Title: pizza breaks the ice;
Margaret McCabe - January 22, 2012 12:55 AM (GMT)
Maggie McCabe had just spent the last four hours trying to decide what to wear when meeting her husband. She had never spent that long picking out an outfit in her whole life. There were clothes and shoes scattered all over her apartment. She called her sisters and freaked out a bit before finally heading out the door. She shouldn't have been as nervous as she was but this was a pretty big deal. This was going to be the man that, in theory, she was going to spend the rest of her life with. If he wasn't a jerk or completely wrong for her.
The Vow had prided themselves on finding "that soul mate you've been searching for," or something like that. Maggie wasn't even sure she believed in soul mates but after looking at Cooper's application, he seemed like a pretty great guy. Their personalities weren't going to clash or she hoped they wouldn't. He also had a pretty successful business which Maggie appreciated. She had worked pretty much her entire life and was proud of the hard work it took to get her job.
She entered Mancini's, tugging on her sweater, and quickly found a table near the window. She had looked at Cooper's picture in his application and was sure she would recognize him but what if he didn't recognize her? That would be awkward. She ordered herself a sweet tea and waited, watching the door nervously.
cooper hayes - January 22, 2012 03:29 AM (GMT)
Receiving the Vow letter had been entirely unexpected. Cooper had been casually flicking through his mail when the letter came into view and his mouth went dry. Sliding his finger along the seal, he opened the letter to find that he had, indeed, been matched. And more than that, his match was… well, she was stunning. It only took a moments hesitation to send a text message to the contact number provided. In the middle of tossing hay from the loft, his phone vibrated and Cooper withdrew the device in question from his pocket. Mancini’s, the pizza place in Evergreen, at six o’clock. It was a date, a date with the woman he was set to marry.
It all seemed a little funny, really, the way that his life had now been mapped out for him – but Cooper didn’t find himself minding half as much as he had originally anticipated. His sisters squealed and made a fuss, causing a blush to spread across Coopers cheeks as he waved them off with one hand. It seemed like ancient history now, receiving the letter, even though it had only been hours prior. He was showered, shaved and dressed in clean clothes that didn’t smell anything like a farm. Cologne was applied (though sparingly, as always) and he released a long breath as he stared at himself in the mirror. This was it, no turning back now.
The drive to Mancini’s took only a few moments, and he parked the old Chevy truck near the curb. His hands burrowed into the pockets of his Carhartt jacket as he stepped inside, informing the hostess that he was actually meeting someone. The woman pointed in the direction of his supposed fiancé, and Cooper walked forward appearing far bolder than he felt. And then he saw her… The picture didn’t do her justice, the way that her dark locks fell down around her shoulders. She was stunning, and for a mere moment he suspected that someone would leap out and promptly inform him that he’d been tricked, that this was all too good to be true.
“Margaret?” he asked tentatively, a small smile crossing his lips as he extended a hand to her at the acknowledgment that she was indeed who he believed her to be. “Cooper Hayes. You’re…” he trailed off, a chuckle leaving his lips as he smoothed a hand over his face (surprised to find the smooth skin there, evidence that he hadn’t shaved in far too long prior to that evening). “I’m sorry, that was about as far away from smooth as I could get,” he retorted. “You’re just stunning, but I’m sure I’m not the first boy to tell you that.” Charming and respectful, that was Cooper. His hand motioned to the empty seat opposite her. “Mind if I join you?”
Margaret McCabe - January 22, 2012 05:05 AM (GMT)
Maggie tapped her foot nervously as she tried to occupy herself with looking over the menu. If she kept herself busy, she wouldn’t freak out when he actually walked in the door. However, all that preparing and talking herself down went out the window when he was actually there. She sat like a deer in headlights. She wanted to smooth her hair, check her make-up, or do something to make sure she was presentable but she just sat there. After a few seconds of sheer terror, she smiled and waved at him.
Why was she waving at him? She needed to stop being so awkward. She stood up, taking his hand. “Yeah but you can call me Maggie … everyone calls me Maggie.” She laughed, mentally face-palming herself. “It’s great to meet you Cooper.” She watched as his hand ran over his face. He was really attractive. His picture did not do him any justice. He had this rugged look about him that just made her want to do a happy dance. “Oh! You don’t have to…” Her cheeks started to blush. Maggie was a confident person but when she was complimented so forwardly, she just turned into a giddy schoolgirl. “Thank you. I’m sorry for coming off so weird. I’m normally not like this.” She laughed, nodding that he could sit.
“I hope this place is okay. I thought a casual place would make things easier.” Introducing yourself to your future husband/wife in a stuffy dress or suit didn’t seem ideal. “So, uh, I don’t know where to start.” She smiled, “I’m Maggie. I’m 22, I like pizza.” That was smooth. Was her liking pizza a need-to-know piece of information? They were in a pizza shop, it was probably just a mental correlation. “So you’re a cattle farmer? What goes into that?” She tilted her head at him, seriously curious. She had never met a real-life farmer and now she was going to marry one.
cooper hayes - January 23, 2012 02:47 PM (GMT)
The smile and wave that she offered were genuine, and Cooper felt the knot in his stomach un-twist the slightest bit. He could do this, it wasn’t like he’d been a stranger to dating (though he was certainly out of practice) and beyond that, it wasn’t exactly a casual date. This was his fiancé, the woman he was meant to marry in the all too near future. When she stood to take his hand, he found himself a bit surprised by the gesture and the way that her warm hand felt all too natural in his own calloused palm. Maybe he had worried for nothing. Maybe this entire thing was going to be far less difficult that he had worried about.
