She’s the luckiest woman in the world.
When she’d been younger, Carol had always wished to find a husband who loved her, who would protect her, cherish her and tell her she was beautiful. A husband she could share her life with, her hopes and dreams and who would help make their reality, whatever it happened to be, nothing short of a fairy tale.
At first she thought she had found that in Edward Peletier, but the image of the perfect man he so carefully cultivated had been dropped almost as soon as they’d gotten married. Every beating she’d received, every curse word followed by a dark purple bruised left behind by his fist, every pull of her hair and broken bone served to remind her that the kind of man she’d dreamt of simply didn’t exist. She lived her reality, protected her daughter and tried to keep appearances that everything was normal in the Peletier household.
Then the dead started walking and everything changed yet again.
Ed was killed. Sophia was taken from her. She thought her daughter’s death was her punishment for harboring so much hate for her husband. For the longest time she refused to allow herself to dream of a better future in the apocalypse they lived in because dreams were nothing but the shattered fragments of a life not lived . She focused on surviving, on helping the blended family they’d all created, but the world kept punishing her and pushing her to the brink of needing to disappear.
And she did, she chose to leave everything behind; the people she loved, the family she would die for, and the memories of all the happier times they’d lived.
She wanted to be alone.
She wanted to disappear.
She wanted to die.
Then, in the midst of all the anger, the physical and emotional pain, she’d found what she hadn’t been searching for any longer.
The love of her life.
The man who with a simple smile could light the shadows that threatened to consume her. The man who gave so much of himself without asking for anything in return. He saw through all the walls and protections she had laid for herself and reached out to her, helped pulled her out of the very darkness that enveloped her.
And when she’d called him a phony, said he was a joke and that he was simply selling dreams, he took his time to explain to her, to show her the life his people craved and that which he gladly carved for them. He’d known she didn’t need him to provide for her but he still made sure she was safe and taken care for at her cottage away from Kingdom.
At first she had recoiled, her sense of self preservation screaming at her to get out, but he’d been careful, tender, and patient and soon her need to leave was overpowered by her need to stay. She needed to remain by his side, to help protect the life he was making sure his people got to live. Before she knew it, the smiles that she had placed on her face for the best part of a year, fake and tight, turned into those of real joy and love, the need to not connect with anyone turned into falling in love with him and his community, her natural responses to years of pain and violence upon being touched ebbed away by tender caresses and loving touches.
She loves him deeply.
She doesn’t mind that he speaks with a flair for the dramatics, its a part of him that she’s grown to love just like she’s fallen in love with the way he dreams and hopes for the better.
In her violence and pained filled life he has been a balm to her wounded soul.
Though at first she had been almost angry at the way he could simply rest, she is definitively grateful that he hasn’t had to experience many of the horrors she has. Now instead of getting out of bed and occupying her early morning doing whatever will keep her mind in check, she enjoys staying at his side, simply observing him as he sleeps.
He’s a handsome man, of that she has no doubt. She feels lucky that he grew interested in her.
She loves the way his chocolate skin glistens in the morning light, the way his face is relaxed with no sign of worry though he does have the beginnings of a smile curling on his lips, the way his hair gets everywhere, covers his back and the mattress, and the way he clutches his pillow against his face and chest making his muscles tighten and slightly bulge.
God she loves his arms. They are strong without being overly muscular, perfect to embrace her and protect her even when she doesn’t need protection. She knows that if she weren’t sitting on the bed, covered only by his shirt, she’d be wrapped in those strong arms of his, not a care in the world.
She also specially adores the dip of his back as it gives way to his underwear covered bottom. There’s a couple of dimples that take claim to the base of his spine that simply call to her. She knows he is ticklish there, has woken him up that way far more times that she is willing to admit.
She is the luckiest woman in the world not only because she found a handsome man, but because she stumbled upon the person that was clearly meant for her, the person who will not push her into being something she isn’t, who will lovingly call her out when she’s falling back to her self-destroying tactics, and who will stand by her side, forever if she wanted to, to watch her blossom.
She can’t help but smile at the thought.
She wants forever.
“I can hear your enchanting brain all the way over here.” He mumbles sleepily into his pillow. “Halt the overthinking, my love, and enjoy the moment with your husband.”
She rolls her eyes playfully even when she knows he can’t see her. “What if I happen to be overthinking about the wonderful man currently residing in my bed?” She teases.
He cracks open an eye to look at her so she raises an eyebrow as if to challenge him.
“Then I’d say you resume your musings from the safety of the aforementioned bed.”
She doesn’t have to be told twice. Slowly she untangles her legs and stretches them before lowering herself back into her own pillow. She doesn’t have to curl her body towards his because she knows how much he enjoys cuddling up to her. Her head turns to look at him as she licks her lips and lets out a content sigh.
Slowly his eyes fully open to the morning light. She loses herself right away in their dark depths and in the light she can clearly see radiating from within him.
“Come here.” He mumbles as he pushes away the pillow and pulls her closer.
Just as she knew he would, he curls himself against her side, his head resting on her breast, comfortably snuggling against her. One of his legs tangles with both of hers while his arm slides over her belly before letting his hand splay over her hip. He holds her to him but leaves plenty of space for her to move away if she wants to. He will never hold her in place against her will.
She loves the way he just envelops her, his body reacting to her’s as much as she reacts to him..
“Sleep some more,” He begs her. “Do not resist the pull of Morpheus arms.”
She can’t help but let out a chuckle before leaning her head down and pressing a kiss on his forehead simply because she cannot reach his delectable lips.
