Today is the day. Or rather, tonight is the night. Waverly just knows it. She feels it in her bones. Nicole is going to pop the question. THE question. And Waverly has known the answer to the question since the day she stopped worrying over her feelings and marched into Nedley’s office with Nicole Haught on her heels and Waverly shut the blinds and shut the door and attacked her. With her face.
They’ve been dating for a solid year now, and holy balls what a year it’s been. A year of revenants and Willas and Widows and goo and surprise babies and surprise wives and demon cults and the demons that go with them and you’d think Waverly would be exhausted and just want a nap but instead she wants to be married. Married to Nicole.
Tonight’s the night Nicole’s going to ask her. Waverly just knows it.
Because it’s their anniversary and they’re going to the city for a fancy dinner at a fancy restaurant of Nicole’s choosing and Waverly’s wearing a fancy dress and Nicole is finally wearing that little black number she’d teased about and Haught-damn if she doesn’t look fine and delectable and positively scrumptious and perfect. Perfect for tonight. Perfect for asking questions of the forever variety. And maybe Nicole had thought that by distracting her with that amazing dress Waverly wouldn’t notice her little black clutch with the little, barely-there-but-definitely-noticeable bulge that something, say, the size of a small velvet box could fit into. Waverly had noticed.
She vibrated silently in the passenger seat of her jeep as Nicole drove on.
Another thing she had noticed was that Nicole didn’t seem the least bit nervous. But why should she be? Surely, she knows the answer Waverly will give. Plus, her baby (being the best) is a confident gal. Waverly thought fondly back to the day Nicole swaggered into Shorty’s and how her heart had stopped from a combination of shock (there was a stranger in her very-closed-not-yet-open bar) and fluster (said stranger was a woman and she was undeniably hot [her name even said so] and was she flirting with her? And what were these out-of-nowhere-I’m-questioning-everything feelings?). Waverly smiles as she thinks about how ecstatic she was to figure out the answer to those feelings was ‘Nicole’, and how she now has the world’s best crib sheet for any test ever because the answer will always be ‘Nicole’. Including the answer to the question Waverly anticipates tonight.
Tonight’s the night Nicole’s going to ask her. Waverly just knows it.
Okay, so maybe tonight was not the night Nicole was going to ask her. They’d made it all the way through dinner and nothing. Although Waverly is convinced that Nicole must think she’s at least a little bit nuts after she spent the entire evening answering “YES” to anything that even sounded the barest itty-bit like a question coming out of Nicole’s mouth.
“Waverly, would you--” “YES.” “Like to share a bottle of wine?” “Oh… um… yes. White? If that’s ok?”
“Waverly, will you--” “YES.” “Ask the waiter to refill my water while I run to the restroom?” “Oh…sure, of course. Anytime.”
“Waverly, I was wondering if--” “YES.” “You’d like dessert?” “Oh…no, actually… I’m pretty stuffed.”
But now they were back at Nicole’s house and her lovely, long, fingers were knowingly tracing up the back of Waverly’s dress and finding the zipper and even as Waverly’s pulse started to beat a rapid tattoo in anticipation of the far more delectable dessert about to be offered, her heart sank just the tiniest little bit because she knew Nicole to be enough of a romantic to not be the type to pop the question from between her legs.
It was a really, really, great anniversary, regardless.
But Waverly had been so sure.
Today’s the day. Waverly is so sure.
Nicole’s been acting weird all week. Avoid-y weird. But not the bad kind of avoid-y. The “planning something” kind of avoid-y. And Waverly is sure that Nicole is planning a proposal. She’s sure because it feels like everyone is in on it, including Wynonna whom she caught in her room acting suspicious while hovering over her bureau. Her sister had made some lame excuse about having thought she’d hid her “lucky flask” in the top drawer while not entirely sober and even though this did feel at least a little plausible… Waverly doubted it and shooed Wynonna out, and then promptly checked to see if anything was missing from her drawers. Nothing was.
Then she had caught Nicole and Wynonna in a hushed conference when she’d arrived at the cop shop the next morning and Nicole had bolted from her desk so fast she’d knocked the doughnut from Wynonna’s hand and her sister didn’t act mad about it at all.
Something was definitely up.
Finally, last night, Nicole had approached her outside the BBD offices and she was noticeably nervous. At last! She’d thought. Her girlfriend was nervous to ask her something. This was it. Well, maybe not “it” it. She was fairly sure that Nicole wouldn’t propose at the end of a long day, in the cop shop hallway across from the bathroom. But she did think that Nicole was going to ask her if she was “available” for a date or something similar that did lend itself to romance and roses and rings and all the yeses in the world.
