“Before you freak out, I just wanted to call and let you know that I picked them up from the jewelry store… Yes, they look great. Yes, mom. I’m sure Bazine would be pleased… I know, I’m–“
Ben sighs tiredly through his phone.
It was too early to talk about ring specifications with his dotting mother when he already had half of his mind dedicated to a board meeting with his fiancé and the rest of the executives this afternoon.
“I’ll swing by to let you have a look. Is that a good compromise? Okay... I gotta go. Yes, mom. I love you too–“
“Shit! Get out of the way–!”
The alarming voice of a woman came from somewhere behind him, and faster than Ben could turn around and have a look, he was suddenly tackled to the ground. His breath leaves him in one swoop, the blue sky becoming most of what he could see.
“Oh my goodness, I–sir, are you okay?” The same voice chirps from somewhere above him now, and soon enough, the lady is hovering over him, blocking the harsh glare of the sun, so he didn’t have to squint.
He meets a pair of worried hazel eyes.
What just happened?
His mind flatlines.
For a few seconds, he doesn’t move from the ground, he just stares at her aiding him to sit back up blankly. Everything just happened so fast, it’s all unusual. He begrudgingly hoped that the lady explains herself. He was certain about the inevitability of causing a scene, when he catches the sight of a dog’s tail enthusiastically thumping on his leg.
Somehow, the soft pat pat pat translates into a harsh reminder of what he had in his hands.
Or the lack of it.
Ben sits up faster, ignoring the deliberate pain from his back to stare at the girl with terror in his wide eyes.
“The rings.” He doesn’t offer any more explanation as he looks around him for the velvet box.
“My rings!” He exclaimed more firmly, as if stressing the words would help her understand better before he scrambles to his feet when he sees the box had tumbled a short distance away from him.
Grabbing the small object, his heart sinks when he found nothing in it.
Ben gets distracted by the urgency in the woman’s voice and then any hope of finding the rings scattered somewhere around him gets immediately crushed when he sees the large German Shepard devour the metallic bands faster than he could wrench it out of its clamping jaw.
There’s a moment of unadulterated shock that overcame him as he gapes at what the fuck just happened.
“Beebee! Bad! You’re a bad dog! What do you have to say for yourself?” And the dog’s owner wasn’t helping by scolding the large mut, however.
“Sir, I’m so sorry. I didn’t think that Beebee would eat them. I’m sure we could wait it out until he needs to go. But maybe I could pay for the collateral for the meantime. Um, how much do they cost?”
He was out for the most of it as the woman rambled and apologized profusely, but taking one good look at her, Ben highly doubts that she could pay for the collateral, let alone for the replacement packaging itself.
The offer made him scoff in response, standing up now and dusting himself.
“Money isn’t the problem here. But…” He recalled her words.
Wait it out...
He narrows his eyes at her, speaking purely of incredulity.
“I’m sorry but do you expect me and my fiancée to wear our wedding rings that have been in literal dog shit?”
She frowns at the response, staying calm and collected.
“Sir, I understand that you’re frustrated, but it’s just dog shit. I’m sure the rings would be fine.”
“I just had them resized and your stupid dog swallowed them!”
Apparently, calling a stranger’s dog stupid is where she draws the line. Because she immediately lets go of being civilized, shooting him a dirty look as she protectively pats on her dog’s head.
“Beebee didn’t mean to! And why the bloody hell do you have them out in the first place anyway?! If anyone’s the dumbass, that’s you!”
Her thick British accent finally registers now that she snapped at him.
The boldness of this woman to even jab a finger at his chest as if he’s in the wrong made him sputter. Nobody would dare raise their voice at him, let alone stare at him directly in the eye for too long, treating him as some kind of wild cat about to pounce its prey. The fear is elicited from the position of his power to go along with the intimidating bulk of his stature.
But Ben doesn’t have the time for introductions nor does he plan to waste more his energy for a public confrontation.
He had more pressing matters to attend to. He’ll have to handle this on his own without alerting his mother and fiancée.
With a deep breath in, he grabs his phone, which surprisingly remained unharmed.
“You know what? I’m calling someone to get them out. I don’t have time for this.”
Ben was only able to hear until the second ring until the device is swiftly snatched away from his grasp. The next he knows, she’s hiding it behind her back with that disapproving look on her face.
As if he wouldn’t overpower her, Ben doubles in size and strength, it wouldn’t be a problem to go after it. He quickly tries to get it back. Pushing her with his chest as she struggles to keep the phone out of his reach.
“Give it back!”
“Hand it over!”
He was getting close. She had no place to go when he managed to back her up against a brick wall. Not questioning how they got there, or waste any more of his time, he cages her in between his arms while she raised her arm over her head as he tried to grapple for it the second time.
Snarling, he pins her wrist to the wall, about to wrench his phone from her hand and get it over with already.
“If you get any closer, I’ll scream.”
Her voice is soft, but he didn’t have to strain his ears to hear her. They were standing so close to hear her just fine, bodies flushed against each other’s, anyone passing by would make salacious assumptions.
Realizing their precarious position with a flustered neck, he swallows thickly before letting go of her faster than this whole childish ordeal started.
They both quietly fix their disheveled appearance before they stood at a much safer distance. It’s the brunette who decided to speak first, clearing her own throat.
“You’re not calling anyone.” She says while pocketing his phone, a move to ensure he won’t be making a phone call.
“I’m sorry, but how would you like it if I called someone to make you ingest something hideous and force you to take a shit?”
Unfortunately, Ben runs out of words to throw back at her in a snarky retort and all he could do is to redirect his scowl to the ground like he’s being chided as a child.
Meanwhile, she doesn’t even bother to hide her satisfaction.
“That’s what I thought.”
He shoots her a glare that would have shaken everyone on their knees, but on the other hand, it did not even faze her, not even by a little bit.
“Like I said, we’re going to have to wait it out, and I have to warn you, Beebee likes to take his time. So, you don’t have to wait with me. I can just disinfect them on my own and have them delivered to you.”
That’s a seamless solution, perhaps even an easy bargain. Because this way, he could still make it out to his meeting, though he would have to cancel on his mother’s.
Though that would be unacceptable.
Showing up ringless would only cause Leia to offer Grandma Padmé’s ring. She had been quite insistent about it and if an opportunity like this arises, he has no doubt that his mother would seize it, and what troubled him most is that he’s uncertain for how long he could refuse her.
Ben shudders at the thought before sighing in resignation. He allows himself to collapse heavily on the bench together with his god awful bad luck.
“No. I’m not going anywhere without those rings.”
She hums at the response, before occupying the space beside him without the wooden creaky noise to announce her presence, just her small figure peeking through his peripherals as he kept his eyes firmly on his lap, though he can feel her stare, the weight of it making him irrationally shy and tense.
