July 23, 2019
I’m going to lose my lunch.
It’s the live finale the entire country has been waiting for. The arena is packed to the gills with reporters, cameras pointed at us. Flashbulbs go off, and my future seems to flash through my eyes with them.
Everything depends on what will happen in the next hour. We could give our answer in a split second, but not now. I know the announcer will drag things out to the point of sheer madness. Recaps of poignant moments from the season, interviews with contestants, performances by “special celebrity guests” who are also fans of the show.
It’s all meant to build up to the moment of truth. Every one of the people in this arena, every one of the thirteen million people watching at home—they’re all waiting on the edge of their seats with the same question.
Will they . . . or won’t they?
I wish to god we could just give our answer and be done.
He’s so close, but he might as well be a million miles away. Our fingers entwined, he waves at the crowd cheering our names. His hand isn’t the least bit clammy. I manage a peek at him, his chiseled features, his relaxed smile, and my throat catches.
No wonder the world is in love with him. No wonder he’s been the fan favorite since week one.
This is it. The end. Or . . .
I look over at him and say, “Luke . . . I’m not . . .”
He shakes his head almost imperceptibly. “It’s okay,” he murmurs, his fingers stroking my palm. “Breathe, Penny. Just breathe.”
So I do. But air is not the only thing I need to make me okay right now.
We’ve been through so much, more than most couples will go through in entire lifetimes.
And now we’re about to make the decision that will shape our future.
To think, seven months ago, I didn’t even know Luke Cross. Three months ago, I despised him. But somewhere along the line, things changed.
Somewhere along this crazy little adventure we’ve been having, played out on television for the entire world to see, I did what I told myself I’d never do.
I don’t even know how it happened, but as I look back, it seems so inevitable. Like I couldn’t have stopped it, even if I’d tried.
But just because it was meant to happen doesn’t mean it will last forever . . .