He doesn’t use his words. He overuses his words. He stumbles over the actual question. He literally can’t stand back up after kneeling. All entirely too possible, sadly. Burying his head in the pillow, he winces as one of Apollo’s sharp elbows jabs him in the stomach. “Hey, kid,” he mumbles. “Wanna try being a bit gentler on the old man?”
Apollo giggles at the complaint, is old enough to interpret it as a dare, not a warning. The next jab goes only slightly to the left of his groin, and yeah, too close, way too close.
Blake’s arms reach for the five-year-old, drag him down to the mattress so he’s trapped between the two adults. Gwen’s still asleep and he honestly doesn’t know how. When they’d first gotten together, she’d told him that mothers had some kind of spidey sense, always woke up the second their children did, and so on and so forth. Maybe there’s an expiration date, though, when the kid reaches a certain age and then mothers are gifted all the sleep they missed out on.
A finger lands in his nose and he laughs out loud, can’t help it. “Alright then, guess it’s time to get up, hey? Think your brothers want some breakfast too?”
They’re halfway through eating their waffles when Kingston and Zuma join them, bleary-eyed and walking like zombies. Saturday mornings aren’t always this relaxed, considering the amount of activities Gwen’s boys seem to fit into their hours back in LA, so it’s welcome, this, the comfortable almost inane chatter, the passing of various utensils and spreads.
It’s almost ten before Gwen makes her way into the kitchen, some ridiculously silky see-through shirt thing over her bra, as if that removes the temptation even one little bit. Coffee first, then food, as always, and he still kind of finds it bizarre that he even knows Gwen Stefani’s daily routine, let alone can take it for granted like this.
Her fingertips pass over his back as she reaches around him to grab the milk from the fridge, and he rolls his eyes at Zuma, who’s making disgusted kissy noises at them. Well, screw that, he’s glad she’s in an amorous mood.
“So,” he says, totally casually because no, he’s not nervous about how today’s going to go. Not at all. But damn, his heartrate is too fast. “Thought maybe you guys would like to go and hang with some friends today. Mom and I have some boating to do.”
Kingston looks up from his phone; apparently even the lures of Oklahoma haven’t entirely erased his bitterness at missing out on spending the weekend with Lola. “Seriously? You need to go boating on your own?” He looks skeptical and sure, maybe this isn’t the most subtle move he’s ever made. King seems to agree. “You finally gonna ask her to marry you?”
Blake shoves another handful of pistachios in his mouth and ignores the question.
Next time (there won’t be a next time) he’s checking the weather forecast. The sky is getting darker by the minute, and he hadn’t exactly envisioned celebrating an engagement by getting a metric ton of rain dumped on their heads.
“So, you going to tell me what has you sitting on the edge of the seat like you need to go to the toilet, babe?”
Mr. Sexy strikes again.
“Or not,” she says, raising an eyebrow and coming to sit next to him. He’d dropped the anchor twenty minutes ago, wanting to be able to actually talk to her, not have his attention kept by trying to avoid crashing into the shore. “You know…” Her voice is hesitant and he takes her hand in his automatically, wanting to send whatever peace and confidence resides in him into her as well. “It doesn’t have to be perfect, you know. I’m not looking for that.”
She waves a hand at the lake, the grey water and small choppy waves. “I don’t… I mean, I don’t think I’m imagining this, right? What today’s about? Why you pulled out the only nice shirt you keep at our house just to go out on the boat?”
Sighing, he lets his head fall back against the pole. “No, you’re not.”
The corners of her mouth tilt up. “So?”
“I tried to rehearse a speech, you know.” He laughs self-deprecatingly. “You know, you’d think I’d have this down to a fine art at this point, considering.”
Gwen squeezes his hand. “I don’t care about that, either, the history. You know me, Blake. You know how happy I am with you, how lucky I feel.”
“I hope so,” he says. “I do. Making you happy is… Well, that’s what I want to do forever, right? Get to wake up to that smile, your light. Be the cause of some of it.“ He looks up at the sky, the droplets of water starting to fall in earnest now, and shoots his girlfriend a wry grin. Shit. “I wanted to make you wet when we celebrated today. Just not quite like this, sweet girl.”
Her laugh is more like a snort, and she plants a quick kiss to his lips. “C’mon then, let’s get this done and we can go back to dry land again.”
“’Let’s get this done’, she says. Such a romantic. The tabloids just wish they could see you now,” he chuckles. “Seriously, Gwen. You know I want this, right? Not just because people expect us to, not just because I do keep track of what you like on Instagram, not even because the boys keep dropping hints. Because I love you.” His large hands frame her face, tuck several loose strands of hair behind her ear.
It’s not until he tears his eyes away from her shining eyes that he realizes she’s one step ahead of him. The ring is sitting on his lap, the box open, the diamond sparkling up at them. “The benefit of you wearing pants that are too loose and having pockets the size of my head,” she says. “Didn’t feel a thing.”
Blake slips the ring on her finger. “I feel everything,” he says. “Please marry me. Be my wife.”
Her voice is a little shaky as she says yes. “I practiced too. And yet…” Her lower lip wobbles. “The words are gone,” she admits. “I just want to kiss you forever.”
Just as when, in five months, the priest asks if they do, the only answer the universe hears is yes.