Happy Sunday, dear readers! :) How's your weekend going? Mine is glorious! Reading books, eating pizza, and watching The Big Valley (because it's a good show that deserves to be watched. *nod*)
Enjoy part three!!
“Daniel!” Shay watched him bolt before whirling on Stewart. “There aren’t words in my extensive vocabulary to reach the height of what I'd like to call you right now.”
“I’ll give you one thing,” Stewart smirked sarcastically, “you've certainly got more ‘vocabulary’ than your boyfriend.”
Ignoring his remark, Shay let her fury continue to uncoil. “How dare you speak to him that way! He may not be able to speak, but he can hear, you know.” She took a deep breath and forced herself to calm down. “I hope that someday you regret what all you have done.”
Shay turned and fled the scene, not quite fast enough to miss the nasty words Stewart tossed after her.
Shay traveled down the alley as fast as her legs would carry her. Just as she broke into the daylight, she skidded to a halt. Daniel was leaning against the corner of the building to her right, watching her.
“I thought you left me.”
He shook his head. “I couldn't leave you with them.” He motioned for her to follow him and they started down the street.
After several moments of silence, Daniel stopped and turned towards her. “He's right, Shay,” he signed. “I can hardly communicate with the rest of the world and you'd be better off with him.”
Shay shook her head with such force the thick, blonde braid hanging down her back swung around and stung her cheek. “No, Daniel. Stewart is a rude, unfeeling bully and always has been. I want nothing to do with him.”
He wouldn't listen to her. “I was a fool to think we could ever have any sort of relationship. It's best that you get on with your life, Shay.”
Shay blinked back tears. “Y–you can't mean that.”
Daniel groaned as she hurried away. This was not going well. He hated seeing her cry, but she just didn't understand. He sighed and started down the street in the direction she had gone. The least he owed her was an apology.
Daniel hadn't walked far when he spotted Shay sitting out in front of a few businesses, her face hidden in her hands. He stopped several feet away from her, trying to decide how to announce his presence. Eavesdropping wasn't intentional, but her first words caught him off guard.
“I love him, God, with all my heart. Please help him to see that nothing else matters…”
That was it. Daniel couldn't just stand there and listen to her pouring out her broken heart. He walked up and knelt in front of her.
Shay paused, telling Daniel she knew he was there, but she refused to look up. He softly covered her clasped hands with his, while with calloused fingers gently stroked her cheek.
Shay opened her eyes and slowly looked up to meet Daniel’s gaze. A pang stabbed through his heart at the sight of her tear-streaked face, and he was surprised to feel tears welling in his own eyes as well.
All he could do was shake his head.
She reached out and pulled him into a hug, which Daniel gratefully returned.
“I'm sorry,” he signed. “Forgive me for being so stupid?”
Shay disagreed. “No, you're not stupid.”
“Can we talk?”
“I'd like that.”
As Daniel sank to the curb next to her, Shay silently thanked God for giving her and Daniel another chance.
“I want more than friendship, Shay.” He reached over and clasped her hand in his, as if that would somehow make her understand what he was trying to tell her. “I love you. I want a future and…”
“I think I could be persuaded into that,” Shay cut him off.
Daniel shook his head. “I won't do that to you.”
“Do what?” she persisted.
“I won't put that burden on you.”
Shay's heart clenched. “Daniel…that's not how I see it at all.” She laid her hand on his arm. “You could never be considered a burden.”
Her words didn't seem to have much affect on him. “What about children?”
“What about them?”
“What kind of father would someone like me make?”
Shay paused, tears again flooding her eyes. “Daniel, just the fact that we’re having this conversation tells me how much you care. You'd be willing to sacrifice a future together, if it meant my happiness.”
Daniel nodded. “I love you, Shay. And I'd do anything for you. But you deserve a happy, full life with a man who doesn't have to rely on–”
Shay took both of his hands in hers, preventing him from finishing the sentence. “I'm in love with a man who relies on God… And loves me with his whole heart. What more could I ask for?”
