Page 34 of Virgin Next Door

“But you see, it does. This is going to change our lives and what’s more, I want it to.” Eli rushed toward her, cupping her face. “I was angry you were pregnant but not because of the reason you think.”

“Now you know how I think?”

“I wanted to tell you that I loved you before you were pregnant. This, the way I feel.” He took her hand, placing it over his heart. “This is real. All of it. I love you, Ann. More than anything else in the world. I want to have a family with you. Grow old with a bunch of kids. I want forever with you, but I felt like a fucking fool because you were holding that test, and I hadn’t told you already. I’d spent more time mocking this fucking house gift than seeing what is the truth.”

“What’s the truth?”

“These houses, they’re a gift, but they don’t bring people together. It’s the people in them who finally give themselves a chance to see and to be happy. I love you, Ann. I took a chance, and I saw you, and I loved every single part of you. Even the note-taking and keeping every little scrap of leftovers.”

“It’s the college student in me.”

“Yeah, well, I love it. I want you in my life, as my wife. I want to raise our kids together. To get a chance on everything I missed out on.” He lowered himself to one knee, opening up the box in his hands. She hadn’t even seen him get it out of his pocket.

“Ann Adams, please, do me the honor of becoming my wife,” he said.

She opened her mouth and closed it. “You’re sure? Like, really, one hundred percent sure?”

“Do you want me to go and tell every single one of our neighbors how sure I am?” he asked.

“Yes.”

He got to his feet, about to leave, and she grabbed his arm, laughing. “No, I don’t mean to go and talk to our neighbors. I was saying yes. As in, yes, I’ll marry you. Yes, I want to spend the rest of my life with you, because I do love you, Eli. Workaholic that you are, leaving the toilet seat up, and being just a little possessive.”

“But I will always love you. That I can promise you.” He pulled her close, kissing her.

This was meant to be, she knew it right deep in her soul.

****

One month later

“You have to check everywhere for bugs. They come down in their ships, but they don’t always do that. They have these cars and they can just plant them on the side of your house and they walk around, and it’s just scary, and you have to just live with it.”

Eli listened as Mr. Graves handed him a device for him to take wherever he wanted or needed to go. This was new to him.

He thanked him for it and watched as he took his seat in the garden.

He and Ann decided on a small wedding, in his back yard. She only had a couple of friends, as did he. He didn’t bring work to it, but his family was present, Mr. Graves, his parents, Elizabeth, and a few neighbors, but that was it.

His hands were sweaty and his dad stood beside him.

“What an interesting man,” his father said.

“Yeah, he often scans Ann as well whenever she’s been at the law firm. He says that’s where most of the bugs are.”

His father burst out laughing. “Now that I can believe. Are you ready for this, son?”

The music started up, and he looked toward his back door. Katie came through first, carrying a small basket with petals.

His little girl was so happy. She waved at him and walked slowly down the aisle, doing as she’d been asked.

“Yeah, I’m more than ready,” he said as he finally caught sight of his bride. She looked stunning, as he’d imagined he would. They hadn’t seen each other for the past three days.

He looked at her.

Really looked at her.

Her beauty made him gasp. The dress she wore hid the tiny bump that showed she was carrying his baby. He didn’t think it was possible to be this happy but now he knew it was really possible, and what was more, he wanted this.

He loved her.

She was his everything. There was a reason he’d never found love before. He was waiting for her. For the right woman to finally come to him.

His mother followed behind her, and then she was in his arms, finally. Their time apart was already too long.

“You look stunning,” he said, leaning forward to kiss her cheek but stopping as the priest cleared his throat.

“After the vows, sir,” he said.

“Of course.”

He faced his woman, his life, as the priest began to speak the necessary words to bind them together.

Eli had offered Ann whatever wedding she wanted. A big, lavish affair, or something quick in Vegas, but instead, she wanted to marry where they met. Their homes, privately. Where it was just them and a few guests, of course.

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