Ian Carson sighed and glanced at his watch. This award party was dreadfully boring, and Ian had much better things to do besides sit in uncomfortable chairs, listening to a politician drone on about how grateful he was to receive such a prestigious piece of glass. The ballroom Ian and one hundred others were seated in was brightly lit. A couple dozen round tables covered in white tablecloths were scattered around the room. Red velvet curtains were held back from the stage by heavy golden cords. To Ian’s right, elaborate french doors were closed. Until recently, that was. The doors slammed open, turning every head in the room. A tall woman with orange hair pulled into spiky pigtails stood in the doorway. She wore a tight orange dress that matched the color of her hair. Navy heels that showed off her red toenails boosted her up a few more inches. Over the dress was a worn jean jacket. The woman appeared to be struggling with her purse, which was nothing more than a small pouch with a long, thin strap.
“Shoot! Damn it, would you stop that already?” The woman growled, still trying to get a good grip on the bag, which was swinging uncontrollably. “Why the hell were purses made anyway? This is stupid! There! Finally! My gosh!” The woman grasped her purse and looped it over her chest. She took a step into the ballroom before realizing that everyone was watching her. Her step faltered slightly, enough that Ian was aware that she was embarrassed. A flush crept over her face.
“Hi, y’all! Why don’t you just stare some more? It’s not rude or anything!” The woman huffed at everyone. Murmurs went around the room, some of them about the woman. She strode up to Ian’s table and sat on a unoccupied chair.
Now that she was closer, Ian could see the dark brown streaks in her hair, and that her eyes where hazel in coloring.
“You seem familiar. Have we met?”
“I’m not sure.” The woman popped a cherry from the bowl on the table into her mouth. Her face lit up, and she snapped her fingers. “I remember you now! You’re Ian Carson. You probably don’t remember me, though. I’m Morgan Storm. We were friends in college?”
Morgan Storm. Of course! Ian should have known. He had only spent four years looking for the damned woman. He could see now that she had changed a lot since he had last seen her. Morgan was still as beautiful as ever, though. And as clumsy. Four years ago, Ian had been at college. He had met Morgan at a party, and they became friends. Morgan hadn’t told Ian anything about her family, so she was almost a stranger. Ian had fallen in love with her, and told Morgan one night a party. They had talked until Ian passed out on a couch from exhaustion. When he had woken up, Morgan was gone. At first, Ian had thought telling Morgan about his feelings had been a dream until he saw her cell phone laying on a table near by. Since her cell phone had been left behind, he couldn’t contact her. Later, he found out that Morgan had moved out of her dorm room, and transferred to a different college. He hadn’t been able to get the name of the college, so, using the contacts in Morgan’s phone, he had searched for her. A few months ago, at his mother’s request, Ian had given up the search. If that was all he had needed to do to find Morgan, he would have given up a long time ago.
Ian watched Morgan out of the corner of his eye. She sat primly on her chair, legs crossed at the ankle and tucked under her chair. All the while, she ate cherry after cherry. Finally, the speech was wrapped up, and the jazz band started playing. Ian stood and grabbed Morgan’s hand, pulling her to her feet.
“Hey! Wait! I never agreed!” Morgan protested as Ian dragged her to the dance floor. Whipping her around, Ian settled a hand on Morgan’s waist, his other holding hand holding Morgan’s firmly.
“Remember how we used to be good friends, Morgan? What happened to that?”
“Um, you, telling me that you loved me. Kinda ruined everything.”
“I did love you. I still do.”
“Oh, come on!” Morgan scoffed, a few loose strands of her hair brushing the top of her shoulders. “You and I both know that you are incapable of love, Ian. You told me so yourself.”
“Yes, I did. But that was before I got to know you. I searched for you for four years, Morgan.”
“How sweet.” Morgan’s words dripped with sarcasm.
“Ah, how I have missed your voice. It’s like music to my ears, dear one.”
“Stop talking like that.”
“Talking like what, my love?”
“That! Stop calling me pet names! It’s weird.”
“Would you prefer me to call you by your given name, Morgan?” Ian let some of his brogue creep into his voice, making the R in Morgan’s name roll over his tongue. She gave him an annoyed look.
