“Hey Mom?” Ripley was studying the chess board in front of her intently.
“I know that Aunt Jaimie does the gardening and you paint and cook. Dad’s working on all his requirements, right? So- what does Uncle Marcus do?”
Ulrike cringed a little. It wasn’t that she had a problem with explaining things to her daughter, but she knew her husband wouldn’t be happy about it. “Well, baby. Marcus has a very important job, you see. But it’s one I’ll explain to you a little later, ok?”
Ripley’s brow furrowed, but then she nodded slowly. “Ok, Mom. I was just hoping you could tell me why he has several kids running around.”
Ulrike’s eyes widened. “O-oh… well-“ She hurriedly looked for something to keep her daughter’s mind off that. “I believe that’s check, Rip!”
Ripley looked at the board intently again, her brow furrowing. Then her head popped up. “Mom? What’s that over there?”
“What? What do you mean, baby?” Ulrike looked in the direction her daughter pointed. “I don’t see anything, sweetie.”
Ripley had to hold in the giggle as she quickly switched a couple pieces. “Oh no? Sorry, Mom. Must be losing it.”
Ulrike turned back and looked at the board then at Ripley. She arched a brow. “I wasn’t born yesterday, long lady,” she said with a laugh.
Ripley giggled. “No, guess not, Mom.” The little girl smiled sweetly.
“Oh, go get ready for school!” Ulrike told her with a laugh.
Still giggling, Ripley went upstairs to grab some breakfast.
You’re a tricky one, aren’t you?
“Who me, Watcher? Never.”
Hmph, you don’t fool me, child. –chuckles—It serves your father right, though. It’s about time he got a taste of his own medicine.
Ripley giggled again.
Better get to school, darling.
“Oh, you’re right! Bye, Watcher!’
Bye, dear. Have fun!
Marcus sat in the room he shared with Jaimie, deep in thought.
“Hey, Marcus. Simolean for yer thoughts?” Jaimie asked as she came in.
He smiled at her. “Hey there, girl. Not sure they’re worth that much.” He managed a little chuckle as Jaimie sat on the edge of his bed with him.
“C’mon now, that isn’t like you, hun. What’s wrong?”
Marcus shrugged. “I-I’m just- I guess I’m tired of ‘the life’, now. I’m old and while I still got it-“ He gave her a grin, “I just- I don’t want to break anymore hearts. The girls are pretty good natured and all- they get this is a Dynasty and all that, but still. And my kids- I wish they could live here, with us.”
Jaimie took one of his hands in hers. “I know, honey. I know. It’s ok, though. You know Han said that anytime you wanted to stop, you could. What brought this on?”
Marcus flushed a little. “While-“ he swallowed. “To be honest, there-there’s someone that I want to be with. Th-that I want to spend my last days with. I-I just don’t know if she’ll have me or not.”
“O-oh. I see.” Jaimie masked the frisson of hurt in her eyes with a smile. “Who’s the lucky girl?”
“It’s you, sugar,” Marcus said softly.
Jaimie’s face went from hurt, to surprised, to shocked. Then she began to grin widely. “Me?”
“Yes you. We’ve been friends from the beginning. I could always tell you anythin’, Jaimie. Anything at all. I always wanted to help Han. And I have. But I realized that I want to spend my last days enjoying life and I can only do that with you.”
“O-oh, Marcus,” she breathed, a single tear tracking down her cheek. She shut her eyes and leaned against him. He slid his arm around her and she did the same. They just sat there for a long moment, enjoying each other’s company.
Marcus leaned back to grin at her, then something cracked in his back and he winced. “Man, this gettin’ old stuff’s fer the birds!”
“That it is. Here, let me help ya with that.” With a smile, Jaimie began to massage his back and shoulder. Marcus groaned in appreciation.
He stood up after a moment and looked at Jaimie seriously. “Jaimie, I know you gotta think me crazy, but-“ He had to clear his throat. “I love you, Jaimie. We aren’t young anymore, you an’ I, but I know what I feel for you. I love you, Jaimie Wilburn.” He got down on one knee and looked up into her eyes. “Will you spend the rest of our days together, as my wife?” He pulled the ring from his pocket.
Jaimie’s eyes had grown impossibly wide as she looked at the ring, then at him. “O-oh!” she managed. “Yes, Marcus, yes!” She slid the ring on her finger, admiring it for a moment before she kissed him softly.
With a whoop, Marcus swooped her up into his arms, grinning foolishly at her. “Marcus! Put me down! You’ll hurt yourself!” Jaimie scolded, trying not to laugh as she grabbed onto his neck for dear life.
“Now now, I ain’t so old that I can’t lift my girl into my arms. Yer light as a father, baby.”
Jaimie laughed and kissed him, not so softly this time.
Marcus set her down gently. “We’ll have a wedding no one will forget! I promise you.”
Jaimie looked up at him. Then she shook her head. “No, Marcus. A nice, quiet ceremony, just you and I. We should do it now. Why wait?”
“Y-you don’t want a big ceremony?”
“No! Not at all! Leave that for the young ‘uns!” she said, cackling a little.
“Oh, thank the Watcher!” Marcus breathed out a sigh, then laughed. “I figured you’d want a big one and was gonna give ya one. Well, then, if you don’t, then yer right. Let’s do it now. Just you, me, and the beautiful sky out there. I’ll go change into something appropriate.”
“Me too. I’ll meet you out at the arch.”
And so, Marcus and Jaimie changed into something more suitable, though to be honest, neither one cared about that. Then they met outside at the wedding arch where Han and Ulrike had exchanged their vows. With Han at work, Ripley at school, and Ulrike busy with painting and cooking up a storm, Marcus and Jaimie spoke their vows beneath a clear blue sky, just the two of them.
“Jaimie Wilburn, I promise that from this day forward and until the day that Grim comes for me, I will honor you, cherish you, and support you in all you do.”
“Marcus Flex, I promise that from today onward and even after Grim takes me, I will honor you, cherish you, support you in all you do. And I promise that I will be the kind of step mother to your children that won’t be seen as a wicked witch!”
That brought a laugh out of Marcus as she kissed his cheek.
The two kissed after their vows, holding each other close.
Congratulations you two.
Marcus smiled. “Thanks, Watcher. You aren’t mad?”
Not at all. You’ve done wonderfully. You deserve to be happy now. Congratulations, Jaimie.
Once they spoke their vows, the two went their separate ways for a little while to change and to get back to work. Jaimie came back outside, intending to work in the garden. “Jaimie!” Marcus smiled at her. “Hello wife.”
“Hello, husband,” she greeted with a grin.
“We should probably tell Han, huh?” Marcus said with a grin.
“Yes, though let’s give it a little time. He’ll be home soon. We’ll tell him tomorrow, at breakfast.”
Marcus took her hand in his. “My wife is a smart woman.”
Jaimie winked. “Don’t you know it!”