“Alexis,” he said, moving closer to her and drawing her into his arms. “I will spend the rest of my life making up to you and our children for what I’ve done if you’ll only let me be a part of your future, yours and our babies’. You’ve taught me so much—how to be a real father to Ruby but most important, how to love again, to love you and Ruby and our unborn children. I owe you everything.”
“You owe me nothing but your love, Raoul. I deserve that at the very least. Unencumbered and whole. Can you do that?”
Alexis drew back, searching his face for something he only hoped she could see.
“It’s yours. Everything I am, everything I’m yet to be.”
She didn’t answer him immediately. Instead, she regarded him carefully for a few minutes. Time stretched out interminably.
“I’m not just answering for myself,” she said eventually. “I’m answering for these children, too. They deserve unconditional love, no matter what happens now or in the future. I’ve loved you a long time, Raoul, at first from afar and then close up. I won’t lie to you. All along it’s hurt like hell and I’m only just beginning to recover. I’d all but come to terms with the fact that you would never be mine to love the way I wanted to love you. If I commit to you, I’m committing on behalf of the babies, as well. I need to be able to trust you, for all our sakes.”
“I’m only human, I can’t promise that I’ll never let you down again someday in the future, Alexis. But I am prepared to pledge the rest of my days to being the best man I can be, the best husband, the best father.”
“I want to commit to you, Alexis. I want to wake up with you beside me every day for the rest of my life. I want to fight with you, I want to make up with you. I want to spend every minute of every day making sure you know I love you with everything I am and everything you’ve made me see I can be.” He slid off the sofa and onto one knee in front of her. “Will you be my wife? Will you come back to me, marry me and help me raise Ruby and our children together?”
“Oh, Raoul. I want that with all my heart. Yes. Yes, I will marry you and fight with you and make up with you and all those things. You’re all I ever wanted from the first time I saw you. I never believed, in my wildest dreams, that we would have a chance together and I’m not going to let that go now. I love you, Raoul, so very, very much.”
She slid down to her knees in front of him and wrapped her arms around him. As they drew close he was filled with unspeakable joy, as if things were right again in his world for the first time in a very long time.
“You won’t regret it, Alexis. I promise. I will be a good and loving husband and father for as long as you’ll have me.”
“Forever will never be long enough,” she whispered, lifting her face for his kiss and, as his lips touched hers, he knew she was right.