“You don’t strike me as the the type of person who has to stand in line and wait. Would the FBI come busting down every door in the city to look for you when you’re not in your office?”
The absurd accuracy of her words almost made him snort.
It’s the closest thing to resemble a laugh. He exhaled sharply through his nose instead.
“Are you using your presence as some type of leverage?” She narrows her eyes at him with the right amount of suspicion.
He shrugs his shoulders, effectively playing it off.
“Your dog did swallow my wedding rings.”
“You’re not going to make me forget it, are you?”
“Only until your dog shits back my wedding rings.”
“I hear you. I hear you.”
She waves a dismissive hand around before standing up and grabbing her dog’s leash as if she’s leaving, he quickly scrambles to his feet.
“Where are you going?”
She doesn’t answer him right away, searching for something as she looks around the half busy street around her before twisting her body to face him.
“Well, we’re going to be out here for a long time. Might as well do something while we wait.”
“Do something? Like what?”
He thought they were just going to sit on one spot and let her dog do its thing, but the brunette seems to have something else in mind. He can’t really argue with her on this, considering her pet carried his wedding rings somewhere in its belly.
She must have found what she’s looking for because her entire face lights up, showing pearly whites behind outstretched lips. The creases of her smile hinted her age. Twenty-two, maybe twenty-three?
“I have an idea! I think I owe you a proper apology gift. Come on.”
She tugs at the leash, walking past him in the opposite direction, expecting him to follow.
Ben thought of her to be strange. A bit moody. There’s a light skip in her step as if they weren’t wrestling for his phone not so long ago. A childishness to her, with the oversized black hoodie that made her appear smaller and hair carelessly tousled into a bun. She lacked the feminine hilt to her walk, which is excusable considering she’s wearing old sneakers, not five inched heels. Though he doubts that she could walk in heels. She’s graceless as her dog, regards the domesticated animal like an actual person. Too spontaneous. Just bursts of uncontainable energy.
Annoying, to put it more simply.
The kind of misfit to stay away from.
“I’m Ben Solo, by the way… In case you’re wondering.”
She stops walking, and so does he. The whistling screeches of the cicadas that afternoon were particularly loud, it's nature's blunt way of calling the situation awkward as she gives him a quizzical look. It was difficult to decipher her thoughts but he caught the slight shock on her face before she tried to hide it.
A small smile tugs at his lips, maybe he gets that a lot, he thinks. Ben is conditioned to dread exchanging pleasantries, expecting that what followed soon after is all business talk, and not something as harmless as introducing himself to a stranger who cared less of his status.
“I’m Rey.” She introduces, back to being cordial effortlessly as she continued to lead.
In all fairness to Rey, the last thing Ben anticipated is to be taken to a flower shop. He thought they only stopped walking because her laces were untied, but even then, she doesn't move to tie them back. They simply stood outside Holdo Florist. A shop that gleamed inside as it does outside, with the elegance of the flowers displayed in heaps, varying in a spectrum of colors. Roses. Tulips. Daisies. Daffodils. Ben recognized a few.
“Pick one.” Rey offered again, waiting eagerly with her hands clasped behind her back. She can’t help her excitement. What would a hard-boiled, slightly eccentric man choose?
Ben wore a puzzled expression.
“... You’re giving me flowers…?”
She snorted. Maybe it's the lack of cadence in his voice that misunderstood his confusion for something else, but Rey had squared her shoulders, proceeding with a glare.
“If I hear that giving flowers is a man’s role or something along those lines, I swear to god, I’ll punch you in the throat.”
“No, no. Nothing like that," He could care less about the semantics of gender roles.
"I’m just not the type of man to receive them.” He admits. This would be the first time, actually.
Upon the admission, a part of Rey softens for the man.
No wonder he's a brooding grump, she thought inwardly. Ben didn't have enough flowers in his lifeless office to save his mood. It was easy to imagine the type of work environment he is used to. Given his current dark ensemble of expensive cashmere and designer tweed coat to match, every place he has been in must be a similar depressing sight of monochromatic colors and nothing else.
She twists in his direction, her fingers still busily caressing the soft petals of a pink rose.
“Not even from your fiancée?” She can't help but ask, nor hide the consolation in her tone.
Ben tucks his chin on his chest as he blushes in embarrassment.
“We don’t really… Work like that…”
With an awkward pause for Rey to comprehend his rather forced explanation, Ben shakes his head before descending into awkward chuckling.
“What about you? Do you often give flowers to your boyfriend?"
However, it’s her turn to blush profusely, almost hates herself for the deliberate warmth that the harmless questions bring as if she's a highschooler, gushing about her first crush. What’s wrong with her?
“Oh, no boyfriend. No flowers to give but to myself.” She laughs nervously, staring daggers at the flowers instead.
Ben is perplexed, to say the least. A bit surprised, yes. Not that it’s any of his business but he assumed that she’s in a fun-loving relationship with someone as spunky as she is.
“So, have you decided?”
Rey forces him to gather his wits faster when he realized that she was asking about the flowers.
He points a finger at the flaming bird tulips.
She grabs two abundant bouquets from the pile as she strides over right in front of him. The way he looks at her spoke volumes of his confusion, something that Rey is already getting used to.
Looking deeply into his eyes, she offers Ben the bouquets.
“On behalf of Beebee, I would like to apologize. I’m so sorry he pounced on you and swallowed your rings. But I’m also sorry that I wasn’t able to stop him. I’m sure you have more important things to attend to before all of this happened.”
His breath quietly hitches as he openly stares at her. Rey is all eyes and softly spoken voice on him. Her sincerity had caught him off guard.
Ben didn’t think that cheap flowers would render him speechless and perhaps a bit emotional. The gesture never appealed to him. He thought it was useless and a product of forcing affection. And yet, receiving them now, with their fingertips awkwardly brushing against each other, a lump too hard to swallow forms in his throat.
For a moment, his brain stutters as every part of him goes on pause.
He doesn’t trust his own voice at the moment, but she is waiting for him earnestly. Blinking to clear away the haze, he needed to say something–anything.
Ben glances over at the clueless dog panting on Rey’s feet.
“Apology accepted.” He conceded with the slow beginnings of a grin splitting his face in half.
Happiness looks good on Ben. She easily prefers him this way than his permanent scowling. It suited him. It makes him severely more youthful, all twin dimples and crooked teeth.
He’s a closeted softie.
She can’t help from grinning back.
As part of the apology, Rey tells him to wait outside the store while she quickly pays for the bouquets. They were thankfully on sale, they were down her minimal budget.
The cashier lady is a lovely older woman with purple dyed hair. There’s an air of sophistication towards her, a telling that there’s so much more to her than selling flowers.
“Good afternoon,” Rey beamed at the lady name tagged Amilyn with a warm smile before handing over a crisp five dollar bill from her worn off wallet. “For two flaming birds tulips bouquet, please.”
