"Uh, Stacey? You haven't said anything in at least five minutes...Are you okay?" Carter asked, and I came to.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm better than great," I suddenly started letting words roll off my tongue, not really sure of what I was rambling on about. I think I even mentioned something about the Royal Wedding, but I can't be 100% sure. I was almost to the point of shaking; I don't whether that was nerves or excitement speaking. Possibly a mixture of both. I let his previous words sink in again, and a smile crept onto my face. "I want to marry you, yes," I simply stated.
"Are you sure? Because...." He ran his fingers through his hair, and just stared at me, waiting for an answer.
"I'm sorry it took me awhile, I just...I was never the girl who thought she'd get married. So, the fact that you're sitting here in front of me is pretty mind boggling at how God had a plan the entire time." I sat there in amazement, thinking about how my life had taken a very different turned than I had ever dreamed of. "I love you, Carter. You're the best thing that has have ever happened to me. If the rest of our lives are anything like the journey has been so far, I think we're going to be okay." A lot of people would probably be shaking their heads at the idea of us getting married not very long after having met and the time that we'd been dating, but to quote Taylor Swift, "It's not theirs to speculate if it's wrong, your hands are tough, but they are where mine belong in..." in her song 'Ours'.
"Me too, baby, me too!" He slid the ring on my left hand, leaning down and wrapping his arms around me.
Tears welled up in my eyes, looking down at the chunk of diamond that was now resting on my finger. "This is probably way more than we, or you, could afford right now," I said examining it a little more closely.
"Don't worry about that. Maybe I worked something out; trust me, our finances will be just fine."
"I already trust you."
That was the last nights of "normalness", before Carter went out on tour with the Idols. Though, it was hardly anything but normal. I mean, it's not everyday that you get engaged (at least in my life it's not). He was still constantly writing and planning for his record, and flying out to the studio when time allotted for it, which was very rare. So, even if he was in town, there was very little time for hanging out, just the two of us. No matter how busy he got, he was always checking in on me. He'd call every night after the show and meet and greets with fans. They'd been gone for close to two months now, traveling the country, but it was getting ready to wrap up with the final show in Los Angeles, which was just a few days away.
"Hello?" I answered, groggily from bed most nights.
"Hi beautiful!" He'd respond with over the phone, and my heart would skip a few beats.
"How was the show?"
"It was phenomenal. I can't wait until you see the show in just a few days."
"Me either! How's everyone else been with life on the road?" He filled me in on some of the pranks they'd been playing on one another, the drama that had gone down at times, and the way they'd all really grown closer to one another.
"We're all going to be friends the rest of our lives. I mean, the bond we have is unlike anything we've all experienced. It's almost like music camp," he said, reflecting on the some of his favorite memories. He sounded like such a kid the way he got giddy about the small things that happened to him.
"That sounds like so much fun! I can't wait to see all of them again." I remembered meeting them at the finale, and meeting them previously as they had gotten voted off. And of course, the occasional video bomb they'd do while Carter and I were skyping.
"They can't wait to see you either, and officially meet as my fiance. They've heard enough about you the past couple months, though, they probably feel like they have."
"Hopefully good things," I had a bit of skepticism in my voice, teasing him.
"Oh no! Terrible things, you know..." He joked back. I was glad we had the kind of relationship where we could mess with each other, but knew just how much we loved each other at the same time.
He told me about the crazy fans, the interviews they did on a daily basis, and all the sightseeing they'd been doing before each show if there was time.
"I can't wait until I'm touring solo, and you can come out on the road with me more. At least when you're not working that is." We had talked about the prospect of me not working, but in the end, it really wasn't an option. I wasn't the housewife type, and I didn't intend to start planning on that now.
"I can't either! I know that'll be in just a short amount of time. Judging by the dedication of your fans, I'm sure you'll be just fine. Plus, you're incredibly talented. The record execs would be crazy not to push a tour incredibly soon after the CD drops."
"Thanks, honey. And I can take you back to some of the places we've seen already. I'm making a list!"
"Oh, really?" I was intrigued by the fact that he had been planning out these things just for us to do, since I couldn't be with him at the moment. I was currently working on our wedding. "Fill me in on some of these places."
"Yes, really! I found the coolest vintage store that had so many nick knacks like random statues, books, and albums. I just might have found something really special for you there."
"Wow! I feel special. I can't wait to see it."
"I hope you like it."
"Of course, I'll love it, you picked it out. But, in the meantime I have a wedding to be planning," I reminded him, in case he had forgotten that we were supposed to talk about some of the arrangements.
"Oh, congratulations! Who are you marrying?" He asked, sarcastically. I rolled my eyes at his lame sense of humor.
"My best friend! He's pretty good looking too."
I heard a deep laughter come through the receiver, and I knew he was smiling from ear to ear.
