Laska and Me – 25


Usually I’d hem and haw and delay and make excuses to not do something, it was my thing. I’d nearly said to myself I’d do it tomorrow after Eralia had gotten home.

No, that wouldn’t do. It had to be now.

So, instead, once she’d gotten her shoes off and trodded upstairs to change out of her work clothes, I approached her with my great idea. After I’d gotten myself sufficiently worked up, that is.

“Hey,” I said, lingering around the bed as she kicked off her pants and rummaged through the dresser for her favorite sweatpants and over-sized t-shirt.

“Uh-oh,” she said, pausing to give me one of her particular looks, “What happened now?”

“What? Nothing happened.”

“That so? What’d you follow me up here for, then?”

I rolled my eyes and sagged to one side. “Well, if you’d let me finish, I had something I wanted to ask you.”

Eralia wadded up her shirt and tossed it into the laundry basket, “See, that’s what I’m worried about. Whenever you’re anxious about something you dawdle around. If you’re coming to me straight away, it’s gotta be something dire.”

“Please. You say that like it’s never something good I want to ask you about.”

“Well, not never…”

“Oh fine,” I said, feigning hurt and looking away, “I’ll just drop it and go slave in the kitchen where I’ll languish ignored and unappreciated…”

There was the distinct thwap noise of a snapped elastic band and Eralia’s panties sailed past my face.

“Damn, I missed!”

“Real mature, flinging your underwear at me,” I scoffed, picking up her knickers and hurled them right back at her. Got her right in the face, but she just grinned.

“Says the grown man getting all in a huff over being called out on his bullshit.”

“You could at least pretend it’s not all doom and gloom.”

“I did… for a while,” she said, waving a hand-paw dismissively at me. “Anyways, honey dearest, what’d you want to talk about?”

Sometimes I wondered what it’d be like if she called me by some affectionate little pet name without it being sarcastic. Might be nice, just once – certain situations aside, that is; there wasn’t any sarcasm then.

“Well, I was thinking of taking a vacation somewhere for a week or so. Maybe to one of those resorts upstate.”

Eralia’s tail swished to and fro. “Oh? Any particular reason?”

“Not really,” I said, easing down onto the bed. “With your new job and the fact we haven’t ever really done more than a weekend away, I thought it’d be nice for just the two of us to get away somewhere quiet.”

Her tail picked up the pace. So far, so good.

“Mmm, it would, wouldn’t it?” She said with a wistful look on her face, like she was imagining some long-held dream was finally within reach. Didn’t last for long before she fixed me with an inquisitor’s stare. “And how long’ve you been thinking about this?”

Taken by surprise from her sudden shift, it took me a second to come up with an answer. “Dunno, not long. Just the other week, I guess. Why, something up?”

She held her piercing gaze for a few moments longer, as if she could ferret out any deception. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why she was so suspicious. But, her frozen tail began to sway once more and she sauntered over to the side of the bed and plopped down next to me, making sure to give me a few good thwaps to the face with her big, bushy tail.

“No, not really. Just so happened I was thinking the same thing. A getaway would be great.”

“Hah, really? Well, I figured since you have some actual vacation time and we have more money now… well, why not?”

“Why not, indeed?” She said, a playful smile spreading from cheek to cheek. “Did you have any time in mind?”

“Part of what I wanted to talk to you about. How much notice do you have to give Rick?”

“For a week?” Eralia tapped a black-furred digit to her lip. “We make the schedules for our part-timers two weeks in advance, so I guess at least that amount. I’ll have to talk to him tomorrow.”

I was expecting a month at the least. Either she was just that eager to get away or she really had been thinking about the same thing as me for a while.

“Two weeks? That’s a bit… Well, I could start looking at resorts tonight and see what’s available.”

“That’d be great,” she said, clapping her paws together, “Up north, huh? I don’t think peak season for skiing and all that happens up there until January or February.”

“Probably not, though I would like to ski or snowboard – hopefully it’ll be cold enough for them to turn on the snow machines or something.”

“Maybe,” Eralia added with a shrug, “Though I wouldn’t be broken up if it wasn’t.”

“Aw, come on, where’s your sense of adventure? I know you haven’t been on a pair of skis in your life.”

“That’s because it’s dangerous,” she said, crossing her arms across her bare chest.

