So much for getting out early… Melanie groaned miserably to herself as she wearily trudged up the porch steps.
Her boss had made her stay nearly an hour later than when she’d been scheduled to leave. And now she still needed to change and get ready for the mysterious surprise that Lucas had promised her. She’d already texted him to warn him that she would be late, but Melanie still felt so guilty.
As she unlocked her front door, however, she was startled to find someone standing in the entryway, waiting for her.
“Surprise!” Lucas smiled warmly as she entered.
The whole house was full of candles; soft, classical music was playing over the stereo; and over in the living room, Mel could see what looked like one of the massage tables they had at the spa.
Melanie looked at him, amazed. “But… How?” She asked, almost laughing. “I mean, how did you even get in here?”
Lucas shrugged, smiling. “Sean let me in. You gave him a spare key for emergencies, remember?”
Mel shook her head, amused. Her brother had been in on this? “Wow, Sean can never keep a secret. I’m impressed.”
“So… what do you think?” Lucas asked, gesturing to the room around them.
“I think you are the sweetest guy in the world.” Melanie replied sincerely.
First, he gave her a massage on the table he’d set up in the living room (“Can you believe you can rent these things?” He’d asked, amused). Lucas was certainly no professional, but it still helped to relax her weary muscles after leaning over a desk all day.
Next, he surprised her by drawing a bath full of rose petals and scented oils. “You relax.” He said, smiling. “And I’ll go cook dinner.” Melanie gratefully accepted.
Lucas had laid out one of Mel’s favorite dresses for her to change into when her bath was over. She took a few extra minutes in front of the mirror, hoping to look as perfect as possible for him.
Dinner was delicious, of course. Everything Lucas made always was. Melanie savored every bite.
“This was amazing, Lucas.” She said seriously when they’d finished their meal. “I can’t believe all the trouble you went through…”
He just shrugged. “You deserve it. You work so hard all the time… and you’ve made this past year one of the best of my life.” Lucas reached out, holding both of her hands in his. “So thanks, Mel. For everything.” He smiled. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Melanie felt him shift slightly behind her.
“I just realized I never gave you your gift yet.”
She could hear the smile in his voice, even without turning around. “I don’t need anything. Just you.”
“Well too bad.” Melanie giggled. “Because I got you something. Hold on…”
She pulled away from the warmth of his embrace with great reluctance and leaned over, reaching into the drawer of the bedside table. Melanie concealed the tiny object in the palm of her hand.
Lucas moved closer, sitting beside her on the edge of the bed, playfully trying to peek at whatever it was she held in her hand.
“Happy Anniversary.” She smiled. “This is for you.” Melanie reached out for one of his hands, placing it on top of hers and pressing the gift into his palm.
He examined the tiny metal object. “Aha… Is this so I don’t have to get your brother involved next time I plan on surprising you?” Lucas smiled crookedly at her.
Melanie laughed. “Of course.” She paused, glancing down toward the small silver key in Lucas’ palm. “But… It’s not just that.” She confessed. “I was thinking that maybe we’re ready for… the next step?”
Lucas raised a curious eyebrow at her, but said nothing.
“Well, we’ve been together for a year now, and we’ve been so happy together… And you already stay over here a lot anyway, so…” She took a deep breath. “What I’m trying to say is… Will you move in with me?” Mel looked at him hopefully.
Lucas pulled away from her, biting his lip nervously.
Mel knew in an instant she’d made a mistake.
“That’s… that’s really big, Mel.” He began uncertainly. “Living together… Wow. I mean, I’ll have to think about it a little… Talk to my parents, and stuff, y’know?”
There was something in his voice that told her it was not that simple. Nice going, Mel… You just ruined everything… She hung her head. “Yeah. I get it.”
“I’m sorry, Mel, I –”
“Don’t be. That was a lot to spring on you like that. I guess I just thought…” I thought you’d be happy. She shook her head, leaving the rest of her thought unfinished. “Never mind.”
Melanie rose to her feet, forcing a yawn. “I’m pretty exhausted, so I should probably get some sleep. Thanks for the lovely evening.” She tried to smile. “Goodnight.”
She pretended she did not hear him as she hid beneath the covers, feigning sleep. We should have talked about it first. I’m such an idiot…
As these thoughts swirled about in her troubled mind, Mel could sense Lucas still sitting on the edge of the bed, unmoving for a long time. I wonder what he’s thinking about. She could not help but wonder.
But she also feared what the answer might be.