“Excellent choice, dear. Would that be all?” Amilyn’s responding smile is engaging. She was pleased by her choice.
Rey nods her head while Amilyn processes her purchases, but not without giving a short glance at Ben standing patiently outside.
“Is that handsome man your boyfriend?”
The immediate assumption causes her to sputter, caught off guard by the excitement in Amilyn’s eyes.
“H-He’s not my boyfriend. He’s actually engaged,” Which is only made worse without a follow-up. “But not to me! I mean he’s getting married, yeah. We’re not–we’re not together,” Before she could kick herself over for the embarrassing word vomit, a device in her back pocket started vibrating.
Great. Now who’s calling her now?
Without sparing a second to glance at the phone, too distracted to think, Rey answers the call.
“... Ben? Wait, who’s this?”
She tenses at the unfamiliar voice in her ear. An old, kindly woman’s voice, who has to be the–
“Mom,” She reads the caller I.D. out loud, much to her growing embarrassment. She inwardly chided herself as she winces. She definitely heard her. Bloody hell.
“I-I mean Ben’s mom. Um, hi! Sorry for answering, I thought this was my phone. My bad. Uh, my name is Rey Niima.”
“Oh, that’s okay. I’m Leia. Ben’s mother. Nice to meet you.”
“Yeah, you too... Ma’am.” Goodness, why is she so awkward?
“... Uh, Rey?”
“Do you mind giving the phone to Ben? I need to speak to him.”
Like a switch has been flipped, Rey quickly moves on her feet as she grabs the bouquets together with the change, but not before flashing a quick thankful smile at Amilyn. What was she thinking holding onto the phone stupidly like that?
“Oh, of course! I’m so sorry. I was just paying for his flowers but he’s just outside. Hold on.”
Rey hands over the device with complete surrender, which Ben found not suspicious at all because she held onto his phone like some sort of insurance.
“Your mum is calling.”
No other explanation is needed as he accepts his phone back, color draining from his face at the simple Mom displayed on the screen.
Ben excused himself before clearing his throat, already bracing for an earful.
“Explain yourself. Who was that girl?”
He glances over at Rey, who’s offering her dog treats as a reward system for making him do simple tricks. Sit. Paw. Shake. Spin. It’s a whole distracting ordeal while his mother waits for his answer.
“It’s a long story but I’ll explain everything later.” It was the best he could give her, unsure where Rey would fit in explaining himself to his mother later on. Just a stranger he met seconds after he got a hold of his wedding rings? Some girl who gave him flowers?
The bouquets in his hands heavily dulled his senses.
“Will you still be coming over?”
He frowned, knowing this will upset his mother.
“I’m afraid I won’t be able to make it.”
“Why not?” Her voice is already on the verge of sinking disappointment.
But there’s no better way in saying it. Ben still needs to get those rings.
“Mom, I promise I’ll tell you everything later. But I really have to go. I love you, bye.”
Ending the phone call first, Ben still stayed under the shade of the tree while biting his lip in deep contemplation. He was trying to come up with an excuse more reasonable than what happened. Because he knows Bazine won’t take it very lightly, after all, he was expected to be with her and her father to talk about the wedding and the next overall move for their partnership moving forward.
He decided to give a cheap work-related excuse before placing the phone inside his coat and returning to Rey’s side.
She’s already looking at him with a guilty expression.
“Did I get you in trouble? Oh my god, Ben, I’m so sorry. I can buy you another bouquet if–“
“No, it’s fine, Rey. There’s no need. My mom was just confused. Don’t worry.” He reassures, though he could clearly see that she is nowhere near convinced.
There’s a beat of silence for the two unfit to move the next moment to the next, with a dog too clueless to react to the slight awkwardness. Maybe that’s what Beebee is for, the large mut tugged for his owner to move, as if sensing the disturbance.
Rey gathers most of her wits, just enough to break through.
“Let’s take a walk. It’ll help Beebee digest faster.”
That’s how they fell in easy steps beside each other. There was no need to hurry despite being in the middle of a very lively and busy street. It seems to Ben that the people here had more room to move in pale comparison to the stiff movements of his employees. It just puts their lives in very opposite perspectives.
Ben doesn’t see enough vibrant stores that offered more warm company than the products these store owners promised. On the other side, trees buffered the almost desolate road, obscuring the tall skyscrapers from clear view as if to shield the corporate world to the genial street across.
If he were a poet, perhaps it was a strong metaphor for the different lives they live.
Meanwhile, Rey walked beside him as if nothing was new to her. She perfectly fits into the scene just fine, so unlike him, who doesn’t even know that flowers could be so ridiculously cheap.
“So, tell me something about your fiancée.” Rey prompted, out of nowhere.
“Just making conversation.”
He has never really talked about Bazine outside formal functions before, especially not to a stranger who knows nothing about Brand Equity or Core Marketing Strategies.
“Well…” But where does he even begin?
He clears his throat and says the first thing that come to mind.
“Her name’s Bazine. You probably heard of Netal Enterprises before but she owns the company and we’ve been working together ever since I took over First Order.”
As impressive and heavily ornamented in influence as his words were, Rey wasn’t impressed. She simply snorts at him, shaking her head.
“What?” And he had no idea what was so funny.
“I asked about what she’s like. I didn’t ask for her resumé.”
He lowers his gaze. They don’t really pass as a couple about to get married, do they? He didn’t even think twice to describe her. Come to think of it, he followed the same format since their engagement six months ago.
“I told you… We don’t work like that.” He presses, blushing yet again as he averted her curious gaze.
It’s not like Rey understood what work like that meant. Because she met couples who aren’t affectionate towards each other, but even they don’t sound too clinical when they describe their significant others.
She just doesn’t get it.
“Then what do you do? What do you guys talk about?”
Her questions growing in intrigue raised suspicion in his eyes. Rey’s interest was mildly disconcerting, he is left unsure if he should answer her or not, even if she was just making conversation.
Ben narrows his gaze back at her.
“Are you psychoanalyzing me? Thank you, Rey. But I already have my own therapist.”
Rey throws her head back in laughter at that. Somehow, her weird sense of humor being lost to Ben as he throws her a strange look.
“I’m far from a therapist. I’m a mechanical engineer. I fix things. Not people. Seems more complicated.” She casually remarked, still laughing from his words.
“Then what’s with the questions?”
“Nothing. I’m just trying to understand the love story behind you and your fiancée. I’ve never met anyone with a strange dynamic like that before.”
She truthfully answers and for some reason, it frustrates Ben to no end.
His nostrils flared before rolling his eyes, the words leaving his mouth before he could stop them.
“It’s because there’s no love story to tell.”
Regret rushed a little too late when Rey is already raising a questionable brow at him.