“The woman who races motorcycles is saying skiing is too dangerous. Really?”

She thrust a finger at me, then wound up poking me in the nose. “More people die on snowy slopes than they do on a race track, you know.

“More people are on said slopes than a race track, you know,” I countered, booping her nose right back. “Besides, most of the big incidents you hear about, they weren’t wearing helmets or anything.”

Eralia made a face like she’d just licked a lemon. “Those ski helmets are so dorky looking!”

“So wear one of your fancy helmets.”

“…Do they allow those?”

“Probably, why not ask them for yourself?”

“You know, I just might.”

For as often as she teased me about being childish, she could be so much worse. Dealing with Laska was easy enough, at least in the sense I could expect her to act like a seventeen -year-old all the time, but Eralia was a big bag of mysteries. Probably why we got along so well.

“Well, we can find out together after dinner,” I said, moving to get off the bed. Eralia, however, shoved me back with a paw to the chest.

“Laska’s over at Zoe’s tonight, isn’t she?”

“Yeah, why?”

Adopting a rather different kind of smirk, Eralia crawled up on top of me. “Dinner can wait a bit, don’t you think?”

“It could,” I said, running a hand through her long black hair and pulled her into a kiss.

 

 

In all the excitement over my plans with Eralia, I’d neglected something very important: The first driving lesson with Laska. She was very helpful in reminding me I’d forgotten when I hadn’t called up to her room to let her know I was ready about two minutes past our appointed hour.

I mean, it wasn’t like I was absolutely terrified; she’d passed her written exam with a near perfect score and she was quite capable with her bike on a track.

And yet, the streets were a completely different animal.

I was also regretting buying her an old, beat-up two-door roadster, mainly because of its clutch. Extra stuff to learn at the same time and all while dodging traffic seemed a tall order. I mean, it wasn’t like it’d be the absolute first time she’d be using her car; we did drive up and down our neighborhood street a couple dozen, or maybe a hundred, times.

Not that it comforted me much. Or any.

Before we departed on our first real drive, Eralia took me aside.

“Honey, I just wanted to let you know something…” she said somberly.

“What’s that?”

She smiled uneasily, like she was watching someone heading for certain death and was powerless to stop them. “I’ll always remember you,” she said, patting my shoulder.

I groaned.  “Jee, Thanks. You’re making such a big deal out of this. Laska’ll be fine.”

So I said.

“Such a brave, brave man,” she said, dabbing at her eyes.

Laska, already in her car, beeped the horn and glared at me from the driveway while I lingered just inside.

With a roll of my eyes, I gave Eralia a kiss before I went out the door. “We’ll be okay. No need for theatrics.”

She sighed, shifting a paw to a hip. “Yeah, but still, it’s going to be a seventeen-year-old girl out in traffic. You’ll need luck and then some,” she said, returning my kiss.

A farewall wave and out the door and straight to the passenger seat of Laska’s car. Engine was running, heater already blowing warm, radio on her favorite station.

“All set?” I asked, buckling up and then testing to make sure it was secure.

The sunglasses Laska wore hid her eyes, yet they still somehow shone along with her toothy smile. “You know it!”

I gave the door handle a few test grabs, making sure it was nice and sturdy for those inevitable ‘Oh shit!’ moments.

And I was already making good use of it soon as Laska shifted into reverse.

“Oh hell, slow down and look before you…” My words were meaningless as we darted out into the street. Already my heart was pounding. Maybe Eralia wasn’t exaggerating after all. I could just imagine how hard she was laughing at us from the window. Or crying at her soon-to-be widowness.  

“Don’t worry dad, no one was coming. I know what I’m doing.” Laska said, her eyebrows bending down behind the frames of her glasses.

Where was the overly cautious girl I knew and loved? Who was this boisterous, reckless demon?

In a display of her prowess, she accidentally dumped the clutch, squealed the tires and sent us off in a lurch. “Whoops!”

I gave her my most withering dad stare.

“Er, sorry,” she finished. The rest of the trip down the street and the first turn onto the avenue were… normal. Perhaps there was hope after all.  

“So, uh, where are we going?” Laska asked as she came to a stop at the junction to the main road.

“Hmm. Good question. Your school is down that way,” I said, pointing to the left, “So how about we make that our first stop. You remember how to get there, right?”