Daniel’s lips curled in a slight smile. “What would I do without you?”
Shay grinned. “Back to your question…” she went on. “I’ve seen the way you are around all those precious, deaf and mute children. I think you will be a wonderful father.”
"Will be?" Daniel’s eyebrows rose, teasingly. All uncertainty, self-doubt and fears of the future were gone from his eyes. “That sounds pretty definite.”
She smiled and slipped her arms around his waist. “Oh, it is. I've known since second grade. It's just taken me this long to convince you.”
Daniel grinned and returned her embrace. “I love you.”
“And I love you.”
The air held a serious mood as Daniel seemed to hesitate over his next words. “I can't imagine life without you, Shay.”
Stepping out of the library, Shay paused to arrange the armload of library loans in her book-bag. She took a deep breath of the sweet, summer breeze and strolled on down the sidewalk. Past the deserted soccer field she walked, hardly casting a glance across it. But it was when she reached the community playground that her eyes were drawn away from the path before her. The sights and sounds of all the young children, frolicking about and coming up with unique games and merriment, made her heart sing. She smiled as she stopped to watch them for a moment.
As she did she couldn't help but imagine what her and Daniel’s future children may be like. Although he hadn't officially proposed, he had said he couldn't imagine life without her. The thought of those sweet memories certainly didn't interfere with the smile on her lips.
Pulling herself from her daydreams, Shay continued on down the sidewalk. She was almost back to where she'd left her car, when she noticed a certain someone sitting on a park bench.
Her heart skipped a beat when she recognized him. Nearing the place, she spoke. “Daniel? What are you doing here?”
When he neither answered or sent her that heart snatching smile, the cheerful smile left Shay’s face; a frown of concern replacing it.
She slid her book-bag to the ground, below the bench, and sat next to him. “Is something wrong?”
Without looking her way, he reached over and grasped her hand. Now Shay knew something was wrong; he’d never acted this way before. Fear and uncertainty grasped her heart.
“Daniel, look at me, please.”
He gave her fingers a tender squeeze and slowly turned to her. The gasp that immediately escaped her was only somewhat stifled by her hand flying up to cover her mouth.
The left side of his handsome face was a mass of bruises; an ugly jumble of blue, purple, and black. His eye was swelled shut and blood dripped from his nose and lip.
Shay blinked back tears as she took in the sight. “Who did this to you?”
He looked away and didn't answer.
“Are you alright?” Shay clasped his hand in both of hers and scooted closer to him. “Daniel, please talk to me.”
They sat in silence, only interrupted by the usual, busy sounds around them, for several moments. Shay knew that Daniel would talk when he was ready and she silently prayed as she waited. She didn't know what had happened, but she didn't like it, or rather the results of it, one bit.
When Daniel’s fingers did start moving and forming words, Shay had a hard time keeping up. But the message still came through with startling clarity.
“Stewart?” she repeated, not wanting to believe it. “He did this to you?”
Daniel slowly nodded. “With help.”
“Of course. Those three idiots that follow him around like stray dogs.” Shay thought she caught the shadow of a grin pass over Daniel's face, but she was consumed in her anger and couldn't be sure.
“That's the ones.”
Upset over what had happened, Shay took a deep breath and forced herself to calm down. She turned away and bent to fumble through her bag. She came up with a tissue and, stretching out her arm, gently dabbed the blood from his split lip. He winced and reached up to cover her hand, while signing with his free hand, “I'm okay.”
Shay sighed. “I knew he was jealous but… I didn't think he would do something like this.”
“Has he bothered you?”
Shay shook her head. “No, I haven't seen him since that day in the alley. Why do you ask?”
He didn't answer.
He sighed. “He threatened to hurt you if I don't break things off between us.”
“He has hurt me.”
Daniel’s face hardened. “What?”
“Maybe Stewart’s got more brains than I've given him credit for.” Shay smiled reassuringly. “By hurting you he's hurt me.”
