I run my thumb over the diamond, inspecting it for the millionth time. I take the ring out of the box and clean the rock with my shirt.
Lilah’s voice sounds outside the bedroom and I panic. I drop the damn ring and struggle to hide the box under my boxers in the underwear drawer. The ring is on the floor and I quickly kick it under the chest of drawers.
Lilah comes in as I close the top drawer, hiding the ring box.
‘Hey, have you seen my phone?’ She asks, looking adorably confused. ‘I can’t find it anywhere and Siri isn’t answering me. What an asshole. Anyways, can you call it please?’
I pat the back pockets in my jeans and realise my phone isn’t on me.
‘I don’t have my phone in here, is it in the living room?’
She shrugs. ‘Might be.’
‘Feel free to call yourself,’ I tell her. ‘I’ll be out in a minute.’
She looks at me suspiciously. ‘What are you doing? You have a guilty look on your face.’
‘Nothing,’ I answer too quickly. ‘Just getting my clothes for the gym later.’
She nods, still looking unsure. ‘Alright.’
I wait for her to leave the room. She leaves the door open as she goes, still not trusting that I’m not up to something. I don’t blame her for being suspicious. We’ve been living together for the last month and I’ve spent it playing pranks on her.
The cling film across the doorway is still a personal favourite. The fact that she was holding a cup of coffee is unfortunate, but it made for a great video.
I poke my head around the door and spot her holding my phone to her ear whilst she looks for hers. I rush over to the chest of drawers and drop to my knees.
The ring is at the back and I have to stretch my arm under to reach it. I grasp it between my thumb and forefinger and pick it up.
‘Found it!’ Lilah cries triumphantly.
She starts to come back to the bedroom, I hear her footsteps. I’m still lying on my stomach with my arm under the drawers. Panicking, I drop it and leave it under the drawers.
Lilah comes in as I roll over onto my back. I start doing some crunches.
‘What the fuck are you doing?’
I look up at her from the floor. ‘Crunches,’ I reply casually. ‘My side started seizing up and I don’t want it playing up for the gym later. Thought I’d try out a few exercises, see if I could loosen it up some.’
She stares at me like I’m going crazy.
‘Okay...whatever. I found my phone, thank you. Are you still meeting Micah at his gym or are you going to ours?’
‘I’m meeting Micah and we’re going for drinks after,’ I tell her as I get to my feet. ‘We probably won’t be home until five-ish.’
She scrunches up her nose. ‘Okay. Dinner at seven?’
‘Yeah, that would be great.’
‘Alright. I’ve got to go meet Kira now, I’ll see you later.’
She walks up to me and pulls me in for a kiss. I eagerly kiss her back. Unable to resist, I reach round and squeeze her bum.
‘See you later, Lils.’
I wait until the door to the flat closes and then sigh with relief. I drop back onto my stomach on the carpet and reach for the ring again.
My phone rings on the bed.
‘Son of a bitch!’
I manage to grasp the ring tight enough to pick it up. I pull my arm back and get onto my knees. With the ring in one hand, I reach for my phone with the other and answer it.
‘Yes?’ I answer with a bit of a clipped tone.
‘I’ll be there in five, mate,’ Micah says. ‘Just giving you a heads up.’
‘Thanks, mate. See you soon.’
I get to my feet and check the ring is okay. I hope she likes this, it took me forever to pick the right one.
Over the last couple of months, Lilah has given me not so subtle hints about getting engaged. Luckily, she’s also given me clues as to what she likes in a ring.
Micah arrives shortly after I’ve safely stored the ring back in its box.
‘How have you been?’ He asks when he sits down on our sofa.
I push the flashbacks of me fucking his sister on that sofa, to the back of my mind.
‘Really good, thanks. How are you? How’s Courtney?’
He grins. ‘All good, yeah. She’s gone a bit crazy, moving in and all. I think everything we have has been personalised with C and M.’
‘Cute,’ I comment dryly. ‘Actually, there is something I want to ask you.’
Micah must notice the serious expression on my face, because he leans forward, looking interested.
