Autumn came and went, soon it was Winter again.
Chase had the hardest time with Winterfest for the first time in his 27 years. He did what he had always done, and spent it at the Beach House with his parents, Kiera, Logan and now of course his nephew Bryan too. Something he had always loved and looked forward to. And it was still great. But something was amiss.
Shea was missing from the picture. She had the same traditions with her family and spent her Winterfest at her parents’ with her siblings.
Which put a damper on the festive mood for Chase.
In the months they had been living together now, so much had changed.
The trip to Selvadorada had given their relationship a good nudge, albeit a still gentle one. The rest of their time during that vacation was spend still as just friends, even though on their last day there, while strolling across a market, Shea’s hand had found his.
Once back home they went on a few dates. Over many weeks they inched closer and closer to being more than just friends. And they found their own way to figure out how to mark that their relationship now was more in their own, nerdish ways.
Despite of that, they had still not taken it further than maybe some heavy make out sessions. Not for any other reason but that Chase wanted her to know it wasn’t about sex for him and Shea wasn’t the type of girl to just go for it. Even without it and at this slow pace, to him, this was already so much more than he ever hoped for.
New Year’s eve this time was a party at their tiny home, all the Camerons came. And Stryker.
As a last minute surprise Nick had magically worked out a deal after finding some mind-numbing evidence proving what a tyrant his father had been and even found some witnesses to his father’s actions who were willing to go on record. As a result and via an emergency decree the judge not only reduced Stryker’s life sentence in a high security prison to 15 years, but also changed it to house arrest with an ankle monitor.
While Stryker had lost his apartment upon his incarceration and therefore was homeless, Elias opened up his home to him, which made Bri and Hope ecstatic. So far, the arrangement had worked out well, Stryker showed great drive to not risk anything and follow all the rules to the T. He wouldn’t even drink a single glass of champagne with everyone else at the party.
Elias was the only one single there now, so his mother Blythe and sister-in-law Hailey took him under their wing.
Once everyone was finally ushered out to return to their homes and the worst cleaned up, Shea and Chase ended up ringing in the New Year in their own way when things suddenly turned romantic between them.
This time, neither of them stopped it. On the contrary, both immersed themselves fully in the sensation.
Slowly at first, it built up to something they both had grown to anticipate, long for. The time was finally right for this.
Their first time with each other was made even more unforgettable by it happening at the turn of a new year.
Falling asleep together in one bed, and unlike in Selvadorada this time truly as more than just friends, was magical to both.
Waking up next to her the next morning, Chase just smiled, watching her sleep. Somehow, everything seemed the same, but also changed completely at the same time.
Looking at Shea’s feminine form next to him, Chase suddenly felt a wave of calming warmth wash over him.
Her family had been invited to the New Year’s celebration, but was absent at the last minute, since both Rachel and Dominic ended up eloping with their respective partners on this day. When Shea told Chase about this, he immediately told her she could go and be with them, to which she responded something that would change his life
“No. My place is here, with you. It’s where I want to be. I’ll congratulate them soon enough. Tonight they’ll have better things to do then worry about their sister anyway.”
Chase felt like he had aged a great deal in just the past few weeks, months. Correction: not aged, but matured. Things that used to scare him, now sounded comforting.
One last look at the soundly sleeping Shea and he got up, went downstairs, let the dogs out, then made coffee and breakfast. He got done right as Shea walked in.
“Good morning! Wow, what a way to start the year off.”
She came to give him the usual kiss good morning, but Chase held on to her, kissing her again, longer. Differently.
When they separated she looked at him, a little surprised, but said nothing. Just smiled. He smiled back. A silent understanding that needed no words. Both knew something had irreversibly changed between them. The next level.
They sat down, ate breakfast, then spent the rest of the day playing video games together.
Then Spring came around, a slow start at first weatherwise, but of a sudden a full orchestra of blooms, scents and the sound of birds chirping filled the days, which were getting longer and warmer again. And then it was suddenly Summer again.
Kiera walked into the Beach House, Hailey had let her in and already taken Bryan from her.
“Anyway, my advice is to make a list of names now. Things get busy, you know how life goes, and before you know it you’re in the middle of the birth. Last thing on your mind then is going to be any names, including your own!” Blake finished the monologue he was in the middle of.
“Names? Birth? OH MY GOD – YOU GUYS ARE PREGNANT! FINALLY!” Kiera nearly exploded for joy, while Blake, Chase and Shea stared at her surprised for a second, before they burst into laughter.
Confused, Kiera looked at her mother, who with a gentle smile explained
“Kiera, honey. They are not pregnant. Shea’s dog is, by Shadow. Someone has been too busy to get their dogs fixed and now it’s too late. Geraldine is expecting puppies soon.”
“Oh.” Kiera deflated.
“Sorry Kiera.” Shea smiled.
“Yeah, sorry sis. False alarm.” Chase smirked.
“I am not sorry. This should teach you not to jump to conclusions, missy.” Blake told his daughter grinning.
“Why are you being mean to me, daddy. Is it so wrong for a sister to want to see her brother enjoy all that life has to offer to the fullest? I’d even volunteer to watch my niece or nephew whenever I am not at work. All day long. Every day.”
“Ki, hey. Nobody’s being mean. Love you, sissy.” Chase told her.
