Chapter 5.17: The Bat and the Cave

Chapter 5.17 The Bat and the Cave

A/N: After my most epic battle with technology yet, here is Chapter 5.17 finally. Sorry if it feels a bit slow in parts—I had a lot of small pieces to address and wrap up as I move forward. Also, sorry if some of the pictures (Bridgeport and France) seem to be of much better quality than others—the graphics on this computer are markedly improved and I didn’t want to retake the photos I’d taken on the other because this chapter was already delayed far enough!

Anyway, the song for this chapter is The Bat and the Cave by Perma. Once again I color-coded the lyrics—blue is Joanne, brown is Gabriel, and the default white is them together. The song lyrics featured near the end of this chapter in non-bolded italics are ones that I wrote myself. Yes, I wrote an entire song for this chapter o_O I can even sing it, but I think Gabriel will do a way better job of it for me, hahaha. I hope it isn’t too bad *covers face in embarrassment*

Thank you all for your patience, happy reading, and hope to hear from you! ❤

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Throwing off shadows

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All my ghosts, they’re following

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Ohhh,
weighed down I’m crying

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Wash me off, I could be sand, sand

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But you and me
We’ve been around the world, baby

You take the weight and you withstand
Ohhh

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Burning Lights

These divergent paths converge.

By: LSW on June 4th, 2015

Their differences are immediately noticeable.

It’s my first thought when the members of the new, alternative indie duo Convergence rise to greet me for our interview. Joanne Winters is all smiles, shaking my hand and complimenting my new Simmy Choos, which admittedly gets me smiling too because damn those heels were expensive! Feeling as if my decision to permanently live off ramen was well-founded, Gabriel Peters shakes my hand next; polite, but quiet.

We take our seats. Joanne remains chipper, crossing her legs and revealing a pair of cornflower blue boots. Gone are the sparkly pink pumps so characteristic of the saccharine starlet Jade and gone too are the dextrose dresses and candy colors as Joanne wears a blue and white, polka-dot lace dress complete with adorable Peter Pan collar. The changes don’t stop there though because former lead singer and guitarist of Freezer Bunny, Gabriel, is sporting a russet, plaid button-up, slim jeans, and a pair of brown, lace-up shoes rather than skull tees and dark gray hoodies.

“People change,” Gabriel responds when I ask about this, while Joanne smiles sheepishly and answers, “People find themselves.”

Their answers are testaments to the interesting coming together of two such different people: a pop princess and a rock star. It’s a tale straight out of a book or perhaps more fitting, a song, but the more one watches these two interact, the more one realizes that they seem more different than they actually are.

After all, their aptly named album, These Divergent Paths Converge, has proven to be a stellar symbiosis of the two opposing styles, creating a fusion that has caused quite a positive stir in the music world. In fact, the duo’s first album is expected to hit gold by the time this article is published and sales are only expected to grow once their first tour kicks off this summer in bustling Bridgeport: home of their signed record label, Freezer Bunny Music.

An independent division of Bridgeport Music Group and co-founded by former Freezer Bunny drummer Samantha “Sammy” Kent and former keyboardist Dante Leighton, the label seems to be a perfect fit for the aspiring duo, but it wasn’t Joanne and Gabriel who contacted the company, but rather the company’s founders who sought out them after seeing the duo on television.

“I hadn’t even been aware that they started their own record company,” Gabriel admits, “so it was really surprising when they showed up one night and offered us a contract.”

“We weren’t even sure whether we should take it or not at first,” Joanne adds with a light laugh. “I mean, I didn’t even know them at the time and neither of us knew about their record company, but after some serious talks we decided to go for it and that turned out to be the best decision we could have made.”

And why is that?

“Well,” Joanne continues, tucking her long black hair behind her ear, “there are actually loads of reasons why, but for one they’ve been really helpful. They’ve collaborated with us to refine our sound and, I think, have made us a better group for it. For instance, I remember after one of our first sessions at the studio, Sammy pointed out that because we were both used to singing lead, we had this tendency to sort of…compete sometimes, instead of backing off and allowing our voices to simply compliment one another’s. The result was a much more balanced sound and we’re very grateful for that.”

“It’s good too to work with old friends,” Gabriel adds. “And with Ryan [former bassist of Freezer Bunny] moving to Bridgeport to work at FBM too, it feels less like a business deal and more like a…well, genuine care and support I guess.”

Joanne nods in agreement and then says, “Even though I only met them two years ago, it feels the same for me too. They’re all really nice and talented people. We honestly couldn’t have asked for a better record label to work with, nor could we be prouder of the album we’ve created together.”

Understandably so, for in addition to having marketable success, These Divergent Paths Converge has been hailed as an artistic masterpiece that takes its listeners on an emotional journey of both heartache and hope. Whether swept up in Joanne’s powerful vocals on chilling tracks such as How Far and Unbecoming, feeling your heart clench as you listen to the sorrowful sounds of Gabriel’s lead vocals on Diminished and Your Promise, or dancing in delight while listening to the upbeat rhythms of Exactly What I Want or their self-named single Convergence, their first album proves to be a personal expression of these artists’ very souls—souls that have undoubtedly experienced significant pain.

While the media has been fairly silent thus far about the details concerning this (perhaps owing in part to the fact that Joanne’s stepmother, Candice Winters, is the editor of premiere newspaper The Starlight Times), some information is known, such as the fact that Gabriel’s late wife, Daisy Peters née Cruora, was murdered over seven years ago and that Joanne herself is a survivor of an assault committed by defamed heartthrob Brandon Hart, who upon his release from a brief stint in jail moved to Sunlit Tides. I ask about these topics and the duo’s demeanors immediately darken.

Whoops.

At the risk of having our interview cut short, I hastily follow up by asking instead how they believe these experiences have influenced them.

For a moment I think I’ve lost any rapport that having cute shoes can gain you, but then Joanne answers confidently, “I think they’ve made us stronger people.” Gabriel nods once in agreement, but adds nothing else and I know it’s time for me to wrap this up.

Since the media often does portray a slanted view of people, I conclude my interview by asking what they would most like their fans to know about them.

This time it is Gabriel who responds first, his tone somewhat irritated as he says, “That we’re not these so-called broken people who ‘make the other whole.’

“We’re burning lights,” Joanne supplies instead, a soft smile returning to her doll-like face. “Burning lights that together, shine even brighter.”

* * * *

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They are all sunshine

“James!”

“Candice!”

“Over here!”

“Give us a big smile!”

“Joanne!”

“Gabriel!”

It was the movie premiere of Shattered and the atmosphere was both suffocating and electric as huge industrial lights shown down upon us to illuminate the red carpet and the dozens of reporters, paparazzi, and news anchors who stood beyond the velvet ropes. They were shouting questions or otherwise snapping hundreds of photos of the cast and guests as we made our way into the theater. The release of the movie adaptation of Dad’s novel had become a highly anticipated event as Shattered was a clear favorite amongst his readers. It was admittedly one of my favorites too even though it made me cry every time I read it.

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“James, here!” I heard shouted from ahead by a short woman with long, dark hair. I looked in her direction, watching as she smiled pleasantly at him. “Isabel Goth from Sunset Valley Exclusive! There are those who say that Shattered strikes some un-ignorable similarities to events you’ve personally experienced. What would you say about that?”

Dad adjusted his tie, looking somewhat uncomfortable. From beside him, my stepmother smiled and reached up to play with a lock of his hair, her shimmering, ruby-red gown catching the light from the cameras that shifted slightly toward her instead. It appeared to be a purely flirtatious gesture, but I knew better—she’d purposefully diverted their attention to make him feel more at ease.

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Sure enough, Dad took that moment to clear his throat and then carefully answer, “I would say that if there are similarities, they weren’t done on purpose, but…while people often write, or paint, or even sing to escape from reality, reality usually does manage to sneak its way back in.”

I considered this response, but was distracted by a reporter who’d called out to Gabriel and I, asking how we felt about our tour starting tomorrow.

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I’m the bat and you’re my cave

“Excited,” we answered at precisely the same time, and then exchanged sheepish looks. A hurried flurry of camera flashes went off in our direction.

“I’ve been blinded,” Gabriel grumbled, causing me to giggle. He glanced down at me, a small smirk beginning to pull at his lips. “Hey, it’s a serious problem—how am I supposed to see how incredibly stunning you look tonight?”

My laughter quieted, a deep blush rising onto my cheeks instead, but then a voice shouted from ahead, “Winters here!” and I turned my head to see my family organizing themselves between the massive flashing arrows they’d erected at the theater entrance. They must have just finished taking photos of all the cast—including photos of them with Dad.

“Use your imagination,” I replied with a coy smile, and then retook his arm as we went to join them all.

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The cameras flashed once again.