“Really? You’re using the accent on me?”
“Yes. I‘m shameless, isn’t that what you once said?” Morgan had once admitted to Ian that she had a thing for guys with accents. Naturally, Ian hadn’t bothered to hide it whenever he had spoke to Morgan.
“What do you want, Ian? There must be a reason, otherwise you wouldn’t be using the accent on me.”
“What do I want? I want to finally get down to being more than friends at last, Morgan.”
“Yeah, not going to happen. Ian?”
“Yes, my love?”
“The music,” Morgan frowned, her adorable nose wrinkling. “Has stopped.”
“Has it now? I hadn’t noticed.”
“Yeah. You didn’t notice I’m not interested in you either.” Morgan set her hand on Ian’s, removing it from her waist. Giving him once last annoyed look over her shoulder, Morgan walked away.
“You can run, lass, but don’t think I can’t find you. Our bond is too strong, and you will not be able to resist our pull for long.” Ian smiled at her. But the slightly shocked, slightly angry look on Morgan’s face, Ian could tell that she hadn’t expected him say that.
Striding up to his aide, Ian ordered the man to get Morgan’s address under any circumstance. Morgan wouldn’t get away this time. Ian was certain.
Nuts! I slammed the door to my apartment and leaned against it. Why did he have to be there? Damn Aidan. He had tricked me into coming. He knew Ian was going to be there. Aidan and Ian had been best friends years before Ian and I had met. Naturally, Ian would have stayed in touch with my brother to find out where I was. It was a good thing that I had joined the Air Force when I did, otherwise, Ian would have found me long before now. He had been handsome when I left college, but now he was gorgeous. His red hair was so dark, it was almost black. Light green eyes had bored into me, almost as if Ian could see my soul. It was an unnerving gaze. He had tanned a bit, his normally pale skin a light gold. Dressed in an expensive three piece black suit, Ian appeared mature and sophisticated. Yeah, right, I snorted at the thought. Back at the party, I hadn’t meant to be so harsh, but I needed to get my point across to him. It would have been cruel to lead him on when I wasn’t interested in him. But, Ian was never one to give up easily.
Scowling, I kicked off my shoes, and made my way to the kitchen. My apartment was small, and made up of four rooms. My kitchen, dining room that doubled as a living room, my bedroom, and bathroom. Plush black carpet covered the floor in my room and the living room. The bathroom and kitchen sported red tiles. The walls were painted white with blue swirls. I had a small table and a couple chairs, a couch and TV, and a handful of essentials for my kitchen and living room. My bedroom was much more simple. A bed, a dresser, a closet, and a Pokedoll collection. Yawning, I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, poured a glass of chocolate milk, and carted my dinner to the couch to watch some mindless TV. Half an hour into Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, I fell asleep.
Ian knocked on the door to Morgan’s apartment. Well, at least he thought it was Morgan’s apartment. Ian looked out of place in the clean, white halls. It wasn’t the most lavish place, but it was clean, and in a good neighborhood. Ian knocked again, more louder this time. A crash sounded from behind the door, followed by a few curse words.
“Snap, crackle, pop, damn it!” Morgan’s voice floated through the door. There were a few more crashes before the door finally opened. Morgan stood in front od him, once side of her hair flat, the other spiky from sleep. Her hazel eyes were heavy lidded, a sure sign that she had been sleeping when Ian had knocked. She was dressed in soft gray pajama pants, a white tank top, and fuzzy red and black socks.
“Who are you?” She rubbed her eyes with her fists like a child.
“It’s me, Morgan. I told you I’d find you.”
“Huh?” Morgan blinked, than scowled. “Get out.”
“Aren’t you going to invite me in, lass?” Ian smiled.
“How generous of you, lass. You’d make me a fine wife. My dear, sainted mother would love to see you, Morgan.”
“Don’t use Connie as a weapon. Hey!” Morgan yelped as Ian wrapped his arms around her, and twirled her away from the door, closing it with a foot behind them.
“I have missed you, lass. Have you missed me?” Ian’s voice softened as he looked at her.
“Liar. You did, I can see it in your eyes. Don’t try to deny it.” Ian raised Morgan’s hands to his lips and kissed her fingers.
