A note from your author...Well, this is it my loves! And what a journey it has been. I have loved every single minute of this process and met some amazing people, some who have become my dearest friends. I would like to dedicate this chapter to my amazing copilot, AP...I couldn't have done this without your help and constant support. Thank you, my friend! I will be forever grateful to all who have joined me on this wild ride. I so appreciate each and every one of you readers. Every review, PM, alert, and fave. Thank you all so very much! Hope you enjoy this last chapter(and that it was well worth the ridiculously long wait).
This is not goodbye my friends, but see you later!
Thank you all again and have a very Happy New Year.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The change in Will came gradually. In fact, I would have never even noticed it unless someone had said something.
And that someone just happened to be my sister.
"I need to go up to London for a few days," Will stated just as I was settling into bed that particular Thursday night.
"Oh, okay," I replied, a bit taken aback by the sudden news.
"You'll come with me, right?" he asked and I smiled. "I have it scheduled so it wouldn't interfere with your class schedule."
"Of course I'll come," I returned with a sweet kiss to his cheek. "And thank you."
"Good," Will blew out a soft sigh, as almost in relief. "We leave first thing tomorrow morning."
Propping back up on my elbow, I shot him an incredulous look. "What's the rush?" I queried, but Will's face remained impassive.
"Just a few last minute meetings I had to fit in," he replied nonchalantly. "Tie up some loose ends."
Will's gaze shifted to meet mine as he gave that little nod of his head that represented a shrug. "Not too terribly - but rather necessary." He immediately noticed the change in my expression. "The most pressing matter is a meeting I have with a former colleague. Freddy Foster, you remember him?"
"From the wedding," I stated, more than questioned. "He was Rupert's best man."
"Yes well, it looks as if the proverbial honeymoon period has come to an end," Will returned, rather indifferently. "In regards to the firm, that is."
"Ah, trouble in paradise?"
Will gave a slight smirk. "Something like that," he added before elaborating. "I guess things have really been going downhill these past few months. Rupert's still crap at his job -"
"I thought he took over your position after you stepped down."
"Never quite made it that far up the ladder," he countered with a small shake of the head.
I noticed a faint glimmer of satisfaction behind Will's eyes and something told me he was well on his way to becoming CEO of that company, when the accident occurred. "I'd venture a bet that if you were still there, you'd probably be running the place right now."
The dimpled grin he flashed me, spoke volumes. "Freddie seemed eager for a change and I think he'd be a great asset to us by bringing the business to London."
"Ah, expanding our little endeavor, are we?"
Will's expression softened a bit. "Just hoping to help out a friend."
"You're a very good man, Will Traynor," I stated, beaming proudly at him. "And all mine."
He let out a soft chuckle, then beckoned, "Get over here you, and kiss me."
Shifting a bit to reach, my smile widened. "Gladly."
I left Nathan to finish up with Will while I rushed to get my own things together, thanks to my spur-of-the-moment boyfriend who decided to drop this bomb on me just before bed the night before. My only instruction was to bring the red dress I had worn to the classical music concert, that previous April.
I had no idea what his intentions were or why the dress was needed, and honestly didn't have the time to ask.
"We should be all set," Will intoned as he rounded the doorway of the guest bathroom, just as I was reapplying my lip gloss. "Nathan loaded the bags into the van before he left."
Lowering my hand to my side, I turned to face him. "He's not coming with us?"
"Figured it wasn't necessary," was the reply. "We've done the overnight thing on our own before."
A suggestive smirk began to spread across my shiny lips. "If I didn't know any better, Will Traynor, I'd think you arranged this trip just to get me alone."
"And what would be so wrong with that?"
At his quip, I let out a hearty chuckle. Though the mirthful levity quickly dissipated with the sudden realization. "But Will, your schedule. It's Friday. You're due for a shower - ."
While the actual shower could be swapped out for a quick bed bath, there were more pressing, time consuming, and unfortunately for Will, rather embarrassing necessary tasks that simply could not be overlooked.
