Erika had never really been into celebrating birthdays, but this was definitely an exception. And besides, she needed to pay Collin back for blowing that party favor right into her ear on her birthday. So she received one of them from Jessica and made sure to blow it loudly. Although she did give Collin a bit more courtesy by not standing directly by his ear when she did.
Unfortunately for Collin, his mother didn't have the same courtesy. Perhaps she detected Erika's desire to blow it right into Collin's ear, but her self-restraint and decided to act on it. And maybe that was true, since legends did say that vampires could read minds. At least Jessica's enthusiasm for the party horn meant that Erika didn't have to blow it anymore.
Erika expected it would be just the three of them at Collin's birthday, when they were suddenly joined by a young boy. Erika initially was confused about who he was, since he didn't look anything like Collin or Jessica, until she noticed the same sheen to his black hair.
"That's my half-brother, Franklin," Collin commented absently, noticing Erika's momentary confusion. So, it seemed she wasn't the only one with half-siblings. This made Erika feel a bit better about her own family. Perhaps her family hadn't been perfect as she would have liked, but at least it hadn't been abnormal. Although that didn't really matter since her future family would be perfect.
"All right, dear. We're cheering for you. You can stop basking in the glory and blow out your candles," Jessica commented with a smirk as Collin continued to stand by the cake. Collin started and then blushed at having been caught enjoying the cheers.
"I wasn't basking in glory! I was just... trying to decide what I wanted to wish for. But I know now," Collin retorted, lowering his head and blowing at the candles. In truth he'd already known what he wanted to wish for. But it was embarrassing so he couldn't say it out loud and he couldn't spend too much time thinking about it or his mom would tease him about it.
Collin stepped back when the candles went out and waited for the change to adulthood to hit him. He hoped that however he looked when he became an adult, Erika would be impressed. He didn't let his insecurities show, though. Instead, striking a confident pose as the change finished.
As Collin finished his age transition, the full moon began to rise. Jessica, meanwhile, regarded her son and then looked over at Erika. Yes, Erika was a fine heir. She'd been worried since her oldest child was such a goody-two-shoes, but perhaps now her legacy was safe. All she needed to do was convince her son to turn Erika and then she'd finally have the strength to take back control of the city's vampires from the Hemlock family...
But she didn't say any of that out loud. She was a very old vampire and had been laying these plans for quite a while. Sure, she'd had a set-back with Collin, but her patience was starting to pay off. In the meantime she could be patient for a little while longer. In the meantime, she was going to enjoy some cake.
Erika had been trying to come up with some excuse to pass on the cake, but when she saw Jessica eating it she decided that she could eat it too. It would just take a trip to the gym to work it off anyway.
Franklin and Collin held no such reservations and immediately dove into the cake. Obviously, just because they were vampires didn't mean they couldn't enjoy indulgences like this, even if they didn't really need to eat.
When everyone finished, Jessica shooed Franklin off to his room to do his homework and get to bed while she cleaned up. This left Erika and Collin free, which might have been Jessica's intent. Either way, Erika looked at Collin expectantly, waiting for him to take this moment to pop the question.
But Collin didn't immediately say anything. In fact, he didn't seem to notice Erika staring at him at all. Maybe he needed a little bit of encouragement. It was his birthday, so perhaps he was waiting for Erika to make the first move. That was fine with her.
"You look amazing. I love how long your hair has gotten," Erika commented, coming up next to Collin and leaving him very little personal space.
"Really? I know you like longer hair, but I was a little worried that maybe I let it grow too long..." Collin admitted, blushing.
"Not at all. It's perfect," Erika assured with a smile.
"Thanks," Collin murmured in response, looking sheepish.
"Don't be so modest, you're very handsome," Erika assured. Of course he was, she knew he'd be. Even as a child she'd been able to predict that he'd grow up perfectly, and he had. There was no need for modesty. But she supposed that innocence was something she liked about him. Although she could see where it had frustrated his mother.
"I'm just glad that I can measure up to you," Collin commented. Erika beamed at that. She did so love it when Collin complimented her.
But there, now the necessary comments were out of the way... so now Collin would propose to her, right? She gazed expectantly at him once again, mentally trying to project what she was waiting for.
But still, Erika was troubled. What was she missing? What did she need to do that would signal to Collin that now was the right time to propose? Then it hit her. Of course! It was bad manners to receive a gift before the person celebrating the birthday. That's all she needed to do. And she had gotten Collin a gift, she'd just forgotten about it in her excitement. It was a good thing she remembered before she disappointed him.
"I got you something for your birthday," Erika announced with a smile, producing the package from her bag.
