She has no idea what she’s walking into, I thought to myself. Diana was obviously deep in thought, in that beautiful, brilliant mind of hers. I spoke with her father before we even came back home, because this is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. With any other girl, this has always been at the very back of my mind, normally not something I would have thought about. I never really imagined much of a future with the other girls, and with them, it was all about the present.
Diana is different. She is fearless and has huge dreams, and is very honest and will talk about anything with you. There are days where she hides her feelings, but she will eventually come forward and talk about it, given enough time. Since Diana and I have first started seeing each other, all I could think about is when I would see her again, and after we moved in together, starting with the hotel, that’s when I started considering our future- my future with her, and her family.
Am I nervous about dinner tonight? Absolutely. Am I going to run screaming from the restaurant? Definitely not, though with the way my stomach was churning, it felt like I did want to run to the restroom before dinner. We were headed to a restaurant that had a small dance floor and soft music playing through the meal, and for those who needed to get up and move after eating. Diana’s parents and Rachel were on the way to pick up the ring, as I didn’t want the box to fall out of my pocket or for her to notice a box and get curious. I can’t keep anything from her, and I know I did when we first were together, but as time passed, we shared everything with each other.
The fact that I haven’t told her I want to propose, that I have to keep this secret, is killing me. But her face and her reaction will be worth it. Diana and I have talked about what our biggest dreams for the future were, and what her ideal wedding and proposal would look like. I’m about to make her dream proposal come to life, by having a nice dinner with her family there, the band playing soft, slow music we were able to dance to, and I would get down on one knee in the middle of the dance floor, and ask her to marry me, with her parents and sister there to capture the moment. Small and intimate, but with the most important people in her life there for support.
I pulled up and parked at the restaurant, jumping out and opening the door for Di. She flashed her full wattage smile at me as she threaded her fingers with mine, following me into the restaurant. “We’re here with the Malley party?” I asked, hoping her parents had beat us here.
“Yes sir, the rest of the party has already been seated, follow me.” I thanked the host, leading Diana through the restaurant and to our table. Rachel must have been asking a few more questions about our plan for the night, because as soon as we approached the table, she looked startled and all three of them stopped talking. Diana giggled as I pulled out her chair so she could have a seat.
“What, is there some big secret I’m not allowed to know?” She teased. Rachel’s eyes grew wider and she sucked in a breath, ready to spill the beans. I cut her off before she was able to.
“Babe, remember what I said in the car,” I sighed, shooting Rachel a very obvious look. This girl is going to ruin the whole plan, I started to worry. As dinner went on, I grew more anxious and nervous, and Rachel’s nervous babble was not helping anyone. Eventually, I motioned for her to just be quiet. She couldn’t possibly mess it up if she didn’t talk, right? Of course, the way Diana would have defied me, Rachel did as well.
“Hey, Diana,” she whined, “I need some help fixing my dress, will you come with me?” I noticed her hand was behind her back, fiddling with the zipper. Diana sighed and hesitated, but she agreed. When the girls were out of earshot, Tom leaned across the table.
“I have the ring, do you want me to hold on to the box?” He hissed, keeping his voice down as low as possible. I nodded and held out my hand, as he set the cool, sparkling, silver ring in my hand. I hastily stuffed it in my pocket, as I didn’t know how long Rachel would keep Diana occupied in the restroom. “We hired a photographer to capture the moment, so we all have a better photo than one taken on a smartphone,” Tom smiled, shaking my hand. “Are you nervous?”
I nodded, pointing at Diana and Rachel making a beeline for the table again, smiling at him. I’m more nervous than you can imagine, I thought, but Diana is worth it. “This genius thought something was wrong with her dress, when really, it was just barely unzipped!” Diana huffed, crossing her arms and settling down in the chair beside me.
“Hey, it was causing a major malfunction! You know how I am about a fashion malfunction-”
“Major or minor,” Diana finished her sentence, growing irritated. “Yes, I know you. You could have just asked me to fix it here, oddball.”