Jaw set and gaze lowered. "Nathan said he's discussed the entire processes with you, in case there was ever a time that he or my Dad wouldn't be available. But if you're not comfortable with carrying it out, for any reason, Louisa - then he'll gladly drive up tonight."
"No," I gasped out before gingerly slipping into Will's lap. I brushed my fingers under his chin and his eyes lifted slowly to meet mine. "Will, I really want to do this." At that, said eyes rolled dramatically, making me giggle slightly. "I'm serious," I added, taking his hand in mine. "I've been over it with Nathan more than once, and have probably read that binder of yours front to back nearly twenty times. I can do this. I want to do it - ," at my pause, my glance flickered down to where my finger was tracing his knuckles, then back up again. "Just so long as you're okay with it."
"Not in the least," he muttered, then immediately softened. "But I -"
My interruption caught Will by surprise. "For what?" he quipped, though his tone was laden with indignation. "You're the one who will be elbow deep, no pun intended, in medical gloves and rectal suppositories."
"Stop it," I warned, choosing to ignore his obvious embarrassment and frustration for the moment. Instead, my expression relaxed and I held his gaze. "Thank you for trusting me." Again, a look of bewilderment crossed Will's face, and I leaned in to place a kiss to his lips. "Thank you for trusting me enough and allowing me to care for you completely. It's all I've ever wanted. And I know it can't be easy for you, but I -"
"Oh Clark," Will sighed, then proceed to try to swallow down the large lump that seemed lodged in his throat. "You truly are -"
"Something else. I know," I teased, though in the most sincerest of ways. Will cracked a small smile and my heart fluttered. I felt a renewed sense of optimism as I slipped from his lap. "We can discuss logistics later, but right now we need to leave if we want to squeeze a lunch in before your 2pm meeting."
Will and I settled into the Traynor flat and shared a small lunch before I needed to drop him off at office building his meeting was to take place at.
He'd been unusually quiet for most of the trip thus far. Not in a nervous sort of way, but more of a contemplative, purposeful way. And the closer we got to the city, the more I noticed an air of relief settle over him and a burst of confidence, emanate from him.
He looked so at ease.
I, however, was oddly nervous for him. "Are you sure you don't want me to come with you."
"I'll be fine, Clark," Will chuckled playfully as we made our way to the front entrance of the tall office building. "I'm not so bad off that I need constant coddling."
"That's not what I meant," I countered pleadingly. It wasn't so much coddling, as it was concern for him being left without someone trained to care for him, should any issues arise.
Will flashed a smile at me. "I know," he added soothingly. "But I'll be okay on my own for a few hours." I nodded even if my the thought made my stomach ache.
"Good afternoon, Will. Right on time."
I instinctively turned toward the voice, but to my surprise, it didn't belong to the person I was expecting.
"Hello Michael," Will greeted, eyes darting between his lawyer and me. "You remember Louisa?"
"Yes, Miss Clark," he replied, holding his hand out for me to shake. "So nice to see you again."
"Mr. Lawler," I returned the gesture, though a bit more suspiciously than I'd intended.
Will must have picked up on the change to my demeanor by just the tone of my voice. "I have a few pieces of business to settle with Michael here," he explained, finally glancing my way. "And Freddie will be heading over around three. We thought it best to meet in a more neutral setting and out of the public eye, so to speak - since Freddie's still technically employed at the firm," Will thought to clarify further. "Michael was kind enough to let us use his office."
"We'd best get to it then," Mr. Lawler exclaimed as he glanced down at his watch.
I wasn't sure why I suddenly felt so reluctant to let Will go. The reassuring smile he flashed me, only succeeded in slightly easing the knot twisting up my insides. "And you have a two-thirty appointment at the spa around the corner. Hair, nails, massage - the whole package."
His grin widened at my protest. "Now you did think I'd allow you to go and get all bored while waiting on me, did you, Clark?" I tried valiantly to hide the smirk that was threatening to break through, but it was nearly impossible to resist those gorgeous dimples. "You go and have some fun. We should both be done around four." The incredulous glare that followed elicited a small chuckle from him. "Like I said, I'll be fine."
