Breath of Fresh Air Ch. 05byPanthem©
They continued hand in hand, walking in silence until they finally broke through the tree line and froze as they caught sight of the view. The sun was close to setting and struck the slopes on one side of the valley at an angle, enhancing the deep reds, oranges, and golds while the slopes on the other sides were in cool shade as the sun slowly sank behind them.
Mike shook the blanket out and stood behind her, wrapping them both up while they watched the shade chase the color up the sides of the mountains. The steady thump of his heart echoed through Katie's body and she relaxed against him, sighing in contentment.
She tried to lean her head back on his shoulder, but he shifted unexpectedly and dropped one side of the blanket. The chilly breeze snuck into their warm little cocoon and she grabbed the edge and quickly pulled it back up.
"Do you need to pee or something? Stop fidgeting."
"I can't help it, I'm nervous."
Katie snorted and tried to turn and look at him, but he tightened his arms around her and held her still. "I think we can manage to keep from falling over the edge, it's a good ten feet away."
"I'm not worried about falling. I'm nervous about this."
He hand poked up out of the blanket just as the sun dropped below the ridgeline and the last rays of sunshine glinted off the stone nestled in the white gold band, shooting tiny rainbows across his hand.
"I love you, Katie. I can't imagine the rest of my life without you. I don't even want to try."
It was a credit to the hard work they'd put in over the last year, the strength of their love, and probably Katie's continuing therapy that there was no hint of fear or hesitation in her mind. She was nodding before he even finished speaking.
"I love you too, of course I'll marry you." She turned in his arms and wrapped her hands up around his neck, unable to keep herself from looking in his eyes any longer.
"How do you know that's what I was going to say?" He frowned, but there was a glint of amusement in his eyes.
"Oh well," she said, feigning nonchalance. "It's obvious, I mean who wouldn't want to marry me."
Mark's straight face broke and he laughed, the sound warming her from the inside out. "I can't really argue with that."
Katie lifted onto her tiptoes and kissed him, slipping her tongue into his mouth and pressing her body along his. As usual his chest was radiating heat like her own personal furnace and she curled her body around him to absorb it.
Eventually she tore herself away and managed to speak. "I'm sorry I interrupted. Did you have something you wanted to ask me?"
To her surprise and mild embarrassment he immediately dropped to one knee and took her hand.
"Katie, will you marry me?"
She fell to her knees in front of him, nodding as he slipped the ring on her finger. His arms came around her waist and pulled her into his lap as he sat down. They stayed there, quietly sharing each other's space as the sky turned dark and the stars began to appear.
"We should go start the fire," Mike said, kissing her temple.
"Yeah, probably." Katie tightened her arms around him, warm in his embrace and not quite ready to let him go.
Eventually they made their way back to the campsite and got the fire lit. After eating their cup noodles and fruit Mike surprised her with a small bottle of champagne.
"It's warm, but it seemed like a good idea at the time."
"I don't care if it's warm, it's still champagne. Just don't tell Caleb, we have our hardcore backpacking rep to maintain."
"My lips are sealed," he said as he popped the cork and poured the bubbly liquid into their coffee mugs.
Mike settled behind her on the blanket and she leaned back against him as they gazed at the fire and sipped their warm champagne.
"So how soon do you think your family would be able to make it here?"
"Your mom and everyone, do you think they'd be able to get here some time in the next two weeks?"
"Do you...are you...." He stared at her like she'd grown a second head. "You mean for a wedding?"
"Yeah." She shrugged, half turning in his arms so she could look him in the eye. "Why wait? Let's do it before I start school."
"Are you sure? You don't want the whole big...thing?" He gestured in the air vaguely.
"I don't need all that. I don't have any family to invite, as long as your family and a couple of our friends are there it would be perfect. Plus I just got done planning a wedding and it was way more trouble than it was worth. Do you have any idea how much Caleb and Sarah spent on it? And that doesn't even count what Sarah's dad shelled out."
"Well, if you're sure I guess I can call my mom and find out when they can get here."
"If you want the big wedding we can do it. I don't want to veto it."
"No. Hell no, the sooner you're my wife the better." He hugged her tight and buried his face in her neck, chuckling softly. "My wife...I like that."