"I miss you pretty girl," the laughing faded, and I heard a desperation in his voice. He sighed, and stayed quiet for a few minutes.
"I miss you too, but you're having the time of your life on tour. We'll be back together soon enough. And don't think all of your 'pretty girl' talk is going to get you out of wedding planning," I warned him.
"Fine, fine...Do you have any ideas so far?"
I sat up in bed, turning on the light on my side table, and opening the drawer just below it. I had been saving a bunch of articles from wedding magazines, or jotting down sketches of what I saw in my mind; gluing them all down in my Smash book. I flipped through the pages and told him a few ideas I'd had.
"As a matter of fact, I do. I want to go with a classy vintage feel, with old artifacts, possibly from both of our families, or random picture frames...things like that."
"I love that! Maybe we can go antiquing when I get back and pick up a few things."
"I'd really like that. I've been saving a bunch of things from Pinterest for ideas on wedding photos, engagement photos, and all that good stuff."
"Again, as soon as I get back, I'll sit down with you and we can go over all of that. We'll have the wedding of your dreams, I promise. Until then, you just keep up with all of those ideas and hold onto that feeling of missing me, so you'll still want to marry me when I return."
"Of course! I don't think I could just stop something like that. Besides, it's your wedding too. I just want a pretty, simple wedding with a few friends and family. I have you, and I'd rather focus on our marriage than some big, fancy wedding," I said from the heart, yawning. All of these late night talks were catching up to me. I still had to get up early every morning for work at E! We shot the tele prompt shots around six a.m, and the rest of the day was devoted to any stories and interviews that still needed researching or on location shoots.
"I'm gonna let you get back to sleep, Sleepyhead," he laughed at me, and I breathed a deep sigh.
"I do like talking to you, I promise, I'm just..." I yawned again, "Exhausted. It has been an extremely long week," Thinking back to all the stories we'd been covering this week. It was probably the most research I had ever done. The Emmy's were coming up pretty soon, and it was my first major event with E!, so I had to make a good impression.
"It's okay, Stace, I'm getting kind of tired too, and everyone else is turning in for the night. I don't want to annoy them with our mushiness," he chuckled.
"That's understandable! If I weren't us, I'd definitely be annoyed," I set the wedding book back on the table next to me, and pulled the covers back up to my neck.
"Agreed. Well, we'll be in Sacramento tomorrow, then San Jose, and finally by Friday, I'll be back with you!"
"I'll be counting down the days."
He told me he loved me, said a prayer over me, and we hung up the phone. It was our nightly routine, and it always gave me a sense of peace as I drifted off to sleep. No matter where I was or what I was doing, I knew God was watching out for me, and that He had sent this incredible guy on earth to watch out for me, as well.
The next few days, I kept myself busy at work, getting ideas for the wedding and getting an outfit ready for the concert on Friday at Nokia. I was growing nervous with anticipation and excitement at seeing Carter once again, and being able to get to know the rest of his Idol family a little better. Finally, the day arrived. I had decided to surprise him by saying I'd be busy the entire day, so we wouldn't be able to hang out until after the show, when in actuality, I had the day off. I pulled into the parking lot, and picked up the pace as I flashed my VIP pass to the backstage area. I had gotten in contact with one of the crew members and explained the situation, so he helped me out a bit.
I walked through several hallways before finding the one that led to the main press room. I saw all of the Idols spread out across the room doing interviews or waiting by the window for their turn to come up. I spotted Carter immediately, with his distinct style and stature.
I snuck up behind him, trying to keep everyone around us quiet from spoiling it. I put my hands around his eyes to block out everything else. "Guess who?" I asked, in a sing-songy, disguised voice.
"No way!" he repeated several times moving my hands, turning around, immediately pulling me into his chest.
"Hey, how'd you know it's me?" I was almost offended.
"If I couldn't tell it was you, that would basically make me the worst fiance ever!"
"True," I admitted, and leaned my head against his upper body. "I've missed you."
"I've missed you too!" He kissed the top of my head, and I could feel his heart beating wildly next to my ear.
"Yes, we all know how much you've missed each other!" I heard several of the contestants yell, making kissing noises, and a few gags.
Carter ignored them, and turned back towards me, rubbing my shoulders, "I thought you were busy all day today?"
"Nah, I had the day off the entire time, but I just wanted to make you think I didn't so I could make it a surprise!"
"I have to admit this was way better. So glad you're here," He pulled me in; his lips touching mine in a kiss. I had missed that.
"Next time you go on the road, I'm totally going with you."
"I'm definitely not objecting to that!" For the moment, it was as though we were the only two in the room, even though there were plenty others to witness our special moment.
Carter showed me around the arena, and I got to see what it was like to be on tour; what a normal day was like for them. We made a few random videos of walking around, singing, and just hanging out with everyone. Then, we decided to get some coffee which was in walking distance, just steps away from the theater. I ordered an ice tea, while he got an iced coffee. We walked outside, to sit at a table with an umbrella in a shady spot. It was September, but the heat was still up pretty high in California.