“Hey, Waves, I was wondering if you’re free this weekend?”
“You know I am, baby. Why?”
“So, it would be ok if I picked you tomorrow around 10am?”
“Sure. What for?”
“It’s a surprise.”
Waverly’s heart had felt like it was going to burst from her chest. She’d stepped forward and placed her hands flat on the top slope of Nicole’s chest, lifting a finger and tickling her neck beneath her chin.
“A surprise, huh?” she’d asked, voice low. “Will I like it?”
“I really hope so,” Nicole had replied, and bless her she’d sounded worried. As if she needed to worry.
“I know I’ll love it,” Waverly’d assured her and kissed her gently for good measure.
And now here she was at 9:59am standing on the front porch of the homestead, bouncing on her toes like an excited child, as she watched Nicole pull up in a rented car, nothing fancy but serviceable. So, Nicole had rented a car, which meant she didn’t want to drive her police cruiser, or Waverly’s jeep. Waverly wondered for a moment what her girlfriend’s reasoning was, but didn’t dwell on it as it didn’t seem important.
Nicole climbed out of the small sedan, making her seem even taller than she was. Waverly loved how tall Nicole was. Loved looping her arms around her swan-like neck and gazing up into those amber-brown eyes. Loved going up on her toes to kiss those full lips. Loved that she could wrap her arms around Nicole’s waist and tilt her head just-so and it would rest on that perfect chest… and she could look down at her oft top-few-buttons-left-undone shirts and get a happy eyeful of those lovely breasts. Loved how, when particularly motivated, Nicole would swoop her up in those strong arms and Waverly would be taller just for a moment, before being smaller beneath her once again.
“I hope this is ok,” Nicole said, snapping Waverly out of her daydream. “I had to drop the cruiser off for a tune-up.”
“It’s great,” smiled Waverly, skipping down to meet her half-way. Nicole placed her hands on her hips, drawing her in for a soft kiss.
“You good to go,” Nicole asked, slipping her hands to the topside of Waverly’s bottom. Waverly hummed happily at the familiar touch, and leaned her body more firmly against Nicole’s.
“Yep,” she answered, kissing Nicole one more time and then reluctantly pulling away. Nicole grasped her hand and led her to the passenger side of the car, opening it for her chivalrously. “Where are we going, anyway,” Waverly queried as she sat down into the bucket seat, her eyes still gazing up at Nicole.
“That’s for me to know and you to find out,” Nicole replied.
“Oh really,” smirked Waverly.
“Yep,” said Nicole, popping the ‘p’. She smiled flirtatiously and carefully shut the car door, walking swiftly around to the driver’s side and climbing in.
“You know,” said Waverly, snapping her seatbelt into the buckle as Nicole hit the “engine start” button. “I have ways of making you talk.”
“Oh, believe me, I know,” smirked Nicole, her dimples popping. “But I’m trusting you to keep your ‘ways’ to yourself so that I keep the car on the road and get us where we’re going safely.” She reached over and gave Waverly’s knee a little squeeze, leaving her hand there as she turned the wheel and drove back under the Earp Ranch entrance archway and up to the county road.
Waverly fidgeted in her seat and tried not to squeal with excitement. Nicole was taking her to an unknown destination for a surprise and don’t think she hadn’t noticed how close it was to Valentine’s Day because Waverly was a planner and she had. This was a Valentine’s Day proposal that only wasn’t on Valentine’s Day because the stupid holiday fell on a weekday this year. She was sure of it.
Nicole slowed down as they hit Main Street, and Waverly wondered for a moment if there was more reason to it beyond just the posted speed limit. She started to scan the sidewalks of the thoroughfare, her mind momentarily alighting on the idea that Nicole had planned a flash mob like she’d seen on YouTube. Not that Waverly had been watching proposal videos on YouTube. Or not that she’d admit to it, anyway.
“You ok?” asked Nicole, “you’re awful quiet.”
“Fine, just don’t want to miss anything,” Waverly replied absently as she peered intensely at the alley between Shorty’s and The Avenue bakeshop, just in case the high school marching band was hiding there, or something.
Nicole’s brow furrowed in confusion. “What would you miss?”
