For your richer and my poorer.

ring

“Today. I’ll tell him today no matter what,” I told my reflection.

‘That’s what you said the last ten times’ a voice in my head said. I ignored it and stared at my reflection in the mirror. Blue eyes stared back at me, wide open in terror and my brown bangs were plastered to my forehead by the film of sweat collecting there. I checked the clock on the table beside the bed. It showed quarter to eight, fifteen minutes before Kyle was due to pick me up. I wasn’t even dressed yet. I sighed and turned to the bed where a beautiful black gown lay in a bag. I took it out of the bag and ran my hand down the silky-soft material marveling at its beauty. My eye caught the price tag still attached to the dress and the number of zeroes on it made my stomach lurch. I put it on carefully and tucked the price tag out of sight but I could still feel it pressing on my shoulder blade, reminding me that my Cinderella fantasy was a ticking time bomb on the verge of explosion.

It’ll be okay. You’ll return the dress tomorrow and it’ll still be in great shape,” I said to myself.

‘Right. Unless you trip on the sidewalk and rip it,’ the annoying voice in my head said again. The doorbell rang just then, halting the snide retort I was about to tell my conscience. I put my hair up hastily and went to the door.

“Hie beautiful,” Kyle said giving me a quick kiss when I opened the door for him. He was breathtakingly handsome in a black suit paired with a lilac shirt that had the top buttons undone and brought a spark to his blue-gray eyes.  And that smile, that smile that melted my heart and vanished all logical thoughts from my head.

Be still my beating heart.

I savored his smile and the look of pure adoration in his eyes, committing them to memory. It would probably be the last time he would look at me like that or smile at me. His brow furrowed and he looked at me worriedly.

“What’s wrong Em?” he asked. My distress must have shown on my face. I couldn’t go to dinner with him and pretend everything was alright. I had to tell him the truth now. But how?

Oh hey hun. I just thought you should know that I lost my job at the bank like three months ago and now I’m a waitress at a really crappy diner downtown with a crappier pay and the crappiest tips. Oh, oh, oh and remember that time you wanted to take me with you to the Hamptons and I said I couldn’t go because my aunt Betty was sick and I had to go to the country and look after her? Well, there is no aunt Betty, I just didn’t have a way of borrowing clothes from a shop for more than a month and getting away with keeping the tags on so I could return them after, because, you know, that’s what I do whenever we have a date, borrow clothes from the store and keep the tags on so I can return them, like this dress I’m wearing today because I can’t afford to actually buy them since every dime I make at the diner goes to my rent.

That sounded terrible even to me. Later. I would tell him later once I figured out what the hell I was going to say. I plastered a smile on my face and forced my voice to be cheery.

“I’m okay Kyle,” I said. He still didn’t look convinced and he studied my face closely.

“Are you sure love? Because if you don’t want to go I’ll understand and we can stay in, order some pizza, watch a movie?” he said smiling at me.

Riggghht.  On what telly? The second worst thing to telling Kyle that I was broke would be letting him into my tiny apartment which had zero to no furniture or appliances. I had managed to keep him out of it in the past few months with excuses so that he wouldn’t start asking me where all the furniture went. I shook my head firmly.

“No. You said this dinner is really important so we’re going.”

“Your presence is the only important thing about this dinner. As long as I’m with you, I don’t care if we’re in a five star restaurant or in a cave under a mountain,” Kyle said.

A cave, now wouldn’t that be nice. No electricity bills, free bath water from a nearby stream, wild squirrels cooked on the fire for dinner…

“Emily?”

I snapped out of my caveman reverie and pushed him gently away from the door, stepped out behind him and locked up.

“I’m really okay, let’s go,” I said smiling up at him. He looked at me silently for a few seconds then smiled and kissed my forehead lightly. He held my hand as we went down to the car park and I think I may have stopped breathing when he led me to a white limousine. He held the door open for me but I just stood, frozen, waiting for him to call his bluff and shut the limo door then take me to his Aston Martin but he kept waiting until I tentatively folded myself into the limo. Kyle came in and closed the door and the limo started moving.

I was in a state of shock and I didn’t say anything for a while.

“You don’t like the limo,” Kyle said quietly beside me. I looked at him and the miserable expression on his face broke my heart.

“I really wanted to make today a day you won’t ever forget,” he said again. Oh I think I already got that covered.

I took his hand in mine. “I love it and I love you. Thank you, it’s really beautiful.”

He brightened up a bit at my words and I forced myself to keep talking and laughing until we got to the restaurant. We were led to our table and our food came shortly after we ordered. I could barely get a bite in, apprehension had tied my stomach up in knots. Kyle reached over and took my hand and stroked it lightly with his fingers.

“I know something’s bothering you and I wish you would tell me so that I can help you but I won’t force you to say it. I just want you to know that when you’re ready to talk, I’m here to listen, anytime, every time.”

I took a deep breath. Here goes nothing.