* * * *

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The movie turned out to be a wonderful adaptation of Dad’s novel, but perhaps that was to be expected when the author not only co-wrote the screenplay, but was also present on the set every day and night of filming. The effort had thoroughly exhausted him, but it’d clearly paid off and none of us could quite stop congratulating him afterward.

Of course, we all had to tease him mercilessly too because the director had insisted on giving him a cameo in the film after all. It’d been a quick, 5-second shot of him in the background of a coffee shop scene typing on his laptop, but still the entire theatre screamed when they saw him, which had caused Dad to sink so low in his seat that for a second I thought he’d left out of sheer mortification. Of course, we all thought it was a perfect homage to the story’s creator.

We couldn’t have been happier for him, but for no one was that more true for than Mom, who’d tackled Dad as soon as the movie had ended and cried out how proud she was of him before pulling him into a rather passionate kiss.

Tobias and Thomas had loudly voiced their displeasure at this display, while Gemma and Augustus had giggled and I’d simply flushed, averting my gaze, but as thankful as ever that my father had her in his life.

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After the premiere my siblings had to head off (Gemma and Augustus on a long drive back to university and Tobias and Thomas to the house) while Mom and Dad were going to go to the after party. Gabriel and I had been invited too, but we’d declined as we needed to wake up early the next day to make our way to Bridgeport.

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“Take care you two,” I told Gemma and Augustus after hugging them both. “Try and send me updates now and then to let me know how you’re doing.”

“Only if you promise to send postcards,” Augustus joked, while Gemma smiled softly and said, “Of course.”

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I said my goodbyes to Thomas and Tobias before they got into the car to be dropped off by Gemma and Augustus and then pulled my stepmother into a tight hug too. “You guys will be at the Isla Paradiso concert, right?” I asked to confirm.

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“We wouldn’t miss it for the world—plus it’s a good excuse to take a much needed vacation there,” she admitted with a laugh. I smiled, but then felt my face fall a little as I didn’t see my dad anywhere and I hadn’t said goodbye to him yet.

“Your man is talking to him,” Mom informed me, noting my searching eyes. “I didn’t realize he was the traditional sort….”

“What do you mean?” I asked, perplexed.

“Nothing, kid,” Mom said with a smirk, and then lit up when Dad came around the corner to rejoin her, Gabriel also returning and sidling up to my side with his hands in his pockets.

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“Is everything alright?”

“Yes,” Dad answered, but he had a funny sort of expression on his face as he looked at me—like he was seeing me for the first time. There was a touch of something else there too that seemed almost sad. Was he worried about me?

“I promise I’ll keep in contact this time,” I hastened to reassure him, wringing my hands. “I know I did a terrible job at it last time, but it won’t happen again.”

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“I know,” he said with a bit of a half-smile, and then pulled me into a tight hug, which was surprising only because I was usually the one hugging him. It confused me, but I hugged him back regardless, lingering for a moment because he did too.

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“You take care,” he said earnestly once he pulled away, and then shot a hard look in Gabriel’s direction, folding his arms over his chest.

I laughed lightly and then took Gabriel’s arm as I joked, “Don’t worry, Dad—he’ll keep me safe.”

The odd expression appeared on Dad’s face one last time, but then he nodded and both he and my mother set off to catch their awaiting limousine.

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“You ready to head back?” I asked Gabriel, beaming up at him.

“Ready as ever,” he replied, and then leaned in to kiss my forehead.

* * * *

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You are full daylight

Although we’d returned home early with the idea of getting some rest, Gabriel and I found that we were much too full of energy and anticipation to go to sleep right away, so instead we decided on an impulse to go for a late night swim.

We played around like children; splashing one another, chasing one another around the pool, and screaming when a certain someone caught me around the waist and flung me right back into the water. I’d come up coughing and spluttering, but mostly because I couldn’t stop laughing.

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As soon as Gabriel jumped back into the water I tackled him, hopping onto his back, pointing ahead and shouting, “Onward, mule!” His response was to scoff and I shrieked as he leaned backward instead to dunk me.

“Should I have said ‘steed’?!” I exclaimed when I popped back up, pushing my wet hair out of my eyes.

Gabriel laughed, helping me to get my hair out of my face and then informing me with a smile, “I would have retaliated regardless.”

“Well then I should have said ‘ass,’” I said in mock-seriousness, and then yelped and burst into giggles when he reached out to tickle me.

Fortunately, he didn’t do so for long, instead unexpectedly pulling me in for a kiss as soon as I’d calmed. I kissed him back, my arms around his neck as he slid his around my waist.

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Breaking out when I’m afraid

“I love you,” he told me as soon as he pulled away, looking abruptly serious and maybe even a bit on edge.

“I love you too,” I said sincerely and then, furrowing my brows a bit asked, “Are you nervous about the tour?”

Gabriel shrugged. “Not really. Well, maybe a little about tomorrow, I guess,” he conceded awkwardly, and I felt my face soften.

“We could have asked Dante and Sammy to skip Bridgeport.”

“No. They’ve already made enough accommodations for us.”

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I bit my lip, unable to argue this point because it was entirely true. After all, our refusal to move to Bridgeport alone had made everything much more difficult for them. Not to mention Gabriel still gave them a hard time whenever we had to go there for extended stays, like when we had to work in the recording studio. He typically tried to make it a point not to be there for more than a couple days at a time, and that was only to visit his grandmother.

Grandma Camilla loved that he was around more though, and I was actually glad we were too because I sincerely enjoyed the time we got to spend with her as she loved telling me stories about when her grandson was little, which I adored even more than her fantastic cooking.

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“What are you thinking?” Gabriel asked, jarring me out of my thoughts.

“Oh, nothing really,” I answered with a flush, “Just that you’re right. Well that and I’m looking forward to seeing your grandmother again.”

Gabriel laughed at that. “Why, so you can listen to more embarrassing stories about me?”

“Yes!” I happily confessed. “I love hearing them. Plus, she was sure that she knew where some home videos were…..”

“How great for me,” he said dryly, and I giggled a little, reaching up to brush his hair out of his eyes.

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“You’re perfect,” I murmured, wrapping my arms around his neck once more, “and I know that this tour is going to be simply amazing.”

“I’m sure it will be,” he agreed quietly, and then captured my lips in a kiss that made me heat up from the top of my head to the very tips of my toes. I pressed myself against him as I returned the feverish kiss, and soon, propped up against the edge of the pool and beneath the moon and the twinkling stars, we finally found a way to tire ourselves out.

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And it’s as if I knew I’d always be with you

* * * *

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And it’s our kind of night

The night of the first concert of our tour I was even more nervous than Gabriel, hopping around our dressing room trailer to try and shake off the feeling and wondering why I was experiencing this now when I’d never had much issue with these sorts of nerves before. Perhaps it was because this felt so much more real—so much more important—than any other performance I’d given.

Luckily, Gabriel was quick to notice this and helped calm me by roping me into a series of extremely silly sounding vocal warm-ups which kept making me laugh, so by the time we were called out onto the stage I was having difficulties remembering why I’d ever been nervous in the first place.

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The audience’s cheers, whistles, and shouts rose in a tumultuous roar as soon as we walked onto the stage, filling me with excitement and unbridled anticipation. I came up to stand before my keyboard, adjusting my microphone as Gabriel did the same beside me.

“Hello Bridgeport!” I cried into the mic, and then laughed when we were greeted by another wave of excited screams. “Wow, guys, you sound so great!”

The audience screamed once again as the stage lights swiveled to cast their light upon them and then focus on us. I looked over at Gabriel, our eyes meeting and encouraging smiles spreading across both of our faces.

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“I’m Joanne Winters,” I said then into the microphone.

“I’m Gabriel Peters,” he added after me.

“And we are Convergence,” we recited together.

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We nodded briefly at one another and then Gabriel began our set with a simple melody elicited from his guitar. I let the notes wash over me before joining in with my piano, and then our voices rose together as one—a transcendental convergence of sound.

It was like nothing I had ever experienced—this impassioned, blissful state of euphoria which brought me to tears as I gave my repeated thanks to the still screaming and jumping audience. I could hear Gabriel thanking them as well, and then we were walking off the stage, my whole body shaking and my mind barely able to think straight, so overwhelmed I was in this incredible moment. It was like every dream I’d ever had coming true in a single, surrealistic night.

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“AHHHHHHHH!” a voice shrieked as soon as we stepped off the stairs, and then Sammy was kissing both of our cheeks, practically about to explode with happiness. “You guys were so, so amazing! I mean, I’ve got some comments to keep in mind for the next performance, but oh my god!”

“While watching Sammy make a fool of herself is always good entertainment, how about a real celebration?” Dante interjected with a smirk, and I had to imagine his silver-gold eyes were glinting from behind his mirrored lenses.

“Well,” I said as Sammy smacked him upside the head, “as long as it isn’t too crazy of a celebration….”

