"…when you're ready…"
Those three little words played over and over on a loop in my mind as I stood staring dumbfounded at the door Jaina had just exited. My legs felt like Lingardin granite. I couldn't move from that spot. My feeble brain was desperately scrabbling to make sense of all she had just said. Was I imagining things or had Jaina Solo just told me she loved me?
Sure, Jaina sometimes had a wicked sense of humor and a mischievous streak, but I didn't think she was kidding about this. It was no joke. She was serious.
She loved me.
She wanted me.
And we were married.
My knees nearly buckled, so I quickly made my way to the bed and sat down to regain some kind of balance. A deep, full breath gushed into my lungs and I slowly exhaled, then repeated it three more times. This was unbelievable … crazy… insane. But despite all of the obstacles I had constructed to keep myself from falling for her, I could no longer deny that I wanted and needed Jaina in my life.
I loved her.
It was overwhelmingly liberating to finally admit it to myself. My heart raced as I contemplated what her confession and parting kiss were implying. She knew I couldn't resist a challenge. In fact, she probably knew me better than I knew myself. I absently licked my lips and groaned. I could still taste her sweetness there, proof enough of what I needed to do next. My mouth spread into a wide grin and an incredulous chuckle escaped my lips. I might have been a moron and a jerk, but I wasn't stupid. I sure hoped she meant what I thought she meant because we were married now.
And I was ready.
I stood up, the wobbliness completely gone from my legs, replaced with an inner strength fueled by all the penned up passion I had for this woman. If things went like I thought they would, my days of repressing my feelings for Jaina Solo were about to come to a screeching halt.
As I walked out of my room and headed toward hers, I couldn't seem to wipe a silly grin from my face. I stopped outside her door and ran a hand back through my unruly hair. Having a few gray hairs suddenly didn't seem to matter because at that moment I felt like some amorous youth sneaking off for a secret rendezvous with his girl.
My girl. I liked the sound of that.
Reaching out in the Force, I could feel Jaina's fiery presence from within her room, could feel her waiting for me. She felt my touch and a spark of awareness shot up my spine and out to my extremities even before the door opened. A quick, impatient flick of my hand and the door slid out of my way allowing me to see what I came for.
Jaina stood only a few feet in front of me. She had chucked off her flight jacket and boots, leaving her clothed in simple tan cargo pants and a tight-fitting sleeveless black tank top. Was she even aware of how sexy she looked without even trying? I didn't think so, and that made her all the more desirable.
We were frozen. Neither one of us moved or spoke out loud, but plenty was being said with our eyes. The electricity in the air between us sizzled, my blood rushed through my veins. I took a hesitant step forward and stopped, waiting to see if she would bolt or simply disappear like so many of my dreams before. But she didn't. Instead, she echoed my step with one of her own successfully sealing her own fate. That had been her last chance to stop what was about to happen…to escape my passionate clutches, and she knew it. I gazed into her dark brown eyes and saw that she was waiting for me to make the next move, to say something.
So I did.
"I'm ready to talk," I stated calmly, even though inside my body was ready to burst into flames. I covered the remaining distance between us in one long stride, cupped her face in my hands and claimed her lips in an urgent kiss. Her arms slipped around my waist and I felt her hands move up and down my back. My hungry mouth trailed kisses from her lips to her neck, behind her ear, onto her cheeks, her nose and back to where I started.
As we continued our 'discussion', I began guiding her toward the narrow bed. She sensed my intent and placed her hands on my chest to stop me. Our breathing was ragged, my body temperature hovering near the boiling point, and my hands slid around her waist. No way was she getting out of this one.
"What?" I asked hoarsely. "What's wrong?"
She caught her breath and looked deeply into my eyes. "If we do this," she said, glancing quickly at the bed and back to me, "there can be no annulment, you know. We can't turn back and pretend nothing's happened if we…if we—"
"Consummate our wedding vows?" I added for her with a devilish grin. Then I raised her hand to my lips and placed a tender kiss on her palm. She trembled, and I knew it was finally going to happen. All those hopes, dreams, and fantasies I'd had about Jaina over the years were mere seconds from becoming reality.
