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Courtney rounded the corner with red, puffy eyes and went straight to him with open arms. She had never been so happy as to see his face. He stood up to receive her, giving her a big hug. Electricity exploded between the two as they touched. He could feel the need and vulnerability oozing from her as he held her in his tight embrace. It made him want to hold her forever.
“Oh, my God. Are you alright?” he asked, moving her chin up to see her face better. “Baby, what’s wrong?”
“I’m fine now,” she said, holding him tighter. “What are you doing here?” She tried to muster a smile, even in her sadness. “Did you come to get Cameron?”
“I’m here for you,” he said softly. “I need to talk to you about something, and it couldn’t wait.”
“Okay,” Courtney said clueless to his intentions. She only hoped that he did not come here to break up with her. She would never live it down.
Brett took her hand and led her back to the couch. As they sat down, he wiped her face again and smiled. “This isn’t about awesome seats to a concert. This isn’t about cooking and cleaning or watching my son.” He bit his lip and concentrated. There was no way that he was going to mess this up with his fumbling. Taking a deep breath, he shook his head. “You know, the first time that I asked you, I messed it up. That’s why I took it back. I knew that you deserved more than that. I don’t even know why I came to you like that before. It was stupid. But I’ll be damned if I let you slip out of my hands. I’ve never been happier in my entire life, Cort. And if you give me a chance, you’ll never be happier.” Pulling the box from his pocket, he got down on one knee in front of her and opened it.
“Will you please marry me?”
The breath leaped from Courtney as she looked at the princess cut diamond in the black box propped up in his hand as an offering. Her eyes gleamed with happiness and relief. The ring was beautiful and she could tell by the cut and clarity that it was expensive, but she would have taken a gold band right now. All she wanted in the world was to be his wife.
“Don’t answer that…yet,” a voice interrupted from behind them.
They turned to see Colonel Lawless at the door. He had been eavesdropping and seemed not to shy about it. With his hands shoved into his pockets, he stepped into the room. “Hey, it’s my house. My rules.”
Brett stood up immediately. “Sir,” he said, almost locking his feet to attention.
“Daddy…” Courtney pleaded.
The colonel put up his hand to quiet her. “Brett, it seems you’ve got my only daughter all wrapped up in you, son. And not just you…your son too.”
“Yes, sir,” Brett answered.
“But as her father, you have to understand my concern. That’s why I need you to know - before you finish proposing and she finishes giving you an answer - that regardless of how I have behaved in the past, Courtney means everything to me and this family. She’s a special woman, and I don’t think that there is anyone in the world like her.”
“She means everything to me and my family as well sir,” Brett answered seriously. “Permission to speak very frankly sir?”
The colonel smirked. “We’re not on the base. Speak as freely and frankly as you need to. Now is the time.”
Brett relaxed his shoulders and walked up to the colonel. “I’m not a hopeless romantic. I’m not fool-hearty or desperate. And I’m no user. I’ve been to war with you, sir, several times. I’ve put my life on the line for this country and served you well. I know what you’re thinking. I’m not good enough for her. And maybe you’re right about that. But it doesn’t overshadow the fact that I love, and I’ll spend the rest of my life proving it. I’ll take care of her, make her happy and I’ll never leave her.”
“You know that’s a promise that you can’t make in your line of work,” the colonel corrected.
“Something will have to take me away,
just like it would have to take you away
, but you’d never willingly go and neither will I.” Brett clenched his jaw. “Give me a chance, sir. I love Courtney. I want her to be my wife.”
“So I have heard all day,” he said, hearing Mrs. Lawless’ footsteps behind him. He looked over at his daughter, who sat quietly on the edge of the couch. “She’s absolutely amazing, you know. She sees the world not as it is but as it should be. Her heart is made of pure gold, and I don’t want it damaged any more than it already has been.”
“I understand, sir. And I listened to what Captain Lawless said to me about making her an honest woman, and I’m trying to do that right now…the right way,” Brett explained.
