“You’re kidding right?” Tom raised his eyebrows at my selection.
“What is wrong with the Princess Bride?”
“You and Bill are perfect for each other.” He resigned from any further commentary and looked past me to Bill who was leaning against a pile of pillows against the window and sleeping.
“Fine, no sappy romantic movies, what are we going to watch then?” I was searching through the movies on my laptop for another selection.
“Fast and Furious?” Tom looked up hopefully from my screen.
“I actually have that movie. I suppose we could watch it.” I sniffed.
Tom rubbed his hands together and wagged his eyebrows as he reclined his seat and prepared to watch the movie on my laptop.
“Can I get you anything to drink?” The stewardess was asking.
I turned to Tom as the movie started, “I am surprised you aren’t sleeping.”
I focused my attention back to the movie. We still had fourteen hours left before we landed in San Luis Obispo, California.
I woke up with my feet across Tom and my head in Bills lap.
“Good morning beautiful.” Bill was smiling down at me.
“Bill, your girlfriend’s feet smell.”
I smiled up at Bill before turning to stick my tongue out at Tom’s comment. I sat up in my seat, reluctant to leave Bill’s embrace.
“Are we there yet?” I grumbled as I stretched my arms and legs.
“Almost. We are landing soon.” Bill squeezed my hand and we shared a smile. He looked exhausted. His hair was tucked in a hat, but his eyes were a bit weary and he was without makeup again. He still looked amazing.
I reached up to assess my hair situation. I was going to need a hat.
“Tom, can you hand me my carry on please?”
“Yep.” Tom stood up and opened the overhead bins, pulled down my bag and handed it to me.
I dug through, found my slouched beanie and threw my hair up. Pulling out my compact mirror, I applied a few swipes of mascara and lip gloss. I closed everything up and shoved my bag under the seat in front of me.
“You look beautiful.” Bill whispered in my ear as he nuzzled my neck.
I just giggled in return, this was still completely surreal to me. I squeezed his hand as the captain announced our landing and taxied to our terminal.
We piled into a private car and drove to a quiet beach side inn. We had three adjoining rooms, with Bill’s being in the middle. After such a long flight the first thing I did was jump in the shower. It felt MARVELOUS. I sat under the scalding hot water until my skin started to wrinkle, then I scrubbed my hair and body until I felt clean. I wrapped myself in a towel and combed through my hair. I decided to just let it air dry. I knew it would get wavy, but I didn’t really care to dry it. I put a little mascara and eyeliner on, some lipstain and cheek color, then stepped into the outfit I had chosen for wine tasting. When I walked out of the bathroom Bill was sitting on my bed.
I felt the familiar stir of butterflies in my stomach when he looked at me. His hair was down, but styled back. He was wearing black jeans with a silver cotton shirt and a long gray jacket that tied around his waist. He had a plethora of chains on, and his eyes were made up. He looked amazing.
He stood up as I walked out of the bathroom.
“Are you ready for breakfast and wine tasting?” I was suddenly feeling shy, like I didn’t deserve to touch such a beautiful creature. I found it hard to even look at him.
“Mmhmm.” He said and wrapped me in a hug. I loved his hugs. I inhaled the mix of cologne and menthol cigarettes that enveloped me. Nothing felt better than being wrapped in his arms. He kissed my forehead then we walked out to meet Tom.
We had breakfast at a cute beachside café before meeting our wine tasting limousine service and heading inland.
“So where are we going first?” I asked the driver.
We were told that we were being taken to four wineries on our first day. We had a picnic lunch at one of our stops and that night we were going to see the elephant seals at the beach and taking a night tour of Hearst castle. It was a pretty epic holiday.
The crunch of gravel had me looking out the window as we pulled through an arch driveway, then past rows of grapes. We parked and were escorted inside.
I giggled as I watched Tom swirl his wine in his glass before tasting.
“What’s so funny?” He mused.
“I have never seen you so refined.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? I always present myself with the utmost class!” He scoffed back at me with a childish grin.
“It’s not every day you see a German rockstar in cornrows aerating his wine!” I giggled back.
Tom just shook his head and prepared for his next tasting.
“What’s your favorite so far?” Bill leaned down with his hand around me as he asked.
“I really like the dessert wines the best here.”
