His enthusiasm was infectious, drawing an embarrassed smile from his ordinarily shy fiancee as she slid her hands from his back, shaking her head with a quiet laugh of her own. "I'm really not," she argued predictably, but managed to turn the habit of putting herself down into something else before he could become annoyed with her for it. "But if you think so, then that's all that really matters."
"You are amazing," he reiterated. "And I love you and I don't care who knows it." He drew his arms around her waist and picked her up to swing her around in a circle, carefully so that she didn't have a wardrobe malfunction, laughing as he did, feeling that predictable rush of adrenalin he always felt when he was happy. "I love you, Olivia Broderick!"
For once, Liv didn't protest at the way his exuberance had enveloped her this time, looping her arms around his neck as he lifted her off her feet, laughing again as she felt herself swung about. "I love you, too, silly man," was her indescribably fond answer to his happy declaration, the tip of her nose bumping to his as she smiled at him. "I can't believe I just got up on a stage and sang!"
"I can't believe you did either!" he laughed, not laughing at her but with her, settling her on her feet, his arms around her waist. "I didn't recognize you at first! How'd you manage it? I had no idea!" He mirrored her smile as she bumped her nose against his, feeling suddenly as light as a feather, all his worries and doubts disappearing as if in thin air.
"Oh, I didn't really do anything," Liv insisted with a faint shrug, still looking vaguely embarrassed by her foray into extroverted display. "I just asked ... well, I asked Vicki to ask Jon if he could pull a few strings for me, and, well, he did." She nodded, giggling a little. "They didn't even ask me to audition, like I thought they would. They just gave me a slot."
Johnny arched a brow, clearly surprised by this bit of information. He glanced toward the table where the other couple had been sitting, forgotten by Johnny and Liv, but the table was now empty, as if they'd never been there at all, and Johnny realized he'd been set up and completely and utterly hoodwinked. Maybe her boss wasn't such a bad guy after all. He laughed at his own foolishness, at his unfounded worries that she was going to break up with him or something equally stupid. "I'm such an *ss," he said, brushing his fingers against her cheek, looking apologetic. "Can you ever forgive me?"
"Of course I can," his sweet-natured fiancee assured him, catching his hand in hers to touch a soft kiss to the palm of his hand. "What am I forgiving you for?" Finally, her smile had relaxed, showing off the sweetness that was entirely his to play with beneath the soft sparkle of nut-brown eyes.
"I thought you were gonna stand me up or something," he admitted with a chagrined frown. "I don't know why," he continued. "I'm an idiot. I'm sorry." He pouted remorsefully, his blue eyes apologetic, looking a little like a puppy who'd just been caught peeing on the carpet.
"Oh, Johnny ..." As much as Liv tried to be sympathetic, the thought of her standing him up just proved too funny to be ignored, producing a bubble of laughter from her lips as she leaned into him, one palm curling to his jaw as she looked into his eyes. "I promise, if I ever do stand you up, you have my permission to embarrass me hugely in some very public place in retaliation."
"It's stupid, I know! I don't know why I was worried about it," he admitted, chastising himself further. Another slow song started, and he smiled, taking hold of her hands and tugging her out onto the dance floor. He wasn't a very good dancer, but unlike Steve, he wasn't afraid of making an idiot of himself in public. "Dance with me," he urged, as the crowd made room for them.
She smiled tenderly as he did, unsurprised when he drew her onto the dance floor, into the gently swaying crush of couples just enjoying one another in the slow approach to 2013. "I do love you, you know," she reminded him softly, smoothing her hands up over his arms, lightly hooking her fingers together behind his neck as she stepped close in the mingle of people. "It's not going to change."
"I know," he replied, his smile softening. "I'm an idiot. I promise I will never doubt you again. Cross my heart," he added, drawing a cross over his heart before sliding his arms around her waist again to draw her close. He didn't really know how to dance, but he knew how to hold her close and sway to the music, and that was all he really needed to know.
Giggling quietly, Liv stepped as close as she could into the circle of Johnny's arms, content to sway to the music and the beat of his heart as she felt it through his chest, gently teasing the very tips of her fingers through his hair as they moved together. "Yes, you will," she teased him lovingly. "But I'll forgive you every time. Promise."
"It's not fair to you though, Livvie," he said frowning. "It's just... Every girl I've ever been with..." He broke off, as he tried to find the words to explain. "I know I'm not easy to put up with. I know I'm irresponsible and I've got a big mouth, but I've changed. I'm changing. I've grown up a lot this past year, and it's mostly because of you. I just want to make you proud of me, Liv. I love you more than I've ever loved anyone."
"I am proud of you," Liv insisted, gently unwinding one arm from his shoulders to lay a single finger against his lips, stilling his litany of his perceived faults. "You're the kindest, warmest, best man I have ever known, and I'm not just saying that because I love you. You make me a better person, Johnny, and you touch so many lives in the best possible way. Don't change because you think you should, or because you think I want you to. I love you."