Need to stay calm.
Need to keep mah cool. Can’t let her see. Can’t let her know just how jittery I feel, especially since she’s being so calm. But I’m sure she knows.
Of course, she knows.
Hildreth curled his hands into fists.
He slowly uncurled them.
Ohh, but I want her. I want her so much. After all of this time waiting and delaying and…and…constantly saying, “NO! Not yet.”, how am I going to keep it all together?
“I don’t know how I’m going to keep it all together.” The truth came out so easily and Hildreth didn’t try to deny it. “Elsie.”
“Don’t worry, Hildreth. We’re almost home.”
It isn’t just her house anymore.
It’s our home.
Home where we will live together and raise our children. Home where we will both go at the end of our night. We’ll share her bed and it will be our bed.
“Elsie.” He silently adored her profile. “Thank you.”
She stopped at a red light and looked at him. “For what?”
“For repeatedly thwacking me over the head with the fact that you want me. You want just me and not Ambrose Smith. Thank you for accepting my proposal, as awkward and off the cuff as it was. Elsie.” He moved closer to her and slid his hand under her thick mess of hair. He cradled the back of her neck. “Elsie. My Elsie. Thank you for bearing with me and my neurotic messiness. Thank you for marrying me. I love you.”
She curled her hand around his wrist.
Such a small thing, but so fierce. So strong.
“I’m sorry I made things so difficult for you.” she said. “I’m sorry I ever gave you a reason to doubt me. I’m sorry I ever placed Ambro—”
“It doesn’t matter, Els. Ambrose Smith doesn’t matter. Not today, not tomorrow. Not ever again. Because you love me. My Elsie, you love me. I love that you love me.”
She shifted in her seat. “Hildreth Mayhew. If you don’t kiss me right now, I will punch a hole in the window.”
He laughed. “Oh my my my! Such a violent temperament! Should I be worried about what you’ll do to poor innocent little daisy damsel me?”
“No. You have nothing to worry about, Hildreth. I won’t hurt you.”
“Oh?” Hildreth gently rubbed the back of her neck. “What if I want you to?”
“What if I want you to—” He smirked. “—try to hurt me? What if I want you to run at me and try to punch me over and over?”
“What? In my wedding dress?”
He laughed. “Oh, that would be a wonderful sight. Mmm. I would treasure that memory for forever.”
“You are so weird. Why would you want that? Especially for our first time together?”
“Because I love you. Not just the pretty, hot, feminine parts of you. I love all of you. I love your fierceness. It draws me to you. It makes me feel strong and helpless in the best possible ways.”
Elsie stared at him.
He smiled flirtatiously at her. “It turns me on.”
“You’re kidding. Right?”
He shook his head. “Complete seriousness.”
She sat back in her seat and looked up at the red light. It turned green, but she continued to sit there, lost in her thoughts.
He lowered his hand. “I know it seems weird and crazy. Correction, it definitely is weird and crazy. But I honestly can’t help it. Elsie, you are amazing.”
She tightened her grip on the steering wheel. “Our lives as hunters are very unpredictable. Anything can happen. Anything bad can happen. What if I get hurt? What if I become disabled? What if I can’t fight anymore? What if I can’t be that fierce dervish you love anymore? What happens then?” She bowed her head. “Will you still want to be with me? Will you still love me? Will you still see me as attractive?”
Her words pierced him. “Els. Elsie baby.” He unbuckled his seat belt. “Look at me.”
“I love you. It’s just three small words, but the feeling…What I feel for you is so much bigger than that. I don’t know how else to express it but to say ‘I love you’. Elsie, I will always love you. Even if you lose that part of you. Even if you’re wheelchair bound and I have to change your bedpan, I will still love you for you.” He gently kissed her. “Just the way you are.”