“A woman after my own heart.”
“Always.” I smiled back at him. I was a bit of a light weight and after the six tastings we had already had there, was already starting to feel a bit buzzed. I was hoping lunch was going to be soon.
“Are you ready for the next winery?” Our driver was asking Bill.
“Yes, thank you.” He replied as he walked with me, hand in hand back to the limo. I was hoping he didn’t notice how much I was focusing on my steps.
“Our next stop is a bit of a fun one, I dare say.” Announced the driver.
“Oh?” I asked.
He just wagged his eyebrows at me and opened the door.
When we entered the winery it had an almost Alice and Wonderland theme, which delighted both Bill and I. The ceiling was painted with black and white circles and the floor was covered with black and white tiles. The walls had funhouse mirrors on them and as we entered the building the staff welcomed us to a side table and instructed us to pick out fun wigs to wear while we tasted the wine. I chose a pink bob, Bill chose a green afro and Tom grudgingly wore a red pigtail wig.
“If you take one picture, I swear I will break your camera.” He whispered to Bill.
I just giggled in the background as we were ushered past fun house mirrors to the tasting room.
After the first four tastings I was really starting to get drunk and giggly.
“Have I ever told you how incredibly handsome you look in that green afro?”
He laughed in reply and asked for his next tasting before looking back to me.
“Jessi, darling, you look beautiful in your pink hair as well.” Then he leaned down and kissed me softly on the mouth.
“Well, no one is telling me how amazing I look in my red braids.” Tom quipped as he set his empty glass on the counter and rolled his eyes.
“Sorry Tom, but you just look ridiculous.” I laughed. Bill started laughing too, then saw the look on Tom’s face and wrapped an arm around him too.
“Aw, it’s ok brother, you look stunning in that wig if it makes you feel better.”
“Yeah, sure.” Tom rolled his eyes then looked at Bill with an impish grin. I could see they were sharing an inner dialogue and entertained myself by browsing the wine list. Except I was a bit too drunk to read it.
“Jessi?” Bill was reaching for my hand again.
“Yes?” I wasn’t sure what I had missed, but Tom and Bill had come to some kind of decision.
“Why don’t we check out the gardens real quick while Tom has some boxes of wine sent home?”
“Ok.” I clasped his hand and let him lead me outside. I was still a bit fuzzy from the wine, but as long as I had Bill’s hand I was fine. The sun felt amazing on my skin. I tilted my head back and smiled at the sky as he led me like a small child through the courtyard. I wasn’t really paying attention to where we were going until he stopped at a clearing and wrapped me in his arms.
“Hi.” His luminous eyes were mere centimeters from mine, and when he talked his lips brushed against mine. Every slight brush sent my heart into palpations. I felt dizzy.
“Hello lover.” I whispered against his lips. I felt really drunk now. I didn’t really care about calling him love. I loved him. I wanted him to know that.
He was running his hand across my jawline and into my hair, I sighed against his hand and closed my eyes. He pressed a soft kiss against my lips.
“You’re so beautiful. I always say that, but you are more than just beautiful. You’ve been a best friend to me and everything I’ve wanted for so long. Jessi, there’s something I have been wanting to ask you.” I opened my eyes as Bill dropped his hands from my face. He started to pull something out of his pocket.
“Jessi, I love you. I’ve been in love with you since I saw you in Maggies office seven months ago.” Bill cleared his throat. My heart started racing. He just said he loved me. Bill loved me.
“I love you too!” I threw my arms around him and pressed a kiss against his lips. He started laughing against my hair as he pushed me back, I looked up at him startled that he was pushing me out of his embrace.
“Hold on, there is more.” He cleared his throat again and started blushing. He looked at his feet. He still had his hand in his pocket. He stopped my heart with the look in his eyes when he looked up from his feet.
“Jessi, I was wondering if you would-
“Who is ready for lunch?” The driver cheerfully called out as he strolled around the corner.
“I am starving!” I breathed a sigh of relief at the thought of food. Maybe some carbs would help me sober up. This was pathetic - the twins were completely sober. We had only tasted at two wineries. The day was only half over and I was already drunk.
I merrily grabbed Bill’s hand and drunkedly skipped after the driver.
Tom was grinning from ear to ear when he saw me come up skipping with Bill in tow.
