FRIDAY, AUGUST 2, 2019: 10:50PM
Thank goodness Paul Robinson managed to talk Karl into discharging him a week earlier. There was no way he was going to let anyone or anything, not even 4 broken ribs, come between his birthday plans for Terese. Months had been spent making sure it would all be perfect for her.
Paul had been feeling the pressure as he wanted to make up for the year before when he and Leo basically ruined her day. Although he never meant any harm, asking his son to help him ‘woo’ Terese had really hurt her. He still regretted those decisions and was grateful every day that things had ended up working out the way they had.
This year, Paul thought to propose on Terese’s birthday but he quickly decided against it as he didn’t want their engagement anniversary to forever overshadow a day that was meant just for celebrating her. They had, however, managed to get engaged before her birthday even turned up … but that’s another story. The businessman then considered splashing his cash on an extravagant party with the whole suburb invited, but he knew that despite her love for planning big celebrations, Terese despised them when she was the guest of honour.
No, it had to be thoughtful, intimate … and a bit lavish too.
Paul smiled to himself as he envisioned tomorrow’s schedule in his mind. He had planned time for the two of them, but also made sure the matriarch had time with Harlow, Ned and Roxy … well, if Roxy decided to show up. Excitement bubbled in his heart at the thought of months of planning finally coming to fruition. He couldn’t wait to give his soon-to-be-wife a birthday to cherish, for all the right reasons.
Paul’s reverie was interrupted as Terese entered the room, clicking the door shut behind her.
“Hey” Terese said softly, surprised to see her fiancé sitting awake in bed with the bedside lights still on. “You didn’t have to wait up for me. You need to be resting”, she said in a tone that was soothing, concerned and authoritative all at once.
“I’ve done enough of that these past few days” Paul replied. “If anyone needs to rest, it’s you. You’ve been going between the hospital, work and home, non-stop this past week … Managing Harlow and Roxy and everything in between”.
She smiled at him, appreciating the thought, before disappearing into the bathroom.
Meanwhile, Paul decided to turn the TV on as he waited for Terese to join him in bed.
“Babe, what are you doing?” Terese called out as she heard the sound of the late-night programming.
“Umm, watching television” Paul responded. A hint of defiance and sass within his tone.
Terese rolled her eyes, “You’re meant to be resting. You can guarantee I’m not letting you go to the Tram opening on Monday if you don’t follow the doctor's orders!”
“I am resting darling … or would you rather me pull out some work documents. I can make a start on next month’s figures—”
“You know what I mean …”
FRIDAY, AUGUST 2, 2019: 11:20PM
Paul admired his fiancé fondly as she emerged from the bathroom, face free of makeup and wearing a plain black nightgown.
“What?” Terese asked, curiously.
“Just … you’re so beautiful” he said lovingly.
She paused for a while and smiled coyly, before remarking back, “don’t think you can talk your way out of this, mister!”
“I mean it though.”
“And I mean it too”, the brunette beauty teased as she sat down on her side of the bed and snatched the remote out of his hands.
“Is this what it’s going to be like when we’re married? You bossing me around every day!” he said playfully.
“But you love it when I’m in charge”.
“Mmm I love you”.
“I love you too”.
They shared a gentle kiss. She lightly brushed her hand over the bruises on his face.
Terese’s tone quickly became serious as intensity filled the air around them. “I don’t know what I would have done if I’d lost you. When Roxy called me, I was so scared that this was the end—”
“Oh darling … slow down … I’m still here and I always will be”, Paul replied reassuringly before pulling her into his chest as he usually did, without a second thought. They quickly realised it wasn’t the smartest idea.
“Sorry my love”, Terese said as Paul winced. She quickly lifted her head off his torso, any pressure on his broken bones was an intense discomfort at this stage.
“Oooh … I’m okay”, he grunted.
“Aw, come here”. Terese pulled him into her arms so that his head rested on her shoulder, “Much better”.
Her hand reached under Paul’s shirt and lightly massaged his tender side in soothing circles; the coldness of her engagement ring tickling his skin.
