All the King's Horses
Part I: Chapter 26

Panic broke her from the spell she was under, it filled her and gripped her heart the minute he stepped away. “Rafe,” Alison whispered, somehow turning his name into a plea. Her grip on his hand tightened, she refused to let him back further away. Instead she stood and closed the space between them – took his other hand. With both his hands in hers, Alison looked up at him, tears filling her eyes suddenly. “Don’t… Please, don’t.”

“Don’t what, Alison?” he asked, his tone sharper than he meant for it to be. And he didn’t realize it until she flinched. He softened his voice, “Don’t what?”

“Don’t… Don’t pull away from me. Please…”

“Alison, I’m not pulling away from you. I just-”

“I just told you that I dreamt about having children with you, Rafe.”

“Yeah,” he muttered. “I got that.”

“And you pulled away!”

“Alison, this… Honey, it’s complicated. We’re too close. You… You’re counting the days until I leave!”

“Yeah, I am! I already told you that I’m gonna miss you, Rafe. You can’t expect me to just pretend that I don’t care about you at all! I just… I told you how I felt. I dreamt about having children with you, and it was a great dream. I didn’t want to wake up from that dream!”

“You… You’ve probably just had Livvie and Lucy yapping in your ear too much, Alison.”

Looking away, Alison fought the tears that stung her eyes. “But they have a point, Rafe. I mean, we… We have something between us, something special. And I can’t stay away from you, and I don’t want to! I’m just… I know exactly how I feel about you, and I wasn’t talked into my feelings by anyone. Alright?”

Suddenly, it was as if she’d just said the words. He knew, God help him, he knew she loved him. Pulling his hand away from her, he stroked her cheek with his thumb. “And I know exactly how I feel about you, Alison.”

“But,” she whispered sadly.

“But this cannot happen. No matter how much I wish it could – no matter how much we both wish it could. It can’t happen. I… I don’t want to hurt you.”

“I know that,” she sighed. “And I know that you can’t stay. That doesn’t mean I can’t wish things were different and you could. But I know that you can’t stay.” Alison wet her lips and laughed nervously when a tear escaped, but she still didn’t try to move away from him. “It’s just not fair, you know?”

“What’s not fair?”

“Life, I guess.”

“I could have told you that if you had just asked,” Rafe murmured with a half smile, wiping her tears away.

The fingers of her free hand curled themselves in his sweater, holding him close to her just incase he tried to slip away. “What else would you tell me if I asked?”

His laugh was light, and his eyes twinkled with a hint of honesty. “Anything… Everything? Whatever I knew, Alison.”

“Is the thought of having children with me really that awful?”

“The thought of having children with you,” he whispered, his forehead resting against hers. “Is anything but awful. Wonderful, amazing, awe inspiring… I could go on, you know,” he smiled. “Awful doesn’t even enter my universe when thinking about the idea, Alison. Awful wouldn’t have anything whatsoever to do with that dream.”

“Then why did you pull away from me?”

Rafe sighed, his hand still cupping her face, their foreheads still touching. “Because I know why you were thinking about it.”

Wetting her lips, Alison peered up at him trustingly. “Why do you think I was thinking about having children with you, Rafe?”

“Because of what happened yesterday… You broke up with Jamal, and in a lot of ways you broke off with who and what you thought your future was going to be. You just need-”

“I just need you to not, like, try and say that this has anything to do with my ex, Rafe.” With a sigh, the fingers curled into his clothing pulled him closer to her. “It had nothing to do with Jamal, you know. Nothing at all. And it had nothing to do with what I had thought for a long time was my future ending. You know why? Because I haven’t ever thought of what my children with Jamal would look like. I never thought about us pass the stage we were in except to think that eventually we were going to get passed that stage. But we weren’t, you know. Because neither of us were thinking about it. I thought about it with you, not him. I’ve spent more time in the past twelve hours thinking about a life, a future, a marriage and children with you, than I spent thinking about the same things with him in the past two years. Jamal isn’t my future, Rafe. He’s not my destiny, fate didn’t pick him out for me.”

