The Power of Love
Empire Bellagio, Rooftop Deck, April 16, 2019
Another attendant arrived at the table,
his arms laden with mouth-watering, aromatic plates that, once the domes were
removed, looked almost too artful to consume.
"Sir, your second course, Dungeness crab risotto, with millet, quinoa, pressed oats, sunflower seeds, and chives. Madam, ricotta gnocchi, homemade lamb sausage, sun dried tomatoes, Marcona almonds and capers."
Franziska took a heavenly bite, closing her eyes for a moment as she relished the sublime food melting on her tongue before she shot an amused look at her fiancé. "Risotto, liebling? What happened to your California low carb diet?"
"I ran up and down 30 flights of stairs about a dozen times today, meine dame," he shot back, chuckling. "I truly will require the quick energy fuel to get me through this evening! I don't think this will even put a dent in my diet…I am positive today's activities have left me with cast-iron thighs you could crush a coconut with!"
Franziska laughed. "Weren't they always capable of such?"
"Not at all. Perchance a grapefruit prior to today's unaccustomed exercise, but I've most certainly moved up on the food cracking scale, I assure you!"
"Why on earth did you put yourself out so, liebling?" Franziska was suddenly serious. "I recall you said, 'among other things' as the reason for all this splendor, but inexorably, welcoming me back home to the city of angels wasn't the sole motive for this grandeur spectacle?"
"Spoken like the ever diligent prosecutor who has known me for far too long," Miles praised. "You're have correctly identified my mens rea in this happenstance. There is indeed ulterior motive behind my modus operandi."
"Well?" She pressed, when it appeared he wasn't about to go on. A server came to clear their plates. "Aren't you going to profess the logic behind all this?"
Before Miles could reply, another waiter appeared with two more domed platters.
"Your main course, sir, prime côte de boeuf, pommes aligot, armagnac peppercorn sauce. For the lady, wolfe ranch quail made with brioche stuffing, falafel macaroon, mint raita, eggplant compote, and lotus root."
"I will relinquish that information later, I swear it," Miles promised before he practically dove headfirst into his food.
Franziska barely suppressed a sigh. If there had ever been a time to lament about having too attentive a staff, it would have been then! Miles appeared to have no intention of picking up the conversation where it had left off, and left no room for further chatter.
Instead, he tucked into his meal with such relish one would have thought it was his last one on earth! She wasn't sure if he was skillfully dodging her line of questioning or if he genuinely had such a voracious appetite from all his unacquainted physical activity earlier.
Either way, she would have to be a complete shrew to intervene in his enjoyment of what was admittedly the most delicious meal she'd had in months if not years! For this reason, she decided to back off for now, and focused on her finishing her food. This was getting progressively harder to do as she was now so incredibly full from all the rich fare, she thought she would indeed burst!
Assuming she didn't die of curiosity first.
This mysterious act Miles was still somehow pulling had gone from being mystifying to downright maddening! Oh, he'd continued to converse, of course, but she was nowhere closer to solving the riddle of what had provoked her fiancé to pull out all the extravagant stops that night than she'd been half an hour ago!
Franziska couldn't help herself, she was paranoid that this whole romantic, grand rooftop gesture was because he was going to somehow pull the rug out from under her again! Consequently, she was going to be all pins and needles until the other shoe dropped. The last time Miles had caught her off guard, he had announced their upcoming 'parenthood' and that he was emigrating! What else could he possibly have up his sleeve this time?!
The time for the sweet course finally arrived, and Franziska was relieved it appeared to be a light one.
"Your dessert," the server announced proudly. "Citrus Baba, which is rum zabaglione, crème fraîche gelato and malt crunch. Enjoy!"
"This is wonderful," she remarked, savoring every morsel of the Italian dessert. "But I am so happy that you didn't get us a heavy cheesecake or anything of the ilk, as it would have indubitably busted either my dress seams or stomach lining!"
"You're threatening to have your attire spontaneously combust off that lush physique, yet I am to be reprimanded for having ungentlemanly thoughts of you without it?" Miles feigned a pained expression. "Have mercy, woman! I am still a man!"
Franziska waved her dessert spoon at him in mock reprimand. "Alas, a gentleman is naught but a patient wolf, Herr Edgeworth."
"Truer words hath never been spoken, meine dame," he readily agreed.
"I may be willing to part with said attire…" she said coyly, batting her eyelashes at him. It was time to play logic chess with the master himself. "If you were willing to do something for me in return?"
"Hmm..." Miles looked thoughtful. "You're bartering your beautiful body here, so one can only assume that it must be pretty high stakes indeed. And while I am not normally a gambling man, I profess to being intrigued by the concept. I'm all ears."
"Don't sell yourself short," she admonished lightly.
"Name your price, madam, and I shall immediately, however blindly, agree to it, based purely on the knowledge that the payoff will be well worth it to me."
"No risk, no reward?" There was a gleam in her eye. "In order to get me to part with anything, liebling, all I ask in return is for you to part with some information?"
"Go on?" He raised a well-groomed brow.