Paul nuzzled his nose into Terese's neck as they both smiled contently. Bliss.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 3, 2019: 7:00AM
The sound of birds chirping rung in the new morning.
Paul awoke in his lover’s arms where he had dozed off. Disentangling himself from her grip, he moved up so he was eye level and gently tucked away a piece of hair that was shading her face, careful not to wake her.
Terese looked so peaceful and he hoped she was dreaming of something lovely.
Paul pulled up the blankets and planted an affectionate kiss on her forehead.
Although he could have stayed next to her contently for hours, Paul knew there was another matter he needed to attend to before Terese woke up …
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART TWO
If you got up to here, thank you so much for reading! I appreciate it lots :)
Chapter 2: PART TWO
Paul's plans for Terese's Birthday begin ...
Thank you for the lovely messages regarding the first Chapter, I'm glad you're enjoying it so far :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
SATURDAY, AUGUST 3, 2019: 7:55AM
Terese woke to the sound of crashing and clanging! Alarmed that Paul wasn’t beside her, she immediately got out of bed.
“Paul?! Paul, are you okay?” Terese called out worriedly as she raced down the stairs.
“Yes, I’m fine, I’m fine. I was just reaching for something at the back of the cupboard and everything came toppling down … it all missed me though just-”
“Wait, what are you doing down here anyway?!” Terese interrupted, confused but more concerned. “You only just got home from hospital yesterday, and only because you kept pressing Karl! You should have woken me if you wanted something. You need to be-”
“-Resting … I know, I know. I’m so sorry for waking you, I-”
“You still haven’t answered my question”, she said, meeting his gaze sternly.
Paul relented, “It was meant to be a surprise”.
“A surprise breakfast in bed for your birthday. You didn’t think I’d forget, did you?” he smiled lovingly.
Terese let out a sigh. One that read as a mix of “don’t worry me like this” and “that’s the sweetest … I guess you’re forgiven”.
With everything going on in their lives lately, Terese had even forgotten the day herself. It would have been so easy and understandable if Paul had completely overlooked it too. But he hadn’t. Even though she was never particularly keen on celebrating, it brought her heart a lot of joy.
“Aww, sweetie!”. Terese was lost for words, “I … I love you, you know that?”.
“And I love you too …. But what I don’t love is this surprise being ruined”, Paul replied as he ushered her towards the stairs.
“Just promise me you won’t over-exert yourself”.
“I won’t, I won’t … Now you, my darling, just go back to sleep”.
“Wait, one more thing”, Terese said as she turned around to give Paul a quick kiss. They both smiled.
“I’ll see you soon” he whispered, before she ascended the stairs and Paul returned to the kitchen which was not the tidiest it had ever been! It was even messier than when Roxy cooked … not that Paul would ever admit that.
He quickly picked up what had fallen on the floor and proceeded to the workbench. Paul was no culinary expert, but making this recipe shouldn’t be too hard … or so he thought!
SATURDAY, AUGUST 3, 2019: 9:10AM
“They make it look so easy in the movies”, Paul thought to himself as he finally succeeded in making a stack of fluffy berry-infused pancakes, after the third attempt.
The less-than-amateur chef also ended up preparing Terese’s signature breakfast: a golden croissant with avocado, tomato, cheese and cracked pepper … in case she preferred a savoury option … And just in case, the pancakes tasted like a stale brick.
Paul entered their room quietly, not wanting to wake his fiancée. Terese, who had never actually fallen back asleep, was very pleased to see him. She greeted him with kisses, which Paul enthusiastically reciprocated.
“Good morning, my Queen”, Paul managed to say in between.
“Mmm, it’s a good morning indeed”.
“Happy Birthday”, Paul said, as he placed the breakfast tray over her.
Terese marvelled at the contents before her … a stack of fluffy pancakes, adorned with various berries, whipped cream, maple syrup and little edible flowers; her favourite croissant; a side of scrambled eggs; a glass of orange juice; a vase of gorgeous daisies and last but not least, a plate of fresh strawberries accompanied with melted dark chocolate.
