was for people who loved the feeling of family and community. I had been one of those people. Most people grew up and just stayed there, as I had been planning to do. "I hear that you've got everything packed up and shipped off." Linda said.
"I'm all that's left." I smiled excitedly. That's right, I was not only quitting my teen-level job but I was moving out of the state. To San Francisco. The plans that I had made growing up changed over the past year. And it all started with the reappearance of my childhood best friend; Jaycee Marsh.
Jaycee and I met in first grade, the details are a little fuzzy but (long story short) we hit it off and were nearly inseparable through high school. There were plenty of times when all we had was each other. I was shy and had a hard time making friends, I never knew what people expected of me. Jaycee had been...strange. She had a hard time growing up in the shadow of her popular older brother, Aaron. And she was even overshadowed by her younger sister, Kaya, who had good looks and a big head. The three of them were practically my siblings growing up.
But, tragedy struck when, the summer after Jr. High, the Marsh family took a rare vacation to San Fransisco. All three kids came back with stars in their eyes and nothing but the city on their minds, and that was when the fad started. Aaron left for the city when he was 20. Jaycee joined him a year later as soon as she turned 18. Kaya waited a while and was around 20 when she left for the city, leaving me completely alone. I was not comforted when I heard the news that Aaron accepted a job a couple hours north of San Fransisco and moved there over the last year. It just made them all seem father and farther away.
The reason that I changed my plans was because during this past year, Jaycee came back. Temporarily, anyway. She had lost her job in San Fransisco and moved back in with her parents, taking over a local radio show while she tried to get back on her feet. She wasn't quite there yet when something, she never told me what, sent her screeching back to the city at top speeds. From Internet conversations I'd had with her since, it was over a guy. Typical. So I wasn't expecting her to come back anytime soon. But when she was here, we had talked about some things, mostly about my life. My best friend had asked me where I saw my life going, whether I wanted to stay in the same town I was born in, work the same dead-end job I got in high school forever, marry my high school sweetheart and have kids that I would then raise in this town. My answer, surprisingly, was no. I was inspired by her, I wanted to see things, go to a city, dance at a club, meet new people. A few months after she drove out of my life for the second time, I decided to follow her, and started making arrangements to leave.
"I'd love another muffin." 80-year-old Mr. Peterson said to me as he came up to the counter, holding out the exact change. I smiled widely, I'd been serving Mr. Peterson Raisin muffins since I was sixteen, I wondered if I'd miss it.
"Of course." I said as I handed the muffin to him, he took it with an expression so happy that it made me laugh as I put his money in the cash register.
"I'm going to miss having you around, Ginger." Mr. Peterson informed me solemnly, I couldn't help but roll my eyes. Even though for the past nine years my name tag clearly displayed the name "Faith Miller" Old Mr. Peterson had been calling me "Ginger" for the duration of my career there in what I could only assume was a reference to my straight, thin, strawberry-blond hair and blue eyes. I wasn't offended anymore, having orange-colored hair and a sprinkling of freckles on my nose, I had been called a Ginger for my whole life, I was over it. I'd had a lot of nicknames: skinny, olive oil, ginger, Weasley, the works. I was freakishly skinny with bony limbs and no chest, the perfect target for lame nicknames. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Mr. Peterson slip a $20 bill into my tip jar.
"Mr. Peterson!" I protested, opening the jar and pulling it back out. On his first trip up to the counter that day he'd already given me $5, which I had argued to. In fact, I had spent most of my day protesting over-generous tips. Everyone who came up to the counter and saw me slipped a $5, $10, and even a couple $20 bills.
"Nope." He shook his head as I offered the money back to him, "You'll need it when you get to the city. Think of it as a going away present." And with that he walked out the door, leaving me with the 20 in hand. Carefully, I replaced the bill in my tip jar, biting my bottom lip.
"Speaking of which," Linda looked up at the clock, "Your shift is over for the last time." She reached into her apron pocket when I looked up at the time with surprise. When my gaze returned to my boss she had pulled out my final paycheck. I took it carefully, looking at the amount.
"I didn't make this much." I noted the extra $40 on my check.
"It's a bonus. And don't argue about it, you'll be grateful for it when you get to the city." Linda watched me take off my apron with serious eyes, "We're going to miss you, Faith." I handed her the green piece of fabric with a shaky smile.
"I'll come back to visit." I assured her. She looked doubtful.
"We told Jaycee to come back and visit, too." She said sadly. Unable to help myself, I gave my long time companion a hug.
"She did. Eventually. Don't worry about it, when I come back, I'll drag her along." I let go and stepped back, opening my tip jar and emptying it's contents...for the last time. "Oh my." I said in surprise as I leafed through the bills and change.
"What is it?" Linda asked in alarm. I looked up at her, completely dumbstruck.
"I made over a hundred dollars in tip today." I said dazedly.
"You did good work." Linda smiled, "Good luck, darling, come back soon." She took my place at the cash register and I walked towards the door, stopping short when I remembered that I didn't drive that day, like I usually did. Just as I remembered the door swung open and my ride stepped inside. Jim Bryant had been my on-again off-again boyfriend since I was 15, he had been 16 at the time. Jim was about half-a-head taller than me with mussy brown hair and hazel eyes. As soon as he saw me standing just inside the doorway he wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me closer.
"How was your last day?" He asked, his smile not quite meeting his sad eyes.
"Just great." I answered, dancing back playfully, "I got these crazy tips from everybody." I looked around the Starbucks quickly, "And tomorrow I'll be gone."
"Yeah. Gone." Jim said unenthusiastically, "I'm sure Linda will give you your job back, it's not too late to change your mind."
"It is." I insisted. Even though I'd miss the little town that I grew up in and even though I was sad to leave everyone I'd ever met, I was really looking forward to living in San Fransisco. "Jaycee and Greg are expecting me to meet them at their place, I think they're having a welcome party. Or a small get together. Because then they want to drive me to my new apartment with Kaya, she's looking forward to us living together, I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. I've got a job set up there as an executive assistant, which is only the first step. And I'm so excited that I can hardly stand it!" Greg was Jaycee's fiancee (yes, the guy she left me for), and I was dying to meet him, I was dying to get started with my new life. Jim continued to look at me.
"If you're sure." He said with another smile. He slung his arm around my shoulders and guided me from the coffee shop, "I'm glad that you're so happy about it." He opened the car door for me before getting in his side. When Jim was in the car he turned to look at me, "But you're going to come back, okay? Don't forget about us." I stifled a sigh. Jim and I had decided (more me than Jim, really) that we would "see other people" for the time being. Actually, at the moment I wasn't planning on seeing anyone, I had too many other things to think about. But I knew that I was moving to San Fransisco for a fresh start, new people, and a new life. I knew we couldn't do long distance, and in any case I wasn't sure how much of my old life I wanted to bring with me anyway.