Chapter 45 - Aubree (Part 2)
The roses were lovely. All the bushes were in bloom and several withered rose petals had fallen to the ground in the weeks to pass since their first visit in June.
The smell of them overwhelmed her and she closed her eyes, basking in the sweet perfume with the sun warming her skin.
Was this how strongly she smelled to Stone?
A shadow stepped in front of her and a familiar rough finger brushed against her jaw and up to her ear.
Opening her eyes, the sun cast a halo around his head as he tucked a rose behind her ear.
“I’m not eloquent with my words, Röslein...”
Her lips tugged up further. “You can be very eloquent when you want to be.”
He shook his head. His gaze lowered. “I never foresaw this day. Never would have believed it possible to find my soulmate again and fall in love with her. To surround her in a field of roses.”
Aubree’s cheeks pinched from grinning. “You can hardly call this a field.”
He brushed his thumb down along her jaw. “Close enough.”
Goosebumps broke out on her skin as she melted under his gentle caress, feeling the love that radiated from within.
“I hope someday you realize how precious you are,” he whispered.
“I have a pretty good idea.”
He tilted her chin up with his thumb. “You have given me much more than love. I was lost and you helped me to find myself again. I’m not the same male I was when I was with Adelaide, and I don’t suspect I will ever be the same male I was before. But you helped me to find a meaning to live again. To hope again. To live and breathe each day, thankful for everything and everyone I have surrounding me.
“When Adelaide died, a part of me died with her. You didn’t restore that part, but rather, you added yourself to what was already there.”
His deep blue eyes never left hers as his thumb traced her lower lip.
“It’s not about being completed by your soulmate. It’s about two coming together as one unified. I am not an incomplete person without you, but you make my life complete. You bring joy, love, and another reason to keep living. Joy makes life worth living. Joy is the light in the darkness. Joy is waking up beside you, running in the meadows with you, holding you in my arms, gazing into your eyes, touching you, kissing you, making love with you every day.
“You are my joy. And one year from the day I marked you, I wish to wed you among these rose bushes with all our friends and family. And that night, I want you to mark me—to make me yours—fulfilling a promise that I know means a lot to you and also to me.”
Her mouth fell open as he got down on one knee, taking both her hands in his and brushing his thumbs over her knuckles. “Aubree, with the blessings I have received from your parents, I ask for your hand in marriage.”
Closing his eyes, he lowered his head and touched their hands to his cheeks as whispers flitted up from the people wandering around in the garden and seeing the proposal taking place.
“I mean, you’re already my wife in the lycan sense of the word,” he murmured so low only those with heightened hearing capabilities could pick up, “but I know marriage is something you value and I want you to have—”
“Yes, Stone,” she said, blinking back tears and cutting him off. The tinge of red creeping up his neck as the voices continued to whisper around them hinted at his embarrassment. “I will marry you and mark you as mine.”
Grinning broadly, he stood back up and caressed her cheeks with his fingertips before tilting her head up to kiss her.
She heard a soft chorus of ”awes" and a few comments from women saying they would have said ”yes in a heartbeat" to ”that fine piece of—"
She wondered briefly if she’d ever get used to hearing people whispering amongst themselves from a dozen yards away.
Smiling, still touching her jaw with his fingers, he pulled away and privately asked her, [Would you like your ring now or later?]
Heat rushed over her face and neck. [You have a ring?]
[Yes, isn’t that how marriage proposals work?]
Giggling, she said, [Then I would love to wear it now.]
Pulling away, he dug through his pockets. [I was told the stone was very rare and...] He trailed off as fear began to gnaw away at him the more he dug through his pockets and couldn’t find the ring.
Her eyes widened as he paused and looked beside them.
Following his gaze, she saw Alistair standing a dozen yards away wiggling his dark eyebrows with a mischievous glint in his eyes.
Without a word uttered, Stone held his hand out to him.
Chuckling, the devil-dog strolled over with his thumbs tucked into the front pockets of his jeans. He invited Aubree into the mental conversation he was having with Stone.
[What? You think I can trust you with something as small as a ring when you’ve lost my babygirl... How many times has it been now? Five? Ten?]
[The ring, Beta,] Stone commanded.
Aubree heard a giggle as Alistair huffed and looked over her shoulder to see Gwen peering over Gavin’s shoulder at the edge of the garden, biting her bottom lip with Gunner standing protectively a few steps back. Smiles greeted her from the two males before she turned her attention back to her mate and soul-brother as he pulled a small velvet pouch from his pocket and held it out to Stone.
Before Stone could grab it, Alistair snatched it out of his grasp. “On the condition that you make me best man.”
“Denied. Gunner is best man. You go at the end of the line.”
Alistair sputtered in protest as Stone grabbed his hand and dug the pouch out from his clutch.
[He can be best man,] Gunner said in the pack mind-link. [I don’t mind.]
Glancing at Gunner, his neck and ears were red as tomatoes as he looked down at the ground beside him with a big grin on his face.
“Then it’s settled,” Alistair announced. “I’m best man. No take-backsies.”
Aubree snorted as Stone shoved him back a few feet and stepped closer to her, blocking Alistair and opening the pouch with a slight tremble of his fingers.
[I gave Adelaide pearls,] Stone privately said to her, [but thought this was better suited for you.]
Her eyes widened as she gasped.
He pulled out a ring, silver in color, and knew it was anything but that. An oval royal blue stone surrounded by diamonds sparkled in the sunlight as he lifted her hand and slid the gorgeous ring onto her finger.
A perfect fit.