Brushing some hair that’d drooped across her glasses, Laska nodded. “I think so, yeah.  

Thus our journey began with an awkward, almost-stalling left out onto Laska’s first proper road. She looked both ways before she set off, at the very least.

A short way down the road it expanded from a single lane to two and shortly after that we’d have to make another left turn. But Laska was still in the right lane. Closer and closer we came, and yet she still wasn’t moving over.

“Hey, we need to make a—“

“I know!”

Laska shot a look over her shoulder and then cranked the wheel hard over, darting us into the lane and nearly into on-coming traffic. And somehow she sped up during this.

Which meant she had to brake hard as we closed in on the intersection.

Thank all the gods and goddesses and whoever else the roads were clear of ice and snow.

We came to a skiddering halt in the middle of the intersection. The turn signal finally came on.

Yet Laska didn’t proceed through any of the gaps in cars like I’d expect. Just waited and waited. One good opportunity presented itself, then passed as the oncoming car got closer.

A car behind us honked.

Startled, Laska mashed the gas and dumped the clutch.

They say time slows down when you’re about to die. I can believe it, considering the nice, detailed look I got of that car’s headlights and of the guy driving it.  In that frozen shard of time, I was expected the driver to be angry or scared, but no – I saw only pity as he shifted his gaze from the young werecat driving to me. Perhaps he too had gone through this ordeal.

And good for us, his brakes were in good working order.

Time unfroze, and then we were clear of the intersection. My heart had caught up with the surge of adrenaline released as I narrowly slipped through the jaws of deaths moments before they closed around me.

“Laska.” I said, dad-voice in full effect.

“What?! We were fine! Plenty of time!”

I doubted she believed her own words. “I could have reached out and touched the hood of that car. Just thought you might want to know you almost killed your father.”

“Dad! You were fine! We’re fine. Everything is fine.”

“You’re shaking,” I said, forcing myself to keep an even tone as I searched out a place we could recover. “Up there, we can pull into that parking lot. Just check to make sure you can slow down and we’ll take a minute to recover.”

If it wasn’t for Laska’s fur, her knuckles would’ve been ghost-white. Kind of like the ones on my right hand, clinging dearly to the door handle.

“Okay, fine! That was stupid of me. I’m fine, I got this.” It sounded more like she was trying to convince herself than me.

She slowed down a bit. Well, a lot. To the point cars were piling up behind us. Then they began honking. Laska went to speed up, but wound up mis-shifting and grinding gears. This was getting bad in a hurry.

“Just ignore them – you know what, fuck them – just do your thing. Nice and easy.”

Laska laughed nervously. “Y-yeah, fuck them…”

Finally we rolled into the parking lot. She missed her blinker, but I wasn’t about to bring it up.

Once we were stopped, she had to pry herself off the wheel, then slumped down in her seat.

Allowing for some time so we could both unwind, I closed my eyes and waited for my heart to quit pounding. Eventually I got tired of waiting.

“Well, that was… something, all right. Need a break for today?”

Frazzled beyond belief, she took a few deep breaths before answering. “No, no I’m good. I think. Agh! Fuck if I know… I… almost missed the turn and then I got all panicky… and people were getting mad, and then I almost killed you, and then they got mad again…”

Well, at least the edge on her voice was gone. “You don’t get bothered when you’re in a pack of riders, out on the dirt…”

She took off her glasses, exposing her eyes as she looked at me. “Yeah… but here there’s laws and rules and all sorts of shit to think about. And speed limits.”

Having my heart hammering so hard for minutes on end got me feeling a bit faint and I had to lean forward onto the dash for a moment.

“You okay, dad?” came Laska’s worried voice.

“Yeah, I’ll be okay. Just the usual. Anyways. You have rules to follow out on the track. It’s not much different here. They’re just… different rules. Rules you already know.”

Laska sighed. “I… guess. It’s just… new… and a little scary.”

“A little?”

“Okay fine, it was really scary,” she said, ending with a harrumph.

 “For both of us,” I said with a chuckle. “Look, I know you’re capable of this, but you’re—“

“Getting myself all worked up,” Laska finished with a sigh, “I can’t help it sometimes.”

“That’s fine, really. Especially something like this. The key part is just realizing it, then you can figure out how to not get worked up. Remember when you first started to learn how to ride a dirt bike?”