“There is the happy couple!” He started to say something else but caught himself when Bill cleared his throat.
Bill dropped my hand and walked off to the side with Tom while I eagerly watched the driver set up our picnic. I felt like a puppy sitting next to a birthday party.
“Lunch is served.”
I didn’t notice how quiet everyone was until after I was finished eating. By now I had started to sober up a bit and wondered if I had frightened Bill with my drunken behavior. Maybe I needed to slow down on the wine.
Tom cleared his throat.
“Jessi, I think we should skip the rest of the wine tasting and go to Hearst Castle.”
“Sure, yeah I think I might be a bit too drunk to taste any more wine anyways.” I blushed at my confession and smiled before taking another bite of the cheese and cracker assemble.
When lunch was over we crawled back into the limousine for our trip back to the coast. It was a 45 minute drive back to San Simeon, so I curled up in Bill’s arms and succumbed to a wine nap.
I woke up to Bill kissing my forehead and nudging me awake.
“We are here.”
“Mmm.” I lifted my head as the car door opened and a sea breeze came through the door. We stepped out and stood at the curb. I looked around and noticed that Tom was missing.
“Where is Tom?”
“He went to purchase our tour tickets.”
“Oh.” I shivered as the breeze picked up. Bill noticed and walked up behind me and wrapped me in his arms. He rested his cheek against mine.
“Are you cold love?” He whispered against my face.
“Not now that you are here.” I turned my head and kissed his cheek.
“I have the tickets.” Tom interrupted and handed us each our stubs. We loaded onto the tour buses and headed towards the castle.
“This man was crazy.” Tom breathed against the window as the castle came in view.
“Wow.” Bill breathed.
I just squeezed Bill’s hand. This was one of my favorite places in the world. It was exactly like a castle from a fairy tale, with a gold lined pool, naked statues, excessive tapestries and intense décor. The twins moved from room to room of the tour in aw.
We finally came to the end of the tour where we watched a short film documentary telling us about George Randolph Hearst’s life and how he came into his fortunes. Bill reached over during the film and squeezed my hand. I tried hard to keep from hyperventilating.
We were all exhausted on the ride back to the hotel. Just before we got to our hotel we passed a familiar exit and I shot forward in my seat.
“Driver! Driver, pull off here!” I tapped eagerly on the window. I felt the car veer right as the driver followed my directions. We pulled into a small cliff turnout overlooking the ocean.
“Do you wish to stop here first?” The driver looked into the backseat.
“Yes, just for a few minutes.” I looked back at the twins. “Do you mind? This place has a lot of sentimental value to me. It won’t take me long.”
“Of course not.” Bill smiled and opened the door and stepped out with me. Tom opted to stay out of the cold sea air.
“Do you mind if I join you?” Bill asked.
“I would love to share this with you.” I locked a finger with his and led him to the shoreline cliff where I had stood and watched my parent’s ashes be spread the previous year.
“Bill, this is the closest I will ever get to introducing you to my parents. This is where I had their ashes spread.” I smiled out across the ocean imagining my parent’s warm smiles.
“Thank you for bringing me here.” Bill was standing behind me with his arms wrapped around me.
“When I was a little girl, we used to come stay in a house a block from here and I would come sit right here and watch the water. When I was in college I would come here to clear my head. To this day it’s always been my favorite place in the world. I knew it was the perfect place for their ashes.” I turned around then, and looked up at him as I finished my sentence. His eyes were soft and earnest as he looked down at me.
“I love you, Jessi.” He planted one soft kiss on my forehead and stepped back with an exhale.
“There’s something very important I need to ask you.” He took my hand in his, putting his other hand in his pocket. My heart started beating faster as he got down on one knee. The breeze made goosebumps across my bare arms as he pulled a tiny diamond ring out of his pocket.
“Jessi, I love you. I knew from the minute I saw you that I loved you. Will you be my wife?”
“I love you! Yes! Yes!” Tears streamed down my face as he laughingly placed the ring on my finger. He stood up and took my face gingerly in his hands, looked deep in my eyes and kissed me, slowly and deeply. When we came up for air, we shared a few more soft kisses. I was absolutely giddy.
“Bill, we’re engaged!” I wrapped my arms around him again as we walked back to the car laughing.