Well, she heard him loud and clear, There was no need to stupefy the situation. He isn’t one to act all coy about his business anyway.
Ben relents with a sigh. It’s already out there, and it’s not the first time something like this happens in his world.
“We’re not marrying out of love, Rey.”
Then, almost immediately, Rey reacts hysterically. She throws her hands in the air, finding the words equal parts offensive and outright horrendous.
“Why not?” She scoffs.
But the answer has always been easy for Ben. He knew sooner or later that he was bound to make decisions like this for the betterment of his company. That’s just how life goes, and he isn’t ashamed to be a part of it.
“Because you don’t need love to merge two companies together. We happen to be in the position with a common interest in mind, and one day our offspring will take over.”
Even then, no matter how hard she tries to understand, her expression sours in strong disapproval. His choice of words not boding well with his future family.
Still, she had to respect the guy.
“Well, I think that’s pretty stupid. The only reason to get married should be because you love each other.”
Rey’s strong opinion gripped Ben back with amusement.
“You remind me of my grandmother.”
She shrugs her shoulders. “Maybe because she’s right.”
“Sadly that’s not true for everybody.” To him, anyway. He shakes his head.
“Besides, marrying for love at my age?” Now, that’s just ridiculous. “That’s just absurd.”
Still, Rey’s opinion strongly clashes with his. Because if there’s one thing she truly believes in, it’s true love. She had enough remarkable people in her life to attest to that. It’s just that her heart aches that there are people like Ben who lost their belief or had stopped believing.
She grins at him.
“Don’t speak so soon, Ben. You may never know. Love finds a way the least you expect it.”
Words left him as Rey fell back into the scene once again. Another passing dog and its owner distracts her from telling him more but she has left Ben with something to think about instead.
They were reaching the end of the street. Unexpectedly, their destination took them to the bayside view of their aimless walking. Storefronts slowly grow less in number, the trees not as abundant but the calm saltwater pretty much made up for it. They’ve also gotten quite comfortable with the silence as well. There was no need to fill it with mindless words, the company was enough.
But eventually, they got tired. There’s only so much walking Beebee could endure and he decided he has had enough when he collapsed on the edge of the sidewalk, panting with his tongue out.
Ben followed right after, swiftly removing his coat before casually using it as a makeshift blanket to cover the dampness from the gentle spray of the bay.
“Ben, your coat looks like it’s worth more than my whole apartment building.” She cringes, definitely hesitating because she doesn’t want to ruin such a fine tweed material with her ass.
Though Ben thought it wasn’t a big deal. He rolls his eyes, beckoning her to sit by patting the space beside him.
“I have more. Don’t worry.”
Rey clicks her tongue.
“Christ, how rich could you be?” She asked before scooting to sit down. “The most expensive clothing I own is an overrun Chanel dress. Even that is too much for me to wear during work functions. But my friend insists that I look hot in it anyway.”
She mostly laughs to herself but Ben lacked the visuals to understand the context of the story. Admittedly a bit curious of this dress, it was nothing compared to the glimpse of her life.
“Work functions? So, you work in a firm?”
She nods her head. “Building tech.”
“But I thought you fixed cars?”
“Only as a part-time job. But between you and me, I prefer getting my hands dirty.” She chided with good mirth in her eyes while he silently mulled over the obvious innuendo.
Not the best choice of words but she continues.
“I like the sense of fulfillment you feel after accomplishing something. I think you’d be familiar with that.”
“You could say that.” He agrees in nervous laughter, though part of him twinges in envy.
How long has it been since he loved what he was doing? He can take a wild guess and say that it has been quite a while. At least Rey made efforts to keep doing what she loves.
Where’s the harm in letting her know what he really wants to do with his life?
“But the funny thing is, I’ve always wanted to open my own restaurant.”
“Can’t you do that?”
Ben understands exactly what she meant. Money isn’t the problem.
“I could. But that would require so much of my time and that’s a commodity that I don’t have in abundance anymore. Even eating breakfast has to be done with proficiency.”
He meant to pass it off as a joke, despite weighing with the truth. There had been rushed moments where oatmeal bars in car rides served as his breakfast.
But Rey is not laughing with him. Instead, she’s looking at him with an expression Ben can’t decipher.
“You’re telling me that your whole life is built around doing something that you don’t like and marrying someone that you don’t love?” She shakes her head in bewilderment. “No wonder you need a therapist.”
He gives her a small smile.
“Oh, no. That’s for my anger management issues. I’m quite a handful to deal with.”
She does it again. Just stares at him the same way with no hints of her thoughts.
Fidgeting slightly, Ben knew better than to interrupt her in deep contemplation. A lot always seems to go through her head.
On the other hand, he was regretting telling her all these things and maybe he somehow fucked up the little comfort they have with each other by putting his foot where his mouth is.
He barely opened his mouth to utter an apology for making her uncomfortable when she cuts him off with a question he hadn’t expected.
“So, what do you want to do?”
“What… Do you mean?”
She pulls the right sleeve of her hoodie to reveal a silver wrist watch clasped around her thin wrist.
“You’re still stuck with me waiting for a dog to shit out your wedding rings. You have maybe three hours of freedom to do whatever the hell you want before you get back to your prison cell... So, what do you want to do?”
Ben stares at Rey the same way he would have looked at his frozen computer while working on spreadsheets. His chest swelled with emotions he couldn’t explain. Obviously he would have defended himself and told her that it isn’t as bad as she was making it out to be, it’s all business, it’s nothing personal. It’s not unethical. There were far worse things large corporations have done. But he didn’t catch himself fast enough charting to the dangerous territories of his mind.
He realized that he was just coming up with reasons to convince himself more than the stranger asking him what he wanted to do, and what astounds him is that there are a lot of things that he wants to do, some pretty mundane stuff that Rey wouldn’t even find exciting.
Focusing on one thing before another, Ben shakes himself back to his senses.
“I really want to try a churro.” He tells her earnestly.
Rey’s eyes widened, her initial reaction not far from what he expected.
“You’ve never had one?”
“I’m not.” She really wasn’t. He doesn’t feel any remote judgement as others would have sneered and called him out, probably misunderstood for arrogance as a wealthy businessman would find himself often being associated with.
She simply flashes him a wide grin, delighted for receiving an answer. Something she could help him with, no less.
“You’re lucky. I know just the place. Come on.”
Rey stands up first before offering her hand, while Ben shortly followed, not even thinking twice to take it, engulfing her fingers wholly. She possessed a surprising strength from the way she effortlessly pulled him up. She also feels warm. But his attention was undivided from marveling at how small she is compared to him.
They might have lingered before Rey pulls away to hand him his coat back.
“Is it everything you hoped it would be?”
Ben’s eyes rolled to the back of his head as he outright moaned.
“Better. I can’t believe I’ve never had any one of these!”
