[as seen in eloise’s eyes]
She lies in bed awake the morning after he proposes. They are a tangled mess of naked limbs beneath the sheets but she doesn’t feel completely sated. She looks at the clock on the bedside table, watching the digitalised numbers glowing against the dark face of the clock.
There is still plenty of time left and she doesn’t think that either of them would be going to work today. He probably has a lazy schedule planned for the rest of the day, most of which involves warm baths and pillow talk and sex. A lot of sex, probably.
She smiles to herself when she thinks of that. But her smile fades as she catches sight of the dazzling ring on her finger. She doesn’t know what cut it is or how many carat it is because these things have never really tickled her fancy before. It’s beautiful, nonetheless, and she shifts her hand a little, waiting for the diamond to catch a gleam of light.
When it does, it twinkles, and she has to catch her breath.
Because, suddenly, she’s feeling rather breathless. And it’s not the good sort of breathless she gets when he kisses down the length of the neck. It’s a different sort of breathless altogether. Her head is reeling and she is stricken with the magnitude of what she had agreed to the night before.
“Yes”, she had said, “I would love to marry you, Declan Harte.”
His eyes had sparkled and his lips had curled in his signature boyish grin. And he had pulled her firmly against him and kissed her like nothing had mattered more, nothing but them, nothing but her lips, nothing but her.
But now the air is no longer charged with anticipation or excitement. And the gravity of her words is earth shattering. She has forgotten, you see. She has forgotten that with marriage comes a new chapter and there is so much more, exciting but daunting things. Like children.
She feels the earth shift beneath her feet until she is no longer on it, but hurtling out into space. Where there are voids and blackholes and she slips into one of them. Her mind is an absolute blur, her heart is racing not with anticipation but with fear, and her lungs are empty.
Where is the oxygen when you need it?
She leans across to pluck her phone off the dresser and his arms tighten around her waist almost instinctively. He mumbles incoherently against her hair as he pulls her against him and she realises that he’s almost hard again in his sleep. Disentangling his arms from around her, she pushes herself up and presses a brief kiss to his forehead.
“I’ll have to use the bathroom. I won’t be long, baby.” He lets out a distant snore in response and her heart constricts as she stares at him. “I love you.”
At least, she thinks she does.
She’s not too sure anymore, because there are still the shadows of old monsters in her head. They are looming in the horizon and she is afraid. This is the funny thing about fear, it leaves you stranded until you’re grasping at nothing but air, for a lifeline that may or may not be the one you expect.