He stood there nervously. He couldn’t believe he was doing this, well actually he could believe he was doing this but it still made him nervous. To make this leap, to look into her eyes, to ask her… man it was intense. His heart pounded as he looked over the area again. She would be thrilled.
Aidan’s mind traveled back to their first meeting, they were in college, she was a Bennett Belle and he was a Winston Salem Ram. They happened to meet at a conference, she was a bit intimidating seeing her standing there in her business attire, dark blue slacks that he noticed held a little flare around the black heels she wore, a nice white blouse and a nice blazer. He wanted to talk to her the moment he saw her, but she was surrounded by others and he’d rather not crash and burn in front of a group. However, she must have saw him looking at her because she gave him a smile before turning back to her group.
“Excuse me.” He said walking over to her, he supposed it was now or later. Maybe she’d go easy on him. She turned towards him, her light brown eyes looking at him curiously, the young women around her also looked curious. “Hi, I’m Aidan.”
“Whitney” she smiled shaking his offered hand “Nice to meet you Aidan.” He tried not to feel or appear nervous so he gave her an easy smile.
“So you’re from Winston Salem State. What are you majoring in?” He frowned, how did she know? His confusion must have shown on his face as she pointed to his name tag. Oh right. He forgot about that stupid thing.
“Uh History.” Her friends said something to her and walked away leaving her alone with him. Well, at least he won’t make a fool of himself in front of more than one person.
“Interesting, you want to be a professor?”
“I like museums.”
“Oh so you’re looking to be a Historian?” He nodded, something like that. The details weren’t all worked out in his mind, but he’s always loved museums and history, so he thought History was the best avenue to go in college. “Well, English Literature for me. I’ve always loved books.”
That was the moment where things took a positive turn. They kept in touch for the next three years, they started dating their senior year. He went to her graduation and she came to his. Their conversations were never boring. They talked about everything, from their views on world events, their favorite movies -his was The Princess Bride with no shame, and hers changed all the time. Ever After was her current favorite-, their favorite books, shows they remembered watching as kids, family stories, painful memories, music (she was a hard Michael Jackson fan) and their dreams. He loved her. Everything about her. The kink to her hair, the smooth silk of her dark skin, the length of her legs, the curve of her hips, the fullness of her lips, the light in her brown eyes… thinking about her now, he felt his spine straighten. He was confident.
“Hello? Aidan?” Here she comes. His mind drifted to her last birthday.
She was turning twenty four and they had an argument. Something was wrong and she wouldn’t tell him what it was. He knocked on her apartment door, small ice cream cake in hand, she didn’t like regular cake, and a present tucked under his arm. Aidan knew she probably had a busy day at work, spent time with her friends and family earlier and saved the last bit of the day for him. He understood how it worked, especially with his late job hours. He knocked again.
“Whitney?” He knocked again. He didn’t hear anything but he tried the knob, it wasn’t unlocked but he did have a key. He usually wanted her to open it. “Hello, Whitney?”
“I’m in here.” Her voice shook, sounded weepy. What was going on? He put his items down on her bar counter and went to her room. Whitney was sitting against the wall, next to her bed, she was crying, her hair was in disarray, like she pulled on the twists she took out that morning. He knelt in front of her.
“Whit…what’s going on?” She shook her head, trying to stifle the sobs. “Please talk to me.” What didn’t he know? Bleary brown eyes looked up to him, she looked devastated. “Whitn-“
“I want to break up.” It was like he was burned. He let go of her, brown eyes wide as he pushed away. W-why? What did he do?
The argument was nasty. He demanded to know why, she acted like she couldn’t tell him but he finally got it out of her and it was something was small as her being afraid. She said she was afraid of the future. He was worried she cheated, or had feelings for someone else but she was just scared. “That’s ridiculous.” Aidan snapped.
“Aidan… they want me to apply for this promotion. If I get it, I’ll train for six months before being sent abroad for a year.”
“So? Long distance is fine. We can make it work.” She shook her head, fresh tears sprung to her eyes. Whitney was sure that they didn’t work, she commented that they’ll try to stay in touch, but the time difference, their work schedules would eventually get in the way and no more talking. The relationship would crumble. Aidan couldn’t believe her, did she have no faith in them? “That’s not fair.”
“How isn’t it?” She stood as he did. He was angry. “Think about it Aidan. We’ve been together but never that far from each other. If I go to Europe, you’re going to be here. The only time we could actually talk would be 7 in the morning! If we end this now, no one has to get hurt later.”
“Later? Really? What about now? You breaking up with me now does what? I came here for your birthday and you want to break up.” The argument continued, her trying to justify why this was a good idea and him refusing to believe she really wanted to do this. By the end of the night, he left hurt and angry and she had a forgotten birthday cake and more tears.
He smiled as she walked into sight. Whitney’s hair was pinned in the back, allowing the curls to fall into her face, her dress was a black cocktail with a slight flare. She liked flare pants, her cocktail dresses were no different. She smiled, her eyes taking in the sights. He chose their favorite park, their favorite gazebo. With help from her friends, he decorated it to what he knew she liked. Purple orchids, candles, soft music playing, her eyes wide as she climbed the short steps to him.
“What is all of this?”
He took her hands in his, putting her purse on the bench next to them. “Whitney. We’ve been through a lot. I can’t imagine, especially with this promotion you’ve received, not having you in my life. No matter how far you go. I will always love you. I love you, like I’ve never loved anyone.”
He heard her take a sharp breath, turned to direct her to a book her friends helped him create. He normally wasn’t this sappy, but he knew she liked romance. While she flipped through the book, he released her shoulders, took a step back and knelt on one knee, pulling a black box from his pocket.
“Aidan… what is this pa-?” She turned around, her eyes falling to his frame below her. The pages he was sure she stopped on made him smile. It was empty but the way he had her sister decorate it was hint enough.
“Whitney Reynolds… will you marry me?”