By S.. Lee
Disclaimers: These characters are all original. There is no sex, but there is a depiction of a loving relationship between two women.
Feedback: All positive and constructive feedback is truly appreciated. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org Take a minute and let me know what you think.
Author's Note: This is a fun piece written as a Valentine's Day gift for my girlfriend. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you to my wonderful group, S. Lee's Li'l Darlin's for all the amazing support and encouragement.
Dedication: For Teri. "God bless the broken road that led me straight to you." Happy Valentine's Day. I love you, honey.
The early morning alarm buzzed, rousing Neal from a restless night. Wide awake for hours, she quickly brought the offending noise to an abrupt end before her partner awoke. Sarah was still sleeping, curled into a ball, her back to Neal. Neal wrapped herself around the woman she loved and kissed a bare shoulder. She tenderly stroked Sarah's short, sandy-blonde hair. The love she felt for the woman in her arms overwhelmed Neal. She smiled when she thought of how she began falling for Sarah upon their first meeting, even though it took weeks for them to acknowledge their mutual feelings. Life for the couple was good. They shared a home, a life, and two children from Sarah's previous marriage. Neal took a moment to send a silent prayer of thanks for her partner.
Sarah began to stir and smiled when she noticed she was being watched. "Hey, you. Good morning."
Neal leaned down and placed a loving kiss on Sarah's lips. "Good morning, honey."
Contentedly, Sarah pushed back further into Neal's embrace. Knowing what her lover liked, Neal tightened her hold. "You look wide awake. Have you been up long?"
"I have a lot on my mind lately. I was thinking that it's been a long time since we've spent a day with just the two of us. Why don't we both play hooky and I'll get your sister to pick the kids up from school and we'll spend the day together? We've both been stressed lately with work, the kids, charting your cycle and trying to get pregnant. I know it hasn't been easy for you and it's a lot of pressure. I also know you were perfectly happy with the kids you already had until you and I met.. I want to spend the day showing you how much I appreciate you."
Gently, Sarah reached up and placed her palm against Neal's cheek. "That sounds wonderful. I'd love that."
Neal smiled. "Good. Think of how you'd like to spend the day. I'll get the kids ready for school. You sleep in."
Sarah turned to face her partner, wrapping her arms around Neal's sturdy frame.. "Wow. This is a treat." Sarah began to place soft kisses along her lover's neck. "We can always spend the day in bed," she suggested hopefully.
Resisting the urges that swelled within her, Neal pulled back and grinned. "Nope.. We're getting out of the house today. Like I said, we'll go out and do whatever you want. We'll even go to the art museums if you like." She wrapped the covers around Sarah's shoulders, tucking her into the down comforter and tenderly kissed her forehead. "I'll see you in a bit. I love you."
"Love you, too."
Neal stepped downstairs to find their twelve-year old son in front of the television, dressed and playing with his Gameboy. "Good morning, son," she offered in greeting.
Barely gazing up from his game, Austin returned the sentiment, "Hey, Neal. How's it goin'?"
"We're leaving for school a little early today. We'll stop by Krispy Kreme for breakfast. I want to talk with you and your sister before school today. Your Mom's sleeping in."
Sarah lay in bed, thinking of Neal. Today was the day. It was the deadline of the agreement they made five years before. Both women had always dreamed of proposing to the woman they loved. After a playful argument over who would pop the question to whom, it was decided that if Neal had not proposed within five years from that date, then Sarah was free to ask. With a smile, Sarah opened her nightstand drawer and pulled out the platinum and diamond engagement band. She had been waiting for this day since the first morning she woke in Neal's arms. Once she heard the door shut and her family leave, she excitedly jumped out of bed to shower and ready herself for the day.
Neal sat at a small table sharing doughnuts with her step-children. "We've been a family for a long time now. I love you two and your mother with all my heart. You know that don't you?"
Both children nodded. "Yeah," Austin responded.
Neal pulled a small velvet box from her jacket pocket and placed it on the table in front of them. "I want to ask your mother to marry me. Would that be okay with you guys?"
Emory, Sarah's ten-year old daughter reached out to open the box. "Can you two get married?"
"Well," Neal began. "It won't be legal in Virginia, but we can get legally married in Canada, which we'll probably do. We can still have a ceremony in front of God and the people we love. What do you think about that?"
Austin nodded. "I bet Mom would like that."
"How come you guys haven't done it before?" asked Emory.
"Your Mom and I were both married before. Lots of marriages end. I think we've been afraid that if we did that, our relationship would change. Being married is a scary thing."