And with that, there was nothing left for me to do but place a parting kiss to Will's lips.
As usual, Will was right, and the spa treatment was exactly what I needed to help me relax. So much so, that I'd barely inquired about his meetings during our dinner conversation and nearly fell asleep on his shoulder as we watched a film later that evening.
Bedtime prep was as awkward as I'd expected it to be, with this being my first time completing every task of Will's routine.
"You're sure about this?" he asked, just as I began undressing him.
I smiled reassuringly at him and nodded. "Of course I am. I wouldn't have offered if I wasn't." Ugh, that infuriating death glare. I could sense he was having second thoughts about this arrangement, but I wasn't about to back down after finally getting to this point. "You have to stop trying to shield me, Will. I get that life can get unpleasant at times, but that's true with any relationship. I love our life, and I love you." His small, forced smile and slight nod, was all the confirmation I needed to continue - and soon enough, he was settled in the specially adapted shower chair.
Following Nathan's directions to the letter, I kept it clinical and professional, while still being gentle, loving, and attentive. There wasn't anything in the world I wouldn't do for Will, and I made it a point to show that in every single one of my actions.
Once complete, the only thing left to do was let nature, and the medication take it's course. I thought it best to give Will some privacy. "I'll be back in a bit," I told him, only to return thirty minutes later, clad in just my tiny mint green bikini.
Will's gaze shifted toward me and his lips immediately spread into a wide grin. "One usually doesn't come dressed for a shower, Clark."
My brow knitted with mock incredulity. "Nathan and your Dad always wear their bathing suits when they shower you," I countered playfully.
"Well I should hope so," Will quipped back.
"Would you prefer I take it off?" I asked suggestively.
I could almost detect a faint tinge to Will's cheeks, though not nearly as colorful as mine had become. "Now that's entirely up to you," he replied, just as suggestively.
We fell into a comfortable rhythm during the showering process. I washed, rinsed, and meticulously checked Will's skin for any signs of breakdown as per detailed instruction. It was a remarkably intimate experience and I treasured the contact and closeness it created between us.
"Come closer," Will beckoned when I broke that contact to reach for a towel.
"After I've dried you off," I replied, holding up the cloth for emphasis. "You'll catch a chill."
"You've got that thermostat set so high it's like a sauna in here."
Rolling my eyes at his joke, I obliged until I was perched on Will's lap, my lips firmly pressed to his.
And any lingering feelings of self-consciousness or embarrassment had dissipated as quickly as the water swirling down the drain.
I shifted and smiled up at the incredibly handsome owner of that husky voice I loved so much. "Good morning to you, as well."
Our kiss lingered longer than it probably should have, but neither of us cared much.
"What time is it?" Will asked once we'd finally broke apart.
Glancing over at the clock to see we were only slightly off schedule, I let out a soft sigh of relief. "Nearly seven."
"We should probably get up."
I let out a small groan. "I was hoping to spend the better part of the morning right here in bed with you." I noticed Will's expression fall ever so slightly. "Unless you need to get home."
"Actually," he countered, rather casually, I might add. "I was hoping to spend some time the city. There are a few places I'd like to take you."
Catching the slight hopefulness in his tone made me smile. "That sounds wonderful," I concurred as I peppered his face with a few kisses, before gingerly slipping from the bed. "I'll go get your meds ready."
As I walked through the kitchen I spotted my phone sitting on the island counter. Instinct had me pressing the home button, only to find the bloody thing was dead. I set the phone to charge, then moved on to fill Will's beaker. Within seconds of being plugged in, the phone was buzzing and ringing.
"What the hell's going on, Lou?"
"Well, good morning to you too, Katrina."
"I'm serious. What is that boyfriend of yours up too now?"
I was thoroughly confused at this point and on my way to being bloody pissed. "Well at the moment, he's in bed waiting for me to bring him his morning medication."
"Not what I meant."
"Would you care to elaborate then?"
"We've been trying to get a hold of you all night - me, Mum, the Traynor's. Neither of you have cared to answer our calls or return our texts."