“…Straight into the wall,” Laska said, hanging her head.

“Yup, straight into the damn wall! But hey, you weren’t afraid then, and you got right back on. And look at you now.”

Laska put on an evil grin. “So you’re saying I need to crash into a wall first?”

“I’d prefer if you didn’t. Let’s make it a metaphorical wall, hey?”

We both laughed, then sighed. Laska pat her cheeks. “Okay, I got this. I got it. Let me try again?”

I wanted to say no, despite my little pep talk. I mean, she had to still be frazzled to the point of coming apart. But, this whole thing worked both ways. I had to let her try again.

“All right,” I said after a lingering pause, “Let’s try getting to your school.”

“Got it!”

Smiling, she put the car into gear – this time without dumping the clutch – and off we went.

Again.

Of course, she didn’t miraculously become a veteran, experienced driver. There were many moments when I had to close my eyes and pray, but on the flip side I didn’t feel death’s icy touch caress my cheek again during the rest of the way there or back.

Improvement already. What’d I have to worry about?

 

 

The day for our excursion to the resort came. We packed up and set off, leaving Laska alone for a solid week. I had my reservations, but she’d make it. Plenty of food in the house, she knew the numbers to call in an emergency, Lydia was nearby. It’d all be fine.

Eralia had said so quite a few times to that effect. What choice did I have but to agree?

After a several-hour drive, our destination came into view.

The hotel and grounds were as beautiful as all the pictures made it seem. Maybe I’d become a little jaded, but I was expecting everything to be a few shades worse, a little more dilapidated from the pictures. Perhaps the fresh, powdery snow that’d fallen last night really sealed the ‘winter resort’ imagery.

From the highway we drove down a long, winding road which took us past the ski slopes, all resplendent in white.

“Doesn’t look too intimidating,” I said, shifting my gaze from the sort-of mountains to Eralia.

“Just wait ‘till you get up close,” she said, attempting to grumble – but I could hear the traces of curiosity in her voice.

“We’ll be fine. Besides, nothing like a day of skiing to work up an appetite. Drink some hot cocoa around the fireplace to warm up…”

Her tail thumped a few times against the center console. “I guess it could be interesting, at least.”

Our room was just as nice, though the journey to get there was longer than I’d expected. Had to cross a few different spas, rec rooms, restaurants, and even a small grocery store-type place. They weren’t kidding about not needing to ever leave the grounds.

A roomy hot tub, brick fireplace, and a massive, comfy-looking bed up in a loft overlooking the living room space made up our housing for the week. So far things were looking good.

Once we’d gotten good and settled in, we went exploring. While the goings-on and events were posted on their webpage, it’d probably help to know where everything actually was. Otherwise, the first day was mostly just us enjoying some time alone. Sure we’d get a couple hours here and there at home, but nothing was better than knowing you didn’t have to worry about someone coming home early, or taking too long, or just knowing time would soon be up.

The second day was much the same with one notable exception.

Somehow, despite the fact we’d spent most of the day and night in our room, I was rather exhausted the following morning, and then even more by the afternoon.

Not that I was complaining.

Though the hot tub proved a new adventure, and one that wasn’t all cracked up as I was led to believe. Still, new things never hurt. Too much. My back’d be fine after some pain killers and a few days.

Evening slid upon us and we finally decided to leave the comfy confines of our room, if only for a dinner and to check out the novice slope afterwards – given its size, I guess it wasn’t too much trouble to keep it lit up at night.

We ventured forth to the equipment rental building, got our skis and a lift pass and then marched out onto the ski hill proper.

Eralia watched someone end their run down the hill with a sideways stop, only to topple over and get a face full of powder. She turned to me, face a stony mask. “Do we have to do this?”

“Yes.”

She grimaced and looked back to the guy struggling to get up with his skis still on, only to fall over again.

As we made our way to the lift, we were stopped by a worker, based on the fact she was wearing a jacket emblazoned with the name of the resort across the chest. “Excuse me, have you two been skiing before?” She asked. The worker was a tiny woman with tall, pert ears and bushy tail all covered in white fur.

“No!” Eralia was quick to blurt out.

The woman smiled. “I kind of gathered as much.”

“How so?” I asked.

“You don’t have any poles,” she said from behind a pleasant smile.