“Huh,” said Waverly, head turning to look at her. “Oh… nothing, I guess.” She paused and then added a questioning, “right?”
Nicole looked at her sideways, her eyes dashing back and forth in their sockets as she clearly tried to piece together what on earth her girlfriend was talking about. Finally, she gave a small nod, “Right” and directed her attention back to the road. They were on the other side of town now, headed toward the highway, and Nicole reached over and tapped on the radio. The sounds of Rascal Flatts burbled through the speakers. “Ugh,” she groaned, “Waves, can you put on anything but this?”
“Sure,” Waverly smiled and pulled her phone out of her pocket, easily connecting it to the Bluetooth system in the car and opened her music app. She scrolled through a few playlists and then chuckled to herself as she selected a mix she’d cheekily named ‘Required Lesbian Listening’ that she’d put together after doing some research online back when she’d first started examining her feelings for a certain redhead. The recognizable voices of Tegan and Sara bounced out of the sound system.
The first time I saw your face, I knew
I was meant for you…
Nicole threw her head back and laughed, smiling broadly at Waverly in appreciation of the song choice. She lifted Waverly’s hand from her lap and kissed the back of it as they sped passed the “Now Leaving Purgatory” sign.
They spent the next couple of hours singing along with Tegan and Sara, Mary Lambert, Melissa Ferrick, Allison Weiss, and – of course- The Indigo Girls and Melissa Etheridge (which Nicole joked was compulsory according to lesbian law).
Finally, Waverly found herself getting antsy. “How much farther,” she asked, trying very hard not to sound like an annoyed teenager.
“Almost there,” Nicole replied with confidence. In fact, shortly after saying so, she turned right down a frontage road adjacent to the highway.
Waverly was abruptly alert. She sat up in her seat, back straight, eyes trained firmly on the horizon, scanning. The landscape was flat and wide open. In the distance, there appeared to be a large building of some kind and a tower, maybe? Or an oddly-shaped grain silo? Suddenly a loud buzzing sound startled her just as a large shadow overtook the car. Waverly instinctively ducked.
“Waves, Waves, it’s ok,” said Nicole, jostling her knee, “it’s just a plane. Look up.”
Waverly did and saw a small airplane descending toward the field ahead of them. Nicole pulled over to the side of the road and set the car in park. She turned her upper body in her seat to look at Waverly directly, and took her hands into her own.
“Okay, so, I really hope you like this,” she said nervously, “and I hope that it’s okay that it’s a surprise. But it’s been on my mind since that day in Nedley’s office.” Nicole didn’t have to elaborate, Waverly knew exactly which day her girlfriend referring to.
“So… Waverly Earp, will you--” “YES.” “Go skydiving with me?”
“What?” Nicole echoed.
“I mean, uh, skydiving? Really?” Waverly’s mind was spinning. She hadn’t expected this at all. Oh! Maybe Nicole was going to ask when they were going up in the plane? Or on the way down? Or when they’d landed? OH! Or maybe the question had been written out in super-large letters somewhere on the giant field they’d been driving past and she’d only see it once they were airborne? Yes. That had to be it. Bucket list item or not, of course Waverly was going to agree to jump out of plane if it meant spending the rest of her life with Nicole. “Yes, yes, I’d love to, Nicole.”
“Yes, let’s do it.”
Yes. Because Waverly is sure this is it.
Waverly is starting to wonder if she should be sure of anything anymore. Oh, the skydiving had been exhilarating, even if the experienced jumper she’d been paired with had reeked of patchouli oil, at least the wind whipping past them as they plummeted toward earth took care of some of that. It truly had been amazing and how sweet and romantic and crazy that Nicole had remembered her desire to hurtle through the sky and made it happen. But there had been no question. No THE question. And Waverly was disappointed. She knew it was immature and unfair for her to be disappointed, especially after such an incredible and thoughtful gift. So, she put on her best and brightest Waverly Earp smile and tried to stay living in the moment. Tried to hold on to the feeling of flight.
But she had been so positive.
This week is the week. Waverly is positive.
Because today is the day they were hopping on a plane; not to jump out of, but to stay on, at least until their destination, and their destination was Hawaii. A tropical paradise with sun and surf and sand and sunsets. And waterfalls. And volcanoes. And lanais. All perfect locations for getting down on one knee. Waverly looked back on the previous two times she’d thought that Nicole was about to propose and realized she’d been foolish. Nicole was a romantic who didn’t do things by halves. So naturally that meant going big or going home… and a trip to Hawaii… their very first couple’s vacation together… the very first time Waverly would be leaving Canada and the very first time she’d be seeing the ocean, let alone swimming in it and she couldn’t deny this definitely counted in the “going big” camp.