‘Yeah but you can call me Maggie … everyone calls me Maggie.’ He smiled and gave a nod of confirmation. “Maggie it is,” he repeated, enjoying the way that her nickname effortlessly rolled from his tongue. ‘It’s great to meet you Cooper.’ “Pleasure’s all mine,” he said sincerely, and Lord was it ever. For whatever reason, he had dated his fair share of blondes in his younger years – but Maggie was… well, he had already vocalized how attractive he found her. It shocked him really, that she even needed a matchmaking service to find a husband. Coop seriously assumed that men would’ve flocked to her, throwing themselves at her left and right. Everyone had their reasons, he justified, and hers were hers whatever they may be. ‘Oh! You don’t have to…’ The blush that spread across her cheeks had his own grin widening, chiseled jaw flexing slightly beneath his skin. ‘Thank you. I’m sorry for coming off so weird. I’m normally not like this.’ At her apology, he waved a hand in her direction, brushing off the words. “It’s only the truth,” he told her, “and it’s a bit of an odd situation, so it’s only normal I’m sure.” He took the seat across from her, settling his forearms on the table. It wasn’t every day that you met the person you were suddenly engaged to. He had only been thankful that she had been willing to meet prior to the wedding. When his sisters had informed him that many of the women in the service didn’t meet their husbands until the day they were to be wed, he had cringed. How could a person do that? Willingly sign their name on the dotted line and take sacred vows, all the while unknowing if they were even capable of holding up their end of the bargain?
‘I hope this place is okay. I thought a casual place would make things easier.’ His dark eyes glanced around Mancini’s at the mention of the casual little pizza place. He had only stopped by earlier in the week to pick up a pizza on his way to the farm, but the food had been wonderful (not that he got very picky when it came to food). “It’s perfect. You ever eaten here before? I actually grabbed a pizza earlier in the week, and it was a pretty big hit.” ‘So, uh, I don’t know where to start. I’m Maggie. I’m 22, I like pizza.” He listened intently as she spoke. He had at least six years on her (and possibly more, since he turned twenty nine in only a few months). “I think that’s as good a place as any. I’m Cooper, I’m 28, and I happen to like pizza too. Guess that’s as good a sign as any, right?” The teasing in his voice was evident, and he found himself a bit surprised by the fact that settling into a conversation with his bride-to-be had come far easier than anticipated. ‘So you’re a cattle farmer? What goes into that?’
“Well, it’s my parents farm in Williams Creek, a little town probably… oh five minutes or so out of Evergreen? We raise cattle for beef purposes,” he explained tentatively. Some of his prior girlfriends had been slightly appalled by the fact that a good deal of their stock went to slaughter, but it was a way of life for Cooper and it always had been. People had lived off of the land, and animals, for many years. “It’s a hundred acre farm, pretty much a way of life for us,” he explained. “Mainly cattle, but we have horses too, to work the cows,” he explained. “And the other occasional farm animals – a few pigs, and goats, and some chickens.” His broad shoulders shrugged slightly, a smile crossing her face. “I guess it isn’t glamorous by any means, but it’s what I know.” How he hoped she would be alright with what he did for a living (she had shown up at least, and he intended to take that as a good sign) because he wanted a wife who was willing to be involved in the farm. Now he didn’t expect her to be jumping for joy at the prospect of mucking stalls and caring for animals and the likes – but he wanted her to have an interest in him and part of him was the farm. “What about you? I remember reading that you had an art related position?”
Margaret McCabe - January 24, 2012 01:18 PM (GMT)
Maggie's insides starting turning over when he replied that the pleasure was his. Oh, no. The pleasure was definitely hers. He was this dream of a man and she was just Maggie. She had always had a hard time dating especially since her mother passed. Nobody seemed right in her eyes and a bigger part of her was just sad that her mother wasn't around to give her stamp of approval. She tapped her finger softly against her cup which happened to be her nervous habit. "It is a bit weird but not as weird as meeting at an alter." She joked, knowing that that's how a lot of the married couples in Evergreen met each other. "It makes the wedding mean more when we at least know each other." The corners of her mouth turned up ever-so-slightly. She couldn't believe that in a matter of days or weeks she would be walking down the aisle to this man she just met. It still hadn't hit her yet. "This place is delicious. I hate to say that I eat her about once a week. It is a good sign! I don't know if I could marry you if you didn't like pizza." She teased back, just as playfully as him. The conversation between them seemed to just flow and made Maggie wonder if The Vow was this fairy godmother who really did find her a perfect match.
"Oh, I've heard of Williams Creek," she nodded, trying not to smile too ridiculously at the fact that things were going so well. She found it weird that she had lived in Evergreen her whole life and never even visited the place. It goes to show that Evergreen was a little bubble of a town. "Cattle for beef purposes?" She echoed, processing that piece of information. "That's interesting and a lot of animals. Well I'm not a vegetarian so I guess our meat has to come from somewhere, right?" A small shrug graced her shoulders as she let out a soft chuckle. She really couldn't judge him for it because she was a girl who enjoyed her cheeseburgers. "I'm going to have to warn you that I'm not the most 'outdoorsy' girl so you have to promise not to laugh at me."
She ordered a slice of pepperoni and sausage pizza when the waitress finally came around, "I'm an art curator at the Museum of Art in Indianapolis. I get art pieces and put them together in an exhibit. It's a really long process. We have to write a proposal, talk to other museums, and sometimes we have to travel to pick them up." She blushed, realizing that she was getting rather rambly. "It's a great job, I love it." Maggie never really talked to anyone about her job other than her sisters. She always felt it made her come off as a nerd or some snob.
"I read you have sisters? I've got two myself, Katie and Beth. They're both younger and will probably want to bombard you with every embarassing story that could ever be told about me." Maggie knew that's what she'd want to do when she finally got around to meeting her sister's matches. "And your parents? How did they feel about you signing up for The Vow?" She rested her chin in the palm of her hand, watching him carefully. Family was important to Maggie even though she didn't spend a lot of time with her father. She wanted to be with someone who understood when her sister's wanted to come over for a sleepover and who eventually she could talk to about her mother.
cooper hayes - January 24, 2012 07:31 PM (GMT)
‘It is a bit weird but not as weird as meeting at an alter.’ He nodded his head in agreement, glad once more that they had been on the same page when it came to meeting prior to the wedding. Waiting at the altar for a stranger seemed surreal, even more surreal than this entire ordeal had been thus far. ‘It makes the wedding mean more when we at least know each other.’ The hint of a smile that crossed her features had Coop smiling in return, picking up the menu to browse the contents as they spoke. ‘This place is delicious. I hate to say that I eat her about once a week. It is a good sign! I don't know if I could marry you if you didn't like pizza.’ He laughed outwardly, shaking his head from side to side at her joke. “Well, I guess it’s a darn good thing I like pizza then, isn’t it? Speaking of pizza, what do you like on it?” he asked, intending to have somewhat of an idea of what she enjoyed for future reference.
