He looked up and smiled as Marie returned from the lavoratory. In the dim light of the fire, she looked stunning. "Welcome back. Every last hair in place now?" Alex said playfully.
"All the important ones," she replied. She settled down in the chair with the grace of athlete she was. "And so, drinks, coffee, desert? What's next?" She leaned forward, "or just talk? It seems like there's something on your mind."
"You could say that, yes." Alex took a deep breath. "One thing you've probably come to learn about me is that eloquence is not one of my strong suits, so bear with me. I want to talk about us, actually. Marie, the time I've spent with you, though brief, has been wonderful. I must admit it's been odd to have my name in the papers for something other than football. However, I feel you more than make up for that."
"If there's one thing that I've learned in my life, is that true happiness can be very fleeting, especially in today's world. Therfore, when you find it, try to keep hold of it if you can."
Alex slid off of the couch down to one knee and produced a small box. Opening it, he revealed a delicate white gold ring set with a nearly flawless diamond. It wasn't the largest ring in the world, but it was stunning in its cut and design. "Marie, I truly have found happiness with you, and I'd like to have you in my heart, my soul, and my life as long as I can. Will you marry me?"
"Oh, Alex," said Marie looking down at the ring, then back at his face. "Oh, yes. Yes, of course." She leaned forward to kiss him. He accepted the kiss, long and passionate. It was ten seconds that seemed to last a lifetime, with the twenty second embrace to follow an eternity. They broke the embrace and Alex then sat back on the couch and looked at Marie.
"Thank you. I do love you, Marie. Enough to share something with you that only a handful of people know." Alex paused before continuing. "This is going to sound very movie-of-the-week, Marie, but there is something that you need to know about me, something that I hope will complete "us", as it were."
Marie looked at Alex quizzically as he took the ring from its box. He then shrank, in full view of Marie, to about one foot in height, the ring now slung over his shoulder like a backpack. He zipped over to her hand so fast she had to blink to readjust her vision, and he slid the ring onto her finger. He then looked up at her. "This is the reason for some of my disappearances, Marie. I hold two jobs...one as owner of the Dutchmen, the other as a Protector of Port Alexander. The public knows that side of me as Sting."
"Oh my G....," she managed before fainting dead away.
Alex regrew to full height and zipped towards the first aid kit he kept in the house. He returned with smelling salts and began the process of waking her up. "Please let her understand, please let her understand, please..." Alex thought over and over as he gently tried to awake her.
Marie groaned softly as she came around. She took in Alex and his look of concernt, then shook her head ruefully. "I never thought of myself as the fainting type." She sat up. "You're Sting. Superhero. That's a bit of a shake-up. I had kind of thought through wife and step-mother, but ... what do you call a superhero's wife, anyway?" She giggled. "I see why you wanted to eat at home rather than at a restaurant. I'm sorry, this isn't a time for comedy."
"No, no, a sense of humor is almost needed when you do what I do." Alex said, taking her hand. "I know this is a lot...a LOT...but please understand my outlook. I hid my life as a paranormal from my first wife for two years, and it almost caused a divorce because she was certain I was unfaithful. Even when she knew, it colored our marriage until the day she died at the hands of someone who wanted to hurt me. I don't want to go through that again, nor do I wish to put anyone through that. I decided that if I loved you enough to want you as my wife, I loved you enough for you to know the truth...the whole truth...from day one. You're one of a handful of people to now know both sides of me...Lorelei and my teammates are most of the others. Of course, I think you know that it needs to stay that way...too many people, primarily yourself, could be endangered if this were to ever slip. That's the extent of my love for you, Marie...to trust you with all of me."
"Alex, Alex," she shook her head again. "This is a lot. I mean, you're out there. Risking your life. And, and, it killed your first wife?" She took his hand. "Alex, I love you, I do. But ... I've got to think about this." She removed the ring from her finger and put it on the box. I'll call you." She walked to the door then stopped and turned. "I do love you, and no matter what, your secret is safe with me." Then she was gone.
All Alex could do was look at the door, then the box, then the door again.
* * * *Two days later, there was a knock at Alex's office door. When he opened it, Marie was waiting.
"Hi." Alex said, smiling. "Come in, please." She entered the room and Alex closed the door behind him. "Can I get you anything?"
"Yes. I mean, no, I don't need anything. The answer is yes," she said. "That is, if the offer is still open."
Alex's "business smile" melted into true warmth. "As they say in my business, the contract is still on the table, yes." He went to his desk, opened the top drawer, and pulled out the box from the other night. He took off the ring and slid it onto her finger.
Marie smiled and fell into his arms.