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this is the wonder of devotion

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Their first night together, as husband and wife, had been more nerve-wracking than Amy was expecting. She’d dreamed up many a scenario between her and Laurie over the years, ranging from sight-seeing galavants around Europe to decadent feasts and lavish weddings. As usual, reality and fantasy never quite aligned perfectly.

Not that Amy minded, necessarily. She wouldn’t have wanted an absolutely perfect wedding night. The fact that it was Laurie—Laurie who cradled her face in his hands, Laurie who pressed lingering kisses over her eyelids and her lips and other more intimate places—was all that mattered to Amy.

Amy did wonder, though. She couldn’t help it, really. It was in her nature.

Was Amy everything Laurie had hoped for? Even though he’d told her, time and again, that his love—his passion—was for Amy and Amy alone, and she had no reason not to believe him… In her darker, more introspective moments, she did wonder if he regretted the choice.

Did he sometimes dream of Jo?

Did he have regrets?

Amy, for her part, had no regrets. She’d known all along Laurie was her only choice. Even while she clung to another man’s arm and entertained the thought of affixing his name to her own, there’d only been room enough for Laurie in her heart.

But Jo had taken up space in Laurie’s heart long before Amy had. Had he truly just been mistaken about his feelings? Amy had always been so firm and steadfast in her love for Laurie that she had a hard time imagining what it might be like to not know for certain whether one’s love for another was the kind for which romantic poets dashed themselves against the rocks or if it was the love of one friend to another.

“What’s troubling you, my love?”

Laurie’s breath blew sweet and warm against Amy’s cheek as he shifted in bed beside her. She felt his hand rest on her belly, warm and steadying through the layers of her nightclothes.

Amy lifted her head from her little sketchbook and set her pencil nub on the nightstand beside her. “Nothing’s troubling me, my lord,” she said, smiling sweetly at Laurie and leaning in to brush her lips against his.

He seemed to sense the thoughts that had tumbled in her mind like stones, though. “You’ve been quiet tonight,” he said.

Amy glanced down at her sketchbook. She’d scratched out various amorphous figures, idly. They all seemed to resemble her sisters.

She knew it wouldn’t do to shy away from Laurie’s question, or the warmth in his eyes. The thing of it was, she didn’t want to. Amy didn’t want for there to be any secrets between them, even if she felt silly for keeping them in the first place.

“Do you ever wonder?” she asked, setting the pad aside as well. She turned, curling herself against Laurie’s chest. Amy reached up and fiddled with the collar of his shirt. “Do you ever wonder what life might be like if you’d…made a different choice?”

Laurie leaned in until the tip of his nose brushed against Amy’s. “Do you?” he countered.

“Do I what? Wonder if I should have married Fred?” Amy frowned, her forehead creasing. “Of course not.”

Laurie laughed and reached up to smooth the line that creased between her brows. “Amy, my silly goose,” he said, his voice brimming with affection. “There’s your answer, then. I’ve never doubted that you and I were meant to be.”

Amy should have felt settled and she did, mostly. “But you did love Jo,” she began, but Laurie shushed her with a soft kiss. His warmth seeped through his bedclothes, enveloping Amy until she felt cocooned by it. By him.

“I did love Jo,” he said against her lips when he broke their kiss. “And I love her still. As a sister.” He pressed another kiss to her lips. “But you? I love you as the moon loves the sun. Forever chasing after you for just a bit of your brightness and warmth."

Amy curled her fingers in Laurie’s shirt and tugged him closer. “You old poet,” Amy teased.

“Your poet,” Laurie murmured, drawing her closer. He gently slid her nightgown down her shoulder and laved little kisses against the exposed skin.

“Mine,” Amy sighed, sliding her fingers through his soft brown hair.

As Laurie continued to rain gentle kisses against her bare skin, the little knot of jealousy that had tightened within Amy unspooled completely, leaving her to unravel against her husband’s adoring mouth.