I was awoken in the middle of the night from a phone call. This sure brought back bad memories, but when I glanced at the screen it said Ayesha.
“Hello?” I asked, wondering if she was calling to give good news. She had been due the day before.
“J-Jacob?” Ayesha’s voice sounded strained and I could hear a baby squalling in the background. “Jacob…I am so sorry to wake you up but I don’t know what to do… “
She started crying and I asked her if she were at the hospital or at home. As soon as she said home, I promised I’d be there right away.
I wound up staying at her house for four days, helping take care of baby Lee. Ayesha had never been much of a maternal type. When other girls played with dolls, she had been playing basketball.
“Thank you so much,” she constantly told me. “I don’t know what I’d have done without you!”
“I don’t mind,” I promised, feeding Lee a bottle. “He’s a sweetie.”
“Could you just show me again how to change a diaper…?”
Nicky had been annoyed at first when she found out I was staying at another girl’s house but when Ayesha invited her over and I showed Nicky I was staying on the couch, she relaxed.
Nevertheless, she was very happy the day she drove me back to my home. “I guess it’s stupid, being jealous,” Nicky muttered as she parked the car.
I reached over and took her hand. “You’re the only one I have eyes for.” When we got out of the car, I scooped her into my arms and carried her into my house. She giggled the entire way.
When we went inside, I wanted so bad for this to happen again. In the near future. After a wedding. Carrying Nicky as my bride over my threshold was just a beautiful fantasy, but one that would have to remain a fantasy for a while. I couldn’t afford a bigger house, and I wanted to wait until I could take her over the threshold of a proper house.
Nicky wasn’t much for careers and admitted she didn’t plan on doing much outside her job at the spa. She liked working at the spa, and enjoyed the discounts–especially on manicures. She rarely wore anything other than a baggy shirt and loose pants, but she was a girly-girl when it came to dressing up. Maybe it was because she was a bit embarrassed about her muscles. Growing up playing sports and working out had given her a lot of muscles but I liked them. I even convinced her to wear sleeveless dresses.
Though sometimes I worried when I talked about kids, she never really seemed interested. I wanted to ask her if she wanted to have kids but didn’t want to scare her off. When I finally got the courage, all she said was ‘Sure’. Not the most comforting of answers, but it was better than a flat out ‘no’. Right?
Nicky seized the flowers, breathing in the scent. We were in the park, celebrating our eight month anniversary. She threw her arms around me, hugging tightly. “You are the sweetest guy in the world,” she sighed happily. “I’m so lucky.”
“I’m the lucky one,” I said quietly. It was hard to explain to her how much she meant to me. I tried my best, telling her I loved her, how beautiful she was, and sometimes I even gave her gifts. Nothing big, since I was saving up, but she was pleased with the small presents like flowers.
At least… I thought she was pleased with small things. About a month after that day in the park, we returned to my house for some cuddling on my new sofa.
As I pulled her close against me, she started talking about France. She had never mentioned France before so it came to me as a surprise.
“Haven’t you ever wanted to visit?” she asked, looking up at me with big brown eyes.
“I’ve never really thought about travelling,” I admitted.
Nicky kissed my forehead then put her head on my shoulder. “I was thinking maybe we could go soon. Wouldn’t it be romantic?”
Yes, I thought, closing my eyes. Going to France with her would be very romantic. I wanted to take her on this trip so badly, but I knew I’d never be able to afford it and still be able to afford a new house. I was planning on proposing to her on our one year anniversary. Judging from my finances, I’d be able to buy a house by then. Well… a plot. But I’d be able to afford to have Pauline build a small house on that land, with room to grow as our family grew.
“Let’s go!” Nicky suddenly exclaimed.
I chuckled slightly. “I’d love to, but I can’t afford it.”
Nicky rolled her eyes and gave me a little tickle. “I’m not saying we should go right this second. Maybe in a few months, and I’d help pay of course. In three months we’ll have been together for a year. Let’s go then.”
My heart dropped slightly. “Well–“
“Oh please! I’m sure between the two of us, we’ll be able to afford plane tickets and a hotel room. And Mrs. Bee will give you the time off, won’t she?” Before I could answer, she flung her arms around me and kissed quite passionately. I started melting in her arms.
