Charlotte woke up in her own bed, and smiled. They had been home from school for a few weeks, and she was getting settled into her rounds at the hospital. Rog took her under his wing and volunteered to help with her training, and surprisingly enough, the director allowed it. She smelled the aroma of crepes being cooked downstairs, and she pulled herself out of bed and showered, knowing Bella would keep them warm. Chris was already awake and downstairs. His work shift at the science facility started an hour earlier than Charlotte’s, and he was killing time until his carpool arrived to pick him up.
Rog came in with a handful of mail from the previous day and plopped it on the table. A beautifully handwritten letter was on top, addressed to Chris. Cade Macklamoor was not one to give up on what she wanted, and she was in pursuit of Charlotte’s younger brother. She retrieved the envelope and gave it a sniff. It was scented with jasmine and honeysuckle. Chris had a whole stack of letters in his room just like it, from her, unopened.
“Chris, when are you going to give that girl any attention? It’s pretty clear she is interested.” Bella picked up the stack, looking for bills to set aside.
“When I’m old and bitter,” he said.
“Aren’t you even curious?” Charlotte asked. “You were such great friends. I mean, I know she was overbearing, but she is a good match for you.”
“You think so, huh? Well, how’s it going with ol’ Trav?” Chris snipped at her.
“No comment,” she retorted. “Go to work, ya turd.” Bella laughed.
“Yeah, Charlotte, how is it going with Travis? I’ve seen your letters to him. Has he not answered any of them?” she asked.
“Nope.” She could have cried. The longer she went without contact with Travis, the crazier it made her.
“If it’s meant to be…” Bella began.
“Yeah, yeah, I know… It will be.” Charlotte shrugged.
“Come on, kiddo, work time,” Rog said to her, tossing her the keys to her new orange car. “Why don’t you drive this morning?”
“Ooh, I don’t know, Daddy,” she hesitated.
“You need to get back behind the wheel, Charli,” he encouraged. “You had a freak accident. You’re a good driver, it wasn’t your fault.” Reluctantly, she took the keys and kissed Bella’s cheek. Rog planted a kiss on Bella and whispered something in her ear. Whatever he said made her smile, but Charlotte didn’t want to know.
“Bye Mama,” she said, waving.
“Have a great day, you two!”
Rog looked at his daughter, so proud of the young woman she had become. She was a resident at the hospital, and he was assigning patients to her that challenged her skill set a bit, under his supervision of course. Her instinct was spot on, and she really had no problem figuring out the correct course of action on the patients he assigned. They took their lunch together and sat in the cafeteria.
“So, your mama says you’ve been trying to reach that Travis boy since you left school.” Rog took a bite of his sandwich.
“Ugh,” Charlotte said. “There are no secrets in our house.” Rog laughed.
“I was going to say, why don’t you fly out there and see him next weekend? And if you bring him home with you, bring Cade home for your brother.” He chuckled. “I wonder what Chris would do if you did bring her home.”
“He’d probably kick her out, Daddy. It’s not a good idea.”
“I don’t know. I think secretly, he loves the attention. She’s an attractive girl, and I could see him with a young lady like her. Well, think about it if you want to go.” They finished up lunch, and Rog checked his cell for messages. “Ready, Dr. St John?” he asked.
Charlotte wasn’t used to being called “doctor” yet, and for a second she wondered who he was talking to. “Yes, Dr. St John, I am ready.” They got up together, and he gave her a hug.
“I’m so proud of you, princess.”
“That’s Doctor Princess to you,” she smiled, and he gave her a gentle nudge.
After dinner, a few months later, Charlotte called Travis’s phone. On the third ring, he finally answered it.
“Travis? Is it really you?”
“The one and only,” he said. “How are you, Charlotte?”
“Better now,” she said. “You are very tough to reach, you know.”
“Am I, though?” he teased. “Maybe you should have tried one more letter.”
“Not funny, Travis,” she mock scolded. “It’s so good to hear your voice.”
“I miss you up here,” he said. “I have finals next week, and I could use your help.”
“Is that the only reason you miss me?”
“Well, no, but… I figured the way you left, you were done with me.”
“Yeah, that’s why I’ve tried to call you for the past 7 months.” She sighed. “I really, really miss you.”
He didn’t know what to say to her. He put his heart on his sleeve their last night together, and she couldn’t have been colder. “Why did you lock your bedroom door that last night, Charlotte? Did you think I wouldn’t hear it click? Or did you think that I was going to take advantage of you?”
“It’s a long story, Travis.”
