Brooks and Lolly – Part 5
Brooks had never seen so many trucks and cars and people breaking the law at one time. He had to put blinders on to keep his focus on finding Lolly as he waded through the unlawfully parked vehicles, the piles of trash, the risky behavior, the noise violations, and the size of the ludicrous bonfire that had been created nowhere near where the law permitted. Thankfully, as mayor, he wasn’t required to break it all up or arrest anyone. He wasn’t even required to call it in. But he was relieved to see that a quiet undercover police presence had been established just to make sure things didn’t get too far out of hand.
He headed straight toward the rowdiest bunch. The one with the loudest music, where a whole lot of women stood in the beds of pickup trucks, dancing and singing along with a sound system that would have blown the doors off of the average car. If Lolly wanted to blow off steam, she’d found herself a hell of a party.
Brooks stood between the back ends of two unoccupied trucks, scouting out the figures through the dark and trying to make out Lolly or Darcy. It didn’t take him long. Light from the bonfire reached the tailgate of a light-blue pickup where Lolly and his sister sat, each holding a red Solo cup and talking animatedly. A keg in a steel tub sat behind them along with the four assholes he’d seen in Harry’s picture.
He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out Lolly’s card. The one that sent him the message that she’d somehow managed to come to terms with working shorter hours and had booked the date for the their wedding. In October. Four months from now.
Lord, he hoped his parents weren’t already planning a trip out of town.
He walked out of the shadows and headed straight for his bride.
Lolly saw Brooks coming and couldn’t help but smile. The firelight lit the side of his face so she could see that he was smiling back. She hopped off the tailgate and sauntered toward him, wondering what sort of greeting she might expect from the mayor of their town out here surrounded by the vast majority of twenty-somethings home for the summer holiday.
Apparently a public display of affection was not something Mayor Bennett was concerned about because he wasn’t any closer than five feet before he reached out, tugged her to him, lifted her from the ground, and spun her around, planting one long, passionate kiss on her lips as he did.
“I got your card,” he said, grinning. “I liked it,” he told her as he kissed her again. “A lot.”
She laughed as he set her back on her feet. “I thought you might. And I’m glad you came to find me. Come on.” She pulled him by the hand. “It’s about time the two of us hang out with a few of my old friends.”
“Any friend of yours,” he said, following behind. “Although”—he stopped walking and pulled her back around to face him—“why don’t we give them something to talk about?” He kissed her once more before dropping her hand and digging into his pocket.
Lolly watched him pull out the little black box she’d seen three days ago. Her stomach tightened and goose bumps ran rampant as she realized he was actually going to take that beautiful ring out of the box and quietly slip it on her finger here. Tonight. After all this time.
But he did her one better.
Brooks Bennett, the Golden Boy of Henderson, savior of dogs and old folks, mayor of their beloved town, took hold of her hand and got down on one knee in front of the entire rowdy mob.
As he lifted his Caribbean blue eyes to her, Lolly was aware of the bonfire blazing off in the distance and the crowd behind her hushing each other as people started to notice. She was also aware that she wasn’t breathing.
“Baby,” Brooks said quietly, shaking her arm a little to pull her out of the shock. “I’ve got this. You didn’t think I wasn’t going to propose, did you?” He grinned. “Breathe now, Laura Leigh. Give me an opportunity to do this thing right.”
She nodded her head and sucked in a ragged breath. A few tears sneaked out on the exhale. “Brooks,” she whispered.
“I’ve got you,” he promised.
He licked his lips, and his eyes turned earnest. “Lord knows there’s nothing I could have ever done to deserve your love. I am a selfish, greedy man claiming you for myself because I will never be worthy of you and I know it. But I have loved you since I was a dumb jock and you were a kid. I have loved you since the moment you saw me for who I really was and liked me anyway. And after loving you all these years, I can say with complete certainty that I am destined to love you for my entire life.
“So be my wife, Laura Leigh. Build a life with me here in Henderson, close to our families and friends. A happy life. Facing whatever comes together. Kids or no kids, we’ll make it full of love and laughter. You’re already the center of my world, Lolly DuVal. So, please, marry me.”
While Lolly nodded her head, Brooks opened the box and offered her the five-carat diamond engagement ring.
“Laura Leigh, I need to hear you.”
“Yes. Yes, of course I’ll marry you. You know I’ll marry you.”
He pulled the ring out of the box to slip it on her finger. “I love you,” he said through the growing applause and whoops and hollers. Then he kissed her sweetly and took her hand and raised it high to the boisterous crowd like he had just been declared the Heavyweight Champion.
Darcy came running and hugged them both. And then a crowd swamped them, patting Brooks on the back, offering him congratulations for robbing the cradle, kissing Lolly on her cheek, and offering their best wishes for the very public life she would lead as wife of the Golden Boy mayor.
The party raged halfway ’til dawn. Until the only ones left were Annabelle and Duncan, Darcy and Lewis, Piper and Vance, and Lolly and Brooks. Piper, newly pregnant, had fallen asleep with her head in her husband’s lap on the tailgate. But six-months-pregnant Annabelle was still dancing with Darcy and Lolly after enjoying only a tiny sip of champagne to celebrate.
“Like I told you,” Duncan said as Brooks kept his eyes glued to Lolly’s sweet ass. “Harry just handed us the bottle of champagne as we were leaving the table. He told us we’d need it.”
“But how the hell does he know this stuff?” Brooks demanded.
“I don’t know.” Duncan laughed. “He reads people. Just has an uncanny awareness, I guess.”
“Wish I had those kind of powers,” Vance said as he smoothed back Piper’s hair. “I’d use them to help put Henderson on the map.”
“Henderson’s doing fine,” Brooks grinned as he watched the girls dance. “Everything here is just perfect.”