“Okay,” I said breathlessly. “As long as we both chip in,” I added, reminding her that I didn’t have much.
As we kissed, I started thinking that perhaps this would be a good idea. France would be a terrific place to propose. Yeah, I thought, starting to get excited. It would be the perfect ending to a romantic trip.
Elouia gladly agreed to give me a week off for the trip, and I started calling vacation agencies. The trip wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be but would still put me back quite a bit.
It’s not as if we have to get married right after I propose, I thought despairingly. However, after going over my finances I decided to hold off on the proposal.
I admit it. I am an old-fashioned guy. I wasn’t planning on… well, you know. Doing that before marriage. I knew not many people thought that way these days but it was how I felt. How I used to feel. Love sure changed a guy.
We were only a month away from our trip to France when it happened. We had spent the day at the local museum where she tried patiently explaining to me the artwork. I admit, I had no idea what this stuff was. I much preferred artwork done by children.
All that mattered to me was making her happy. After a while she noticed I wasn’t really ‘getting’ the artwork so she suggested we head back to her place. I agreed, a bit embarrassed.
She changed right away, mumbling something about feeling shy in the dress. “You looked beautiful though,” I told her, and was pleased that she blushed.
“I’m just not used to sleeveless clothes.” She slid into her bed and pat the space next to her. I sat down, snuggling up close to her. She lived in a small duplex, but her bed was much bigger than mine.
The tension between us was electric. Part of me had wanted this for a long time, but I was so scared. I was new to all this. This was my first real relationship. Nicky had had boyfriends in the past, and I wasn’t sure how far she had gone but I knew she was a bit more experienced than me.
I wanted this, I wanted her. I was head over heels in love with her, and knew we were meant for each other.
Afterward we just looked at each other for a while. She whispered that she loved me before she pulled close and fell asleep, her head on my arm. I put my other arm around her, closing my eyes, feeling content.
“LOOK! Look! Jacob! Look! It’s France! Look!”
“No you’re not, you’re covering your eyes with your hands.”
“You’re such a scaredy-cat. Look out the window!”
“There’s a reason I gave you the window seat.”
As soon as I took a quick peek, I buried my face back in my hands. “There! I looked! Ohhhh, we’re going to crash…”
“We’re landing, silly.”
“Let me know when this is over!”
Nicky knew I was a complete coward, so after we got off the plane and headed to our hotel, she sweetly teased me. “Maybe we should take a helicopter ride later,” she said, kissing my cheek. “Or maybe hike to the top of the mountain…”
“You’re such a meanie!” I said, poking her side. “Meanie, meanie, meanie!”
“Real mature. You spend too much time with the youngsters,” she laughed, pulling me against her body.
“When we get to our hotel room I’ll show you how adults should act,” she added as a whisper into my ear. I went so read I probably looked like a tomato.
Still, we spent the entire evening in our hotel room and didn’t get out to see the sights until morning. I wasn’t complaining.
In the morning we went to the local cafe for breakfast. I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like the food, but surprisingly I enjoyed it a lot.
We spent the rest of the morning in the town square, kissing quite a bit and snapping pictures with the little disposable camera I had bought from the store.
“Let’s go back to the hotel,” Nicky suggested after lunch but I shook my head.
“I want to see the sights. Tonight we can spend lots of time at the hotel.” I wriggled my eyebrows and she grinned.
We strolled through town and ended up at a large, beautiful bridge spanning a river. We took a few pictures before she fell into my arms to give me a big kiss.
“I’m having the time of my life,” she said, nuzzling against me. “How about you?”
“It’s easy to have the time of your life, when you’re with the love of your life,” I said and she looked slightly teary-eyed at that.
“You’re so sweet to me, Jake. I don’t–“
“No!” I put a finger over her lips. “Don’t say you don’t deserve me, because you do. And so much more.”
She flung her arms around me and we wound up back at the hotel. I certainly didn’t mind that too much, but I hoped we’d take the time to take in more sights! Nicky was a bit of a… physical girl. She enjoyed kissing, and enjoyed… that. Ever since that first time together–okay, well never mind. That’s not important.
