Marrying Ember
Author:Andrea Randall

“What’s the big deal? I’m not saying that to be passive but, for Christ’s sake, Bo, I want to be with you for-ever, what does a piece of paper have to do with that?”

 

I exhaled roughly, swinging my legs over the edge of the bed. “It matters because it’s a rite of passage with the person you love. That you put on that piece of paper that you promise forever. It’s written.”

 

“Soooo my words don’t hold enough weight unless they’re printed?” Ember drew her eyebrows together as she put her feet on the floor, following the walk I’d decided to take through the bedroom door.

 

“I don’t want to fight.” I ran a hand through my hair, entering the kitchen and pulling a bottle of Vitamin Water out of the fridge.

 

“Who’s fighting?” Ember looked around, her tone careful.

 

I gulped the water until half the bottle was gone, then slammed it down on the counter.

 

“That was a little aggressive.” Ember crossed her arms and arched her eyebrow.

 

“Marry me,” I blurted out.

 

Her nostrils flared as her face twisted in pure sarcastic splendor. “I was wrong … that was aggressive.”

 

“You don’t want to marry me?” Sweat sprang up on the back of my neck. This wasn’t how I was supposed to ask her to marry me, but she wasn’t supposed to not answer, either.

 

“You’ve lost your goddamn mind, Bo. You’re not asking me to marry you right now. You’re freaking the fuck out and it’s not okay.” She placed her hands on her hips and swallowed hard.

 

“What if I was?”

 

“What if you were what?”

 

I took a deep breath through my nose. “What if I was asking you to marry me right now?”

 

Ember rolled her eyes. “You’re not, though.”

 

My voice grew dark. “Answer the question, Ember.”

 

“I—”

 

I didn’t let her finish before I cut her off by holding up my hand.

 

I bit my lip. I didn’t want to yell, but I didn’t want to stand in the room with her anymore. That was more my fault than hers. She had no way of knowing that with every word she spoke she was spearing every plan I had for us for the rest of the summer … and the rest of our lives. As I headed for the door, Ember seemed to sense what I was doing, and beat me to it, placing her hand on the knob.

 

“No way,” she nearly yelled, her eyes fierce with passion. “Hiding out here all weekend, remember?” She pressed her back against the door, blocking my exit.

 

I rolled my eyes. “I can just go out the back door, Ember.”

 

“Right. But you won’t, because you’re not an asshole. You’re not going to run away from this conversation by accusing me of running away from it, Bo.”

 

Her eyes widened as tears threatened to fall, and her cheeks were still red. Even worse, she was right. The good news was, she wanted me to stay, even though I was acting like a total ass.

 

“Okay.” I sighed. “Sorry. So … what do we do?”

 

Relief spread across her face. “Well, we dial down the panic a notch.” She walked past me, toward the oversized couch where she curled herself up.

 

“Yeah.” I chuckled nervously as I walked to the living space and sat next to her.

 

“So, do you want to talk about the whole marriage thing?” She lifted her eyebrows and twisted her lips playfully.

 

“No,” I said, surprising myself.

 

Ember leaned into me, pulling my arm way from my body and wrapping it around her shoulders as she snuggled into my chest. The smell of lemongrass was never far away. I kissed the top of her head and took a deep breath, grateful that I didn’t have to have a conversation with Ember about her thoughts on marriage to know … to know that soon I’d ask her to be my wife … and she’d say yes.

 

“Can I interest you in a topic change?” Ember’s voice lowered at the end of her sentence. She moved her lips to my neck and left them there until I responded.

 

“Anything you want.”

 

Her grin excited me. “Anything?”

 

I nodded, and all the blood my brain needed to process an answer raced south.

 

Ember pulled away from my body, throwing her hair up into a loose ponytail.

 

“What are you doing?” I asked as she worked her hands across the belt of my shorts.

 

“I want to see you the whole time. And I want you to see me.” After she undid my zipper, she lifted her shirt over her head, tossing it behind her where it landed on the coffee table.

 

I slid my shorts off as she stepped out of her long skirt. She stood in front of me for a moment, while I took off my shirt, and I could barely complete that task while staring at her form. The way her waist curved in, leaving soft slender hips in their wake, stole my breath. The sliver of a shadow her breasts created over her ribs begged me to touch her. With her hair pulled back, I had the good fortune of viewing the length of her, from her flawless hair that hung down past her breasts, all the way to her toes. Unobstructed.

 

“I can’t have you standing that far from me anymore,” I whispered, the obvious physical sign of my readiness posted up between us. She held out her hand as I reached for her, allowing me to pull her on top of me.