"Y-y-yes," she stammered, watching as I proceeded to kiss each and every one of her fingers without taking my eyes from hers. "Because if we really d-do this, then it will make the marriage b-b-binding. Oh, that feels good!" she moaned as I moved to nibble on her earlobe and inhaled the pure, feminine scent of her. In a moment, she seemed to recall what she'd just been talking about. "It will make it harder for you to get rid of me…legally, I mean, and—"
"Jaina," I whispered before giving her another passionate kiss. She looked up at me when I pulled away from her mouth, and I could tell from the glazed look in her eyes that she wanted this as much as I did. "Just shut up and let me make love to you. Okay?"
Her eyes widened and she didn't say anything—just nodded an okay before throwing her arms around my neck and jumping into my arms. The move took me off balance and landed both of us on the bed, which-- bless the sweet Force!-- was my destination to begin with.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
I tried to chuckle at Jaina's understatement, but I didn't have enough energy left. All of those dreams and fantasies?…nothing compared to the reality of actually having her lying there in my arms. I turned my head so that I could look at her face flushed from all that 'talking'.
"You are a goddess," I said with a satisfied sigh. She rewarded me with a beautiful smile that sparkled in her gorgeous eyes. Then her smile curved and became that familiar Solo grin. "What?" I asked suspiciously, not knowing what was going to come out of her mouth next.
"You weren't so bad yourself-- for an old man," she quipped, propping herself up on an elbow so that she could smirk down at me.
"Hey, this old man can still get the job done, sweetheart," I replied, and then I pushed her silky hair back over a bare shoulder. I still couldn't believe that Jaina Solo was mine, in every sense of the word. I was afraid to blink, afraid she would simply disappear if I so much as looked away for a second, and so I kept my eyes locked on her, drinking in every single solitary detail of her face. It was a face already forever engraved in my mind, but being this close and under these circumstances offered me a whole new view.
Unfortunately, she noticed that my gaze had wandered to a 'whole new view' and smacked playfully at my chest with one hand as she pulled the sheet higher onto her body with the other. "Pervert," she said. Then I did laugh.
"Jaina, it's a little late to be self-conscious, don't you think? I mean, you did kidnap me, trick me into marrying you, and then seduce me into your bed." I placed my hands behind my head with a self-satisfied smirk and grinned up at the ceiling. "Wait till they hear about this!"
She smacked me again, a little harder this time. "Ow!" She started to do it again, but I caught her wrist and pulled her struggling form down on top of mine, pressing a kiss to her protesting lips…only she didn't protest too much. I let her go when I felt her start to melt into me. We had some serious talking to do now…real, actual speaking this time. Really.
Her mischievous grin was back and she practically glowed. "I wonder what the Council would think if they knew how ticklish you were?" Then she proceeded to terrorize the various locations she had discovered over the last few hours and I had to squirm around to fight her off.
Not a bad thing. But then we really did have some things to discuss.
"Jaina! Cut it out! We need to talk."
She ceased her torture of my ticklish spots and became instantly serious. "I know," she said, settling into a seated position next to me, the sheet arranged modestly around her. Her hair was mussed and she looked like a woman who had been thoroughly pleased, so it was going to take all of my will power to keep my hands to myself. But we honestly needed to discuss some things.
Namely, our marriage.
"Do you want to start or should I?" she asked.
Taking another glance at her bare legs sticking out from underneath the covers, I wisely decided I should start talking as soon as possible.
"I will." I paused to gather my thoughts and loved it when I noticed her gaze traveling over me. I stifled a grin and started to ask my questions.
"Who? What? When? Where? How? and Why?" I asked. "Yep. That about covers it."
"Care to be a bit more specific, Master Durron?" she said.
"Okay," I replied with a nod. "When exactly did you decide to do all of this?"
Jaina took a deep breath before she started explaining. "A few years ago, I—"
"A few years ago!" I interjected. "You've been planning this for a few years!"
