Getting to Me

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Zacky nervously paced back and forth in the front entryway of the small farmhouse that he and Mandy had made a home. They'd gotten back to the ranch not even a week before, and he was still having trouble figuring out how he was supposed to propose to her. Though, he knew tonight was going to be the night. He no longer had a choice in the matter; he'd arranged everything a few days before out of fear that he'd change his mind or chicken out. Tonight was Valentine's Day, and he wanted to be able to make it a day she'd remember for the rest of her life. He couldn't think of a better way to do that than through a marriage proposal, although he wasn't sure how she'd react to his words tonight.

He knew that tonight, their relationship was going to change drastically one way or the other. He knew that they would either be on a path to a marriage that he hoped would last until they both died, or it would be the end of everything he'd never thought could really, truly happen between two people. He had never been the marrying kind of guy until he'd met Mandy Haner, and now, he was more than glad that he had fallen in love with her. He loved her so much, and she had become a kind of sustenance for his life. His days were brighter with her there, and when he'd thought she had died in the car crash, he'd felt his entire heart shatter into a million small pieces.

Brian and Brian Sr. had both assured him that Mandy was going to say yes. They claimed they both knew and could see how much love she held for Zacky in her heart, and they told him not to worry about it. But even with their reassurances, Zack was still nervous. What guy wasn't when he was proposing to a woman? He knew that it was going to be a nerve-wracking night, and he couldn't wait until everything he had set up for them was finished. He was looking forward to the meal they were going to have, that he had had Suzy help him with. He was hoping that Mandy would be ecstatic that he was proposing to her, although he wasn't sure she would be.

He was still slightly worried that she harbored ill will against him for the car wreck. He knew it was improbable, and that he probably had no real reason to be worried about it, but he couldn't help it. He still felt so incredibly guilty about everything that had happened that day. He had thought he'd killed her; he could have sworn that she was going to die, and it had been the scariest thing he'd ever lived through. He knew already that he never wanted something like that to happen ever again. He would do everything in his power that he could to make sure he kept Mandy as safe as he could. He wanted to be there for the rest of her life as her protector, her provider, her best friend, and her lover. He wanted to be all of those things and more, but it would only be possible if she would agree to marry him. All he could hope for was for her to say those small simple words.

"Zack, man, relax," Brian's voice said as he walked into the house, a small smile on his face as he stomped the snow from his boots on the doormat. "She's over at Mom and Dad's place now, and they'll be sending her here in about an hour. The video camera is set up in the corner of the room, right where she has that plant so she won't be able to really see it. Don't worry, buddy. She's going to say yes."

"How do you know that for sure, though?" Zacky asked her, wondering how Mandy's older brother knew that Mandy would accept his marriage proposal. Zacky groaned before he pushed his hand back through his hair. He had no idea what he was supposed to be thinking right now, but he couldn't help but feel the nerves. Brian kept telling him not to, but it wasn't like he could stop it from happening now.

"Because she's my sister, duh," Brian replied in an obvious tone before he rolled his eyes. "Anyway, I'm going to head out before I see something no older brother wants to see. You have the camera set up, the food is on the counter, all you gotta do is put it in the microwave and nuke it. Don't fuck this up, Baker. Not that she'd say no, but every woman wants a perfect proposal, even my baby sister."

"Isn't McKenna the baby sister?" Zack asked, tilting his head to the side. Brian just narrowed his eyes before he rolled them, annoyed with his best friend's words before a small smirk broke out over his lips.

"They're both my baby sisters, Zack," he explained before heading back towards the front door, waving goodbye without turning around to face Zack. The second the chocolate-eyed man left, Zack felt his anxiety returning. Even if Brian was confident that Mandy would say yes to him, it was a shot in the dark for him. He just couldn't be sure. He'd never proposed to a girl before; hell, he'd never felt strongly enough about a girl before to propose to her. Now that he finally loved someone enough to do this, he couldn't help but wonder just how it would turn out. Would it be okay? Or was she going to turn him down and break his heart into pieces?

He sighed and pushed those thoughts out of his head, knowing that he had no other choice but to listen to his heart and ask her to marry him. He loved her so much, and he knew that if he didn't ask her out, his heart would tell him that he'd made a big mistake. He knew that he couldn't put himself through the heartache of not at least trying to gather the courage to ask her to marry him. He wasn't a glutton for punishment, and he knew that was exactly what would happen if he didn't ask.

He jumped slightly when he heard the front door open, and for a moment, he wondered if perhaps Brian had come back because he'd forgotten something. He knew that the eldest Haner was often forgetful about things, so he knew that it was a likely thing that had happened. He turned around to face the entry way, his heart stopping and his breath hitching in his throat when he saw Mandy standing there, her cheeks tinted red from the cold air outside, her hands tucked into a pair of hand-made mittens from her mother.

"Hey, baby," she told him softly before she lifted her head to look at him with a small smile as she tugged off the fur-lined snow boots that she was wearing on her feet at the moment. He just gave her a small grin and then nodded, although he walked closer to her to stop her from walking into the kitchen and seeing the surprise that he'd set up for her to soon. He didn't want her to see anything until he knew for sure he had the courage to ask her for her hand in marriage.

Mandy stopped when she saw the worried look on his face, and she immediately wondered what was wrong. She'd never seen that look on Zacky's face before, so the only thing that she could think of was that he had had something happen to him while she had been gone.

"Baby, what's wrong?" She asked lightly, lifting her hands from the boots before she pressed her lips against the corner of his mouth, not wanting him to feel alone. She always wanted to be there for Zacky, no matter what happened. Her heart had been leading her all along throughout the relationship, and she knew it wasn't a lie when she'd told him that she loved him. She knew she did. It wasn't something that could be faked, and it was real as real could be.

"Nothing's wrong, babe," he shook his head, putting a grin on his face so that hopefully, she wouldn't be as worried as she seemed to be at the moment.

She arched her eyebrow, wondering why he looked so nervous before she remembered that it was Valentine's Day. She had picked him up a small gift while she had been in Dickinson a few days before, though she had hidden it in her closet so that he wouldn't find it before she was ready for him to see it.

"Do you have something planned for us tonight, Zack?" She asked him, wondering if that was what was happening. He groaned when she figured it out so quickly, but he nodded as his tongue darted out to wet his bottom lip out of anxiousness.

"Yeah, I do," he nodded. "I'm just hoping that we're both ready for this."

He didn't say anything else as he led her into the kitchen so she could finally see what he had put together. He was nervous as all hell, but he knew that she'd enjoy it. Or at least, he hoped she would.
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Mine and Whitney’s new co-write has officially started. It’s called False Pretenses, and is a Bam Margera and Ryan Dunn story, though it’s not a slash.