Plus, there were other signs. First, the trip was Nicole’s idea and she’d insisted on handling all the planning. Which considering Waverly was a planner and generally the planner for the pair of them was a huge rainbow flag that Nicole was up to something. Then, Nicole had made a point of not letting Waverly anywhere near her suitcase. She was being oddly protective of her suitcase. So naturally Waverly just knew it was because there was a super-secret-surprise hidden in there that Nicole was keeping from her, until the right moment. Like, say for instance, the moment right after a very particular question is asked.
Now they were finally seated on the plane about to take off from Calgary International Airport. They had one connection to make at LAX and all together they’d be spending about ten hours on a plane in coach, but Waverly did not care because she was borderline manic with excitement. She was leaving Canada a bachelorette and returning a fiancée.
She was just positive.
Waverly’s decided that her intuition is balls.
Sure, Hawaii had been gorgeous and romantic, a picture postcard dream. They’d sunned, they’d snorkeled (far, far, out into the ocean until Waverly couldn’t see the bottom), they’d strolled hand-in-hand down the beach. They’d gotten lei’d (hardy-har) and laid out on the lanai, and attended a luau (or few) and even done the limbo (Waverly was better at it, no surprise). They’d parasailed and hiked and zip-lined. And they’d made love. A lot of love. All over the island of Oahu. Wherever and whenever they’d had the chance. Because without Wynonna, or some uniquely Purgatorian crisis, to stop them… there was no stopping them.
But the one thing they hadn’t done was get engaged.
Waverly had found herself tensing up and holding her breath every time Nicole had reached into her pocket, or her purse, or the fanny-pack Waverly had teased her for owning let alone wearing (although it had proven to be useful more than once, not that she’d admit it). But every time it was anything but a ring: lip balm, sunblock, wallet, cellphone, passport, room key, or car keys. Oh, and the super-secret-surprise that Nicole had been hiding in her suitcase? That had been a very nice surprise indeed. Nicole had been to Victoria’s Secret and bought them each some very nice lingerie. Which they wore. And then did not wear.
But still no ring.
Waverly tried to be logical. Tried to talk herself down from worry that maybe Nicole wasn’t looking ahead to their future the same way she was. She reminded herself that Nicole was cautious to a fault. Reminded herself that Nicole had been married before and that it had been a mistake borne out of impulse. Tried to convince herself that Nicole was just taking her time because she hadn’t had the same luxury with Shae. And tried not to internally wince whenever she thought of Shae’s name.
So, she tried to be patient… but it was taking too long! Their two-year anniversary was coming up in a few months and Waverly was fit to be tied.
The second leg of the flight back to Calgary was a quiet one. Nicole was dozing in the seat next to her, and Waverly placed a gentle kiss on her slightly sunburnt nose causing Nicole to squintch her face and whine a little in her sleep. Waverly smiled softly and felt herself swoon. She loved Nicole so, so, much.
She tried again not to be disappointed that they weren’t returning to Purgatory affianced.
But she had been so confident.
This is it. Waverly is confident.
Because this time Waverly has inside information. All courtesy of a well-timed visit to Mama Olive’s, the most popular of the local diners. She’d stopped in on her way to the cop shop to pick up a box lunch for Nicole, including a special slice of blackberry pie (the redhead’s favorite), when she’d been cornered by Dolores Hodge.
Dolores Hodge, town gossip and ancient waitress at Mama Olive’s. No one knew how old Dolores was; only that she was one of those ladies who'd been old forever. She'd been at the diner since before Uncle Curtis was in grade school. The quiet joke was that Dolores was somewhere between late-80's and re-animated corpse. And given this was Purgatory, the latter was not exactly a far-fetched idea.
According to Dolores, she’d seen Nicole (whom she referred to as “your Miss Officer Haught”) inside of ‘Rooker’s Jewelry and Knives’ two days earlier when Dolores had gone in to have her favorite brooch cleaned. Apparently, Nicole had been looking at rings. According to Dolores she’d had an entire display tray in front of her on the counter that she’d been examining closely. The jeweler, Bernard, had then come out of the back and handed Nicole a small, wrapped, package and when Nicole had thanked him he’d replied, “Good luck, I’m sure she’ll love it.”
