The delicate looking princess cut engagement ring was warm as it rested in my palm.
It weighed nothing, but my hand shook. Hell, my hand shook so badly that I barked out a dry laugh that cracked like thunder as I stood in my childhood bathroom.
I’d never been this nervous before. Jesus. I should’ve taken out stock in the brand of deodorant I used. It was crazy.
This whole thing was insane. A year ago I never would’ve thought I’d be minutes from getting down on one knee like one of those guys in those corny ass jewelry commercials. Never thought that would be me, but there was a knot in my throat the size of a soccer ball, & the nervous energy was part excitement, part dread, because she could always say no.
And that would be seven circles of hell kind of awkward with my whole family downstairs. How many circles of hell were there? Wait. Dammit. Why was I even thinking about that right now? Dragging my gaze to the mirror over the sink, I looked like I was seconds from walking off a cliff. Would she think this was too soon? I knew she loved me. No doubt in my mind. And there was no woman on this Earth I loved more than her. There. I felt it. The skip of my heart. The dip in my gut.
I was in deep when it came to her. Always had been. That was never going to change. She was & would always be my everything. This was the right thing to do. I’d just wished I had more to give her. A romantic dinner. Maybe one of those flash mobs.
Actually, she would probably hide under a table if a flash mob was involved. I started to put the ring back in the velvet box, but on second thought, said WTH & tossed the box aside & slipped the baby into the pocket of my jeans. Then I got down to making myself look somewhat presentable. Scrubbed my face. Brushed teeth. Shoved my fingers through my hair. Grabbed for the floss & realized I was procrastinating like a mofo. I’d told her I’d be gone for a few minutes. That was fifteen minutes ago. Okay. More like twenty minutes. It was like a fell into a black hole up here.
I needed to downstairs before someone sent a search party. That was the last thing I needed. My nerves were already shot. My heart pounded, louder than my booted footsteps as I headed down the hall. Stopping at the top of the steps I closed my eyes. Get it together. This was only the biggest question I’d ever ask anyone in my life. Yeah, that thought didn’t help whatsoever. I just needed to stop thinking. I also needed to walk down these steps. A cupcake would also be really good about now. Maybe even a cookie. Okay. I needed to also stop thinking about food Those steps was the shortest damn steps I’d ever walked. In seconds, I was down in the foyer, standing there like an idiot with my hand pressed against the pocket of my jeans. My mouth was dry. I might be having a heart attack Everything was cool. Laughter floated out from the living room. Someone shouted something about balls. My father? Probably. How appropriate.
I needed to find mine. It wasn’t like my family or my best friend didn’t know I’d been planning to do this. But they had no idea it would happen Tonight. On Christmas. Which was admittedly cheesy. That’s what love did. Made me into a complete cheese ball. If I started crying I’d probably punch myself in the throat. Time to get these feet moving. Now or never. Do or die. Blah. Blah. My feet moved like I was knee deep in wet sand. The twinkling lights from the massive, Lampoon size Christmas Tree led the way My parents got a little crazy with Christmas.Looked like Christmas threw up on the house. I might actually hurl. That would be romantic. Very sexy. I stopped just at the threshold of the living room, my eyes finding her immediately & there it was again. The punched in the chest feeling. Weak in the freaking knees.
I hadn’t said a word, but she turned from where she sat beside my sister, as if we were connected & she knew I was there Our gazes locked. And in that moment, when her lips curved up at the corners, I heard nothing. I saw only her. And she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I’d be the luckiest SOB on the planet to spend the rest of my life With her. Only her.
“You holding up the door, boy?” my father said. I bit back a groan. Way to kill the mood. But I… I couldn’t pull my eyes away from her. Mom stood from where she was perched on the arm of dad’s chair.
“You okay, honey?”
“Yeah,” I replied, voice hoarse. “Never been better.” And that was the damn truth. Eyes trained on her, I stepped over the long legs of my friend. He said something. I had no clue what it was. Probably something that will make me want to punch him later, because I heard my sister giggle. But my focus was on her, on those pretty eyes. Her smile spread, crinkling her nose. I knew just how many freckles she had on the bridge of her nose. Eight. And a half. She had a couple more in some really interesting places. Places I really didn’t need to think about right this moment.Taking a deep breath, I did it. Holy crap balls, I did it.
I got down on one knee in front of her. Like a champ. As I stared in the warmest brown eyes, my sister squealed as she shot from the couch like there were springs under her The moment she recognized what I was doing, before I even reached into my pocket, would stay with me for the rest of my life. She jerked back as her eyes widened, turning glassy with a fine sheen. Her lips moved, silently speaking my name. And that—the movement of just her lips got to me. I was such a Hallmark card right now, but I had no regrets Silence fell in the room. My dad was even quiet. For once. & the knot in my throat expanded, so when I spoke, it was raspy.
“I planned on doing this a couple of months ago,” I told her, feeling my heart trying to climb out of my chest.
“Things came up, & I thought I’d have something else big planned, but I cant wait any longer. I dont want to. I had to clear my throat. “I don’t have a big speech, but you know that I love you, right? That I’m in love with you.” With the tips of her fingers pressed against her lips, she nodded as she blinked rapidly. Yeah, she knew. “And I’m always going to be in love you.” My voice caught. “You running into me in the hallway was my luckiest day.”
“Oh God,” she whispered.
“So I’m hoping that you’re going to make today my second luckiest day, by saying yes.”
Holy shit, my dad murmured, and I heard my mother hush him.
“Dad,” my sister cried. “Geez. Seriously?”
Laughing, I reached into my pocket, finding the ring & pulling it out. I tugged her left hand away from her mouth I kissed the top of her hand first, and then I lifted my gaze, meeting hers once again. Her hand shook as bad as mine & her eyes were full of tears. I couldn’t move or speak for a moment. Frozen in the moment. And then I found my voice. “Avery Morgansten, would you make me the luckiest guy ever by being my wife?”
“Yes,” she said, nodding, & before I could get the ring on her finger, she sprung forward, wrapping her arms around my neck I rocked back, folding my arms around her, and I lost my balance, landing on my ass with her latched onto me,
the top of her red head buried against my chest. Someone in the room shouted and clapped. I could hear my mom crying
I reached beside us, gently lifting her cheek. “Shortcake…” My voice trembled, & I didn’t care.
“You’re going to let me get this ring on you?” Avery half laughed, half hiccuped as she pulled back, swiping at her cheeks with her palm.
“Yes. Sorry.” She extended her left arm, all but shoving her hand at me, and I laughed. Yeah, my vision was blurring. On went the ring. Perfect fit. She clasped my cheeks as she leaned in, resting her forehead against mine. “I love you, Cam. I love you so very much.” My eyes drifted shut and I held her tight. So close I could feel her heart beating as fast as mine. Waiting for Avery was the best thing I’d ever done & now we had the rest of our lives together.