Bernie and Lawrence hosted a New Year’s party at their place. They invited friends and told friends to invite friends and then their home was full of a massive number of people, a lot of whom Bernie didn’t actually recognize. A large part of her hadn’t actually been expecting so many of her friends to have so many friends. Lawrence’s friends had also been instructed to bring friends, but it seemed none of them had any other friends. Even Keith was unsuccessful in convincing his roommate to come, which was just as well because his roommate had previously dated Sybil. Although, Keith had of course previously dated Priscilla and that was awkward as hell, especially since Priscilla was now with Oscar, who openly despised Keith. In retrospect, that was likely a result of extreme jealousy. That did little to make Keith feel better about it, however.
“I hate that guy,” he complained bitterly to Bernie and Lawrence, glaring at the side of Oscar’s face. He’d already said as much to the rest of his and Lawrence’s friends to mutually shared sentiments. Roisin had even rather alarmingly suggested they fight it out, but Lawrence had put a swift end to that in fear of damage to his worldly possessions.
“Ah, he’s not so bad,” Lawrence said vaguely, trying to be diplomatic, most likely for the sake of Bernie and her friends, which she greatly appreciated.
“He punched me in the face and then stole my girlfriend,” Keith retorted darkly. Bernie suspected Lawrence might have a harder time coming back from that one. There weren’t very many positive statements one could make about getting punched in the face and then having their partner stolen. He looked like he was trying to come up with something though, and she appreciated that effort as well, especially since she had been one of the people trying to talk Priscilla out of staying with Keith. He was a very nice man, but he was also kind of boring and an exceptionally loud talker. Then again, apparently Oscar had punched someone in the face so perhaps he wasn’t a human miracle either.
“Well, he’s spirited,” was what Lawrence eventually came up with. Keith narrowed his eyes at him, as if trying to judge whether or not Lawrence truly believed that. Bernie could tell that he didn’t. He looked significantly less certain than he had moments before.
“Keith’s had a rough time lately,” Bernie commented after Keith had walked away to join Carla and Roisin again, presumably to continue complaining about Oscar.
“Keith’s always having a rough time,” Lawrence offered in response. “He once ran over a possum and then, while trying to save it’s life, it bit him and he had to get rabies shots in his butt for four straight weeks.”
Bernie tried to imagine Keith getting a shot in his ass. She didn’t think he’d fair very well with that. There woud for sure be tears.
A few hours later, even more people had arrived. Bernie genuinely didn’t recognize some of the people in her home. Some of them looked vaguely familiar, like she may have seen them at some other party, but a lot of them were complete strangers to her. One of the people she sort of recognized was a man in a black Adidas track suit, who was smoking out of her open living room window. She had gotten close to him earlier in the evening at which time he’d been trying to sell a TV to Lawrence’s friend Mickey.
“Who is that guy?” Bernie asked Priscilla and Iggy, gesturing to the guy in the track suit.
“Oh, that’s Joey’s cousin Vinny,” Priscilla answered casually.
“You know, Jacklyn’s dodgy as fuck boyfriend,” Iggy added. Bernie knew Joey. She’d met him several times before at several different parties. Each time, he’d had a black eye and he’d tried to talk her into taking tequila shots. Regrettably, he had often been successful. She’d had no idea that he was dating Jacklyn. That seemed like a bizarre deviation in character for Jacklyn, who normally dated men who were as attractive and put together as she was.
“He was trying to sell someone a TV earlier,” Bernie remarked.
“Yeah, I would keep an eye on that because there’s a strong possibility he was trying to sell them your TV,” Iggy told her, which wasn’t comforting in the least.
Just before midnight, Lawrence grabbed her hand and pulled her in the middle of their living room, where they were then immediately surrounded by a lot of people Bernie didn’t recognize. She shot him a confused look, but he merely grinned at her. Then he knelt down on one knee and looked up at her, holding a black ring box and shining diamond ring in his hand. Her stomach immediately sank.
“Bernie,” he began as, somewhere in the background, someone turned off the music. “I love you. I have never loved anyone the way I love you. You’re smart and beautiful and amazing, even though you think Jennifer Lopez is a good actress.”
“She’s an amazing actress,” Bernie cut in without thinking about what she was doing. Lawrence’s smile widened.
“I can’t imagine ever being without you,” he continued. “So I don’t want to be. I want to be with you forever. I want to still wake up next to you when we’re both old and wrinkly. I’ve been a little bit in love with you since I was sixteen.”
Bernie was especially awed by that. She had had DJ Tanner bangs when he was sixteen.
“So I wanted to ask you in front of all our friends, and honestly a lot of people I’ve never seen before, if you would do me the honour of being my wife,” Lawrence said. “Because I love you more than anything.”
Bernie stared at him in shock for a long moment. He looked a little nervous. None of the other guests made a sound.
“I’ve only just realized how embarrassing this will be if you say no,” he broke the silence with a nervous chuckle.
“Of course I’m not saying no,” Bernie told him immediately. “Yes. Yes I will marry you. Yes!”
He got up from the floor and kissed her. Bernie was vaguely aware of people cheering in the background. He put the ring on her finger and she looked over to the clock to see that they had missed midnight. People were still cheering. Some of the people closest to them offered their congratulations. Bernie couldn’t really focus on anything, too stunned and wrapped up in her and Lawrence’s special moment to take it all in. But then, from somewhere in the crowd, she heard Jemima shout at the top of her lungs.