Home > The Proposal(2)

The Proposal(2)
Author: Kitty Thomas

He laughs again. “No.”

I open it and start to cry when I see the ring.

He gets down on one knee and says, “Livia Fairchild, will you be my person?”

I'm blubbering and crying and say, “Yes, I will be your person.” We kiss. He puts the ring on me. It's all so perfect.

Our guests say a collective, “Awwww” as the screen goes black. Then they're back to clinking their silverware against their glasses, and he leans over and kisses me again.

Before he pulls away, his mouth brushes my ear. “Time's up. You're mine tonight.” His words are a growl so different from the version of himself that everyone else in this ballroom sees. It's jarring the way he can go from this charming facade to something so dark and menacing in an eye blink—the way he can transform only feet from our guests. Yet only I can see the monster. Everyone else sees the man.

I swallow hard at this proclamation and twist the wedding band on my finger. There are three words engraved on the inside of the band. Those three words seal my fate.

The rest of the reception goes by in a blur. The first dance. The dances with the parents. The cake. The bouquet. The garter. All the well wishes that come from guests as they each take turns wishing us a long and happy marriage. We go through a tunnel of sparklers created by our guests, riding off in the limo with the just married sign on the back and the cans dragging along the road behind us, only to circle back into the parking garage so we can go up to our suite for the night.

My hand is trembling as he takes it in his, leading me back inside the hotel and up the elevator to our room. He carries me over the threshold. Inside are candles and champagne and fancy chocolate and rose petals everywhere.

Two men in tuxedos step out of the shadows, looking me up and down with an appreciative once-over.

“It's about time,” one of them says.

My husband guides me over to the other two men, and then all three of them are touching me.

The words inscribed on the inside of my wedding band are their names:

Griffin. Dayne. Soren.






The Real Proposal



Six and a half months ago. Early December.


I walk into Capri Bella fifteen minutes late, my heart thundering in my chest. I have a dinner date but because of my schedule and his, we had to meet tonight instead of him picking me up. He did send his driver to collect me, though. I try to seem cool and collected about that but a driver collecting me is still a relatively new thing in my world.

I take a slow measured breath as I take in my surroundings. It's not that Griffin doesn't take me to nice restaurants. He does. But this isn't just a nice restaurant. It's a nice romantic restaurant with marriage proposal stats. And he said he had something very important to talk to me about. So what else could it be?

A part of me feels like I've won, but another part of me wonders, is this the man I want? Can I give up all others for him? Can I really do lifelong monogamy now that it may be upon me?

I smooth down the siren red dress. It's sexy but not slutty, reaching a few inches below my knees, showing just enough leg to get the sexy-in-heels benefit. I approach the reservation desk.

A refined older gentleman looks up at me over glasses which could probably more accurately be called spectacles. “Can I help you, Miss?”

I give him my date's name and say I'm meeting him here.

“Oh yes, Ms. Fairchild, your party is already seated. Let me show you to the table.”

I expect to be led to a small out of the way intimate table set for two, candlelight, maybe a nice view of the city, or maybe a table out on the private balcony. Instead, I'm taken to a larger round table with three men seated at it, and one seat left vacant for me.

The three men are Griffin, Dayne, and Soren. I've been dating all three of them. I never made it a secret that I wasn't exclusive with anyone, but I was discreet and didn't expect them to ever meet each other.

All three men stand.

The man who brought me to my table has disappeared, and I'm left alone to face them. But I don't fall apart. I haven't done anything wrong. They knew we weren't exclusive. And I never acted like a jealous girlfriend. I never told them they couldn't see other women or fuck other women. I don't care. It's not my business. We aren't exclusive. If the price of my freedom from dead-end relationships is the men I see being allowed to fuck who they want, as long as it's not me they're fucking over, fine.

They all knew my terms. They all agreed to my terms. No one at this table has any right to be upset. If they wanted me, they should have locked me down with a ring and something real.

I meet each of their gazes in turn, a challenge in mine, daring them to speak first.

“Which one of you is getting my chair?” I say when it's clear we might all stand here in a death stare forever.

If they think after months of them opening doors and pulling out chairs that it's ending now, they are sadly mistaken.

Dayne stands closest to me on my right; he comes around and pulls out my chair.

“Thank you.”

I sit, and they sit. The staring contest commences again. I take a sip of my water and look down at the menu, unwilling to be the first person to speak or act as though I've done anything wrong when they knew my terms from the beginning. They don't get to turn this around on me now. How on earth do they know each other? I try to imagine how the subject even came up, and I find I'm not that imaginative.

This is one of those restaurants where only the man's menu has prices. About a year ago, there was a giant freak-out and pressure about the misogyny of the menus with hysterical demands that they put prices on all of them, presumably because empowered women want to split the bill. Empowered women are ruining life for the rest of us.

The restaurant, being very upscale and determined to preserve a certain elegant atmosphere and old traditions, held firm and waited for the shitstorm to blow over. Their popularity more than doubled after that, and it's been next to impossible to get a reservation ever since. But Griffin got one.

I wonder which of the three men sitting at the table with me has the menu with the prices, or if they all do. I wonder what the man at the reservations desk thought about a dinner in a romantic restaurant that obviously isn't a business dinner but has one woman and three men claiming a single table.

“So,” Griffin says.

But he's interrupted by a waiter who takes first my order, then theirs. I order the Penne Bolognese and Merlot. I don't notice what they order because I swear I'm about to hyperventilate. I'm left hanging onto a thin thread of hope that they won't make a scene. Surely if they planned to say or do anything dramatic they would have met me some place else.

The waiter takes their menus then has to pry mine from my unconsciously tight-fisted grip. Then he departs.

“So,” Griffin begins again. “I've had some interesting conversations recently.”

“Oh?” I say, taking another sip of water. The water has two lime slices in it, exactly the way I like it, and I wonder which one of them put in that request.

“Did you know we knew each other?” he asks, not betraying any emotion about any of this.

“Of course not.”

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