‘Oh, I've heard of Williams Creek.’ The statement surprised him, ever so slightly. “Are you from around here?” he asked, assuming that she was indeed if she knew of Williams Creek. It wasn’t much of a town, far from big and leaning more towards the definition of a stereotypical country town. ‘Cattle for beef purposes? That's interesting and a lot of animals. Well I'm not a vegetarian so I guess our meat has to come from somewhere, right?’ She had a point there as well, and he nodded, silently content by her acceptance of his chosen livelihood. “Exactly, and it’s even better if you know where so it’s not all full of preservatives,” he joked, shooting a wink in her direction. Flirting over talk of preservatives and raw meat, it didn’t get more questionable than that. ‘I'm going to have to warn you that I'm not the most 'outdoorsy' girl so you have to promise not to laugh at me.’ She wasn’t protesting spending time on the farm or telling him that she refused to get dirty – she was just being… real. The thought was beyond comforting and Cooper gave her a charming smile, “Never too late to learn.”
After Maggie placed her order, Cooper requested a slice of pepperoni and hamburger, genuinely thanking the woman before turning his attention back to his fiancé. ‘I'm an art curator at the Museum of Art in Indianapolis. I get art pieces and put them together in an exhibit. It's a really long process. We have to write a proposal, talk to other museums, and sometimes we have to travel to pick them up.’ There was that blush once more, something he could easily grow accustomed to. ‘It's a great job, I love it.’ “It sounds it,” he said honestly, “and loving it makes all the difference. I can play guitar, but that’s about as artsy as I get.” He could also sing, but that was one fact that would remain hidden (until his sisters told her, of course – something quite inevitable).
‘I read you have sisters? I've got two myself, Katie and Beth. They're both younger and will probably want to bombard you with every embarassing story that could ever be told about me.’ It was nice, knowing that this woman had a family similar to his own. “I do, two of them. I’m the oldest too,” he clarified. “Abby and Paige,” he continued, thinking of his sisters in silence for a long moment. “Guarantee they’ll be able to tell you just as many embarrassing stories, so we’ll probably come out almost even.” ‘And your parents? How did they feel about you signing up for The Vow?’ Cooper silently reminisced to the night he’d told his parents about the Vow, the way that his mother had smiled happily for him and his father had simply clapped him on the shoulder, an unspoken act of confidence. “Mom was… well, she was happy. She’s itching for grandkids,” he admitted, and then realized the implications that came with such a statement. A blush crept over his own features as he rubbed the back of his neck, “Not that I’m saying we need to have kids right now. I don’t even know if you want kids… and now I’m digging a hole I can’t quite get out of.” Soft laughter left his mouth as his eyes navigated back to hers. “What about your parents? Supportive of marrying a stranger?”
Margaret McCabe - January 25, 2012 01:16 PM (GMT)
"I've lived here most of my life," Maggie nodded. "I've spent the last four years at Boston University but Evergreen is home." It was a statement that took Maggie a long time to come to terms with. When she left for college, she couldn't wait to leave the place but once there, she missed it. She turned her attention back to him and his talk about his career. Maggie hadn't thought about it like that. It was better to know where your food came from, she could agree with that. "I'll do my best not to start naming the cows." She joked but speaking honestly, she always had a big heart and was going to have to force herself not to get attached the animals. She assumed that it would make him extremely uncomfortable if his wife couldn't be comfortable with his career. However, she would not be there when the day came and the slaughtering began. Cooper seemed like the kind of guy who would understand though. She laughed, "I guess it's not but I'm still warning you."
She thanked the waitress and asked for a refill on her sweet tea, somewhat pleased that they had ordered the same thing. It was a girly little moment that she didn't experience very often. Was this what was to be expected from married life? She could get used to cute moments and ridiculous smiling. She wondered what their first argument would be about but then shook the idea out of her head because they weren't even married yet. "It really does. I don't think I can do something that I didn't love everyday." She her hand through her hair briefly, pushing it up and away from her face. "Guitar is pretty artsy. I sing in my shower." She shrugged, jokingly. "I'm fantastic, if I do say so myself."
"Abby and Paige." Maggie repeated, letting their names sink in her brain. She was always happy to have her sisters and two more seemed like even more fun. She smiled at his pause because it showed how much he really cared about them. "Lucky for me, I wasn't too outrageous as a teenager so there isn't too much to tell." She was quite the good girl, Katie was always the wild one and Beth was the brains. Her eyes widened a little at the grandkids comment then she shook her head, chuckling. "No, it's okay. Any mom would be excited for grandkids. I'm..." She paused, thinking that this was turning into serious conversation fast. "I-yeah, I want kids one day just-yeah." She blushed too, burying her face in her hands as she giggled to herself. "Sorry."