“Alison… It can’t happen…”

“Don’t you want it to?”

He blinked in surprise at her question, her tears, the sudden nervous tone in her voice. “More than you will ever be able to know,” the angel murmured softly. “I want it more than you will ever know, Alison.”

“I know, Rafe,” she answered. “I know how much you want it… I want it just as much. I want a life with you, Rafe. I want it all. More than you will ever know.” Alison bit down on her lip for a moment, slightly uncertain of what she was going to say next. “Promise me something?”

“Anything,” her angel whispered with a smile. God help him if she ever found out that he couldn’t deny her anything…

“Promise me that you don’t think this has anything to do with Jamal. Promise me… Tell me that you know it’s all about me and you - promise me that you don’t think it’s not.”

A moment passed, a moment where they did nothing but look into each other’s eyes and silently whisper what their hearts were screaming. Something was taking up a home in her eyes, something new and exciting. An emotion that maybe she never fully knew before. He spotted it, but couldn’t name it. Somehow though, he knew. “I promise.”

“It’s not about anything but me and how I feel about you.”

“You know, don’t you?” he asked. “You know exactly how I feel about you. You have to know.”

“I know.”

“I love you.”

“I know,” she repeated, a smile taking over her features. “I love you too. But you knew that, didn’t you?”

“I was beginning to come to that conclusion.”

“Lucy and Livvie and Valerie all saw it way before now,” Alison chided playfully.

“I guess I’m a little slow.” His lips brushed over hers just briefly. “It still can’t happen, Alison.”

“We can’t even pretend?”

Rafe shook his head sadly, pulling away from her slightly. “If we pretend… Honey, you’re gonna get hurt when I have to go. And the last thing that I ever want to do is hurt you. All that matters me is that you’re happy. You know that, right? Your happiness is the most important thing.”

“You make me happy,” she said, the sadness already entering her voice again. “It’s going to kill me when you leave anyway, Rafe. Just because you won’t be here. And you make me happy. You and the dreams of our kids…” Sighing, Alison took a tiny step forward, needing to be close to him. “What do you think they’d look like?”

With a smile, his free hand tugged that same lock of her hair gently. “They’d have your hair, so soft and perfect.” Moving his hand, he brushed his thumb along her bottom lip as he had before. “And of course your smile. Have I told you that I love your smile?”

“No,” she answered with a grin. “But I think I was beginning to come to that conclusion.”

“Ah, you know, you keep throwing my words back at me…”

“At least you know I’m listening to you.”

He laughed lightly. “That’s very true.”

“You really don’t hate the idea of having children with me?” she asked, uncertainty clear in her voice. Again she caught her bottom lip between her teeth in what was becoming a nervous habit, but she still kept him close, refused to look away.

And he knew he’d do anything to take her uncertainty away from her. “Alison,” Rafe murmured, his thumb brushing her bottom lip again, forcing her to release it. “I really don’t hate the idea. In fact, I really love the idea.” Bending down slightly, he captured her lips, and when he pulled away she sighed contently. “I would love to have children with you, Alison. It sounds like the very best dream.”


“Yes,” he said sternly. “Really. I wouldn’t lie to you, Alison.”

“I- I know that you wouldn’t lie to me, Rafe. It’s just…” Biting down on her lip again, she looked away.

Bringing his hand up, he stroked the curve of her jaw with his thumb. “It’s just what?” Rafe asked softly when she raised her eyes back to his.

“It’s just…” Alison sighed and wet her lips. “It’s just that this is all kind of quick, you know? And you’re this really, really amazing, sweet guy. Sometimes… I think you’d do whatever you could to make me happy. Even if that meant pretending you felt something you really didn’t.”

“You think I’m pretending that I feel something I don’t for you?”

She looked slightly taken aback at the slight harshness of his tone. “No… I don’t. I mean, I know that you care about me. And that you love me…”

“But?” he prompted when she paused.

“But you said that my happiness was the most important thing. And I told you that you make me happy, which is the truth. You’ve been such a great friend to me, Rafe. You’ve let me cry on your shoulder about anything and everything, you’ve tried to talk me into doing whatever you thought it was that I wanted despite your feelings…”

“So you think that I’d let you think something that wasn’t true just because you wanted it?”