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The best day is always night, you know

It was crazy—beyond crazy! Dante and Sammy had rented out the entirety of Aquarius (an aquatic-themed, rooftop night club deep in the heart of the city) to celebrate the start of our tour, and had invited not only the entire Freezer Bunny Music staff, but also all sorts of known celebrities and musicians in the area. It seemed that everyone who was anyone was present and the end result was hundreds of people laughing, shouting, and dancing amongst flashing lights of every color imaginable while loud music reverberated into the night.

I tried not to be too taken aback by it all, for I’d grown quite used to such events during my stint as Jade, but I found it difficult at first for the exact same reason—it reminded me too much of a time I disliked remembering. Plus everyone was drinking, which made me nervous because I hadn’t actually done so myself since…well, since I’d been in a very bad place in life.

Of course, I knew that I didn’t have to and that no one would even care if I didn’t, but I wanted to anyway in order to break that negative connection. I didn’t want to live my whole life afraid of clubs and having a drink with friends all because of some shitty, isolated events, so I did order one, and sipped it carefully as Gabriel, Ryan, Dante and Sammy took turns telling everyone crazy stories that brought us all to tears from laughing so hard.

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“What?! No, that’s not fair,” Gabriel butted in quickly, responding to Ryan’s accusation that he was an evil ninja. “It’s not my fault that you didn’t hear me come in.”

“Okay, woah—what exactly happened?” Sammy interrupted since Ryan looked ready to argue again.

Gabriel took a sip from his drink and then explained, “Okay—I’d just come back from an early run and was surprised to see that one, Ryan was up, and two, he was making pancakes of all things, so I asked him if he had a girl over and apparently he hadn’t heard the door slamming when I’d come in because he responds by shrieking and then grabbing the open flour bag so violently that it fuckin’ like, explodes everywhere!”

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We all started laughing so hard that Gabriel had to pause, but as soon as we’d calmed down some he continued: “So THEN he decides that it’s my fault he now looks like the whitest black man in history and vows to get revenge on me. I couldn’t even take a piss without fearing that this fucker was going to come crashing through the window in a ski-mask!”

Everyone started howling again, Dante literally having to grab onto Sammy’s shoulder to keep from falling over.

“So did you get your revenge?” I asked Ryan.

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“Almost,” he answered sheepishly, “but my plan backfired because Gabriel’s an asshole.”

“Hey! You’re the one who—” Gabriel began to protest, but Sammy held up her hand again to stop him.

“Continue,” she said, looking at Ryan. He grinned at Gabriel triumphantly, causing his friend to roll his eyes. Dante pointed and laughed at them both.

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“Anyway,” Ryan said, still looking rather pleased, “I decided to try and get him at work—when he’d least expect it, you know? I filled a ziplock bag up with flour, put it in my pocket, and waited for the opportune moment, which I knew would be at 2:00 since every day at that time he made a cup of coffee. So 2:00 arrived. I grabbed a fistful of the flour and as soon he came around the corner, I threw it at his face—only this fucker DUCKS and Melanie Hell’s Bitch, our former BOSS is behind him, so she’s the one who ends up with a face full of flour instead!”

More shouts of laughter followed this, during which Gabriel nearly knocked over the lamp behind us because he fell against it doubled over and in tears. “And she—she shrieks, ‘What the hell is wrong with you two?!’”

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“And fuckin’ Gabriel says, ‘You know you’ve got something on your face, right?’ IDIOT! I thought we were going to be fired on the spot!” Ryan yelled, though he too was now laughing harder than anyone.

“Well what did she do?” I asked, my eyes widening but still unable to stop smiling.

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“Shouted at us for like, half an hour while looking like Casper’s deranged grandmother,” Gabriel choked, while the rest of us couldn’t even speak anymore, so overwhelmed we were by our fits of endless laughter.

The night continued on thusly, until we’d all imbibed a fair few drinks, which somehow made us finally take notice of the deafening music that’d been throbbing in our ears for the past couple hours.

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“Oh, I love this song—it’s so catchy!” Sammy shouted gleefully, and then literally ran over to the dance floor, threw her arms above her head, and began to sway her hips to the beat of the music.

I started to laugh, but to my surprise Dante and Ryan both yelled, “Oh hell yeah!” and hurried to join her on the dance floor.

They apparently knew the choreography to the song too because their moves fell in sync with one another while the sound of a saxophone blared through the speakers and everyone shouted along, “IT’S GOING DOWN FOR REAL!”

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In an admittedly pretty smooth move, Ryan then did this sort of fancy turn that landed him right behind Sammy, his hands coming to rest on her arm and her waist as he pulled her against him. I expected her to smack him like she usually did to Dante, but to my surprise she went with it, moving her hips in time with his while Dante ignored them both and sidled up to a blonde who’d been eyeing him all night.

I glanced at Gabriel, who had a somewhat apprehensive look on his face at seeing this, but once he realized I was looking at him quickly turned to me and asked, “Care to dance too?”

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Of course, I did.

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I’d black out the whole sky
Slice it up and make a moon-pie

After dancing to who knows about many songs, I was in desperate need of a break, so Gabriel walked with me over to the railing where there was significantly less people. Here you could actually feel the cool breeze coming off the bay behind us. It pulled at our hair and clothes, but we were so overheated that it was a welcomed relief.

“Wow,” I breathed, for from this position you could see the entire, gorgeous city sprawled out before us. I leaned forward to get a better look, clutching the cold metal tightly in my hands as I stared out at the view with widened eyes. Dozens of cars were zipping by far below and every towering building was illuminated like a beacon, turning the would-be pitch black evening into a misty, midnight blue. I felt like I could gaze at it for hours and never sicken of the sight.

“God,” I sighed without thinking twice, “this place is so magical.”

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Gabriel said nothing even though he’d been very talkative a second before, and it was in that tense silence that I realized what I’d said. “Oh,” I squeaked, glancing up at him and suddenly feeling awful, “I’m sorry! Forget that I said that. I’m a complete idiot, I—”

“Don’t worry about it,” he interrupted, seeming to have recovered from his initial spark of indignation. “I used to feel the same way, I guess.”

He opened his mouth again, but evidently decided not to say whatever he’d been about to because he closed it instead, causing an unpleasant awkwardness to descend upon us both.

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I frowned. It must have been something about Daisy because I’d noticed he didn’t like to mention her around me.

At first I’d thought that he didn’t like to mention her in general, and maybe that was once true, but then one day I’d overheard him and his friends reminiscing about her and as soon I’d went to join them he’d steered the conversation elsewhere. It had really thrown me off, but I’d realized that maybe he thought it would upset me. After all, my insecurities regarding his ex-wife hadn’t exactly been a secret from him.

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We’ll grow….

However, I didn’t feel that way anymore and I wanted Gabriel to know this so, my inhibitions somewhat lowered from the drinks I’d had, I found myself blurting out, “I know that you still miss Daisy sometimes, but that’s okay, really! I mean I—I know that…that my dad misses my mom now and then too, but it doesn’t mean he loves my stepmother any less. In fact I—I think it makes him love her even more,” I flushed.

“So I understand—I really do. You don’t—you don’t need to keep…not talking about her. I know it probably helps since you haven’t for so long and—and I don’t want you to feel like you can only talk to your friends about her because you can talk to me too, I swear!”

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Gabriel turned toward me, looking taken aback. “Where did this—?”

“I know you talk to your friends about Daisy, but you always change the subject if I’m around!” I cut in loudly, attempting to explain myself. “In fact you…you rarely say anything to me about her. I don’t even know what she was like or what she did or anything; and I know that’s partly my fault because I was so jealous of her, but I’m not anymore! I know that you love me, so if you ever want to talk about her I’m…I’m completely okay with it now.”

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“Okay….” he replied somewhat uneasily, ruffling up his hair, “but you should know that I don’t actually talk about her much. It’s typically Sammy that brings her up. You’re…right though that I make her change the subject whenever you’re around. I just…thought it was rude, I guess, for Sammy to go on about her with you listening. I mean it’s awkward, isn’t it? It would be going on about any ex.”

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“It feels weirder pretending that she didn’t exist though when I know she was such a big part of your life—of all your lives.”

“I’m sorry then,” he murmured, and then looked back out at the shimmering city. The sound of a siren echoed distantly over the thrum of music. My heart was racing, my mind struggling to try and process whether I’d just been really stupid in saying all that. Was he angry with me?

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Gabriel sighed softly and then began to speak, his voice oddly flat as he said, “Since you wondered…Daisy was an artist. She drew comics and designed all the artwork for the band. She liked reading mysteries and she liked watching old movies. She also had a bad temper and stormed off in a fury if you didn’t agree with her in precisely the way she wanted. She was persuasive, headstrong, and protective.”

