"So, Sammy, what the hell do you want to ask that requires coming home?" Jericho demanded of me as we entered the door.
Jericho looked at me with a small frown. "I can't imagine what you might ask that you think I'd say no to. Not if it's important to you."
"Sammy... you have to know what you're getting into if you want a permanent relationship with me." He gave me a serious look with those heart-stopping blue eyes. "What you sims called marriage isn't... exactly... like what we Striders do. When a Strider takes a mate, a true mate, it's for life. And we live a very, very long time. You'll be tied to me for as long as I live. And that could possibly be centuries."
"Centuries?" I blinked in surprise. "But I couldn't live for centuries. That's just not possible."
"As my mate, it would be. Because of the bond, you will live as long as I do. Or, if one of us died in an accident, the other will die as well."
"Indeed. It's very rare for us to find a true mate. And once a Strider is bonded, there is no such thing as divorce. The phrase from your ceremony 'Till death do us part' is literal for us."
"Jericho, how do you know if you are taking a true mate and not merely entering some longer term relationship?"
'After the waves end, when the water is gone, I will still be yours.'
Just be sure, Sam Grant. Because once it's done, there is no changing your mind."
"You felt it too? That first date, it was just right. I'm sorry I wasn't sure then. It literally was my first date, it wasn't until I tried with others that I absolutely knew."
"I had never known a moment of jealousy in my life, Sam. Not until I found that you were out with Eddie. I was suddenly so angry, so upset. If there was the smallest doubt in my mind after our date, it was obliterated by that. I love you with all my soul, Sam Grant, and I will do so until the end of my days."
He exhaled, long and slow. I hadn't realised he'd been holding his breath until then. Then Jericho returned my touch. "After the waves end, when the water is gone, I will still be yours."
For a moment, I felt like a wave closed over me. Warm water, a gentle hug and a feeling of deep abiding love washed over me. "Wow," was all I could say.
"What does it mean?"
"I'm not quite sure what the blessing of the goddess may bring. I can feel that the binding is finished, our lives and our fates are intertwined. You and I are one in a way that a Sim marriage can never equal."
"Jericho, how about celebrating with a wedding?" I put up a hand to stop him before he'd barely twitched an eyebrow. "I know what we've just done goes deeper, I can feel the truth of that down to my bones. But I think perhaps a little public ceremony, as Sims here do it, would be good. It will give our friends a chance to celebrate with us and make this legal from every point of view." I wrapped both arms around him.
"I do, love. Since we live here, and our children will be growing up here, I want it to be clear that we are one in every possible sense. And having a piece of paper that says we are wed is just a part of that."
Jericho nodded slowly. "It seems so unnecessary from my point of view. A Strider would sense our bond and they would respect it. But I can see your point, the land dwellers don't have that same sense." I saw a flash of knowledge light up his eyes. "It was one of the things that confused me when I first arrived. It's not possible to tell who is taken and who is available. All right then, if you like. I assume you'd want to do it soon?"
"It may take a little to set up the arrangements. A couple of weeks or months, I don't know." I grinned at Jer. "It's not like I have to rush you to the altar before you change your mind about me."
I closed my eyes. Because of the bond, I could sense Jericho in ways that I couldn't just a short while ago. His love was with me, I could feel it like a warm glow. "I know. I expect I'll know it till the end of our days."