"Not exactly but kind of. Will you let me talk?" she said in exasperation. "Thank you. A few years ago, I started to realize some things about my life. My relationship with Jag was going nowhere, so we called it quits. I looked at my mom and dad, Uncle Luke and Aunt Mara, and I noticed that they had something I didn't. Their lives were full because they had each other. The crazy thing was, every time I tried to imagine my life like theirs, you popped into my mind."
I snickered. "Yeah. I'm like that---a bad rash that keeps showing back up," I interrupted.
"Exactly!" she exclaimed, letting me know she was playing along with my attempt at self-efficacy. Then she went on to explain how at first she wrote it off as guilt over not contacting me for so long, but then the thoughts of me kept coming on strong causing her to re-evaluate our relationship and what exactly I meant to her. After debating with herself and resisting for as long as she possibly could, she decided do come see me on Denon to find out if the feelings she was having were real or something she had imagined. Immediately after, Luke had asked her to come to Denon intending to offer her a seat on the Council. She paused her story and we both took a moment to quietly contemplate how the Force had worked it all out so seamlessly.
Except, of course, for the matter of Li'andra.
A slight look of disgust flashed on Jaina's face as she continued.
"I wasn't expecting her," she spat derisively with a snarl of her lips. "That first day I came to your office and she walked out on your arm, my heart dropped out the soles of my feet. I was devastated. She was so perfect with her perfect hair and her perfect clothes and her perfect boobs—"
I stifled a laugh. It was surreal hearing Jaina confess to being jealous over me. How many times had the tables been turned? How often had I been the one watching with jealousy as she gave her attention to another? Dare I tell her the countless instances I was left desperately longing for her, knowing she would never be mine? And yet, here she was…with me.
I pulled her hand to my mouth and kissed it tenderly forcing her to stop talking and look at me. "Jaina," I said softly. "You're the one who's perfect—perfect for me. There's never been anyone who could take your place in my heart. It's always been yours and it always will be."
Her eyes softened. "What—what about Li'andra?" she asked, her unexpected vulnerability feeding my innate desire to be her protector.
"Li'andra who?" I whispered with what I hoped was a smoldering gaze. She rewarded me with a satisfied grin and another sweet kiss.
"Good answer," she drawled playfully.
I shifted around on the bed and pulled her into my arms, her head nestled neatly under my chin. She fit perfectly, like I always knew she would.
"So, why kidnap me? Why not just tell me how you felt?"
"Well, the kidnapping part was actually Dad's idea," she stated plainly. I pushed her away suddenly so I could see her face.
"Han told you to kidnap me?" I asked incredulously.
"Well, not exactly. We were just talking one day and he told me the story about how he kidnapped Mom, and I don't know," she shrugged. "It just sounded like a good idea at the time. Besides," she added, a mischievous gleam in her eyes, "it worked, didn't it? I didn't hear any complaints." She stretched up to kiss my chin and I was instantly ready to lose myself in her all over again. My arms slid back around her and pulled her in against my chest.
"Nope. No complaints," I muttered, nuzzling my face into her Jaina-scented hair.
With a jolt, she jerked back clapping a hand to her forehead. "Oh! I almost forgot!" she declared. She jumped up and began a quick search for her discarded clothes, grabbing the first thing she found—my black shirt. I knew it couldn't possibly have looked so good on me. She slipped it on and hastily buttoned it halfway.
"What are you doing?" I questioned, the disappointment of her abandoning me evident in my pouting voice.
She made her way to a tiny drawer on her storage chest and pulled out a small wooden box. When she returned to the bed, a hesitant smile played on her face and my curiosity peaked.
"What's that?" I asked suspiciously as she sat down next to me.
"A wedding present," she stated shyly, handing me the box.
My mind began to spin. A wedding present? For me? At first I was shocked. Then I immediately felt horrible since I had nothing to give her. When we had left for this mission, I never thought in my wildest dreams that we would end up married. Then I had another thought. Had she been so sure of the outcome? So certain that I would consent to this crazy scheme of hers that she brought a present? Of course she was certain. This was Jaina and she knew me better than anyone else.
I studied the small box in my hand, admiring the fine craftsmanship of the carvings that covered the lid.