‘I’m going to ask your sister to marry me,’ I tell him. ‘And I want to know if I have your blessing.’
His face is frozen for a moment and panic starts to build inside me. Not only is he the girl I love’s brother, he’s one of my closest friends, if not the closest. I want him to be happy for me, for us.
A smile slowly spreads over his face. ‘Yeah, mate. Of course, you have my blessing.’
I breathe a sigh of relief. ‘Thank fuck.’
‘Have you got the ring?’
‘Can I see it? I have no fucking clue on what to get Courtney,’ he says. We both get up and I lead him through to the bedroom. ’I always thought an engagement ring was a diamond ring, you know? But now, there’s fucking different colours, different bands, different sizes, different fucking clarities. It’s a joke.′
I show Micah the ring and he slaps me on the back. With him out of the way, I swap my t-shirt for a dress shirt and my jeans for slacks. I put on my polished Oxfords and drive over to Lilah’s parents’ house.
The worst fucking in-laws someone could have, I imagine. For the last six months that Lilah and I have been dating, they have gradually warmed up to me.
It sucks, because they love Courtney. I’m definitely going to be the black sheep in their family. I wish to God we didn’t have to invite them to the wedding. But I love Lilah and, as much as they drive her mad, she loves her parents.
She’s worth it.
I park outside their house and walk up the drive with sweaty palms. I ring the doorbell and rub my palms on my trousers to dry them off.
Gerald, Lilah’s father, answers the door.
‘Sinn,’ he says evenly. ‘this is a surprise. What are you doing here?’
‘Hi, Mr Myers,’ I greet him. ‘I’m really sorry to drop by on you like this, but I was wondering if I could talk to you and your wife for a couple of minutes, please?’
He looks me up and down, even taking in my shining shoes. I knew it was worth me polishing them.
‘Of course, come on in. I’ll go get Sara,’ he says.
I hover in the hall, trying not to make any squeaky noises with my shoes on the polished marble tile.
Lilah’s mother comes through with her husband a few moments later.
‘What a wonderful surprise,’ she says, smiling tightly. ’Come through to the drawing room, Sinn.′
I take a seat with the both of them sitting opposite me. I try to match how Mr Myers sits.
‘What is it we can do for you?’ Sara asks.
I clear my throat. ‘I hope you know by now how much I love your daughter,’ I start, trying to sound more confident than I feel. ‘She is, honestly, the best thing that has ever happened to me.’
The both smile politely.
I continue, ‘Lilah is everything to me. I want to support her and care for her for the rest of my life. So, that is why I have come to you today, to ask for your blessing. I wish to propose to your daughter.’
If I thought Micah took a while to answer, this takes the biscuit. It’s drawn out over several moments, leaving my wringing my hands and sweating under my shirt.
Gerald answers first. He clears his throat and leans forwards.
‘Son...marriage is a big deal,’ he tells me seriously. ‘You and my daughter having only been dating for six months. How much do you really know about each other? Don’t you think that you should wait a little?’
Sara remains silent, her eyes wide and her lips parted in surprise.
‘With all due respect, Mr Myers, I don’t need any longer to find out what I already know. I love your daughter, nothing will change that. Our relationship’s success cannot be quantified by time. Whether we’ve been together one month or one decade, my feelings for her will be no different, I swear to you.’
He sighs and leans back in the sofa.
‘It’s your call. But, if it’s our blessing you want, you can have it. Isn’t that right, darling? Sara?’
He calls to his wife when she doesn’t respond at first. She blinks in surprise and gives me a forced smile.
There’s a tense bit of small talk and then, I mention that I should be going. I have to hold myself back from running out of the house.
Sara walks me to the door.
‘Sinn.’ She reaches for my arm to stop me leaving.
She swallows hard and looks up to meet my eyes.
‘I know that we aren’t the easiest of parents to please. We’ve given you a hard time, but that is only because we love our daughter and want what is best for her.’ She pauses to take a deep breath. ‘Although you may not be the man we would have chosen for her...I will admit that it is plainly obvious how much you care for her.’
It looks as though it pains her to admit this.