“I love you too, angel girl. Come here.” Blake said, feeling guilty for having teased his daughter about something so important to her.
“Love you too, daddy, even though you make it hard sometimes.” She told him into the hug.
“Tell me about it!” Hailey giggled.
“Hey, quiet in the cheap seats there, wifey, or I will have to teach you obedience.” Blake threatened playfully.
“Oh, please do, honey. I’d love to see you try.” Hailey told him chuckling.
“Me too!” Chase said.
“Me three!” Kiera agreed.
“Same!” Shea added.
“Hey, you! You are supposed to be nice and suck up to me until that one marries you one fine day I will hopefully live to see.” Blake playfully waved his finger at Shea, who already knew him well enough to know he was joking.
“A-ha! Daddy is busted! See Chase even dad wants you two to get it into gear!” Kiera said.
“That is NOT what I said!” Blake told her.
While Kiera and Blake went back and forth, mostly teasing each other, Chase turned to Shea.
“Hey Shea, wanna get out of here?” Chase offered, taking her hand.
“Let’s!” she agreed.
Giggling, they left the Beach House, up the sandy hill to Cameron Memorial Park. They had been here countless times, with the dogs, without, for family barbecues, romantic walks. Just like this time.
Eventually Chase lead her up to the tower overlooking the scenic bay.
Shea inhaled deeply.
“Oh, the sea air and breeze always get me. So beautiful here. I cannot believe you left all of this to help me get the house I wanted in some boring suburb. You must be a saint.”
“I’d do anything to make you happy Shea.”
She turned around to him, noticed the serious look in his eyes. And the guitar he was suddenly holding.
“Uh, where did that come from?”
“Someone may have hidden it here.”
“You planned to come up here today?”
“Maybe. I have something for you.”
Chase began plucking on the strings, then started playing a beautiful melody, a ballad, a song Shea didn’t know. Not even when Chase began to sing. Quickly though she realized why she had never heard it before.
Chase was singing about them!
Surprised and amazed she stood there, watching him play, visibly nervous, but smiling at her in between verses.
When he concluded the song, put down the guitar, Shea kissed him.
“You wrote a song? For me? About us?”
“Well, I had some help by a certain pro who makes a living writing music whom I may be related to. But yeah, most of that was me. I made money through college playing the guitar, had to get good quick, even though I never put much effort to it when dad tried to teach me when I was younger. Now I like it, and I am half-decent at it, I suppose.”
“Decent? You are a lot better than decent, Chase. Why did you never tell me you play at all? I should have figured, as the son of Blake Cameron.”
“And that’s why. When I do something, and end up doing well, I don’t like it being attributed to the fact that I am the son of someone. I like being Chase. Not the carbon copy of someone great.”
“You definitely are one of a kind, Chase.”
“Well, but the song isn’t the only thing I got for you. That was actually the least scary part. Since I am no good with that kind of pressure, I’ll just dive right in. I had a pretty good speech prepared, but honestly, I am pumped I recalled all the words to the song and the music and didn’t screw that up, so – sorry, but this next part is going to be pretty plain before my nerves get to me and I’ll jump off the tower for anxiety.”
Chase knelt down on one knee before Shea, who looked shocked as he pulled little box from the pocket of his jacket.
“Shea Manning, you have come into my life like a whirlwind, changed me from the inside out without even trying, like a dose of strong medicine and I cannot imagine the rest of my life without you. I love you, Shea. Will you marry me?”
“Yes, Chase, I want to marry you. And I love you, too!”
Eventually they made their way back to the Beach House to break the news.
Kiera just about did cartwheels, Hailey and Blake hugged them.
“But – just so nobody here gets ahead of themselves – looking at you Kiera – we are NOT in a rush to get married. Not much will change really. We are not moving, not planning a wedding and not having babies, not for a good while, okay Kiera?!”
“Okay, okay, relax. I am thrilled as can be with this, so my mouth is shut!”
When Shea called her parents to tell them, it wasn’t really the big surprise she thought it would be.
“I know, kiddo. Your husband-to-be came by yesterday and asked for your hand.” her dad told her.
“Of course Chase would have. Love you both, gotta go, need to love on my sweet dork fiance some more.”
Later that same day, back at their home, both now showered after a celebratory session of uninhibited physical affection which almost was the death of Chase’s lucky Spongebob underwear as Shea pulled them off him and tossed them aside, which Shadow mistook as an invite to play. After chasing the dog around the house for a while to free Chase’s lucky briefs in one piece from the very excited and amused dog who was now assisted by Geraldine, the humans prevailed and finally got to be romantic.
After showering together though, they returned to find both dogs were laying on Shea’s big bed, so Chase and Shea snuck into Chase’s room, locked the door and made do with his single bed.
“What’s that face for? Buyer’s remorse already?”
“No, wondering about logistics. This house is so tiny, my bed is way too small, so we usually end up in yours, but we should really have just one shared bedroom now, right? Probably yours since it’s bigger and you have a queen sized bed. I think I can bring all my stuff back to my room at the Beach House and then we could use my room as our home office or something.”
Shea just giggled.
“Oh Chase … furniture is literally the very last thing on my mind right now. We have made do with it all the way it is so far, we’ll manage another night. Now let’s celebrate our engagement in style. Again. In your tiny bed. Right here.”
-to be continued-