“Gosh! This looks divine. Since when did you become Curtis Stone?” She joked, pulling him in for another kiss as he smiled contently.
“Only the best, for the best”.
Terese insisted Paul share the variety and they sat in bed splitting up all the food and feeding each other. They were literally the cliché of a hallmark movie and he could picture them being like this for the rest of their lives.
“You know …”, Terese said, mid-devouring a chocolate-covered strawberry, “… This is the first and only time I’m celebrating my birthday with you as my boyfriend!”, she continued cheekily.
Paul quickly caught on, “Ah, because next year I’ll be your husband”. They both grinned.
Breakfast in bed, however, was only the first of the surprises Paul had planned. And once the loved-up couple had finished devouring all of Paul’s culinary efforts, he knew it was time to give her his first present.
“So, are you ready for your first present?”, Paul asked enthusiastically.
“Presents? I thought this was the present”, Terese said, gesturing at the now-empty breakfast tray.
“Not quite …” he smirked. “Close your eyes”.
Terese’s smile widened as Paul reached into the bedside drawer, taking out a rectangular package wrapped in red paper and fastened with a golden ribbon.
“You really spoil me …” Terese said, as Paul placed the present in her hands.
Terese inspected the gift before her as Paul smiled gleefully. Uneven folds and chunky pieces of sticky tape going in all different directions … yep, the present had clearly not been wrapped by a sophisticated gift-wrapper but Terese found it even more endearing as she knew Paul had made his best effort.
After what seemed like hours (to Paul), Terese finally tore open the red wrapping paper and gasped at what was before her.
A sparkly, silver, diamond-encrusted photo frame.
“Wow! That is—” Terese marvelled, not finishing her sentence.
“Do you like it?” Paul finally asked.
“Like it? I- I love it. It’s beautiful”, she said in awe as Paul smiled happily.
The frame was absolutely exquisite, but what drew Terese’s attention even more was the photo that was framed inside …
Her chin was resting on Paul’s shoulder as her arm embraced him from behind. It was a close-up selfie, so there wasn’t really an identifiable background, but Terese remembered the when, where and how of this photo so vividly.
It was taken in early 2016, when Paul was living at her house. That space of time where they both knew there was something more to their connection than just friendship, but they were both too scared to act on it. When Paul had achieved his first sales target for his newly-established Robinsons motel, he was ecstatic. He offered to shout Terese a lunch to thank her for putting him up with a place to live amongst other things, as without her, he couldn’t have started rebuilding his empire. Whilst Terese was never one to shy away from taking digs at his ‘boutique motel’, she was genuinely happy for him. They both agreed it was a celebration lunch … a casual outing … a de-stressing interlude from work … anything but a date, because they were just friends, of course. It was that breezy autumn day, after lunch at the Rockpool, when they were strolling alongside the South Bank of the Yarra River that this photo had been taken. A couple of weeks later, Terese discovered she had accidentally printed out this photo amongst the ones of her Granddaughter Matilda. She had decided to slip it in an envelope alongside a ‘congratulations’ card, for him to keep as a memento.
That photo had since been deleted off her phone, this was the last and only copy …
“Wait, you kept this photo … after all this time?” a curious Terese asked, as she pieced together her realisation.
“Of course”, Paul replied gently, “I never stopped loving you, darling. I never will”.
The thought of Paul keeping the photo after all these years, loving her through everything was overwhelmingly heart-warming. Tears started welling in Terese’s eyes, she wanted to say “Thank you, this is such an incredibly thoughtful present. I love it and I love you so much … I always will”, but as she looked him in the eye, the words she was planning to say just evaporated. Paul had this way of giving her butterflies ... lots of them.
However, Paul also knew how to read her and knew exactly what she was thinking. He held her hands in his, “I mean it … and I love you too”.
Sincerity and love filled his eyes, a mirror image of Terese’s.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 3, 2019: 5:30PM
When Paul had said they were going into Southbank, Terese had expected a fancy lunch at a fine dining restaurant. Instead, however, Paul had a five-star chef make up a picnic hamper for them, as well as Harlow and Ned, to take down to the Yarra riverside.