She took another long pause, twirling her straw around in her drink. She wasn't sure if she was ready to bring up her mother's death yet. That was really bad conversation etiquette for a first date, meeting, or whatever this was. "Well my dad wasn't too happy but my baby sisters had already signed up so they were kind of his main concern." She was thankful that the pizza had arrived just in time so that she didn't have to go into how her mother felt, she never even really thought about it. "Well this looks delicious!" She smiled, glancing out the window briefly at the street, remembering the long walks she'd take with her mother through Evergreen.
cooper hayes - January 25, 2012 06:15 PM (GMT)
‘I've lived here most of my life.’ That meant that she’d grown up in the small town lifestyle that he had (alright, well not exactly a farm based one, but they were otherwise similar). ‘I've spent the last four years at Boston University but Evergreen is home.’ Boston University, what a drastic change that was. “Boston huh? Big town didn’t manage to keep you apparently,” he stated, curious as to why exactly she had returned. He wasn’t naïve to think the laid back, backwoods town lifestyle suited everyone – but it did him, that was certain. She obviously had more life experience than he did when it came to travel. While some people enjoyed cruises and long vacations, he liked Williams Creek. He liked spending his free time on the farm performing a handful of odds and ends tasks. Leaving just wasn’t in the cards for him, especially not in any long term fashion. Maybe it was a good thing that her roots were settled here, in Evergreen. Maybe that would persuade her to stay. ‘I'll do my best not to start naming the cows.’ Cooper chuckled softly, shaking his head from side to side. “My sisters did that one year, until they left and never came back. I don’t think they ever named them again,” he pondered, shrugging slightly. “We don’t eat the horses, you can name them,” he teased, shooting a win in her direction. ‘I guess it's not but I'm still warning you.’ Taking a long sip of his water, Coop could only grin at her. “I’ll consider myself warned.”
As the waitress offered to fill his water glass, he pushed it closer to her, thanking her before turning his attention back to Maggie once more. ‘It really does. I don't think I can do something that I didn't love every day.’ He couldn’t blame her, and he knew the vast majority of the population felt the same way. Who wanted to slave over a job they didn’t really want or enjoy? It made people miserable. He watched in silence as she ran a hand through her dark locks, and for a mere moment he wished that he was the one touching her, stroking the loose strands away from her eyes. ‘Guitar is pretty artsy. I sing in my shower. I'm fantastic, if I do say so myself.’ Cooper leaned back into his chair, eyes twinkling with humor. “Well, I guess I’ll have to listen and decide for myself,” he stated, laughing softly.
‘Abby and Paige. Lucky for me, I wasn't too outrageous as a teenager so there isn't too much to tell.’ “The good news is neither was I,” he said honestly. “I worked hard, and that kept me out of trouble.” It was rare that the accident crossed his mind, as he did a wonderful job of burying that in some deep, hidden portion of his heart, but there it was making a sudden appearance. The screeching tires, the vehicle rolling, the road burn – he closed his eyes for a mere moment, blinking to clear the picture from his minds eye. ‘No, it's okay. Any mom would be excited for grandkids. I'm... I-yeah, I want kids one day just-yeah.’ At least she wanted children as well, he told himself silently. It could’ve been worse, his horrible fumble. If he had made himself look like a bit of a moron and she didn’t want kids… well, he would’ve found himself entirely disappointed. ‘Sorry.’ Her head was buried in her hands and he laughed softly, shaking his head once more. “No, I’m sorry. That wasn’t my smoothest moment. But, I want kids too, if that makes you feel better.” It felt funny, to be skipping the conversations about favorite colors and what kind of music they liked in favor of ones about wedding dresses and children. It was like entering a time warp, or pressing the fast forward button on his own life so that he ended up in a place almost unrecognizable to him.
‘Well my dad wasn't too happy but my baby sisters had already signed up so they were kind of his main concern.’ Cooper couldn’t help but notice that she didn’t mention her mother, but he hadn’t entirely decided whether or not she was actually avoiding the subject or had just cut off to avoid being rude to their waitress. Either way, he wouldn’t press. If she wanted to talk, they would, and if she didn’t… well, time would tell. ‘Well this looks delicious!’ He took a deep breath of the aroma wafting upwards from the slices in question, and he nodded his agreement. “And just in time, I’m starving,” he admitted, patting his cotton clad stomach. “Pizza was a good choice,” he told her honestly, cutting the slice in favor of appearing somewhat civilized. “So the wedding…” he began, plopping a bite of food into his mouth and chewing thoroughly. “Any plans for when?” he asked her, clearly fully intent on following through with the process.
Margaret McCabe - January 27, 2012 02:23 PM (GMT)
Maggie thought back to her last few weeks at BU and the decision process that brought her back to Evergreen. Evergreen had a hold on her heartstrings and Boston was this big, new place that excited her in so many ways. She had gotten an offer to stay and work her way up the ladder at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts but she couldn't take it. She knew she had to come home. She had a responsiblity to her sisters
and to her father. Though she never told her family, they were her main reason for coming back. She always just went on about how good the IMOA would be for her career rather than tell the truth. "Well I was pretty lucky to get offered a job so close to home," She said, laughing about his suggestion to name the horses. Maggie had never been anywhere near a horse except for maybe at a petting zoo when she was younger. Being around them for what could be the rest of her life was definitely going to be an interesting experience.
An instantaneous blush graced the features of her face as she thought about him listening to her in the shower. They were going to be living together in the very near future and sharing a bed. She gulped, feeling her cheeks get continuously warmer. "I-uh-you-we-" She cut herself off and did her best not to laugh. She got so giggly when she was nervous or uncomfortable. "I'm-yeah-next subject." She patted her cheeks lightly to help the blood flow even out so she didn't look like a complete idiot.
She offered a playful smile, "Well I guess The Vow is pretty good at setting up matches then." It would be bad if they were to match someone who wanted kids with someone who did not. That was a big life decision and to not be able to agree on that with your partner would doom a marriage. Having kids would mean she'd eventually have to partake in sex which just made her feel awkward. Cooper seemed like the kind of guy who would never rush her into anything but it still felt strange. "I just need to ask... are you a little weirded out by all of this?" It was straight forward but he had to be thinking the same thing. How could he not be? It was all she could think about and if this was the man she'd be spending the rest of her life with, then an honest start would be the best start.