“No I couldn’t,” Rachel babbled, “I needed the right light to make sure it was nothing serious. This dress wasn’t cheap and I would never take the chance of ruining it!” She gasped, as Diana huffed again. I covered my laugh with a cough, but Diana noticed it.
“You are so lucky you don’t have siblings,” she sighed, “Rach, I love you to death, but you seriously drive me insane sometimes.” Rachel winked back at Diana, and blew her a kiss. Diana’s favorite song started playing, and her eyebrows shot up in excitement. “Ohmygod, babe! It’s my favorite song, I don’t think I’ve heard it played this way before!”
I stood up and offered her my hand, bowing to her. “Diana Malley, may I have this dance?” She mirrored my smile, allowing me to pull her to her feet, and lead her to the dance floor. This is it, I sighed dreamily, looking at my girl right in the eyes. Her parents followed us to the floor, Rachel watching the four of us dance from the table. Diana laughed softly.
“I know Rachel is emotional, but I’ve never seen her cry because of a song,” she pointed out. I looked back, and sure enough, she was smiling, but wiping at her eyes with a Kleenex she pulled out of her small, sequined purse. “Maybe she just loves the song as much as I do,” she sighed, looking back up at me. I spun Diana around, and pulled her back into me. We had danced once before, at the apartment back in San Diego when she insisted I slow dance with her after we came home from the bar. It was the same night she spilled all the details about the dream proposal. Her song was almost over, and that was my cue.
When I stopped moving, she looked confused, and looked over for her parents. She searched the crowd for them, which gave me enough time to get down on one knee before she turned back to face me. Her eyes shot open wide, and she covered her mouth with one hand. “Diana,” I smiled, looking up to her, “I know we’ve only been together a short time, but in the short time we’ve had, you’ve become my best friend, and I can’t imagine a life without you. My life truly began when I met you, and I can’t remember a better time in my life without you in it. Diana Malley, will you marry me?” She wiped a tear away from her eyes before nodding her head and leaping into my arms. She sobbed, shaking, as I rubbed her back. She kissed me, as everyone applauded for us, and I slid the ring on her small finger. She smiled and kissed me over and over again, laughing happily and holding onto me tightly.
I knew something was up when we all went to a ridiculously fancy and expensive restaurant, but I didn’t know that it would end with my engagement to Nick. At first, I did think that it could be a proposal, but then I realized that my parents and Rachel would be there, and I figured he would propose to me at a private dinner, with just the two of us. Not to mention, when we got in the car and I was trying to figure out what was going on, he threw me off, and said that he thinks my parents have news, and that he caught them and Rachel whispering all day long about it.
I think the most perfect thing about it is that this truly was my dream proposal. I don’t remember much about the night I told him, but I remember that Nick did ask me about dream weddings, proposals, and other wild dreams of mine. He told me about some of his dreams, too, so I believed we were just discussing and giggling at each other’s crazy, wild dreams. I didn’t imagine he actually remembered everything, and made sure that my dream proposal came true, even with my favorite song!
Throughout the rest of dinner and dessert, I couldn’t resist staring down at my ring. At every angle and in the light, it sparkled brightly, catching my eye, and I felt like I couldn’t look away. Nick beamed at me, sitting closer to me through the rest of the meal and the ride home. I was very happy, but my brain took off running, now that I recognized I was engaged. Now that we’re engaged, we should really look into our own places, and I should really pursue a true, adult job, and the writing I can do on the side.. I can’t wait tables and rely on Nick forever, no matter how much he wants me to-
“May we take a photo of you and your lovely bride-to-be?” A deep voice cut off my mental babble. “We have many engagements, and we love to hang their photos on the wall, for everyone to see. Our restaurant loves to celebrate happiness and love.”
“Of course, you may!” Nick exclaimed, pulling me to my feet.
“Perfect!” The waiter replied. “Follow me, there is better lighting over here.”
We took a handful of photos, the typical couple pose with Nick’s arm around my waist, pulling me close to him, and a close up of our hands together, showcasing my incredible engagement ring. After a few minutes of photos, we thanked the waiter for his time, and made our way back to the table. Rachel was starting to squirm, obviously ready to head home and change into her party clothes, and my parents looked exhausted. No doubt, everyone has been planning this night for me all day, and for who knows how long, and it was definitely time to head home and get some rest. Nick insisted on covering the whole bill for the table, but I was the one who covered the tip, even though Nick protested. Eventually, he caved, and allowed me to leave a tip before we left.
