Maybe some people would've called Frank Sinatra corny, but I couldn't think of music better to set the mood. To me, it screamed romance, and by the way Syn had just melted into my arms, she agreed.
We swayed to the music, her head resting against my chest, the soft breeze brushing against our skin. I wished there was a way to capture a moment in time, to be able to have it as more than a memory, to be able to actually go back and experience it.
Because if there was ever a time in my life I wanted to capture, it was that moment.
We danced as the sun closed its eyes and the moon made her appearance. We danced as the stars flickered above us and the waves softly rocked the boat.
And finally, I couldn't hold it in. I had to say it.
"Syn," I murmured.
"Hmm?" she answered in a soft, languid voice.
I stopped dancing and lifted her chin so she had no choice but to look at me.
"I love you."
Her eyes were twin flames as she stared at me, her mouth slightly open like I'd said something totally unexpected.
"I love you too," she breathed. Tears gathered in her eyes, sparkling like diamonds, and I wondered when I’d started thinking such ridiculous things.
I leaned down and kissed her. "I know."
She sighed and shook her head in mock exasperation, but I knew she liked it when I was contrary.
"When?" she asked in a small voice, her head back on my chest as we began to sway again.
"When did you know?" she clarified.
"Maybe I’ve always known. Maybe I knew it the moment I saw you in that bar. I just didn't know what it was. I didn't want to admit it to myself."
I thought about that first night, and all the nights since then. I'd been a bastard for most of it. I should consider myself lucky that she loved me, even though I was never going to give her another option. There was no way for the story to end, but with her in love with me, not when I felt like this about her.
"I’m…sorry," I said in a halting voice. She stopped swaying.
"What are you sorry for?"
"That night. I lost my mind. I hurt you."
She finally peered back up at me, and I was relieved to see there was only love in her eyes when there could've been condemnation.
"Don't do it again," she murmured.
I nodded and then we continued to dance under the stars. And I promised myself that I would do my best to keep her love for the rest of my life.
There wasn't any other option.
"We've never talked about it…" She didn't answer, so I continued on. “We've never talked about how you feel about a claiming bite."
She missed a step but then quickly regained her footing.
"You mean, a mate bite?" I couldn't read how she felt about it. Her voice was completely blank, and she wasn't looking at me. Nerves twisted my insides.
This again was one of those… non-negotiable things. She was going to be my mate. I just needed to convince her of that.
"Yes," I finally answered after a pause.
She still didn't say anything, but she was still in my arms. We kept dancing. That was a good sign…right?
"You know, there's a story that they tell. I don't know who they are. But someone out there has told it.” I bit my lip. “I’d like to believe that it's true.”
"What is it?" she asked in that same still, blank voice.
"The story I heard as a little kid, about the moon goddess. In the story, the moon goddess was fated mates with the sun, but in their brief moments together, in those days where they both could be seen in the sky, he rejected her."
She stopped swaying. She was just standing there, listening to me talk.
"The story goes that the stars eventually came to her, and they were able to become her love even though she was fated to another.”
Syn’s breath hitched as she leaned against me.
“At the end of that story, they always say there was never a love that shone so bright as when the moon finally let the stars love her."
"Do you think that's how our story can end?" she finally asked. "Do you think there's a happily ever after if I let you love me?"
I pulled her tighter into my arms, breathing in the scent of her hair as I buried my face against it.
"I know there's going to be a happily ever after if you let me love you the way I want to, give yourself to me, and let me all the way in," I promised her, feeling perfectly confident I could keep that promise.
"I’d like that," she finally answered.
Her voice was full of confidence, but when she gazed up at me, there was so much hope that it took my breath away.
I could work with hope.