A/N:: I know it's been a long time since I've updated this story, and I apologize for that. I've been busy lately and have had little time to write, and when I have had time to write, I couldn't come up with anything suitable for this chapter. Finally, though, I think my muse is back into gear. This is the final chapter of this story. I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it!
You're Mine Forever
Clarisse looked up from where she stood on her balcony into the vast openness of the evening sky, where bright swirls of pinks and blues now made it look so close and so tangible that she was almost tempted to reach up to see if she could actually touch it. She sighed peacefully to herself as she leaned forward onto the balcony rail. Her mind raced with thoughts of the day, and she smiled to herself as she thought about how differently today had gone compared with how she had planned.
Clarisse felt a flutter in her stomach as she sensed someone's presence approaching behind her. Still, she gasped slightly when he slipped his strong hands lovingly around her waist.
"Did I startle you?" he breathed against her neck.
"Mm, no, I was just… thinking," she replied in a low voice.
"About us?" he asked before placing a soft kiss upon the side of her neck.
"Of course," she replied with a laugh as she leaned back against him.
"No second thoughts, I hope," Joseph said cheerfully, but Clarisse caught the hidden note of insecurity in his voice.
She turned in his arms to face him directly. Her countenance was loving but equally serious and concerned as she softly cupped his face with her hands.
"Oh Joseph, no," Clarisse said sincerely as she moved her fingertips lightly over his lips. "I married you because I love you… so much. I want to be with you for the rest of my life, and I certainly don't have any second thoughts."
Clarisse embraced him tightly, desperately wishing she could draw every worry away from him and into herself to prevent him from having to endure any sorrow. She kissed him deeply, and her heart leapt when she felt Joseph's smile against her mouth.
"I could get used to this, you know," Joseph said sheepishly when their kiss had ended.
"Get used to what?"
"I agree," Clarisse laughed.
Joseph looked out over the balcony, a deep and thoughtful expression forming on his face. Clarisse watched him with admiration as he stared, and she waited patiently for him to share with her what was on his mind.
"It may sound cliché," he began in a low voice, his eyes still fixated on some distant location where the skyline seemed to physically meet with the lush green hills, "But ever since we were married today, I feel as though I'm living in a dream." He turned to meet Clarisse's eyes. "And frankly, I hope I never awaken from it."
A smile blossomed on Clarisse's lips as she wrapped her arms tightly around her husband.
"I love you," she whispered into his ear.
Joseph took her hand and traced his thumb over her wedding ring with a smile.
"I love you, too," he replied in an equally soft voice. "Always and forever."