Maggie had already picked up her slice of pizza and was taking a bite when she saw that Cooper was being much more civilized than her. She motioned that the pizza was hot, inhaling deeply. Cheese strings dangled from her mouth to the pizza slice in her hand. "Thanks," she smiled, wiping the corners of her mouth with a napkin. "You're much better at eating it though. I'm eating like a cave girl." She blew on the pizza slice softly before taking another bite. There was no use in her trying to cut her pizza now. He would just think she was doing it to impress him. After another bite he brought up the wedding and Maggie couldn't help but grin. "I don't have a dress.. so I guess I need to do that." She had never thought she would be getting married so fast. "And I guess we have to get rings?" She questioned, it was weird to ask someone to buy you a wedding ring after one date. "My schedule is pretty open and it's just a walk to the chapel. We could go whenever we'd like." [b]We.[b] We. They were becoming a we and the oldest McCabe was growing pretty fond of the idea.
cooper hayes - January 30, 2012 04:10 PM (GMT)
‘Well I was pretty lucky to get offered a job so close to home.’ It had never been something that Cooper had really had to worry about – finding a job or worrying about its location. The farm was home, his livelihood and life, and chances were it wouldn’t be changing any time soon (besides the inclusion of the woman seated before him, an idea he certainly wasn’t opposed to). Though it wasn’t a ‘set in stone lifestyle’, farming that was, Cooper loved every moment of his days. From rising at the crack of dawn to feed animals, to spending long hours repairing fences, to shipping cattle off to buyers – he loved his job. It was something that had been instilled in him from childhood, the value of a hard days work, and as Maggie spoke of the luck involved with finding a job so close to home, he found himself thankful that she’d been lucky (for not only her sake, but his own).
The blush that crossed her features once more had a boy like smile crossing his features, because his own mind had only slightly (or a little more than slightly) touched upon the fact that people were typically in a state of undress when they sang in a shower. ‘I-uh-you-we-‘ If it hadn’t been for her laughter, he would’ve immediately apologized (because he was the respectful sort and indicating things that were less than PG hadn’t been his original intention) but she didn’t seem to be appalled by the idea, just a bit embarrassed. ‘I'm-yeah-next subject.’ As she patted her cheeks, he found himself spending an extra moment staring at his beverage in an attempt to give her the opportunity to cool the burning sensation evident on her face.
‘Well I guess The Vow is pretty good at setting up matches then.’ Were they ever, he thought silently, nodding in agreement as her toyed with the straw situated in his glass of water. “I can’t say that I disagree,” he commented, knowing for certain the Vow had done quite well for him (unless she had some kind of horribly odd, quirky trait he’d yet to notice). ‘I just need to ask... are you a little weirded out by all of this?’ Who wouldn’t be, really? “I am… but I think it’s normal, right? I mean, meeting a stranger who you’re engaged to…” It seemed normal to him, the nerves that came with such a task. All of the people who had been married though the Vow had to feel the same way, that slight awkwardness, the unspoken anticipation…
‘Thanks.’ She wasn’t shy in front of him when it came to eating (which he said a silent thank you to the big man upstairs for). If anything turned him off about a woman, it was the attempt to appear perfect in the eyes of man. He wasn’t perfect. Coop knew he worked too many hours and snored when he was over tired ‘like a freight train was rolling in’ (or so his sisters described). He didn’t care about perfect, he cared about real, yet there he was cutting his pizza as though he was the picture of sophistication. ‘You're much better at eating it though. I'm eating like a cave girl.’ He shrug slightly, setting down the fork and knife to raise the slice to his mouth. “Just trying to prove I’m at least a little bit civilized, for a farm boy,” he teased, taking a bite of the pizza. In all reality, he had plenty of manners (because his momma would’ve beat his hide if he hadn’t developed some) and he wanted to discard the assumption that country boys were less than proper. ‘I don't have a dress.. so I guess I need to do that.’ A dress, a tux, rings… He didn’t know all the of things that went into a wedding, but the things he did know… well, they had their work cut out for them. ‘And I guess we have to get rings?’ He nodded his head, proceeding to finish chewing the bite that had existed in his mouth. “That’s one of the few things I do know,” he informed, offering a slight smile. “I can’t say that I’m much of a pro at this wedding thing.” Obviously, since he had entered a matchmaking service for assistance. ‘My schedule is pretty open and it's just a walk to the chapel. We could go whenever we'd like.’ They could, but there was always the family aspect to work out as well. “You’ll want your family there, right?” he questioned. “I mean, I know my family will want to be there…”
Margaret McCabe - February 8, 2012 08:18 PM (GMT)
Maggie nodded, taking another bite of her pizza before wiping the corners of her mouth with a napkin. “I guess it is normal here in Evergreen.” A majority of the married couples that resided here were matched by The Vow. She had only come across two or three couples that chose to be married to one another or moved here already married. Evergreen was really a strange place. Growing up, Maggie hadn’t noticed it but after her four years in Boston, it was evident everywhere. It was like the town had been stuck in some time warp. They didn’t suffer from the same prejudices of the past but a lot of the key values were still treasured. “It’s a very skewed normal but this isn’t as awkward as I expected it to be. Thank the heavens.”
Something Maggie told herself going into this was that she would be true to herself. She wasn’t going to act like she was this perfect girl who would be the perfect wife because she wasn’t. She wanted to convey that early on because her and Cooper were going to be married. Marriage was serious business. It was for life. At least, that’s what Maggie had been raised to believe --
her father obviously changed his perspective in the past few months. She didn’t want Cooper to feel shortchanged after the wedding bells stopped chiming.
Maggie shifted a little, “Of course, family should be there. My sisters would kill me if they weren’t asked to be bridesmaids. My dad on the other hand… might just kill me.” She hadn’t even told him that she had signed up for The Vow so how was he going to react when she asked him to be at her wedding. She rarely even spoke to him except for when she felt like it was time to check in on him to clear her conscience. She did pay him a visit just to tease him about the McKardashian name he had adopted as a result of his recent divorce but it still felt weird so she left quickly. “I haven’t told my dad yet, we don’t talk much. We have a bit of a rocky relationship.”