“Well, I have time.”
“My mother… shoot, we all were in danger, and I couldn’t afford to take chances. I locked it every night, and so did Chris,” she explained.
“Okay, so that would have been nice to know ahead of time. Why didn’t you just say so? That would have been better than being made to feel like a predator.”
“Like I said, it is a long story. By the way, my Dad offered to pay my way back to Sim State so I can come visit on my next time off. Maybe I could come and explain it to you?”
“I’d like that, Charlotte. I know I don’t like how we left things, but we can try to fix it. I think we’re worth it.” She paused. He thought of them as a ‘we’… a couple.
“I’ll make arrangements, then. When did you say exams were?”
“Next week, but I wish you could come before. Like I said, I could use your help,” he joked, but hoped that she would consider it. “You might want to bring your brother, too. Cade has been love struck, and she is desperate to see him. She’s a different person. Quite the transformation.”
Charlotte chuckled to think of Chris going with her to Sim State. “I’ll ask him, but don’t say anything to Cade, just in case. My dad thinks he secretly loves the attention she is lavishing on him, but at home, he’s pretty salty about her.”
“So, it’s a date then?” Travis asked.
“It’s a date. I’ll let you know when I have my itinerary.” They finished the call and hung up.
Charlotte walked downstairs to where Rog was sitting and reading. “I actually just got off the phone with Travis, Daddy. He likes the idea of me visiting, but he wants me to bring Chris. Cade, apparently, is missing him like I’ve been missing Travis.”
“I bet he would go if you asked him,” Rog suggested. “I don’t think he’s as angry with her as he lets on.” He smiled. “In fact, I think those ‘unopened’ letters in his room have been well-read.”
“I’m going to make reservations for next weekend. I’ll ask him. They were such good friends, maybe there is still something there.”
Charlotte padded upstairs, and knocked on Chris’ door. “Can I come in?”
“Yeah, just a second.” Chris slipped into a pair of sweatpants and yelled, “Alright, I’m decent.”
“Hey, I have a proposition for you, Chris. I know you’ve been pretending to be angry with Cade, but Daddy sees right through you. So, I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse.”
Chris cocked his head and looked at her. “Okay, what is your offer?”
“I’m going back to campus to visit with Travis next weekend, and I’d love a travel buddy. Why don’t you come work things out with her? You guys were such great friends. Trav says she is a changed woman, and apparently has it bad for you, though I can’t imagine why,” she teased. He threw a pillow at her.
“I’ll let you in on a secret, Char,” Chris whispered. “I’ve read every letter, at least three times. I’ll go with you. I think I feel the same about her. She seems different, and I need to know.”
“Daddy was right,” she giggled. “Wait until he finds out!”
“You can’t say anything yet, Charlotte… Please. Not yet.” A big smile crept onto his face. “Not until I know for sure.”
“Okay, Chris. I’ll let you tell dad and mama about her.” She turned to leave his room, and said, “I’m excited about going back.”
“Me too, sis.”
The plane touched down at the airport just outside of Sim State, and Charlotte gathered her things to bring off the plane. Chris had dozed off in the seat next to her. “Chris, we’re on the ground.”
His eyes opened wide, and he excitedly gathered up his phone and music player and stuffed them into the backpack he carried on. Neither of them had checked a bag, as they were only staying a day or two. They headed down to car rental and Charlotte picked up a car to drive into campus. She handed Chris the keys, and he drove them into town.
Travis was still staying at the dorm where he lived last year when Charlotte and Chris were still attending, and Cade lived with her family. But she went to his dorm and was waiting with Travis when they arrived.
He was waiting for Charlotte with a rose and big hug, while Cade had artistically decorated a welcome back banner for Chris. “Since the dorm isn’t very private, why don’t we go off-campus? I know a nice place not far from here,” Cade suggested.
They all piled into Charlotte’s rental, and Chris drove them to the restaurant, following Cade’s precise directions. They decided to get two tables, rather than one.
Travis pulled the chair out for Charlotte and they sat together. “I can’t believe you’re really here,” he said. “You’re prettier than the last time I saw you. You look… grown up.”
“I guess being a true adult has that effect,” she giggled.
“So, what have you been doing since you got home? I want all the details!” The waiter came around to get drink orders. Travis got a beer and Charlotte ordered a sweet tea.
“Well, I started at the hospital almost immediately when I got home. My dad is doing my training, and he’s such a good teacher. I’m learning so much from him, and he makes sure he challenges me, so I actually have to use my training.” She smiled contentedly, her chin resting on her hands. “Tell me, how have the profs been? Are they still making your life difficult?”