“Stop that!” Morgan pulled her hands away and tucked them into her pockets.
“If it’s a different place you’ll be wanting me to kiss, I’ll oblige you, lass.” Before Morgan could do anything, Ian leaned it and planted a kiss on her lips. Ian pulled back before he made Morgan even angrier. Smiling at her, he pushed a strand of the orange and brown hair behind her ear. “Say something, lass. I know I’m amazing, but the shock should wear off soon.”
“You little swamp monster!” Morgan batted his hands away from her face and tackled him. They both fell to the floor, Ian laughing at Morgan as she viciously attacked him. Suddenly, a flying pink blob landed on Morgan’s butt.
“Nuts!” She shouted as she reached behind her to dislodge the pink blob. She pushed it off, and went back to trying to hit Ian. With a quick hook of his leg, Ian flipped Morgan.
“Lass, you are a tenacious one. I only hope that you will show that same tenacity when we are married, and women flock to me like moths to a light.”
“I’ll never say yes if the question was from you, you dirty little monkey!”
“By the way, love, what is that pink thing that’s staring at me?”
“Oh, my gosh! Snap!” Morgan pushed Ian off of her, and crawled over to where the pink thing was. As Ian focused on the thing, he could see that it was a Slowpoke. It had a long tail that was tipped in white, huge blue eyes, and a pink body. Its snout was white as well. The Slowpoke was laying spread eagle on its belly.
“Snap, are you okay?” The Slowpoke, Snap, looked at Ian, his huge eyes slightly glazed over. Slowpoke’s mouth was open, his tongue hanging out. Saliva dribbled down the Pokemon’s chin as it stared at Ian, questioningly.
“Why is it staring at me like that?”
“Snap is special. Don’t be mean to him.”
“You have a retarded Pokemon?” Ian laughed. How absurd it was to have a mentally challenged Pokemon. Could that even happen, he wondered. Ian felt a stinging slap hit his cheek, and looked over at Morgan. She pointed to Snap, who’s eyes had narrowed. Its tail was swing from side to side, almost threateningly. So, the thing could understand him.
“I said he was special, not mentally challenged. Now leave Snap alone.” Morgan ran her hand over Snap’s pink skin lovingly before draping the Pokemon around her neck. Snap wiggled around, getting comfortable. From the way the Pokemon laid there, Ian could tell that Morgan had often carried it around that way.
“I came here to ask you to lunch, Morgan. Snap is invited as well, if you’d like.”
“Snap can stay here.”
“So you will go?” Ian said hopefully.
“Sure. But only as your friend. Nothing more. You will not go around telling people I am your girlfriend.” Morgan retreated into a back room. “Stay in here while I dress.”
I set Snap on my bed carefully. Snap was so special to me. It had been a couple months after I had been stationed in Castelia City when I had found Snap. He had been severely wounded, and extremely sick. I had nursed him back to health, and since then, he hadn’t left my side. He still suffered from his bout of sickness, leaving him weak, which was why he could be a bit simple-minded at times. I turned away from my bed and smacked my knee on my dresser. Holding my knee and hopping up and down, I cursed my clumsy nature. I was always falling down and slamming into something. My room was so small, that everything was packed into it. My bed was against the wall, the dresser next to it. The closet was next to the door, and a desk that held my Pokedoll collection. I pulled open the drawers to my dresser and grabbed a loose fitting orange skirt and red tank top. It was in the middle of June, and the weather was stifling. I dressed quickly before heading into my bathroom, which connected to my room. The red tiles underfoot were polished to a high shine. My shower was closed off by frosted glass. The toilet was behind the door, and sink across from the toilet. I had a wire rack that held towels and my toiletries. I brushed my teeth, pulled a comb through my hair, and clipped a few pink barrettes in the front to keep it out of my eyes. I stepped into a pair of red flats and left the sanctuary of my room.
Ian sat on the couch, his knees almost touching his chest. I smothered a laugh. I knew I was tall, standing in at five feet nine inches, but Ian was huge. I was able to wear four inch heels around him, and still look like a midget. I took a moment to admire his taste in clothes. Ian wore a ratty Metallica T-shirt, worn jeans, a really nice leather jacket, and sneakers.