I was glad when she agreed we should try to spend more time visiting the local places.
On day three we toured the countryside and went to the museum. I may not have understood artwork, but I did like seeing pieces of history. We spent a good hour there before Nicky got an idea from one of the pieces of furniture on display.
We spent the rest of the day back at our hotel.
On day four she did take a helicopter ride while I bought some souvenirs from the local shop. Plus a little something for Nicky.
After lunch we went to the local nectary to do some tasting and maybe buy a bottle to take home. Tomorrow was our last full day in France and I wanted to get something for my friends. I had bought a statue for Ayesha, and a small painting for the Bees, and thought some nectar for Aiden and Hannah would be a good idea since they had recently started a weekly romantic date together to keep their relationship fresh.
I didn’t try any of the nectar but Nicky enjoyed herself.
Even if she had a bit too much, which gave her some ideas of what we should do for the rest of the night.
Our last day, thankfully, was spent sightseeing. We took plenty of snapshots of each other and our only time in the hotel room was when we got back late at night.
After packing in the morning, we flew back home and as soon as I got home I fell onto my bed, fully dressed, and fell asleep from jet lag.
I had dreams about our trip, and dreams about the future. When I woke up, I trudged around the house, trying to come to some sort of decision. Proposing to her would be a big step, but we had already gone through so many steps. We were so happy together and marriage was, naturally, the next thing. I wanted to propose to her so badly…
But I knew she’d be unhappy in my tiny house, with no space. Right now I could afford a decent ring and an okay honeymoon, but no house. Or I could buy a bit of land and start on the house, but be unable to afford a ring or anything. I needed to wait, as hard as that would be.
I just had no idea how long it would be.
“Jacob, these are for you. They reminded me of you. Green and yellow, your favorite colors.”
“I can’t believe we’ve been for so long.”
“I love you, Nicky.”
“Love you too, Jake.”
“Nicky, I really don’t want to get in the ocean… it’s kinda… frightening…”
“Stop being such a coward, Jake. Sometimes I feel like I’m the guy in this relationship.”
“I didn’t mean it to sound bad! I’m sorry, Jacob, I’ve just been so wound up lately…I guess I need to relax more.”
“Does this help?”
“Mmm… oh yes. Your fingers are magic.”
“How about we watch the sun go down and the stars come out?”
“Jacob, you’re really too good to me.”
“You deserve the world, Nicky.”
“Jacob… I need to rell you something.”
“What is it, darling?”
“I love you.”
Three years. We had been together for three years. Three long, beautiful, wonderful years. Maybe not always wonderful, to be honest. We did occasionally fight but what couple didn’t? And sometimes I was worried I was boring her… for the past several months, she preferred spending more and more time alone. And several times when I called she wasn’t at home. Okay, that never meant anything.
There was also the fact she never wanted to talk about the future… we talked occasionally about moving in together but it was me who didn’t want to take that step. I wanted to be married, not roommates. Especially since her favorite thing to do was… well… you know.
But we were happy together, and I had enough money finally to do everything the right way. I knew the perfect place to do this, too.
We loved being at the beach. She liked swimming in the ocean and even sometimes convinced me to join her. I rarely went farther in than waist-deep, though.
“It’s too late to go swimming,” she said when we arrived. “We gonna watch the stars again?”
“Yes,” I said. “But I wanted to ask you something first.”
“What is it?”
“Just, promise me you won’t say anything until I’m done,” I asked, holding up my fingers.
Nicky giggled. “Okay, I promise.”
I got down on one knee. She looked surprised and I knew she was going to ask me what I was doing despite her promise, so I took a deep breath. “I love you,” I said.
I reached back to pull the box out of my pocket. “You are everything to me, and without you life would be nothing.”
“You’ve brought me more happiness than I ever thought possible. These past three years have been as close to perfection as I imagine anyone could get.”
“And the only thing I can imagine that would make it completely perfect is to spend the rest of my life with you.”
“Nicole Dowe… will you marry me?”