“Yes,” he grumbled. “I passed my exam last week, but barely. I changed majors. I’m not doing science anymore. It was too much.”
“There’s no shame in admitting you’re having difficulty. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.” She took a sip of her tea.
“Yeah, that’s what my old man said. I started playing for the Llamas, and we have our last game next weekend. I expect my last year to be a full ride on a sports scholarship. They want me to stay on the team.”
“Awesome, Travis!” she beamed. They ordered lunch. Charlotte got a salad, and Travis ordered grilled chicken and steamed veggies. “What, no burger?”
“Nope,” he answered. “The coach wants me to eat healthier, so I’m doing this instead. I feel better for it, to be honest, but I sure miss our burger dates.”
“I miss having you around all the time. I miss bowling with you and Chris. There’s no bowling alley in Starlight Shores, believe it or not. I just miss being with you.”
“I miss you, too.” He thought for a moment and smiled. “Is this the part where we declare our true feelings for the other now?”
Charlotte giggled. “I wouldn’t have come all this way if there wasn’t something there. I know we left things weird between us, but I came back to fix it. To see if what I’m feeling is real.”
“And is it?”
“I think so.” She smiled, and he took her hand.
“I’m happy to hear that, because it’s real for me. It always has been.” He kissed her fingers, and she blushed.
Meanwhile, Cade and Chris were at a nearby table. Chris held the chair for her and took a seat next to her. “I can’t believe you gave me a second chance, Christopher,” she said after staring at him for most of the drive. “I owe you an apology. I’m sorry I was so forward with you. I kept forgetting you were so much younger than my other friends. I know that isn’t an excuse, but I felt bad when you walked home that night because I was being inappropriate. I should have been less pushy.”
“It’s okay.” He took her hand in his and felt her trembling. “Why are you shaking?”
“Because, Chris, there is so much riding on this visit. I want more than to be your best friend. I don’t want to spend my life without you, wondering what could have been. I don’t want you to leave this campus and I never see you again.” She hung her head. “I’m being pushy again. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay, Cade. Really.” He smiled sweetly at her. “I have a secret.”
“Oh?” She looked intrigued.
“I have read your letters over and over. And I realized there is feeling there. On both sides.” He kissed her hand, and she looked surprised. “I was too young, too immature to realize that what I was feeling was… affection for you.” He took her other hand in his and held them together. “Cade, I know I’m still much younger than you, but I’ve grown up quickly. I’m a responsible adult, doing a job that people twice my age can do. We have our whole lives together. We’re lucky, actually. My mom and dad didn’t meet until they were almost 25. We can have a few years together before we get there.” He felt like he was rambling, but her heart was melting.
“I want to come back to Starlight Shores with you, Chris. I have nothing here. No job, no prospects, no future. I want to live in the city. I want to live my dreams and spend my time with someone I care about. And yes I’m being pushy. But I don’t want to chance that I’ll never see you again once you leave tomorrow. I couldn’t do it.”
Chris sipped his water. “You are welcome to come home with me if you want. Our home is big enough for you to stay until we can get our own place together. I’ll have to check with my folks, but somehow I think they’ll be okay with this.”
“Really, Chris?” she asked. He nodded. She stood up and pulled him to her in a hug. She whispered into his ear, “I think I love you.”
He wasn’t surprised by her admission, because he had the same one. “I think I love you, too,” he whispered back and kissed her.
Charlotte noticed their hug and sweet kiss and smiled. “I did not see that coming,” she laughed.
“See what?” Travis asked.
“My brother and Cade. It looks like we have a coupling.”
“Oh great,” Travis teased. “She’s going to be even more insufferable now.”
Chris and Cade stood up and joined Travis and Charlotte. “Mind if we join you?” he asked whimsically.
“Not at all,” Charlotte said. Travis shot her a look that said, ‘we aren’t done here’, but he figured it could wait. What’s another hour, he thought.
“Cade is coming home with us tomorrow, Charlotte.” Chris just blurted it right out. “She’ll stay in the loft until we can get our own place.”
“Well, this is sudden,” she said, concerned. “Have you guys really thought this through?”
“Yes,” Chris answered, sure of himself. “I have a good job, make decent money, and I love her.”
“Did you let Mama and Dad know yet? They might have something to say about it.”
“Not yet. Leave it to you, though, to rain on my parade.” He was a little hurt by Charlotte’s reaction. Seeing how she’d been pining for Travis, he thought for sure she would understand.
