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South Africa

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The bright lights of the merry-go-round dances along the dark streets and buildings, the sounds of laughter filling the chilly air as snow begins its first fall. Shelagh traces her steps around the spinning contraption, smiling and waving when she sees both Timothy and Angela sharing a seat on a horse.

“They have become so close,” a warm voice whispers next to her.

Turning to Patrick, her smile instantly brightens. They had both gone to Tom and Barbara’s wedding, yet, they had chosen to go separately for the sake of propriety. In private, they have remained lovers, waiting until the evenings every other weekend to go on a date or to make love in her flat. It was only just recently that he had brought her to his home to spend time with the children.

“He is very protective of her,” she murmurs back. Angela had taken to her very quickly, however, Timothy played the skeptic for both of them.

He glances around them to see that they can speak freely, “I think he is coming around to the idea of us. He seemed happy that you were coming to the wedding.”

The merry-go-round slows to a halt, guests choosing to either get on or to step off, including both Tim and Angela, who immediately runs up to them. “Hello, Ms. Shelagh,” Tim smiles as Angela reach up to be held by her daddy.

“Hello, Angela," she tickles the sweet girl before turning to her brother. "Hello, Timothy. You looked as if you were enjoying yourself.”

“We did,” he nervously looks between both adults before settling on his father. “Did you—”

“No,” Patrick hastily replies, switching Angela from one side to the other.

She can feel her brow dipping in concern as both Turner men glare at each other. “Is everything—”

“What are you waiting for, dad?”

“The perfect time, son. Mrs. Shelagh just arrived.”

“Yes, I helped to… to take down the… are you sure you’re okay? You both seem rather cross at each other.”

Angela looks at her from her cozy perch in her father’s arms and asks, “You marry dada?”

The two adults and the one teen share surprised looks between each other, Patrick and Tim’s awkward conversation now beginning to make sense in her mind.

Shelagh looks to Patrick, yet its Tim who finally breaks the silence. “Please marry my dad. He’s completely helpless in the kitchen, however, after seeing you two making goo-goo eyes at each other, I've come to realized that he’s helplessly in love with you.” He gathers a giggling Angela from his father’s arms and coos, “Let’s go get some juice and biscuits.”

Leaving them within the loud silence of the boisterous crown around them, Patrick pulls her in towards the privacy of a dark shadow and takes out a small box from his breast pocket. “There was a better way I was going to ask you, but both Angela and Timothy beat me to the punch.”

“Oh, Patrick,” tears rush to the corner of her her eyes.

“We can wait, if you would like, but I have never been more certain.”

She caresses his cheek, “I am completely certain.”

“Really?” His whole face lights up when she nods. Pulling the ring from the velvet box, he slides it on her finger, “I love you, Shelagh.”

She blushes when he leans to kiss her knuckles, “I love you, Patrick Turner.”