Waverly wasn’t typically one for gossip, and she generally never gave anything Dolores Hodge said even the barest amount of salt, but this was just too good to ignore.
It all made sense. Their two year anniversary was a week away. They were as solid as they’d ever been. Waverly realized that a proposal that might have come earlier could have run the risk of being “too soon” for their relationship. But two years together was a strong foundation to build a life on. They’d already started taking the first steps.
Nicole had more-or-less moved-in to the homestead; even Calamity Jane called the Earp property her home now. Wynonna pretended to dislike the cat, but it was obvious she loved ‘the fur-ball’ and ‘the fur-ball’ loved her and Nedley did is best to keep his jealousy to a low boil. Nicole had kept her rental house for times when she was working a double-shift and it was too far to drive back to the homestead for a quick nap. The house had also come in handy for evenings when the two women desired a little more privacy than the Earp Ranch typically afforded.
But truly, they were cohabitating full-time and they’d gone through the typical strains of learning to live with each other. Waverly had learned that Nicole was fastidious in all things except when it came to socks. Waverly kept finding her girlfriend’s socks everywhere. Which at first she’d found odd, because she hadn’t noticed random socks lying around Nicole’s place when she’d go to visit. But then, she’d assumed that her girlfriend must have been taking care to pick-up any loose socks before she’d got there. Waverly wasn’t free of bad habits either. More than once Nicole had pointed out Waverly’s tendency for leaving half-finished cups of water around the house. When forced to pay attention, Waverly’d had to concede Nicole was right.
But who cared about socks and water glasses? Nicole had bought a ring. They’d have their entire lives to bicker about domestic quirks.
Once again they’d planned to go into the city for their anniversary dinner. Waverly spent the week beforehand rehearsing her “yes” in the mirror. She felt a little bad that Nicole’s surprise had been spoiled by a geriatric waitress, but she also appreciated the advance warning. This time Waverly knew it was coming, for certain, so she could relax and just enjoy the evening that she knew Nicole would go out of her way to make as romantic as possible. But Waverly knew that she couldn’t let her girlfriend know that she’d been tipped off. So she’d been working on her “surprise” face. She knew that she should probably cry a bit (tears of joy), so she’d practiced welling-up on demand as well.
Waverly wanted to make the evening extra special for Nicole, too. She’d had her eye on a black-lace bustier and garter set that would fit perfectly under the red-velvet, thigh-length, off-the-shoulder dress she’d bought for their Hawaii trip, but had opted not to take, deeming it impractical. Now she knew exactly what occasion she’d be wearing it for. So she’d purchased the lingerie and a pair of silk stockings to go with it. This anniversary was going to memorable for multiple reasons.
Finally, the evening arrived. Waverly spent a little extra time in the mirror making sure she looked perfect. She’d waffled back and forth between hair-up or hair-down and finally settled on down, but ‘sloppily’ parted on the right as opposed to cleanly down the center. She’d used her curling iron to set a few large, wavy, curls that cascaded over shoulders and settled at the top of her dress. Her make-up she’d kept simple, knowing Nicole’s preference for a light touch and being able to see her “real” face.
Waverly knew she had succeeded in creating exactly the overall effect she’d been going for when she descended the stairs into the front room and Nicole’s jaw hit the floor even as her eyes blew cartoonishly wide. “W-wow,” Nicole managed to say after a moment of speechlessness.
“Wow, yourself,” Waverly replied, gazing appreciatively at her girlfriend’s choice of outfit.
Nicole was dressed in an extremely flattering navy blue pantsuit. Although Waverly didn’t think it was fair to classify it as a “pantsuit” because such terms generally brought up images of older, female, politicians running for high office. The combination of slacks, camisole and blazer Nicole was wearing were in a category all their own. The outfit appeared to have been custom-tailored for her lithe frame. It accentuated her graceful neck, her narrow waist; her long, long, legs. The dark blue of the blazer and the white satin of the camisole made her skin glow and her fiery hair pop.
Oh, yes, thought Waverly, this night is going to be amaze-balls.
When they arrived at the restaurant Waverly felt herself start to come over all smug. It was a fancy place – fancier than they’d been to the previous year – and she found herself walking a little taller in her black heels as the maître d guided them to their table. Waverly gazed at the other couples peppered throughout the dining room and thought how she was superior to them because she was getting engaged to Nicole Haught and they weren’t.
