We sipped our wine.
We had just finished a romantic dinner at Rudy's Supper Club, celebrating two years of being together, which included a recent horrible episode of breaking up—not even talking to each other—and then the treasured experience of making up, which proved our love stronger than ever.
Tom set his glass down. He pulled his chair closer to the table. I set my glass down, too, and inched forward, two globed candles glowing between us. Music from a four-piece band played softly in the background.
"Why do I have a feeling," I asked, "that I know what's coming next?"
His smile turned rueful. "It's time, don't you think?"
Truthfully, I thought it was time for a proposal—months ago. We were both thirty. Tom lit up my soul; he brought me unimaginable warmth and joy. I found myself daydreaming endlessly about how many children we'd have and where we'd all live. But Tom is a cautious person. Me? I'm patient. Put the two of us together, and—well, often you get a stalemate. "Have I ever complained?" I asked.
"Not once." He saluted me with a dip of his head. "Another reason why I love you so much."
"Thank you," I said, and dipped my head, matching his salute.
He studied me. My heart melted under his soft, brown-eyed gaze. "Would it help," he asked, "if I knelt down?"
"Hmm.... Right here in Rudy's, all these people eating and dancing—you don't really have to."
"All right then." He reached across the table, took my hand, and kissed it, the brush of his lips soft and sweet. My heart soared. Was this actually the moment? "Lynne O'Neil," he said, "I can provide for you."
I smiled. "You're a man with...prospects, are you?"
"I'm gainfully employed."
"Always a plus."
"Better than that. I'm solvent. Despite the economy, I've made wise investments..."
"I hope I'm not exaggerating when I say I hold a position of respect in this community."
I nodded in agreement. He was Lost Grove's only—but highly respected—veterinarian. An accountant, I met him when he first came to town and hired me to do his taxes. Indeed, despite the economy his investments had been sound. One would expect nothing less from a cautious man.
A waiter appeared at our table and asked if we would like anything else. We shook our heads and said the steaks, potatoes, and salads had been excellent. Tom paid and left a hefty tip. Had the waiter's appearance broken the spell between Tom and me? It might have—I wasn't sure. I hoped not.
Then Tom rose in one quick, easy movement. Looking down into my eyes, he asked, "Would you...would you..."
Is this the moment?
"...like to dance, Lynne?"
Not the question I was hoping for, but I said, "I'd love to."
He tugged on my hand, helping me out of my chair. On the dance floor, as the band played a ballad, Tom and I held each other closely, our feet shuffling. "How long does it take to plan a wedding?" he asked.
"Often a year or longer."
"Really? That long?"
My head tilted. He sounded impatient. I couldn't believe it. If he ever asked for my hand, I thought he'd be happy to wait another year—maybe two— for the actual ceremony, cautious to the very end. "You have to speak to a clergyman," I said. "And you have to inquire about services—florist, caterer, DJ or band, photographer. Gowns for the bride and bridesmaids."
"What else?" he asked, as we continued to drift along with others on the dance floor.
"Wedding invitations. Tuxedos for the groom and groomsmen."
"Will you marry me?" he blurted.
The suddenness of his proposal turned me limp, my knees nearly buckling. "I can't wait any longer," he said, and kissed me on the forehead. "Will you? As soon as possible?"
"Yes. Of course. But...I don't understand. As soon as possible—are you sure?"
"Maybe we can look at rings tomorrow."
"Certainly. But, Tom—"
"You're patience with me is driving me crazy, Lynne." he said. "I simply can't wait any longer. I'm seriously in love with you."
"And I love you."
As the music continued to wash over us, my heart raced. My head dropped onto Tom's shoulder, and my mind whirled with possibilities. As soon as possible, he'd said. I'd never been a person who felt she needed a lavish wedding, hundreds of guests in attendance. I snuggled deeper into Tom's arms and decided to wait patiently until tomorrow, after we looked at rings perhaps, and then tell him I'd like to elope.
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