“I actually do have something to tell you,” I said. Kyle put down his fork and took my other hand and he nodded to show me that I had his full attention. I looked into his eyes, the blue-gray orbs that reminded me of a sky clearing after a storm and suddenly I was choking up. I could feel tears pricking the insides of my eyelids threatening to spill and I stood up abruptly mumbling that I had to go to the bathroom and I practically ran there before the traitorous tears could spill and ruin my cheap mascara.

After five minutes, I was composed again and I re-psyched myself to go back to Kyle and face the music. When I got to our table, he wasn’t there and for a second I panicked, thinking he had probably guessed what I wanted to tell him and walked out on me before he could hear my sob story then I saw the three words he had written on a paper napkin that he placed next to my plate;

Be right back.

As I was sitting, the lights in the restaurant dimmed and a single bright beam of light focused on a figure somewhere near the center. It was Kyle.

Oh Lord what’s he doing now? I didn’t have to wonder long.

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I’m Kyle Granger. I’m sorry to interrupt your evening and I’m hoping you can put up with me for a few minutes. I would like to sing a special song for the special lady who won my heart. Say ‘hie’ Emily,” he said and another spotlight washed over me. My face turned a deep red as everyone in the restaurant turned to look at me and I gave a tentative wave and stared daggers at Kyle who just flashed a big grin at me. The spotlight finally swung away from me and Kyle was again the center of attention.

“This is for you Em,” he said then he began to sing. Kyle had a beautiful voice and whenever he sang to me I would stare at him mesmerized and my heart would melt. Everyone in the restaurant was under his spell and all eyes were on him but his gaze never wavered from mine and as I watched him, the rest of the world melted away until it was just him and I.

‘What would I do without your smart mouth,

Drawing me in and you kicking me out?

You’ve got my head spinning,

No kidding, I can’t pin you down.

What’s going on in that beautiful mind?

I’m on your magical mystery ride

And I’m so dizzy,

Don’t know what hit me, but I’ll be alright.

 

My head’s under water

But I’m breathing fine

You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind

 

‘Cause all of me,

Loves all of you

Love your curves and all your edges.

All your perfect imperfections.

Give your all to me

I’ll give my all to you

You’re my end and my beginning

Even when I lose I’m winning.

‘Cause I give you all of me

And you give me all of you, oh oh.

 

How many times do I have to tell you?

Even when you’re crying you’re beautiful too.

The world is beating you down,

I’m around through every mood.

You’re my downfall, you’re my muse

My worst distraction, my rhythm and blues

I can’t stop singing, it’s ringing, in my head for you

 

My head’s under water

But I’m breathing fine

You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind

 

‘Cause all of me

Loves all of you

Love your curves and all your edges

All your perfect imperfections

Give your all to me

I’ll give my all to you

You’re my end and my beginning

Even when I lose I’m winning

‘Cause I give you all of me

And you give me all of you, oh oh

 

Give me all of you

Cards on the table, we’re both showing hearts

Risking it all, though it’s hard

 

‘Cause all of me

Loves all of you

Love your curves and all your edges

All your perfect imperfections

Give your all to me

I’ll give my all to you

You’re my end and my beginning

Even when I lose I’m winning

‘Cause I give you all of me

And you give me all of you

I give you all of me

And you give me all of you, oh oh

 

And suddenly Kyle was in front of me. I was so caught up with his wonderful singing that I hadn’t even noticed that he’d been moving towards me the whole time. He smiled at me and I smiled back, a genuine smile this time but it vanished when I saw him go down on one knee.

“I love you Em. You’ve shown me what true love is over the past two years and made me the happiest man alive. I love and cherish every moment we are together, every conversation we have, every smile you give me and the sound of your laughter. I spent most of my life digging, looking for the most expensive treasure and I found gold, rubies, diamonds but then I found you, a rare jewel, more exquisite than the rest and priceless and I knew then that you were the one.”

“You are loving and humble.”

More like poor.

“Honest and kind.”

As honest as Pinocchio with a foot long nose.

“And nothing would make me happier than to have the honor of having you as mine. Will you marry me Emily Troth?” he said presenting me with a ring.

Oh.My.God.

Everyone started clapping excitedly and my heart pounded so hard against my chest I was afraid it would jump out and land on Kyle’s lap.

“Em?” he whispered looking nervous. I couldn’t say yes, it wouldn’t be fair to him. He didn’t know the real me and I had secrets the size of mountains. I couldn’t start a life with him built on lies. Oh but I loved him, I loved him so much. Tears started running down my face dislodging my mascara and leaving a trail of black lines on my cheeks but I didn’t care. Kyle looked worriedly at me then his head drooped sadly. An awkward silence fell over the restaurant.

“I’m so sorry Em. I didn’t mean to rush you into this and make you…” he began but I tilted his head up and kissed him forgetting everything for a few blissful moments. People started clapping and cheering loudly again pulling me out of my moment of bliss.

I pulled away from Kyle slightly and whispered to him. “I love you.” Then I ran.

