Dear J, once I got the go ahead from Blue, I tracked Ruby down to talk to her. I know how important it is to make sure we’re all on the same page regarding this. The last thing I would ever want is to make Ruby unhappy.
“… And so, I wanted to talk to you before I actually propose. You’re really important to me, Ruby. I love you and I care about how you feel.”
It was immediately apparent that Ruby was trying to hide some kind of smirk. The joy in her eyes was unmistakable.
“Of course it’s okay with me,” she enthused as if there could be no other answer. “I’ve been calling you ‘dad’ behind your back for at least three years already.
I couldn’t help but grin at her when she said that. My heart was pretty much bursting with pride and happiness that this kid thought so much of me.
“I’m so glad to hear that,” I said. “I really just want you and Blue to be comfortable with everything.”
“Oh, we are,” she assured me. “Now you just have to sweep my mom off her feet!”
Hopefully, that wouldn’t be the hard part. “Well, you know, she took that quiz in Fan Weekly and she matched up to me perfectly.”
“I know, I read the questions to her,” she giggled.
That’s when it occurred to me just how much Ruby and Blue may have been working behind the scenes to get Leela and I together. Normally, this may have bothered me, but not this time. Instead, I was eternally grateful because I really felt like Leela was my soulmate.
“So, do you have any suggestions for me?”
She put a finger to her chin as if deep in thought. “Hmmm…. All I can say is, don’t beat around the bush. She likes it when people get straight to the point. But don’t get straight to the point right away…. be romantic, too. Just, you know, don’t fart around with it.”
Who could ever go wrong with advice like that?
When Leela was done at the bakery and had changed, I picked her up. The limo driver already knew where we were going, so I didn’t spill anything unnecessarily in front of her.
As the car pulled up to the curb, I was the one to open Leela’s door and walk with her down to the water. There was a sailboat in the distance which kind of added to the serenity of the spot.
“This is where we shared our first kiss,” Leela said, her voice soft, the words caressing me and smoothing out my frayed nerves.
As we watched the boat for a few more minutes, I took her delicate hand in mine, entwining my fingers with hers. With my thumb, I could feel the silkiness of her skin and thinking about that almost made me forget why we were there in the first place.
Had I waited long enough before getting straight to the point? Would Ruby be urging me on? Or would she be rolling her eyes that I hadn’t asked for Leela’s hand yet?
Clearly, I was driving myself insane. I just needed to do this.
Dropping to one knee, I opened the ring box, displaying the contents for her.
“Leela, you are my best friend but more than that, I know you’re the only one I want to share the rest of my life with. I can’t imagine growing old with anyone else. The fact is, I don’t want to. And I know my life will never be complete without you beside me to share it. There’s so much I love about you. I realize that you deserve the very best, someone who will back you up unconditionally, let you grow without barriers, and love you always. Will you let me be the one?”
My heart stopped beating and I held my breath waiting for her to respond. For a minute, I thought maybe this was a big mistake and that she would turn me down.
But, all of a sudden, she grinned from ear to ear as tears filled her eyes and said, “You’re in my heart to stay, Leo. I love you dearly and I always will. Of course I’ll marry you.”
I was grinning now, too, as I slid the diamond ring onto her slender finger. It shone brilliantly against her skin.
Later on, we went back to her lake house. We had the house to ourselves as the girls were entertaining themselves tonight. I was supposed to meet them back at my house in a few hours.
To celebrate the occasion of our engagement, Leela and I (mostly Leela, to be honest) made a really terrific grilled salmon, potatoes and grilled zucchini. It was delicious. I think. I spent most of the time watching her eat.
And I did the dishes as a thank you for the fantastic dinner.
Afterwards, we moved to the deck where we snuggled and talked quietly about our future together.
This was one of the best days of my life and I was sorry when I had to end it and go home.
I was walking on clouds as I entered the house. I couln’t wait to tell the girls about the engagement. Surprisingly, though, all the lights were on even though it was so late. I expected that Ruby and Blue would be in their pajamas and in the TV room with a big bowl of popcorn or something.
Instead, I heard an all too familiar voice in the living room and inwardly groaned.
As I suspected, Chrissy was here and she was chatting up a storm with Ruby and Blue.
The girls’ faces were turned away from me, so I couldn’t see their expressions, but my heart had plummeted to my shoes as I realized this was the first time Blue was meeting her mother.
What could she be thinking, coming here like this so unexpectedly and uninvited? Anger began to bubble beneath the surface of my skin, threatening to burst out at any minute.
“Oh, hi, Leo,” she said as if this was totally normal.
Between gritted teeth, I said, “Hello, Chrissy. What brings you here at this time of night?”
Smiling at me, she said, “Well, I was released from rehab and decided to pay a visit. Blue looks real good.”
Blue didn’t say anything, but seemed to be regarding Chrissy with caution. Ruby had a slight, forced smile on her face that I’m sure she used because she thought it was polite.
“Blue, Ruby, go upstairs and get ready for bed. I’ll be up in a minute,” I said, quickly stepping in to gain some control.
Blue looked questioningly at me, but I gave her my ‘just do what I say’ face. She and Ruby slipped past me. When I heard their footsteps upstairs and Blue’s door closing, I turned back to Chrissy.
“We need to talk,” I growled.