Alison shifted uncomfortably under his question and lowered her eyes to the hand that was curled into his sweater. “Not so much as I think you’d try to spare me the embarrassment of realizing that you don’t feel anything… romantic toward me like I do towards you.”

“Look at me,” he demanded gently. When her eyes met his, he sighed. “I’m in love with you, Alison. Like it or not. I tried pretty hard to fight it, and to deny it, but I can’t. And I really don’t want to. I’m in love with you, and that’s just the way that it is. I’m not pretending that I feel that about you when I don’t, and I’m not going to keep pretending that the only thing I feel for you is friendship, because it isn’t. And I don’t think it has been from the first moment that I saw you. I am in love with you. Got it?”

“Got it,” she answered, somewhat breathless in the face of his honesty. And the way he was looking at her… He was giving her that look again. That look that rendered her speechless, and made her just the tiniest bit weak in the knees. Did he have any idea what he did to her?

“Good,” Rafe whispered with a smile. “Glad we could clear that up.” Turning the hand that she still held, he managed to make it so that he was holding her hand. Tracing her ring finger, he pulled her a little closer to him. “Because I can think of nothing that I want more than to see you with a ring on this finger, and to know that I put it there. To call you my wife? Would be one of the greatest things on this earth. Understand?”

Alison nodded, unable to do much more. Damn that look… His eyes seemed to glow with the love he felt for her. Had she not already been breathless it might have just taken her breath away.

“You have to know,” he said after a moment. “That I want you.” Leaning forward, he brushed his lips against hers, pulling away before she could really respond to the kiss. He nuzzled the spot just behind her ear, smiling against her neck when it made her shiver. “I want to know every inch of you, Alison. I want to kiss you, I want to know what your skin feels like under all these clothes you wear, and I want to make love to you until the world comes to an end,” he whispered, his breath hot against her skin. And when she once again shivered, his arm snaked around her waist.

It was as if he could sense that she wasn’t sure how much longer her knees would hold her up. When he released her other hand to cup her cheek, she ended up with both her hands on his chest, curled into his sweater. And she was torn between leaning against the hand that rested gently on the small of her back and stepping closer to him.

He was content to stoke her cheek for a moment, to hold her face in his hands, and he wanted to kiss her until neither one of them could breathe, but he held back. There was still so much that needed to be said. His hand slid slowly, lightly away from her face. His fingertips barely brushed the smooth column of her neck, resting for just a moment above her pulse point, before moving down again slowly, between the valley of her breasts. Finally, he reached her flat stomach.

With his hand spread out across her abdomen, and his eyes still focused solely on hers, he forced himself to continue speaking. “I want to watch you grow, knowing that you are carrying my children inside of you.”

Blinking slowly, Alison wet her lips. “Twins?” she managed to ask.

“Twins. And then some.”

“Lots and lots of kids,” she murmured.

“That’s right,” Rafe said, kissing her quickly. “I want to see the light in your eyes when you find out you’re pregnant. I want to watch you grow with our children. I want you to wake up in the middle of the night in my arms and make me go out and get you some strange food you’d never even look at if you weren’t pregnant. I want to hold your hand while you’re in labor, I want you to scream at me during your contractions, and I want to see the look on your face the first time you catch site of each one of our children. I want to hold you while you are holding our babies for the first time. I want you to know that everything that matters to me in the world is right there in my arms.”

Another tear had escaped her eyes, and he wiped it away gently. “You’re so wonderful.”

The angel shook his head. “You’re the wonderful one, Alison. In fact, you’re absolutely perfect.”

“No I’m not,” she objected.

“Yes,” he whispered, placing a quick kiss on her lips when she looked like she wanted to protest further. “Yes, you are absolutely perfect. You’re perfect to me, and probably for me. And I want to spend every second of every day telling you that I love you. That you matter to me. That you are perfect and amazing and beautiful in every possible way. I would be happy to spend the rest of eternity holding you in my arms. I want to be able to wake up next to you every morning and watch the sunrise in your eyes until the sun doesn’t rise. I want you to fall asleep in my arms until the stars all burn out. I want to always see you smile, and I want you to never be sad enough to cry again. I want to love you, Alison. I want you to know that I’m going to love you until time stops.”