"So, tell me more about some of those wedding plans. Because I'm pretty sure I spotted the book sticking out of your bag, there," Carter nodded towards the wedding book that did happen to be sticking out.
"Well, I thought, you know...If there was time," I suddenly blushed.
He laughed at me, giving a sincere glance my way, "And you wouldn't be you if you didn't," he added.
"That's for sure," I pulled the notebook out, and opened it up to show him some of the ideas I had scribbled down.
For the next couple hours, we were both dishing out ideas we had for one of the most important days of our lives. I was surprised at how calm he was being about the whole thing. Most guys would have groaned at the thought of it, but not mine. I knew I had picked a good one. Pretty soon, he had to get back in time for the show to start. I killed time with some of the family members that had joined the tour for tonight. They were warm and inviting, which made me feel right at home, seeing as I was the "newbie" to the circle. They'd all known each other from the first rounds of auditions last year, and I was just showing up.
They had reserved a section for family and friends off to the left side of the stage. I had a great view from the front row sitting next to some of Carter's family and friends. We were talking about the wedding, and getting to know one another. I waited in my seat, as a few girls came up to me, giggling and talking with one another.
"Hi, are you Stacey, Carter's girlfriend?" They asked me, with their phones in hand.
"I am," I smiled. "What are your names?" I stood up, so it would be a little less awkward.
"I'm Amy, and this is Jessica," Amy introduced herself and her friend. They were both blonde, complete with T-shirts and posters they had made. They were the ultimate fans.
"It's nice to meet you guys. I'm Stacey," I shook their hands, and asked them who they were here to see.
"Carter, of course," they seemed to swoon.
"Me too," I winked to them, as they 'awed'.
"We were wondering if we could get our picture with you?" they nervously looked at one another. "You're on E! News now, right?"Jessica asked.
"Yeah, I am. I just started a few months ago!"
"That's so awesome! Is that how you and Carter met?"
"Well, I was working for a newspaper in San Francisco. They flew me out to the finale, and he happened to be one of the guys I interviewed that night. We hit it off, and the rest is history."
"Ah! I so hope a love story like that happens to me someday."
"Nah, you'll want your own. Trust me, I was never the girl that guys gave a second glance. I only had one other boyfriend before Carter, and after meeting him, none of that mattered."
I saw Amy and Jessica's eyes grow wide with love and wonder. Probably daydreaming about their own future husband's. It made my heart smile, remembering those days. I hadn't necessarily wanted to get married, but still dreamed that maybe, someday, a guy would love me enough to want to spend the rest of his life with me. That day was getting closer, because I had found him.
"You girls are young, though. You have plenty of time. Don't try to grow up too fast," I tried to advise them. In this generation, it seemed all the teenagers were doing things I never would've imagined at their age...or any age. "Our generation seems to be trying to do that too often these days."
"I agree. Thanks so much for everything! And we'll remember that," Jessica told me. We took our pictures together, and they were squealing with one another again, hurrying back to their seats. A few more people followed their lead to talk to our section. Whether it was to tell us congratulations on the engagement, ask how the wedding planning was going, how the long distance relationship was treating us, or even to see the ring. I couldn't complain, because I asked people questions like this on a daily basis. Luckily, I had no problem answering them.
Soon, the stage lights dimmed and the top ten walked out. They flashed a video on the screen, and the band kicked in. This was their very last show as a group, and they were enjoying every second of it. They all did their solos, and accompanied one another with backup vocals, mixing things up a bit. It was nice to see the relationship they'd all grown to have.
A couple hours later, as the show came to a close, I headed backstage to say hi to everyone. Carter spotted me and ran over, holding me close to him, "What did you think?" His eyes were wide, and he was a bit sweaty from all the running around onstage. I still leaned into him for a hug. He smiled, as he let me go and let his hand fall perfectly into mine.
"You were all so good! I'm so proud of you," I stood on my tiptoe's and gave him a kiss.
"I was your favorite, right?" He winked and raised an eyebrow to me, as the rest of the group filed into the room, settling in for the meet and greet.
"Is that even a question?"
"Well, it is...But, a pretty obvious one, I think." He tried to act serious, but it was rare that he could keep that up for long.
I nodded in agreement. He had to run off to meet some fans with the rest of the group, but I had gotten used to the fact that this was our life now. Fans and celebrities weren't just going to be part of my work life now, it was going to be taking other aspects too. I was okay with that. We were finally able to start whatever new life was in store for us. As the others finished meeting fans, they went to their dressing rooms to change, and came back out, ready for dinner. It was going to be one heck of a celebration, if you ask me.
Part 9 coming soon. Stay tuned!