“I’m happy for you, Chris. Cade, welcome to the family!” She stood up and hugged her. “I’m sorry. Being back here automatically kicked me into mothering mode. You’re right. It’s your life, and you alone get to decide how you spend it. How you live it.”
Chris beamed, happier than he’d ever been. Chris picked up both checks and paid them, and they all left together.
They drove back to campus, but decided to spend some quiet time at the lake where Chris and Charlotte had spent time fishing during their summer semester. Travis and Charlotte took the spot near some trees, and Chris and Cade went swimming on the other side. Their splashing and noise were too far off to be bothersome.
“Travis,” Charlotte asked, “how do you really feel about me? I mean, you’re still my best friend. But I think of you as more than that. At least, I’d like us to be more than friends.”
“I’ve adored you for a long time, Charlotte.” He stopped short of saying he loved her, because he didn’t want to spook her away from him again. “I wouldn’t mind if we were exclusive to each other.”
“Really?” she smiled, taking his hand and holding it as they sat side by side. “This doesn’t feel real. All these months I’ve tried to contact you, and here I am, sitting with you, and it’s as though I never left.” She rested her head on his shoulder. “I think… “ she paused, wondering if she should say it, “I think, Travis… I think I might love you.”
“Well, I know I love you. But I didn’t want to scare you away.”
“Yeah, about that. I’m so sorry about how I treated you our last night together. I promised I’d tell you about it, so I will.” She laid back in the grass, staring at the blue sky, watching the clouds, and he did the same. “I had gotten a phone call about 2 months into our second year here, right after the fall semester began, from my mom’s friend Jen. Long story short, mama’s crazy ex-boyfriend was out to kill her, and things were getting a little rough right around that time. I never told this to Chris, and I kept it close, thinking if I didn’t speak it, it wasn’t really happening. I couldn’t get any information out of my mother. When she doesn’t want to talk, forget it. Anyway, she’d been having problems with this guy since way before Chris and I were even born. Jen told me to be prepared for anything. I was thankful for her calls and updates, even though I knew she felt out of place being the one to tell me anything.”
“After that phone call, we had the security system that was in the house activated, and every once in awhile I noticed a campus officer following me around. I hoped that Chris wasn’t observant enough to notice, and I don’t think he ever did figure it out. My first priority was keeping us both safe.”
“My goodness, Charlotte. That’s an awful lot to put on yourself.” He shook his head and sat up. “I wish you would have just said something. I could have helped you. Protected you.”
“At the time, your friendship was what I needed. A safe place, a safe person away from the uncertainty and fear… that constant, nagging fear. And after my mom’s problem with this guy she dated years and years ago, and how it followed her around all her life… I was a little shy about getting romantically involved.”
He nodded. “I get that.”
“I was always on my guard, never letting it down. I needed you, but I wasn’t ready for the way I needed you, I guess.”
“Have things gotten better at home?” He was legitimately concerned.
“Yes, her ex was killed in a prison fight, and the man who tried to rape her confessed to and was sentenced to death for another man’s murder.”
“Wait, you never said your mother was sexually assaulted.”
“Well, it was attempted. My dad saved her life.” Charlotte knew about everything. The door that malfunctioned, the escape hatch, the whole thing, thanks to Jen. Even Bella didn’t know that she knew everything, and Charlotte would see to it that Bella went to the Reaper never knowing she did.
Travis understood, finally. She wasn’t rejecting him at all. But he would have loved for her to confide in him when she really needed him. He picked up her hand and noticed her ring still on her finger. He smiled. “I’m guessing this still means you don’t have a man back home.”
“You’re my man back home, Travis.” She sat up and looked at him. “No more wishy-washy. No more thinking. I know, Travis. I know I love you.” He looked her in the eyes, his heart bursting.
“Well, you know,” he started to joke, “I’m kinda, sorta…” he paused for effect, “… in love with you. And, you realize, I’ve never even kissed you, so I guess we should seal the deal.” He pulled her close and kissed her.
“Wow,” she said, breathless. “You’ve done that before a few times, I’d imagine.”
“You must have, too,” he said. “You’re a great kisser.”
She blushed. “You’re my first, Travis.” She never told him she didn’t date in school.
“I’d have never known it.” He kissed her again. “Nope, still wouldn’t know it.” They both laid back down, cuddled together and watched the clouds.
“Last one in is it,” Cade taunted. She ran to the edge of the lake and jumped in, then turned around to see Chris laughing on the bank.