Harlow had also made a decadent hazelnut and caramel cake for her; Terese had been seriously impressed by her patisserie skills. She even received a birthday text from Roxy, with heart emojis, which Terese accepted as progress in their recently-strained relationship.
It had been a perfect afternoon.
So much so, when the time had come to make a wish upon the birthday candles, Terese found herself puzzled as to what she should wish for. She was surrounded by a beautiful location, lovely company and a fiancée who loved her endlessly, holding her hand by her side … Terese truly felt content. Ultimately, she didn’t wish for anything for herself, but for Piper, Imogen and Josh, that even though they were apart, they would all know how much she loved them.
As Paul had announced that he was going home to prepare the final phase of his surprise, Terese was left in the company of Ned and Harlow who made sure to further spoil her! They wandered around Southbank and Ned had bought tickets for the three of them to go on the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. As the evening drew near, Terese strolled along the pier, accompanied by Ned on her left and Harlow on her right, linked at the arm.
“Thank you both so much for spending the day with me and for making it so lovely”
“Always our pleasure” Ned replied.
“Annnd your special day isn’t over yet!” Harlow said, with a grin on her face. “It’s exactly 5:30, which means, Ned, it’s time for you to be the chauffeur!”
“Wait, where are we going!?” Terese asked as Harlow pulled her by the hand in the opposite direction.
“Grandad would hold a serious grudge if we ruined the surprise!” Harlow answered.
“And I don’t want to be in Paul Robinson’s bad books!” Ned joked as he tagged behind them.
Where do you think Ned and Harlow are bringing Terese? What else has Paul got planned?
Only one more chapter to go!
Fun fact: I had initially written the present as a bangle with an engraving inside. But ALittleWren's fic 'Worthy of Love Anyway' (which I definitely recommend reading if you haven't already, it is perfection!) ... reminded me of the photo in Paul's drawer in Episode 7423. I thought that would make a more personal present! I always loved how Paul kept a photo of them (and Terese too), but I always wondered what the context for that photo was ... so it was fun to create one!
Again, thank you so much for reading up to here! I really appreciate it :)
Chapter 3: PART THREE
Out of all the girls
You’re my one and only girl
Ain't nobody in the world tonight
All of the stars, you make them shine like they were ours
Ain't nobody in the world but you and I
You and I
(Lyrics from 'You & I' by John Legend)
Here it is, the final chapter! Thank you for all the love on this fic :)
I know some of you have been really curious about and looking forward to Paul’s final birthday surprise for Terese … I hope this chapter isn’t a letdown!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
SATURDAY, AUGUST 3, 2019: 6:30PM
The peak hour traffic took the trio longer than anticipated to arrive at the final destination.
But alas, the car slowed to a still.
Terese stepped out into … the driveway of No. 22, Ramsay Street.
She had suspected they were making their way home towards the end of the route, when Ned had taken a very distinct shortcut through Eden Hills.
“Here we are!” Harlow said enthusiastically.
“Home sweet home”, Ned chimed in.
Terese was both surprised and slightly confused that this was the final destination. Not a disappointed-confused, but a curious-confused.
“Ah, Grandad just texted – everything’s good to go!”
“So, I guess this is our cue to get going”
“Wait, where are you two going to be?”
“I’m staying the night at Yashvi’s”, Harlow replied.
“And I’ve got the night shift. So don’t worry about us”.
“Have fun!” Harlow beamed as she and Ned proceeded down the driveway towards the Rebecchi house. Terese noticed them give each other a proud high five.
Terese was just about to make her way to the front door when she spotted a rose on the floor. At first glance, she figured it had been dropped without notice, but when she observed it a bit longer it seemed too specifically placed, right at the corner of the garage as if it was alluring her to take the side path to the backyard. Paul.
