It was a sunny, crisp winter day in this upscale Boston neighborhood.
Waverly was currently busy pursuing her job, turning one rundown house after another into a stylish home. With skill and creativity, she let removalists put all the furniture where it just stood perfectly. She took over the finishing touches herself and put small decorations where they apparently simply seemed to belong.
She sighed in satisfaction and the realtor came up to her with an impressed look.
"Thanks! You know I sold that Back Bay two-bedroom on the first day? To the first couple who walked in! Boy, I got lucky on that one."
"Luck didn’t sell that place, a new sofa and a vase of dahlias did. I don’t believe in luck. You make your own luck" Waverly replied, convinced.
"All I know is you’re worth every penny."
Waverlys phone buzzed, message from her boyfriend Champ: Co-op boards - 3 PM.
"Oh! I have to get over to The Waterford!"
"You’re staging an apartment at The Waterford??"
"No. I may be buying one."
The realtor looked very impressed.
Waverly parked in front of a beautiful apartment building.
She already saw Champ waiting for her outside and she immediately approached him. They kissed for greeting.
As they broke apart Waverly straightened his tie.
"You didn’t wear your lab coat? Co-op boards love a doctor."
"This is The Waterford, they think doctors are blue collar" he laughed and took out his phone.
"Wait. I want a picture of you under the awning."
"Champ, I don’t want to be late..." Waverly said.
"Say 'three bedroom overlooking the common!'"
She smiled and he snapped the photo. He looked at it.
"How do I look? Chic yet respectable?"
"Beautiful! Look at this image quality! I just downloaded the new HD Camera app, you’re even more adorable in high def! Who wouldn’t want this woman living in their building?!"
She couldn't help but be charmed by his enthusiasm. They strided to the entrance where a uniformed doorman was holding the door open. Champ held his hand out for her to enter first. A gentleman.
A beautifully-furnished apartment with sky-high ceilings and gleaming parquet floors. Waverly and Champ sat across from two older, well-groomed women and one silver-haired man in a bow tie. This is the co-op board. And they were finishing up.
"Well. Thank you both again for coming in. We have to review some things internally, of course..." the first woman said.
The man continued: "But that was an outstanding interview. You do seem like just the type of people who should be calling The Waterford home. And not just because half of us are old enough to need a good cardiologist in the building, Dr. Hardy."
They all laughed and Waverly looked at Champ, proud.
The second woman seemed less impressed as she looked through her notes though.
"Hmm. I don’t believe there’s anything we’ve missed, unless there’s something you’d like to add?"
Waverly and Champ exchanged a look. Then Waverly leaned forward, very direct.
"All right, look. There’s really no other way to say this other than being completely blunt. We don’t settle. Champ and I, we just aren’t those types of people. And what we want you to know is, if you do choose to let us move in here, we will continue not to settle. We will be the best tenants, the most devoted to the building, more than anyone else. Because we don’t know any other way to be."
Champ nodded in agreement.
Waverly continued: "As you know I’ve staged apartments all over this area for sellers, even a few next door at The Wesley."
You could tell by the look on the board members’ faces that they felt less than enthusiastic about The Wesley. And Waverly was expecting that reaction.
"I’ve seen everything, and if I may state the obvious, there is no building in Boston finer than The Waterford. So how could we possibly settle anyplace else?"
The man and the first woman seemed to agree. Waverly looked at the second woman, who seemed to be the least swayed by this speech.
"I just love your vitrine. Beidermeier. Louis... XIV?" Waverly asked.
"Of course! I should know that. Well it’s exquisite."
She finally smiled, pleased to have her 'exquisite' taste recognized.
Waverly and Champ celebrated out on the sidewalk.
Champ spoke: "Well that couldn’t have gone any better! And you! You were amazing! That thing with the cabinet?"
"I knew it was Louis XV, but I sensed she was one of those 'smartest person in the room'-types" Waverly answered.
Champ smiled and gave her a big kiss.
"We might live at The Waterford!" he cheered.
"I know... it’d be a good present, wouldn’t it? For maybe the fourth anniversary of our first date? Our... date-a-versary?"
He tickled her.
"You are the worst hint-dropper ever! Do you really think I’d forget? Four years is big."
She giggled in his arms.
"I made a reservation at L’Espalier. And I may have even gotten you a special present..."
Waverly made big eyes: "Really?? What is it? Tell me!"
"No no no, you know I like surprises. You have to wait. Tonight, eight o’clock."
She suddenly shuddered, chilling in the February air.
"Always freezing, what is it with you? Here, take my sweatshirt."
He wraped it around her, gave her a kiss.
"What would I do without you?"
"Buy more layers. See you at eight. Gotta go now."
"I’ll be there!"
Waverly wraped the sweatshirt around her. She couldn't stop smiling as Champ drove off down the street.
After spending their anniversary at the restaurant Waverly and Champ entered their apartment.
He took off his coat. She was right behind him.
Waverly looked at the brand new bracelet on her wrist. And then at the bracelet sized jewelery box from Beacon Hill Estate Jewelery.
"What time is it, 10:30? Ugh, I gotta be at the airport at seven. I have to call and confirm my car, finish some charts, pack, get the Slingbox set up.. I gotta say I love the fact that I’ll be all the way in Ireland and I won’t miss a single Celtics game. That was the best present ever, sweetie..." Champ said as he went into the bedroom.
