I have so many things running through my head as I make my way over to the Dimera mansion. I really wish I didn't have to meet with Chad. In fact, it's one of the last things I want to do. But it's imperative that I speak with him. So I remind myself that this is for Ciara. And I would do anything for her. I mean, I decided to turn myself in so she would not spend a minute in prison. She hit Rafe over the head with that baseball bat, so I wouldn't be arrested after I escaped from prison. It was then I knew that they would throw the book at her. I couldn't have the woman I love behind bars. So I followed them to the Salem PD and I turned myself in. Even though I knew the warden would expedite my move to death row for lethal injection once I returned to Statesville.
Those events start replaying through my mind. I had never been so scared in my life. The hours leading up to the execution seemed so surreal. Ciara kept reassuring me that she was not giving up on getting the evidence necessary to find my sister's killer and stop my death sentence. I wanted to believe her but I knew time was not on our side. I missed Ciara, but I was glad she had things to occupy her as I didn't want her to suffer through watching them prepare me for execution. I did have both Marlena and Will there to support me and that was extremely comforting. I am extremely grateful for the relationships I now have with them.
Ciara made good on her promise to me by busting in the execution room with new evidence. Unfortunately, the warden wouldn't listen. She was forced to go confront Jordan's killer herself. Marlena did her best to get the Governor to stay the execution to no avail. So, they started pumping that poison in my veins. As that was happening all I could think about was my life with Ciara. After the second injection, I couldn't move and felt like I was going in and out of a dreamlike state. But even through the grogginess I was still aware of my surroundings.
Suddenly I heard the prison alarms go off. I looked on as Ciara burst in the execution viewing room once again. This time with who I could only assume was my sister's killer at gunpoint. She slammed him up against the glass barrier that separates us. It really seemed like I was watching a movie play before my eyes; and before long she accomplished her goal. She got a confession and it was enough to stay my execution. This woman, the love of my life, quite literally saved me from certain death. It took some time, and even though the confession was ultimately thrown out on the basis of coercion, I was fully exonerated.
And now I am a free man. I am reunited with Ciara and am anxious to get back to living our lives to the fullest. I am concerned with how I can contribute financially in our relationship. Ciara could provide for us by working for Titan if she decides to keep the position, but I want to be able to help as well. Most importantly I need to lead a life that fulfills a purpose. Ciara says she has an idea she is working on and to be patient for now. I've had to learn patience since being in prison. It's not my strong suit. But today I have a task to do. I need to see and talk with Chad.
I arrive at the mansion just in time for Chad to open the door. He appears to be on his way out.
"Weston, what are you doing here?" Chad asks with a look of surprise on his face
I figure I should just get right to the point.
"Chad I need to speak with you. It's about the time I spent as head of security here at the mansion."
Chad shakes his head and chuckles a bit
"If you for one minute think that I am going to help you with a job…"
I sigh "That's not why I'm here"
"Ok, I'm listening. Why are you here?" Chad retorts
"I left a key to a safety deposit box here in the mansion." I state.
"You mean at the gatehouse."
"No the mansion, I had a desk I used quite frequently to monitor the grounds, and I put it in a small box that was located there."
"Well I'm on my way out. Tell me where it is and I will look for it and get it to you."
"It will only take a minute Chad. I need to have access to the safety deposit box right away."
"Do you have money in there?"
"No, I have an important item that I need to retrieve before tonight. I only have a little over an hour before I will no longer have access to the box."
Chad sighs his exacerbation. "Fine, get the key and get out of my hair"
I nod my thanks "It will only take a minute."
Chad lets me in. I go past the foyer and into the main living space. I head to a small desk in the corner of the room. I see the box and open it. Sure enough the key is there. I lift it up to show Chad he nods and looks toward the door.
"Don't worry I'm leaving. I have limited time, remember?" I say as I make my way out the door.
Chad walks out with me and shuts the door behind us.
