She wheeled around, staring dangerously at him, “You were with her again this afternoon.” She said with certainty.
“Who told you that?”
“What difference does that make?” She demanded. “We agreed. No more seeing ‘friends’ without letting each other know. Especially her.”
He rolled his eyes, “We've been over this. We've known each other for years, there’s nothing else to it.”
“If it’s harmless, then why did you keep it secret?” She shot back, with a mixture of venom and heartbreak in her voice. “I thought I meant more to you than that.”
This situation had gone horribly sideways. Eli had spent literally months planning this night, had spent sleepless nights thinking about every minute detail, and wrestling endlessly with what he would say. After a full year of bliss with Caroline, he wanted to make this night a special celebration. Now though, things had gone almost comically off track. He chuckled almost in spite of himself at the hilarity of his predicament. This turned out to be a horrible mistake.
“You know what,” she said with disgust, “forget it. I’m sure you've got a million reasons why she’s so special and important and years of memories together and blah blah blah.” She stomped off again, this time with even more speed.
“Stop!” The word left his mouth so forcefully that it astonished even Eli. He had always been a quiet man, never demanding or raising his voice, even in their worst arguments. It was one of the reasons she loved him so dearly.
Caroline turned back, equally stunned by the force of the command.
“Do you want to know what I said to her this afternoon?” He approached her again, this time slowly, locking eyes as he mustered every ounce of courage within him. “I told her we wouldn't be hanging out any more like we used to. I told her that in spite of all the amazing times we've had together over the years, the fact is I can’t be a friend to her anymore like I used to.” He hesitated; the last piece he had not at all intended to share in this moment. But what the hell, someone else was already sitting at their table, eating the dinner he had planned to have this conversation over.
“…because I’m getting married.”
She stared quizzically at him for a moment. As the realization dawned, all the tension suddenly dissolved from her face and posture. He walked right up to her, fumbling in his pocket. He quickly produced the tiny jewelry box.
She froze in excitement. She knew he had been secretly dying to talk to her about something for weeks. She had been hoping, even suspecting that this was coming, but still refused to give into the hope until she was sure. At this moment, Caroline knew she was about to hear the words she’d been desperately waiting to hear since a month after they started dating.
A waiter came out to investigate, looking first at the maître d’, then out to the parking lot. The maître d’ chuckled, “Looks like the kid pulled out the win after all.”