Elizabeth: What Have I Done?

If happiness was equated to air, I’d be floating into Neverland. The number of clouds I was dancing on was definitely larger than nine—more like a million! I couldn’t stop feeling elated. John and I had not received the blessings of my family, or his brother, but right now felt like the finish line.

“So?” John grinned as he asked, “I take it you like the ring? The way the ring fits you, we were meant to be, Els.” I agreed.

“As much as I want to, I’m not sure if I’ll wear this on my finger, at least not the ring finger. Would that bother you?”

“I’d like to tell the world that you’re mine, but I understand if you’re hesitant. We have only known each other for like two days.”

“I don’t want to freak out my dad and brothers before they get to know you. You’ve met Jake Reid, the chief. You’ve yet to meet Jake Reid, the father. If my father doesn’t scare you off, my uncles Max, Donovan, and Nick will finish the job.”

“Damn. It’s going to be harder than I thought.”

I hugged John as reassurance that all would be OK. “As soon as Lilah gets home, everyone will grill her and she’ll give you a glowing assessment. I’m sure JR will agree with everything Lilah’s said, so you’ll be fine.”

I couldn’t help looking at my new ring every time I lifted my coffee mug. I loved the ring; I loved what it symbolized even more.

“Tell me more about your parents,” I encouraged.

“They were young hippies, or free spirits, as they liked to call themselves,” John commented as he searched for pictures illustrating this fact. “G says she doesn’t know when this happened but Mom was born an old soul and when she met Dad, who had the same, calm outlook in life, she knew he was the one.” There were gorgeous pictures of the happy couple who always had the biggest smiles on their faces. “They technically never married.”

“What?”

“They met in junior high and knew by age sixteen that they wanted to be together, forever. However, they were too young to get married and too resistant to anything ‘official’ so they decided to have a hand fasting ceremony by themselves.”

“Oh my gosh. Did your grandparents freak out that their only child ran off and got ‘married’ at an age where most kids are learning to drive?”

“Yeah,” John laughed as he showed me their hand fasting photo. “However, G said that Mom was so stubborn, there was no way to change her mind.”

“What happens after two sixteen-year-olds decide to get married?”

“They lived here with my grandparents until they were done with school. With both deciding high school was enough, they each found jobs until Mom got pregnant with us. She worked until she gave birth to us and stayed home until we reached school-age.” John scrolled through many more pictures while explaining this story.

“They never married, even after you guys were born?”

“Nope. They said hand fasting and their love were enough for them. They were madly in love until the day they died. They’re probably up in heaven holding hands right now, looking down on us with a smile.”

“That’s an awesome story. My parents had quite a bit of drama with each other before they married, but they, too, are madly in love. All the married people in my family can’t imagine a day without their spouse. It’s beautiful to watch two people in love with one another.”

John stood up again and reached into his desk and pulled out a handful of strings, cords, and ties of all color. Seating himself right in front of me, he professed, “These are the ties that bound my parents when they were a dozen years younger than us.” I saw where this was going and it made me nervous as hell. “Els, I know this is fast. Never did I think I’d meet a girl and want to marry her today. However, that’s where my heart is at right now. I know a dozen cords can’t bind us legally, but before you go back home, will you hand fast with me? I want to bind us emotionally and physically.”

Was I crazy to want this as much as John wanted this? I saw his sincerity. I felt his love. I knew he loved me even more than I loved him. What the hell? Why not? “OK!”

He took my consent with the biggest smile and held my hand like he was shaking it. With his free hand, he wrapped all the colorful cords around us and declared, “Tonight, I bind myself to you in heart, body, and soul. From this night forth, you and I will be one in love. I love you, Els.”

“I love you too, John.” Tonight, my heart ruled my head. I loved John and wanted us to be one. With this thought, I asked him, “Love me, John, and show me what to do.”

Slowly, carefully, beautifully, we loved one another the rest of the night.