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“What’s taking you so long, old man?”

“Who are you calling old?!” Ashton paused at the foot of the stairs and glowered down at me.

“You,” I goaded. “What are you going to do about it?” I looked up, a large grin splitting my face. I loved teasing him. Especially when we were running late in the morning.

We had kept Blue’s regular, live-in housekeeper because AJ was comfortable around her. She picked him up from school when I wasn’t able to. When she wasn’t available, Kyle, Jordan and my parents always stepped up to take care of him. We were also crashing at Blue’s mother’s house while she was away. My mother-in-law was still on honeymoon and seemed to be having the time of her life.

Blue and I were making the long-distance thing work and got to see each other on the weekends. Usually, she did the back and forth to make it easier for our son but this weekend, she wasn’t able to make it and we were going to fly down to New York a day earlier and surprise her.

“I’m going to tell mom when we see her this evening,” he threatened.

“Ooh, I’m so scared,” I laughed, knocking my knees together.

“You should be!” He exclaimed, clambering across the stairs and letting out a loud shriek when I swept him off the last step, turning him upside down and tickling him.

“Have-mercy-Tickle Monster!” he gasped in between laughter.

I held him upright and glanced up at his flushed face. “Go and get your lunch from Jane. We’d better get you to school or we’ll both be late.”

He ran into the kitchen and back out in seconds. “Are you going to pick me up after school?”

“Yes,” I replied, taking his small hand in mine as we walked to the front door. “And then we’re going straight to the airport.”

“Are we taking the PJ?” he asked and slung his backpack over his shoulder as we walked to the car.

“No, we’re taking your bike-of course we’re taking the jet!” I hunkered down and tried to tame his unruly curls. Then held the door open for him. “Let me help you buckle up.” I strapped on his seatbelt as we continued to chat.

“Will Justin and Torren be coming with us this time?”

“No,” I told him before I walked over to the driver’s seat. “It’s just you and me, little man. Disappointed?”

“A little,” he said with a teasing smile, just to get a rise out of me.

“Well too bad, squirt,” I stuck out my tongue and drove down the driveway that was lined with pine trees and lush green lawns. “Turn on the music, you’re slacking today.”

“Sorry, I was distracted,” he shrugged, an impish grin on his cute face. He selected our songs of the day and we sang along until I dropped him off at school.

“Any special reason why you’re late, Coleman?” my lecturer barked as soon as I entered the class. Punctuality was a prerequisite for taking his class. He hated it when students showed up even a minute after the set time. He kind of reminded me of Albert Einstein. They looked like identical twins.

“Car trouble, sir,” I told him the easiest lie I could think of.

“If I can remember correctly, you drive a BMW Four Series?”

“That is correct, sir.” I’d been caught out.

“According to the tabloids, it is newly-acquired?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And it’s giving you trouble already?”

“The car is fine, Mr Fletcher,” I braved his scrutiny with a smile playing at the corners of my mouth. “I ran out of gas…sir.” My response had my classmates in stitches.

“Sit down, Coleman,” he rumbled a warning. “And the rest of you, quiet down and turn to page sixty-three,” he held up a hand and changed his instruction. “Actually, grab your stuff, and let’s head out to the hangar.”

The lesson seemed to drag on all morning and some of the students were not even paying attention, as the professor’s monotone went on about flaps, slats, rudders, and all the other parts of a plane.

“Why don’t we move along and go up to the cockpit?” he turned to me and winked. Winked?!

Did I imagine that or did it really happen? We rounded the plane and when we neared the airstairs, wolf whistles and catcalls resounded all around when the woman of my dreams emerged and stood on the landing. Her long black hair was tousled from the morning breeze, and she was dressed in frayed denim shorts and a simple white t-shirt, and matching high-top sneakers. Someone came from behind and handed her an acoustic guitar invoking wild cheers and applause.

Some of my classmates slapped me on my back and congratulated me on my good fortune.

“You got yourself a babe, Coleman.”

“Lucky guy.”

“We envy you.”

Blue started to sing Certain Things by James Arthur and I almost melted into a puddle.

When she started the second verse, Ashton came down the stairs and picked up from where she left. Tears stung my eyes as they both pulled on my heartstrings. Blue might come off as tough and indifferent sometimes, but there was another side to her that I got to see. Like what she was doing right now, was going to embarrass me for the rest of my life. I was crying, happy tears, but it was in front of my savage friends. They would never let me forget it.
But how could I not cry when the woman I love was standing right here. I knew what she was about to do and it not only unmanned me but it humbled me, that she would come here and make her proposal without shame, right in front of everyone. Her last note drifted into the still air and our eyes met. By this time all eyes and ears were focused on our every move.

AJ shook his head and handed me a Kleenex when he halted close to me. “She said you would do this,” he sighed and everyone laughed. “I wonder what you’re going to do when I give you this.” He popped open a velvet box and slowly got to his knees. And no matter how hard-hearted you were, that would have melted your icebox instantly.

Blue did the same from where she was. “I know there’s a marriage but there was no proposal,” she said in a soft, tremulous voice. “And I know you’ve asked this enough times and…This is me giving you the proposal that I know you deserve.”

AJ’s big azure eyes blinked up at me as he delivered the proposal on behalf of his mother. “Dad, will you marry my mom? Again?”

“I…” I was so overcome with emotion, my voice caught in my throat. I hunched down and held him close to my chest. “You’re too cute, do you know that?” I laughed through my tears.

“Is that a yes?” Blue came to a standstill, looking slightly anxious.

“It’s a hell yes!!” I sprung to my feet, taking him in my arms and crushing her against me.

“Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!!!” The guys chanted.

I was more than happy to oblige. After what she just did, who can say no to that?

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