Marcus paced the front lawn waiting for Eloise and his family to come back, they’d been gone since eight that morning and he was starting to get antsy. What could be taking them so long? Eloise had texted him over two hours ago saying they were on their way home.
“Do you miss Aunt Ellie?” Jill asked him, he turned to look at his little niece. She looked just like her mother Dana, but had Clyde’s personality. Looking up, he saw all his brothers and dad standing on the porch watching him.
“Very much, we haven’t been apart much since we started dating,” he answered, kneeling to get on eye level.
“We all decided we like Aunt Ellie, even Vincent likes her and he hated her at first,” Jill told him, he laughed and ruffled her hair with his large hand.
“I am glad all my nieces and nephews approve of Aunt Ellie,” he replied, noticing everyone was waiting on the porch with their dads.
“Are you all waiting for your moms?” he asked the group.
“We always wait for them on the porch, you are usually gone with your friends,” Matt explained with a smile on his face. Marcus understood how they felt, a day without Eloise had been hard for him to handle. He’d wanted to drive into Greenwich and shop there for her ring, but he wanted Charles to help him.
“When are you taking Ellie out tonight?” his dad asked.
“As soon as she gets back, I have a bag packed for her and everything. We are going to be staying by the lake, I’ve set up a tent already. We’ll be back in the morning sometime after breakfast, maybe,” he answered and thought about what spending the next twelve hours with his mate would be like.
“Don’t stay away too long, you know your mother is going to want to celebrate you two,” his dad replied with a smile.
“We won’t be too long, but I am going to enjoy having her all to myself.” His ears picked up the sound of his mother’s car and he turned to see them coming down the long gravel driveway. Suddenly nerves overtook him and he had to tuck his hands behind his back to keep from doing something stupid.
“Mama!” screamed all the children as their mother’s climbed out of the car. Marcus could see their day away changed their demeanors. Gone were the tired eyes and in their place were happy smiles and laughs. Eloise was the last to exit the car, his breath caught in his throat when he saw her bright eyes. The tension she had been carrying in her shoulders was gone, her skin glowing and he caught a hint of dark pink on her fingernails. She tucked a strand of loose hair behind her ear and gave him a shy smile. She wore a tight pair of jeans and a bright red sweater, her hair was left down, with the top half braided out of her face.
“Hi,” she whispered, he walked over to her and pulled her into his arms with a tug and kissed her.
“So, you missed me?” she asked, a smile lighting up her face.
“A lot, he was pacing around the front yard for the past twenty minutes waiting for you to get home,” Travis told her, Marcus turned and glared at his oldest brother.
“I miss you too,” she admitted and he had to hold back from grabbing her and kissing her again.
“I have a surprise for you,” he announced and pointed to their rental car, it was packed with everything they would need while camping for the night.
“What?” she asked, her gaze falling on the car.
“We are going to camp under the stars tonight, just you and me,” he explained, taking her hand he walked her over to the car.
“Have fun!” his mom called, helping her into the car he got behind the steering wheel and started up the car.
“We are camping?” her voice came in a whisper, he could tell she was trying to process everything.
“Yes. We have a lake on our property, it is about an hour’s hike but only a ten minute drive. I wanted to spend one night just the two of us showing you what I love about my home,” he shared.
“I’ve never been camping before.” He looked over at her in surprise, she had a faint blush on her cheeks.
“Yes, my mom never had the time because she worked and my father could care less.” She gave a shrug with her shoulders, but he could hear the hurt in her voice. Her father was a piece of work and if he ever met him, he would give him a piece of his mind.
“Then I am proud to share this first experience with you. I already have a tent set up, but I figured we could cook together over the fire. I have the makings for smores and tin foil dinners,” he explained turning down a dirt road.
“I’ve always wanted to try camping, I like being outside and going for hikes in our national park,” she replied, an excitement pouring off her that Marcus could feel.
“Perfect, then you are going to love being out under the stars tonight. I promise you won’t get cold sleeping next to me.” He reached over and brought her hand to his lips giving it a soft kiss.
They drove in a comfortable silence, each to their own thoughts, the closer they got to their destination the more nervous Marcus felt. He knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Eloise, he just didn’t know the words to tell her. He wanted his proposal to be something they could tell their grandchildren about one day.