time to change before our world smashed apart.
The torment in his eyes makes me gasp, Jett holding me takes the gasp for shock at his proposal, my lips burn to tell him to put me down. Now!
And this nearly causes me to miss it.
Colt nods once, hard, unforgiving and turns away from me, breaking eye contact … and my heart.
I cry out as the cold, unrelenting pain of rejection slices down into me, I bury my face in Jett’s shoulders and shake with horror.
Jett cradles me protectively in his arms, “folks she’s overwhelmed,” he says gaily to them.
I feel like a deer caught in the savage glare of headlights, with not enough time to escape cause I know I’ll be hit, I just don’t know how hard or bad it will be.
Laughter and claps ring out, it rakes on my nerves, makes them bleed more.
“Put me down,” I whisper hoarsely, surprised that I can still speak, though my voice trembles with effort not to start screaming at them all to leave me the hell alone.
Jett’s brow scrunches, but love shines tenderly from his eyes, it rips me apart just a little more. I can’t face him, instead I stare at a random grey button on his worn plaid shirt. He places me carefully on my feet that wobble with weakness. He doesn’t let me go.
He winks at me, throws back his head and shouts with laughter, turns to our audience, “that’s my gal, nothing does her in. She’s like this land and my family,” his eyes glitter with tears of happiness, makes me feel like the lowest piece of shit. He gets to his knee, pulls out the ubiquitous black velvet box from his back pocket, opens it and holds it up to me, “it’s your favorite color,” he says, I groan and fight the urge to sob. A ½ carat yellow diamond set about with crushed smaller diamonds in a bed of 18 carat gold looks steadily at me. It’s like sunlight wrapped in stars … Like Colt’s eyes. I nearly choke on the guilt that crushes my wind pipe, Jett must’ve spent a good chunk of his savings on it.
Behind me gasps of delight ring out.
“Oh Jett,” Marjorie croons behind us with such longing in her voice I want to snatch the ring from Jett’s fingers and fling it at her, say here take it on me. But she stays put in the back and I don’t have the guts to hurt this man whose love for me shines so peacefully in his earnest blue eyes.
He slips it onto my unresisting finger, plants a feathery kiss on my fingertips, gets to his feet and hugs me close, he looks into my eyes and I know he’s got to be seeing the terror there, the absolute certainty that I don’t deserve him.
But he smiles as if he’s getting a glimpse of paradise instead, he says for my ears alone, “Please Angie, marry me?
From somewhere I understand instantly why Colt had turned away from me, no matter what he feels for me, he doesn’t have it in him to hurt his little brother and … neither can I.
“Yes,” I whisper in a scratched voice to Jett, his face bursts open with dazzling happiness, the blue of his eyes blaze like a clear summer’s sky. He whips me up into warm, strong arms. I close my eyes, let the last of my strength leave me and collapse into him.
He must never know and I will never stop hurting. I struggle to breathe as I look forward into the future I’ve created for myself. And all the while it feels as if someone is taking their fingers and driving them into my chest one by one.
“Let’s have a barbeque,” Marjorie scurries up behind us, Jett lets me go and Marjorie throws her hands around his shoulders, hugs him tightly, there are tears in her eyes.
She leans back, cups his face tenderly in her hands, “my baby boy, I can’t believe it.”
Jett chuckles, “I hope marriage will permanently put an end to you calling me that?”
She shrugs, “maybe,” then looks at me standing still behind them. She lets go of Jett who disappears into the rest of the family for congratulations.
“Angie?” Marjorie’s blue eyes so like her son are