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He paused for a second, absentmindedly pulling at the sleeve of his jacket before he added, “We started dating when we were 13. I asked her to the school dance and she said no, dances were stupid, but if I’d be willing to take her out for a night on the city instead she’d love to. I agreed—we stayed out well past curfew and got picked up the damn cops. My grandparents had been furious. I was grounded for over a month, but I remember feeling as though it’d been worth it.”

“Daisy loved fiercely and fought fiercely. We were always breaking up and getting back together again. I guess it was kind of nuts, but we settled down by the time we hit our junior year. I asked her to marry me on the day of our graduation. She agreed—we went to City Hall. Two years later….”

Gabriel stopped, briefly turning his head to look at me. “What else did you want to know?”

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“Uh….” I stammered, and then found that my tongue was sticking to the roof of my mouth, preventing me from saying anything else. I felt extremely unsettled. My stomach roiled. I wondered if I was about to be sick. Had the air always been filled with so much smog?

“You’re upset,” he stated shortly.

“No!” I hastened to say, startled. “No, I…just didn’t expect you to say all that.”

“You wanted to know…..”

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“I know. It’s just—,” I trailed off. I wasn’t upset exactly, but hearing him talk about her had been a lot harder than I’d anticipated. I chewed on my thumbnail as I tried to figure out why. Maybe it was because it made Daisy feel more…real—and that made the knowledge of what happened all the more awful.

Gabriel looked at me somewhat critically, as if debating whether or not he’d made a mistake in choosing to satisfy my curiosity.

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He must have decided he had because he sighed then and changed the subject. “I think your hypothesis is right, by the way.”

I met his gaze. “What hypothesis?”

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Gabriel turned to face me fully and reached up to touch my cheek. “That missing your mom makes your dad love your stepmother even more. At least, I know that it makes me love you more,” he said quietly. “You mean everything to me…and always will.”

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I placed my hand on his chest, somewhat crestfallen. Although I knew he meant the words, I also felt like he was saying them because he once again thought I was feeling insecure. Regardless, I still managed to say, “You mean everything to me too—and always will.”

“Hmm,” he said, and then glanced at the others still dancing before asking, “Do you want to go back now?”

“Sure,” I whispered.

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He took my hand as we walked, but we’d barely even taken a few steps before I stopped to look up at him and blurted out, “Thank you! For…for telling me about her even…even though you don’t like to bring her up. I—I really appreciate it.”

Gabriel gave me a searching gaze. My face burned, my heart beating hard, but I relaxed some when he nodded, squeezing my hand. “Thank you for listening,” he said quite simply, and then led me back onto the flashing dance floor.

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We’ll grow….

* * * *

17Appaloosa17Aurora17Isla17Lucky

But you and me
We’ve been around the world, baby

From our first few concerts in bustling Bridgeport we were off to Aurora Skies and then to Hidden Springs, followed by Sunset Valley, Appaloosa Plains, Riverview, Twinbrook, and then far south to Isla Paradiso and Barnacle Bay. From there we ventured onward to Sunlit Tides and Lucky Palms before making our way back to Starlight Shores, where we barely had enough time to check on the house before catching a 4 AM flight to Shang Simla, China.

Sometimes Sammy travelled with us and sometimes Dante or Ryan did, but for the most part everything could be managed from afar and there were always people already in place at each location to set everything up, so since China was so far it would only be us going.

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By this point in our tour we were beyond exhausted, but I was so excited that I kept waking up on the flight and gazing out the window instead, even when Gabriel was fast asleep beside me, his hand loosely entwined with mine.

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When we stepped into our hotel room Gabriel made a beeline for the bed, falling heavily onto it without even taking off his sneakers. “Wake me up when it’s time for the concert,” he mumbled sleepily.

“That isn’t for another 12 hours.”

“Yup.”

“Gabriel!”

“I’m so tired! Even my hair is tired—look, it’s not even sticking up like it usually does,” he complained. I glanced at his hair and then smiled because it did look rather flat. Although that was more than likely because of the way he’d slept on the plane rather than any inherent exhaustion on its part.

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“Please,” I said, folding my hands in front of me pleadingly. Gabriel half-opened one eye to look at me and then sighed, rolling out of bed.

“Alright,” he muttered, ruffling his hair, “but at least let me take a shower first—I smell like recycled air and stale pretzels.”

“Good idea!” I said cheerfully, and then added mischievously, “I’ll join you.”

Gabriel smirked. “I’m feeling more awake already.”

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Once we showered and dressed we quickly headed out to the Forbidden Palace to explore as much of it as we could before having to head back and get ready for the concert. We managed to see both that and the Shang Simla Market, where we bought some yummy stir-fry. By this time we’d been starving though, so afterward we got dessert and a couple cups of coffee each, for although it’d been worth it to forego additional sleep I was admittedly horribly tired as well.

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Thus, after the concert (which was really quite amazing as it’d been a sold-out show that took place right in the middle of the Forbidden City), we immediately headed straight to the hotel, where we barely had enough energy to change into our pajamas before we fell fast asleep nestled in each other’s arms.

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You take the weight and you withstand
Ohhh

We slept in the next morning, but once we’d showered and had some breakfast we went to the Scholar’s Garden. It was a beautiful place lush with lotuses, bamboo, and dozens of trees with leaves the colors of a thousand shades of autumn. It was the place that my grandparents had confessed their love for one another and where they had shared their first magical kiss. I remembered my grandmother telling me the story so many years ago. God, I missed her.

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A trio of koi swam side by side up the stream beneath us. I watched them as they joined a brightly colored school of others which treaded lazily in the warm shallows. Gabriel wrapped his arms around me from behind. I held onto them, allowing myself to be consumed by the embrace. From farther up the creek a pair of mandarin ducks quacked loudly, calming only when a bunch of fluffy ducklings abruptly emerged from out of the bushes and hopped into the water with them. The sight made me feel odd, a fact that I couldn’t quite explain until a sudden question popped into my mind.

“Gabriel?”

“Hmm?”

“What are your thoughts about having children?”

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Gabriel picked his head up from where he was resting it on my shoulder. “Why?” he asked curiously. “Are you pregnant?”

“No!” I answered hastily, feeling my entire body burn with embarrassment. “No, no I’m not. I just—realized that we’d never once discussed it even though we’ve talked about pretty much everything else so I—I figured I’d ask.”

“Oh.”

I turned my head in order to see him better. “You’re not crazy about the idea, are you?”

“Mmmm,” Gabriel hummed cryptically and then carefully said, “I’m not against it if that’s what you’re implying, but I am surprised you’re bringing it up because I always got the impression that you weren’t interested—not yet at least.”

“That’s because I’m not…yet, like you said,” I confirmed with some discomfort. “And yourself?”

“I’m interested when you’re interested.”

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I turned to face him and frowned. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Gabriel slipped his hands into his pockets as he answered in a tone that clearly said he thought that was obvious, “It means exactly what I said.”

“So what if I said I was interested now?”

“Two and two make…..”

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I took in a sharp breath. That had been rude. Gabriel was hardly ever rude to me. What the hell?

“W-why are you being such an ass about this?” I asked tremulously.

“I’m not. I answered your question. You just don’t like the answer,” he responded shortly, and then softened some when he noticed my eyes well up tears.

“Hey, I didn’t mean—” he started, reaching out to me, but I took an angry step backward and he fell entirely quiet, a stricken look crossing his face. The sight made me instantly regret my actions, but I held my stance regardless. His hands fell to his sides. I half-hugged myself, averting my gaze.

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Gabriel didn’t say anything for an uncomfortably long expanse of time before he cleared his throat and mumbled, “I am interested in having kids. In fact—” he hesitated again, gazing vaguely at some cherry blossom trees down below.

“In fact what?” I pushed impatiently, still feeling rather irritated.

“In fact,” he repeated, rubbing his neck, “back—well…Daisy and I—we’d actually been…trying. Not long after we’d made the decision to start though…I lost her.”

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I flinched, hugging myself tighter. My heart suddenly hurt so badly. With every new piece of information I learned about his past it only grew worse and worse to know. It almost made me regret ever asking him to be open about her. Apparently I really wasn’t as ready to hear it as I’d thought.

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“So I stopped considering the possibility,” I heard Gabriel continue quietly, “just like I stopped considering about a thousand other possibilities I’d had in mind, but now, with you.…” he sighed. “Look, I know that this—our music—is where your heart lies right now and I’m enjoying this ride just as much as you are, so that’s why I said, ‘when you’re interested, I’m interested.’ That is, I don’t intend to push you, nor do I even feel the need to do so.”

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Silence descended upon us once again. Even the ducks had fallen quiet. All that could be heard was the faint, trickling sound of the brook.

I took in a steadying breath and then whispered in frustration, “Sometimes you make me feel like a child.”

The words made Gabriel stiffen, his face briefly creased with hurt, but I couldn’t take that back either. It wasn’t fair that he always seemed so put together when I constantly felt as if I was on the verge of falling to pieces.