"I'm sorry, my battery died," I confessed meekly as I began sifting through Will's bag, only to find it was still set to do not disturb, with over forty messages and missed calls. "Why Treen, what's going on?
I could hear her heave a dramatic sigh. "Apparently we've all been invited up to London today, to join the two of you for lunch."
"And you don't find that the least bit suspicious or unnerving?"
"Jesus, Lou, the whole family! Isn't today d-day?"
"Decision day? The anniversary of Will's accident?"
The realization hit like a ton of bricks. I even found myself checking Will's phone to confirm my fears. "Oh God."
"What are his intentions at this lunch today?"
"I don't know. Honestly. This is the first I'm hearing about it."
"Well this better not be some goodbye - "
"Do you know what that would do to your nephew? He adores Will, idolizes him. He's the one man besides Dad and Granddad who has paid him any mind in all of his six years. To lose that now would - "
"God Treen, please don't."
"I swear to God, Lou, if we come up there today and your boyfriend decides he's going to off himself anyway and breaks my son's heart, I will never, ever forgive you for that."
The tears fell hard and fast even before the call disconnected. After a minute or so, I was able to compose myself enough to return to the bedroom.
"Louisa?" Will queried after one look at me standing in the doorway. His expression softened. "You've realized what day it is."
It was more statement than question and I gave a simple nod in return - only because I couldn't trust myself to respond in any other way.
"Let's get ready for the day," he suggested and I nearly burst into tears right there. Maybe Treena was right about all this? "There's one place in particular I need to go."
I tried to push all negative thoughts out of my mind as we strolled around the city - he in his very sharp gray suit and I in my infamous red dress. At times I got lost in the tales Will was regaling me with, at others I remembered the day and became sad again.
As usual, Will was unreadable - stoic, witty, charming, worldly - bloody infuriating man. But oh, how I adored him.
I was a bit caught up in my thoughts when Will stopped abruptly, causing me to nearly collide into the back of his chair. "My old flat." It took a moment for his words to register and I immediately peered up at the building in front of us. "Unit 509."
Glancing back down, I tried to gauge Will's expression - was he wistful, sad, bitter? I couldn't tell. "Are we going in?" I inquired, not sure what we were doing here in the first place.
Will let out a soft chuckle. "No. I don't own it anymore. It was the first thing I made my parents sell." I moved in closer and set my hands on his shoulders. "My Dad kept my bike though. It's in the garage back at the house. A bit ironic, don't you think?" Our eyes met and I flashed him a small, if not slightly sympathetic smile. His grinned back appreciatively, then twitched his thumb against the control of his chair. "Follow me."
We rounded the corner onto what appeared to be an average, nearly deserted side street. "It's beautiful out today," he commented offhandedly. "It was raining that day. Hard."
The realization was instantaneous and my heart plummeted into my stomach. "Will?" My plea was barely a whisper and I simply couldn't hold the tears back any longer. "Why are we really here? At your old flat? In London, on today of all days? What are we doing?"
"Saying goodbye to old ghosts, I suppose," he replied softly, though his tone remained oddly upbeat. "Come here." I complied with his request and slid into his lap, loosely wrapping my arms around his shoulders and pressing our heads together. "It's one of the reasons I came out to see Freddie in person - not just to offer him a job, but to also ease his conscience." Will smirked at my questioning gaze. "He was the person I was on the phone with when the accident occurred. He blames himself for distracting me."
There were words to adequately describe what I was feeling at that moment and I couldn't even imagine what was going through Will's mind, so I just tightened my embrace and held him. We sat there together for a few minutes before Will took one more glance at the spot where he took his last steps, then turned his chair around and smiled at me. "I'm ready to go."
It was nearly noon by the time we arrived at the restaurant. To my surprise, we were met with a sea of concerned, anxious faces. The surprise wasn't necessarily that they were concerned, or anxious, but that the group consisted of my entire immediate family, including Granddad, as well as most of Will's, along with Nathan.