Even though she’s been up for hours simply observing him, even though her mind had started going hours ago and does’t seem to calm down and shut up, she finds her eyes growing heavy, her breathing slowing and deepening, her body relaxing.
She doesn’t care for Morpheus arms, not one bit.
Her husband’s, however, now those are a thing to dream about.
He’s the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
Life hasn’t always treated him kindly. Growing up as a black kid had come with its challenges and disadvantages, but his mother had always given everything so that he could succeed in life and he had put everything in his part to make sure that he never landed in jail or on the wrong side of the law.
It was that luck that helped him get out of what many referred to as ‘the hood’, but he referred to as home, had been able to study and had ended up working at the zoo with the animals he so loved.
Even with the fall of humanity to the strandlers he’d been lucky and had found the companionship not only of Shiva but of Benjamin, Henry and their father. When Benjamin and Henry had become orphans, Ezekiel had quickly taken them under his wing, making sure they didn’t suffer for anything and that the worst fear they had was missing out on a good spot for Movie Nights.
Just when he thought he couldn’t be happier, his knights had stumbled upon a man and woman in dire need of help and his world had been turned around once more, luck smiling at him yet again.
He’d never thought he’d get married, or really find anyone he truly loved. As a young man he’d found interest in women but never enough to pursue something more than dating, always so focused in bettering himself. When the dead started walking he accepted the fact that he’d never found love and had simply moved on, throwing his life into building The Kingdom.
Yet, the moment he met Carol he knew that perhaps there was still hope, if luck decided to smile at him again.
And smile it did.
He’s still not sure why Carol fell in love with him but he’s grateful.
Carol is the best thing that has happened to him ever since he became father to Benjamin and Henry. She’s the light of his life, his anchor to reality when his mind is run over by his dreams, and the wind beneath his sails.
They are so different and yet so perfect together.
They fit like two pieces of complex puzzle.
The practical and the dreamer.
Even now, as they lay in bed, cuddled close together, they fit just right. Her body curls just perfect so that he can curl behind her, his face in her shoulder length hair, his chest pressed to her back, his arm curled over hers, their fingers intertwined as if they are afraid to let go of each other for fear of waking up alone, her buttocks fit perfectly in the crevice of his lap and their legs are a tangle of limbs that knot just right.
He has no doubt she was made for him just like he was made for her.
He finds that besides her, he is the most happy, the most elated. Specially in the early morning light, when his body has rested enough that he is awake but not enough that he wants to untangle himself from his wife.
He likes to watch her sleep. In her sleep her face is relaxed and she doesn’t worry about anything. She doesn’t rush around trying to get things done, in fact she only moves slightly. Usually he is the one invading every inch of the bed which is why they got in the habit of wrapping themselves together, so that he wouldn’t move far from her and she would anchor him against her.
In the odd moment that they do separate throughout the night, he always wakes up to find her laying on her back, face turned towards him, features relaxed and a hand thrown over her face, resting low on her forehead. He mostly always finds purchase on her chest, resting his head on her breast as he dreams the morning away.
He doesn’t move, for fear of waking her, so he throws himself into his favorite pastime; counting her freckles. Her skin is so fair and delicate that it easily freckles, multiplying the tiny brownish dots on her skin, making the count rise and giving him something to pass the time.
He’s up to 75 out of the 230 freckle record when he feels her move. A slightly sharper breath that tells him she has fallen from the brink of unconsciousness into the world they live in is the only warning he has before her eyes open.
He loves watching her eyes welcome in the new day; so bright and blue and perfect to lose himself in.
Seeing she’s debating whether or not to wake up, fighting wakefulness as long as she can, Ezekiel starts tracing invisible lines on her skin, playing connect the dot with her freckles. He’s never finished the picture but he has no doubt her skin has a map that traces the path straight into his heart.
“Good morning.” He hears her groggily whisper.
He presses a kiss against the skin between her shoulder and her breast before nestling his head against the swell. “The most magnificent morning.”
She stretches, breaking the line he had been drawing against her skin. “You say that every morning.”
He grins against her skin and pulls her as close as they can be, their bodies twisting so that they spoon against each other. “That is because every morning that I wake up by your side is the most magnificent.”
Carol hums low in her throat. He knows that she has closed her eyes yet again, even without him seeing her. He presses a kiss against her shoulder then proceeds to start counting the freckles he finds there.
“Are you counting them again?” She asks in a playful tone. “You do know they don’t disappear, right?”
“I do,” he agrees. “But new ones take residence on your skin and I must discover them.”
“Do you plan to kiss each and everyone, mister?” She asks, her body moving yet again so that she is now facing him. They are so close together their noses are brushing.
“A King must know every inch of his Kingdom.” He teases before claiming her lips with his own. “It is only wise.”
Carol chuckles before curling forward, burying her face against his hair.
“Can we stay in bed all day?” He hears her whisper.
His wife, his beautiful Carol, has always been a person of action. She hardly ever stays in bed more than she’s supposed to before she’s trying to solve all of Kingdom’s problems. Requests such as this are few and far between, and when she does ask for them he likes to give her anything she requests.
“Your wish is my command, my Queen.”
“Don’t call me that.” She says half playful and half sleepy.
“Your wish is my command, my love,” He compromises, “my reason for being, the light of my life and the breath in my lungs.” He exaggerates on purpose.
“Oh shut up!” She declares playfully before closing the distance between them in a passionate kiss and making him forget how to speak and think.
Yes, Carol came into his life by mere chance, but in the process made him the happiest and the proudest man in the world.
And if that is not the best of luck, then he doesn’t know what is.