The Proposal (An excerpt from A Heart to Mend)

When Gladys stepped out of the gate, she looked up and down the quiet street. A limousine was standing a few yards away from her. Her eyes alighted on it in admiration as it drove slowly to a stop before her. The window directly before her wound down automatically in a replay of their first meeting.

“May I help you?” Edward’s smile was like the cat that got some cream.

“Edward! What is this?” She couldn’t help the exclamation.

Stepping out of the car, he put an arm around her waist and held the door open.

“Tonight is going to be one of the best memories we share. We own the night milady, and the limo is here for our exclusive delight.”

Edward bowed and gestured her to enter the luxury car. She did and he followed her in and closed the door, enfolding them in the cool leather interior. The driver carefully maneuvered away from the curb and into the street. When they arrived at their table in the restaurant at Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Gladys told herself this was definitely going to be a night to remember. The dinner passed in a blur of slow conversation and tender looks but nothing more.

They soon finished their dinner and moved to a secluded alcove in the bar. Edward swirled the Bailey’s Irish Cream in his cut glass tumbler while she sipped on a Chapman on the Rocks.

Gladys had guessed he was going to ask her to marry him or he wouldn’t have gone to so much trouble. She knew what her answer would be this time but now wondered if she’d got it mixed up. Edward put back his drink down and took hers to deposit beside it. Her heart raced faster than usual and she found it difficult looking him full in the face. He spread both palms and she placed her hands in them. Their fingers linked as he started to speak in a solemn tone.

“Gladys, I’ve had mixed life experiences, more bad than good but I don’t want the bad to influence my life going forward. I’ve become more willing to give people the benefit of the doubt since I met you. You’re the best thing that has ever happened to me. I want to be with you, I don’t want to run or hide anymore. Especially not from you Gladys, I love you.”

She felt the tears come to her eyes. This was the best thing he’d ever said to her. “I love you too Edward.” After what they’d been through, she cared about him so much more. She also loved how he got on with her family. All her brothers were his fans now.

Edward smiled at her, “I can’t believe that I have you, baby. I didn’t know it but I never had a full life before I met you.”

He’d simply gone through the motions but was too wounded to make the most of all that came his way. She’d healed his heart and made him whole again. Meeting her mother and brothers were just the cherry on top. He’d told her family last Christmas that he wanted to marry her. He’d almost let her go but the more he thought of it, the more he recognized the beginning of another phase of his life. He only had to accept it and he had.

“I am not perfect Gladys,” he continued. “I’ve had some experiences in this life that have shaped me differently from your usual man. I smoked, drank, did drugs and women. I have forgiven myself of these things and asked God’s forgiveness too but I still bear some scars.”

He brought up her left hand and kissed the back of it and then each finger in turn. Gladys heart began to beat faster in her chest. It was as if everything was moving in slow motion.

He dropped her hands and dipped two fingers in his pocket. “I don’t know if I am worthy to ask you this but I have been blessed in meeting you. You shone light in my life and reminded me that it’s not all about work and money. You are a beautiful soul and I love you. I am willing to share my life with you if you’ll have me.”

Gladys closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She opened them when she felt Edward release her hand and move off the banquette. He was kneeling at the edge with an open jewelry box clasped in both hands. The small diamond solitaire winked at her in the dim light of the bar. People were laughing and clapping but she felt the tears return. During dinner she’d imagined the proposal with him down on his knees. She felt her heart melting inside her and she wished she could hug him forever.

“Give me your hand Gladys.” Edward said.

She stretched her left hand. “Edward, I love you so much. This is very beautiful.”

“Just like you’re beautiful inside and out. He raised her fingers with one hand. “I promise never to hurt you. I’ve asked you this in my mind several times before but now it’s for real. I love you Gladys. Will you marry me please?”

“Yes I will. I love you so much Edward.” Their gaze caught and held. His heart shone from his eyes.

“I promise to love you till I die.” He slipped the ring onto her third finger and kissed it.

“I’ll be good to you too. You’ll never regret loving me or placing your trust on me.” Gladys raised him up and stepped into his arms with a long kiss. Some people in the bar stood up too and clapped enthusiastically. Afterwards they both turned with a smile for everyone and then Edward led her to the dancing floor.

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To read the whole novel, A Heart to Mend, order your copy from the following sites. The book is also available on Borders, Target, Booksamillion, and BooksonBoard; online or in stores. Happy Valentine...

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