Chapter 4 - Neme

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-The Past-


"What's all of this Aaron?" My eyes scan the room. Candles adorn every surface and the glow of the candlelight flickers around the room in an iridescent dance. My eyes widen when I see what's sitting in the middle of the bed. I turn back to him. "Oh my God! What are you up to Aaron?"

His beautiful green eyes soften and he smiles. "Nothing much, just some romantic gestures for the woman I love." He motions towards the bed. "Go ahead, open it."

I take the few steps towards the bed. A single red velvet box sits in the center of the fluffy white duvet. I swallow nervously and reach out for it. We've only been dating for nine months. This can't be what I'm thinking it is. Or can it? I cradle the small box in my hand and take a deep breath as I flip it open. I gasp and cover my mouth with my free hand in surprise. I turn towards Aaron and he goes down onto one knee.

Oh God.
It is what I thought it was.

"Neme, I know we haven't been dating very long." He reaches up for my hand. I slowly move mine from my mouth to his and our fingers automatically intertwine. "I think I've loved you all my life. When we were kids, you were my best friend. When we were teenagers, my eyes could never stop following you." He squeezes my hand gently as to reassure me that his words are genuine. "The day I found out you had transferred from the community college to my university, I was stunned. I knew if I didn't finally get over my shyness and ask you out, I'd never forgive myself. When you said yes, I can't even begin to tell you how happy I was."

My eyes start to fill with tears and my heart rate speeds up with each word he speaks.

"So you see, even though we've only been together for nine months, my heart has always been yours." He reaches for the box and pulls the dainty blue diamond solitaire from the velvet cushion. "I want to belong to you forever, Neme. I want to give you my name and everything else that belongs to me." He holds the beautiful gem between his finger and thumb and looks up at me with strong conviction and love. "Marry me. Give your heart to me. I promise I'll always protect it."

"Yes, Aaron. Yes, I'll marry you." The words tumble out of my mouth before a single thought otherwise comes to mind. It's automatic. I love him too, so very much. He slides the glittering ring onto my finger and stands up wrapping me in his arms.

"You've just made me the happiest man in the world."

***

"Don't be nervous. My family loves you. You have absolutely nothing to worry about."

I'm a nervous wreck over telling Aaron's family about our engagement and I have no real idea why. I've known them all my life. I can't say I've ever been close to them but we certainly aren't strangers. I've just never gotten the warm and fuzzies from any of them during the times we have visited. His mom and dad seem pretty laid back and nice but for some reason I can't say I feel comfortable around them.

We get to the door and Aaron looks over at me. He's beaming with happiness and can't wait to share our news. His father opens the door and greets us. "Hey there you two, Lynn is setting the table now. You got here just in time." Herald isn't his biological father but has raised him since he was eight years old. Mr. Bradshaw was a widower and single father when he met Aaron's mother. Aaron's biological father has never been in the picture. He never talks about him and I don't pry. Lynn and Herald were married and Aaron instantly gained a sister and brother; Cain and Macie Bradshaw. Aaron says it wasn't a terribly difficult transition for him, but I can't imagine having to adjust to a new father and two new siblings all at once. Cain is four years older than Aaron and Macie is a year older than Aaron. Cain and Macie are both law school graduates and seem to be incredibly close to one another. I always wonder if Aaron feels like an outsider or not. He never complains or acts as if he feels that way but I feel it when they're all together in the same room. There's an invisible separation of sorts that goes unnoticed and unspoken of.

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