As she approached closer, her suspicions were confirmed. Not too far in front of the rose was a DVD case placed on one of the pathway tiles – 10 Things I Hate About You – Terese smiled to herself, it was one of her all-time favourites. Once she had scooped up the flower and DVD, she noticed another DVD … and another … and another … one placed on every tile. She excitedly went to pick them up – The Devil Wears Prada, Pride and Prejudice, Just Go With It, Titanic, Hidden Figures, The Notebook – all of her favourites, from classics to comedies and ones from more recent years!
Once she turned the corner to the backyard, she stopped in her tracks. In front of her was Paul, surrounded by an intimate but perfectly romantic set up. A plethora of twinkly lights and a myriad of candles provided warm, ambient lighting on this Winter night.
“Welcome Home”, Paul said.
“What's this?” Terese asked enthusiastically.
“Just a little something”, he replied modestly.
Terese had an ecstatic smile across her face as she continued to take in the decorated backyard. There was a DIY projection screen, made from a white sheet, that was fastened onto the roof of the patio and in front of it, a blanket set up on the grass with matching pillows.
The mingling of Paul’s cologne and luscious candles scented the air, along with the scent of … buttery cinema popcorn?! This was coming from the miniature popcorn machine on the blanket, next to the basket of all her favourite snacks. The cutest.
“Aww! It’s a backyard cinema!” Terese gushed, as she pieced together what was before her, “… And you got all of my favourite movies!”
Paul’s face lit up at her excitement.
“It’s … beautiful” she said sincerely, as she crossed to the blanket to place down the pile of movies she was carrying. She loved the prospect of having a moonlit marathon of all her favourite movies, with her favourite person.
“You are beautiful”.
Terese blushed and tilted her head slightly to the side, as she did whenever something touched her heart, but she didn’t know what to say.
Paul extended his hand and twirled Terese around before wrapping his other arm around her waist. “May I have this dance?”
“I’d love to” Terese said with a grin. She curved her arms behind her fiancée’s neck, but not before lovingly fixing up the collar of his pale blue shirt. She was really touched by the fact that he was wearing the shirt that was her favourite. It really is the little things.
“Are you surprised that I’ve brought you back here?” Paul asked as they began shuffling around.
“I was at first, but now that I think about it … it makes perfect sense”
“We’ve certainly had a lot of milestones and great memories here.”
There was a moment of silence as Terese sorted her thoughts.
“You know, I was about to say it’s our home … but then I realised, my home is you.”
An intense yet comfortable silence fell over them. It was one of those moments where neither of them wanted or needed anything more but just to gaze deeply and ardently into each other’s eyes … there could’ve been flying horses, a helicopter landing or total chaos around them and neither of them would’ve noticed. It was one of those moments where Terese felt they were the only two humans in the world and the concept of time was eradicated. It was those moments where Terese knew Paul Robinson was ‘the one’.
“So how was the rest of your afternoon” Paul asked, some moments later.
“Really nice! Ned’s always at work lately so it was great to have some quality time. And with Harlow too. We actually went on the Star! It was so funny though, there was …”
Terese continued to talk about her afternoon, going on several tangents. She often did this, when she was blissfully cheerful. Like usual, Paul didn’t mind and listened contently to her ramblings.
“I’m glad you all had a good time” he said earnestly, once she had reached a full stop.
It was surreal to think they weren’t together just a year ago. Things were so comfortable between them that it felt like they had been together for years and years.
“I missed you though” Terese said as she cupped his cheek in her hand and leaned in to his lips, “—Have you taken your medication?” She asked, abruptly interrupting their kiss.
Paul chuckled in amusement, “I spend hours setting up this romantic setting and that’s what you’re thinking about when we kiss?”
“Well, you’ve spent all day fussing over me, I just wanted to make sure you haven’t forgotten!”
“Don’t worry, I haven’t” he said, before their lips collided in the space between. Terese could feel Paul smiling through the kiss, just like she was.
Under the moonlight in their backyard, the couple continued to slow dance. At times their foreheads nuzzled against each other’s. Other times, Terese’s head rested on Paul’s shoulder while he snuggled his into her neck. Terese knew that was his favourite spot.
