"Jamie's keeping something from me," Amy said. She dropped down into the chair opposite Malcolm and looked at him plaintively. "Help. And also, hello."
Malcolm laughed, the traitor.
"It's not funny," she said, her voice edging perilously close to whining like a little girl. She cringed. Whining was not a good look on her and she knew it. "Okay, gross. Let's start over."
"Sure," Malcolm said, nodding his head in agreement. "I'll start: Hello, Amy. How are you today?"
She didn't quite have to force herself to smile. Malcolm had that effect on her. "Hi, Malcolm. I'm great except for the fact that my boyfriend is keeping something from me even though he's not supposed to do that anymore and I'm sort of freaking out about it. And you?"
"Same old, same old." He leaned forward, elbows on the table, his eyes intent on her face. "How do you know Jamie's keeping something from you?"
Amy threw her hands up in the air in frustration. "Because I do. Because he's him and I'm me and if after dating for three years, I couldn't tell when he's keeping things from me, we'd have way more problems than you and I could hash out over brunch."
Their waitress arrived to take their order and Amy picked something random off the menu. She didn't really care what she ate so long as it had actual bacon that came with it. In three years, she'd learned to love tofu and other meatless alternatives, but she really missed bacon sometimes. And most of those times she was too lazy to make it for herself. Her bi-weekly brunch with Malcolm was her best opportunity to indulge.
Alone again, Amy studied Malcolm's face carefully. After four years of friendship, she knew him well enough to know his tells, too. And right now, his left eyelid was twitching in a way that screamed 'I've got a secret' and Amy was willing to bet all the cash in her wallet that she could guess what that secret was.
She pointed an accusing finger at him. "You know!"
Malcolm tried to look innocent. It didn't work. "Know what?"
Amy shook her head. "Don't play games with me. You know what Jamie's keeping secret."
"I do not."
"Do --" Malcolm cut himself off, shaking his head. "Okay, did that feel very elementary school to you, too?"
Amy nodded. "We probably should have outgrown that by now."
"Probably," Malcolm agreed. He sighed. "Okay, yes."
"Yes, what?" Amy asked, raising an eyebrow at him. She knew full well what he was saying yes to, she just wanted to actually make him say it.
"You are a very frustrating human being sometimes, you know that?" Malcolm asked, affection undercutting his words.
Amy nodded again. "I do. Now what do you know?"
Malcolm rolled his eyes at her. "I know what Jamie's keeping secret. And before you get any ideas that I'll tell you what it is, I will not be doing that. There's a code, you know."
"Please," Amy snorted. "I'm a Digger, too, or did you forget, big sib?"
"Not that code," Malcolm said, rolling his eyes again. "The bro code."
"Oh, God," Amy said. "You did not just say that."
"I did," Malcolm nodded. "And it's true. You won't get a word out of me. Don't like it? I suggest you take it up with your boyfriend."
"Ugh," Amy said, slumping back in her chair. "I hate you both. And you're buying."
"Don't I always?" Malcolm asked.
Amy didn't bother to dignify that with a response.
Almost a week went by before Amy worked up the courage to actually ask Jamie what was going on. And okay, part of it was that there hadn't been time. He'd had a new case dumped in his lap by his firm's partners and Amy was stressed beyond belief about the launch party she was planning for the newest Caritas product and interrogating Jamie when they only saw each other to sleep didn't seem like the best way to find out what she wanted to know.
But on Saturday night, when it was finally just the two of them and they were curled up together on the couch watching a movie that's defining characteristic seemed to be the number of explosions they could be crammed in per minute, well, that seemed more like the right time.
Amy sat up, disentangling herself from Jamie's arms. He gave her a confused look, his arms still outstretched.
"Come back here," he said.
Amy shook her head.
Jamie's confusion turned into a frown. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," she said. "I don't know. Something. You tell me."
And the expression on Jamie's face swung back into confusion. "I don't understand."
"That makes two of us," Amy said, under her breath. Jamie narrowed his eyes at her. Okay, mostly under her breath. She shook her head again, trying to clear it and start this whole conversation over again. She looked him straight in the eye. "Is there something you're not telling me?"
Jamie stared at her, shock written all over his face. Clearly that had not been what he'd expected her to say.
She saw the exact moment that his eyes shuttered so that he could lie to her and she pointed at him, practically jabbing him in the chest. "There! That's it, you are. You always do that."
"Always do what?" he countered, and Amy rolled her eyes at his truly pathetic attempt to change the subject.
"Nope," she said. "I'm the one asking the questions here. Now talk."
Jamie raised his eyebrows at her, disbelief and intrigue warring in his eyes. "And if I don't?"
Amy shrugged one shoulder, scooting just a little bit closer to him on the couch and walking her fingers up his arm until her hand curved around the back of his neck. "We have ways of making you," she said, trying on a thick Eastern European type accent.
Jamie laughed, and pulled her closer still. "Tell me more about your ways," he said. "I'm very interested in learning more about your methods."
He leaned in to kiss her and Amy almost let him because it had been a week since they'd had sex unless you counted the thing in the shower and Amy really didn't, so it would have been so easy to just give in and --
"No," she said, pushing him back so hard that he fell off the couch and onto the floor. "Not until you tell me what's going on."
Jamie stared up at her for a long moment and then he pushed himself up and walked into their bedroom, shutting the door behind him.
Amy looked at the shut door and mentally cursed at herself. Jamie walking away had not been part of the plan. Not that there had really been a plan. Which, in hindsight, she thought, might have been part of the problem.
She was just planning what she was going to have to do to make this up to him when the door opened and Jamie walked back out with something in his hand. A very small ring box shaped something in his hand.
Her breath caught in her chest. He couldn't be doing what she thought he was about to do. It was impossible, it was --
Jamie sat back down on the couch next to her and flipped the box open. A diamond solitaire glinted up at her, bright and beautiful, and it took all of the willpower Amy possessed not to reach out and snatch it from his hand. She looked up at Jamie instead.
He gave her a rueful smile. "I'd meant to do this differently," he said, taking her hand in his. "But since that doesn't seem to be in the cards, I guess it'll have to be like this." He paused, his eyes fixed firmly on her own. "Amy, will you marry me?"
"Yes, yes, yes," Amy chanted, the words escaping her mouth as soon as he finished speaking. She was smiling so hard her cheeks hurt and when she leaned forward to kiss him, she could feel him smiling too.
While they were kissing, Jamie somehow managed to slip the ring on her finger and Amy immediately drew back so that she could see. "It's so pretty," she said, admiring the way it winked up at her.
Looking at it, something clicked in her head. "Malcolm," she said.
"Jamie," he said, pointing at himself. "I really hope you know the difference by now."
"Haha, very funny" Amy said. "No, I meant, Malcolm knew."
"Oh," Jamie said. He shrugged. "Yes."
Amy smiled again, satisfied. Mystery solved. She tugged on the front of Jamie's shirt. "Why don't you come over here and kiss me?" she invited.