She sat in silence for a minute or two just thinking to herself. As much as they didn’t get along, it would kill her if he wasn’t there. He was her Dad. He had to be there. He was supposed to walk her down the aisle and give her away. He’d kiss her on the cheek and she’d do her best not to cry. Their relationship was complicated but at the end of the day, they’d always be there for each other. She cleared her throat, trying to rid her voice of any shakiness. “I’ll talk to him though. He wouldn’t miss an opportunity to appear threatening.” She teased, laughing a little. “Did you want to have a reception afterwards? I’d be fine without one, save some money.”
cooper hayes - February 9, 2012 07:09 PM (GMT)
‘I guess it is normal here in Evergreen.’ It was an odd concept, for people living in the United States to willingly sign their futures over to another set of individuals, but for some people it just… well, it made sense. He was one of those people, one of the ones who was ready to settle down. He wanted a wife and a dog, and a few kids. Cooper wanted, more than anything, a simple life. The farm was his livelihood, something he loved that he was lucky enough to make a living out of. Having someone to share that with, and kids to raise… it was really the only thing left for him, which made the Vow an obvious choice. ‘It’s a very skewed normal but this isn’t as awkward as I expected it to be. Thank the heavens.’ There was a compliment hidden somewhere in that statement, or at least he suspected there was one cleverly disguised. “I have to admit, I feel a little better about the whole thing. When my sisters talked me into it, I wondered if it was a little too good to be true.” He had indeed wondered if such a company actually had women who were normal (such as those who weren’t fresh from a prison cell or afraid to exit their homes), but as his dark eyes drifted over Maggies features, he knew that they certainly had normal women available.
‘Of course, family should be there. My sisters would kill me if they weren’t asked to be bridesmaids. My dad on the other hand… might just kill me.’ Cooper arched his eyebrow ever so slightly at the last bit of information she supplied, and he hesitated for a long moment. ‘I haven’t told my dad yet, we don’t talk much. We have a bit of a rocky relationship.’ Her father wasn’t aware that she was now engaged. A slight frown creased his features as he rubbed a hand along his neck once more. “Well… you are planning to tell him I take it, right?” Coop was protective of his sisters when it came to their boyfriends, so the idea of entering into a marriage with a woman who had failed to share such a secret with her father… it was a bit worrying. It wasn’t that he questioned her, or her motives, but the last thing that he wanted to do was step on her daddy’s toes before she was even his wife.
‘I’ll talk to him though. He wouldn’t miss an opportunity to appear threatening.’ At least she had confirmed that she had plans to discuss this with him, this arrangement, before their names were signed on the dotted line. “I don’t mind going with you when you tell him,” he offered, ever the gentleman. “I want him to know that I’m genuine,” he admitted. He was an honest man, to the letter, and facing her father face to face was the right thing to do. He wanted him to know that he would take care of his daughter, a strange promise to make when he had only known Maggie for moments. The protective side of him kicked in automatically, the side that wanted to assure her family that she was indeed in good hands, hands that would fight to make this marriage work forever. ‘Did you want to have a reception afterwards? I’d be fine without one, save some money.’ The finer details of the wedding hadn’t even crossed his mind, and Coop found himself contemplating for a long few moments. “It’s up to you,” he offered, “I’m more than willing to do whatever you prefer. And don’t worry about it, the money.” Though he didn’t have millions of dollars stored beneath his floorboards, he had a decent chunk of change pushed to the side for his future, and it was starting now before his eyes. Whatever she wanted, or needed, he would provide for her to the best of his ability. “I want you to enjoy the wedding. I guarantee you’ll be a lot better at plannin’ than I ever would be.”
Margaret McCabe - February 15, 2012 10:12 PM (GMT)
Maggie nodded along to what Cooper was saying, taking a few more bites of her pizza. It was like he was taking the words right out of her mouth. It was strange how two people who had never met before could get along so well. She knew that there was still a lot to share with each other but from what she had learned over the last hour or so, she could really see herself falling for Cooper. He was such a gentleman and it felt like he was really opening up his heart to her and the idea of her being his wife. She would applaud any man who wanted to take that task on.
She watched his facial expression as she mentioned her father and it seemed like he was really bothered by the fact that she hadn’t told him the news. She shifted again, uncomfortably. She didn’t talk much about her father because she could never really put their relationship into words. There was not one defining moment where things went wrong between them and it wasn’t like she hated him or anything. Things were just difficult and because of their lack of communication, they hadn’t made the effort to fix things. “Yeah, I plan on it. He has to be there… it’d be wrong if he wasn’t.” She knew her mother’s ghost would haunt her for such a crime.
She finished off her slice of pizza, taking a sip of her sweet tea. A small smile returned to her lips at his offer to meet her father, “I appreciate that but I think this is something I have to do on my own.” She knew that the news was going to be a lot to take in so she didn’t want to give him a heart attack by thrusting his future son-in-law in his face. He might do some yelling about how she’s too young and blah blah blah. Growing up, her father had never done too much yelling but she found herself arguing with him more and more as she got older. This was something that she was contractually obliged to follow through with and there was nothing he could do about it now. Maggie was pretty sure that he’d love Cooper, though. It made the thought of telling him a little less intimidating.
A little squee of excitement escaped Maggie’s mouth, she was getting married. She had never gotten into the girly aspects of relationships but there was something in the air that she couldn’t ignore. He was a great guy, he had good values, and he was not bad to look at. “I think putting a reception together would be a lot of work for the little time we have.” She knew The Vow had policies about how soon eligible brides and grooms should make their way to the aisle. “We can just have a little cake afterwards? So our families could mingle some.” They were marrying into each other’s family so it was only fair that they get to know each other. “Then we can go home and be husband and wife.” She did her best not to blush but this was serious, life-changing plans. They would be going to a house that would turn into their home as each other’s life partner. It was a big deal.