Daniel chuckled his relief and drew her to his side, pressing a kiss to her forehead.
“What are we doing out here?” Shay eyed Daniel suspiciously as he led her down the path towards the river, one evening two weeks later.
“Just trust me.” Daniel grinned.
Shay smiled and squeezed his hand. “I do. Just curious.”
Daniel sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly. She suspected something. Please God, let her say yes.
They rounded a bend in the path and the wide expanse of the river came into view.
“Oh, Daniel, it's beautiful!” Shay exclaimed.
“I thought you'd like this place.”
She grinned and, pulling him along, ran down to a deck overlooking the sparkling water.
Daniel quietly admired the serene look on her face as she gazed across the water. He took in every detail of her eyes and the slight upturn of her nose.
She turned towards him. “Yeah?”
His heart pounding wildly in his chest, Daniel dropped down on one knee. “Shay Williams, will you make me the happiest man alive and say you'll spend the rest of your life with me?”
Her hand flew up to cover her mouth and he saw tears hiding in the corners of her exquisite green eyes.
Daniel swallowed against the lump forming in his throat. “Please, darling. Do me the honor of being my wife.”
“Yes!” she exclaimed. “Yes! Oh, Daniel!” As he stood, she jumped up and threw her arms around his neck. “I love you.”
He swung her around in a wide circle and kissed her cheek as he gently returned her to the ground.
“I love you, my Shay-girl.”
Three months later…
“Wait, hold it right there!”
Daniel and Shay froze and waited for the picture to be taken. Leigh's smiling face soon emerged from behind the camera.
“Perfect! Okay, I think we can get some great shots down there in that field.” She continued, going on about what a pretty place this was and how sweet for the proposal, and now their engagement photos, to take place here.
Shay was quick to hop in the conversation as she walked along with Leigh. When Daniel rolled his eyes and followed them, Shay bit back a snicker. He had been quite compliant, allowing the two women to drag him along to various places and poses on the photoshoot excursion, but she could tell he was growing tired of it.
“Just a few more, I promise,” she turned and called across her shoulder.
“Sure,” he grinned, stepping forward to grasp her hand.
As they strolled down the river towards the meadow to take more pictures, she thought back over the happenings of the last few months. Her mother and Jeff had apologized for not accepting Daniel, and things were much better between all of them now. Although Stewart and Daniel weren't exactly best of friends, Stewart had admitted his wrongs and begrudgingly agreed that, though he may've wanted to, it was Daniel who had won Shay's heart.
The summer camp closed until next year, and Daniel, realizing there wasn't such a thing in Williows, had started a program to teach ASL. Shay would be finished with school in the spring and afterwards would teach alongside him. The couple was planning a summer wedding.
Leigh found a spot in the grassy meadow, where she thought would have the perfect lighting and she could get good shots from several angles.
Daniel sank to the ground where he was told to. His intentions, get this over with as quickly as possible, were evident. Shay grinned and sat next to them.
“What do you want us to do, Leigh?”
“Just act natural,” she instructed. “Talk, laugh, and pretend like I'm not even here.”
“Like we don't know she's over there behind that tree with her little camera,” Daniel signed, sarcastically.
Shay laughed, intertwining her fingers around his arm. “This isn't too bad.”
“Even with our chaperone over there sneaking around behind the bushes.” His eyes twinkled as he lovingly gazed down at her.
Shay smiled back.
Daniel carefully removed a twig from her hair, letting his fingers brush across her cheek. He leaned forward and placed a tender kiss on her forehead. “I love you.”
“I love you, Daniel.”
Leigh was ‘awing’ over them and snapping photo after photo, but they hardly knew.
With a sigh, Shay leaned her head against his strong shoulder. Content and happy, encircled in his arms, encompassed with his love. Thank you, God, for giving me a man who loves You first and loves me second. Thank you for giving us a happily ever after.
What do ya think? Did you enjoy the story? Any comments, suggestions, or critique would be appreciated!
Thanks for reading, everyone! Happy Valentines Day!! :)