“I guess I’m it, then,” he said. He slipped his shoes off, but wasn’t sure about getting wet. They had no towels with them, and he didn’t want to spend the rest of his night in soggy clothes.
“What are you waiting for?” she asked him. “The water isn’t cold, ya know.”
“I don’t have a change of clothes,” he said.
“You don’t need clothes to swim,” she suggested. He blushed.
“Well, you might not, but I do. I don’t need fishes nibbling on stuff they shouldn’t be nibbling on. Or worse, crawdads.” She laughed. He didn’t want to mention his purity promise again, but he wanted to honor his promise to his mother. He was pretty sure that skinny dipping with Cade would be a serious breach of trust.
She splashed him. “Come on, silly man.” Taking a running start, he jumped into the water, making a huge splash.
“Is that better?” he asked, splashing her back.
“It is,” she said, swimming to him, wrapping her legs around his waist. They kissed for a few minutes, and Chris pulled away.
“I wish this water was colder,” he smiled uncomfortably.
She pulled him close again. “We’re going to be together anyway. What’s the big deal?”
“A promise, Cade. I don’t want to break it.” She rolled her eyes. “I’m serious.”
“Well, since I love you, and I’ve waited this long, I guess I can wait a little longer.” She gave him serious credit for sticking to his promise, and was impressed. She laughed, and kissed him.
Charlotte drove to Travis’ dorm before they left the next morning, and knocked on his door. “Hey honey, we’re on our way to the airport.”
He walked out of his room, sleep still heavy in his eyes. She looked so beautiful, even this early in the morning, and he couldn’t wait to visit Starlight Shores during Snowflake Day break a few months away. “Hey Charlotte,” he greeted her.
She hugged him, and whispered, “Remember I love you. I’ll call you when we get home.” Kissing his cheek, she pulled back slightly.
He wiped tears away and kissed her. “I’m going to miss you, but I’ll see you soon.” He hugged and kissed her once more. “I love you,” he said.
Cade and Chris were waiting in the car. She walked toward the car, weeping, but happy. Charlotte gave her the adjoining seat on the plane with Chris, and she took the single one a few rows forward. Cade had no luggage, only a few things she threw in Chris’ bag, and the clothes on her back. Charlotte and Bella would have fun spoiling her and shopping with her in the city.
Bella and Rog sat down with Chris while Cade was still working. In her pocket, she had her mother’s engagement ring. “Chris, we’d like to talk to you for a moment.”
He put down his journal for work and folded his hands. “Sure Mama, Dad. What about?”
Bella retrieved the ring from her pocket, and put it in Chris’ hand, wrapping his fingers around it. “We want you to give this to Cade. Chris, we adore her, and we know it’s inevitable that you two will get married. Give her Nana Desi’s ring. You have our blessing.
Chris opened his hand and saw the shiny, sparkling stone he had seen his own mother wear for years. “Mama, this is extravagant.” He knew the sentiment behind it, and he was touched to be blessed with such a beautiful heirloom. “Are you sure?”
“Of course, Chris. She is a lovely young woman, and it would look beautiful on her.” He hadn’t thought about proposing and making it official, it was just always assumed they would get married someday, sooner than later.
He hugged his mother. “Thank you, Mama, she is going to love this.” Bella knew the young girl came from a family in poverty, and Cade was often overwhelmed by the life of luxury that Chris was accustomed to.
Rog shook Chris’ hand. “Congratulations, Son.”
Cade came home from work, tired and sore. The whole family had been waiting for her, and Chris greeted her, dressed a little nicer than normal. Looking at everyone’s face, she worried.
“What’s going on?” she asked cautiously.
“Absolutely everything,” Chris answered. “Cady,” he began, using his nickname for her, “I know that we always assumed we would get married. Why don’t we make it official?” He knelt on one knee, and opened the ring box, revealing the huge diamond that Arthur had given to Destiny years ago.
“Oh Chris,” she said, starting to cry.
“Cady, would you marry me?” He slipped the ring on her finger and stood up.
“YES!” she squealed. “Yes, I would love to marry you!” She was openly crying, and Charlotte had a video call with Travis in the background, so he could watch. Cade and Chris embraced and kissed.
“Okay, let’s give the lovebirds some space,” Rog said, breaking up the family crowd. Charlotte walked up to her room to continue her video call with Travis. He was coming to visit the family during his winter break, and neither of them could wait.