It was fascinating to Rey, seeing a simple treat bring joy to a man that exudes having everything.
“You know what I’d do? I like pairing my churros with a plain vanilla milkshake from Maz’ Cafe and I dip it in like some sort of garnish. It’s the best way to eat churros.”
He beams, unable to take his eyes off the paper parchment even for a second.
“I’ll keep that in mind for next time.”
She continues eating beside him, both snuggly warm on their sides, Rey finds herself vaguely wondering about the other things he hasn’t tried out yet. There are countless of street food she would like to recommend. What about movies? Has he ever gone out to a concert before? How about skinny dipping?
Rey was going to ask, but the bit of chocolate sauce brimming on the edge of the plastic container gave her pause, before making the move to dip one of her churros.
But Ben bats her hand away, shooting her with a dirty look.
She pouts at him.
“What can I say? I don’t like sharing.” He shrugged off, he even makes a petty show of enjoying his chocolate sauce.
“Okay. Now I feel bad for your future wife.”
“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that. She would never in a million years try anything deep fried. She sticks to a strict regimen in maintaining her figure.”
Ben says it in a way that’s expected to be normal for women, but Rey hasn’t even stepped foot inside an actual gym. She thought sweating it out in the mechanic shop counted as her exercise.
In all seriousness, Bazine’s a whole other woman.
“I can’t help but imagine her as one of those runway lingerie models. Do you mind showing me a picture?”
Ben no longer hesitated, in fact, he looks glad to show her and when a photo of a stunning woman with porcelain skin and long, straight hair flashed on the screen, she realized why he’s proud to show her off.
Her mouth gapes wide open.
“Holy shit, she’s gorgeous! Are you sure she’s not a model? She might as well be,” She shakes her head in disbelief, glancing between the photo and the man marrying her. “I can’t decide who’s lucky between the two of you.”
Ben tucks his phone back in his pocket, his ears perking up with newfound interest. He was more used to his influence and money being the allure to women, not his unconventional features.
How long has it been since a woman found him attractive? Surely feels nice.
“Are you telling me I’m gorgeous?”
She refuses to meet his gaze, looking ahead with a tint of red on her cheeks.
“Don’t let it get to your head. I’m saying you’re both easy on the eyes. Anyone who could see would say the same thing.”
He grins at her giddily, not even self-conscious of his crooked teeth anymore. It’s not everyday Ben receives a compliment, and Rey isn’t even done.
“Christ, you two would be an insanely dangerous and lethal combination. You’d be conceiving a child too beautiful for this world. It should be fucking illegal.”
She laughs at her own joke while he wonders if she was aware of the two guys who passed by them throwing her lascivious looks—disgusted, that’s precisely the reason why Ben is staying so close on her side.
“You talk as if you shouldn’t be locked away yourself.” He retorted, still glaring behind his shoulder.
Ben regarded her with a hand coolly.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” So she doesn’t know? “Rey, you’re a gorgeous woman. Do you have any idea how many heads have turned since we started walking here?”
However, Rey is not remotely convinced. She snorts, refusing to believe him.
“You’re wearing designer clothes. You’re extremely tall and built like a mountain. If anyone’s being stared at, it’s you.”
“And you just happen to have alluring brown eyes with a dog to match? That’s like… Total annihilation, Rey.”
She throws her head back in laughter, surrendering to the ridiculousness of the conversation.
“Are we seriously arguing about who’s more attractive between us?”
“You started it.”
“And I’m ending it.” She giggles, the warmth on her cheeks not receding anytime soon.
“Bazine would be lucky to have you compliment her like that. I’m sure you wouldn’t run out of things to say about her eyes.” She chided.
The lightness of the situation deteriorates as reality stabs them both to stay grounded.
Rey points at the empty parchment on his hands.
“Hand them over. I’ll throw it away.”
They were getting better and better in handling silence like their fourth company. Like last time, it’s comforting, peaceful even. Ben wouldn’t have thought that he’d be in tune with the world by simply co-existing with someone who doesn’t run out of being astonished by everything around her. It makes him wonder if he met anyone with the same effect. It wouldn’t be surprising if he hasn’t.
“Hey, look,” She stands up, striding faster to approach a public vintage upright piano.
He quickly catches up to her, watching her delicate fingers skimming the ivory keys, pressing a few to create a simple melody. There’s a twitch of a smile in the corner of her mouth.
“You know how to play?”
“My foster mom taught me,” He doesn’t make it a point to ask any further.
“I’m not half as good as her so spare me from laughter as I butcher her rendition of Moon River.”
This time, Rey takes the seat, both hands hovering over the keys with a familiarity and dexterity of someone who really knows how to play.
She clears her throat.
“Moon river, wider than a mile
I'm crossing you in style some day
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker
Wherever you're goin', I'm goin' your way
At the first note, Ben is flabbergasted.
Her voice is splendid. A sweet lullaby meant for anyone no matter the age.
Slow and sensual to the point of caressing like a physical touch.
Rey performs with her eyes closed, her singing veiled with emotion that enraptured those who listened. In this case, her only audience is Ben.
It was like his own personal concert.
Two drifters, off to see the world
There's such a lot of world to see
We're after the same rainbow's end, waitin' 'round the bend
My huckleberry friend, moon river, and me”
And it was over too quickly, Ben thought there was more.
He hadn’t said word. Still dazed and frozen beyond thoughts.
Rey knows her singing is a bit rusty. She doesn’t sing very often. In fact, this is actually the first time in a long time that she did, and Ben hasn’t said anything.
Was she really that bad?
She frowned, waving a hand in front of his expressionless face.
“Hey... Are you there?”
She turns her head towards her dog cocking his head back and forth, still curious about where the melody came from, it seems.
“Beebee, I think I broke Ben,”
“You... You just,” Shaking his head, he clears his dry throat and tries again.“You keep surprising me. Seriously, what can’t you do?”
So, she’s not that bad.
Rey’s chest flutters with giddiness, beaming proudly, she bumps her hip against his playfully.
“Don’t think so highly of me. I’m actually a safety hazard in the kitchen. I would find a way to fuck up boiling water.”
Ben supposed there’s a price to pay in becoming musically talented.
“It’s comforting to know that I’m better than you in the kitchen.”
This time, it’s Rey who turns to him with incredulity.
“What’s with the face?”
“Nothing…! I just didn’t think that cooking would be a part of your skill set.”
“What? You think I have a personal chef who serves me beef wellingtons and lemon seared salmon?”
She blushes in embarrassment, something Ben quickly picked up on whenever he’s spot on with what she’s thinking.
“Something like that,”
“Rey,” He continues chuckling at her. “The very reason I want to open my own restaurant is to serve my own personal recipes on the menu.”
Rey gasps dramatically.
“Will you be the one cooking?”
Ben hums in thought. “From time to time.”
