He smiles and rolls away from me, getting something from the table by the bed. When he rolls back, he has a small box in his hands that he holds out to me. “I love you, too, Sierra. I’ve wanted to tell you for a while now, but I didn’t want to scare you off. I know you thought this was moving fast. But I want you to know that I plan to spend the rest of my life with you. You’ve changed me. You make me happy… You make me want to be a better man. You make me want to be a daddy. Please, honey, will you marry me?”
By this time the tears are rolling down my face and I can’t stop them. “Yes, yes, I would love to be your wife and give you babies.”
He didn’t give me any time to reconsider. His words not mine. He moved all my stuff in the very next day while I was in class. We finally set a date. I had planned on having a longer engagement to let me finish school but he had other plans. He said I could just finish school as his wife. I only have a year and a half until I’m done. He is counting down, because we both agreed I should finish school before the babies came.
We are being married exactly three months after we met. That was the longest he would give me to plan everything. Charlie, the woman that works with him, is my maid of honor. We’ve become close since I’ve met her and it’s funny the way she calls Ryder out. She’s braver than most men, I have come to realize.
At the wedding, I have Ryder’s best friend and partner, Mike, walk me down the aisle. When we stop right in front of Ryder, he doesn’t wait for the preacher to ask ‘Who gives this woman?’ He reaches over and grabs me out of Mike’s arm.
I gently slap him on the chest like he’s in trouble, but honestly that’s one of my favorite things about him, the way he’s so possessive of me.
We say our vows before our friends and it’s over before we know it. Ryder swings me up into his arms and carries me out of the church, promising me forever.
Three years later
The last three years have been the best of my life. Sierra has made all my dreams come true. We agreed to wait to have children until she had finished school but she decided to surprise me and go off the pill her last year, thinking it would take her a while to get pregnant. Well, she ended up getting pregnant right away.
She was sick the first few months and I felt horrible for her. But she is such a trooper. She always bounced right back. I went to every appointment and I admit I cried when I saw our baby on the ultrasound screen for the first time.
“You okay, Daddy?” she asked me with a big grin. I still think back to that moment, when it finally set in that I was going to be a dad.
She took her last exam one week before our little Ellie was born. And today, we are celebrating her second birthday. She has been the light of both of our lives and I have to admit she has me wrapped around her finger.
But not just me, Uncle Johnny too. Johnny did finish rehab. He put in the work and got clean. He still apologizes to Sierra sometimes about what he did to her, but she just shrugs it away. She’s not one to hold grudges. Our little Ellie loves him and calls him Uncle Johnny. And he has changed just being around her.
Don’t get me wrong. It was hard in the beginning when he first got out. I didn’t trust him with Sierra and then Ellie. I mean, they are my world, my everything. But he understood. He was only allowed to visit when I was around. Since he’s been out, I have given him a job at Alpha Security and he has proven to me over and over that I can trust him to be right with my family.
“Daddy, are you going to help me blow out my candles?” Ellie asks me in a sing-song voice.