I nod my head toward him. "Thanks again"
Chad half rolls his eyes "yeah, don't mention it"
I just keep walking, as I am on a mission. I have several stops I have to make before I see Ciara tonight.
I arrive at the bank where my safety deposit box is located. And after a few minutes I am escorted back to the room by the personal banker.
Once the metal box is placed in front of me, I key it open and I shuffle some paperwork around. In the corner of the box I find what I want. I can't believe how long it's been since I've laid eyes on it. My heart races slightly and I feel a bit jittery as I pick it up. It is a cream colored velvet box. I started saving money as soon as I received my first paycheck working for Stefan Dimera. I think back to when I went to the jewelers and looked at the pieces on display within the cases. Fortunately, Stefan paid well and Ciara and I never led a lavish lifestyle. So it allowed me to stash a good amount of money to spend on a more personalized ring for Ciara.
I open the box lid and I cannot hold back a satisfied smile. I bite my lip and take the ring out to fully inspect my purchase. More than ever I feel this is the perfect ring for Ciara. She has called me her one true love, and I know she is mine. Our connection is so strong. It feels like we are destined to be together. In fact, one day I caught Ciara looking on her phone searching for information on twin flames. I questioned her about why she was looking that up. She just shyly smiled at me and said she just found the connection we have intriguing. She told me she heard the term and wondered if it would explain things between us. I remember giggling and shaking my head at that. But as she began reading a few sites devoted to the topic she's like "Babe listen to this" and I was floored at how well it described how I feel whenever we are together. Who am I kidding even when we are apart I feel so connected to Ciara.
I bite my lip and let out a quick slight verbal huff of air as my thoughts go back to the jewelry clerk. She showed me multiple beautiful stones and settings but nothing seemed right. I ran across a case of what they called eternity engagement rings. They came as half or full eternity, which meant that the diamonds either went halfway or fully around the band. They were nice but I wasn't sold. I was just about to move to another case when I saw it...and I just knew it was perfect.
I gaze upon the ring I am holding in my fingers. It is a 14 karat white gold double twisted eternity band. Basically, It looks like double infinity symbols running around its entire circumference. It is a half eternity, and the stones are channel set within only the inner portion of the first double infinity symbol, located on either side of the .5 karat marquise cut center diamond. I chose the marquise cut as the shape because it makes the size of the diamond appear larger than most others of the same size. Also it reminds me of a jewel set in a crown for a queen. And she is definitely my queen.
I place the ring back in the box and put it in the pocket of my black leather jacket. I close the safety deposit box and hand it to the banker to put away. Now I have another stop to make before I can even consider setting up my plans for this evening.
I turn into the driveway of my destination and place my car into park. I feel anxiety creep into my body. My palms begin to sweat and my heart is beating faster. "Ok Ben, pull yourself together" I say aloud to myself as I open the car door and step outside. I walk up the drive to the door and ring the bell. Before long the door opens and there stands Ciara's mom Hope. Ciara's dad Bo has already passed away, or I would be asking to speak with him right now.
"Ben" she says my name as sort of a question since she obviously wasn't expecting me.
"Uh-hi Hope, can I talk with you for a few minutes?" I question, directing my eyes to the inside of the house, to see if I can come in.
She moves towards the door and motions for me to come inside. "Sure Ben, is something going on?"
She must sense my nervousness and beckons me to come to the living area to have a seat.
"I want to talk with you about Ciara" I tell her
Now Hope is the one looking anxious. " Ben, Is there something wrong with Ciara?"
"Oh, no Hope, nothing like that." I reassure her, as I wipe my sweaty palms nervously on the knees of my jeans.
"I am here because I love your daughter"— I begin trying to tame my nerves.
Hope interrupts me, before I can continue " I know Ben, I've been hard on you because of your past; but I have come to realize how much you love Ciara. And I see how much she loves you in return."
