Betrothed, p.12
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       Betrothed, p.12

         Part #6 of The Vampire Journals series by Morgan Rice

  Caleb flew, holding Ruth, Caitlin at his side, and Scarlet on her back. Caleb marveled at how inseparable Caitlin and Scarlet had become since they'd met. It was strange looking at them, as it seemed as if they'd always been together.

  The four of them flew through the breaking sky of dawn, heading north towards his castle in Leeds. It had been a solemn departure this morning, as Caitlin and Sam had parted ways. The two had embraced, tears in their eyes, as they had each decided to go their own ways, to pursue their own clues. Caleb thought that Caitlin had made the right decision. Sam clearly needed to pursue his clue, and she needed to pursue hers.

  Polly had surprised them by announcing that she was going with Sam. Sam had seemed surprised by that, too. But Polly had quickly added that it was purely for professional reasons, that she thought, since Caitlin had Caleb, it would be better to balance out the numbers, and have her help Sam. After all, they were all searching for the same thing. Sam hadn't seemed to object. Caleb smiled as he thought of it. It seemed obvious to him that the two of them liked each other, but that they were both set on not showing it.

  Caleb thought of his love for Caitlin. He flew so close to her now, the sky blending into a million colors, their wings nearly touching, and felt such love for her. Their time together had been magical. They had managed to come back together, had been together the entire time, and finally, it felt like nothing was left to stand in their way. There was no Sera, no Blake, no other obstacles. It was just the two of them.

  This physical place and time wasn't as dramatic as Paris or Venice, and yet, their time together now felt more romantic to him than ever. It made him realize that true love wasn't about where you lived. Caleb had never felt so happy, and he felt that Caitlin never had, either.

  He discreetly reached to his side, and as he felt the bulge in his pocket, his heart lifted. His mother's ring. It was still there, safe and secure, and now, finally, the time felt right. They had a lull in their search. Sam knew where he was going, but Caitlin had no idea where her clue lead. Caleb didn't either. So, since they had nowhere to go, he'd used a tiny bit of trickery, looking for an opportunity to get some time alone with Caitlin, so that he could propose. When Caitlin had decided to leave Windsor Castle and was standing there, unsure where to go, he had suggested an idea for where they might search. Trusting him, she had went along with it.

  Now they flew north, to a place where Caitlin thought might lead them to a clue. But what she didn't know was that they were actually flying to one of Caleb's castles. Leeds Castle was one of his most beautiful properties, one he had bought centuries before. He had boarded it up the last time he had been there, and hoped that it was still in good condition. He owned castles in nearly every corner of the world, but this one was his favorites. It was also his most romantic property.

  It came to him that it would be the perfect place to propose to Caitlin. He thought of the hilltop that overlooked the property, the wild grass and wildflowers in every direction that afforded a commanding view of the countryside. He knew that this would be the perfect place and time.

  He had not expected to propose in front of anyone else, and was a bit caught off guard that Scarlet was with them, and Ruth. He would have to figure that out when the time came, but he was sure he could find a way to get just a few moments alone with her. Regardless, he was so happy that Scarlet was in their life, he would give up anything to have her there.

  As they rounded a hilltop, Caleb's castle came into view. Sprawled out in the early morning sun, it was magnificent, just as he had remembered it. Built in a white limestone, with turrets in every direction, immaculately laid out in a large square, with an inner courtyard, and a drawbridge, it sat regal and proud, dominating the otherwise empty countryside. It stood empty, just as he'd hoped it would.

  For now, he didn't want to actually bring her into the castle. Instead, he wanted to take her right to the hilltop overlooking the property. Caleb suddenly dove down, pointing, and Caitlin followed him.

  Moments later, they landed on a plateau, at the top of a sprawling hill. It was the highest hill in the countryside, and from this vantage point, they could see forever. Caleb set Ruth down as he landed, and Caitlin set Scarlet down.

  "Why have we landed here?" Caitlin asked.

  Caleb had rehearsed a thousand times in his mind what he would say when the big moment came. But now that it was actually here, he found himself getting nervous, tongue-tied. His throat suddenly went dry, his hands were sweaty, and for a moment, he forgot what he was about to say.

  "Wow, look at that castle!" Scarlet shouted, staring off at the horizon, pointing.

  Caleb turned to her. "Sweetheart, I think Ruth needs to use the bathroom. Maybe you can take her to that small grove of trees, right over there?"

  Caleb pointed at a small grove of trees, maybe thirty yards away, on the far side of the plateau, a place where he could keep them in sight, yet still have privacy to speak to Caitlin.

  Scarlet took off with Ruth, thrilled to run through the grass, Ruth skipping beside her, playing as they went.

  Caitlin gave him a puzzled look.

  "What's got into you?" Caitlin asked. "You're acting funny. "

  He cleared his throat.

  "Caitlin," he said, stopping, clearing his throat again. "There is something I've been meaning to - um - to - well - to - ask you - um - for centuries now. Every time I try, something seems to get in the way. But now, the time is right. "

  She looked at him, puzzled, and he could tell that she had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.

  "I brought you here for a reason," he continued. "It's a very special spot for me. And for my family, throughout the centuries. That castle that you see on the horizon, it was used by my family for centuries. It is mine now. A place I can call home. A place, maybe one day, we can call home together. "

  Caitlin turned and looked at the castle, and gasped at the sight. He reached up and held her shoulders, and she turned back to him.

  Her brown eyes were so beautiful against the breaking dawn. He reached up and ran the back of his hand along her face, brushing back her delicate brown hair.

  "Caitlin," he said, "I want to spend the rest of my life with you. And there is something very important I need to ask you. "

  He reached back, felt the ring in his pocket, and he knew the time had come.

  Slowly, he took it out, held it in his hand, and got down on one knee.

  The time had come to be with her forever.

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