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This Time Last Year

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Terese looked up at Paul as he entered the sunroom of number 22, having finished clearing away the plates from dinner. He smiled at her as their eyes met, before making his way over to join her on the couch. The second he sat down, Terese settled into him, bringing her legs to rest on his, as she always did.

“Comfy?” He asked teasingly, eyebrow quirked.

“Very.” She replied, unabashed.

They lapsed into a comfortable silence, simply enjoying the peace and quiet. In this rare moment of blissful tranquillity, Terese allowed her mind to wander. As of today, they had officially been married for an entire year.

She almost couldn’t believe it had been that long. There were times when Terese felt as though they’d only just gotten married yesterday. But then there were other times when that year felt like a lifetime. They certainly acted as though they’d been married for decades. Somehow, their relationship managed to feel both new and exciting and familiar and comforting at the same time. She hoped that would never change.

 

This day last year had begun with heartbreak. She’d woken up to an empty bed and a headache from crying; her wedding dress lay torn to shreds and abandoned on the hotel room floor. She’d felt so lost and confused. In the space of a day, this entire world that she had built for herself seemed to have collapsed in on itself and now she was cast adrift in the ruins. She’d been so angry at Paul. He’d given up on her, and their relationship, after all they had been through together. She’d been angry at herself too, for believing that she’d be the person Paul would spend the rest of his life with, that they would have a long and happy life together. Once again, she’d allowed herself to make plans for a future with someone, and once again, those plans would have to be dismantled and replaced with plans for a life spent alone. Her thought and feelings had been so overwhelming that, for a while, she hadn’t been able to do anything by sit in bed, staring blankly at the wall as tears streamed silently down her cheeks.

 

This morning she’d awoken to the feeling of Paul’s finger trailing down her cheek, light as a feather, as he moved a piece of her hair off her face, tucking it behind her ear. The sight of the loving, happy twinkle in her husband’s eyes had made her heart skip a beat. The tender smile and the gentle kiss he’d greeted her with had the same effect. A while later, he had presented her with breakfast in bed, and they’d spent to the morning talking happily, before bickering over who got the strawberry. It was whilst she was basking in her victory (he’d had three already, she’d only had one) that Paul had presented her with her gift. In keeping with tradition, the gift had been made from paper: he’d had Ned paint a picture of the two of them, based off of a photo taken of them at Paige and Mark’s wedding earlier in the year. Ned had done a brilliant job, he’d captured them perfectly: the way Paul looked at her, the way their hands fit together perfectly, the way that simply being together made Terese's heart soar. It was a beautifully thoughtful and personal gift. In true Paul Robinson fashion, the paper had been followed with diamonds in the form of a delicate and subtle bracelet which now graced her wrist.

 

This day last year, they had stood in front of Elvis, Paul’s ex-wife and his former lover and pledged their love and commitment to one another. A perfect end to the years of turbulence and heartbreak, and a beautiful beginning to their lives as husband and wife. The whole thing had been unorthodox, and frankly ridiculous, but at the same time, it was so quintessentially  them . It was almost as though this was the way their wedding was supposed to have been all along. Paul had looked at her that day as though the rest of the world simply didn’t exist. A perfect blend of tenderness and passion, desire and trust, and pure love that made Terese feel as though she was floating on air.

Today had been much more normal- the Gold Coast had been replaced with Lassiter’s, their wedding attire with business wear, their wedding vows with a sales pitch. It couldn’t have been more different, but at the same time, it was still completely  them . Paul had compensated with the lack of Elvis, by trying to incorporate as many Elvis references into their workday as humanly possible. Pierce now thought he was in business with a certifiable lunatic, but Terese had found it hugely entertaining. There had been no ex-wives either, although Terese hadn’t been too disappointed about that. Despite all these differences, the way Paul had looked at her had remained exactly the same. He still had that twinkle in his eyes that made her heart both race and feel completely calm at the same time, that intensity that made her feel as though there was no one else in the world except for them.

 

This time last year the two of them had been sat by the beach in the Gold Coast watching as the sun set over the lagoon. They’d been so happy that neither of them had been able to stop smiling all afternoon. They’d sat there for over an hour watching people come and go, as they planned the places they would visit on their honeymoon and the things they would do together in the years to come.

Today hadn’t been quite so picturesque, but she’d still barely stopped smiling these last few hours. They’d returned home from work to find the back garden decorated with candles, flowers and fairy lights, the rest of the house blissfully empty, dinner already set out for them. Terese wasn’t sure which of the children Paul had had to bribe to set all of this up, or how much it had cost him, but she appreciated the effort it would have taken. She couldn’t think of a better way to spend their anniversary. He was good at romantic gestures, this husband of hers.

It was evenings like this that reminded her why she’d married him. They’d talked all evening, Paul filling her in on all the gossip she’d missed whilst she’d been away, Terese telling him all about her trip, and the adventures she’d gotten up to with Imogen and Piper in LA. She’d missed him whilst she’d been away. She’d needed the time to herself, but still, she’d missed his easy companionship, his quirky sense of humour, their random inside jokes and the fact that they never seemed to run out of things to talk about. Most of all she’d missed spending all of her time with someone who just completely  got  her, and all the quirks and facets of her personality. It was so good to finally be back in his company.

 

This time last year, they’d had no idea of any of the trials they would face- how could they have predicted the constant onslaught of drama that had been thrown their way? And yet, no matter what they’d faced, they somehow always found their way back here: curled up together on the couch, basking in the intimacy and closeness of their embrace. They always found their way back to one another. They always had, and they always will.

Terese moved even closer to her husband, before capturing his lip in a long tender kiss. Paul rested his forehead on hers, their noses touching lightly, and she heard the happiness in her voice as she spoke,

“Happy Anniversary, darling.”