All the while, they smiled contently and revelled in the closeness and presence of each other, while a playlist of Terese’s favourite songs played softly in the background through a purple Bluetooth speaker Paul had borrowed from Harlow.
You & I by John Legend was the song that stood out to Terese …
And this evening I, won't let the feeling die
I never wanna leave your side
Out of all the girls
You’re my one and only girl
Ain't nobody in the world tonight
All of the stars, you make them shine like they were ours
Ain't nobody in the world but you and I
You and I
Later that evening, after they had finished dancing and eating dinner, Paul and Terese were relaxed on the blanket in front of the projection screen. Terese had Paul’s blazer draped over her shoulders and held a cup of that delicious buttery popcorn.
“So … around this time last year, I wanted to do something thoughtful, but I didn’t put in the effort I should have to make it all perfect for you. It's one of the things I regret most. So, this year, I wanted to do something thoughtful but I thought I would actually do it all myself”, Paul said nervously.
“You know I don’t hold it against you” Terese said calmly. “And the present you gave me this morning already means so much to me …”
“I know. But I wanted to. And I’m not in any way trying to replace that beautiful Josh video that Leo put together, as I know how important it is to you. But I just want you to know how important you are to me”.
The smile on Terese’s face widened and Paul couldn’t help but return it.
“So, which are we going to watch first”, Terese asked herself as she began sorting through the DVDs and lining them up methodically.
Paul watched on fondly. The way she always lined things up in order, whether that was her makeup, the cooking ingredients or these DVDs, was one of the habits that made Terese, so perfectly Terese.
“Actually … I was thinking we could watch this one first” Paul said a few moments later, as he pulled out a disk in a clear case from under a pillow.
Terese recognised Paul’s handwriting on the disk, ‘10 Things I Love About Terese Willis’.
She did that thing again, the one when her heart felt so full that she didn’t know what to say, tilting her head slightly to side as her eyes gleamed.
“What do you reckon?” Paul asked softly.
Terese shoved the lined-up DVDs to the side, “I think, Miranda Priestly will have to wait!”
With that, Paul placed the disk in the DVD player, before returning to the blanket to join Terese, whose eyes were fixed on the projection screen with anticipation. He took out a remote, from underneath a cushion yet again, pressing the play button.
He pressed the button again.
“Um … hold on, just give it a minute”.
As the screen remained blank, Paul went back to the projector, fiddling with the cords and cables, frantically switching buttons on and off.
“Why isn’t it working … it was working before … the manual said …” he mumbled to himself.
Meanwhile, Terese couldn’t help but giggle a bit as she watched on with adoration. This was her soon-to-be husband … slightly hopeless with technology and gift wrapping ... but the love of her life. Terese knew Paul had wanted to make this day perfect for her and she could see he was getting more and more agitated by the minute, as the computer stubbornly refused to sync up with the projector.
“I’m not sure why it isn’t working now, I made sure it was all connected correctly—” Paul said after fifteen minutes.
“Sweetie—” Terese said, but Paul was too focused.
“Maybe I should call—”
“Sweetie, sweetie … it’s okay” Terese said, finally managing to grab his attention as she extended out her hand towards him.
Paul let out a defeated sigh and took her hand in his, “It’s not really though, is it? When I want to do something thoughtful, on today of all days, I can’t even get it right”.
Terese smiled at him, “Thank you”.
“What for?” Paul asked discouraged, he didn’t feel like he deserved this appreciation.
Terese looked at him lovingly, “I know you wanted this day to be perfect for me. But it has been”
Paul tilted his head curiously.
“All the effort you’ve gone to … the thoughtful photo, making sure I had time to spend with everyone and just- just caring so much is all I could’ve asked for … and more”.
Terese noticed the anguish on Paul’s face begin to fade.
She continued, “You ... your hopelessness with technology and shabby present wrapping included”
Paul was about to interrupt on that point but stopped himself when he realised it was indeed true …
“It’s you. You being here, with me, is perfect. I wouldn’t want to change a thing. And after today, I’m even more excited to marry you. This is our life. Our future together and it’s so perfectly … imperfectly perfect”
At that, Terese realised the disappointment on Paul’s face had vanished completely. His smile made her smile.