Cooper Hayes - February 16, 2012 07:03 PM (GMT)
‘Yeah, I plan on it. He has to be there… it’d be wrong if he wasn’t.’ Still no mention of her mother, and still he skirted the subject like a timid pony. It wasn’t his place, not yet. When Maggie wanted to share, then she would, and until then… Patience was one hell of a virtue, one he’d learned with time. He was a go-getter, the kind of man who went out and worked his tail off to get what he wanted. To take such a laid back approach was almost surreal, but he would do it for his fiancée. ‘I appreciate that but I think this is something I have to do on my own.’ He merely nodded in understanding. It was her father, and if she wished to tell him about her impending marriage on her own then that was her decision. He’d done the right thing by at least offering, or what he thought was the right thing. Luckily for Maggie, and probably for Cooper as well, parents tended to like him. There was something about him, and though he was unsure of what exactly that something was, it worked and when something worked… well, you just didn’t question it. Maybe it was that air of trustworthiness, or the knowledge that he would indeed take great care of the woman chosen to stand beside him. Mr. McCabe would have no worries, not with him around.
The little noise of excitement that exited her lips had a bemused smile crossing Coop’s features as he swallowed the bite of pizza that he had been chewing upon. ‘I think putting a reception together would be a lot of work for the little time we have. We can just have a little cake afterwards? So our families could mingle some.’ The smile extended slightly, dark eyes glimmering with humor as he stared at her. “It sounds lovely to me,” he said honestly, “and I’m sure my parents will be more than happy to meet y’all.” That was the understatement of the year. His sisters would adore her, and so would his mother (who would surely be struck with visions of dark haired grandchildren the moment that she caught a glimpse of his bride). ‘Then we can go home and be husband and wife.’ Husband and wife, home… the words echoed for a few moments in his mind. “Kinda crazy isn’t it? I mean… a few weeks and we’ll be living together, sharing…” he swallowed a bit as the words ‘a bed’ floated around his mind. “Everything.” It was almost smooth, his attempt at continuing the flow of conversation without hesitation.
“No big bad secrets?” he teased. “I mean, a lady as pretty as you using a matchmaking service and all. Are you missing a few toes or something?” he continued, laughter exiting his parted lips as he shot a wink in her general direction before taking a long sip from his straw. “Not that I’m judging anyone lacking toes,” he proceeded, in case she did indeed find herself lacking such digits, “I’m just still a little in awe.” Wasn’t that the understatement of the year – try the fact that he was absolutely floored by all of this. With all the potential women out there, he was more than happy to accept Maggie as his and only his. “We’ll have to take a ride out to the farm sometime soon,” he offered, thinking about the rolling pastures and large barns and variety of barn yard creatures. “I know you aren’t a country girl really,” he told her, “but I promise it’ll grow on you. And even if it doesn’t… well, I’ll like you just fine anyways.” Maybe it would be a nice little trip, whether it happened before they were married or after. He could take her out to see the barns, and have dinner with his family. And then in the summer, they could ride down to the creek and go fishing and relax in the shade of that big ‘ol oak tree.
Was he turning the slightest bit sappy? It was possible. For the first time in a long time, however, he could picture himself catering to a woman. He wanted her to be happy – with life, with him. He barely knew her and already he wanted those things. Maybe this matchmaking service was, indeed, as great as it had been made out to be.
Margaret McCabe - March 5, 2012 08:01 PM (GMT)
Maggie smiled, appreciative that Cooper wasn’t forcing himself on her. She knew that things were going to get serious very fast but she liked that he was giving her time to adjust. The whole idea of marriage was still very new. She couldn’t even remember the last time she introduced a boy to her father. She didn’t have very many boyfriends in grade school and when she was in college, there was no point because it wasn’t like she ever brought any home for holidays. “Do I need to introduce myself to your parents? Ask for your hand in marriage?” She asked playfully, taking another sip of tea from her straw. She spoke about it jokingly but it really did make her somewhat nervous thinking about having to impress his family. “I want them to like me after all, especially your sisters and mom.” It had been a long time since Maggie had been around another motherly figure that she respected and it terrified her. She didn’t know what kind of emotions it was going to stir up but she didn’t want to worry him about that now. She didn’t want him thinking she was an emotional wreck.
“Hopefully my family doesn’t embarrass me too much.” A flush of pink rushed to her cheeks, “My dad likes to think he’s a good dancer if he gets a few drinks in him. I beg to differ.” She ran a hand through her dark hair, setting her elbow on the table so that she could rest her tilted head in her hand. “It is crazy. We’re going to be sharing a bed.” She felt her inner child who still believed boys came with cooties wake up, “Not that I wouldn’t mind sharing a bed… with… you.” She moved her hand to cover her face in embarrassment. She didn’t have to worry about her family; she was going to be the one to make a fool of herself. “Though, I will tackle you if I catch you eating my sweets.” She scrunched up her nose at him, chuckling to herself at her smooth save. “Is there anything I should stay away from or learn as your new wife so that I don’t suffer from the wrath of Cooper?” He really didn’t seem like the type that was quick to anger but she wanted him to be happy in their marriage. She didn’t want it to fall apart over a cancelled television recording or her hanging towel on the door rather than the towel rack.
She skimmed the dessert menu, “Did you want to share something? I could really go for some cheesecake.” She was practically drooling over the picture Mancini’s provided of its raspberry cheesecake. Maggie loved any kind of dessert. She wouldn’t say it aloud but she was thrilled to be ordering a wedding cake. She hoped that it wouldn’t get eaten up so that she could take it home and eat it for the next month. “Well, I lack any physical skill. I can do miniature golf but I am terrible at any other sport.” She paused to think about whether or not this was classified as first date conversation until she decided it would never be an ideal time so it was best to get it out of the way. “You know that secret question they ask you on the application? Well,” She couldn’t help but laugh because the awkward was just going to happen whether she liked it or not. “I’m a virgin. That’s my big secret.” He was going to be her husband so he would eventually learn but this at least gave him some time to think it over before their wedding night. “What about you? You’re still young and attractive. I’m sure any smart lady would want to marry you.” If she wasn't contractually obliged to marry Cooper, she would still want to marry him. She was definitely getting used to the idea of being Mrs. Hayes.