We climbed in the car, and he drove us, but back to the hotel he stayed in for the first week we were together, instead of back home. When I looked over, he winked at me, before jumping out of the car, and opening the door for me again. “Baby, can I carry you bridal style up to our room?” He pleaded, eyes shining. “I need practice for the real thing, and I just love holding you.” I laughed and rolled my eyes, and before answering, Nick’s strong arms pulled me up and held me tightly. He startled me, so I squeaked and automatically wrapped my arms around his neck. He smiled down at me, kissing me on the forehead before marching into the hotel.
I didn’t sleep much that night, between tickle fights with Nick and just staring, mostly at my ring, but also at the ceiling. Nick fell fast asleep hours ago, and had a slight snore. His arms were around me, holding me protectively while he rested. I felt safe and loved, but I also wanted to go out and enjoy some fresh air on the small balcony. If I move, he’ll wake up and follow me, I wondered, but I think it’s an okay risk to take, even if I get a minute or two of time to myself..
I slowly moved his arm up just a little so I could move, and in my place, allowed him to cuddle with one of my pillows for the time being. Quickly and quietly, I tiptoed to the door, grabbing my robe on the way, hugging it close to me while I gazed at the starry sky. I gulped in the cool night air, as if I hadn’t been outside in months, and looked down at my ring, allowing the moonlight to make it truly shine. I grinned again, ear to ear, feeling a random tear escape. I swiped at my eye, commanding myself, Don’t cry, you will not cry, Diana! Stop this! But the more I tried to stop myself, the bigger the lump in my throat grew. At this point, I didn’t even know why I was crying anymore, I couldn’t tell if it was just happiness or what was going on. I sat down against the hotel wall, and hugged my knees to my chest as I stared up again at the sky.
Before I even realized what had happened, inspiration hit me like a train, and all I knew is that I needed to write, and I needed to write now! Frantically, I ran back in, closing the glass door behind me, not noticing how loud it was until Nick stirred in bed. I stopped in my tracks, waiting for him to settle down again and fall back asleep, and once he did, I ran over to the bag he had packed for us. Luckily for me, Nick always brought his laptop with him, for business reasons. For me, this was a more personal reason, and as the computer booted up, I saw that he had created me my own personal account on his computer. I clicked on my picture icon, and as the screen loaded, I saw he left a note on the side of the screen, in the Sticky Notes application.
I knew inspiration would strike at some point, most likely in the middle of the night or a weird time of the day, but I knew you would need this. Have a blast, you can do this!
I smiled to myself, tracing my fingers gently against the screen. There was no doubt in my mind that I had made the right choice in accepting his proposal, though it was very early in the relationship. I had always known that something with us had clicked from the get go, even when I told those ridiculous lies on the plane. I left the sticky notes open as motivation and silent support, and began writing.
I didn’t realize how long I had been writing until the sun rose, and I hadn’t gotten any sleep. Though I was tired and knew I would have to retreat to bed eventually, I still also felt awake and inspired. One more chapter, then you have to rest, I told myself. Sure, I had told myself that for at least the last four chapters, but I was on a roll, and wasn’t able to stop. To be completely honest, I hadn’t felt this inspired since I graduated high school, and wrote fantastical stories of my future, and turned my dreams into words and chapters, and hid them away in notebooks stashed in my closet at home. I finished up the last chapter, and wrote a note to myself to look for those notebooks, before finally closing the laptop lid and shuffling to bed. Naturally, as soon as I got comfortable and was ready to fall asleep, Nick’s arms wrapped around me, pulling me into his chest, whispering in my ear. “I love you,” he sighed sleepily. “How did the writing go?”
I smiled, giggling softly. “I’m so inspired baby,” I sighed deeply. “I wrote quite a bit, so much that I’m not sure I can just post it to my blog, but I just want to share it with the world. I think I’m going to finish this book, and once I have finished it, I’m going to submit it to a bunch of editors and publishers.”