"What is the meaning of all this William?" I heard Camilla shakily mutter to her son as we were escorted through the dinning hall and into the semi-private room reserved for our party.
"Lunch, Mother. Simple as that." Will's words did nothing to ease his mother's apprehension, and neither did the glass of wine she nearly downed in one gulp, even before it was completely set down in front of her.
It was only a few minutes into our server's detailed recitation of the menu, that our final guest arrived, albeit puffy eyed and jet lagged. "I'm glad to could make it."
Georgina forced a teary smile at her brother and nodded. "So am I," she replied, looping her arm around his shoulders and pecking him on the cheek. She greeted me much the same way, then took her seat.
"I'd first like to thank you all for coming on such short notice," Will began, shooting an especially pointed glance Georgina's way. "I've asked you all here today to share a delicious meal and enjoy some great conversation. So without further ado, who would like to start?"
"Oh, me. Me!," Thomas exclaimed, bouncing in his seat and waving his hand wildly.
Will let out a hearty chuckle. "Very well, Thomas. Tell us something good."
Luckily for us, depending on how you see it, of course, there's never much of lull with the chatty Clark's around. Dad and Thomas kept most of the banter going, with many of the others joining in when deemed necessary. All except Mrs. Traynor, who sat statue still and silent throughout the meal, barely touching any of the food set in front of her. I myself forced down the random morsel, never really tasting them, as delicious as they might have been - and done more for Will's benefit, than mine.
It wasn't until after the meal that Mrs. Traynor decided to speak. "Why have you gathered us all here today, Will?"
"To celebrate," he replied with a grin.
Scoffing, Camilla pressed on. "To celebrate what, William? Have you made your decision about Switzerland?"
"it's not that clear cut, Mum."
"Of course it is, Darling," she returned in earnest. "Either you've decided to end it, or you haven't." She was nearly hysterical now. "So which is it? Have you reinstated your request to Dignitas?"
I watched as Will remained expressionless. "I have."
My heart sank.
Mrs. Traynor collapsed into in her husband's arms and began sobbing. Mum and Georgie soon followed suit - Mum into Dad's waiting arms and Georgina into Nathan's. I couldn't move, or think, or even breathe. The buzzing in my ears became painful. Will looked distressed. "Please everyone, let me explain."
"No," Camilla hissed at him. "How could you do this? Now, after all this time? After everything that's happened?"
"How could you do this to Louisa?," she continued her pleading, and glanced pointedly between the two of us. "Will, she loves you so much."
"Yes, and I love her too."
"Mummy, what's going on?"
Treena turned to my nephew. "Hush a minute, Thomas."
"How could you - "
"Excuse me, Sir?"
Mrs. Traynor paused to glare at our server for the interruption. "Please give us a moment. Can't you see we're in the middle of a private family conversation?"
The poor waiter looked conflicted as he glanced from her, to the platter in his hands, then back over to Will. "Dessert, Sir?"
Will smiled up at him. "Yes please. Thank you."
The platter was set right in front of me and my first thought went straight to the knotted mess my stomach had become and how awful, not to mention embarrassing, it would be to throw up all over this glorious piece of art. It took another minute for my brain to register the glimmer that caught my eye. "Oh my. Sir?" He turned back toward me. "It's seems as though there's something on our plate."
Stepping back over to the table, he peered over my shoulder. "Ah yes, lovely ring that is."
"True, but it doesn't belong to anyone here. It must have come from the kitchen."
"No ma'am. The chef himself prepared that dish. I'm the only other person to have handled it."
I shook my head as he began walking away. "But -"
Turning toward my sister, I held up the stunning diamond for her to see. "This ring must belong to someone -"
Her laugh cut me off. "You really are a bloody daft girl, now aren't you?"
"What?" I asked, then followed her pointed glance to an absolutely beaming Will. I glanced down at the object between my fingers and gasped. "No. No, no, no, no."
"Well Clark, that's not exactly the response one looks forward to when - "
"Will?" I was sobbing now, full on sputtering and shuttering.
"Wait. Mummy, what's going on now?" An even more confused Thomas, asked.