“I want that too,” Alison said softly, pulling him closer to her. “I want all of it, Rafe. I want it all and I want it with you.”

“I know.” His hand moved from her stomach to her hip, and he managed to pull her toward him instead, closing off the small space that had remained between them. Again, he pressed his lips to hers, and again, he pulled away before she could respond. “I want kids with you, Alison. Lots of kids.”

“With my hair,” she smiled.

“That’s right. With your hair.” Again, his thumb stroked her full bottom lip. He could easily be mesmerized by the texture of her lips. “And your smile. Don’t forget your smile.”

“And my smile,” she added obediently before standing on her tiptoes and pressing her lips to his. A small whimper escaped her when he pulled away.

“And your nose,” Rafe whispered after a moment, kissing the tip of it gently. Taking one of her hands in his again, he kissed the pad of each finger. “And your hands,” he murmured. Turning it over, he placed a kiss where her wedding ring would be. “Because you have beautiful hands.” Another kiss, this time on her palm, then the inside of her wrist. “Everything about you is so beautiful, Alison,” he murmured against her skin.

Her fingers tightened into the material of his shirt before she released her hold on it. Sliding her hand down his chest, she sighed. “Rafe?”

His lips met her jaw, then her chin, and she tipped her head back for him. “Maybe,” he said between kisses. “They’ll have your neck too.”

Alison had settled her free hand on his back, so she tugged on her other hand until he released it. Curling her fingers into his hair, she dipped her head back further, giving him better access. A gasp passed her lips when his tongue dipped into the hallow of her throat. “S-So,” she stuttered. “We’re going to have a lot of miniature me’s running around?”

“Mmm hmmm.” His lips blazed a hot trail back up her neck, across her jaw. He found that spot behind her ear and placed a kiss there, holding her tighter when he was greeted with that same shiver and a quiet moan from deep in her throat.

She fought to gain some sort of grasp on the situation, not that she wanted him to stop this damn delicious torture. “T-They’ll have… your eyes. I… I want them to have your eyes.”

“Anything you want, Alison,” he muttered against her cheek. With a little tug, he freed the rest of her hair from the constraint of her ponytail. He pulled back to look at her, loosing himself a little more in the fantasy when he saw the desire that clouded her half closed eyes, the flush that covered her cheeks. “I love you,” he whispered, kissing her cheek, then her jaw again, before returning his lips to her neck.

“I-I love you too,” Alison shifted restlessly against him, trying almost desperately to pull him closer. “I want you.”

“I want you too, honey… so much…”

She gasped again when he nipped at her collarbone, then it turned into a moan when he nursed the small wound with a sweep of his tongue. Her fingernails scored his scalp, but it only seemed to drive him closer to her. “I want you,” Alison repeated, turning her head in an effort to find his mouth with hers.

“Promise me something?”


“Promise me that you’ll remember what I said to you, Alison,” he whispered against her lips. “Promise me that you aren’t going to forget, or ever think for a second that I don’t love you – that I’m not in love with you.”

Biting down on her lip, she nodded. She tried to pull his mouth down to hers and found he refused to budge. “I promise,” she said after a moment. “I promise to always remember all these wonderful, sweet, romantic things you said to me. And I promise that I’m always going to love you. And I promise not to doubt how you feel about me ever again.”

Finally, he gave into her silent pleas, kissing her mouth like he never had before.

Alison purred in the back of her throat with victory and happiness when his tongue started dancing slowly with hers. Pulling away slightly, she nibbled on his bottom lip, then soothed it with her tongue and pressed her lips back to his. Her hand slid under his sweater, and she caressed the bare skin of his back. When her thumb dipped below the waistband of his pants, he moaned. Smiling triumphantly, Alison broke the kiss with a breathless whisper. “Marry me.”

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