Maybe that was why the thought of having children had always crossed my mind and yet I never had the slightest inclination of feeling ready, which apparently put me leagues behind this man who’d been trying for a baby with his wife before she was cruelly snatched from him. Gabriel was only two years older than me, but sometimes it felt like an entire decade.

God…how would I ever feel ready to have a child when I still acted so much like one myself? And why did this even bother me? We clearly weren’t at that point yet, so why was it making me feel so upset? What was wrong with me?

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“Jo….” Gabriel said, his fingers just barely brushing my arm.

I pressed my lips together, but didn’t move away this time. He sounded so uncertain—maybe even afraid. I wasn’t used to it.

“Like I said I’m…I’m really not—not at that point yet,” I told him, my throat feeling tight. “I just wanted to know your opinion because you’d—you’d never mentioned it, but I—I see why now. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” he insisted. “I should have mentioned it sooner, but…it really doesn’t bother me that you’re not ready. I already knew that and I’m not in any rush. I like how our lives are, which is why I never brought it up. If it was something I wanted now, I’d say so.”

I glanced at him suspiciously, wondering if his final words were intended as a back-handed hint toward me, but if they were, he didn’t push it further.

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“I want you to be happy,” he added quietly, and I felt everything inside me crumble all at once as I fell into his arms and started crying uncontrollably. That was why—that why this bothered me. It was something he wanted, something that would make him happy, and I didn’t feel like I could give it to him—wasn’t sure if I could ever give it to him. God, why did this keep happening to me?

“I want you to be happy too,” I sobbed into his shoulder as I clutched his shirt in my hands. “So I want to give you what you want. I want to give you everything that you could possibly ever want, but I—”

Gabriel let out an impatient hiss of air through his teeth, effectively cutting me off. “You already have, Joanne!” he maintained fervently. “God, why the hell can’t you ever see that?”

“I don’t know,” I whispered despairingly, and then lost myself completely to my tears.

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* * * *

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I wasn’t sure how long I cried in Gabriel’s arms, but by the time we returned to the main city square the sun was beginning to dip below the horizon, casting streaks of deepest orange across the blush colored sky.

Gabriel bought us tea and wedges of mooncake, but I only sipped at the tea, feeling remarkably un-hungry. He didn’t seem to know what to say, but kept occasionally casting me worried looks. I had to avert my gaze every time that he did so because I couldn’t stand seeing it.

The sight only served to remind me how much I’d overreacted and that made me feel even more stupid.

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We turned in early that evening for we had a flight out to Al Simhara, Egypt at the crack of dawn, but despite our omnipresent exhaustion neither of us seemed to be able to sleep. The moonlight was shining brightly into our room and outside a parade of crickets was cheerily chirping away. What was killing me though was the glaring space between us. It made me feel miles away from him.

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My eyes stinging, I finally rolled over and closed the space between us, wrapping my arms around him and roughly seeking the softness of his lips. Gabriel seemed hesitant at first—anxious, but then he gave in all at once, moving atop me and returning my feverish kisses. We impatiently cast aside one another’s clothing, and soon enough everything was falling away from us, my grip on him tight and my sharp gasps filling the night.

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They are all sunshine
I’m the bat and you’re my cave

I remained close to him afterward, trying to catch my breath as I rested my head against his shoulder and my hand on his chest. I could feel his rapid heartbeat beneath my palm. He turned to kiss my forehead, and for a brief moment my eyes fell shut.

A cool breeze drifted in through the open archway.

“I’m sorry about this morning,” I whispered.

Gabriel sighed, staring up at the dark, silky canopy of the bed. “I hate it when you apologize.”

“I know,” I said, tracing slow circles on his chest to try and soothe myself, “but I can’t help it.”

He didn’t say anything in response to this, but after about a minute turned his head to look at me and asked, “Why did you say that I make you feel like a child?”

I winced, finding it difficult not to avert my gaze. “I don’t know,” I mumbled. “I suppose you always seem to—to have everything put together and I’m…I’m always such a mess.”

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Gabriel propped himself up on one elbow, looking down at me sternly. “No, you aren’t,” he assured me firmly, “and anyway, I’m no more put together than you are. I’m sorry if I don’t…don’t always show that.”

I gazed up at him for a moment, watching the moonlight gleaming in his beautiful autumn eyes. “When the time comes, you’re going to be the most amazing father,” I said quietly.

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“If I am,” he began softly, cupping my cheek in his hand, “it’s only going to be because I have the most amazing mother at my side.”

I frowned slightly, doubting this, but Gabriel seemed to read my thoughts because he added stubbornly, “I mean that, Joanne. Like always, I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t.”

He laid back down, this time slipping beneath the covers, and I shifted underneath them as well, Gabriel’s arms pulling me close to him. I still wasn’t so sure to be honest, but for the first time in my life as I drifted off to sleep, I found myself thinking that maybe, just maybe, I could be.

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* * * *

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You are full daylight

Egypt came into view outside the plane window as miles upon miles of tawny-colored sand, dark green palms, and the royal blue waters of a long, glittering river. Gabriel and I both stared with wide eyes at the sight, for we had never quite seen anything like it.

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If we’d thought the sight from the plane had been incredible though, that was nothing compared to how we felt exploring the city—sweat dripping down our backs as we craned our necks to gaze up at pyramids nearly 80 times our height, or staring open-mouthed at massive statues of Anubis that guarded the entrances of each and every ancient structure.

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We stayed in the base camp, ate the traditional food, learned some Egyptian folk songs from the locals, and even swam in the warm waters of the river with the towering pyramids looming on the hazy horizon.

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It was almost disappointing when the day of the concert came, for it fell on the final evening of our stay in Al Simhara.

Still, set in the middle of the city’s main marketplace and with the Sphinx itself overlooking us, it was like being able to partake in some final sight-seeing before we were abruptly shipped off to the final destination of our tour: Champs Les Sims, France.

* * * *

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Breaking out when I’m afraid

Now this place I had been to before, for it had been on the list of cities I’d performed in on my Sinfully Sweet tour, but that didn’t make it any less exciting because it had also been my utmost favorite locale.

A small, rustic town outside of Paris, the place was home to endless expanses of amber-colored fields, thousands of grape vines, and hundreds of beautiful brick buildings set along the banks of a crystalline, cyan-blue river.

The best part was that we had a few extra days here before our final flight to Bridgeport for some more celebratory parties, signings, and interviews, and then it would finally be back once again to Starlight Shores, where I was sure Gabriel and I were going to sleep for 52 hours straight.

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Still, until then, we took advantage of what we had before us—riding Kenspas along the countryside at night, having breakfast together in the beautiful city center, visiting the medieval nectary where we sampled some of the wines, and exploring La Gallerie d’Art in full—a massive museum sprawled out over an entire acre of land.

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Despite the fact that we got home late every evening, we still stayed up to talk about everything and nothing, until our ardent kisses made it too difficult to talk and then we’d become blissfully lost to one another and the night.

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It was incredibly romantic and fun, and overall like everything we could have asked for after our tense stay in China and our lightning-fast trip to Egypt, so both Gabriel and I were in extremely high spirits as our adventures abroad crept to a close.

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Perhaps that was why the concerts we performed in France seemed especially electrifying and wonderful, or perhaps it was because they were the last in our tour, but regardless I thought we’d never sounded better.

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On the final day of our stay in Champs Les Sims Gabriel suggested that we rent a boat and take it out on the river—a decision that made me a little nervous considering neither of us had much sea-faring experience. Seeing as it was only a row boat though and the calm river’s waters were far from the choppy waves of the ocean, we managed just fine, and it ended up being a most beautiful and relaxing experience.

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Then it was a lovely dinner of ceviche at the Catania Café, followed by an unhurried walk back to the hotel, whereupon we settled on the living room sofa in front of a warm fire—and I promptly decided that my life couldn’t possibly be any more happy, or any more perfect.

And it’s as if I knew I’d always be with you

* * * *

~*~*~Gabriel’s Point of View~*~*~

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I’ll be your sidekick willingly
If I can have you here with me
Breaking out when you’re afraid

The evening was quiet, made even more so by the fact that my hearing was muffled—a hopefully temporary side-effect of having performed so many back-to-back concerts during our surreal world tour. Still, I could faintly hear the crackling of the fire from within the fireplace, its warmth and light washing over us both. Joanne rested against me, absently running her hands over mine as she laced and unlaced our fingers in her lap. Her hand felt incredibly soft as she brushed it against the rough calluses on mine.

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I turned my head to kiss the side of hers, then her neck, then her shoulder. She leaned her head back, a quiet hum sounding in her throat that vibrated within my chest. Her eyes fell shut. It relieved me to see her so relaxed, for she’d been on edge for some time after our conversation in China. Thinking about it still made me cringe, but I hadn’t wanted to lie to her.