Treena chuckled through her own set of tears. "Well, it looks as though your Auntie Lou and Will are getting married."
"Really?" Thomas squealed excitedly.
I could barely comprehend what my sister had just said as I turned back to Will. "But you just said - "
He smirked slightly and raised a brow. "That's what I was trying to explain," Will confessed, then gave his version of a shrug. "Seems dessert was a tad late coming out."
I knitted my brow in confusion. "I still don't understand how you could be asking me this when you've already reinstated - "
"I've submitted my request in the form of a living will," he began to clarify.
"Your meeting with Michael Lawler yesterday?" I asked and Will nodded.
"As bloody awful as this existence can be, I can't imagine willingly leaving you. Any of you." Will glanced around the table and smiled before moisture began to pool in his eyes and he was forced to swallow the lump that had formed in his throat. "Before you give me your answer, you must know that there are conditions." I nodded. "If my health should deteriorate to the point where I am dependent on machines, or no longer cognizant of myself or my surroundings, then you must promise to let me go. I can't live like that, Louisa. I won't - "
"I know, Will," I cut in, my hand reaching up to cup his cheek. "I promise."
He then glanced across the table. "Mum? I need you to promise me too."
Not able to do anything more, a still sobbing Mrs. Traynor nodded.
As Will blew out a small sigh of relief, the entire rest of the table rang out in a chorus of cheers.
"Oh my God, Treen," I turned to my sister and nearly squealed. "You'll be my Maid of Honor?"
"Of course," she cried in reply.
"And Nathan?" I called, then glanced at Will for permission, which he gave readily.
"We'd be honored - "
"The honor's all mine, Mate," he replied. "I got your back."
There was a moments paused as I scanned the table. "Oh Georgina."
"I don't care if I have to be your Flower Girl," she teased through her tears. "I'm just so happy for you both."
"Wait?" Thomas called out in protest. "Don't I get to be in the wedding too?"
A chorus of laughter rang out. "Of course you do," I promised him. "You get to be our Ring Bearer."
"Well, that's only the most important job of all," Mum declared, finally finding her voice.
Mum nodded. "You get to carry the rings down the aisle."
"Wow," he gasped in awe.
:But that's not all, Thomas," Will spoke next. "There's an even more important job I have for you. A job no other Ring Bearer gets to do."
"What's that, Will?"
"I need you to help me get the ring onto your Auntie Lou's finger. Do you think you can do that?"
Grinning, Will gave a small nod. "Think we should give it a practice run right now?"
"Yeah." Thomas leapt from his seat and ran over to Will.
"Okay, you're going to have to help me grasp the ring between my fingers," he instructed my nephew. "Do you remember how?"
I watched as Thomas gently pulled Will's arm back until it was settled on the armrest, then carefully re-positioned his hand, before reaching for the ring. But just as he was about to place it, he paused and his eyes went wide. "Wait, Will. Is today a good day?" he asked, in all the big-hearted innocence of his six years.
"Yes Thomas," Will grinned and gave a small nod in reply. "Today is a very, very good day."
Wearing a huge smile of his own, my nephew held the ring in place. Will's thumb trembled with exertion as he tried to close the gap between the platinum and his fingers. Once they were as close as they were going to get, Thomas clasped his fingers around Will's and held tight.
It was then my love looked me in the eye to ask, "Louisa Mary Clark, would you do me the great honor of becoming my wife?"
Beaming, I slipped my finger between those of my two favorite boys and answered, "I will."
Or is it only the beginning?
Just an quick ending note. My timeline is a mixture of both book and movie, so to understand it better, I will leave you with some key dates in case you'd like to read this story again;)
2/12/15-Lou's first day
Mid March-Will falls ill
Late March/Early April-Garden scene/shave
Late April-Lou's Birthday
Mid May-Wedding invitation/Castle scene
6/13/15(movie invitation reads Saturday July 13, 2015, but that date doesn't exist)-Wedding
Early July-Hospital scene/pneumonia
Late July/Early August-Trip to Mauritius
8/14/15-Only You begins