Missy’s lemon scent caught Raven and hooked him. It dragged him ashore from the nightmare’s sea of misery.
He ignored the rail in between them and hugged her. “Missy.”
“My Raven. My pretty lovely shirtless Raven.”
He laughed through his tears. “I love you. I love you so much. Missy, it is you alone I love.”
She ruffled through his hair and he just held on to her. “I love you.”
He raised his head. “This is real, is it not? I am not dreaming this, am I? My Missy. You are here and you are indeed awake?”
She smiled and it was the most beautiful sight he’d ever seen. “I am me. Whatever I may be. Whatever you want to call me. I am me and I am alive. I am here with you.”
“Then, kiss me. Please ki—”
She didn’t wait for the second invitation to be completed.
And everything inside of Raven sang hymns of joy.
Missy. Missy. Missy.
I am the luckiest man alive.
Hildreth tied the bathrobe closed and put his hands on his waist. He admired his reflection in the bathroom mirror.
Luckiest man to ever don a very generic red cotton bathrobe.
“Hey.” Elsie said as she reentered the room.
Hildreth eagerly turned around. Much to his disappointment, she was already dressed. “Aww, Els. You should have come in here completely naked to show me some naked solidarity.”
She braided her damp hair and tied it up with a leather hair tie. “Naked solidarity, huh?”
“Yep! Best kind there is. It’s caveman philosophy. ‘I be naked if you be naked too.'”
Elsie laughed. “You are such an idiot. I hope you know that.”
“But, of course!” He wrapped his arms around her waist. “It’s what drew you to me.”
“Maybe.” she said teasingly. “Maybe not.”
“Tsk! There’s no maybe about it, Elsie baby. Not when it’s all that obvious.”
Her eyes were like topazes in the sun. “How did I get so lucky?”
He looked at her, at her shining topaz eyes, and every word he ever knew fled his mind.
“Hildreth Mayhew.” She grabbed his hair on the sides of his head.
He laughed giddily.
“If you don’t kiss me right now—”
Hildreth didn’t give her a chance to finish her threat. He quickly moved in and kissed her.
If I could tell her.
Oh, if only I could tell her how much I love her. If only I knew how to tell her…The words…so many words inside my head…
She ended the kiss and reluctantly released his hair.
He touched foreheads with her. “Do you know, Els?”
“How much I love you?”
She nodded. “You love me as much as I want you. And trust me. That is a lot.”
He laughed. “My hair follicles agree.”
“I know you love me. You’ve told me so many times. You’ve shown me in so many ways. I’d have to be hopelessly clueless to miss something so obvious. And I am not clueless. I know what I know.” She smoothed his scrunched up hair. “I know what I see.”
“What do you see, Els?”
“You and me.” She smiled. “And our future three thousand kids.”
“And our grandchildren far down the road.”
“And their children.”
“Els. You will be a wonderful mother. The best that has ever tiger-momed.”
She laughed. “Are you sure tiger-momed is a real verb?”
“Oh, it is. I sent in the application to make it a real word last week. They sent me a nice note back saying ‘Why yeees! We can make your dreeeeeams come truuuuue!'” He shrugged. “And they made it a real word.”
“Just like that?”
He smiled. “Just like that.”