“Cheers!” the toast is loud, and everyone is smiling, and Pip and Barney look exactly like they feel: ecstatic. “To Pip and Barney!”
Pip raises her glass and takes a small sip of champagne, before passing the glass to Barney.
“I don’t want to get completely drunk at our engagement party.”
Barney looks panicked. “Do you mind if I do?”
She laughs and ruffles his green hair. “I don’t mind at all. Can you believe this?”
Their friends have put together a tropical themed pool party for them, with food, drink and music to celebrate their engagement.
It’s only the first day of a new cruise, heading to the Caribbean, and they are all getting int the sunny spirit early.
Ava clinks her glass against Pip’s.
“Tell me about the wedding.”
“We don’t know anything about the wedding, yet,” Pip says, shrugging. “We haven’t got that far.”
“But you’re staying on the ship?” Robyn asks, scooping an ice cube out of Pip’s drink with a fork.
“Stop stealing my ice.”
Pip tuts. “We are staying on the ship – unless I murder you all for stealing my stuff all the time and end up in jail.”
Robyn puts her hands up, pretending to be sorry, and Pip laughs.
“Yes. You’re stuck with us. At least until we start a family.”
“Aw,” Ava says, making a face. “I am so jealous. I know I’ve planned a wedding before, but I’m so excited for you guys to plan a wedding that will actually go ahead.”
Mack pulls her toward him. “I’m so glad Jason cheated on you.”
“It’s true. You wouldn’t be in my bed every night if he hadn’t.”
Ava kisses him; she can’t argue with his logic. And while the cheating was devastating, what happened next was pretty incredible.
“I know we don’t want to wait,” Pip says, watching Barney pile his plate with food, grinning at something someone says to him.
“I don’t blame you. Long engagements people do when they’re not really sure it’ll work and they’re just biding their time, waiting to see if something better comes along.”
“So romantic, Robyn,” Darcie says, sipping her cocktail. “Sadly, you’re absolutely right.”
“And you’re the expert,” Pip says, hugging her friend. Darcie has had more weddings and almost-weddings than all of them put together.
“True. But I agree with Robyn – why wait?”
“Are you getting married on the ship?” Ava asks, and they all turn to Pip. None of them had thought of that.
“Oh, Pip, that would be pretty cool,” Robyn says.
Darcie nods. “It’s your home.”
“It is. I haven’t ruled it out. There’s nowhere back home that’s special to me, and Barney feels the same, so it’s highly likely. His sisters would love a reason to be back on board.”
“Oh, they loved it, didn’t they?”
“Yup. We’ll see. I promise you guys will be the first to know.”
She looks over at Barney. They both want to get married on the ship – they’ve already decided, but they want to finalise their plans first before they share them.
Barney plonks the plate on the table and kisses Pip’s cheek.
“Oh, I’d have got my own.”
“Nope. I’m looking after you tonight. This is your engagement party.”
“And yours, unless I’m missing something.”
“Let me spoil you. Then after we’re married, you can spoil me.”
She laughs. “That’s more like it. Go on.” She swats at him, but he ducks out of the way and heads back up to queue for food.
Robyn takes a chip and then sighs. “I’m sorry for stealing your food and drink and ice cubes. I will always steal your food and drink and ice cubes. Let this be the only apology I ever make.”
“I’ll take it,” Pip says, shrugging and taking a chip of her own. “You guys. This is great. We weren’t expecting a fuss.”
“It’s a good excuse for a party,” Ava says and gets up to dance with Mack.
“It is,” Robyn says, grabbing hold of Hudson and joining Ava and Mack on the dance floor.
Pip smiles at Darcie.
“Think you could be my maid of honour, lady?”
Darcie beams. “I’d have been pissed off if you asked anyone else.”
“I never would. You’re my bestie.”
“And you're mine.”
They clink glasses and Pip lets her happiness wash over.
The night is brilliant – the music is great, there’s so much food and plenty of drink. By the time they are all heading off to bed, she has to hold Barney’s hand to keep him steady.
“Are you so pissed you won’t be able to get it up?” she asks him, nudging him with her hip as they stroll back to their cabin.
“I can get it up. Any time.” Barney is slurring, and Pip laughs. She doesn’t really care whether or not they have sex tonight or not. They have plenty of sex. And it’s so damn good. She’s just glad he had a good night – they both did.
He kisses her at their cabin door and falls into the room when she opens the door.
“I’m going to freshen up,” she says, kissing his cheek.
He lies down on the bed, arms behind his head, eyes closed, and she knows she can take a long shower if she wants – he’s fit for nothing.
She doesn’t care; she’s so, so happy.
And she knows him so well. When she gets out of the shower, he’s naked and snoring on their bed. She covers him with the blanket and slips into bed beside him.
He doesn’t stir. Just snores even louder.
She takes his hand and kisses it; she cannot wait to be this man’s wife. Nothing could make her happier and she drifts off to sleep planning their wedding, thinking about what she’ll wear, what songs they’ll have, all the details that will make it special.
She wakes up and stretches, and then jumps; Barney is awake and staring at her.
“That’s creepy,” she says, lightly poking him in the side.
“Not creepy. In love.”
“I love you too. But I don’t watch you sleep.”
“I wasn’t watching you sleep. I was waiting for you to wake up. There’s a difference.”
“Yeah one is creepy, the other one – what I’m doing – is horny.”
“Ah, horny. Okay, well you weren’t so horny last night, when I was desperate to make love to you after our engagement celebration.”
He loves worried for a second and then he realises she’s teasing.
“Last night was a blip. This is the man you’re marrying.” He stands up, naked, and flexes his muscles. “This is the man you fell in love with,” he says, strutting around the tiny cabin.
“Are you sure?” she asks, but she’s laughing.
“I am,” he says and dives onto the bed, pinning her down, and kissing her.
“I am too,” she says, squirming as he kisses her neck. “I like the naked strutting.”
“Peacocking,” he says.
“Showing off for my woman, showing her how handsome I am, making sure she knows how lucky she is.”
“Lucky,” he says and blows a raspberry on her stomach.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to do that, I meant to do this.” He pushes her legs apart and sticks his tongue between her legs.
“Oh, that feels lucky,” she says, laughing and then sighing, as he laps at her clitoris, lifting her up under her bum so the angle is just delicious.
He keeps licking and sucking, and she moves gently against him, panting as her pleasure builds.
“Still feel lucky?” he asks, and she nods.
Without waiting for her to come, he kisses up her body, sucking gently on a nipple, and then kissing her lips.
When he thrusts inside her, it pushes her over the edge, like he knew it would, and she cries out as her orgasm rips through her, bucking up to meet him so it lasts and lasts and lasts, until he’s panting and coming too.
“I cannot wait to be your wife,” she says, kissing him, and snuggling into his arms. And it’s true. She never thought she’d find true love so close to home, with her best friend, and now she knows, now she loves him like he loves her, she’s never letting him go.