**The end for Christian and Tyler. Or maybe it’s the beginning…**
The last six months had been some of the happiest of my life. Ever since that night that Tyler finally told me what made him run all those years ago, I felt like he had a new level of trust. But more than that, he continued to show me every day how much he cared for me. Big things, little things, it didn’t matter. He would surprise me with dinner at my favorite restaurant, or bring home a newly released movie that I had mentioned once that I wanted. For my birthday, he’d scoured antique shops until he found a roll top credenza that was nearly identical to the one that my grandfather had. I had told Tyler how much I had loved it when we were flipping through my old photo album, but I hadn’t said I wanted one. Tyler just knew. He understood me, and that meant the world to me. With each passing day, I became more convinced that he was really in this for the long haul. That what had happened eight years ago was not the real Tyler. At least, not the man that he was now.
And he told me he loved me. Often. Sometimes I’d catch him staring at me, and when I asked him what was so interesting he would shrug and say, “I love you.” Of course, he also said it when I passed him the butter at dinner. But the truth was, it didn’t matter when or how often he said it, I could tell he meant it.
I had yet to say it back.
It wasn’t that I didn’t love him. There was a part of me that had never stopped. I was hesitant to take that final step with him, though. I wanted to be absolutely sure. It took time to rebuild the trust his leaving had destroyed. But Tyler’s patience and kindness had finally paid off. Today, that would change. Today, it was my turn to show Tyler how much I loved him. It was finally time to tell him.
The sun was barely peeking through the curtains when I nudged him awake. . He’d been a little surprised when I’d insisted he stay over last night. It wasn’t normally something I pushed during the week. We both had to be into work early. But today was different. Tyler grumbled and tried to pull the pillow over his head. I gave a soft laugh.
“Wake up, sleepyhead,” I whispered, my lips right at his ear. “You’re not going into work today.”
Tyler grunted. “Then why do I have to get up? No. Wait.” He pushed the pillow away, and blinked up at me. “What are you talking about?”
“You have the day off, and so do I. So get up.”
He just squinted at me. “Christian, honey, you aren’t making any sense.”
He was so adorable all sleep rumpled and confused that I couldn’t help but smile. “No. You’re confused. Surprise! I called your boss and got you the day off. You definitely aren’t working today.”
“Okay,” he said slowly. “Why?”
“Because we have somewhere to be. So get out of bed for, all right? We need to leave soon.”
Tyler looked intrigued, and still confused, but he did as I asked. When he was in the shower, I grabbed a couple of duffle bags from the floor of my closet and started packing. Over the last nine months, a good deal of his clothes had found their way into my house. The same was true for my clothes at his place. That certainly made things easier for me now. We would only be gone three days, and I hoped we’d spend a majority of that time naked, so I didn’t worry about packing too much. A couple of nice shirts in case we decided to go out to eat, but the rest of the bags were filled with necessities only.
When Tyler came out of the bathroom toweling his hair, he stopped short when he saw the bags. Suspicion crossed his face. “We need luggage?”
“No questions!” I declared in a sing song voice. I pointed toward the bedroom door. “Go make coffee. Let me hop in the shower and then we’ll leave.”
“Can I at least get dressed first?” He asked playfully. He was getting into it, I could tell. Excitement was creeping into his eyes. He always had loved surprises.
I gave a very put upon sigh. “I suppose. But make it quick!”
Half an hour later, we were on the road.
It took three hours to drive to our destination. We talked, we laughed, we sang along with the radio. But every time Tyler tried to get answers out of me, I resolutely changed the subject. He even offered to give me road head if I would tell him. When I refused, he knew I was serious and stopped asking. But the closer we got, I realized my mistake. The signs gave it away. I should have brought a blindfold.
“We’re going to Lake George?” he asked, his voice filled with awe. I didn’t answer him. I didn’t really have to.
Because it was a late in the season, the fall colors were brilliant and breathtaking, but there weren’t too many people around. When I pulled up to the front office of the resort, I insisted Tyler stay in the car while I checked in. I wasn’t surprised when he agreed easily. He was really into the spirit of things now, and didn’t want to spoil it.
Check in was quick, and I was back in the care fifteen minutes later. I followed the directions I had been given down a winding path until our cabin came into view. It wasn’t anything spectacular in and of itself, but it was private and surrounded by gorgeous trees. I knew that if we stood on the porch, we’d be able to see the lake.
Tyler was like a little kid as soon as I opened the door. He went running around, checking everything out. It nothing more than a big room, the living and dining areas combined, with several doors along the back wall. I could see the bedroom and the bathroom from where I stood. I expected the third door to be a closet. Tyler was wearing a huge grin, and I couldn’t help smiling in response.
“This is spectacular!” Tyler crowed. “And did you see the view from the porch? God, this is fantastic, Christian.”
“I’m glad you like it.”
“I love it,” he said, his voice softening. He crossed the room quickly, and took me in his arms. “I love you.”
This wasn’t quite how I planned it, but it was really the perfect time. I took a deep breath, smiled, and said, “I love you too.”
Tyler sucked in a fast breath, his eyes going wide. I knew he was beginning to think he’d never hear the words from me. But if he thought that was a shock, he was going to keel over with what happened next. I pulled out of his arms, and dropped to one knee.
“Holy shit,” he whispered. “What is going on here?”
I laughed softly even as I reached in my pocket and pulled out the jeweler’s box. I snapped open the lid and held it up. “I love you. I’m so glad you came back, that you showed me the kind of man that you’ve become, that you fixed my broken heart. Do you want to spend forever with me?”
He didn’t hesitate. “Yes.”
That was the only thing I needed to hear.