Apprehended Ch. 20

Apprehended Ch. 20


"Of course, I did. It was written all over your face."

I smiled and got up, moving to grab his present from underneath the bed. As always, I felt tired and hazy after lovemaking, but I ignored the waves of weariness in order to give him his surprise.

"Is that where you hid it, baby?" He chuckled.

I giggled and straightened, readjusting my bra and sweater so that I looked decent when we exchanged gifts. He sat up and reached for me, snagging my waist to help me with my sweater. Then he wrapped his arms around me and kissed my stomach again.

I froze and looked down at him.

He beamed, resting his chin on my belly. He didn't notice what his action caused or what it could possibly signify. "What did you get me?" he asked. "Although I think that you are more than enough. Especially after our Christmas lovemaking...now...what did you get?"

I giggled. He resembled an eager child, waiting impatiently for his gift. I handed it over. He took it enthusiastically. "Sorry about the wrapping. I sort of suck when it comes to wrapping gifts."

He laughed lowly. "You thought of me, my love. That's more than enough for me." He winked...then proceeded to open his gift.

He ripped apart the paper, revealing the frying pan set that I got for him from the Christmas store where Gavin met Lily for the first time.

His eyes grew wide as he looked it over, flipping it in his hand. "A new set?"

I nodded, not sure if he liked it. It was rather impersonal. "You love to cook," I pointed out. "I knew you would appreciate anything related to the craft."

He assessed it thoroughly, his eyes going over the three individual pieces. "I do," was all he said.

I couldn't tell whether he liked it or not. His face was unreadable.

"Do you like it?" I asked.

He finally beamed up at me; his dimples making an appearance. "It's from you. You know I love it, my female. Anything from you, I shall cherish." He pressed a chaste kiss on my lips before adding, "now, it's my turn. Sit," he commanded, pointing to the bed.

I sat anxiously, rubbing my palms together in anticipation. Gifts were something I rarely received before Ethan and I found myself feeling somewhat spoiled.

He made his way to his dresser and opened the top drawer, pulling out a small, worn deep green velvet box from the back.

I swallowed the sudden lump that formed in my throat and I knew what he was going to do before he did it.

He went down on one knee and looked up at me with a resolute gaze. "Annie Bell," he said, swallowing loudly.

My eyes widened...and he opened the small, worn box.

And presented a ring that was clearly not of the current era.

"This was my mother's," he said, solemnly. Almost like it pained him to remember her...or think of her. "Before that, it was my grandmother's. And her mother's before that." He offered me his hand-palm up. "May I have your hand, my love?"

I couldn't quite believe that he was doing this. I wasn't expecting it. But I found that I secretly yearned for something of this magnitude with Ethan. Something that would forever bind us. Something that would signify an ownership. Him having me. Me having him.

And out of all the females on the planet, he chose me. Me. It was a gift I didn't even realize I needed. A claiming that did not express domination, but security...and love.

Trembling, I put my hand in his, and his warm fingers encompassed mine like a tender hug. He smiled, looking handsome and strong. Confident and sure. Like he knew what he wanted, and he was going to do everything in his power to obtain it; which-in this case-was me.

"I apologize for the circumstances that brought you to me. It was never my intention to cause fear or ever harm you, my female. But I would like to think that since you arrived-not that long ago-you've not only grown to love a male such as I, but to love the life that I lead amongst my clan...my family. And I cannot do this without your full acceptance."

He pulled out the delicate silver ring: with its oval, silver diamond and pearl encrusted band. The pearls were almost iridescent; reminding me of the moon. The centered oval was surrounded by smaller, silver diamonds. He parted my fingers with his own and paused with the ring near my ring finger.

"We are joined...bonded and mated in ways that no ordinary human male could ever offer you. I needn't tell you of the extraordinary connection we already share. You feel it running through your very blood...your very soul...but I would like to express my standing; to put you at ease...and to make my vow to you in all the ways that matter when it concerns an Alpha and his mate."

He didn't tear his gaze away as he continued, and I was stunned-frozen and unmoving. No words would formulate in my mind. None that were capable of expressing what this meant to me. What he meant to me.

And just how much I obviously meant to him.

"As you know from personal experience, I am a very overprotective male. Especially when it concerns you." He smiled and I couldn't help but return the sentiment. He was magnificent. "That is something that is non-negotiable. My very life is yours. And I vow to protect you with it until my heart stops beating. I vow to treat you as my equal; to give you that which is mine and to serve you in those ways that you require of me. I vow to feed you, clothe you and shelter you. And I vow that your eyes shall be the pair I see upon first light...and the last pair I see upon the falling sun. I vow to you the first bite from my hand; the first drink of my cup.

"I vow to you my living and my dying, equally in your care. I vow to never dishonor or distrust you. I vow to tell no other of our grievances and to speak to no other but you when I am at my lowest. I vow to love you like no other; with no jealously or impatience. I vow to be your male in every way that matters. To stand by you at all times. To either die for you...with you...or beside you. And to love you; cherish you...all the days of my life. All the days of your life.

"And so I inquire most humbly and filled with respect and adoration...will you do me the extraordinary honor of ceremonially mating me and becoming my wife...my most treasured, precious female?"

He took a deep breath...and waited.

Patiently.

I realized that I was crying; my tears falling silently down my cheeks. Ethan was smiling broadly, his face lit up and filled with a joy that was contagious. "Happy tears, I hope," he said, softly, brushing away the wetness from my cheek.

"Yes," I said on a laugh.

"Yes to happiness?" he asked. "Or yes to marrying me?"

I sniffled. "Yes to both, Ethan."

His smile grew even larger as he slipped the ring on my finger. Then-in a flourish-I was in his arms, with him hugging me tightly into his body and covering my face in his kisses. "Thank you," he said in between kisses. "Thank you for making me the happiest male."

I didn't understand why he was thanking me. It was he who offered me so much more. He had become my steady rock. My everything.

And I couldn't wait to spend the rest of my life trying to live up to his words; truly making him as happy as he made me.
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