The Cycle of Love

"Please don't ever stop loving me."

"Never, not even when I take my last breath."

Cover Photo Curtesy of: Rebecca Botin

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3. three

Reynold's Pub - 14 December 2016

"Maisie, can you grab another bottle of Jack from the back?"

Reynold's Pub was the only constant for me. I worked there before we met and during the year or so we'd been together. I liked that that aspect of my life hadn't changed. I feared, only slightly, that once James and I became more official that I'd want to leave Reynold's or that he'd want me to quit. Thankfully, that part of my life didn't change.

Over the course of the year since meeting James, I had cracked down on the books and graduated early with my degree in English Literature. James was to thank for my diploma, he was the one who pushed me to focus, helped me study though business was his strong suit, and made me want to strive to accomplish something great. I thought about getting a real job after receiving that singular sheet of paper, but I just wasn't ready to leave the pub where I found happiness. I guess I was scared to leave.

My relationship with James grew stronger and stronger with every kiss, touch, and intimate conversation. I had never been so comfortable with someone; never been so in love. I moved into his luxurious flat only five months into our relationship and I didn't regret it a bit. He was the man I woke next to in the morning and the man that I fell asleep next to at night, though he snored throughout the night and had to sleep slightly elevated due to his acid reflux, I had absolutely no complaints. Over the year it became very clear to me that he was it for me. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, no matter how long or short. I couldn't imagine not being with James.

"Greg, we didn't have another bottle back there. Are you sure..."

I was met with utter silence in the front of the pub, which wasn't too odd for a ten-thirty on a Wednesday morning. The lack of light music was a bit alarming, which was on prior to me going into the back, and Greg was no longer in sight. I called out his name once but received no response in return.

"Okay, ha ha, very funny."

Greg was slightly notorious for his pranks, always jumping out and scaring one of his workers or doing something harmless to them. Once Greg pranked my co-worker, Ethan, into thinking that it was his birthday. Poor lad went through so much effort to buy Greg a cake and present just to find out that there was no birthday. In hindsight, I did try to warn Ethan, but he didn't believe me.

"Maisie?" With a scream I jumped back against the bartop and spin my head around to find a familiar face grinning over at me.

"James, you scared the shit out of me!" James was pretty good at accidentally giving me a fright, quite possibly because I'm easy to scare and don't pay too much mind to my surroundings. He knows I hate it when he scares me, it's something that we fight over often, but you know what they say they make-up sex is always best. "What are you even doing here?"

Letting my eyes scan his body, I notice the lack of his normal work attire. Instead of a pressed suit and dress shoes he seems to be wearing his casual clothes: a button-down, tight jeans, and a pair of worn Chelsea boots. In his hand he held a single rose, white as snow with a stem as green as a dense forest during the summertime, similar to the roses he'd buy me on special occasions.

"Hey Maisie." James took a step forward and handed the rose over to me, which I took hesitantly.

"Hey there." Leaning forward, our lips meet in a brief moment before I pulled back.

There was something odd about this situation. Don't get me wrong, I loved being surprised with flowers from my, sometimes, overly-romantic boyfriend, but that day there was a difference. As far as I knew it wasn't our anniversary, wasn't my birthday, it wasn't any special day. It was an ordinary Wednesday.

"Not that I don't love to see your handsome face, I do, but shouldn't you be at work?"

James grabbed ahold of my hand and softly caressed my knuckles. He took a deep breath, his eyes fitting to the ground briefly before netting my stormy grey eyes. He appeared nervous, though in that moment I wasn't sure why.

"Maisie, love," He began, stroking my knuckles delicately, "ever since I laid my eyes on you, in this very bar, I knew you were the person I'd want to spend the rest of my life with."

I'm not daft, I knew exactly what he was going to do. I think my heart knew the second he called out my name from behind me and gave me that rose; figuring out his motive was easy.

"You were different from any other woman I had ever been with. You were genuine from the moment we first spoke. You weren't teasing, you were honest, and real about who you were. I saw you watching me that night; you weren't very discrete, babe, but I loved that about you. I was astonished by your beauty more than anything. I don't know if I've ever told you this, but I debated on following you out of this very pub to introduce myself. I had never seen someone so genuinely beautiful without trying. I thought you were out of my league."

It baffled me how he thought I could possibly be out of his league. I was a lowly university student working at a musky pub for the extra money. I don't know how he saw me as out of his league.

"I knew I loved you the minute you opened up to me about your mum. You dropped your guard for a second and I just knew I had found just the kind of girl I wanted in my life. I found the girl who wasn't afraid to let her truth be told.

"Maisie, you didn't run for the hills when I told you I loved you after the second date and you didn't use me when you found out the kind of money I make. Love, you stayed right where I needed you the most, in my heart, and I can't imagine a life without you."

Tears silently dripped down my pale cheeks and I was for once glad I hadn't worn any makeup, for it would have just smeared the canvas that was my face. He hadn't even asked me yet and I wanted to shout a yes to the heavens and collapse into his strong arms.

"Do you remember when we went to Paris?"

How could I possibly forget that magical trip? I'd never been outside the country before and the man of my dreams just whisked me away for a romantic getaway in the love capital of the world.

"We were laying in bed after a long day of being tourists and relaxing, among other things."

"Of course I remember." I found my voice, but it's quiet. I feared that if I spoke too loud I'd wake myself up from some dream that was playing in front of my eyes.

"Do you remember what I told you?" I couldn't get any words to escape my mouth, so I simply nodded with thick, silent tears dripping down my cheeks. "Don't cry, Maisie." James lifted his thumb to my cheek and gently wipes away a few of the falling tears as I try to collect myself.

"You told me that you wanted to marry me someday." The words were choked out between sobs of happiness. I felt breathless.

I never gave much thought into getting proposed to. I wasn't one of those women who really fantasized about the ring, the speech he'd give, or the setting the proposal would take place in. Despite not giving much thought into the whole idea of getting engaged, I never thought I'd be one of those girls who would weep upon getting asked to marry someone. Yet there I was, bawling my eyes out.

"Today is that someday."

I found myself holding my breath as James dug a small, blue box out of his back pocket before he lowered himself down on one knee. A silent gasp emitted from my lips once the box was popped open, the mere sight of the ring giving me a slight heart attack.

"So, Maisie Penelope Baxter, will you do me the great honour of accepting this ring and marry me?"

I could have shouted my answer at the top of my lung immediately, but I felt so frozen in shock that nothing came out of my mouth. My jaw just kept opening and closing like gills on a fish. Though I wasn't able to produce any words, I nodded my answer and breathed out a yes.

James was on his feet in seconds. His arms wrapped tight, like his jeans, around my waist and he lifted me up off the ground effortlessly. Whispers of you're stuck with me now and I'm so bloody happy were spoken into my skin between kisses being pressed to my neck. Even in a time of such romance and seriousness he knew how to bring comedy to the situation.

"I love you so much, Maisie, so much."

"Thank you for loving me." As soon as I found my voice, those were the first words that I could express. I don't know why it wasn't I love you too or something like that, but what I said felt right. I had never felt this loved since my mother died and I didn't want it to end. "Please don't ever stop loving me." James squeezed me tighter before answering in a husky and breathy voice.

"Never, not even when I take my last breath." Not that the proposal wasn't enough assurance of his love for me, those words affirmed that love.

"I love you."

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