He found me sitting on the pavement, a block away from the restaurant. I had tripped on my dress and it ripped then my shoe broke halting any attempts at an escape. So I sat there, despairing over the expensive dress I now had to pay for and Kyle found me with my head in my hands. He sat down next to me and put his arm around my waist and I cried onto his shoulder. He held me quietly as I poured my heart out to him and finally told him about my financial tsunami and he didn’t say a word when I was done. He called the limo driver and helped me into the car and we rode in silence.

The silence was deafening and I couldn’t stand not knowing what he was thinking. He didn’t touch me or hold my hand as he always liked to do and when we finally arrived at my apartment I thanked him for the ride and walked into the building holding up my torn dress and carrying my shoes in my hands with as much dignity as I could muster. He didn’t follow me in and when I got to my room, I removed the dress, washed off the makeup, washed my feet and changed into my pajamas with Buzz Lightyear and Woody and a whole bunch of other characters from the Toy Story animation on it and  climbed into bed determined to forget everything just for the night then I would worry about it tomorrow.

An hour later I was still tossing and turning so I tuned in to the radio and the opening lyrics of John Legend’s All of me flooded my room. The universe had a crappy sense of humor. I switched it off and poured myself a glass of water then walked over to the window with it. I had a view of the main road from my apartment and my heart jumped into my throat when I saw the white limo on the curb. Kyle was still here! Dare I hope that he was still here because he still loved me? There was only one way to find out. I went over to my door and opened it and jumped out of my skin when I saw someone sitting by my doorway on the floor.

“Kyle?” He looked up at me with a sad smile and stood up. Seconds passed while we stood there staring at each other until I opened the door wider and invited him in. I led him over to the single couch but he insisted that I sit on it while he sat on the floor. We argued over it until we eventually both ended up on the floor.

“I’m so sorry Kyle,” I said solemnly.

“Sorry for what exactly?”

“For all the lies I told you. I know….”

“I don’t care about that,” he said cutting into my sentence.

Okayyy.

“What do you care about then?” I asked.

“You. I care about you,” he said without missing a beat.

“Why?”

“Because I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you,” he said then he blew out a breath and took out a box from his pocket.

“I understand if you’re not ready for this but please hold on to the ring until you are,” he said placing it in my hand.

“But what about the…” I began to protest and he interrupted me again.

“I told you, I don’t care about that. I wish you had told me sooner. I’m here for you, always. If you have a problem, I’m here to listen and help in any way I can. It breaks my heart that you kept this to yourself all this time and I was too consumed with enjoying your presence that I didn’t even notice that something was troubling you. For that I am truly sorry and I will make up for it for the rest of my life if you’ll let me.” He planted a kiss on my forehead and stood pulling me up with him.

“I love you so much. I won’t pressure you. Think about it and call me but please call me soon. I can’t bear being without you for long,” he said smiling at me then he strode over to the door.

“Kyle, wait,” I said turning to the door. He stopped and turned around to face me. I took a deep breath and pressed the ring box to my chest.

“Yes.” I said.

“Yes?” he asked walking back to me.

“Yes, I’ll marry you.” He smiled and closed the distance between us then picked me up and held me tightly.

“I’m the luckiest man alive,” he said.

I shook my head. “No, I’m the luckiest girl alive.”

“Promise me you won’t keep anything from me again? Promise me you won’t suffer in silence when I’m there to help you,” he said.

“I promise,” I said, “I was just embarrassed and I couldn’t ask you for money.”

“Well now you won’t have to because it’ll be our money. What’s mine is yours,” he said.

“Slow down Mister, we aren’t married yet.”

“Say the word and I’ll have a priest here in five seconds.”

I laughed into the crook of his neck and shook my head.

“Why didn’t you go when I left?” I asked him.

“I couldn’t let you go,” he replied.

“So you came and sat outside my door?” He nodded.

“You’re such a stalker,” I teased him.

“I’m, your stalker,” he said defensively. “And where were you going when you found me outside your door?”

“I saw the limo through the window so I was going to talk to you and see if maybe…” I trailed off.

“If you could win me back?” he asked and I nodded.

“Baby, you never lost me.”

My heart skipped a beat and I held on tighter to him.

“Just promise you’ll never leave me. It hurt so much to watch you walk away from me in the restaurant and when I dropped you off,” he said.

“I promise to stay with you through thick and thin,” I said.

“In sickness and in health?” he asked smiling.

I smiled and nodded, “For your richer and my poorer.”

“For better or worse,” he said smiling as he pulled away to look at me.

“You may now kiss the girl in Toy Story pajamas.” And he smiled and kissed me.

The End

***

Finally! It feels good to write again and naturally I’m writing this at 3 a.m fueled by a packet of biscuits and some tea (yummy). As promised, though a little (okay, that’s a lie) a lot overdue, here’s the first story for the Self Challenge I told y’all about a couple of posts back. I would be ever so grateful if you could tell me what you think.

This one was partly inspired by a very awkward moment my friend and I had involving $50 dollars and some jackets lool. And don’t you just love John Legend’s songs? #sigh, I know I do. I was so glad to find an excuse to post those lyrics somewhere without looking like an obsessive idiot haha. Maybe some day I’ll write a story and tell you why I like the song featured in this story in particular.

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