“I’m ready.” I announced. Ian turned, his eyes scanning like a machine. A look flashed in his eyes, one I had seen often. I went as still as a mouse as Ian stood.
“Ian,” I started, stepping back as he moved forwards. “Think carefully about what you are doing.”
“I know exactly what I’m gonna do, lass. You can run, but than I’d had to chase you. We both know that I’d win.”
Deciding to chance it, I turned and ran. I caught a glimpse of Ian vaulting over the couch and shoved my bedroom door open. I had taken one step inside before I felt Ian’s arm close around my waist, lifting me off the floor.
“Snap!” I screamed. “Use Confusion on Ian, now!” Not one to disobey, Snap jumped up and focused on Ian, his eyes taking on a light pink hue. I felt Ian begin to stumble before crashing to the floor, unconscious.
Ian woke up to see Morgan crouched over him, a bowl of cherries in hand. On his other side, Snap sat, his tail wagging proudly.
“You cheated, lass. I’ll get you for that.”
“Try.” Morgan dared as she bit down on a cherry. A bit of juice ran down her lip. Ian grinned, knowing the perfect way to enact his revenge. He sat up and ran his tongue up her chin, licking up the drop of juice. Morgan screeched, falling backwards in surprise.
“Nuts and bolts!” She shouted, obviously enraged. Snap stood, ready to defend his mistress. “You beast! Why would you lick me?!”
“You said try, so I did. Why are you mad, lass, when you’re the one who dared me to do it?” Ian feigned innocence.
“Ian Roarke Carson, you will regret that.” Morgan swore, anger blazing a fire in her eyes.
“My love, there is nothing you can possibly do that will make me regret that.” Ian snagged Morgan’s hands, pressing a kiss to each of her fingertips. Morgan frowned, but didn’t make a move to reclaim her hand. Ian nearly smiled. He was winning. Happy that she hadn’t tried to fight his touch, Ian pressed one last kiss to the soft skin of Morgan’s palm, but didn’t let go.
“Have you finished putting your germs on my hands, Ian?” Morgan smiled sweetly.
“Not quite yet, my love.” Unable to resist, Ian licked her again, from fingertip to wrist.
“Yuck! Why are you always licking me?” Morgan whined, pulling her hand back.
“Because you taste like cherries, my sweet Morgan.”
“Keep your tongue to yourself.” Morgan muttered as she retreated into the kitchen to wash her hands. Ian had a joke for that, but stayed silent as not to piss Morgan off even more than she already was.
I spent five minutes disinfecting my hand before venturing out into the living room where Ian was. Why had I agreed to go to lunch with him? The man was insufferable. But, he had been a good friend to me in college, and I had missed joking with him over the years that I had been in the Air Force.
“Give me your hand,” Ian said softly.
“No, you’re going to lick me again.”
“Give me your hand,” Ian repeated, his voice even softer. I knew that tone. It was like his look; either way, he was going to get what he wanted. Sighing, I extended my hand to Ian. He wrapped his larger one around mine, dwarfing my hand completely. I could feel the calluses on his warm hands. He rubbed his thumb over my knuckles, the gesture surprisingly comforting. Dear heavens, his plan was working! I wanted to bang my head into the wall a couple times, but we were already in the lobby. When had that happened?
“Good morning, Miss Morgan!” The man at the front desk waved excitedly at me. Ian frowned at him and tugged me closer to his side. I sighed. Men.
“Thank you for that soup. It was really good. My mother thanks you for it, and she wishes to see you again sometime soon.”
“I’ll drop by for a visit on Sunday, Darrell.”
“I’m counting down the days until you do come by, Miss Morgan.” Darrell smiled at me, his long black hair falling into his brown eyes. He really was a sweet young man. Dressed in the dark blue uniform that was required of all the staff at my apartment building, Darrell cut a striking figure.
“You met his mother?” Ian growled.
“Oh, yes. Meredith is a wonderful woman.” Deciding to have a bit of fun with Ian, I added, “Darrell is such a fine young man. Any woman would count herself lucky to marry him.” I sighed at the end, unable to resist.
“I forbid you to go to his home on Sunday, Morgan.”