I hugged Joanne closer to me. The scent of vanilla sweetly intermingled with that of the burning firewood. I was fine with being patient. After all, we had our entire lives together ahead of us.

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“This is a perfect moment, isn’t it?” I murmured.

“Infinitely so,” she answered softly, sounding somewhat tired, but serenely content. I ran my fingers across her palm and then pressed my hand to hers, matching them up. Hers were so much smaller—I could bend the tips of my fingers over them. Joanne pressed her hand back against mine and then shifted her fingers to thread them in the spaces within mine. I had to admit they fit perfectly—like they were somehow always meant to be.

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“I wrote a new song,” I said casually. “Would you like to hear it?”

She turned her head slightly to look up at me. “Now?” she inquired, brows slightly furrowed. The flames glimmered within her eyes—a sparkling sunset reflected on the faces of a million shining emeralds.

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I’m your cape and I’ll fly with you
I’ll just say “never mind” with you

“It’s a perfect moment,” I repeated with a bit of a grin, my pulse increasing slightly. She smiled and nodded in assent. I turned my head to quickly kiss her pink lips before leaning over to grab my guitar from beside the couch. Joanne scooted back, watching as I ran my fingers across the strings, playing a few errant notes mostly out of habit since I already knew it was in tune.

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Joanne tucked one of her legs underneath her, looking at me in anticipation. She looked utterly adorable. I smiled at her, looked down at my guitar, and then began to play. I relaxed as soon as the first familiar notes hit my ears. They pulsed throughout my entire body as every nerve cell within me reacted favorably to their sound.

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All was right in the world.

I began to carefully sing:

♪ Failed promises and severed vows
I’m on my battered knees to pray
Suspend me in these ashen clouds
In this my numbing world of gray ♪

♪ A candle in a darkened room
My eyes light up unwillingly
On your kind face a sweet hope blooms
Can’t take this stark reality ♪

♪ Looking at you is falling in love
I want to fall in love forever
You’re hope and magic from above
And I couldn’t leave you, ever…. ♪

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♪ Don’t want to see you fall apart
That light it needs to linger on
Don’t want to let you in my heart
But you slip in, the lock is gone ♪

♪ With you my world is all bright hues!
A song with perfect harmony
Your loving arms I’d always choose
Our incandescent chemistry ♪

♪ Looking at you is falling in love
I want to fall in love forever
You’re hope and magic from above
And I couldn’t leave you, ever…. ♪

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♪ Your kiss feels like infinity
Your touch an ever boundless spark
My endless electricity
You’re what leads me out of the dark ♪

♪ Looking at you is falling in love
I want to fall in love forever
You’re hope and magic from above
And I couldn’t leave you, ever…. ♪

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I slowed down my playing significantly as I reached the final verse, my eyes briefly rising from my guitar to glance at her and my heart pounding in my ears as I sang out with every fiber of my being:

♪ So please listen closely, my dear
Are you listening closely to me?
There’s something that you have to hear
And that’s love…will you marry me? ♪

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You’re the bat, you’re the bat and I’m your cave

Joanne froze in place. The only indication that she was still mentally present was the rapidly shifting emotions crossing her face—surprise, confusion, elation, confusion again, doubt, worry, happiness, and then confusion again.

“Wait, what?” she asked, her voice breaking and fresh tears welling in her glimmering eyes. I let out a breath, moving my guitar beside the couch and then reaching into my pocket, where a small velvet box had been pressing incessantly against my thigh the entire day. A brief feeling of fear crept into my chest.

Just one more time, Gabriel, I reassured myself firmly, and then, opening the ring box, slipped off the couch and dropped to one knee before her.

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~*~*~Joanne’s Point of View~*~*~

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They are all sunshine
They are…..

I couldn’t stop crying. Gabriel was getting down on one knee and he was holding out a small box in the palm of his left hand while he took mine firmly in his right and jeez, I couldn’t stop crying! My eyes flickered toward the box—inside it was a perfectly shining ring with a sleek, silver band and a bright, glittering emerald set in the middle that was surrounded by a ring of sparkling diamonds. If I wasn’t mistaken, the gem was the exact shade of my eyes. Oh my god….

I barely suppressed the urge to let out a sob as I lifted my gaze to his, and as soon as I did Gabriel softly asked, “Joanne Madeline Winters, will you marry me?”

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I’m the bat and you’re my cave
I’m the bat and you’re my cave

He didn’t have to say more—he’d already said it all in his beautiful song. Nor did I even have to stop to think about it.

“Yes!” I cried out, tears of utmost happiness escaping my eyes. “Yes! Absolutely 100% yes!”

Gabriel smiled, taking the ring from its velvet confines and sliding it onto my finger. The light from the flames caught on every precious jewel. It was beyond perfect. He was beyond perfect.

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You are full daylight
You are….

I slipped off the couch and onto my knees, taking Gabriel’s face in my hands and kissing him hard before I just held onto him and started to sob, completely overwhelmed. “I—I had no idea! I didn’t expect this at all! When? How?” I babbled through my tears.

“A long time now,” he admitted, looking somewhat embarrassed, “but it took me a while to sav—ah, to…to find the perfect ring and to…to write the song. Then I asked your Dad’s permission the night of the movie premiere and he…he said yes, so from there it was just…waiting for the right moment.”

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Breaking out when I’m afraid
Breaking out when I’m afraid

I glanced at the ring and then back to him, having caught what he’d nearly said and suddenly feeling guilty, but Gabriel shook his head quickly, cupping my face in his hands. “Don’t. It’s fine, I promise. Please.”

I took note of the desperate look in his eyes and then let out a breath, slowly bowing my head. “I love it,” I whispered. “I love it and the song and the fact that you actually asked my dad and god I love you!” I exclaimed, still unable to stop crying.

“I love you too,” he said, and then kissed my forehead before running his thumbs across my cheeks to wipe away my tears. I felt more in love with him than ever.

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“I’m really looking forward to being your wife,” I murmured, pressing my forehead against his.

“And I’m really looking forward to being your husband,” he whispered, and then gently lifted my chin to capture my lips in the sweetest of kisses.

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And it’s as if I knew I’d always be with you

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

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39 thoughts on “Chapter 5.17: The Bat and the Cave”

  1. GAH! A wedding! What an absolutely amazing proposal. I had a feeling he was going to do it at the comment made during the movie premier but then he didn’t, and didn’t, and I started to think that it wasn’t going to be this chapter and then it was!!! EEEE!!! And they even discussed babies! Which of course there would be babies (it is a legacy) but I love how they’re working through everything together. No decisions on their own and they talk about everything. So perfect.

    I’m so glad the new computer is working well for you. I did notice the quality difference in the photos so you must be beyond excited to get out another chapter and keep taking a million pics lol. I’m glad you were able to find a laptop that suited what you needed. Now you won’t have to worry about it crashing with your school stuff as well. *big sigh of relief*

    Awesome chapter Lisa!

    1. Hehe, thank you so much! That was actually the idea…drop the pointed hint in the beginning, but go so long without mentioning it again that the Reader thinks that maybe it won’t happen after all XD I almost didn’t drop the hint at all, but I ended up liking it better this way.

      Yes, of course there will be babies!!! ❤ Glad you noticed that they're working together now 🙂 Joanne especially has spent so much of her life suppressing her own thoughts and feelings that I felt it was really important for her to finally step up and say what's on her mind. Sure, there's still some stuff she keeps a little bottled up, but she's doing so much better with it!

      The new computer is wonderful–to the point where not only am I beyond excited to get out another chapter so I can take pictures, but also for the first time in ages I am excited about PLAYING it. My game has been bogged down for so long that I often only started it up to pose the pictures and then quit, rather than actually playing through days, which wasn't all that thrilling. Now I'm actually playing though and it's been so much fun! I actually have to start the game up again and get them out of France because they're still there, but now I'm looking forward to it XD The only thing is I'm not used to the game looking like this, so everything looks a bit funny to me, hahaha, especially the colors. I still need to get used to it!

      Yup, no worries about crashing, but trust that I'll still be keeping my external hard drive updated with my school and sim stuff JUST in case =O

      Thank you so much and thanks for reading and commenting! I did have my worries about it, so I'm glad you enjoyed it! ❤

  2. Glad to hear your computer issues are resolved.
    Oh yay a wedding! 😀 such an amazing proposal. Loved how Jo didn’t see it coming, so cute.
    Then they talked about babies! So looking forward to seeing what their children look like.

    1. I’m quite glad my computer issues are resolved as well, lol. I guess now the only problem is the useless hunk of junk taking up space in my closet, hahaha.

      Thank you ❤ A proposal and a wedding and babies, oh my!! It's beginning to look like a legacy again 😉 I'm so looking forward to seeing what their children will look like too! There have been multiple instances where I had to restrain myself from cheating to see XD It's finally nearing that time though–squee!

