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When Dylan and Skye reached the old part of the forest, Dylan could tell she felt how unique it was, as he always did. Dylan watched Skye's reaction as the ancient hardwoods closed around them offering the peace and comfort they always gave.

Skye's footsteps slowed and quieted as she entered the old cathedral of trees. Her breath caught, and her eyes brightened as she looked over the area. Her eyes traced the ancient trees from their mighty foundations to their leafy canopies high above them. Then she studied the faded red and yellow leaves that were strewn across the packed earth, as well as, the bright pockets of light that lit up the young saplings that the taller trees protected.

"Oh, Dylan! It's beautiful! It's more than beautiful. I don't—I don't have the words."

"I know." He did know. Words tended to fail him anyway, but here, to describe this, he had none. To know it affected her, that she felt it too, was enough.

"This is where you go when you leave the cabin?"

Dylan scuffed his foot. He wasn't here to discuss his sour moods. "Yeah."

Skye wrapped her arms around his. "I always worry so much about you when you're gone. Now I know I don't need to. This is a safe place. It's where I'd want to go."

Dylan looked down at her. He raised his hand to run his thumb across her cheek. He'd never thought about her worrying when he was gone.

"I'm safe. I'm always safe."

Skye nodded and laid her head against his shoulder.

Dylan cleared his throat. Then cleared it again. This was even harder than he imagined it would be. Skye raised her head to look at him. Her eyes questioned him when she felt his body tense, and his hand on her tighten.

"Darlin'." He cleared his throat one last time. "Darlin', I been—I been rough and tumble my whole life. And I ain't sure I know how to be anything else. But I'm tryin'. I'm tryin' to do better by ya."

Skye moved to face him and took his face in her hands. "Dylan, I love you just the way you are."

Dylan nodded. He pulled her hands down and kissed each one. "Hush now. Let me say what I gotta say."

Skye tipped her head and took a small step back but stayed close enough to hold hands.

Dylan looked down at their hands, then up through the canopy of leaves at the sky above asking for strength. He smiled as his gaze returned to the woman in front of him. "This thing between us. I need this to be done right. I want us to be a family, and for me, that means marriage."

He looked at the ground, then shot a look at Skye's face. "I never thought anybody would want me for that. Maybe ya don't, but I'm hopin' ya do. With what's goin' on between us, I thought maybe..."

Her sparkling eyes encouraged him. "Darlin', I want you to be mine. You're my first thought in the mornin' and my last when I lay down at night. I don't breathe without knowin' you're safe and happy. And I've found I like it that way."

Dylan pressed his lips together a couple of time. "I want you beside me now, beside me for all time. I'm probably screwing this all up. But, darlin', Skye, will you stand beside me? Call yourself mine?"

A warmth had started in Skye as she'd stepped into this place. It was special. Both because of what it was and because of what it meant to Dylan. As Dylan started to speak the warmth continued to grow until it filled every part of her until it seemed as if her whole body glowed.

At some point, her breath had caught. She hadn't realized it until he finished speaking, when she'd opened her mouth to respond. She had no breath to answer. She gasped in air and rushed into his arms. "Yes, I will, I do! Of course, I want you!"

She covered his lips, his face, and his neck with tiny kisses until he put his hands on her face and brought her lips to his for a serious kiss.

"I've got somethin' for ya." Dylan dug into his pocket. He pulled out a ring and slid it onto Skye's finger.

When Skye saw it, her eyes widened. It was the most beautiful ring she'd ever seen. A large rose-cut diamond was circled by leave-shaped emeralds. Her voice was almost a whisper. "It's beautiful."

"You like it?" His voice sounded hopeful.

He needn't have worried. "Yes! Oh, yes, Dylan, so very much. It's--it's--oh, Dylan!" Skye threw herself into his arms again.

Dylan felt his chest swell. I did good. She said yes. I can't believe she said yes. But she said it. She means it too. I can tell.

He picked Skye up and swung her around enjoying the sound of her light laugh echoing through the woods. Then he carried her to the fallen tree and sat, pulling her onto his lap.

Skye snuggled her head into his neck and studied her ring. "It's just so beautiful."

"I got it from the jewelry place between here and Fenton. That day I was out savagin' out that way. A lot of the place was looted, but there were some rings in the back room that got missed. Had a price on it I could never afford, but I reckoned that didn't matter anymore."

Dylan took her hand to study the ring. "I liked the leaves on it. It kinda reminded me of here somehow. Like how this place has been here forever. The leaves, well, they always come back. Is that stupid?"

"No. No, love, I understand. It is perfect."

Dylan tightened his arms around Skye. "Say it."

"Say what?"

Dylan tipped her face to his. "Say your mine."

Her eye's lit up, and she smiled. "I'm yours. Skye Jackson is Dylan Cole's forever. Forever."

"I'm yours, darlin'. Body, heart, and soul."

They sat staring into each other eyes for a moment, soaking in all that those words meant.

"Sayin' it here means more to me than anywhere else."

"I know." Skye nodded and ran her hand through his hair. "We're getting married!"

"Yeah, well, I reckoned we already got the kids."

"And the house. Even the cranky in-law." Skye laughed. "I can't wait to tell them."

Dylan raised an eyebrow. "You wanna head back?"

Skye tightened her hold on him. "Not yet."

Dylan slid down the side of the log onto the ground and stretched his legs out in front of him, then heaved a big sigh. Skye yelped a little and laughed. "What?"

"I'm so glad that's done. I been workin' myself up about that for a long time now."

"Why? You didn't think I'd say yes? You had to know I would!"

"No, I didn't know for sure."

"Dylan! I tell you I love you all the time."

"Well, who knows what women are thinking? And I wanted it to be right for you. Somethin' you'd remember. I thought a lot about what I wanted to say."

"I loved it. I loved everything about your proposal."

Dylan grunted.


"My accent is worse when I'm nervous. I try to clean it up some for you."

"What? Why?"

"You're not from the hills. You got all that book learnin'."

"Don't. I love your accent. I love the mountain man that you are." Skye scrubbed his beard stubble and pushed back his shaggy hair. "Scruffy and gruffy are apparently what I really, really like."

Dylan laughed at her. "Alright, darlin'. Well, that's what you're gettin'."

A/N: This makes me happy. I hope it makes you happy. :)

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