“How foolish of you! You can not forbid me to do anything. I’m a grown woman. Or have you not noticed?” I wanted to smile. Darrell was happily married to a sweet woman who was expecting their first child.
“I have noticed, Morgan. So have other men, and I’m not willing to share my Morgan with them. You’ll not go.”
“I’m not ‘your Morgan’, I just Morgan, and I can too. You can just eat dirt, Ian.”
“My love, I’d eat another human if it meant spending the rest of my life with you.”
“That’s sick!” I stared at Ian in horror. That was supposed to be endearing?
“I’m kidding, lass. But only about eating another human. I do love you, Morgan. With all my heart.” There was such seriousness in his voice. My heart softened a little at his words. He was breaking down my barriers, worming his way into my heart, damn him. Ian removed his arm from around my waist and draped it over my shoulders. After a few moments of walking like that, he used his free hand to move my arm around his waist. I rolled my eyes, but Kept my arm in place.
The streets of Rustboro were clean. Nobody ever littered here in fear of what Roxanne might do to them. Littering came with a harsh fine and a brutal reprimand from Roxanne herself. I spotted the red roof of the Poke Center, and the blue roof of the Poke Mart in front of it. A little bit ahead was the Rustboro gym, where Roxanne resided.
We turned a corner and found ourselves at a small bistro. The green and white striped awning shielded the three tables from the sun. Large plate glass windows gave the people walking pass a look inside the cozy restaurant. Ian lifted his arm off of my shoulders to order our food inside the restaurant. I claimed a table by the flower beds, the scents of the fragrant blooms wafting over to our table. A few minutes later, Ian returned with a couple plates of food balanced on one arm, and two tall glasses of lemonade in the other hand.
“How are you managing to do that?” I said, a little awed.
“I took a job as a waiter after you left to fill the void in my life.”
“How did that work out for you?”
“My heart bled for years. It finally feels whole again. Thanks to you, Morgan.” Ian set the plates and glasses down, and grasped my hand in his. “You make me so happy.” I looked down at my sandwich, blushing furiously. Why did he have to say stuff like that? Then it hit me. In college, I had a vast collection of romance stories, the corny ones where the man confessed undying love for his lady.
“You snake!” I smacked his hand. “You know my weakness is sappy confessions of love.”
“Yes, I remember you loved those heinous love stories, but I would never use them to make you marry me, Morgan. I love you too much for that.”
Don’t give in, Morgan, I coached myself in my head. It’s just a scam. This man is a scam artist. Mentally building my barriers back up, I just sighed. This was going to be a worse day than I had thought.
“Let’s eat.” I picked up my sandwich and took a bite. I could taste turkey, lettuce, mayo, pastrami, and pickles. I swallowed and made a face. I hated pickles.
“I don’t like pickles.”
“What to trade? I have the same thing as you, but mine doesn’t have pickles.” Ian offered. I was stunned. Nobody had ever asked me if I wanted to trade food with them. They usually told me to pick off the pickles and eat it like that.
“Sure.” Ian switched plates quickly. Surprised that it wasn’t a joke, I smiled at Ian. He gave me a weird look, but smiled back. He had such a nice smile. His incisors were a bit long, giving his smile a wolfish look. A lock of dark red hair had fallen forward, hanging over his forehead. Somehow, that little lock of hair had attracted my attention. All the women walking by our table had their eyes glued to that piece of hair. I frowned. Why were they looking at Ian? He was with me, not them. I shook my head, dismayed by my thoughts. I couldn’t let Ian win. I was going to keep my word. If he asked me to marry him, I would never say yes.
“Are you done, my love?” Ian said, jolting me out of my thoughts.
“Um, yeah. Don’t call me that.”
“I have somewhere I want to take you, Morgan. Will you come with me?” Light green eyes gazed at me as I weighted my decision. I set my hand in his and stood.
“Why not? It’s not like you can ruin my life anymore than you already have, Ian.” Ian smiled, pressing a kiss to my hair. I swore I felt him whisper something, but I wasn’t one hundred percent sure. I pressed my hand to his cheek and pushed his face away.
