After all of that heaviness, I was looking forward to the next time I got to see Owen. I waited a week and a half before making the 5 hour drive once again. I met up with my best friends. We head to get the best shaved ice margaritas while the men are at work. Owen took the whold day off and works to make sure that each couple has their hotel room, and to ensure us girls have a room to get ready in. He’s “The Voice of the Thunder” so he has to head to rehearsal before the rest of us even need to be ready. He’s extra bummed because the other boys got delayed at work-he takes two shots with me and Barbie. He seems a little grumpy but he surprises me with a beautiful arrangement of peonies in our room.
HLM, Barbie, and I are lucky enough that BadAss Hairstylist flew done to help us with our hair and makeup. She’s been one of our best friends for years and has all of the being-a-girl talent that we lack. I recently died my hair white-blonde and picked out a sleek ice blue gown with a sharp racerback in the front and back too. She develops this wavy tucked braid and beautiful big eyelashes and I look like Elsa from Frozen and Khaleesi from Game of Thrones. I feel elegant and stylish and uniquely beautiful. Barbie and I walk down the hall to pick up Owen and Ken and their room is filled with 8 guys getting ready in their dress blues. Owen is sitting down putting his shoes on, catches a glimpse of me, and his mouth drops into a big O before grinning.
I love being on his arm. I love dressing up. We float downstairs and join the crowds. Owen is charming and funny and I can tel that everyone loves him. They’re eager to say hi and introduce their dates and he’s excited to introduce me. We make our way down to the ballroom and get in the receiving line. Owen is nervous when we are about to shake all of the fancy leaders’ hands and their wives/partners. He tells me that it’s polite to saya quick greeting but move on quickly. I start to do that, but the one head guy apologizes for having to steal my date away for the ceremony but I make a joke about not expecting anything less. Then he tells me that because of the inconvenience to me that “Lt Pedersen is ordered to dance any dance you want” and we go back and forth naming different ones- waltz, two step, break dance, etc. He’s very friendly and I am sure to compliment his wife’s gown and we discuss that for a minute. I chat with each successive couple for quite a few minutes and by the time we’re done, there is no other soldier and date in front of us. Whoops! Did I talk too long? Will he be upset? Instead, I catch Owen staring at me and grinning. We find our assigned seats and he looks at me immediately saying “you are so perfect. I wouldn’t want to be here with anyone else. Man. You are perfect.”
The rest of the night was just perfect. Owen stands up at the front, being the perfect emcee. Normally, I get second hand embarrassed for people, but Owen is smart and capable and I don’t think twice about him standing up in front of everyone. We eat the decent food an dance the whole time to the not as awesome band and take pictures with our friends. We get Whataburger with Kar and Jason and I almost fall asleep at the table. We’re exhausted and head straight to sleep.
The next day we get up to drive to East Texas. My sweet nephew was having his second birthday-it was Wild West themed. Owen digs in his closet to find cowboy boots to match the theme. We pull up onto their property and immediately have my sweet submissive dog get in a fight with the ranch dog, my 9 year old niece bounds up to hug us, and then Owen locks his keys in the car. He is gentle in his reaction, not freaking out or making a big deal- just accepting it. He ends up calling USAA and they come unlock his car-seemingly in the middle of nowhere. We take photobooth pictures and eat barbeque and spend time with my family. Eventually, the other guests start to clear out. We decide to take a ride around the 53 acres on the four wheeler. I hop on to drive first and we zoom over the rough ground, making our way to the back corner. The wheat like grass is long and soft and waving in the small breeze. The sky is huge and bright blue and there are well groomed, peaceful ranches on all sides of us. I park the four wheeler and turn around on the seat. He’s wearing his Stetson and I duck under it to kiss him. I feel like I’m holding my breathe and my mind is going a mile a minute. I don’t say anything out loud and neither does he. Owen looks at me sweetly, puts his Stetson on my head and says “Barbie was wrong last night. Whoever wears my Stetson doesn’t necessarily wear the pants. You put your Stetson on the woman who has your heart.” I pause. Is he? Will he? Right now? Where are those three words? This man. Tellmetellmetellme.
It’s pure silence.
I sigh in my head and think “well, he’s not ready I guess”
He says “Hannah. I love you”
It stops my heart. And my racing mind. “I love you too” races out of my mouth.
“I love you. I’m in love with you. I love everything about you.” he whispers in between kisses.
This man. “Finally”, I say in my head.
I may have said it out loud.