They’d just settled in to reading over their menus (Waverly did her best to keep her eyes in her sockets after seeing the prices) when she heard Nicole gently clear her throat. Waverly looked up and saw large umber eyes gazing back at her with an expectant twinkle.
“So, I’m sure you’ve figured out by now why I picked this place,” Nicole said, unable to suppress her dimpled grin.
Waverly beamed. Of course she knew (thanks, Dolores!). “I sort of had a feeling,” Waverly answered, her eyes shining. Thank goodness Nicole wasn’t going to wait until the end of the night. This way their dinner could be a celebration of two things, instead of one.
“I figured you might,” Nicole conceded. “So, are you excited?”
Why on earth would that be a question, Waverly wondered. But then again, maybe Nicole was just nervous and needed a little reassurance before diving in. “Nicole,” she said, in her most sincere tone of voice, and reaching across the table to grasp her hand, “believe me when I say that I have never been more excited. I’ve been looking forward to this moment my entire life.”
“Wow,” said Nicole, “I hope this lives up to your expectations.”
Waverly found Nicole’s concern to be positively adorable. “Baby, you have nothing to worry about,” she said.
“So,” said Nicole, crouching forward a bit almost as though she was about to share a secret. “How would you like to have it? As an appetizer? Or do you just want to throw caution to the wind and try it as a main course?”
“Have what,” Waverly asked, confusion settling over her.
“The geoduck,” Nicole explained.
“Yeah, geoduck,” replied Nicole, “the reason why we’re here?”
“The geoduck?” Waverly felt like she’d stepped into the wrong scene of a play in progress.
“Yeah,” Nicole answered, drifting off slightly at the end as she started to worry over Waverly’s reaction.
“We’re here for the geoduck,” Waverly asked again, willing her mind to catch up.
“And no other reason,” Waverly continued, fishing.
“Oh, well, and our anniversary,” Nicole clarified. “Is this… is this not okay?”
The look on Nicole’s face snapped Waverly out of the fog-bubble she’d found herself trapped in. Her girlfriend was on the verge of appearing positively devastated. For all she knew, Nicole was planning to propose at the end of the dinner. For as much of a progressive feminist Nicole was, she also had a traditional streak, and proposing during dessert did seem like a more classical approach. The surprise bivalve delicacy was just part of the build-up to the pay-off. Getting her head back in the game, Waverly immediately replied, “Of course it’s ok, Nicole. It’s perfect. It’s so amazing that you remembered.”
Nicole exhaled a sigh of relief. Waverly internally high-fived herself for the nice save.
After some consideration, Waverly opted to order the geoduck appetizer, just in case it didn’t live up to her expectations. She didn’t want to risk a sour taste in her mouth on the most important night of her life.
It turned out that the large, saltwater, clam was surprisingly sweet considering it had come from the ocean. It had a light, crunchy, texture that was unexpected, but pleasant. Still, Waverly was glad for the small portion of the aperitif as she didn’t think she would have enjoyed a larger dish.
“Well, that’s all three items done,” remarked Nicole after their main courses had been delivered.
“All three…?” Waverly echoed, her voice lilting up in question.
“Of the things that scare you?” Nicole explained, her voice also inflecting upward.
“Oh,” Waverly blushed, lifting her fork and poking at her roasted vegetables. “There were four things on that list, actually.”
“Four?,” Nicole racked her brain. She started to list off what she remembered. “Skydiving, ocean swimming, geoduck–”
“And you, silly,” Waverly finished for her, speaking softly. She looked up at Nicole through her eyelashes, smirking slightly. Under the table she slipped her left foot from her shoe, and slid her toes up the inside of Nicole’s calf.
Nicole jumped slightly at the contact, but then her features softened and she took on an amorous gaze. “That’s right,” she replied, “and let me just say how glad I am you got over that one.”
“Oh, I’m definitely not over it,” said Waverly, coy.
“Still scared of me,” Nicole asked her tone low and flirtatious.
“Petrified,” Waverly replied, “but in the best possible way.” She looked down in her lap and then up to Nicole’s eyes again. “I’m not….” she stalled and tried again. “I was never afraid of you, Nicole. I was afraid of my feelings and how powerful they were. And they still scare me sometimes because, they’ve only gotten stronger. And sometimes I worry that they’ll get so big that I’ll explode."
Nicole couldn’t help the grin that spread across her face. “Well, if that happens, I’ll be there to pick up the pieces and put you back together… if you want me to.”
