Derek smiled as he watched Marie jump from the tractor in her tank top, shorts and boots. The navy ball cap on her head was already dusty and bleached by the sunlight. He had only been gone a week checking on the new site he had to work on out of town and she was already three shades browner than when he had left.
Farm life suited her.
She turned in his direction and noticed him, making his heart skip a beat and heat push up his chest. Two years. He had been in love with this girl for two years. He thought by now he’d be used to the way he reacted to seeing her.
Guess he had been away from her a bit too long. Even from the distance he was standing, he could see her grin widening and her eyes rounding with surprise. She rushed towards him and nearly toppled him over when she crashed into his arms.
A fierce odor hit him and caused him to jump back at the shock. "Whoa!" He waved the air between them and laughed, noticing the strange botches and dirt on her clothes and legs as he did. "Trying on a new scent?" He asked, scrunching up his nose. She laughed. "Oh, yeah, it’s called Au due Placenta. It’s a more natural scent, curtsy of West Farm goats. Only available during lambing season," she said and put her hands on her hips. Derek laughed again. "I’m not hugging you when you smell like that," he said. She faked a pout and turned around to head towards the barn. "It’s good to know your love has limits," she said. Derek reached out and grabbed her arm. In one swift tug, he spun her towards her and kissed her before she could react. She melted in his arms immediately. Though the smell overwhelming, there was still a hint of jasmine on her, and that’s the smell that caused him to pull her even closer.
She was smiling when he broke the kiss. Derek brought his free hand to the side of her face and wiped off a smudge of what he hoped was mud from her chin. "You know my love doesn’t end when it comes to you."
She tilted her head. "Derek West . . . Are you trying to be romantic?" She asked. "Is it working?"
Marie laughed. "It was until you asked." She stood on her toes and pecked his lips before lowering to the ground again.
"What are you doing here? We only expected you back tomorrow."
Derek smiled at her. "I got an earlier flight," he said. She grinned excitedly. "Your father is going to be so excited to see you. We’ve been talking about you all morning."
Derek laughed. "Probably recalling last lambing season," he said. She laughed. "Well last time I was obviously the more masculine one in this relationship."
"I never thanked you for that."
She laughed again and patted his chest lightly. "Come on. We’re almost done so you can come say hi." His grip tightened on her hand before she could slide it from his. She looked at him. "I’ll help." Marie’s brows lifted at his offer. "I’m over the worst. I’ll be able to handle it this time," he added. The side of her lip tugged at a smile. "Alright then. I can’t wait to see this. By the way, your dad and I went for brunch this morning and he agrees with me that you shouldn’t grow your hair out," she said with a victorious smile as they started walking towards the barn. Derek shrugged. "Cleo likes the idea."
"Only because you said you’d let her braid it!"
"You can braid it too, if you want."
Marie shook her head as she tried to hide her smile. "Speaking of Cleo, don’t forget her recital is next Friday. We’re going shopping for a new tutu after I pick her up from school later. And I picked up your grandma’s oils from the chemist. Maybe I’ll drop by with Cleo later today. She always loves those visits."
Derek smiled. She gelled so easily into his life. It was like she was part of the family already. Or maybe she was what held the family together.
He stopped, making her turn towards him. "What’s wrong?" She asked. Derek brought his hand to the side of her cheek and pulled her towards him before seizing her lips with his. He kissed her deeply, hoping it would convey everything he was feeling because he knew words would never do it justice. He loved her more than words or actions could ever explain. He loved her with a startling passion that went deeper than his bones. He was making the right decision. When he picked up the ring earlier there was a hint of doubt. Now there was nothing but clarity.
When he broke the kiss, she opened her eyes and stared at him, eyes bright.
"What did I do to deserve that?" She asked and placed a hand gently against his chest. "I just realized how much family I gained because of you." He brushed her bottom lip with his thumb. "I can’t wait for the rest you’ll bring into my life," he said. She smiled, understanding what he meant. He wasn’t sure when he had crossed the line into wanting kids one day, he just knew she was the reason he wanted them. A creation that was half him and half her. It was incredible to think such a thing were possible.
"Whoa, I’ve still got a few years of studying to go. Plus you’ve got to ask me a very important question before we can start planning for something like that," she said and stole another brief kiss. Seeming to think that was the end of the discussion, she began walking away, but he pulled her back again, surprising her.
He took both her hands in his. He couldn’t wait any longer. His mind had raced for the last few weeks with plans of their future house; the kitchen, a backyard large enough for all the animals she’d eventually adopt, a bedroom that overlooked the yard and mountains, a bathroom she could spent hours soaking in, a sitting room near the kitchen so that he could hear her play while he cooked, a nursery eventually . . . He wanted it all.
"I love you," he said, frustrated that he couldn’t say something of more significance. "So much."
"I love you too," she said, smiling. Her arms circled his waist. His heart started pounding hard against his ribs. "I’ve got a surprise for you," he said carefully. Amusement filled her eyes. "You seem kind of nervous about that. Did you rescue another runt and you want to play it off as a gift again?"
Derek chuckled. "We’ve got a date," he said. She tilted her head. "Do we? Where are we going?" She asked. "It’s a surprise, Marie," he said with feigned annoyance. He turned her in his arms and kissed the side of her neck. "I’ll help my dad finish up here. You can go get ready." He gave her a light shove in the direction of her jeep. She turned and hesitantly moved towards where the goats were blaring. "We’re almost done. Let me just –."
"He’s handled this alone for years, and he needs some father-son bonding time. Go."
He knew he had her with the father-son thing. Marie always wanted them to spend more time together, even now. She sighed in defeat. "Fine. How fancy should I dress up?"
"Five star restaurant fancy. Heels, hair, nails, maybe that little red dress I love so much."
She shook her head and got into her jeep. "I’ll pick you up at seven," he said as she drove off. Derek grinned and watched her go.
The next morning he woke up an engaged man.
Miha: We have reached the end of this story :)) Haha. Thank you so much for your gracious comments and support throughout this story. Truly was a joy receiving such lovely feedback from you! One last thing I need, if I were to post Giselle and Eric's story, what should I name it? Because I have no inspiration in that regard right now. Haha. And if I do post it, I promise that the first chapter will have the name you've chosen, how's that?
K: Likewise :D
Butterfly: You are one awesome human being :) Thank you so much for all the lovely comments and for making me laugh every now and then.
Oh, also, I live in the Southern Hemisphere so I have summer break right now :D
And it is HOT and beautiful but I shall do my best! :)
* Merry Christmas everyone!!