Her eyes brightened. “Then best believe that I’ll be coming as a customer. I’ll be having the Chef’s Choice and that would be…?”
She prompts him in this make believe, and he can’t help himself from indulging her. He has it all planned in his head.
“Lamb Loin Roulade.” He finishes in a soft undertone.
“Lamb Loin Roulade.” She repeated as if she’s actually ordering in his restaurant. Somehow, the picture is vivid, effortless to conjure.
It shouldn’t be a big deal, but he swells with a feeling too intense beyond words.
“Imagine that.” She trails off as if she’s seeing it herself, a small smile on her face before standing up from the piano, coming to get Beebee.
The reluctance in his voice gives her pause. She turns around at his tepid approach.
“I… I think…” Ben bit the inside of his cheeks. “I’d like for us to be friends when this is all over. Is that… Is that okay with you?”
Rey noted at the slight tremble of his voice. So, he’s not ready to walk away like her after all, and she’s so, so relieved.
A different kind of smile splits her face in half, it’s something he can’t catalogue yet, but give it time and Ben might be able to read her like an open book.
“I would like that.”
Something in him somersaults.
She gives a faux thoughtful look.
“I mean, I guess you’re not that bad.”
He snorts before rolling his eyes.
“I was hoping for a heartfelt response, but that’s close enough.”
“Does that mean I made it to the cut for a wedding invite?”
Rey doesn’t think that Ben noticed, but she does it again. Reminds him of what Beebee is carrying in his belly and that’s supposed to move them forward. He has been long into running a large-scale business to witness it as a shameless marketing strategy.
Still, he took her chiding in stride. After all, she had just accepted being his friend.
“If you can handle smiling and waving to at least a couple hundred of people then be my guest.”
“A couple hundred?! What is this? The royal wedding?” She sputters.
“It’s more potential clients and co-workers than family and friends.” He deadpans, which is enough to make Rey laugh.
“Such a mortifyingly extravagant life you live, Ben Solo.”
“Don’t I hate and know it,”
She playfully pats the side of his face.
“Cheer up, buttercup.” She checks her wrist watch again.
“You still have a few minutes of freedom to do at least… Two more things.”
But Beebee barked to grab his owner’s attention, and as if she understood him, she nods her head.
“One more thing.” She corrected before fetching Beebee on his leash, looking over behind her shoulder at Ben.
“But first, we have to take Beebee to the park.”
Rey unleashes Beebee from his leash to enjoy his freedom. She assures Ben that the dog is perceptive enough to let her know once he has finished his business.
Meanwhile, they wait and sit on the grass, Ben still offered his coat for her to sit on and she stopped arguing with him about it.
The sun was beginning to set. It’s at this hour when the park is half filled with people interested enough to marvel at the changing skies and golden sunsets. Beebee happens to enjoy bolting really fast and chasing pigeons away.
“He never gets tired.” Ben remarked, astounded that the dog is still energetic, as if they haven’t been walking all day.
“Oh, he was such a bloody nightmare when he was only six months old. I got kicked out of my old flat because he wouldn’t stop barking at the smokers outside our building.”
“Reminds me a lot of our house pet.”
The only difference is that Chewie wouldn’t stop barking whenever his dad left their house.
“You have a dog too?!”
“Used to. He passed away the same year as my dad.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry…” She whispered with any ill intentions.
But Ben assures her with a soft smile.
“... How long has it been?”
“About… Three years, I think.”
“What’s he like?”
Ben pauses, thinking about the question. Because if it were anyone, he wouldn’t have answered, but knowing that it’s Rey who wouldn’t take pity on him and assume judgement, he doesn’t mind.
“He was the best. He was an air force pilot. Rarely home. But he makes up for it whenever he is.” There’s a sweet and soft demeanor to Ben that Rey rarely sees, but when it’s there, he shows it as dimples on his cheeks and deep set emotion in his eyes.
“I remember that I wanted to be like him when I grew up, so I copied the way he looks and the way he dresses. I even wore his shoes that were too big for me.”
She can’t stop herself from smiling.
“Must be quite a man.”
“He was,” But then his gaze stormed with a certain darkness. “And his last moments alive were with me, fighting and screaming at each other... God, I’m a fucking horrible son.”
“Don’t say that.” She scolded gently.
“Doesn’t stop it from being true though.”
“Stop it.” She doesn’t like to hear it.
Rey placed her hand on top of his resting on the grass before he spirals down to self-loathing. He gets distracted enough.
“If there’s something I learned from growing up on my own, is that everyone has to keep moving forward from a dark point in their lives.”
She slowly grips his hand tightly.
“You might have to live with that for the rest of your life, but dwelling on the past won’t help you grow. I’m sure your dad would have wanted you to be happy above anything else.”
“My mom said the same thing,” Ben wiped something that Rey thought was a stray tear on his left eye.
“And you’re both probably right, but I think it’s too late for me.”
His smile is sad. Broken. Defeated as if he gave up a long time ago.
“To find happiness?”
“You said it yourself. My life is like a prison cell–“
“I-I didn’t mean it like that–“
“No, Rey. You’re absolutely right.” He blinks rapidly, as if he sees after images of his past flashing before his eyes.
“I don’t even know who I’m pleasing, doing all these things. It’s absolutely pathetic that you’re the first person to ask what I want to do. You—a stranger,–showed me more compassion than anyone I knew with my whole goddamn life–!”
Her heart jolts with a twinge of brokenness for the man.
“Then why do you keep doing this to yourself?”
Ben shouldn’t have to. He deserves to do what he wants to do, make choices for himself, enjoy life. Somehow, a part of her is irrationally angry. Mad at... The world for being so unfair.
And Ben is still putting on a brave face for her, smiling as if he’s okay with it.
“Because this is the kind of life I live and I don’t know anything else.”
Ben doesn’t know there’s more to it than brief meetings with executives, formal events to attend to and rubbing elbows with influential people. He never stopped to smell the flowers or eat a churro or even spend a day in a park. He didn’t think he’d find pleasure in the most mundane of things.
His lips quiver at her anguish he could feel rolling in waves for him.
Ben doesn’t think twice of unceremoniously pulling Rey towards his lap, holding her against him. He breathed deeply, it’s been a while since he felt the comforting touch of another person, let alone feel the intimacy behind it.
He didn’t think that he has been craving for affections until he’s flooded by the utter contentment and belonging of how good it feels rushing to fill his gaping loneliness or maybe it’s just Rey’s touch personally because she handles him with a gentleness that contradicted his intensity.
She hugs him with her whole body and she cards her fingers through his hair soothingly. She doesn’t stop even until he calms down.
“You know, growing up without parents, I would have wanted a manual on how to do things properly instead of learning on my own. A book for dummies on lone survival to be more specific.”
She softly laughs while he holds her tighter, letting her know that he’s listening.