"Look inside," she urged, barely able to contain her excitement. I glanced up and saw her chewing her bottom lip, probably wondering what I would say or think about her gift. When I opened the box, I found two holograph cubes tucked inside. I slowly removed the dual set of metal squares and turned them over in my hand to locate the power button.
"I hope you like it," she confessed. Then I pressed the power button on the first one and felt my heart leap into my throat. The image which appeared in front of my eyes was one I had not seen in many years, since my childhood, in fact. I had to draw upon the Force to add stability to my trembling hands. Looking up into Jaina's face, it was obvious she was worried about how I would respond, and it took me a few moments to form words.
"My parents," I rasped out in a hoarse whisper. The faces of my long dead mother and father stared back at me from the small holographic image and a flood of emotions washed over my soul. I didn't have any mementos of my family. Once, years ago, I had returned to my home on Deyer, hoping to find something, anything that remained of my family. Unfortunately, the Empire had seen fit to leave only the charred remains of our once beautiful home, a visible warning to others who might speak out against the Emperor as my parents did. So I had contented myself with the memories I carried within me, proof enough that the Durrons did actually exist. "How did you get this?" I asked, still in shock and unable to take my eyes from their image.
"It wasn't easy," Jaina began to explain. "I called in a lot of favors, threw around some influential names, but it still took a while. Over a year, if you can believe it."
"A year?" My eyes immediately left the holo and went to Jaina. She had been searching for this precious gift for over a year? So I had been on her mind for a while. The thought comforted me.
"Yes. I had several people helping me search, but nothing turned up until last week. It seemed the Imps liked to keep secret records of anyone who was against them. Guess your parents were pretty vocal about their opinion of Palpatine, eh? Do the other one," she suggested pointed at the cube lying dormant in the box.
Hesitantly I flicked off the holo of my parents and turned on the other one. A searing pain shot straight through my gut. "Zeth," I gasped. The image of my older brother dressed in Imperial military garb glowed above the small mechanism and the guilt and pain of his loss overwhelmed me. He hadn't gone willingly into service for the Empire, I recalled vividly. He simply had no other choice. They told him his only options were to join or watch his family die. So my strong, brave brother had joined the very people my parents were fighting against. The hardness showed in the set of his jaw and the steel of his eyes.
Jaina must have sensed how near the edge I was so she spoke up. "I finally tracked down some old Imperial military files. Even though Carida is gone," she said carefully, both of us knowing its demise was my fault, "the Imps luckily kept copies of everything at other locations. I—I hope it's okay," she ventured.
Me, I couldn't seem to speak, not one word, and it must have worried Jaina because she felt the need to keep talking.
"I thought you might like to have a reminder of your family, of where you came from. Dad never knew his parents, and Mom, well, her mother died young and her father was Darth Vader. Need I say more?" she added for levity. "The point being that they both have always said they wished they had some kind of link to their past, proof of who they are, even if it was only a picture to connect them to their family. But they didn't. And I—I wanted you to have that link. If there's one thing the war taught me is how important family is. Losing Anakin and Chewie and all those others took something from me that can never be replaced. But I can add new people to my life. Kyp," she said taking my hands in hers, "I want to be your family now, to start our own…together. What do you think?"
She was looking at me with those big brown eyes, hope radiating off of her in waves, and it was contagious. I could feel it swelling in my chest. Family. She wanted to be my family; something I hadn't figured would ever be present in my sorry life again. After all of the pain I had suffered, after all of the pain I had caused, did I even deserve this chance at happiness? I wanted to believe it was possible, but was almost too afraid to take the chance, certain it would all come crashing down around me as things so often tended to do.
And yet there she was, sitting right before me, a beacon of hope for my hardened heart. And I wanted her. I needed her. I loved her more than I ever thought I could love someone. She was gorgeous, strong-willed, passionate…and she was giving herself to me.
"I think," I said slowly as I pulled my hand from hers and set the holocubes back into their box, "I think that I love you, Jaina Solo." I leaned forward and brushed the side of her face with the back of my hand. "And I am going to spend the rest of my life showing you how much."