"Wow! Thank you, Erika!" Collin exclaimed, grinning as he took the gift from her.
If he were honest, he hadn't really expected Erika to get him a gift. Just having her come for his birthday was enough. And she tended to be a little self-centered and didn't seem prone to giving gifts. Obviously that had been a mistaken assumption on his part, and he was a bit embarrassed about that. When he opened the gift he found a book of sheet music and grinned. "Wow! Thank you!" he exclaimed again, shocked by the very personal gift.
"I love listening to your music," Erika assured with a smile. Excellent, her gift had been perfect as planned. And now would be the moment that Collin would take to propose...
Except... he didn't. He just stood there admiring the book while Erika waited, and waited. What was the matter now? "Um... isn't there something else you'd like to say right now...?" she prompted, waiting eagerly for what she was sure was coming next.
"Hm? Uh... I'm afraid I can't play this yet, if that's what you mean. I'd like to practice it first," Collin replied, unable to bear making a mistake in front of Erika. He didn't think it would go over well, and didn't want her to be disappointed with his skill. "But I'll make sure to practice it and I'll play it for you by this weekend," he assured. It shouldn't take him that long to master something like this.
"...That's not what I meant," Erika mumbled, feeling heavy disappointment crush down on her. Could it be that he didn't intend to propose to her? Had she done something to make him lose interest in her? Were all of her plans for the future worth nothing?
Collin immediately panicked when Erika's face fell. What had he done? Had he said something wrong? Was she disappointed? What had he done?!
"Erika... what's wrong?" Collin asked, trying to sound gentle and not as panicky as he felt.
"I thought... I was expecting that you'd take this opportunity to..." Erika began, only to trail off.
"To...?" Collin prompted. He could just read Erika's mind, but he'd always felt like he should never use that particular power, especially not on someone he really cared about.
"To propose," she confessed, her voice barely above a whisper.
"Propose?!" Collin exclaimed, now seriously blushing. Although his shock was the wrong thing to do, as Erika looked even more miserable now. "Erika... I... I want to propose to you. I mean... I might have totally used my mom to help me get a ring. I just thought you'd want something more romantic. Like maybe I was going to ask you to dinner some time this week and then I'd propose to you over candlelight," Collin admitted with a wry smile. So much for those plans.
"Really? You were going to propose to me?" Erika asked, relaxing a bit. Although she was still upset that her carefully laid plans for tonight had fallen through.
"Of course. I do want to spend the rest of my life with you, Erika. I couldn't imagine spending it with anyone else," Collin assured, pulling Erika close to him.
"Then propose to me now," Erika prompted, although Collin had to admit it sounded a bit like a demand.
"I think I already sort of did," Collin pointed out. But Erika wasn't budging and Collin suppose that she wanted him to do the whole proposal thing anyway. Not that he really minded. "All right, wait just a minute," he replied, and couldn't help but be happy to see Erika looking happy again.
He returned in a minute with a box in his hand. He felt a little silly as he knelt down in front of Erika, but he could see the anticipation in her eyes and didn't want to disappoint her. "Erika, will you marry me?" he asked, opening the box to show her the ring.
"Oh, Collin! It's beautiful! Of course I'll marry you," Erika replied, ecstatic. She watched as he slipped the ring onto her finger and smiled. So there had been a little bit of a hiccup to her plans, but in the end she was getting everything she wanted. She couldn't be happier.
"So... shall we celebrate our new engagement tonight?" Erika prompted, gazing coyly at Collin as he stood up. Collin chuckled slightly and shook his head.
"I share a bedroom with my brother," was all he needed to say for Erika to understand.
"Oh, all right. I suppose that would be a little inappropriate. Tomorrow then. We can start making plans for the wedding. And I have some place I want to show you," Erika replied with a smile.
"Some place to show me?" Collin prompted, intrigued.
"Tomorrow," Erika replied, sealing his mouth with a kiss before he could ask anymore questions and potentially ruin the surprise.
Erika really didn't want to leave that night. And it was clear Collin didn't want her to leave either. But they'd just have to wait. They'd be spending the night together soon enough, and then they'd never have to part. Everything was working out just as Erika wanted so far, and she was quite confident it would continue to. She knew she'd get everything she could possibly want.
Sorry this chapter took so long. I've had the pictures for a while, it was just hard to get the motivation to write the chapter itself. I was almost tempted to leave it without the engagement... but I decided to go for it anyway. Although in my actual play file it was Erika who proposed to Collin. (Had to make sure Collin inherited the Gaul name, not the other way around). But I doubt that Erika would be happy with anything but a traditional proposal and marriage. Now if only I could work up the motivation to give her the traditional marriage she wants and not cop out...