“But what I really wanted is for someone to tell me what to do... I had to scold myself, cheer for myself, comfort myself... Even when I want to do things, I never had anyone to share it with.”
She voices, already close to tears.
“It wasn’t until I got out of the system when I was confronted to rethink my life. It’s either I stand and do nothing or move forward. That’s the main reason I flew out from London and ended up here. And life is good here. I finished my degree, got a stable job and made friends I consider my family... If I could do all that, then so could you.”
“I’m not brave enough to do half the things you did.”
Rey clicks her tongue before slightly pulling away to look him in the eye.
“I’m not telling you how to live your life, Ben. But I’m saying that there has to be something for everyone to make life worth living... You just have to find it and I’ll help you... Because you’re not alone.”
She squeezes him back before Rey heard something that closely sounded like,
“Neither are you.”
Ben concludes their conversation with a kiss on her forehead. It’s the only way he could think of in expressing his overwhelming gratitude for her. Rey is kind. Too good for him and this world.
The moment is only broken when Beebee barks at them.
“I think it’s time to go.” She extracts herself from his hold, much to Ben’s dismay.
Rey takes them to her apartment. On their way there, the pair haven’t found the strength to let go of each other’s hands just yet, even when they had to, Ben stayed close to her side, watching her handiwork in her tiny kitchen.
Various disinfectant items littered the counter. With her hands protected by some oversized rubber gloves, she scrubbed the silver bands profusely but carefully, with a spare hotel room toothbrush.
“How often does your dog swallow a stranger’s jewelry? I’m concerned that you know what you’re doing.”
She laughs softly, elbowing him from where he stood. They were at least back to the good natured, friendly banter. Safer territories after releasing such heavy loads of their personal baggage.
“I don’t. I just found a tutorial on youtube while we were at the bay.”
“So, you don’t even know if the rings would be wearable?”
“You waited this long. This is as good as it’s going to get, buddy.”
Instead of being mad at her, the rings were the last of his worries. Ben finds himself looking around her place. It’s small, probably half his bedroom, but it’s more lived in, colored with her personality.
Ben didn’t expect less from Rey. He isn’t surprised to find the color scheme of her apartment to be bright and well ventilated with large, encompassing windows, with healthy house plants randomly placed around every horizontal surface he could find. It was easy to imagine her talking to each succulent and hanging plant with Beebee as a side character, alone but not lonely.
“Your place is lovely. I like it.”
On the other hand, Rey is pleased of his approval. She was actually nervous to bring him here, thinking that it’s too small or too congested for someone who probably has an entire floor of a building for himself.
“Thank you. Then I’m proud to say that I happen to have constructed half of the furniture you see around you.”
“Wait, for real?”
“It’s cheaper that way.”
Ben does a double take, as if that could help him see her place differently, and in a way, it does. Because he envisions drinking coffee by her breakfast counter, lounging on her couch during lazy afternoons, stocking books on her half empty bookshelf, going to her room with the sole intention of never leaving her bed... He sighs dreamily.
Then he turns to the woman scrubbing the daylights out of his wedding rings, muttering curses too British for him to understand.
Rey notices him staring in the corner of her her eyes and she immediately stops brushing. She looks up only to see an odd expression on his face.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Her eyes widened in mortification.
“Oh my god, do I happen to have dog shit on my face?”
Ben simply shakes his head.
He closes in on her and there’s too many details at once outweighing each other to be noticed. Freckles on her cheeks, evergreen flecks in her irises and baby hair framing her sweetheart face, his eyes soon zeroes in on her parted lips. Somehow, the conflict resolves itself when there’s one thing he is utterly sure of.
“I don’t want to get married.”
Rey gets confused.
“What...? But we just waited for Beebee to–“
“I don’t want to get married.” He says more firmly, more sure of himself now that the main reason he shouldn’t is staring at him in the face, quite literally.
He raised his hand, hesitant with his movements, afraid of scaring her away.
“You asked me what I wanted to do and I... I want...”
He doesn’t finish the rest of his words, lets the gravitational pull between them speak for itself as he cups her cheek and closes his eyes.
Feeling her breath stutter, a mere hair strand of distance to erase left, Rey suddenly leans back, and all he could see is the fear in her wide eyes.
“You’re an engaged man, Ben.”
She stabs him with those words, and at the moment, they frustrate more than hurt him.
“Stop doing that.” He growled.
“Stop using that as an excuse to keep me at arm’s length.”
Ben can only hold himself back for so long, he admits, there had been enough moments where he thought about kissing her, but now, more than ever, it has never been this tempting.
But Rey is stubborn as she is brilliant. She continues to profusely shake her head.
“Because you’re getting married.”
“To a woman I don’t love.”
It only takes a few seconds, but she sees the answer in his eyes. Solid and clear.
She shouldn’t feel her chest swell with warmth or feel her stomach drop to her feet. She shouldn’t feel these things to an engaged man–she shouldn’t!
“... Oh, no. Ben, you think you–but we–We just met,”
“But you feel it too, don’t you?”
Her eyes doubled in size. Rey doesn’t have words, they left her to deal with Ben, who had somehow gotten closer again. She could smell his scent, feel his warmth, it was all too much.
Rey drops everything that she’s doing to put a safe distance between them. She strips off the gloves and brushes past his shoulder to dry the rings on the opposite side of the counter.
She refuses to look at him. All she needs to do is to give him the rings and he would leave.
“Y-You’re just confused. You don’t love me, we were just very emotional a while ago and–“
“That’s bullshit.” He rudely interrupts.
Ben crosses the distance between them, taking up her space, hovering with his full height.
“That’s bullshit and you know it! You don’t just bump into strangers, spend a whole afternoon together and be vulnerable with them in one day—!”
“Even if you’re right, it doesn’t stop our lives from moving forward, does it?”
She gently pushes him away with her hand on his chest, and in the middle of it all, she feels the pounding of his heart beneath her fingertips.
She gasps quietly, burning a hole through his clothed chest.
“You are somebody’s future husband, somebody’s future father to your future kids–“
“If that somebody’s not you, then I don’t want any of it.”
“Ben...!” Her hands curls a fistful of his shirt. “Make this easy for us. I want you to leave.”
“But Rey, we have to–“
“I refuse to be that girl, Ben!”
Suddenly, Rey bursts into tears. But before he could get any closer, she holds up a hand. She had more to say to him.
“I refuse to be that girl who stands in between two people. I‘m not going to steal someone’s fiancé and become a homewrecker!”
There’s a tortured look twisting his entire face.
“No, no, Rey. You’re so much more than that, you’re not–
“Ben, just get out! Please. You’re making a terrible mistake,”
She walks away only to hand him the rings. “And take these with you.”
