Red petals decorate the bedroom floor while burning candles flicker on the dresser and nightstand. It’s simple and perfect. I drop to my knee.
Her hands press to her lips, and I see that gaudy ring on her hand glinting back at me. It represents coercion and deception, all the wrong reasons for a marriage that should be filled with love. We have lived through lies for too long. I’m ready for this to be honest, not another sham. I’m so ready for her to take it off. Her eyes have already welled with tears and I haven’t even spoken yet.
I pull out a small box from my pocket. Colorful and wrapped in comic book strips.
All my nerves seep out of me. I am filled with something else, something warm and pure that makes me never want to leave this moment.
“Lily Calloway, will you marry me, for real this time?”
I open the box, and a ruby cut into a heart sparkles back at her. Diamonds circle it.
“Yes!” She jumps a little, tears seeping out of the corners of her eyes. I rise to my feet, and with one kiss, I have her planted firmly back on Earth. She tangles her fingers in my hair and lets me deepen the kiss.
When I part from her, she begins yanking at her gaudy ring. She gets wild-eyed. “Lo, it’s not coming off,” she panics. “It’s not coming off!”
“Calm down,” I coax. I test it out, but it’s tight around her swollen finger. Maybe she is gaining some weight. I kiss her temple and take her hand in mine, leading her to the bathroom. We spend a couple of minutes soaking her finger in soap before the ring comes loose and clinks on the counter.
What if my ring doesn’t fit her?
She reaches for the box, and I grab it from her. “Let me,” I say.
She holds out her hand. The ring slides effortlessly, the leftover soap on her finger probably helping. She appraises the ruby and the band for a long moment. “I love it, Lo.” Her eyes twinkle as they meet mine. “I love you more.”
After all we’ve been through. Years and years of mistakes, it feels like a dream to be here in this moment. Right now. Sober. Alive. With her.
I pull her to me, and I lean in for a kiss. Her hand instinctively raises and slides across the back of my shoulders. When we break apart, I rest my forehead to hers. Our breaths mingle and I say, “I have another proposal. Or…more like a confession.”
“Is it bad?” she whispers.
She doesn’t pull away from our closeness and her eyes flit to my lips. “I can handle it.”
“I don’t know about that.”
Her lips twitch as she recognizes the tone of my voice. Oh, how I do love teasing her.
I nudge my nose with hers before my lips find her ear. I nip it softly before I say, “I confess, that I’d very much like to make love to you.” My heart does a dance at the last words. We never say make love. We fuck. We screw. We bang. Making love is for the soft-hearted without tar-coated pasts. Lily claims she doesn’t deserve to make love, but I’m determined to change her attitude.
“Is it different than f**king?” she asks me with wide eyes.
“Very much so.”
Frown lines crease her forehead. “How?”
“I’ll show you.”
Her eyes brighten with possibilities, but she doesn’t insist, doesn’t ask or compel me for more. She waits for me.
Just as I asked.