      Glad you liked the proposal ^_^ Hehe, yeah, Joanne was quite oblivious to it. I mean maybe under normal circumstances she would have realized, but Jo was pretty convinced that he wouldn't want to take that step again because of what happened the first time, so him asking was a real shocker to her! ….the best shocker ever, hehe ❤

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Such an awesome Chapter, had me hooked all the way to the end! It’s so beautifully written, I love your characters and the proposal…*wipes away tear* stunning!

    1. Thank you so much! I admit a huge smile spread across my face when I read this. You’re too kind ^_^;

      Also, welcome! 🙂 I love seeing new faces (er, usernames? haha) around here so I got all excited when I got the pop-up to approve a comment, lol. So glad that you enjoyed this chapter! I’d been a little worried about what people were thinking since I hadn’t heard too much feedback yet, so seeing this really made my morning! Thank you again! ❤

      1. I totally get what you mean, so glad I’m not the only one who leaps about when I get a new comment 😉 Oh my gosh you really shouldn’t be worried, it’s such an awesome idea! Plus I love how different it is, the arty way you write, the vulnerability in the characters, honestly I can’t really praise you enough, I think it’s fair to say reading this made my day 😀 Plus I’ve been sick as a dog all day, so I needed this! How did you come up with the whole band, gig idea? I think I’m being adventurous when my sims move house…one of the reason why I didn’t get the adventure extension pack, kinda regretting it now…I was reading your story thinking…’Wow her sims get to go on holiday…golly, betta not let my sims know…lol

        1. Ahhhh, thank you!! T_T I’m so glad that I could make your day and I hope that you feel better soon!

          I’m not entirely sure how I came up with the whole band/gig idea actually. I suppose it just popped into my head, lol. Like sometimes I’m inspired by specific things, but in this case I’ve been thinking about it and I’m really not sure. I guess to an extent I was thinking of real music artists though and how a lot of them launch national or international tours, so I thought it would be fun to kind of showcase this by using the awesome destinations that World Adventures comes with.

          Hahaha it is a bit of a hassle to send them away on holiday, but I actually kind of like it because time is sort of “frozen” during their stay, in the sense that they don’t grow any older, so it’s a good chance to get in some uninterrupted skilling….which is actually probably not what my sims had in mind went I sent them on vacation LOL. I do let them have at least some fun though! For instance, I really loved having Joanne and Gabriel take that boat ride down the river in France. So nice. I just sat there having my camera follow them and enjoyed the view too! XD

          Thank you again–not only for your really kind words, but also for taking the time to read and comment in the first place! ^_^;

  4. Thanks mate, I’m feeling loads better today, due to the wonders of modern medicine 😀 Whoop! Anywho, yes! That sounds well cool, don’t suppose they can just go on holiday…for ever??? Plus how does the whole time-freeze thing work with kiddies?? Can you bring kiddies?? O.o

    Oh and reading really was fun 🙂 I spend sooooo much time wrapped up in my own stories I just HAVE to escape and read something totally different, it’s like a breath of fresh air! And yours was brill, I’ll be popping back soon to catch up on more! 😉

    1. Oh good! 😀

      Haha umm I suppose you could take them on holiday a lot, but the vacations themselves are time-limited and whenever your sim returns they have a 48 “cool down” period in which they can’t go on another trip. You can bring children and up–not toddlers or babies. Basically they don’t age up while you’re there. Any aging is only done on the home lot. It’s sort of like the University or Into the Future towns if you have either of those packs.

      I know what you mean! Whenever I’m stuck on my own story I go and read others to clear my mind and enjoy something new. I’m currently catching up on a few, but once I do I’m definitely going to check out yours! From what I briefly saw of it, it looks really cool!

      Hope that you continue to enjoy! ^_^ ❤

  5. Awww, LOL. How cute. I loved the song, the proposal, and the ring Gabriel chose? Yeah. Perfect. LOL. They had quite the tour! All those cities, and then so much abroad traveling! No wonder they’re tired. I loved your red carpet scene, it was perfect too. Mmmmm James, *faints*. LOL. I ❤ James. So cool that his book turned movie went very well too.

    Ahh poor Joanne, she did really well wanting to try to let go of her jealousy towards Daisy, but sad that she wasn't quite ready for it yet. I don't blame her, she's still very insecure as a person, even though she has come such a long way from how she suffered before. I think she did good wanting to be okay with Daisy though, that's the first step.

    Yikes, kids, haha, that's a sensitive topic. I'm not sure what Gabriel meant by "Two and two makes…" but I did understand the gist of what he meant by the “i’m interested when you’re interested.” Like he had been trying with Daisy, but then she had that incident, T_T, so like, he’s not going to make Joanne have kids before she is ready, but he’ll be for it when she is.

    Heehee, I know what you meant in your last reply to me about the super water on the new laptop. I absolutely love how water looks on my laptop. XD Your new pictures and your old pictures, there’s a definite difference, but everything worked well together in the chapter.

    1. Thank you so much! Gabriel felt quite a bit of pressure when it came to that ring o_o; I haven’t harped on it much lately, but Joanne has pretty expensive tastes and likes having the best of everything and Gabriel is well aware of this. That being said, even if the ring had been much simpler Joanne would have said “yes” and loved it and he knows this too, but still…he wanted to go the extra mile for her to ensure that it was indeed “perfect.”

      Right? What a tour! I’m totally jealous of them 😉 To travel the world? Ughhh, I would love that! Plus it was fun getting to play around in all those locales. I really love World Adventures. The only downside of it I suppose is that the tombs can get pretty repetitive, but the locales are still nice even if you decide not to do the quests.

      Eee, yay! I’m so glad that you liked the red carpet scene because I almost cut it out like three times, haha. However, in the end I did want to showcase James’ success because I love him too o_o; I mean….umph, James *fans self* The other day he was painting and I swear I just ignored the entire household and watched him paint for a full couple minutes at least….LOL. It’s a problem…and even more reason I wanted to keep the red carpet scene in for him XD

      Gah, yeah :/ Joanne really has come a long way, but she’s not quite there yet. Still, like you said, the fact that she wants to be okay with it and is trying to get better with it is a very good first step.

      Ah, yeah, the “two and two” line. Gabriel was actually being pretty patronizing there—like insulting her intelligence in that moment because if you “follow logic” so to speak, if Gabriel is interested when Joanne is interested and Joanne says she’s interested now then, following that logic, Gabriel is interested now. So when Joanne asks, “So what if I said I was interested now?” Gabriel kind of responds with a snarky “duh” by retorting, “Two and two make….” As in, it’s common logic. Two and two make four, and if I’m interested when you’re interested and you’re interested now then UHHH DUHH, I am interested now. Soooooo Joanne was like “WTF RUDE.” Lmao.

      Like you said though, it IS a sensitive topic, especially for Gabriel, which is why he initially bristled when it was brought up. Plus, he already knew that she wasn’t very interested in kids yet, so he kind of didn’t want to tell her his side because he didn’t want her to feel pressured. Which brings us to your very correct conclusion that what he meant by the “I’m interested when you’re interested” was that he’s not going to make Joanne have kids before she’s ready, but he’ll be for it when she is. Hope the “two and two” line makes more sense now….I realize looking back that it could definitely be confusing o_o;

      Glad you thought the mixed array of pictures worked out nicely! I am excited though that from here on out every picture will be of the higher quality. Woot!

      Thank you soooo much for reading and commenting!!!! I really, really appreciate it! ❤

  6. That was a really romantic and beautiful chapter, the talk about having children some day especially even if it had its ups and downs (Gabriel being rude and all) but it was really sweet. The proposal was picture perfect! And what a lovely tour all over the world (even if it made me all jetlagged and exhausted just thinking about it!), the rowboat pictures looked especially nice. They’re such a perfect couple. Poor Joanne and her conflicted feelings about Daisy though! I understand how she wants Gabriel to be open about everything that’s important to him, but at the same time, dead lovers (or wives, even) are difficult to compete with. But she’ll have her own wedding soon! 🙂

    I had to search for the chapter about Daisy to get a bit more updated on her story, that was really sad and a great chapter as well.