Did it hurt to let her one chance of true happiness walk away? It definitely does. Soul crushing at worst. But she lived by her principles, Rey knew better than to steal someone else’s home. She might have been a scavenger at some point in her early teens, but she wasn’t going to live up to the insult after fleeing London.
One month flew by since the fatal encounter with one Ben Solo, but during the short interval, Rey has already cried herself to sleep, gotten blackout drunk and told her friends about their forbidden near affair. They all thought she was outright joking, but then she bursted into tears and all they could do is help their friend get better.
After expelling a lifetime’s worth of self pity and a broken heart, Rey slowly mended day by day. With encouragements from Rose, ridiculous jokes from Poe and brotherly love from Finn, she stopped counting the days wondering what Ben’s married life is like.
After all of that, Rey thought she had moved on and can stand on her own two feet.
Until he suddenly appeared like a ghostly apparition, seemingly out of nowhere.
Rey froze over in a completely bewildered daze.
“Ben...? What are you–what are you doing here?” He just showed up on her floor, hovering over the multitude of desks that littered the office.
He looked like a mess. His windswept wavy hair in disarray and the casual appearance of a black henley and dark washed jeans, surprising her. Rey had to admit, the sight gave her breathing problems.
“I know where you live but it took a while to reach you,”
“That’s not creepy at all,” Poe quietly commented behind her while Rose slapped a hand over his mouth, before he could ruin any more of this unexpected moment.
Finally realizing that they’re standing in the middle of a busy office, Rey makes the move to take him by the elbow, deliberately ignoring the jolt of electricity between the contact of their skin, she tries to pull him with her.
“Let’s talk in my office–“
But Ben shakes her hand away, refusing to leave his current spot.
“No, I have this whole thing planned in my head. So, don’t interrupt.”
Rey clenches her jaw tightly, ignoring the loud murmuring and the intriguing looks they were receiving like they were sone sort of Hallmark movie, Ben better have a good explanation for himself.
“I called off the wedding.”
The air leaves her lungs.
Those words shouldn’t have relieved her. God, she should feel terrible that they didn’t get married. She should kick herself for slyly confirming his words by glancing at his ringless hand.
“Not for the reasons you may think. I called off the wedding because I had to think some stuff over. I sold the company to Bazine instead.”
“Why are you telling me all this?” She crosses her arms over her chest, not ready to let her guard down.
“Because I’m opening my restaurant next month.”
Except she hadn’t expected that at all.
Rey gapes at him, and she sees it more clearly now. His restlessness and disheveled appearance had everything to do with pursuing his dreams.
That’s significantly better than the dolled up, suit wearing man who barely smiled at anything.
Of course she’d be happy for him.
“You... Your own restaurant?” She swallows the shakiness threatening to spill over.
Everything is written across his megawatt smile. Ben could rival the sun filtering behind the glass curtain wall behind him. While Rey thought he was intriguing before, he’s very much mesmerizing now.
“My own restaurant. You can congratulate me later and I could tell you all day that it wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for you, but I want you to have this,”
Ben dug through his pocket until he pulled a tiny box, not bigger than his hand. But then again, everything appeared small around him. So, when she accepted it and flipped the box, Rey only sees something that perfectly fits her own finger.
It’s silver encrusted with emerald stones. The center mantle is a stunning princess cut diamond, not too much and not too little. It’s just... It’s perfect.
“Gorgeous, isn’t it? Better than the rings your dog had swallowed,”
She shoots him with a dirty look.
“Why are you still so wound up about that–“
“I said don’t interrupt.” He reminded, glaring back.
“It’s my grandmother’s engagement ring,” Ben started, but not before quickly following up.
“And before you tell me you can’t have this, you’re gonna have to. Because I made a promise to Nana Padmé that one day I would only give the ring to the woman that I want to spend the rest of my life with. And I intend to keep that promise.”
Ben deprived the room of air the following second. Because Rey literally couldn’t breathe as she watches him lower himself to one knee, never breaking gazes with her.
The crowd reacts and she could hear her friends squealing behind her, but none of that mattered at the moment.
“A wise woman once told me that the only reason to get married should be for love and if someone told me a month ago that I’ll be quitting my job to pursue my dreams and go down on one knee the next, I would have rolled my eyes and walked away... Because finding love at thirty two? That’s just impossible.”
He takes a deep breath in, determined to finish what he had started.
“But nothing is impossible with you. Rey, you are everything that I want in life and more. I know I won’t meet someone like you twice in my lifetime. How could I ever let you go?”
Ben shakes his head, as if refusing to even consider the mere thought of living his life without Rey. Fresh tears streamed down his face, dedicating his entire life to her, for her.
“So, Rey. Move out of your apartment, move in with me, let’s have mind blowing sex and be my wife. Say yes.”
The people reacted faster than her. Most were swooning, and a few were snickering childishly, either way, they all anticipated for Rey’s answer.
The tears and suspense could kill a man, because Rey was just standing there and Ben only had half a mind to understand what her silence meant.
Seconds rushed to a full minute. The loud wooping dies down. They all loose their faith. At this point, it’s just getting embarrassing. What does he know about getting the girl? In the end, he was still a man with too many issues coming into play. A huge drawback.
Ben should have known.
Who is he to think that she could ever say yes to him?
It surely wouldn’t do him well if he just kneels there all day. He had to stand up at some point, leave her office behind together with the last remains of his dignity.
No matter how heartbreaking it is, Ben is going to respect her wish and–
There a sound of quick rustling, followed by a whimper that matched his own as Rey collapsed on her knees and pulled his face in between her hands.
“Yes. Yes, Ben! I’ll marry you.”
And if her words weren’t enough to convince him, she surges to finally kiss him and the crowd cheers and hoots around them once more. The tension immediately dissipating with collective relieved sighs. Thank god Rey accepted.
Ben instantly melts, awash with relief and happiness as he properly kissed her back, spoken in tongue and seared through his lips, they scramble back to their feet, only parting to rest their foreheads against each other to smile.
They messed up the order of things that day, First, Rey’s friends and co-workers congratulated them, then she introduced Ben, now her fiancé.
Surely enough, Ben has been a little dramatic about it. Putting on a show of carrying Rey over his shoulder with another promise to celebrate in private.
They don’t leave his bed for a while.
Life only got better as soon as they pronounced themselves as husband and wife. Sure, Ben’s mom was a meddlesome mess who demanded eight grandchildren but Padmé Amidala’s ring is finally where it belongs.
Ben believed the ring gave them good fortune.
Because their lives have never been the same right after.
Ben’s restaurant was a success, that he had branched out all across the city. Rey became a full-time engineer like she wanted after a much needed nudge by her husband.
At the end of the day, they come home to each other. Ben would always hear Rey playing the piano every night and Ben would always cook them breakfast.
Day and night, they found many different ways to express their love for one another. They even taught Beebee not to swallow any more small objects.