Chris wanted to get married at home, in the house he grew up in, surrounded only by his family. Nothing big, nothing lavish. Cade’s family wouldn’t be coming from out of town, and Travis would be there for Snowflake Day, so they planned on getting married on Chris’ 19th birthday. Destiny’s wedding gown fit Cade perfectly with little need for alterations, and since time was short, Cade agreed to wear it. Her diamond ring was worth more than her family’s net worth, and then some, and then to wear Destiny Hill’s wedding gown… she would be the envy of her friends back home.
Charlotte drove to the airport to pick up Travis at the start of winter break. It had just begun to snow, and she was nervous. “I’m not used to snow, so we’ll be a little longer getting home,” she explained.
“Do you want me to drive? Just tell me where to go.”
“I’d love it,” Charlotte said. They pulled off to the side of the road and switched seats. “I’m sorry, I don’t like to drive. I was involved in a fatal accident before I graduated high school. I shouldn’t have lived through it. I know it was a freak accident, but I’m still afraid.”
“Wow,” Travis replied. “I had no idea.”
“The scar on my face, under my left eye… that had a piece of glass sticking out of it when they pulled me from the car.” She shuddered at the memory. “They told me it would scar, but I’m used to it.”
“That’s a scar?” Travis asked, glancing at her. “I thought it was a beauty mark.” She smiled.
“Nope, it’s my reminder that life is fragile.” He nodded.
When they got home, Travis was floored by the house, the elegance of the furnishings, the beauty of the location. “Wow,” he marveled, “I can’t believe you live here.”
“My Nana and Pop Pop bought it when my Mama was born. It’s been in the family for a long time.”
“They must have had some money,” he said, thinking out loud.
“You do know who my Nana was, right Travis?”
“No, I have no clue.” She walked him to the family photo collage hanging on the wall.
“Nana Destiny… Destiny Hill.” Travis’ mouth dropped open.
She smiled. “Yes really.”
“Why did you never tell me this?” He couldn’t stop watching the slideshow on the collage, seeing the photos of Bella, Bree and Bianca, and Destiny and Arthur when they were all much, much younger.
“Because I would have never known if you liked me for me, or because of my Nana.” He nodded. Though he loved her for just being Charlotte, he understood how it could have been an issue.
The next day was Snowflake Day, and Chris and Cade’s wedding. Instead of exchanging gifts like they had done every Snowflake Day since they were little, Chris was looking forward to the best gift of all. The only non-family attendee was Jen, who had more than earned her right to be there. Jen came early to help Bella set things up, and she decorated the arch with flowers personally. Bella baked their wedding cake, and Charlotte had decorated the rest of the house. And Rog happily opened his wallet and paid for everything.
At 1pm, Chris stood under the arch, waiting for Cade to descend the steps. Charlotte walked down first, with Travis waiting for her to escort her. Then Cade came, and Rog met her at the bottom of the step and walked her down the aisle. He thought it a shame that her own parents couldn’t care enough to make the trip, so he was honored to give her away. Chris saw her, dressed in his grandmother’s wedding dress, looking so lovely that he couldn’t hold back tears. Rog lifted her veil and kissed her cheek, and gave her away to Chris.
Chris spoke first. “Cady, my love, when we met, I never saw us together, here like this. But you did. You went out of your way to make friends, to flirt, to make me fall in love with you. You never gave up on me and for that I’m so very thankful. I love you now, and I will love you forever.” He slipped Destiny’s simple gold band onto her finger, and he kissed her hand.
Cade spoke next. “Christopher, I knew from the first moment I saw you, that you were someone special. I knew you were smart, but I came to find out that you are sweet and sensitive, loving and kind. And I knew I could never give up trying to win your heart. I love you now, and I will love you forever.” She slipped a simple gold band onto his finger, weeping.
The justice of the peace pronounced them husband and wife, and they kissed under the flowered arch for the first time, a married couple. They cut their cake and danced their first slow dance in the spa room, which had the door propped open and was decorated with flowers.
Charlotte was sitting on the sofa in the living room, watching the fire when Travis sat next to her. “I almost forgot to give you the gift I brought from home for you,” he said.
“Oh?” They had already exchanged gifts earlier in the day, so this was a total surprise to her.
“Yeah, here.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a ring. “I know it’s nothing like what Cade is wearing, but the love in it is no less. Charlotte, will you marry me?” He slipped it on her finger, and it stacked perfectly with her purity ring.
“Travis,” she said, as her eyes welled with tears, “I will!” She looked at her ring, and it was beautiful. She put her arms around his neck, and he pulled her close to kiss her.
“I love you, Charlotte.”
“I love you too, Travis.”
Up Next: Chapter Three, Generation Four