"Nothing too confidential," she assured him. "Just…ah, the other reason, or reasons, that you decided to spoil me so?"
"Back to that, are we?" Miles shook his head and chuckled. "I'm afraid I still can't tell you that, my dear impatient lady."
"Impatient? It's been over two hours now, Miles! The sun has gone down and the stars are out now!" Franziska sulkily crossed her arms across her chest. "You promised to tell me later and have not honored your vow! You are no man of your word, Herr Edgeworth. So consequently, I decree that you, sir, are no gentleman!"
"I never said I would tell you, meine dame." He answered smoothly. "I said that I would relinquish that information later."
"Same difference!" A scowl twisted her pretty features.
"Not at all," Miles countered, unfazed by her mini burst of temper. "There is more than one way to let someone be privy to evidence, meine dame. You can tell them about it…" He rose from his seat and put two fingers to his lips, letting out a loud, piercing whistle before turning back to her with a wink. "Or you can show them."
The next thing Franziska knew, the most gorgeous golden retriever puppy she'd ever seen in her life came bounding up to them. Miles bent down to curb the exuberance of the squirming mass of golden fur, laughing with uncharacteristic glee as the canine licked her master's fingers and joyously wagged her tail before turning to Franziska, happily barking a greeting. The puppy stood on her two hind legs and tried to put her two front paws onto her new mommy's lap, but Miles snapped his fingers just as his fiancée delightedly leaned over and was about to take the dog into her arms. Immediately, the puppy put her paws down and looked expectantly up at her daddy, tail still wagging, but slightly subdued now.
Meanie! Franziska thought, looking longingly at the pet seated at her feet and yearning to cuddle her. Miles had been absolutely right when he had told her she would love the puppy the first time she laid eyes on her.
Franziska Von Karma was 110% suffering from an incurable case of puppy love. How could she not? Pess had such huge, dark doe eyes, and the silkiest looking fur! No more than two months old at most, the tiny puppy was still a bit too small for her big padded paws, and looked all the more endearing with a miniature snowy white cravat around her neck. She wondered why Miles hadn't let the dog come greet her…surely he wasn't thinking she'd be so silly as to care about something as trite as getting fur on her dress?
"Meine dame, as you've undoubtedly already gathered, this is Pess," Miles told her happily. "Pess, shake hands with your new mommy. Give paw."
Pess remained seated, but lifted one oversized paw at Franziska, who melted into a puddle of goo as she took the fuzzy paw in her hand. "Who's a pretty girl?" She cooed, leaning down and 'shaking paw' with one hand and stroking the top of the puppy's head with her free one.
"Now girl, just like how we practiced," Miles' commanded. "Franziska, sit back up please. OK Pess, jump up!"
Franziska had leaned back in her seat just in time to swiftly catch Pess as she leaped from the ground into her arms. Pess looked at her, tongue out in a goofy puppy grin, obviously proud of her achievement as she sat, happily panting, on her mommy's lap while Miles praised "Good girl, Pess!" In the background.
Franziska was so intently petting the puppy and gently pulling at her silken ears that she didn't even notice Miles coming over to her seat and kneeling down at her feet. She looked down and saw him by her chair, on bended knee, and gasped in shock.
"Miles, what in the world…?"
"Lift up Pess's cravat, meine dame," he instructed quietly.
With an excited laugh and a questioning glance, Franziska acquiesced, and saw a wine red leather collar underneath the ruffles, the same color as Miles' work suit. But it was what was attached to that collar that left her speechless. Her jaw dropped as tears filled her eyes.
"Oh, Miles," she breathed.
Taking advantage of her momentary stunned reaction, Miles reached over to Pess's neck, nimbly undid the collar, and removed the glittering heart-shaped diamond ring Franziska had fallen in love with several weeks ago. He held it up between his thumb and forefinger and looked up at her earnestly.
"On Pess's behalf, I need to first ask if you'll agree to be her mommy alongside her daddy," Miles began, his voice thick with emotion. Seeing her silent, vigorous nod, he continued. "Franziska, I've known you nearly my whole life. I feel like I've loved you forever, in life times before. One way or another, first as a brother loved a sister, then later, the way a man loved a woman, I can't remember any point in my life where I didn't in some way love you."
He paused for a moment to swallow the lump in his throat and looked down for a moment as if to gather his thoughts, and when he looked into her eyes again, she saw they were glistening with tears. "From the moment we got together, I felt at once that you were what people call one's better self. I have known only a few before you, but those other girls have all been strangers. But you… somehow, you were like me. My kindred spirit. When I'm with you, I feel complete, and I know that we are truly meant to be. I will not love for the sake of loving, but I will love because of you. 50 years later, I will still love you the way I love you now. I have never loved anyone as much as I love you, and I can't imagine my life without you. This is true from the bottom of my heart. I ask you to pass through life at my side—to be my second self, and best earthly companion. I ask you, Franziska Von Karma, to please do me the great honor of being my wife?"