Courtney stood up. “Yes, Brett, I’ll marry you,” she said, unable to wait on her father’s blessing.
Brett turned and looked at her, then turned back to Colonel Lawless. “With your permission, sir.” He waited.
The colonel couldn’t help but crack a smile. “Permission granted,” he said, nodding. “You treat her right. As a matter of fact, you treat her better than right, you treat her perfect.”
“Yes, sir, I will,” Brett said, turning back to Courtney.
She ran quickly up to him and hugged him again before he slipped the ring on her finger. Looking down at it, she wiped the tears from her face and shook her head. “I love you so much.” Her eyes found his again before he bent to kiss her lips.
“I love you, too,” Brett whispered into her ear. “I always will.”
The colonel was moved by the sight and even reminded of when he first fell in love with Mrs. Lawless. He turned to see Diane in the corner with tears in her own eyes as she held on to Cameron. She nodded to him proudly. He smirked to himself, knowing he had done the right thing finally by his daughter. “Well, now that that is done, why don’t you two join us for dinner,” he said, turning around to give them a moment alone. “Once you’re finished kissing and everything that is.”
Courtney released her lips from Brett and laughed a little. “Yes, sir.”
Christmas had to come early for the Second Reconnaissance Battalion of Camp Lejeune. Two weeks before the rest of the world could celebrate, the Black and Lawless family gathered in front of the overly decorated Christmas tree in the family room of the colonel’s house to open gifts and revel in their last holiday before deploying to Afghanistan.
In the spirit of the holiday, a light snow had even come the night before and gave beautiful contrast to the mighty Atlantic Ocean outside of the bay windows.
Courtney and Brett couldn’t be happier. While they had married only a week after Brett proposed in a small ceremony at the base church, the two felt that they had already spent a lifetime together. Every single moment that they could steal away, they spent together with Cameron on family outings and quiet getaways. Courtney had even aced this semester’s classes and would graduate with honors after she finished the next semester.
David had even found a special someone. After being blasted by his mother about not having a life, he took a page from Courtney’s book and decided to incorporate love into his five-year-plan. Captain Kelly Jamison, a beautiful Haitian-American officer from Queens, New York with a degree from MIT had been his choice. Mrs. Lawless had expected nothing less, and Colonel Lawless couldn’t be happier. David sat with her now in the corner of the living room, hugged up and drinking eggnog, clueless to the rest of the world.
For the colonel, this would be the last tour on deployment. With his wife’s blessing, he had submitted his papers and would be retiring after he returned home, happy to pass on his legacy to David and enjoy being the husband that he’d always wanted to be.
“Alright, alright,” Brett said, standing up by the tree. “We have a little announcement to make.”
All eyes went to the couple. As they opened their mouth to speak, Cameron jumped in front of them. “Mommy and Daddy are pregnant!” he shouted with a big, happy smile.
The entire room erupted, and Mrs. Lawless eyes grew bright with excitement. In seconds, she already had plans for decorating the baby room and planning the shower.
“Yes,” Courtney said, kissing Brett on the cheek. “We’re pregnant. We’ve known for a while, but we wanted to wait until Christmas. It’s our little gift to you.”
Mrs. Lawless was the first to speak. “I hope it’s a girl,” she said, going to her daughter to give her a hug.
“I hope it’s a Marine,” the colonel said, shaking Brett’s hand. “Congrats.”
“Thanks,” Brett said proudly. He took a deep sigh and smiled at Courtney. “One thing is for sure…it will be a Black.”
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About the Author
Latrivia S. Nelson is the author of Ivy’s Twisted Vine (the largest modern interracial romance novel in its genre), the Medlov Crime Family Series including bestseller Dmitry's Closet, Dmitry's Royal Flush: Rise of the Queen and upcoming book Anatoly Medlov: Complete Reign. She is also a Public Relations Senior Specialist for the award-winning, highly-acclaimed firm, The Carter Malone Group (the largest female Public Relations firm in Memphis). Nelson's books are published by the Memphis-based company RiverHouse Publishing, LLC.
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