Ah.

Eralia and I exchanged a glance, then sheepishly returned to the equipment shed to acquire the rest of our gear.

“By the way, I’m Teresa. If you’d like, I can show you the basics,” said the tiny fox woman once we’d returned.

“Please,” Eralia said before I had a chance to respond.

I pouted a little, because hey, I already the knew basics – thanks to the internet.

“Very well, if you’ll follow me…”

Teresa took us to a tiny hill, more like a bump, really, about ten or eleven feet high and not very long. At the top, she dropped her own skiis and showed us how to put them on.

“First, put on your boots, then step into the skiis like so… Yes, great, just like that. Now then, controlling your speed is very important! To slow down, angle your skis so the tips point apart, like this…”

And on she went, just like the video I watched had said. Only she added a few things I didn’t know about, and having her yell at me about my suggestion of sticking my poles into the snow to slowdown or turn because if I did that while hurtling down the hill, it’d either yank right out of my grip or break my wrist was probably helpful.

Then came the moment where we trundled over to the edge of the stand up on the mini-hill.

And down we went.

Eralia sailed down, keeping her skis in a perfect V shape for a nice, easy descent. “That wasn’t so bad,” she yelled back up.

Then it was my turn. Easy V, nice and slow.

We went several more times and Eralia got the hang of it pretty much instantly, performing a near perfect slalom down the hill on her fourth attempt. Not to be outdone I attempted the same, but much as the fellow we’d saw earlier, I got a face full of snow for my efforts as I tumbled over sideways.

Right in the pride, stinging defeat. And ice – that stung my face.

“Honey, are you all right?” Eralia said as she hauled me up, her twisted smirk belying her words.

“Yeah, yeah, guess I shouldn’t have tried that,” I said in a huff. “How’d you manage it?”

“I dunno, I just did,” she said as she dusted the rest of the snow off me. “I must be a natural or something.”

Despite her efforts to appear otherwise, she beamed like one of the many spotlights around us.

“Though I will say this stupid helmet is killing my ears already,” she whined, struggling to adjust the admittedly dorky-looking helmet on her head.

Teresa appeared next to me, sliding to a perfect sideways stop – even she was grinning. “A bit too eager there, gotta be careful. Anyways, I think you guys are fine for the beginner hill. Just remember – keep a V, never go eleven, not until you get more comfortable.”

“Got it,” Eralia nodded, and immediately began tugging my arm.

I was starting to regret this whole idea, and especially the fact she’d usurped me immediately.

For a couple hours we went down and up and down and up, each time Eralia got bolder until she was absolutely comfortable rocketing straight down the hill, vanishing from sight before I’d even managed to stagger to the starting point.

And I just knew she was going to get addicted and try to drag me to the intermediate slopes before we left.

At least by the very end I’d managed to learn how to dismount from the lift without looking like a complete fool.

I was just going to have to find some other way to really impress her – and I knew just the thing. It’d just have to wait until tomorrow.

So, on our third day I was driven by my resolve to not dawdle around all day yet again and forced myself to get up in the morning. A clear day, bright sun – the views along the trail would be just the ticket.

There was a slight problem, however: A certain woman had me wrapped up in her paws. As carefully as I could manage I tried to wriggle out of her grasp, but just as I was about to slip off the edge of the bed and to freedom did she stir.

“Where do ya think you’re going so early?” She stretched out, yawned, and propped her cheek on a paw.

“Uh, bathroom?”

“Then why are you trying to be all sneaky?”

“Oh, I just didn’t want to wake you, that’s all,” I said, flashing an innocent smile.

“Uh-huh. You’re up to something. What time is it…” Eralia fished around the nightstand for her phone, then tossed it back down. “It’s not even ten yet! Come back to bed,” she said, patting the empty spot next to her, then her thigh.

Siren’s song or no, I had to be resolute! “Temptress, you shant sway me!”

“Temptress?” She said, chuckling to herself, “Hm, yes, I do like that – come to me, my dear…”

When I didn’t give in, or rather, when I just kept standing there like an idiot, she pounced at me, wrapping her arms around my waist. “Got you! Now to drag you back to my lair!”

“But I have plans,” I said, attempting to push her off, “Things to do – that aren’t you – don’t you want to go for a nice morning walk or something?”

