Part 2239 – “Inside. Now.”

Hildreth didn’t waste a second with a single thought. He unbuckled his seatbelt, opened the door, got out of the car, ran to the driver’s side door, and opened it for Elsie.

She emerged from the car like a queen – effortless and graceful – in her long white and silver gown. Her veil flowed behind her. The silver filigree caught the sunlight in blinding dazzlement.

I should kneel before her. At least, go down on one knee.

She took his hands into her own. “Hildreth.”

His knees quaked as he looked at her. His heart went wild inside his chest. “Els.”

“My Hildreth.” Her gold eyes sparkled like sunlight on a lake.

“I love you.” The words flew out of him in a husky rush. “Els. Elsie. Elsie, I want you. I need you. Oh, darn. Oh, I. I need you.”

She curled her arms around his neck. “Then, take me inside.”

He grinned. “What? You don’t want to do wondrously provocative things in plain sight?”

She shook her head. “My driveway is not as filthy as an alley, but it’s a driveway, Hildreth.”

He laughed. “Oh, I love you. I love you like mad.”

Her gaze traversed his face. “And I love you like crazy. Crazier than you know.”

He scooped her up into his arms.

She leaned forward and kissed him. “My Hildreth. You’re mine. You hear me? Just mine. No one else’s.”

He laughed. “And there’s that possessive streak I love.”

“You love the strangest things about me. Things that you really shouldn’t.”

“So?” He carried her up to the front porch. “Is that really a big problem?”

“Not a problem at all. Just baffling.”

“Elsie baby, don’t you know I live to baffle you?”

She laughed at that. “I’ve suspected that for some time now.”

Hildreth carefully set her down on the porch as if she were made of fragile glass. “Elsie.” He backed her up against the front door and pressed his body against hers. “Elsie.” He kissed her forehead, the arches of her eyebrows.

Elsie responded by pressing against him.

He gasped from the contact.

“Inside, Hildreth. Now.”

He chuckled breathlessly. “Door’s locked.”

She scoffed. “Do you really think I’d lock it today of all days?”

He stared at her in bemused wonder.

“Inside. Now.”

“Yes.” He nodded. “Yes.”

She moved away from the door.

He opened the screen door and pushed the storm door open. “Darn! You didn’t even have it closed all the way. That’s pretty risky, Els. Anyone could just go waltzing on in.”

She shrugged. “I didn’t feel like messing around with house keys.”

Hildreth started to enter the house, but then he remembered his bridegroom responsibilities. He turned back to Elsie and scooped her into his arms again. “Time to cross the threshold. We’ll ignore the fact that it’s actually yours and that you’ve crossed it plenty of times and—”

“Hildreth. Stop talking. Inside. Now.”

He grinned. “As you wish.”

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