Right. I had decided. This break from the relationship had been useful: it had shown me that I really wanted to be with Mia. I knew that today was the day she got back from her holiday. Today was the day I was going to propose.
It had been six months since we'd seen each other last. Since we'd parted at the park with tears in our eyes. I was sad that it had had to come to that, but with every beautiful girl in town catching my eye and not subtly enough for Mia to not notice, I had needed to take a step back and put things into perspective. Did I love her or not?
Without Mia, I had been dejected and bored. Little had held interest for me in life. I had realised during this half-year that I had seriously taken her for granted. How I missed her tinkling laugh, her glossy blonde hair which felt like silk beneath my caressing fingers and her beautiful chestnut brown eyes which had melted my insides as easily as if they were the gooey caramel inside chocolate bars. What a fool I had been to not think of that and thank my lucky stars every moment I was with her. I was incredibly guilty, sorry for what I had done, but this was my chance to make it up to her. I would give her an hour or two after her arrival at the airport, then drive to her house and tell her how I felt, how much I needed her back in my life. I just couldn't let this opportunity slip away.
Two hours later, I was speeding down the country lanes to get to her quaint little cottage which was owned by her aunt.
I parked, got out the car and slammed the door before sprinting to the front door. I hoped I looked all right. Mia had once said that I looked handsome at any moment. I hoped that still applied. I quickly pressed the button on the car key to lock the doors before smoothing down my ruffled hair and ringing the doorbell.
Mia answered the door, looking glowing. She had got an amazing tan during her holiday and I was rendered almost incoherent. Wow, she was stunning.
"James?" she asked, looking elated to see me.
"Mia, I was so stupid," I said breathlessly, not even bothering with a hello that would waste precious time.
"You were?" she asked, looking slightly puzzled.
"Yeah. I totally lost sight of what you mean to me."
Mia's brow furrowed. "Are you talking about our relationship?"
I nodded. "Mia, there's something I have to say, something I have to do. I want to apologise and I want to tell you that you are definitely the one."
Mia looked sad. "James, there's something I have to tell you too..."
"Let me say my thing first," I interrupted. My heart raced in my chest.
"Okay," she said quietly, still looking sad. I didn't understand her reaction but was too focused on what I was about to do to consider it.
I got down on one knee, pulled the black box containing the most expensive engagement ring I had been able to find out of my pocket and opened it with trembling fingers.
"Mia. Wonderful, precious Mia Quail. Will you marry me?"
"James," she gasped. Then she looked horrified. "I'm so sorry."
"What?" I asked, confused and desperate. "What's wrong, Mia?!"
"This is what I had to tell you: while I was on holiday..." She took a deep breath. "I found someone else."
"You what?" I asked, aghast. I closed the ring box and put it back in my pocket.
"I'm really sorry. I had no idea you were going to want me back. It was becoming too long for me to wait, to hope. I ... I got over you, James, and I ... I found someone else."
My world came crashing down around me.
"You found someone else?" I repeated stupidly.
Mia nodded, looking sorry. "He's called George."
"Well..." I said. "Well."
Mia winced. "I'm really sorry."
"You really like him?"
"He's a great guy, James." She didn't have to add the words 'greater than you were'.
I stood up. "I guess ... you have my congratulations," I said, swallowing hard.
"I'm sorry," she repeated unhappily. "We can still be friends."
"Of course," I replied, though I didn't really believe that.
"Was there anything else you wanted to say? Do you want to come in?"
"Nah, I have other things to be getting on with," I lied, trying to seem casual while my insides were being ripped to shreds.
"Sorry," she repeated.
"Guess I'd better be off," I said, turning away.
"Bye," she murmured, almost inaudibly.
"Bye," I answered, not looking at her.
I heard the door close. I walked back to the car feeling lost and disconsolate. I had taken too long. Time had changed everything.
I was a stupid fool and I was never going to be allowed to forget it.