She clung to me still, giggling as I attempted to free myself. “Now why would you want to do something else?”

The struggle was real, oh so real. But I persevered! Even when she managed to pin me on the bed and brought out the big, soft guns – right into my face. Entangled in sheets and everything else, I was forced to summon the last of my strength and vaulted from the bed, dragging sheets and an unfortunate Eralia with me. She let out a surprised yip and face planted on the floor with her legs still up on the bed.

“Er, sorry,” I said, patting her rump.  

She looked at me out of the corner of an eye. “I’ll get you for this,” she mumbled, hauling herself back up.

“You can get me as much as you want later, but for now, let’s get out of the room.  How about it?”

Her shoulders sagged. “Fine, fine, let’s go freeze our asses off outside.”

As it so happened, while the resort owned the hills used for skiing, it was also right up next to a nature preserve – one that so happened to be open year-round for hiking and the like. Powered vehicles weren’t allowed on any of the trails, nor were there many other people, so it wound up being a peaceful, serene little journey winding through the trees and countryside.  

Our breath hung in the air, snow crunched underfoot, and our jackets swished as we meandered about. Eralia wore a headband that kept her ears down against her head for warmth and her jacket had a cut out for her tail, which only occasionally swished whenever something caught her eye.

“So, this has been okay, I guess,” Eralia said, walking along at my side. She kept my hand firmly in her grasp, which was nice, seeing as how I’d left my gloves in the room. “Too cold for me, though.”

“But isn’t it nice being alone like this?” I said, tugging on her paw to bring her in closer.

Was that a groaning sigh, or a gust of wind?

“We could be alone in the room… and warm…”

“Aw, it’s not the same,” I said, kicking at the ground, “Like now, we can look around and see we really are the only ones around. ‘Cause you know there’s people in the rooms around us, I guess.”

Eralia looked at me sideways, her ears shifting about underneath the headband. “It’d be nicer if it was, you know, nice out. Even with all my fur I’ve still got a chill,” she said, leaning up against me. “Besides, are you saying you don’t want them to hear us being alone?” She wore a sly smirk.

Fortunately, I could blame any redness on the cold wind rushing across my cheeks. I didn’t dignify her comment with a response and kept on walking.

“So, how much longer are we going to be traipsing about?”

She did have a point about the cold; we’d been outside for almost an hour now, and even with my thick jacket I was starting to feel chilly. However, we were getting close to the top of a hill I’d spotted a map of the preserve. Just a few more minutes of walking and we’d reach it. “How about we just continue up this path a bit to the top and then we’ll turn around?”

“All right,” she said, pulling me so close our shoulders touched, “But we’re taking the most direct path straight back and we’re jumping in the hot tub again when we get back.”

“What? My back is still sore from the last time.”

“So we won’t do that again…”

I couldn’t tell if I’d scored a victory or a loss with my great idea this morning.

Once we crested the top of the hill, it was looking more like a victory.

Though it wasn’t a grand mountainous vista, it was still a sight all the same. At the peak the path turned, because straight ahead was a sheer drop overlooking an expanse of evergreens far as the eye could see, dotting hills and valleys in a sea of green capped by dusty white. The sun was behind us, washing everything in its radiance. An unspoiled haven of nature all around us.

Eralia’s tail got to thumping against my leg and swished her jacket.

We stood there for some time in silence, until a tree stump set just a bit away from the drop off caught my attention. I had the scene, I had the time, and now I had the place.

I tugged Eralia over towards the stump. “C’mon, let’s take a seat,” I said, dropping down and patting my leg. Rather than sitting next to me, she nestled herself right between my legs.

Leaning back against me, she took my arms and wrapped them around herself. “You’re lucky this just happened to be here,” she said, tilting her head to look at me. “And that I happen to think this is a great view.”

How enjoyable small things could be when I was with Eralia. If I’d been alone, I would never have thought to stop and look at this. Hell, I’d never have dragged myself out here in the first place.

Burying my face in her hair and taking a deep breath through my nose, I wondered what else I would have missed out on if I was still alone. What I would’ve missed feeling and experiencing. How Laska might’ve ended up had she not been there to provide a helping hand, a woman’s touch.

If this wasn’t love, what else could it be?

