A/N: Okay, if you don't like fluffy, romantic mush, go back now while you can. I couldn't resist the opportunity to let my characters have a little fun in the sun, and I'm a hopeless romantic myself, so this last part is gonna be mushy. I want to thank all of you guys for reading and reviewing, and I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it!
"Come on, Red! The water's beautiful!" Mike said, coming up for air after having swum a few laps around the pool of an exclusive beach resort in the English countryside. It was late in the afternoon and the pool was deserted except for a few children. Lil laughed as she stretched out a hand to ruffle the wet hair plastered to his head.
"Six hours a day was enough for me." The affectionate gesture was a far cry from the Lil of a few months ago, who hadn't known how to deal with her feelings unless she was fighting them.
"Pleeeeeeease?" He begged. She shook her head and turned back to the pages of the best selling novel she was reading. She missed the mischievous glint that came into his eyes, and so it took her completely by surprise when she was picked up bodily and flung into the water by a very familiar pair of strong arms.
"Mike!" She sputtered, trying to shake the hair out of her eyes while he laughed. ""I'm gonna kill you!" The expression on his face turned to mock panic when she scrambled out quickly and, picking up the nearest projectile- the best seller- aimed it at him with alarming accuracy. He just barely dodged it and, grabbing a shirt to throw on, started running.
"Go easy, will ya?" He said as she chased him around the pool. "Remember, there's only one gorgeous guy like me in the-"
"Just wait till I get my hands on you!" she called, starting to catch up and increasing her speed.
"I'm waiting, Red!" He ran into the grass and she followed, giggling when he lost his balance, fell, and pulled her down with him. For several minutes they rolled until, exhausted, they came to a stop and lay still, curled up together in the soft grass.
"Whatcha thinking?" Lil asked after a few minutes of silence as they watched the sun start to set. There was a pause until he answered gravely,
"I'm wondering what you would say right now if I asked you to marry me." He felt, rather than heard, her sudden intake of breath as she raised her head to look at him.
"Are you serious?"
"Yeah." The sincerity and depth of emotion in the one word brought tears to her eyes. "I love you, sweetheart, and I want to be with you every minute of…every…day…" he trailed off, wiping the tears from her face. "Aww, don't cry, Red. Maybe I shouldn't have said it so soon." She shook her head and clung to him tightly. "We don't have to decide anything right now. If you need some more time-" She shook her head.
"No…it's not that…"
"No?" He repeated, sounding panicked and very, very vulnerable. Lil looked up into those hazel eyes, smiled through her tears, and kissed him in a way that left no doubt as to her feelings.
"No I don't need more time and yes I love you and yes I want to marry you," she said. He smiled that goofy-in-love smile that no one ever got to see but her.
"I was hoping you'd say that," he said, bringing her lips to his again.
Some time later, when they broke apart, the sky had already turned dark. Oblivious to their surroundings, they lay together on the grass still.
"If we're going to go through with this, there are a few things you should know about me," Lil said.
"Mmm hmm?" Mike murmured lazily with his face buried in her hair, inhaling its sweet scent.
"I can't cook to save my life."
"Already knew it."
"I hate housework."
"You and me both."
"And I don't want to give up my career."
"Wouldn't ask you to. Anything else?"
"Yes. I'm completely head over heels in love with you, Mike Ryan." He smiled.
"Good. Then why don't you try this on for size?" From his shirt pocket he removed a small velvet box and flipped the top open to reveal a diamond engagement ring. Her eyes widened
"It's beautiful," she said, rolling over on her stomach to kiss him on the cheek. "I love it."
"Good." He got to his feet and helped her up, and they started back toward the inn.
"I wonder what General Drake will say when he finds out." The future Mrs. Ryan said.
"Somehow, I don't think he'll be shocked," Mike answered, remembering the knowing look the general had given him three weeks ago. "Do you think Evvy and Bill will be surprised?" Lil shook her head.
"No, they knew what was going on between us before we did. What about Jack?"
"Nah…he always knew."
"So I guess we're the only ones who wasted a lot of time," she said. Mike shrugged.
"Yeah, but that's all right. We have the rest of our lives to catch up." And the sound of their laughter blended together and echoed in the English countryside.