“Of course I’ll want you, Nicole,” said Waverly, taking her hand across the table again. “Always.”
“Waverly, I –”
“And how is everything tasting,” asked their waiter, suddenly appearing out of nowhere.
“It’s great, thanks,” answered Waverly through gritted teeth as she gave the waiter a less-than-courteous look.
“Yes,” agreed Nicole, swallowing and appearing to be catching her breath. “Yes, it’s wonderful. Thank you.”
“Glad to hear it,” he said. “I just wanted to check in and make you aware that if you’re considering dessert, we have a lovely chocolate soufflé that takes about thirty minutes to prepare. So if that sounds like something you’d enjoy I would need to get the order in to the kitchen now.”
Waverly and Nicole shared a few looks back and forth that communicated an entire conversation without a single spoken word. ‘Does that sound good?’ ‘I don’t know, what do you think?’ ‘Might be worth a try.’ ‘Okay, why not?’
“Sure,” Nicole answered finally. “That sounds lovely.”
“Great,” smiled the waiter. “Just the one?”
“Yes,” said Waverly, “but, two spoons.”
“Of course,” he nodded. “Enjoy the rest of your dinner.”
They thanked him as he stepped away and then both tucked back in to their dinners.
Waverly grumbled internally. Nicole had been seconds away from popping the question and then that overly-attentive waiter just had to interrupt. It’s alright, she told herself, dessert was only a little ways away and then everything would be perfect.
The two women continued to chat and flirt throughout the rest of their dinner. Finally, after their main course dishes had been cleared, dessert arrived. It was as advertised, a chocolate soufflé, served simply – plain with a side of hand-whipped cream—and two spoons, as requested.
“You first,” offered Nicole.
Waverly briefly wondered if maybe, just maybe, there was a ring hiding in the middle of the soufflé. But then common sense took over and she realized how messy and impractical that would be. The ring would be gooey and covered in chocolate and would probably need to be professionally cleaned before she could wear it. Nicole would never propose with a ring Waverly couldn’t wear immediately. Even so, as she dipped her spoon into the center of the dessert, she did so carefully, waiting to see if the edge of her utensil knocked against something small and solid.
But Waverly wasn’t worried. She lifted the loaded spoon to her lips and tasted. It was divine. She let out a small moan of happiness. “Nicole, you have got to try this.”
Nicole grinned hugely. “Gladly,” she replied, tucking in. “Oh, my god,” she said, around a mouthful. “This is so good it should be illegal.”
“Maybe it is,” joked Waverly. “You could threaten them with arrest if they don’t turn over the recipe.”
“Sorry to say we’re way, way, outside of my jurisdiction, babe,” Nicole joked back.
They spent the next few minutes devouring the soufflé – the poor baked dish never stood a chance. After they’d exhausted all of the hyperbole they could manage to describe how delicious it had been, Nicole reached for her small purse and cleared her throat.
“So, before we take care of the check, I…,” she paused, as though looking for the right words.
Waverly was at full attention. This was it. This was the moment. They were seconds away from forever.
“Waverly, I…,” Nicole began again; and then, seemingly stuck for a second time, she simply reached into her purse and pulled out a small, wrapped, package and slid it across the table Waverly’s way. “I… I hope you like it.”
Waverly’s brow furrowed. This was not the approach she had been expecting. But, Nicole is obviously nervous, so she decided to help things along. Waverly smiled, nay beamed, at Nicole and picked up the gift. Deciding to play ignorant as to the contents she said, “Nicole, you didn’t have to.”
Nicole blushed and ducked her head. “I know,” she answered, “but I wanted to. I hope that’s okay.”
“Of course it’s okay,” Waverly protested, “I just feel bad. I didn’t get you anything.”
“Oh, baby,” said Nicole, “don’t you know you’ve given me everything?”
Now it was Waverly’s turn to blush. She looked for something to focus on, and found the wrapped box in her hands. With slightly shaking fingers she undid the bow and peeled back the tissue paper to reveal just what she’d suspected: a velvet jewelry box. “Oh, Nicole,” she said softly, already feeling herself start to well up. She hadn’t needed the practice after all, she noted fleetingly. She looked up and saw Nicole peering at her expectantly. Finally, she slowly opened the lid of the box to reveal… earrings.
A gorgeous set of sapphire earrings.
“Oh,” said Waverly, trying to suppress her disappointment. “Oh,” she said again. “It’s… they’re… beautiful, Nicole. Thank you.” She did her best to sound sincere. They truly were beautiful earrings and Waverly did love them. They just weren’t what she was expecting.