Waverly stood there looking at the bracelet and the box. She thumbed her head against the wall. How could I be so stupid?!
Champ was busy packing some suits into a garment bag.
"Make sure to tell your dad happy birthday from me tomorrow" he zipped up the bag, "this conference should be interesting. The Swiss are unveiling this new MRI. Who knows, maybe we can convince the hospital to buy one..."
Waverly was in the hallway, not really listening. She was looking at framed photos on the wall: Waverly and Champ enjoying ski trips, birthday dinners, a Paris vacation, Valentine’s day... four years of her life. She looked down at the bracelet again, depressed.
"You can always come with me, you know..." Champ passed by, disappearing into the guest room to grab something else, "who doesn’t want to visit Ireland in the dead of winter?"
He laughed as he crossed back to the bedroom. He stopped, coming back out to look at Waverly.
"Waverly? You okay? You look upset."
Waverly turned to him. She didn't know what to say.
"You’re nervous about the co-op aren’t you?"
Waverly nodded, covering. Champ walked over to her, wraped his arms around her.
"I know. I hate to be going away when all this is going down but there’s really not much to do after the interview. I’m sure they’ll let us know by the weekend."
"Come on. We’re gonna get it. When do I not get you what you want?"
He gave her a little squeeze and headed back into the bedroom. Waverly glanced down at the bracelet again...
A classic Boston watering hole. The perfect spot for a liquid lunch.
Waverly sat with sister Wynonna in one of the old school booths, where names have been carved into the wood over the past decades. Across from them was their father Wyatt. A waitress picked up his empty drink and replaced it with a refill.
"Thank you, m’lady!"
"Do you want to open your present?" Waverly asked happily.
The girls pushed a wrapped box across the table. He unwraped it, revealing a brand new phone.
"Well look at that! It’s a... phone."
"No no, it’s a BlackBerry. You can put all your appointments and contacts in there, you can even send email!"
He looked at it. Already knowing he’s never going to use it. Wynonna knew this was a bad idea.
"Or you can just use the phone part." Wynonna said.
"No. Use the whole thing! It’s perfect! You know how you’re always writing stuff down on scraps of paper or matchbooks and then they’re all stuffed in your pockets or worse you just lose them... now you can just type everything in there!" Waverly said enthusiastically.
"Well that’s great, girls. As soon as I get a spare moment I’ll crack open the instructions and figure out what all these buttons do!"
No he won’t. He put the box down and quickly changed the subject.
"So how’s that Champ? How are things going in the medical trade?"
She gritted her teeth and reached for her water. Wyatt noticed her sparkly new bracelet.
"Whoa, what are you trying to do, blind me?! Lemme put my sunglasses on! Where’d that come from?"
"Champ got it for me for our anniversary."
"What, still no ring? What’s with that guy?"
Waverly looked angry. He noticed and tried to be useful.
"Champ’s already in Ireland, right? Half the battle’s over."
The women looked confused.
"What's in Ireland?" Wynonna asked.
"In Leap Year there the women can propose to the men! On the 29th of February, it's a tradition!"
He chuckled and swallowed his drink.
"What do you say? Should we send you to Ireland to get down on one knee?"
"I- no!" Waverly hissed.
"I can pay for your ticket. Some of your ticket. Actually if you wanna do it right now, you should probably pay for it and I’ll pay you back."
"I’m serious. I’ve got something coming down the pike in a couple of months that’s really going to set me up nicely. I can’t say much about it right now, but let’s just say it’s 99 percent a done deal already. It might involve vacation homes, not time shares, per se, but a very lucrative opportunity. You know what, I’ve said too much already. But I’ve got a good feeling about this."
Waverly and Wynonna have heard this before.
"Dad. I’m not going to Ireland. I appreciate the advice but I don’t think that’s for me."
Wynonna tried to diffuse the building tension: "We should order some lunch!"
"Good idea. Order me a sandwich Wyn, will you? Gotta use the bathroom."
He got up and left for the men’s room. Waverly looked at her sister.
"I know. I’m sorry. I still think Champ is an ass but it's a gorgeous bracelet. Don’t be mad."
"He seriously thinks I should go to Ireland and propose to my boyfriend. He lives on a different planet!"
Wynonna held out a comforting hand to Waverly. Waverly took it, groaned, then slumped her head onto the table, spent.
"And this table is sticky."
Waverly, in that same position, head on her pillow. She had a hard time falling asleep. There was a photo of her and Champ smiling happily, just staring at her from her bedside table. She rolled over, shutting it out... And her eyes landed on her wrist - the bracelet. A symbol of her disappointment. Exasperated, she flipped onto her back, put the pillow over her head. Then after a beat, she finally threw the blankets aside and got out of bed.
She went into the living room and opened her laptop. She googled and quickly found a bunch of articles on leap year proposals in Ireland. She read, looked at photos of women proposing on one knee in Dublin.
Even though she found that whole thing absolutely absurd she kept on watching pictures and clips of Irish women kissing their happy crying men - showing off their rings.
She got a little emotional, too.
But again, she thought better of it and snapped the laptop shut. She got up.
But quickly, she sat back down and opened the laptop again. This time she went right to an airline site. She clicked on 'Search for flights'.