“I’ll agree with that one.” But then his expression grows somber. “I’m proud of you too, you know.” He rubs my shoulder as he says this. “I know it was hard to put off your college plans when we found out you were pregnant with Madeline.”
I nod a bit, smiling at him as he continues.
“But you are such a great mother to her, and I admire the fact that you are going to be starting community college this fall. I love that you want to learn and better yourself, even though you know I will support you two until the end of time if you so desire.”
“I know, and I appreciate that so much, baby.”
We hold hands and walk along in silence for some time, enjoying the evening air. We wander off the main street and down onto a bike path that borders the south side of the town. The path winds through open fields and grassland if you stay on it long enough. We come upon a beautiful point overlooking a brook. The sun is setting in the distance, causing an orange shimmer to reflect off the blue water. We naturally come to a stop and I luxuriate in the beauty, taking it all in.
I turn so that I can see Michael’s face. He appreciates beauty in nature as well, and I love the look that he gets when he’s in awe.
To my surprise, he’s not there. Then, I drop my gaze, and gasp because he’s on one knee at my side. He must see the disbelief in my eyes because he breaks out into a big cheesy grin. He looks so handsome kneeling there, and my heart starts pumping furiously.
“Matilda Mortensen,” he pauses, and his grin grows even wider. I clasp my hands to my open mouth and can already feel the tears beginning to swell in my eyes. My legs begin to shake.
“Yes?” My voice barely escapes my suddenly clenched throat.
“Matilda Mortensen, will you make me the happiest man on Earth and do me the honor of becoming my wife?”
I am jumping up and down, which causes an outbreak of gentle laughter from him.
“Yes! Yes! Yes, Michael, I will marry you!”
He stands and slips the most stunning ring on my finger. The cool metal band feels so natural, as if it belongs there. The hefty diamond reflects a tinge of the auburn color reflected from the setting sun. He takes me by the chin as he did the very first time, and kisses me.
“I love ya, Tilly-Billy.” He says this in such a casual demeanor, and yet I can feel the raw truth of the words that he speaks ripping right through me.
“I love you too.” We passionately kiss, but then after another moment, I pull away and tell him I have a surprise of my own to reveal.
“As much as I want to go to community college, I think I’m going to have put it off a while longer.”
Immediately, my fiancé grows concerned.
“What, why?” he asks.
“An even better opportunity has come along,” I say. I’m so filled with excitement that the words feel like they are jumping out of me. So much joy fills my heart in this moment that I blurt out the words quickly.
“Madeline is going to be a big sister!”
Michael picks me up by the waist and spins me around.
“Really?” he exclaims. “Sweetheart, that’s wonderful!”
He sets me down gently and drops to his knee again to kiss my belly. He then looks up at me with a grin and says, “We’ll have two flower girls at the wedding then. Maddie and her little sister.”
“Or a little ring bearer, because we don’t know the sex yet,” I admonish. “I’m still early. I only got the results back today.”
My handsome fiancé stands back up, wrapping his arms around me. “Boy or girl will be perfectly fine with me. I’m simply happy I get to share this experience with you, sweetheart. I must have done something right in a past life to deserve so many blessings: a beautiful wife and two perfect children.”
After another long and passionate kiss, we begin our walk back home, hand in hand with our baby in the stroller.
It dawns on me, in this moment, that real life is much better than any romance novel ever could be.
* * *