“I’d like that.” She felt herself falling for Cooper, with every word he spoke and every smile he brought to her face. He spoke with kindness and sincerity. She knew that she would be safe with him and it was a new sense of comfort that Maggie had never experienced before with another man. “I’m sure I’ll love it. I don’t think there’s a better person to introduce me to it than you. You’ll make it fun.” The idea of visiting a farm would have never crossed her mind before but the way Cooper talked about it made her want to spend her lazy days there, lounging in the sun.
Cooper Hayes - March 6, 2012 07:59 PM (GMT)
‘Do I need to introduce myself to your parents? Ask for your hand in marriage?’ A soft chuckle escaped his lips as he leaned back in the chair, taking in the teasing lilt in her voice. “Lucky for you darlin’, I think that’s my job,” he informed, the same hint of teasing evident in his tone as he took in her features for what felt like the thousandth time. She was a stranger, yet she was familiar all at the same time. ‘I want them to like me after all, especially your sisters and mom.’ His gaze softened as she mentioned the wish for his family to like her, especially his mother and sisters. “Oh trust me, they’ll like you just fine,” he comforted, “they’ve been naggin’ me to settle down for a real long time.” And wasn’t that the truth. It wasn’t that it took much nagging, because Cooper was beyond ready to settle down, but they had reminded him constantly that he needed to find himself a woman. A nice woman, his sisters informed him, who was pretty enough to stand beside him and didn’t have a fleeing bone in her body. Reliable, his mother had contributed, someone to face the hardships of life alongside him. His father hadn’t said much, merely smiled at the aspect of his son having a wife – but Cooper knew that the smile upon his face was worth far more than words. “And besides, I’m sure they’ll love you.”
‘Hopefully my family doesn’t embarrass me too much.’ That blush already had him sold. ‘My dad likes to think he’s a good dancer if he gets a few drinks in him. I beg to differ.’ Now that brought more laughter from Cooper’s lips as he brushed a hand over his cheek. “I guarantee he can probably dance better than me,” he confirmed, “because my dancin’ has never been all that pretty.” Her dark strands slipped effortlessly through her fingers and he fought the urge to lean forward and brush a hand over her cheek, to tangle one calloused hand in the smooth locks. ‘It is crazy. We’re going to be sharing a bed.’ He couldn’t say that he was against such a thing. Crawling into bed every night after a long day of work with Maggie pressed against him… he could grow used to it. More than that, he could grow to enjoy it, appreciate it and eventually love it. ‘Not that I wouldn’t mind sharing a bed… with… you.’ The hand that covered her face barely managed to cover the hint of pink that he had grown used to. “Well, lucky for you, I won’t mind sharing your bed either.” He was kidding, of course, because if anyone was lucky in this equation it had to be him. ‘Though, I will tackle you if I catch you eating my sweets. Is there anything I should stay away from or learn as your new wife so that I don’t suffer from the wrath of Cooper?’ Wrath of Cooper? Wouldn’t that get his family laughing. “No wrath from me,” he assured, “and I don’t anger at all really. When I get home at night, I like to relax and that’s about it.”
‘Did you want to share something? I could really go for some cheesecake.’ His eyes slipped over the dessert menu, empty pizza plate before him. “Cheesecake sounds pretty good to me,” he admitted, offering her an easy smile. He may not have had a glamorous job, and he may not have been a doctor or a lawyer, but he had been told that his smile sucked women in. Maybe it was the brown, puppy dog eyes or the relaxed nature that composed his entire being – but women typically enjoyed his company. Why he hadn’t found a wife yet, on his own, was beyond him. Mainly, he chalked it up to the long hours on the farm and his hard working nature. It wasn’t that he wasn’t family oriented, and it surely wasn’t that he didn’t want kids of his own – he just lacked the time to go out and sift through potential mates. Luckily, the Vow seemed to have done just fine when it came to Maggie. ‘Well, I lack any physical skill. I can do miniature golf but I am terrible at any other sport.’ “I’ll keep that in mind,” he commented, “but if it makes you feel any better – I’m just good at farm chores and I come by that honestly.” Moving hay bales, fixing fences, riding horses and roping cows – it was all just a day in the life.
‘You know that secret question they ask you on the application? Well, i’m a virgin. That’s my big secret.’ The topic of the ‘big secret’ caused him to cringe inwardly for a mere moment, because he wasn’t quite ready to talk about the accident. Instead, however, Maggie volunteered her own secret. A virgin? It wasn’t that he didn’t believe her, it was just a nearly impossible concept for his mind to fathom because she was stunning. Stunning, and funny, and intelligent and a virgin. Wrong or not, it caused a bit of… protectiveness to rise up within him. He would be her first, and he hoped her only. “Well, I’m not a virgin,” he admitted with a small smile, “but I think it’s nice you are. Honest. I mean… not many people hold out any more…” His words trailed off for a long moment before he continued, “I won’t pressure you though. Whenever you’re ready, then I’ll be ready too.” And he meant it. He meant every single word because she deserved his patience, and he didn’t mind being patient with her. He wanted to touch her, to allow his hands to glide over the smooth surface of her flesh – but only when she wanted it too. ‘What about you? You’re still young and attractive. I’m sure any smart lady would want to marry you.’ “I don’t have any real secrets,” he said softly, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. “But… well…”
A low sigh escaped his lips as he toyed with the straw in his drink, pondering. “Guess mine was a car accident I got into when I was nineteen. My friend was drivin’, it was a pretty nasty one,” he admitted, holding back the list of bones that he had broken. “Doctor’s said I was lucky to live,” he continued, dark eyes shifting upwards to Maggie. He didn’t talk about it, the accident, and he surely didn’t talk about Ray – not often at least. “Must be part of a bigger plan,” he murmured, taking a long sip of his beverage, “because here I am.” And that was that. No pity parties, no long winded explanation – simple and to the point in typical Cooper fashion.
‘I’m sure I’ll love it. I don’t think there’s a better person to introduce me to it than you. You’ll make it fun.’ He would make it fun, pleasurable even. “I’ll do my best,” he promised, pointing out one of the cheesecakes. “I think we have to order than. I don’t know about you, but my stomach’s practically demanding it.”