"But you're kinda married now, aren't you?" Austin questioned.
"Legally, we're as married as we can be. I love your mother with all my heart and want to spend the rest of my life with her. I want to stand up in front of God, although He already knows, and the people who mean the most to us and promise to love and cherish her and the two of you."
Emory smiled. "I think it's cool. It's okay with me if you want to marry our Mom."
With her face beaming, Neal fought back tears of pride and joy as she closed the box and returned it to its safe place in her pocket. "Thanks, guys. It means a lot to me. Melissa is going to pick you up after school and then you'll hang out with her until we get home. I told your Mom to pick whatever she wanted to do today. I'm not sure when we'll be back."
"Good luck," Austin offered.
Neal placed her hand on Austin's shoulder. "Thanks, son."
When Neal returned home, she hoped to find her lover still in bed. Instead, Sarah was dressed and applying makeup. Neal walked up behind Sarah, wrapping her arms around her and kissing her neck. "Hey, I was hoping I'd get a shower with you this morning. You're already done."
Sarah giggled, her eyes dancing with excitement. She turned and wrapped her arms around Neal's neck. She joined their lips with a warm, soft kiss. "You told me to make plans for today, so I made plans."
Gazing into her lover's face, Neal replied, "You did, huh? What do you have in mind?"
"I thought we'd go down to Richmond and to that diner that you like so much; the one that we went to on our first date. Then, I thought we might go to the Botanical Gardens," Sarah said between kisses.
"So, basically you'd like to do the things we did on our first date."
As Sarah lightly nibbled on Neal's neck, she answered, "Mmmhmmm."
Neal's knees began to weaken from Sarah's actions. "Honey, if you don't stop that now, we won't leave the house at all today."
Sarah grinned and playfully slapped Neal's behind. "Well, then, I guess you better get that sweet ass of yours in the shower."
Neal rolled her eyes. "Ugh. You're such a brut.
"Yup. That's why you love me. Now get going."
"Geez. What is it with me and bossy women?"
"It's a Southern thing."
While Neal showered, Sarah placed the ring in her own coat pocket, intending to slide it on her lover's hand later that day at the right moment. She envisioned, as she had done countless times before, how she would propose. "Neal, that first morning we woke up together and spent the day in bed, talking and kissing, I knew I'd never be the same," she began as she paced across the kitchen floor. "We hadn't even made love yet. Being able to share your first kiss with a woman and to be in your arms and then to watch you begin to discover yourself was one of the most intense moments of my life. That first day we spent together in Petersburg; before I ever had feelings for you, I knew you were one of the most special people I had ever met in my life. As I got to know you better when we were falling in love, I realized I had been clueless before. You are the most remarkable woman I've ever known. You are everything I ever wanted in a woman. You make me feel loved and protected. You make me laugh and sometimes, when you speak from your heart, you make me speechless. I love you more each day. I've waited five years to ask you this. Will you marry me?" 'Is that too much? Maybe I should just say, "Marry me, Neal". Arghhh.'
As the water fell over Neal's brown hair, her mind wandered to the moment she'd dreamed of her entire life; the moment when she would propose to her soul mate. Sarah certainly fit that bill. Sarah had been patient and loving as Neal stepped out of her comfort zone to embark on their relationship years before.. She smiled when she thought of their first kiss. In the dark, Sarah softly asked if she could kiss Neal goodnight. Gently, but as if they had done it for years, their lips met. A million thoughts ran through Neal's head that night as she watched Sarah sleep in her arms. When Neal was afraid and doubted herself, Sarah led her tenderly and with a heart filled with love. In Sarah's arms, Neal became the person she had always wanted to be.
When Neal came downstairs, dressed and ready to go, she found Sarah staring out across the backyard from their kitchen window. "Hey honey, whatcha lookin' at?"
Sarah turned and wrapped her arms around Neal's waist. "Nothing. I was just thinking about how much I love you and how lucky I am to have you."
Neal smiled and ran her hands through her lover's hair. "Awww. You are my heart. I don't think it would beat anymore without you." The couple stood in the room, wordlessly staring into each other's eyes as they often did. Neal's face softened with love as she gazed at Sarah.. "You ready to go?"
Sarah happily nodded and Neal lifted her partner's coat, unaware of the ring in the pocket and slipped it onto her partner's body. Sarah took a moment to lean back into Neal's strong frame. Neal protectively squeezed Sarah's shoulders and laid her cheek against the side of her lover's head. She then offered her arm and led them out to the car, where she gallantly held the door open. As Sarah started to sit on the tan seat, she noticed a single red rose. "You are so sweet."