At that moment. I look her in the eyes and reply, "As I told you before, I understand you were only protecting Ciara, I would have expected no less. While I admit, it was maddening trying to convince you I was ill when I became the neck-tie killer. And It was only through hard work and Ciara's love and belief in me that made me well. She made me whole. But Hope, I assure you that I never questioned your motives. And I respect you for wanting to keep Ciara safe."
"Thank You, for understanding", she states, with gratitude in her voice.
I nod and continue "Hope the reason I am here is I want to ask your perm.." I stop briefly to rethink, and start again. "...no… I mean ask for your blessing. I want to marry your daughter. And I know it would mean the world to her that we have your blessing before I propose." Still looking her in the eye, I feel my body tense, as I wait for her response.
She hesitates, and breaks our eye contact. She takes in a deep breath and holds it. I am going crazy inside as I brace for the worst.
"Ben, as you know Ciara makes up her own mind." Hope states, still looking away as if in deep thought.
I nod my affirmation, "I do know that all too well. But I also know how important you are to her; and I feel she would be more at peace knowing we have your blessing."
"I see. You know Ben there was a time when Ciara compared you to Bo. If I am to be honest, I felt as if she she stabbed me in the heart at that moment." Hope states, looking at me once again.
I can feel myself begin to squirm in my seat a bit. As she is speaking.
"I told her to never compare you to Bo." She says, recalling the conversation.
"I-I am sorry she did that." I tell her.
She looks at me and gives me a small closed smile. "After watching you and Ciara the last couple years I have come to a realization. She was not comparing you to her father per se. Rather, she was comparing the love that she saw between Bo and me to what she was feeling for you. At the time, I could just see a serial killer being compared to a wonderful man. A man of the law. So very different. I just couldn't fathom it. I now see that she was referring to the connection, devotion, and love that you two clearly have for one another. It is all consuming isn't it?"...she rhetorically asks me. "Anyway, the fact that you saved my daughter's life 4 times."
"She bravely, just saved my life too." I interject.
"Yes, I heard what she did when I was still Princess Gina." She said with an almost pained look "I wish I could have been there for her. But she stopped the execution of an innocent man...You. I am extremely proud. She could have let you go, but she devoted her life to proving the man she loves was innocent. That is what would have happened with me and Bo." She smiles bigger as if she is reminiscing about her own great love.
"Anyway, back to the reason you are here", she sighs "yes, I will give you my blessing."
I feel a huge smile come across my face. "Really? We have your blessing?"
"Yes" she says, standing up now.
I take her lead and stand as well. She moves to embrace me and I return the hug.
"So when are you planning to propose?"
"Tonight" I respond, as excitement begins to overtake my anxiety.
"Wow, well I'm sure I will hear all about it soon." Hope looks at me and hesitantly questions, "Can I ask how your job and living situation is coming? I know Ciara said that is being ironed out. She just didn't share details."
"Well, honestly Hope I'm not sure of the details either. Ciara says she has a plan, and to be patient. So I will give her a little time. I assure you I will have a job and place to live lined up before we get married. I just don't think I can wait to make her my fiancé." I search her face in hopes that I have alleviated her fears.
"I trust that you and Ciara will be ready when the time comes. Let me know if I can assist in any way." She says in a satisfied voice.
"I will." I say as I move toward the door. "Thank You again for the blessing."
"You're welcome, I will talk to you both later. I hope your plans go well tonight." She replies
I thank her one last time as I open the door and head for the car.
I open the car door and get in. Once I am seated I breathe a sigh of relief and take my phone out. Time to make plans for this evening. I call to arrange for dinner. I told Ciara this morning I wanted to go out and do something special tonight. So Ciara picked up some of my clothes from storage this morning and sent them to the Salem Inn cleaners. They should be ready by now, so I need to get back and change. Ciara should already be there after visiting Jennifer and getting ready for our night out.
I arrive back at the Salem Inn and I hear Ben in the bathroom. I see he found the clothes from the hotel cleaners that I put in the closet. Ben must have heard me as he peers around the corner and as soon as he sees me comes to greet me.