He smiled, kissing my head. “That’s my girl,” he grumbled, rubbing circles in the small of my back. “Now, get some sleep so you can get some more writing done tomorrow. Sweet dreams, beautiful.” He kissed me gently on the lips, and I snuggled closer into him, smiling as I fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Diana slept most of the day away, giving Nick plenty of time to think of a perfect dinner date for their first night as an engaged couple. He wanted to do something fancy, and then take her on a walk through the park where they first kissed, but he was also trying to think of something different that they hadn’t done yet together. They hadn’t really done anything childish together, like laser tag, or racing go karts, even going to an arcade. Would she even be up for that? I wondered. We’re both growing up now, and I know she would appreciate a fancy date, but would she also love a fun date at home or out doing something that teenagers would do? I sneakily slipped my shoes on and tiptoed out of the hotel room, practically sprinting down the halls and to the car, full of excitement and adrenaline.
I spent most of the day out at the mall and the grocery store, and then made a quick visit home. Of course, her mom and dad had rapid fire questions for me, and thankfully, Rachel came home just in time to quiet them down. “Would you two give him a chance to speak? Yeesh,” she muttered under her breath, making her way upstairs to her room.
“Where is Diana? Where did you two go?” Her mom asked, obviously concerned. I took a deep breath before replying, buying me a couple seconds of sweet silence.
“We went to the hotel where we stayed together when we first met,” I blurted quickly. Her parents continued staring at me, using their wide eyes to signal that I needed to continue with an explanation. “I booked the room for us a few weeks back, hoping to stir up some memories and happy feelings after a night of tears and-”
“And hoping you could get lucky with my little girl, huh?” Her dad smiled, joking with me. I let out a long sigh of relief, laughing along with him. He shook my hand with a strong grip. “I know you’re taking care of our Diana, and we will see you both at home soon, I presume?”
“Absolutely, we will be home after dinner tonight. I’m planning on doing an ‘at home’ date for her, just to do something together for our first full day as an engaged couple. I just wanted to grab a couple things from here and then we will be home tonight.” I smiled, backing up slowly towards the front door. Her parents smiled and waved, wishing me luck with the date planning for tonight as I made my way to the car. My next stop would be the mall, as I had a few things planned to surprise her with for our date. I took out my phone, smiling at my background picture- a picture of us from last night, her flashing her ring for the camera, both of us happier than ever. I hoped she was still sleeping, so I could get the last few things together but still go home and get ready with her. I dialed the home phone, and her mom answered on the first ring. “Hello?”
“Hi, Mrs. Malley, it’s Nick!”
“Oh, Nick, sweetie, call me Deb,” she laughed, “What’s going on? Is everything alright?”
“Oh definitely, Deb,” I sighed, smiling. “I was wondering if you would be able to take Diana out to the mall to find a nice dress for tonight, or basically just distract her for a few hours. I’m trying to plan a nice dinner date at the hotel for the both of us and it’s difficult when she’s there, you know?”
“Of course! I’ll call her right now, one of us will get ahold of you when we’re leaving or out, if that’s alright.”
“Definitely, sounds like a plan! Thanks so much Deb!”
“No problem, sweetie! Anything to help you and my baby girl!” We giggled as we hung up, and I ducked into a coffee shop to waste time until I knew it was safe to go back to the hotel. I pulled out my laptop, checking my e-mail and looking for recipes to make for dinner. I was in the midst of saving the recipe when my phone chimed, showing a text from Diana.
Going out with Mom, she wants to take me shopping for a dress. I’ll be home in a couple of hours. I love you! Xoxo
Perfect, I thought to myself. I packed up my computer and grabbed my things, and scurried to the car. I did have to make a super quick stop at the grocery store, just for some ingredients for dinner and some wine, and then I sped back to the hotel. I sent a quick text to Deb, making sure to have Diana come over all dolled up in her new dress, and that I would also be dressed up when she got back here. I chose to shower first, then cooked dinner in my robe, with my outfit laid out on the bed. Our meal was in the oven, allowing me time to get dressed and make final adjustments around our large hotel room. I lit some candles, and put her bouquet of red and pink roses on the table to act as a centerpiece. I dimmed the lights in the room, and started playing some soft instrumental music, humming along when I heard the door close, and Diana step into the hotel room.