Neal stole a gentle kiss. "Yeah. Just don't let other people know that. I have a rep to protect." Sarah rolled her eyes in response.
An hour and a half later, they strolled hand-in-hand to Neal's favorite diner.. The restaurant had a retro-space theme accented by chrome and bright red color.. They sat across from one another, holding hands. Neal gently caressed her partner's skin. "I love touching you. You're so soft. Do you know how amazing you are?" Sarah blushed slightly from the attention. "Sometimes I feel like pinching myself to make sure that this isn't all a dream. You've given me everything I ever wanted; someone to love and share my life with, children to enjoy, and you're trying to get pregnant with a child of our own. Thank you."
Sarah brought Neal's wrist to her lips, softly kissing the exposed skin. "It's a pleasure. It's very easy to love you and to share a life with you."
Neal continued to gaze into Sarah's eyes, trying to summon the courage to ask that important question. Just before the words came out of her mouth, their lunch arrived, interrupting the moment. Noticing the look of consternation on Neal's face, Sarah questioned, "Are you alright? You look funny."
Neal shook her head. "No, honey. I'm fine."
Sarah laughed as she looked at the food on Neal's plate. "I've never seen you get anything else here other than that."
Neal shrugged. "Hey, you know me; I hate change."
Throughout lunch, Neal continued to stare at Sarah, thinking of the right words express her emotions. Neal grinned slightly, causing Sarah to wonder. "What?"
Stumbling out of her love struck stupor, Neal cleared her throat. "What do you mean, 'what'?"
"You have this goofy grin on your face and you're staring at me. What is going on in that head of yours?"
"You are so full of it," Sarah playfully remarked.
"Nope. I just love you."
Sarah beamed. "I love you too, baby."
Later, they walked through the Botanical Gardens basking in the winter sunlight. Sarah wrapped her arm through Neal's and laid her head on her lover's shoulder as they reminisced about their first date. "Do you remember how perfect that night was?" Sarah asked.
Neal smiled. "Yes, it was. We even had a full moon overhead. And your feet were freezing because you wore your loafers without socks."
Sarah chuckled. "That's because I couldn't find a match to the one that would match my sweater."
Neal shook her head. "You're such a girl."
Sarah lightly slapped Neal's shoulder. "Yeah, and aren't you glad."
"Actually, I am. Remember how I pulled you into the dark pathways to steal kisses?"
"Yesssss. I do."
"And you freaked out because you were afraid people would see us."
"And harass us. This is Richmond, after all. It's not nearly as open-minded as D.C. You surprised me that you would do that, though."
"I surprised myself. You were a bad influence on me. You were so beautiful walking among all the colored lights. It was the most romantic night I had ever had up to that point." Neal stopped and looked into Sarah's face. She gently touched Sarah's cheek. "You still are beautiful." She led them into the stone Mediterranean-style gazebo. "Let's sit for a bit." Neal sat behind Sarah on a stone bench, holding them together. "We sat here on this bench, just like we are now and looked at the moon as it hung above the lights. White lights were strung all through here.. It was stunning and holding you felt so right, just like it does now. I immediately knew even before I really acknowledged it, that you were the right woman for me.."
Neal moved directly in front of Sarah on one knee. "I want you to look at me, honey. I love you and the kids with everything in me. I want to make it official in front of our families and friends." She pulled the ring box from her pocket, opening it to reveal a platinum ring with three princess cut diamonds. Her hands shook and a tear fell from her eyes. "Will you marry me, Sarah?"
Sarah began to cry and laugh, shaking her head. "You are such a pain in the ass."
Confused, Neal began to panic. "Why? I thought you wanted to marry me."
Laughing and crying even harder, she replied, "Of course I want to marry you. That's why I bought this." She reached into her own pocket, pulling out the ring she purchased for Neal. "You waited until the very last day to ask me. Yes, Neal, I want to marry you."
Neal began laughing along with her lover. "You were going to propose to me?"
"Yes. When you suggested we spend the day together, I figured it would be the perfect day. Give me your hand."
Neal offered her hand to Sarah, who slid the ring on her left ring finger. Not caring about the people around them, Sarah wrapped her arms around her fiance and kissed her deeply.
Smiling, Neal pulled back from the kiss. "Careful, now. People might see you."
With their lips only a few inches apart, Sarah grinned. "Just shut up and kiss me."
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