He is wearing black dress pants, and a dark grey button down shirt, with two buttons left open at the collar.
"Hi baby" I say and I flash him my biggest smile, as he walks over to me. His swagger when he enters a room always does things to me. My man is just so sexy. It is so good to have him here with me. Hopefully soon we will have a real place to call home. In the meantime, all I want is to be near him.
"Hi" he says with an ever so slight moan as he brushes my lips with a soft kiss.
"How was your visit with Jennifer?" He asks me.
"It was nice, we caught up on how things are progressing with her and my mom. They are working through things and trying to get back to normal." I tell him as he holds me in his arms.
"Mmm you smell, divine." As I get a whiff of his cologne, my knees feel a bit weak. I bite my lip, and look up at him wantonly, through my lashes.
He chuckles a bit. "Don't look at me like that. We have plans remember?"
"We could skip plans tonight. And…" I look over towards the bed.
"Uh-uh. Don't worry I have every intention of making very good use of that bed...later." He releases my body from his embrace, only after he lifts his hand to cup the side of my face, and he places a sweet kiss on my temple.
I whimper softly as I give him a pouty face. "Fine, I will go change. Where are we going tonight? You have been so secretive. Yet very specific on what you would like me to wear. And let me get this straight...somewhere in the evening we will be back here for a costume change?" I giggle and look at him hoping he will give me a hint.
He looks at me with that sexy half grin, and says "I have a couple destinations planned for tonight, that's why I want to get an early start. And yes, that means we will come back here to change at some point."
I scurry into the bathroom with my first requested garment for the evening in tow. I hurriedly slip into the black form fitting dress I wore on our first date. I complete my hair and makeup. As I shimmy through my mist of perfume, the memories of that night came flooding back to me. While there were some challenges that evening, such as not being able to find a restaurant that would serve us due to his past. And of course the fact my family owns every restaurant in Salem didn't help matters. What I really remember is the butterflies and the anticipation of going on a date with the man I felt such a deep connection with. I recall just longing to be in his presence. To this day nothing has changed. Oh how I missed him while we were apart. And I cannot wait to be with him tonight. Just to be able to breathe in his intoxicating scent. "Ok Ciara, get it together" I Tell myself as I push back my thoughts. If I let myself go there, I will try to talk Ben into staying in, and he seems eager to take me out tonight.
"I am ready" I say as I step out of the bathroom and slip my heels on and grab my purse.
I look up and find Ben staring at me, he smiled beaming from ear to ear. "You look... beautiful" he says as he approaches me. He takes my hand and twirls me around, so my back is facing him. Then he pulls me in an embrace from behind, and leaves a trail of butterfly kisses along my neck to my ear. "And you smell heavenly" he whispers "just like on our first date."
I giggle as he kisses my most sensitive and ticklish spot on my neck. "Time to go" he says as he takes my hand and I follow him out the door.
"Are we on a strict schedule? Do we have a reservation?" I ask trying to get a lead on where he is taking me.
I only get a chuckle as a response; followed by "Patience, Ciara, patience."
We arrive at the park and it looks like the bench we used for our first date is already occupied. It has a blanket and a cooler that is made for wine sitting atop it. Ben is still guiding me toward the bench.
"Ben it looks like we will have to find a different bench that one looks taken" I say, squeezing his hand.
"It is taken...by us" He states as we approach
"What is all of this?" I look as I also see a thermal bag that looks like it has some sort of food in it. "And when did you..." I started to ask. I'm sure I had an astonished look on my face, because he interrupts me.
"You just missed Will. He set this up for me so I could surprise you." He informs me while sporting a sly grin. "Here take a seat" he moves the blanket so I can sit on the bench.
"That was sweet of him. What do we have in this? I am famished." I giggle up at him.
"Before I open that up, let me pour us a glass of champagne." Ben says taking the bottle and popping the cork. We laugh as the bubbly overflows a bit. He pours us both a glass and sits next to me.