“They’re sapphire,” Nicole explained, needlessly. “Your birthstone, right?”
“Uh-huh,” answered Waverly mindlessly, as she continued to stare at the not-an-engagement-ring in the box. Her mind started to race. Why wasn’t she holding an engagement ring? Did Nicole just not want to be engaged?
“Are you sure they’re okay,” asked Nicole, definitely sounding worried.
“Uh-huh,” Waverly said again, her eyes trained on the earrings. “Birthstone, yeah.” Did Nicole not want this? Not want her as a wife? But she was so thoughtful and romantic. And careful. But what was so careless about wanting to be married? Why was this so hard?
Nicole shifted in her seat. “Um, are you sure?”
“Uh-huh,” said Waverly. Why was this so hard? They were meant to be together. They were meant to be married. What was so difficult about this? What was so hard about saying –
“Waves, you’re really worrying –” “WILLYOUMARRYME?”
They’d spoken at the same time.
“What?” Waverly echoed.
“Did you just…,” Nicole started.
“Did I just, what?”
“Did you just ask me to marry you?”
“Did I?” Waverly asked. She’d thought she’d only thought the words, pontificating over how they could possibly be hard to say out loud. Apparently, they weren’t. Seeing as how she’d just blurted them at top volume. “I mean,” she followed-up quickly, “I did. Yes, I did.” Yes, she had! Heteronormative roles be damned, she thought. Why had she been waiting on Nicole? They were both women, there were no rules or traditions about whom could ask whom.
“Oh my god, Waves,” cried Nicole, happily, “Yes! Yes, of course, yes!”
“Yes?” Waverly asked, just to make sure.
“Yes!” Nicole reached across the table and drew Waverly to her, kissing her soundly.
Waverly pulled back slightly. “I… I don’t have a ring, yet,” she admitted sheepishly.
“Don’t need a ring,” Nicole answered, pressing their foreheads together. “Just need you.”
They shared another quick kiss and then sat back in their seats just as the waiter returned.
“Can I get you ladies anything else,” he asked.
“Champagne,” said Nicole, “we’re celebrating.”
“We’ve just gotten engaged,” Waverly added laughing and smiling a wet smile as happy tears streamed down her face.
“Congratulations,” smiled the waiter, “I’ll be right back with a bottle of our finest – on the house, of course.”
“Thank you,” Nicole replied, unable to stop a giddy laugh from bubbling up in her chest as he walked away.
They held hands across the table, gazing happily into each other’s eyes. Nicole lifted her right hand and reached up to wipe the tears from Waverly’s cheeks.
“You know,” Nicole said, after a moment, “I was actually looking at engagement rings the other day.”
“Yeah?” Waverly asked, picking up her napkin and dabbing at her eyes.
“Yeah,” Nicole grinned, “I just… I wasn’t sure you were ready.”
Waverly let out a barking laugh, quickly covering her mouth to stifle it. “Oh, I’ve been ready, baby.”
“Really,” said Nicole, her tone slightly disbelieving.
“Mm-hm,” she nodded. “In fact there where a few times this past year when I’d thought you were going to ask me.”
“Oh, really,” Nicole said, voice low and playful.
“Yep,” chirped Waverly, popping the ‘p’.
Nicole’s face fell. She reached a hand up behind her head and rubbed at the back of her neck. “I’m… I’m sorry, Waves. You must have been so disappointed.”
“No,” said Waverly, grasping Nicole’s hands tightly. “No. I was just… eager. And I… sort of… forgot that I could ask you.”
“I’m glad you remembered,” grinned Nicole.
“Me too,” said Waverly, her eyes twinkling.
The waiter returned with a bottle of champagne on ice and two fluted glasses. The ladies gave him their attention as he placed a towel over the cork and popped it expertly and then poured the two glasses and placed them each in front of the women.
“Enjoy,” he said, returning the bottle of champagne to the bucket. “and congratulations.”
“Thank you,” the newly-engaged couple replied.
“To us,” said Nicole, raising her glass.
“To us,” Waverly repeated, “and to the rest of our lives.”
They clinked their glasses and each took a small sip of champagne. It bubbled up Waverly’s nose and made her giggle.
“I can’t wait,” smiled Nicole.
“Neither can I,” said Waverly.
It was going to be The Best™. Waverly was certain.