I should have known Nick was up to something, Mom normally doesn’t like to go out to the mall, and I saw that she was secretly texting someone and that when I went in the dressing room to try on some different dresses, I heard her whispering on the phone, wandering a little further away from my fitting room. By the time I had the first dress on, Mom was back, sitting on the little bench right in front of the door, waiting to see which dress was the best for me.
Dress shopping didn’t take long, as the first two dresses just didn’t fit right and looked odd even on the rack. What took the longest was finding some shoes, and Mom getting me home and basically shoving me in the shower, babbling and repeating to, “Get ready! Make sure you look real nice for tonight!” I didn’t think much of it, just that maybe her and Dad would take me out to dinner, but Dad wasn’t home yet. He worked late quite a bit, so maybe it was just a dinner with Mom and Rachel?
We got in the car, and Rachel wasn’t home, either. So far, it was just me and Mom, driving together. I saw she was driving me back to the hotel, and she sent another text quickly as I was getting out of the car, shielding the screen from my view. When I walked through the door to my hotel room, I suddenly understood Mom and Nick’s weirdness this afternoon. He did all this for me? I gasped, which prompted Nick to walk out of the kitchen, carrying plates and silverware, ready to set the table. I am one lucky girl, any other girl that let him go made a serious mistake…
Nick flashed his smile at me, at full wattage, before pecking me lightly on the lips. As soon as he set down the dishes, I launched myself into his arms, kissing him deeply and passionately, desperately tugging at his shirt. He smiled against my lips and pushed back from me slightly, giggling. “Well hello to you too, Princess. I planned this date for us, and so far, we’re doing it completely backwards,” He sighed, sliding his arm around my waist. “But I definitely won’t mind that other part after dinner, if you’re up for it.”
I blushed, and nodded shyly. It was totally out of character for me to just attack his face that way, and whatever was cooking smelled amazing. Plus, with the mood lighting and the music, and the gorgeous roses waiting for me on the table, Nick would definitely be getting everything he wanted; he’s already done so much for me, and I was definitely not shy about returning favors. For crying out loud, he put a ring on it! I had the rest of our lives to return as many favors as I wanted.
Nick’s deep voice brought me out of my internal babble. “How is the writing going, babe? I know you were up all night writing, I woke up a couple times and saw your fingers flying, like you couldn’t get the words out quick enough. Does that mean it went well?” He smiled, pouring each of us a glass of rich, red wine.
“You know, when authors tell everyone that inspiration strikes at some of the weirdest of times, they’re definitely not kidding,” I chuckled. “I was just getting some fresh air, looking out at the sky like I sometimes do, and an idea literally hit me like a freight train. I really couldn’t get the words out fast enough, and I got quite a bit written,” I said breathlessly. “I think I might even be almost done, and almost ready to submit to publishers once I have a couple people look it over. I would be really happy if you would take a look, and be my first editor?”
“I would be honored,” Nick smiled. He brought my hand up to his lips and kissed it gently. “I am really so glad you asked me first, thought I would not have been surprised, or offended, had you asked your parents.”
“I want them to read it, but you have believed in me from the very start,” I sighed, grinning up at him. “You have seriously been my rock, and my biggest fan, from the second I let you in on my secret, and my dreams. I couldn’t have asked for anybody better to have as my first editor, and I never really imagined that he would also be my husband one day.”
It was Nick’s turn to wipe a single tear from his eye. He looked away, still smiling, but wiping tears away quickly. I followed his face, looking him in the eye, cupping his face with my hand. “I love you, Nicholas. You really, truly are the love of my life, and I have never been happier than the time we have spent together, fights and all.” He nodded, smiling down at me. I wiped one more tear away, and kissed him gently. We set the table together, and had a successful, beautiful first date as an engaged couple.
TO BE CONTINUED…