Ian was thrilled when Morgan said that she would come with him. Feeling giddy inside, Ian led her to a small park where the most beautiful of flowers grew.
“Oh!” Morgan let out a small gasp as she saw the rows of cornflowers, roses, lilies, hyacinths, acacias, snap dragons, petunias, bluebells, bleeding hearts, and countless others. “They’re so pretty! Can I pick some?” Morgan looked at him, happiness shining in her hazel eyes. A light breeze blew in from the north, rustling Morgan’s orange hair. Wrapping a strand of hair that was streaked with dark brown around his finger, Ian nodded his head. This was his park after all.
Morgan knelt down to pick some, but Ian stopped her. He slid off his jacket and laid it on the ground. The jacket costed him a few hundred Poke, but he didn’t want Morgan’s skirt to get dirty. As Ian spread his jacket out on the ground, he felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked up to see Morgan smiling at him. Her smile was the most beautiful thing in the world, Ian thought. He covered her hand with his own for a moment before returning to the task at hand. Once he finished, Ian and Morgan knelt on the leather to pick the flowers.
“How many do you want?”
“Oh, at least an armful each.” Grinning at her answer, Ian started to pick flowers. “You have to pick them at the stem, otherwise they won’t grow back, Ian.” Morgan used her chiding voice, one that was usually reserved for naughty children.
“Of course. How could I be so callous?”
Ian and I returned to my apartment well after the sun had gone down. Ian had generously taken my armful of flowers and carried them all the way to my building. As we walked up the steps, I stumbled, twisting my ankle in the process. I yelped, my hand automatically going to my ankle.
“What? Are you okay, Morgan?”
“Yeah, I just twisted my ankle. It’s fine.”
Handing the flowers to a small kid passing by, Ian asked him if he would carry them up to my apartment for a few Poke. The little blonde boy nodded, falling in step behind Ian. Against my protests, he scooped me up and carried me through the doors, and into the lobby. Darrell was still manning the desk.
“Ian, put me down.” I ordered him.
“No, Morgan. You twisted your ankle. By walking on it, you might do more damage.”
“Ian! I’m fine!” I squirmed in his arms. Sighing, Ian shifted and laid me over his shoulder, fireman carry style. “Ian, put me down!” By now, we were starting to draw stares.
“Carry on, people. My fiancée is just throwing a fit.”
“I’m not your fiancée! Put me down!”
Ian shook his head and carted me up the stairs to my apartment, the little boy on his heels. The little boy’s blue shirt was streaked with green stains, his jeans torn at the knees. The kid was absolutely adorable. Ian reached into my pocket, removed my key, and unlocked the door. The little boy laid the flowers on the couch, and Ian handed him a handful of crumbled Poke, The little boy thanked him, gave me one last uncertain look, and left. Ian set me down on the couch next the flowers. He pulled off my shoe and examined my ankle.
“Wow! Your feet stink so bad.” Ian waved a hand in front of his face.
“They do not! Do they?” I bit my lip. Did I have stinky feet? Oh, my gosh! What if I did?
“No, Morgan. Your feet smell like cherries.” Grinning, Ian ran a finger down my foot lightly, making me squeal. His hold on my foot was strong. He repeated it again. I burst out in laughter. My feet were so ticklish, and Ian knew it. I tried to pull away, but I was weak from laughing so hard. An angry growl came from the direction of my room. Ian and I looked over to see Snap. He looked extremely pissed off. He thought that Ian was hurting me. Before I could say he wasn’t, Snap focused on Ian, his eyes changing colors. Ian’s eyes rolled to the back of his head, and he hit the floor hard.
“Snap!” I yelled.
For the second time that day, Ian woke up to see Morgan and Snap leaning over him. Morgan was once again eating cherries.
“Well, Snap heard you tickling me and thought you were hurting me, so he used Confusion on you, and knocked you out. Again.” She added with a smile.
“You stupid weasel. I’ll skin you.”
“You won’t skin my baby, you monster!” Morgan scooped Snap up, and held the Pokemon to her chest protectively.
“Such verbal abuse. How could you expose my delicate mind to those harsh words?”
“And if I don’t?”