Joy spun through Franziska's system so fast she was dizzy with it, and her heart was so swelled with emotions she felt as if it would burst. Tears of happiness fell from her eyes, and onto the squirming puppy still nestled in her lap. She gently lifted Pess up to her face and pressed a gentle kiss onto her daughter's furry head before carefully lowering her to the ground, blinking furiously as she wiped away the tears. She'd be damned if she'd be a weepy mess for the most incredible moment of her life. The man of her dreams, her soul mate, was being romantic and gloriously gushy and she wanted to enjoy every wonderful moment of it.
Then she took Miles' chin between her hands and looked into his handsome, loving face, knowing without any shadow of a doubt that it was the one she wanted to wake up to every morning, and grow old beside, every single day for the rest of her life.
"I love you, too," she said tenderly, pulling back to smile into his eyes. "I love everything about you. Your ambition and drive, your integrity, your devotion to friends and family, even if they aren't blood related. I love your sense of humor and how incredibly fantastic you are in the boudoir. I just love you, period. It would be my honor to marry such a beatific and tenderhearted gentleman, Miles Edgeworth," she whispered before giving him a kiss of aching sweetness, the silken fall of her hair gliding across his throat. He returned the passionate embrace, rising from his kneeling position and lifting her up into his arms, all the while never allowing his lips to leave hers. With the heavenly feeling of her body pressed against his, Franziska could feel every beat of his heart, and gave a giddy thanks to the man upstairs, knowing it belonged to her.
When they finally parted, she thought their magical, romantic, cinematic-worthy moment had been so implausibly perfect that it had made her feel like she was hearing the proverbial violins playing. Then, her laughter rang through the trees when she realized they were both literally hearing the string quartet beginning to play the first bars of Celine Dion's The Power of Love, the very song they had danced to at Gumshoe's wedding.
Miles gently took her hand and placed the ring on her finger, noting how perfectly it fit her. It was as made for her as she was for him. He then gave a grandeur bow.
"May I have this dance, meine dame?"
She smiled adoringly and nodded, allowing him to guide her by the hand towards the swimming pool.
The full moon and a gentle breeze lent a magical feel to the evening. The deck of the Olympic sized pool was completely lit up with large lotus lanterns floating in the water and underwater colorful lights. A dance floor large enough only for two people had been installed. As they headed to that that very floor, Franziska noted the lovely fresh orchids and roses floating about in the water. The mirrored dance floor drifted above the water, giving them a beautiful platform for their dance to the song that would henceforth be known as 'theirs'. Swaying smoothly in one another's arms, they were able to enjoy the blissful feeling as if they were the only two people in the world.
"I have some more enquiries for you liebling," she teased softly as she stroked the smooth hair behind the back of his collar.
"Damn your unquenchable thirst for asking questions!" Miles mock-groused, his eyes twinkling. "This is what I get for wanting to spend my life with a relentless lawyer! However, feel free to fire away if you still think there are some mysteries I have left unsolved, meine dame."
"I took you to the jeweler's to look at that ring I so loved the very next day after we agreed we were now betrothed. I even gave you the pickup slip. Why didn't you just buy it right there and then?"
"That's simple. Because I at least wanted to surprise you when you got that!" Miles exclaimed. "I was so downtrodden that you'd agreed to spend your life with me with a barren finger still intact, and I wanted to bequeath the coveted ring you were due with some unexpected flair since my idiocy had robbed you of the proposal you were entitled to!"
"Fair enough, but the next obvious question was why you felt the need to go through all this trouble, liebling? We were already engaged, and have been for almost a week! Not that I don't love all that you've done tonight, but what inspired such an illustrious presentation of the ring to me?"
"Because," he drawled, a cheeky grin on his face. "I wanted to give you not just the ring of your dreams, but the proposal you deserved. Moreover, years from now, I refuse to tell our children and grandchildren that we got engaged after you orally gratified me and then allowed me to flip you over and have my wanton way with you on my birthday!" Franziska buried her head in his shoulder in embarrassment at his words, even though her shoulders were shaking with helpless laughter as he continued. "Beyond shadow of doubt you can understand how that is hardly the romantic tale I want to be passed onto the next generations of Edgeworths! As far as anyone needs to know, our official proposal and engagement story was tonight, meine dame. I trust you have no objections?"
"None whatsoever," Franziska replied serenely, even though her eyes were dancing with merriment. "There's just one thing though, liebling."
"And what would that be, meine dame?" He murmured as the song came to a close and he bent her over his arm with a flourish, into a dramatic dip.
"I just want to make sure that you remember, Herr Edgeworth," she teased, looking up adoringly into his beautiful grey eyes. "Who actually did the asking first."
Miles let out a shout of laughter, even as he kept his arm tightly behind her so she remained in the curved back position. "As if you would ever let me forget, meine dame!"
"I so wouldn't!" She grinned impishly. "But that's one of the reasons you love me!"
"Why I'll always love you," he corrected huskily, stroking her cheek and looking down at her lovingly. "To my life's end and beyond."
"To my life's end and beyond," she sighed back, closing her eyes blissfully as she drew him down to her once more.