He lovingly intertwines our arms and says "Here is to another memorable night that we can add to OUR story. And my beautiful Ciara, as I have told you before, this is only the beginning." His smile is so genuine and filled with love. We clink glasses and take our first sip, the taste of the champagne dances on my tongue. I lean in for a kiss and the taste of him mixed with the champagne makes me want to skip dinner and go back to our room. Again I push those thoughts away...for now.
He opens the thermal bag and brings out the containers of Chinese food. All of our favorites including General Tso chicken and Chow meIn.
We start to dig in when I hear this beautiful sound. I look at Ben and say "Someone in the Park must have hired a violinist. That is a nice perk for us" The music gets a bit louder and I look at Ben who has an enormous smile on his face.
"Wait...you did this? H-how?" My mouth is agape.
"I had a tip from John, and he called and arranged it for us" he tells me "I just wanted to do something special for you. I mean I missed so many things, like Christmas, Your birthday, and really even Valentine's Day."
"Well it's beautiful, thank You." I lean in and softly kiss his lips. "I wonder what this song is? It's pretty and I don't recognize it." At that moment I grab my phone.
He chuckles "Ciara, what are you doing? It's doesn't seem very romantic to get out your phone right now"
I playfully slap at his chest. "I have an app that will tell me what this song is." I giggle "Ok I've found it, the title is 'I'm right here' by JD Webb...oh look at some of these lyrics Ben they seem so...I don't know...so us"
He looks at my phone and I point to a few of the words. "loving you has saved my life...I've found my home, right here." He takes a minute to read through the rest.
He grins and kisses my temple. "This song really does fit us. Doesn't it?"
"Mmmhmmm, I am going to add it to my playlist" I giggle, as I put my phone back in my purse.
The violinist plays throughout our meal. It was such a sweet and romantic gesture. I am just in awe over how much he loves me.
Ben interrupts my thoughts "I have one more bite here." He shows me his chopsticks with a piece of chicken in between the prongs. "would you like it?" I nod my head and he places the food gently in my mouth. After I am finished, He takes both of our containers and places them back in the thermal bag.
He looks at the violinist and thanks him for the set. I begin to go in my purse for a tip but he waves me off. "No thank you miss, I have been well compensated"
"Oh, well thank you so much. It was absolutely lovely." I tell him. He smiles and nods his gratitude and proceeds to walk away.
I look at Ben. "So let's open our fortune cookies."
Ben flashes me a devilish grin. "I would like to save them for the next phase of our evening. Let's go back to the room and change."
"Okay...I guess I can wait. Let's go!" I say as I help him pack everything up from our picnic.
We arrive back at the Salem Inn and We quickly change clothes. I know I have her completely intrigued about the next part of our night. I put on a pair of Jeans, and a nice green pull over Ciara picked out. She told me she likes this one as she says she can see every muscle on my upper body. I love that I can get her all hot and bothered just by keeping my body fit.
Ciara changed into leather pants. She also put on a simple yet sexy black top; that is a little higher in the front, so it shows off her beautiful midriff. We both grab our leather jackets and gloves as we leave the room to get Ciara's motorcycle. Well her dad Bo's motorcycle that she cherishes more than anything. I was thrilled I could fix that bike for her after the accident that almost killed her. She was so surprised, and I was grateful I could give that piece of her dad back. I was blessed with abilities to work with my hands as a do it yourself mechanic.
We get to the garage where Ciara's bike is stored and she goes to sit on the bike. I stop her for a moment and say, "Maybe we could open our fortune cookies before we go for our ride."
"What? Right now?" She questions.
"Yeah, right now" I reply, as I take the two cookies out of my left jacket pocket, and hand her one. "I will go first."
I open the wrapper and take out my fortune and read it. "It says... tonight is going to be a memory you will hold onto forever."
"Mmm I like that one" she says and kisses me.
"Ok read yours," I say as I am feeling my nerves creep in again.