“I’m pretty sure you’re the one meant to be receiving the appreciation speeches on your birthday”, Paul replied. “It’s just a shame you won’t get to watch the one—”
Terese spotted the laptop. “Well, why don’t we just watch it on the laptop? That seems to be working” she suggested optimistically.
“I don’t know, it wouldn’t be—”
Terese raised her eyebrows at him, reminding Paul of what she had just said.
“—But … if you’re happy with it, then I am too”.
They both smiled as he brought over the laptop.
Navigating Paul’s sore ribs, they eventually found a comfortable cuddling position beneath the stars.
“Alright, take two” Paul said excitedly, as Terese pressed play on the laptop.
Paul popped up on the laptop screen, “My darling Terese … Happy Birthday. I love you so much. I’m so honoured I get to celebrate your birthday with you today”
“I love you too” Terese whispered as she planted a kiss on the corner of his lips.
“I know 10 Things I Hate About You is one of your favourite movies of all times … even though you always fall asleep before it finishes!”
“Hey!” Terese said, feigning offence. They both laughed.
“I feel so, so lucky that I get to wake up next to you every day and I want to let you know not only how amazing I think you are, but also how amazing you are. So … here are 10 things, well more than 10 things, that some of your dearest ones from afar, LOVE about you”.
“Oh my goodness!” Terese said astonished and grateful. She hugged Paul a little bit tighter, but not too tight that it aggravated his sore ribs. He planted a soft but lingering kiss on her hairline.
One by one, Piper; Imogen and Daniel; Paige, Gabe and Jack; her granddaughter Matilda; and even Terese’s brother Nick appeared on the screen sharing their birthday messages for Terese and all things they loved and admired about her. She laughed, teared up and smiled at the different comments. I can’t believe Paul got all of these people together.
Paul had spent months collecting these, Nick was by far the toughest to reach out to. Though he wasn’t planning on forgiving or forgetting any time soon, Paul knew how much Terese’s brother meant to her and had momentarily set aside his personal feelings.
Seeing Terese light up as each one appeared on screen reconfirmed it was worth all the effort and warmed his heart completely.
Twenty minutes had passed, until Paul reappeared on the screen.
“Now it’s my turn! There are so many things I love about you …”
With that, the screen turned black.
Terese faced Paul. She knew he would be upset about the video blacking out, but she was ready to compliment him on its many good qualities and reassure him that he had done an amazing job! It had been such an incredible, considerate, thoughtful present. Along with the photo this morning, it was one of the best presents she had ever received.
However, Paul surprised her yet again.
“This time, it isn’t actually a technical interruption”, he said as a cheeky smile formed across his face.
“I wanted to say mine to you in person”.
At that, Terese lit up (somehow, even more) and her eyes glistened greater than the stars in the sky. This birthday just keeps getting more and more perfect.
However, amongst all of Terese’s feelings of adoration, love and gratitude … She also felt slightly concerned …
How on earth am I meant to out-do this for his birthday?!
Fun fact: I actually had a few alternate ideas for the final surprise / Chapter 3 of this fic!
In one of them, Paul found the business plan for the Willis-Robinson Reception Centre that the two of them were planning on starting up in the late 2016/early 2017 episodes! So, Paul had got council permission, bought some land, had everything ready to go … and would give her a diorama of the building! But I felt like Terese wouldn’t have reacted too well to being ‘surprised’ with a whole new business. I also wanted this story to fit in the canon universe of Neighbours, so having this Wedding Reception Centre wouldn’t have worked.
The video idea also seemed the most thoughtful out of the ones I had written, which is what I really wanted Paul to do :)
Anyways … Ahhhh! This fic is officially finished, I’m pretty proud of myself as I’ve never written one this long and usually when I start writing fics, I never finish them haha!
Thank you so much for all the amazing support on this fic, I truly appreciate it so much!
I hope you enjoyed it :)