Working her headband off and allowing her ears to spring free, I nuzzled against the back of one of them, lightly nibbling along the edge. A throaty little giggle rolled from Eralia’s throat. “You sure love my ears, don’t you?”

She couldn’t have said a more perfect line. I smiled. The series of events to follow were drawn in my mind; hopefully she’d follow along. “That’s not all I love,” I whispered.

“Such a charmer,” she said softly, her ears flickering from my breath.

“Hey,” I began, my heart rate steadily climbing.

“Hmm? What’s up?”

Shifting my hands underneath her, I lifted her up slightly and turned her so she was seated across my legs. She looked at me curiously, and I seized the opportunity to plant a gentle kiss on her lips.

“What’s gotten into you?” she asked, eyes glittering as I rested my forehead against hers.

“Just wanted to let you know that I love you.”

She raised an eyebrow and smiled. “I love you too.”

Good thing I was wearing this thick jacket. She’d probably be able to feel my heartbeat otherwise. I wanted for some kind of romantic lead-in, but my mind was totally blank, except for the one question on the tip of my tongue.

It was right there, but still so difficult to utter. I opened my lips several times, attempting to speak loudly and confidently… but I couldn’t. If I loved her so much, why was I having such a hard time with this?

Then I felt her soft lips on mine, a lingering warmth remaining as she drew back, pulling my words out at the same time.

“Will you marry me?” I whispered, looking into her clear eyes that took up the entirety of my vision.

In a flash dozens of emotions flashed across her face. She opened her mouth several times, only to close it as some other feeling spilled out. “Are you serious?”

My heart plummeted.

“W-what do you mean?”

Then she burst out laughing. “Seems we both had the same idea, you just beat me to the punch.”

“You mean you were going to ask me?”

She wrung her paws together and wiggled between my legs. “Yeah. That’s why I was so surprised when you asked me if I wanted to go to a resort. I was in the process of putting together my own little get away – somewhere much warmer, I might add. But this is nice too, in a way…”

I sat there dumb struck, mouth hanging open. Eralia closed it for me with a gentle lift from her paw, then gave me a peck on the nose. “Something the matter, my dear?”

“Just, wow. I don’t know what to say,” I said, breaking into the same sort of laughter that’d rolled through Eralia just moments ago.

“Hmm, I do,” she said, settling into a smile to out-shine the sun.

“What’s that?”

Running a paw across my cheek, she threw her arms around my neck, pulling us together into a tender kiss. “Yes,” she whispered as she pulled away, holding the ‘s.’ “Yes, I will, my love.”

Haha! Really, it was so obvious what her answer was going to be, but that didn’t matter nearly as much as that one word.

I wanted to jump and shout with joy, to express to the world how I felt at that moment. My heart pounded, my adrenaline surged, and my mind went blank with excitement.

Instead, I sat there holding my soon-to-be-wife in my arms, cradling and holding her close. Her arms were thrown around me, pulling me close to her with no less vigor. We nuzzled each other, laughing and whispering ‘I love yous,’ and other such things.

It’s kind of funny. Marriage wasn’t something I ever really regarded much. My thoughts on it were something like, ‘if you already love one another, why do you need to be married?’

But, in our short exchange, and how we sought each other’s warmth and love at this very moment – I finally understood. Understood what it all meant, and cursed myself for waiting so long.

We sat there for an age, the fire stoked within us warding off the cold. It wasn’t until the purplish overtures of dusk settled around us that Eralia finally spoke up. “How about we go back to the room and celebrate our engagement, dearest?”

I shifted, and she took it as my agreement, and then stood. “There is nothing else I’d rather do,” I responded, taking her paw in my hand as I stood alongside her.

 

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5 thoughts on “Laska and Me – 25

  1. It was pretty obvious to anyone reading up until this point that Eralia and Curtis were anxious to seal the deal and get married. What was unexpected was the comedic timing the two decided on popping the question.

    Good intentions as he had, Curtis should’ve known that being an Anubis, Eralia wasn’t all to comfortable somewhere cold. But, that was heavily mitigated by him proposing to her. The love the two showered each other with was warm enough to keep them happy, least until they got back to their rooms to celebrate their union.

    Also the section of Laska nearly giving Curtis a heart attack was quite hilarious. Approriate too given how much of a nervous wreck Laska can be when things don’t go her way. Thankfully the two came out of that ordeal alive.

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