Ciara cracks open her cookie and reads... "Trusting someone you deeply love with your most cherished possession, will bring you infinite happiness." she looks at me and opens her mouth as if she wants to say something; but instead gives me a cute smirk. Then she proceeds to dangle the keys to her motorcycle in front of me. "Well, how can I resist infinite happiness?" She states coyly, while raising her eyebrows and tilting her head in a flirtatious manner.
"Do you have that guardian bell?" I say, as I take the keys, out my driving gloves on and mount the bike.
"Always... and Ben…" she grins, "Go easy on the curves." Ciara replies with a wink, as she hops on behind me and wraps her arms around my waist. We put our helmets on then I get the bike going and pull out of the garage.
I take a right on to the street and we ride to the outskirts of town. I pull to the side of the road when I reach our destination. I park the bike and take off my helmet which prompts Ciara to do the same.
"Babe, did you mean to stop here? Is there something wrong with the bike?" She asks, sounding bewildered.
"No nothing is wrong, and I meant to stop here. Ciara does it look familiar?" I ask
Ciara then decides to climb off the bike and I follow her lead. We set our helmets down, and walk to the front of the bike. I watch Ciara as she takes in her surroundings.
"Ben, is this where I skidded off the road a couple years ago?" She looks at me with a confused look on her face.
"That's right, this is where I found you. This is where my life began." I reach for her hand, and she eagerly gives it to me.
"Ciara you are my one true love, my anchor, and my world. If I hadn't found you here, I would have missed out on the sweetest experience of my life, loving you. Beautiful, I love you so deeply that I believe I would literally die if I ever lose you." I feel her hand start to tremble, and I think she is catching on to what is about to happen. So it's time to make my intentions perfectly clear.
Oh wow, Ben is saying the sweetest words to me. He often gives me the most romantic monologues. But this one feels different. Maybe because he has chosen to give it to me here. I'm feeling some butterflies in my stomach and I feel my body begin to tremble.
At that moment, Ben releases my hand. He reaches in his right pocket, while simultaneously bending down on one knee. I feel my breath catch and tears start to well in my eyes as I watch him.
"Ciara Alice Brady" he begins as he opens the velvet ring box in his hands. He takes in a big gulp of air and continues. "I want to spend the rest of my life making you happy. So, will you make me the happiest man in the entire world, and be my bride? Ciara, will you marry me?"
I am now shaking uncontrollably and tears are flowing from my eyes.
"Oh Ben I-I...of course, yes I want nothing more than to be your wife. Yes, yes, Ben". I say as I get down on a knee with him. He kisses me and pulls me up to a standing position. I stretch out my left hand and he takes the most exquisite ring I have ever seen and places it on my ring finger. "Ben the double infinity symbol band is incredible." I admire its beauty in the light of the now setting sun.
I feel my smile fade suddenly, and it is replaced with a bit of worry. Ben must see this too, because he takes me in his arms and holds me close.
"Baby, I know that we have to figure out jobs and living arrangements. But I just want to do that with my fiancé. And as soon as we have things in place, I figure we can plan our wedding." He tells me, in a reassuring tone.
"No Ben I am in agreement, those details will work themselves out." I say as a sigh escapes my mouth. "I just had a thought about my mom and if she will approve." I tell him, furrowing my brow.
"Oh Ciara, baby, I stopped in to see your mom today. I asked for her blessing, before I asked you tonight." He told me.
"Really Ben? You did that for me? Wh-what did she say?" I asked him nervously.
He gives me the sweetest smile and says "Your mom gave us our blessing."
"Oh Ben..you don't know how happy that makes me." I tell him.
He pulls me into his embrace, lifts me up off the ground, and kisses me deeply.
"So Ben will you take me back to the room? I want to really celebrate." I say and give him a wicked smile.
"Yes I cannot wait to get back. Lets go. Umm, You know what? Maybe you should drive." He says and hands me the keys. "We NEED to get there quickly, and you are a little Speed Demon."