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Bind, Extended Epilogue
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As a thank-you for making BIND such a success, I’d like to share this extended epilogue. I hope you enjoy!
BIND: THE PROPOSAL
I looked around Boiler Room Irish pub and bakery one last time.
Everything was perfect, exactly as I had wanted it to be.
But still, though I had everything just as I had wanted it, I was nervous.
It was an uncommon feeling for me.
I’d been in more than my fair share of scrapes, some that threatened a little more than hurt feelings or broken heart, but nerves had very seldom played a part in my life.
Now, though, I couldn’t stop the sweat that seemed intent on coating my palms, nor the gallop of my heart.
As I waited impatiently I tried to think of a time when I had felt like this.
Came up blank.
Not even when I had first seen Jess, or my son Jake, had I felt this way.
I had been worried, confused, angry, but never nervous, never like this.
But I guess that was no surprise when I thought about it.
I’d never felt like this because I had never done anything like this.
I was about to now, and I knew no matter what her answer, my life was going to change.
I had gone for a casual look tonight, the button-down shirt I wore with several buttons undone and the sleeves rolled up. I matched that with my usual jeans, but instead of the boots I preferred, I wore Italian loafers.
Jess had confessed that these shoes had caught her eye the first time she’d seen me, and I wasn’t above using any weapon at my disposal.
It was eerily quiet in the pub, something that would usually make me uncomfortable, but today it made me happy.
I didn’t really get to see the place like this very often, didn’t get to see what I had built, so I paused now, taking it in, reveling in the fact that this place, which had started off as a gag more than anything else, was one of the most important parts of my life.
I’d found out about my son here, had met the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with here.
This place had already meant so much to me, and if tonight went according to plan, it would mean so much more.
I heard the door open, and the anticipation that I only barely managed to push down came back in full force.
I circled the bar and walked toward the entrance, listening to each of the familiar steps as they got louder, closer.
And then, finally, she emerged.
“Sean? Where is everybody?”
Jess looked at me, her pretty brow furrowed in confusion.
I didn’t respond immediately, and instead just studied her, the face that I had looked at so many times before and only grew to love more every day.
The restaurant uniform from the waitress job that she refused to quit.
She’d worked a full day. I could see the effects of it in the slight sag of her shoulders, though her eyes were bright.
I had never seen anyone more beautiful.
Rather than answering her question as I had intended, I got close to her and hugged her to me, squeezing her as tight as I dared, but not nearly as tightly as I wanted to.
She chuckled, the sound vibrating through her chest and into mine.
I backed away, looked down at her.
“You know you wouldn’t have to wear that uniform if you quit that job,” I said.
She just shook her head and smiled.
“You know we’ve had this conversation, Sean.”
We had, and it usually involved me telling her she couldn’t work there anymore and her ignoring me.
It was annoying. Jess really didn’t need to work, and I wanted her to understand that. But even more, her insistence that she maintain that job was one of the things I loved about her.
She valued her independence, fought for it, and I respected that.
I also prayed she’d let go of just a little bit of it for me.
“Is this a private affair?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I said, looking at her as she looked at the pub.
“What’s the occasion?”
She looked at me again, her eyes still smiling, her expression patient, radiating what I hoped was love.
I had had it all planned out, had thought of the ways I would seduce her, feed her, give her drinks, make love to her on the bar, and then get down on one knee.
But in that instant, my plans flew out of the window.
“Jess,” I said, squeezing her hand.
For moment she looked alarmed, but calmed when I lifted our entwined hands and kissed hers.
She smiled at me, and that expression gave me the will to continue.
“I love you. You and Jake give my life meaning, you make it worth living.”
“It’s the same for me, Sean,” she said, her voice a whisper, faint, almost trembling.
“So what are we waiting for?” I asked.
She tilted her head, looked at me with a suspicious expression on her face.
“What does that mean?” she said.
“What it means is,” I responded, pausing to brush my fingers through my hair, my nerves momentarily getting the best of me before I continued, “is that I don’t know how it is for you, but I love you, Jess and I will until the day I die. Let’s make this permanent.”
“Sean, what you asking me?” she whispered.
Her voice had turned solemn, and she looked at me with a wary expression.
“I’m asking you to marry me, Jess. Will you?”
I hadn’t asked that question with the confidence that I had wanted, or with the levity at the end that made the answer seem a foregone conclusion. But none of that had a place here. Because in this moment, I stood before her completely vulnerable, knowing that this woman had the power to crush me with a single word.
She looked at me, blinked, then looked at me again.
“Yes,” she finally said.
That single word was crystal-clear, and gave me a level of joy I had seldom experienced.
In response I leaned down to kiss her, and put everything I was feeling, the relief, the happiness, the absolute certainty that this was right, into that kiss.
Jess returned it, and we stayed that way, locked in each other’s arms until we both were breathless.
A little while later she broke away, looked up at me.
“How about we break in the bar?” she said with a lazy smile on her face.
“Hey that was my line!” I said as I picked Jess up and walked toward the bar.