“How rude.” Ian smiled. He was eye level with Morgan’s twisted ankle. She had a used a thin piece of cloth to tie an ice pack to it to keep the swelling down. “Don’t keep that ice pack on your ankle long.”
“I know.” Morgan shot him a look over her shoulder as she carried Snap out of the room. Ian sat up with some difficulty. Morgan returned to the living room, her orange skirt swirling around her legs as she walked. “You should get going now, Ian.”
“What, no nightcap?”
“But it will happen, right?” Ian asked as Morgan pushed him out of her apartment.
“Good night, Ian.” Morgan smiled as she shut the door on him.
Ian knocked on my door early the next morning. I knew it was him because he had a habit of knocking five times in a row. I opened the door to see him dressed in one of his stuffy three piece suits. He pulled at his tie uncomfortably. I knew this was going to happen. Ian was never one to waste time. I blew out a breath, silently praying for the right words to say to Ian. His heart was going to be crushed, I just knew it.
“Morgan, I want to ask you something. Please, hear me out.”
“Can I come in first?”
“Fine.” I opened the door wider, letting Ian walk pass me. He wrapped an arm around my waist and pulled me along with him. Once the door was closed, and we were in the living room Ian hugged me. I tensed, relaxing after a few seconds, and hugged him back. He was my friend after all.
“Morgan, I searched for you for four years. A few months ago, I gave up. I thought that we weren’t fated to be together. Then you walked into that ballroom two days ago, and I knew I had been right when I looked for you all that time. When you left, I felt so empty inside, like my heart had been ripped out. Nothing I did filled the hole you made when you left me, Morgan. Nothing.”
“Ian,” I started to speak, but he hushed me.
“Let me finish, lass. When I spent yesterday with you, I was so happy. You made me happy, Morgan. I’m sorry that I overreacted when you were talking to that boy, but I don’t want to share you. I want you all to myself, my love. Will you marry me, Morgan? Please? I don’t want to wait any longer. Four years was enough.” Ian got down on one knee and pulled a small blue velvet box out of his pocket. After a few seconds, he remembered to open it. Snap came waddling out of my bedroom and saw what was happening. He climbed up onto the couch and sat, waiting to see my reaction.
“I can’t marry you, Ian,” I said softly.
“Why, Morgan? I love you more than I love my own mother. If I stopped breathing today, I would die happy knowing that I had a a chance to know what it feels like to love.”
“But I don’t love you, Ian. I don’t love you, and it would be cruel to pretend to.” I repeated myself.
“I know, lass. I can see the truth in your eyes. But if you marry me, I promise I will make you happy.”
“I’m sorry, Ian, but I can’t. I made a promise to my parents that I would marry when I was in love. And I’m not.” I grasped Ian’s hands in mine and pulled him to his feet. He rubbed a tear away from my eye with his thumb. Weird. I hadn’t realized I was crying.
“Don’t worry, lass. My heart isn’t broken. Thank you for telling me the truth about your feelings.”
“What will you do now that I refused you?” I asked Ian, who seemed shocked by my question.
“Well, lass, I’m going to woo you.”
“Woo me?” I laughed.
“Yes, my lovely Morgan. I’m going to make you fall madly in love with me. You will love me to the point where you cannot bear to live without me. You will then have no choice but to marry me.”
“I hate you.” To my credit, I said it with a straight face.
“You do not hate me. You may not love me, but you don’t hate me.”
“I said it once, I’ll say it again. I hate you.” This time, we both started laughing. “I don’t hate you, but I won’t accept a marriage proposal from you, Ian.”
Ian and I did end up marrying, but I stayed true to my word. I didn’t accept a proposal from him. Instead, I asked Ian to marry me. It was a brilliant idea on my part. Our wedding took place almost seven months after the ball when we met up again. Snap was our ring bearer. It turned out, Snap didn’t like not being the only man inside my life, and ran away with the rings. It took us two hours to track him down and retrieve the rings. By then, he had already licked a bunch of frosting off our wedding cake. I didn’t hold it against the little guy, though. Snap eventually warmed up to Ian after we had three kids. Snap then decided he was the children’s nurse, and was responsible for their well-being. Ian and I have been married for twenty-eight years, and I still haven’t killed him yet, so I take that as a good sign.