I open my eyes and roll over, happy to be in my own bed. Rubbing a hand over my face, I turn to look at the window, which is blacking out the sun. Only the glow around the edge of the window tells me the sun’s up.
I drag my body up and reach a hand over to my nightstand. Finding my cell, I hit the power button and check the time. Four thirty in the afternoon. I see the little text icon in the top corner and unlock the screen to access it. A smile comes to my face when I see a message from Joey. I managed not to wake Joey when I got in at four in the morning from the hospital. And I must have slept through him leaving as well. It’s Friday so Joey has to work today. Thankfully, I don’t have to go back in until Monday morning, so I have the whole weekend to spend with my man. Thank God, I’m a resident. Those med school hours were the death of me.
Joey’s message is simple, but it makes my smile even wider. You wanna go out tonight? Call me.
Quickly, I hit the button for a new message and start typing on the digital keyboard. Absolutely. I’m up now, so call me when you get a chance and we can make plans.
I don’t get a response right away, but it’s not shocking considering he won’t be out of work for another half an hour. So I get out of bed and go to the bathroom to do my business and take a shower. When I finish all that, I see Joey has called me twice. Without thinking, I hit the call back button that will connect me to my man.
“Hey,” he says in greeting.
“Hey, yourself. What’s going on?”
“Not much. Just got out of work.”
“Yeah, I just got out of bed. Work was brutal last night.”
“Oh,” he says, with just a hint of disappointment. “So are you up for going out tonight?”
“With you, absolutely. What do you have planned?”
“You’ll see. Just dress nice and we can go as soon as I get home.”
“Uh…okay,” I say skeptically.
“Good. Love you.”
“I love you too.”
Joey disconnects the call and I’m left a little confused. Joey isn’t the type of person to plan surprises. He always tells me what he’s got planned. I try not to think about it as I change out of my old boxers and T-shirt into something somewhat presentable. I always want to look nice for him, so I choose to wear black slacks and a button-up blue shirt that Joey says brings out the color of my eyes. That done, I fire up my tablet and check my e-mail while I wait.
Joey opens the front door to the house about twenty minutes later. He quickly comes upstairs to the bedroom and gives me a kiss before rushing to the closet to get changed.
“So where are we going,” I say as Joey pulls on a fresh shirt. It’s all I can do to keep a healthy distance between us, but I don’t want to ruin Joey’s plans.
“You’ll see,” he says with a smile. “I’m just going to go to the bathroom and then we can go.”
“I just have to put my shoes on.”
Within ten minutes, we’re in the car, Joey driving us to an unknown location. I want to ask him what he is thinking, but even I have to admit there is something exciting about not knowing where he’s taking me. We make simple conversation on the way, but just to kill the silence between us.
Finally, Joey parks the car on a street lined with restaurants. With a wicked smile, Joey undoes his seatbelt and gets out of the car. I unbuckle my seatbelt as well but before I can open the door, Joey is there, holding it open for me. With a smile, I get out of the car and gently peck him on the lips.
“Come on,” he whispers as soon as our kiss breaks. “I don’t want to miss this reservation.”
We walk hand-in-hand down the street. I’m not sure at first where we’re going, but as soon as I see a hoard of people waiting around a patio, I know.
“Our first date,” I breathe as I realize where he’s taken me.
“Yep. I thought it was time we got back to our roots.”
I’m a little confused by his words, wondering what could have gotten him . Joey normally isn’t so reflective. I don’t like the way my thoughts are going, so I try to push them aside as we head inside the restaurant.
I glance around at the restaurant as Joey talks to the host. It hasn’t really changed much in the four years since our first date. The bar where I first saw Joey is still there and that makes me smile at the sight.
“Hey,” Joey says, breaking my out of my thoughts. “They have our table ready.”
I nod and take his hand. Together, we weave our way through the restaurant, following the host. We’re seated at a table in the very back corner of the restaurant. There is a little privacy as we’re tucked in the back corner. The lighting is low and we can’t really see the other guests because of how the table is placed. Joey walks in front of the host and pulls one of the wooden chairs out for me. I sit and watch as Joey walks around and takes his own seat. The host gives us some menus before leaving us in peace.
“This is so nice,” I whisper.
“I thought you might like it.”
Reaching across the table, I grip his hand in mine, before picking up the menu.
We make small talk about what we want to eat and what kind of wine to get before the waiter comes to take our order.
Dinner is simple and the food is wonderful. We’ve gone out to eat so many times in our relationship that we’d mastered the art of dining conversation. Talking about light topics that don’t get you overly excited and isn’t so serious that you can’t get interrupted. But throughout the meal, I get the feeling that something’s bothering Joey. I can’t imagine what it would be, but something in my gut tells me something’s off.
When dinner is done, Joey suggests that we order the dessert special. I tell him that maybe we should skip dessert. By this point, Joey isn’t looking so good. He’s lost a lot of his color and he seems to be sweating. I think he might be getting sick. But he’s insistent and finally I give in, if only so we can get home sooner. If he really is sick, then he should be in bed.
“What’s wrong,” I ask as soon as the waiter leaves with our dessert order. “I understand that you want dessert, but I think you’re getting sick.”
“No. You’re not. You’re much too pale.”
A small smile crosses his face. “That better not be how you diagnose your patients.”
I smile and shake my head. “It’s not and you know it. But you’re not acting like yourself.”
Joey opens his mouth to say something, but shuts it when he sees the waiter coming out of the corner of his eye. I glance up, but I’m more concerned about Joey.
“Baby, what’s wrong?”
I see him swallow as the waiter sets a plate down in front of me. The waiter then sets down Joey’s own dessert and leaves without a word.
“Baby,” I say, concerned he’s not answering me.
Joey just nods his head to my plate. We ordered a chocolate fudge cake for dessert and, while it looks very good, my gaze is focused on the silver ring sticking out of the top of the cake. I’m so focused on that, I don’t see Joey getting out of his chair and I jump when he puts a hand on my knee.
Looking down, I see he’s on one knee. My heart skips a beat.
“Steve, we’ve been together for four years now and I can’t remember my life before you. I love you so much and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?”
My head spins as I try to process his words. But as reality sinks in, my head starts to nod of its own accord.
“Yes,” I stutter out. “Of course I will.”
Joey’s face lights up with the biggest smile before he stands up and leans down to kiss me. The restaurant and all of the people fade away as I kiss the man I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. Joey is going to marry me and that makes life perfect.
Okay, I hope you all liked the proposal. Check back next week when Steve and Joey let the world in on their engagement. See you then!