The Unhoneymooners

Page 47

When I pull back and smile at her like everything is fine, I can sense the skepticism lingering in her posture, how she holds herself carefully like she doesn’t want to make a wrong move. Even if Olive thinks I was going to propose, she still hasn’t said anything like I would say yes, you know or I was waiting for you to ask, so maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t manage to get the words out. I know that her view of marriage has been marred by her parents and by Ami and Dane, but I also like to think that I’ve changed her views on long-term commitment. I love her wildly. I want this—want to marry her—but I have to accept the reality that it isn’t what she wants, and we can live just as happily together forever without that ceremony binding us.

God, my brain is a blender all of a sudden.

She lays down in the sand, pulling me gently back so that she can curl on her side, her head to my chest. “I love you,” she says simply.

“I love you, too.”

“Whatever you were going to say—”

“Sweetheart, let it go.”

She laughs, kissing my neck. “Okay. Fine.”

We need a new subject, something to help us limp away from this crash.

“You really like Lucas, don’t you?” I ask. It had taken Ami almost a year to start dating again after the divorce. Dane held out hope that she’d take him back and that they could work things out, but I didn’t blame her for not wanting to try. My brother didn’t just lose Ami’s trust in all this; he lost mine, too. Things between us have slowly gotten better, but we still have a long way to go.

“I do. He’s good for her. I’m glad you introduced them.”

I didn’t think Olive would ever welcome another guy into her sister’s life. She was protective at first, but at dinner one night, Lucas—doctor, adventure seeker, and widowed father of the most adorable four-year-old I’ve ever seen—won her over.

“Ethan?” she says quietly, pressing small kisses up my neck and along my jaw.


She holds her breath and then lets it out in a shaky exhale. “I saw the ugliest dress the other day.”

I wait for her to continue, admittedly confused, but finally have to prompt her. “Trust me, I’m riveted. Tell me more.”

She laughs, pinching my waist. “Listen. It was this horrific orange. Sort of fuzzy? Like, velvet, but not. Something between velvet and felt. Velvelt.”

“This story keeps getting better.”

Laughing again, she bares her teeth against my jaw. “I was thinking we could get it for Ami. As payback.”

I turn my face to hers. Up close she’s only individual features: enormous brown eyes, full red mouth, high cheekbones, gently sloping nose. “What?”

She rolls her eyes and growls. When she speaks, I see her bravery; it’s the same Olive who blindly jumped from a platform to sail through the forest. “I’m saying . . . maybe if we got married she would have to wear the ugly dress this time.”

Struck dumb, all I can manage is, “You want to get married?”

Suddenly unsure of herself, Olive pulls back. “Don’t you?”

“Yes. Totally. Absolutely.” I trip over my words, gathering her back close to me. “I didn’t think—from earlier—I thought you weren’t—”

She looks directly at me, chin up. “I do.”

Olive slides over onto me, cupping my face. “I think my joke earlier was totally Freudian. I thought maybe you would. But then we’ve been here a few days and you didn’t. And then I was like, why shouldn’t I do it? There’s no rule book that it has to be the man.”

I reach into my pocket and pull out the tiny box. “It’s true—it doesn’t have to be me, and you can totally get down on one knee to propose, but just so you know, I don’t think this ring would fit me.”

She squeals, rising to her knees to take the box. “For me?”

“I mean, only if you want it. I can go ask someone else if you—”

Olive shoves me, laughing. If I’m not mistaken, her eyes are a little misty. She opens the box and slides her hand over her mouth when she sees the delicate band lined with a halo of diamonds, the emerald-cut stone cradled in the center. I’ll admit, I’m proud of myself—it is a pretty great ring.

“Are you crying?” I ask, grinning. Drawing intensely positive emotion out of this woman makes me feel godlike.

But of course Olive would never admit to happy tears. “No.”

I squint at her. “You sure?”

“Yes.” She valiantly works to clear her eyes.

“I mean”—I lean in for a closer look—“it looks like you might be.”

“Shut up.”

Gently, I kiss the corner of her mouth. “Will you marry me, Oscar Olivia Torres?”

Her eyes close and a tear breaks loose. “Yes.”

Smiling, I kiss the other side of her mouth and then slide the ring on her finger. We both look down at it. “Do you like it?”

Her voice shakes. “Um. Yeah.”

“Are you usually better at making conversation than you are with me?”

She laughs, tackling me. The sand is still warm at my back, and this little bundle of fire is hot all along my front and I burst out laughing, too. What a ridiculous, silly, mistake-ridden proposal that was.

It was absolutely perfect.

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