‘I know that Lilah is happier for having you in her life. Please, continue to make her happy. That is all I ask. You have my blessing.’
‘Thank you, Mrs Myers.’
‘Sara, please. Good luck with proposing, Sinn. She loves gardenias.’
I stop my the florist on my way back to the flat. I have my gym back in the back of the car, so I empty out my bottles and shakes and place the flowers in the bag.
I carry it back into the flat unnoticed and set it on the bed. I take the ring box out of the end pocket and go to put it in the drawer again.
I jump at the sound of Lilah’s voice outside the door. The box falls to the floor.
I kick the box under the chest of drawers as she walks in.
‘Everything alright?’ She asks. I spin around and smile.
‘Yep, all good.’
She frowns as she looks me up and down.
‘Why are you dressed all smart? I thought you and Micah went to his gym?’
‘We did.’ I point at the gym bag. ‘But I brought a change of clothes because we were going for drinks afterwards.’
She looks me up and down again. I shift uncomfortably, painfully aware that the ring box is under the drawers and the flowers are in the gym bag, one metre from her.
‘Where? At the Hilton?’ She shakes her head in disbelief. ‘Anyway, I’m going to start cooking dinner.’
‘Actually,’ I reply quickly, making her pause by the door. ‘I was thinking that I could cook tonight. Would that be okay?’
She shrugs. ‘If you want to. I don’t mind.’
‘I’d like to,’ I tell her. ‘I’ll be right out.’
She leaves the bedroom and I grab the ring box. I put it back under my boxers and shut the drawer. I take the flowers out of the gym bag and place them in my wardrobe, where it is cooler. I fill up a glass of water from the ensuite and stick the flowers in them and back in the wardrobe.
When I come through to the open-plan kitchen/living room, Lilah is channel surfing.
I pretend to look through the fridge, but I already know what I’m making her. The first meal I made for her was steak, I plan to recreate it tonight.
They’re in the freezer with the chips. I have the vegetables in the fridge. I get out everything that I need and start prepping.
Whilst the chips are cooking in the oven, the vegetables are steaming and the steaks are grilling, I grab the ketchup bottle from the cupboard and hide it in the pan cupboard below it.
‘Baby?’ I call to her. ‘I’m really sorry to do this, but could you go downstairs and grab some ketchup from the corner shop whilst I start dinner? We’ve run out.’
Her voice, tired and irritated, comes through from the living room.
‘What do you mean we’ve run out? I swear there was like a third left.’
‘I used it on my bacon this morning,’ I lie.
‘How much fucking ketchup did you use?’ She comes marching into the kitchen. I know she has had a tough time at her job recently, so I forgive her for the swearing. She checks the cupboard and curses. ‘Fine. I’ll go get some.’
She stomps back into the living room to get her purse. I feel bad, making her do this, but I need her out of the flat whilst I get it ready. I knew that she would go, she never eats steak without ketchup.
‘Do you want anything?’ She asks sweetly, obviously having got over the irritation.
‘No, thank you, baby. I love you.’
She smiles tiredly. ‘Love you, too. I’ll be back in five.’
The moment the door closes, I race to the bedroom. I grab the ring box and the flowers. I put some flowers in a vase on the table, the others I lay around the room on various surfaces.
I light as many candles I can find and dim the lights. I pour her favourite wine and set a glass on the table. I put on some romantic music, quietly in the background.
She comes in as I’m serving up our plates. I put them on the table as she looks around in surprise.
‘What is all this?’ She asks, sounding amazed.
I wipe my hands on my jeans and walk over to her. I take the ketchup bottle from her hands and place it on the table.
She looks at me confusedly as I approach her. I drop to one knee in front of her and she gasps.
My hands shake as I retrieve the ring box from my back pocket and open it. I hold it up to her.
‘Lils, you’re my best friend. I love you more than I can ever explain. Words cannot describe how grateful I am to have you in my life. I want to be with you every day for the rest of my days. Please, will you marry me?’
Tears flow down her cheeks. She holds her left hand out for me to put the ring on, hers is shaking as well.
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