    1. Aww, thank you!! Yessss the children talk 🙂 Even though it did have its bumps, it makes me really excited because I’m pretty much dying for Joanne and Gabriel kiddos by this point, lol. I wouldn’t want to rush her or her story though, so for now I’m just setting up the pieces to make that happen 😉

      LOL thinking of the tour made me feel jetlagged and exhausted just thinking about it too! Still, a tour like that would be terribly amazing o_o I can sleep afterward, XD I love how those rowboat pictures came out too. I literally just followed them and watched them at “normal speed” in the game taking pictures as I went. I have a tendency to fast-forward a lot when I’m playing, so that was definitely significant, lol. Plus, the tour ended rather nicely, didn’t it? 😉 I’m happy to read that you thought the proposal was perfect! ^_^;

      I think that’s the thing when it comes to Daisy–ghosts are, as you said, difficult to compete with :/ Of course, what Joanne seems to be failing to realize is that there is no competition. Yes, Gabriel loved Daisy, but he loves Joanne too, without any shadow of a doubt and he doesn’t compare them. After all, they’re two entirely different people from two entirely different points in his life…comparisons just don’t make sense. All that he’s MAYBE noticed is that he and Joanne don’t fight as much (or at least as badly) as Daisy and he had in the past, but that’s partly too because they were so dang young, so again, comparing just doesn’t really work. A lot of growing up happens in one’s twenties…..

      I’m glad that you liked the Daisy chapter too 🙂 It’s honestly one of my favorites that I’ve written.

      Lastly, YES a wedding!!!! Unfortunately, it’s giving me all kind of writer’s block though. Maybe I should just do a photo montage and call it a day? LOL, nah. I’ll figure it out. I’ve just always had difficulties writing those….maybe because I’ve only been to like…2 weddings in my life and they were both when I was super young, so I barely remember them, lol.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting!!! ❤

  7. Awww, they’re so adorable together and I love Joanne’s dress! I really like the magazine style, it was intriguing, learning things about their lives in a relatively quick way, but also being able to see the small details the interviewer picked up on and their read comments and remarks. 🙂 I’m ecstatic that Freezer Bunny is a great label, that their album is receiving high praise, and that, from their long, separate roads of struggle and pain, they’ve been able to converge into one wonderful duo.
    I love the red carpet and the family photograph- I really must take more of those for my legacy, haha, it’s a detail that I always enjoy, but so often overlook. 🙂

    Awwwwww! The “traditional sort” can only mean one thing, right? Right?

    They’ve still their struggles, however I think as long as they keep communicate and attempt to remedy any conflict or address any issues without being rude or patronizing *cough, cough* Gabriel *cough, cough*, as long as they don’t keep everything locked up inside, they’ll be able to make it through them.

    I love the rowboat pictures; Champs Les Sims is probably my favorite World Adventures spot, the scenery is always so lovely.

    AWWW, ohmigawsh, ohmigawsh, he proposed by singing her the most perfect, adorable, loving song; it’s so cute and romantic, and awwww (I feel like I’ve aw’d so many times during the past few chapters, my heart just keeps swooning for those two, haha, you’ve written them so amazing, I can’t help it ❤ )! I was terrified that she was going to say no, even though she keeps saying how perfect her time is with him, I’m relieved that she was just shocked, I guess in her mind she didn’t really see Gabriel proposing in the near future, despite all the I love you’ and how much they care for one another, she’s still seems a bit jealous of Daisy and that’s clouding how she pictures their future together. 🙂

    *releases balloons* *brings leftover blueberry shortbread bars* Woo! I cannot believe that I’ve finally caught up, I’m overjoyed that I’ve read all your wonderful chapters, but a bit sad that I’ll have to wait with everyone else for updates, haha, whenever they come (I know life can be overwhelmingly busy at times and real life always comes first- I don’t want you to think I’m pressuring/complaining 🙂 ) sure they’ll be great. 😀

    1. Aren’t they just?! Joanne and Gabriel have taken over as my favorite couple I think, although James remains my favorite heir and Candice is still completely awesome 🙂

      Glad you liked the magazine article! I was worried it was too long, but in the end I was like, “Ehhh whatever” and left it as is. I wanted to cover what happened during the time gap.

      Freezer Bunny really is a good label for them, not only because it has connections to the much larger Bridgeport Music Group, but also because they are among friends 🙂 Hehe that’s where their name comes from actually- their coming together from their separate roads of struggle into this seamless duo….Convergence! Plus it’s a nod to the fact that they are well-suited for one another. Together they’re stronger and all that 🙂

      The red carpet bit was a pain in the ass to photograph, but I’m glad I did it because I really liked how it came out! Family photos too are a pain, but they’re worth having. I wish I had done more of them throughout my legacy.

      “Traditional sort” indeed can only really mean one thing 😉

      LOL yes cough, Gabriel, but also yes as long as they remain open with one another they should be fine 🙂

      The rowboat pictures were actually a joy to get! Lol. I literally just followed them in game enjoying the sights right along with them ^_^ It really is lovely. World Adventures is one of my favorite EPs because of the travel locations.

      LOL aww thank you!! I don’t mind how much you awe- I’m glad that you find them adorable and that you’re enjoying their relationship so much ^_^; My heart keeps swooning for them too. Thank you ❤

      Hehe Joanne would never say no, but she was very surprised. She indeed didn't see Gabriel proposing in the near future. Hell, honestly she didn't expect him to ever propose because of what happened with Daisy. She just sort of assumed they'd be together, but without being married, so when he popped the question she was shocked!

      Blueberry shortbread bars?!? That sounds amazingly delicious! *happily enjoys them while confetti falls from the sky*

      I'm so overjoyed that you've read them all too, but am pleased to say I just released a new one, so at least your first wait wasn't too long 🙂 No guarantees about future ones though, lol. I do my best ^_^;

      I know I keep saying it, but seriously thank you again for reading and for all your wonderful comments! I'm really glad to have you as a reader!!! ❤

      1. Woops! Must’ve read too fast ^_^; I do that sometimes: get so obsessed with just reading that I forget that writers often appreciate a ‘like’. Problem rectified.

    1. Aw, thank you so much and welcome to Different Winters! I definitely hope that you read the whole story and that you’ll enjoy it. Hehe, yes, I have been updating, but the updates have been a bit slower since I returned to graduate school. I’ll never give up on this blog though, so always check back to see if I’ve posted something new yet ^_^ Thanks for your kind words! ❤

  8. Aww Gabriel! I’m so happy with this chapter! I got a little scared when children came up again (flashback of Oliver) but things seem to be okay for now…

    Gaaahhh I keep telling myself “you’re nearing the end…try to slow down or else you’ll run out of chapters to read” but then I still can’t seem to resist XD

    1. Gabriel can be an absolute sweetheart sometimes, can’t he? 😉 I’m so glad that you’re happy with this chapter! It was definitely a struggle to get posted, that’s for sure, lol.

      Yes…and that’s precisely why Gabriel never brought up the subject. He already knew on a surface level that she wasn’t interested, so bringing it up before she was ready didn’t seem like such a wise decision. Then she brought it up though and ahhh!! Things do seem to be okay for now though =) It was a conversation they needed to have eventually anyway.

      Aww, I know, and I feel pretty bad because no matter how much you try and space these out, I am almost certain that you’ll catch up before the next chapter is posted. I’m swamped with school work, but on top of that I seem to struggling under the worst writer’s block I’ve encountered since returning to this blog over a year ago. I have confidence that I’ll pull through it, but in the meantime….*heaviest of sighs* You will definitely likely run out of chapters to read =( Hopefully though it won’t be for too long.

  9. The proposal song was so beautiful, and like he said, the entire moment was perfect. You make these characters come alive with every sentence you write, and your descriptions of the scenery are downright stunning. I wish I had the words to describe how in love with this story I am and how happy I am to have found it!

    1. THANK YOU!! That song took me a while to write, LOL. I even know the tune and sometimes it literally gets stuck in my head and you’ll hear me singing it while like, folding laundry, XD. I went over them so much I have them memorized =O

      And omgggggg well, I wish I had the words to describe just how grateful I am to hear you say that and just how grateful I am that you’re even here reading and leaving such amazing comments and dfjsdkfhdsfhsdk. All I can do is tackle hug you again and again!!!! Deal? DEAL. *MEGA TACKLE HUG FROM ACROSS THE SEAS* You’re freaking awesome and have seriously made my entire day! ❤

  10. So, I finally get it when people say 2+2=4. LOL I never understood that phrase until now.

    Also, I don’t know if anyone else has picked up on it and commented but I’ve always had the sneaking suspicion that Daisy was pregnant that night. That that was why she felt so sick and needed to go home. I think this confirmed it for me, though.

    And yes, I cried. I almost always cry when James and Jo interact. And I cried when Gabriel proposed. And ugh! I haven’t done a damn thing all day except read these chapters. My game has been open and paused ALL DAY LONG. And I’m not sorry!!

    1. Hahaha, well, I’m glad you do now! It’s not a terribly nice thing to say….lmao.

      TAINA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m pretty sure you ARE the first who has picked up on that!!!!!!!! *explodes confetti canon* Nice attention to details! This may or may not become important 😉

      Oh my gosh, glad I’m not the only one who tears up when James and Jo interact! And ahhhh yes his proposal too! Joanne and Gabriel have come such a long way T___T

      And aww, thank you so much! Glad you’re not sorry and that reading my story felt worth it! ❤

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