For a second, Finn and Bette held their breath. Most of the time, Carter was good with their pranks—but there was always that split-second while Carter processed what they’d just done, where Finn and Bette held their breaths and thought that maybe they’d pushed it too far this time. But then Carter gave a little cough and a laugh, and Finn and Bette relaxed and laughed with him, Finn almost doubled over, using Bette’s shoulder as support.
“Honestly,” Carter came over and clapped Finn on the back, “you two should just get married and get it over with.”
Bette laughed. She and Finn weren’t even dating. They shared an apartment because they were both cheap and a place downtown was expensive. They were friends, yeah, but the with exception of a couple drunk birthday parties and one very interesting Christmas night, they’d never been anything more than that. Nothing had even ever really been suggested.
“Oh, if only Finn were interested, dream come true,” She teased, heading towards the kitchen, “Want a beer, Car?”
Finn followed Bette quickly into the kitchen, jumping in front of Bette before she could reach the fridge. “Wait—hold on. The only reason we’re not getting married is that you think that I’m not interested?”
Bette raised an eyebrow, sidestepping Finn to get the drink out of the fridge. “No. We’re not getting married because we’re not actually together. Finn—why in the world would you even be interested?”
“Bette, I would love to marry you. The only reason I never asked you out is because I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable in your own home and I sure as hell didn’t want you to move out. You are my best friend and easily the best thing that has ever happened to me. Carter’s right. Let’s just get married. Do you want to marry me?”
Bette stared in awe looking back and forth between Carter and Finn with her mouth half open. “Did—did you just propose because Carter made a joke?”
“N-no.” Finn faltered for a second. “Well—technically yes, Carter’s joke triggered the conversation. But I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t mean it.”
“We’re not getting engaged because Carter had a joke and you had a whim, Finn.” She handed Carter the beer she’d picked up for him, and popped the lid off of her own. “Now, I’m going to my room for the night before you start naming our kids and deciding we should move to the coast.” She took a swig out of her bottle as she walked away.
Before she was locked away in her room, she heard Carter say “Sorry man, I didn’t mean to mess things up.”
“Don’t worry,“ Bette could practically hear Finn’s smile through his voice, “I’ve got a plan. This might have been the kick in the pants I needed. This could be good.”
“If you think so…” Carter replied as Bette swung her bedroom door shut. Either way you spin it, things were sure bound to get interesting.
Although she probably should have been, she wasn’t at all shocked to hear Finn’s quick two beat knock on her door at eight on the dot the next morning. Bette counted slowly to ten in her head, to pretend like she hadn’t been standing just on the other side of the door, waiting to see if Finn would stop by her room as he headed out to make his breakfast. But, smiling wider than she should, she swung the door open. “Hey, you.”
“Hi,” Finn smiled at her, and for a moment everything seemed perfectly normal. Maybe they were just going to pretend the previous night hadn’t happened. “Sorry if I woke you”
“No. I was just thinking about getting some breakfast. Care to join me?”
Finn smiled even wider and nodded. They headed towards the front of the apartment side by side. “So—what was it you wanted?” Bette asked carefully.
“Well—I’m assuming that you didn’t knock to wake me up and then apologize for waking me—so I’m guessing you wanted me for some reason?”
An expression that Bette couldn’t quite place danced across his features before switching back to a sheepish smile. “Oh—right. I forgot at the thought of breakfast.”
“Yes—I know how you get at the thought of food. That’s why I thought to remind you.”
Finn placed a hand gently on his chest, “Thank you. So kind.” He said almost mockingly. But then he dropped his arms back to the side. He waited until they were in the kitchen, leaning against the counter while Bette broke out the eggs before he continued. “So. I was thinking.”
“Dangerous words.” Bette teased as she broke an egg against the side of the bowl.
“Yeah, basically. But, I was thinking that I might have been a little rash last night.”
Bette wasn’t sure exactly why she felt disappointed—but she hoped that it didn’t show on her face. She guessed it was because—well, she hadn’t wanted to marry him, but she might have been daydreaming that his impromptu proposal might lead to something else between them. She turned to the fridge to get out some cheese and to give her a second to regain her smile. “What? With your proposal? Maybe a little rash, yeah. Don’t worry, you can go ahead and consider it forgotten.”
“No. No, that’s not what I want.” Finn took a step towards her, and Bette turned away from the counter in shock. Finn took the cheese out of her hands and set it down gently only the counter before wrapping her hands carefully in his own. “I don’t want you to forget it. I meant every word that I said yesterday. And if you wanted to I’d run off and marry you right this second. But, part of that is that I know you well, which means that I should have recognized that last night was not the type of proposal that you wanted or would accept. That was a great miscalculation on my part. So I’m asking you to give me another chance to do this properly. Maybe Friday night, if you’re free.”
“A chance to do what properly?” Bette asked because it was about the only thing her brain could process at the moment.
“To ask you to marry me. Properly. Thought out and planned so that it’s something you’ll look back on fondly—you know? You definitely deserve something special like that. So, you didn’t say—are you free Friday night or is another day better for you?”
Bette smiled and tilted her head to look at Finn. “You know you’re insane, right?”
“Yes. I believe you have pointed that out once or twice before.”
“You want to ask me to marry you on Friday?”
“Unless you’re busy on Friday—Yep.”
“And it doesn’t bother you that we aren’t actually dating? Or, you know, that we haven’t actually been in a committed romantic relationship together of any kind?”
“Bette—I know you better than any girlfriend I’ve ever had. And I love you. Not just in that platonic you’re one of my best friends kind of ways but in a don’t want to live without you, daydream about waking up next to you every morning, live in fear of the day you want to move out and I won’t be able to see you everyday kind of love. I never said anything because I didn’t want to freak you out in your own home, and having you as a best friend is a million times better than not having you at all, so I stayed quiet.
“But here’s the thing. Carter knows that. His comment last night was one last jab at me, maybe he was a little bit angrier about the prank than he let on—but a small subtle reminder that I wasn’t going to get what I want. But you didn’t laugh me off entirely. You said—and correct me if I’m wrong but I think—sincerely ‘Oh, if only.’ And I had a knee-jerk overjoyed reaction—and that’s when I acted rashly. And you rightly rejected me.
“But still, I couldn’t help but notice that you never said you weren’t interested, or that you didn’t want to marry me—you were just weirded out by the circumstances. So—let’s have a whirlwind romance. We’ll date a week, get engaged on Friday, and get married whenever we can throw a wedding together. And now I’ve talked way too much, so—say something.”
Bette tried to say something, for a long moment, she really did. But for perhaps one of the longest moments of her life—not a single word came to mind. Not a single one.
So, she reacted on instinct. Crushing their hands in between their chests, she leaned in and kissed him. She’d kissed him before, but never like this and to be completely honest, never completely sober. She kissed him until they stumbled backward, knocking the rest of the eggs off the counter, and cracking against the floor. That broke them apart as they stared silently at the mess on the floor for a moment.
Finn looked back up at Bette. “So—Friday?”
Bette laughed, because really, what else could she do? “Oh—my parents are so going to think I am pregnant.”
“We can work on that if it will help make this easier for you,” Finn suggested waggling an eyebrow.
“Oh, shut it,” Bette set to cleaning up the eggs. “Besides, you have work to do. If this is going to be my marriage proposal it’s got to be pretty damn amazing. I’ve come to expect big things from you, Finn.”
“What if it’s not spectacular?” Finn teased.
Bette cut him a quick smile. “Well, I guess you’ll have next Friday—and the Friday after that—and the Friday after that…”