I sighed as I walked to the shoemaker's. I put my hands in my pockets and glanced over my shoulder. I felt like I should be with her but Trenton needed me today.
Thomas was waiting for me outside of the shoemaker's, a grim look on his face. I shook his hand.
"Good morning, Mr. Buckley," I said nervously, pulling on my sleeve. "Um.... H-How are you?"
His eyes bored into mine and I gulped. I knew why he was here. I was finally getting my answer. I shoved my hands into my pockets again.
"Where?" he asked and I rubbed the back of my neck.
"The rock," I mumbled.
I looked at him. "As soon as I get your answer," I whispered. "Although, in light of recent events, perhaps it should wait...."
Thomas put his hands into his pockets, too. He didn't say anything and I wondered why he was just standing here. I heard footsteps behind me and looked over. Bryant and Elvira were walking over. Elvira smiled at me and I tried to return it. I was too nervous, though, as they stood beside Thomas.
"This was my grandmother's," Bryant said, handing me a box.
Thomas walked forward, holding out his hand with a hint of a smile. I took it, my hand shaking.
"Break her heart, and I will kill you, Silas," he said quietly.
"Y-Yes of course," I breathed. "Does this- Are you- Am I-?"
"The weather is supposed to be beautiful next week," Elvira said, leaning against Thomas and wrapping her arms around his arm. "It's the perfect time for a walk. Megan's been experiencing some cabin fever."
"But what about Mr. Pink's death?" I whispered. "Surely she'd-"
"Do you trust us, Silas?" Thomas asked and I nodded. "Next Wednesday."
I watched them walk off and opened the box in my hands. I was shaking. A beautiful diamond ring with a golden band was nestled in some velvet. I took a few deep breaths and put it in my pocket, walking into the shoemaker's.
I knew I was in love with Megan long before we went ice skating. It was as she wrestled with her brother in the snow, though, that I realized I didn't want to live without her. After nearly 14 years of believing I'd be alone forever, to find Megan was intimidating.
But, as I polished some shoes, I remembered the look of determination on her face this morning. I remembered how strong she was being in the face of her grief. I smiled to myself, also remembering how cold she was when I first met her.
"Are you okay, Silas?" Trenton asked.
"Yes, sorry," I said. "I'm just a little distracted today." I sighed. "Poor Megan is...."
"I know," he said. "He took good care of her over the years."
I nodded. "When is the traditional time to have funerals here?"
"Two days," he answered. "I'm assuming he'll be buried beside his wife."
I just nodded again and went back to my work, planning out how next week would work.
-One Week Later-
"I'm going to be sick," I groaned, leaning my head against the gate outside of the schoolhouse.
"You'll be fine," Thomas said, gripping my shoulder.
"She's going to say no and hate me forever."
He chuckled. "Take a few deep breaths, Silas. School will be out soon."
I looked at him. "How'd you convince her to close early?"
"I reminded her that she got half days at the beginning of the year sometimes, too," he shrugged. He sighed and shook his head. "She feels like she has so much to prove but soon she'll realize she's just as good, if not better, as Mr. Pink."
The funeral had been hard on the Buckley family and Megan had cried more tears than I've ever seen. My heart broke for her.
A bell rang and I nearly jumped out of my skin.
"P-Perhaps I shouldn't do this," I breathed and Thomas rolled his eyes.
"Relax, Silas," he said firmly. "Everything will be fine."
"Easy for you to say," I said. "Elvira was easier to court."
Thomas laughed loudly. "Yes, yes she was." He looked at me. "But is Megan worth the work you've put into it?"
I watched as she walked out, laughing with a little girl. She was in the green dress Bryant and Lauren brought back from London as well as the boots I had made her. I was glad Elvira made sure she was wearing those. The little girl saw her mother and kissed Megan on the cheek and ran to her mother. Megan watched with a soft smile then beamed when she saw me and Thomas.
"Yes," I breathed. "Yes she is."
"Hi," she said, hugging her brother and then me. "I wasn't expecting you guys to be here."
"Do you have everything locked up in the school?" Thomas asked.
"Yep," she said and watched the girl with her mother. "She was scared. It was her first day. It reminded me of when you dropped me off."
He grinned. "Well, I need to get back to the forge. Silas, would you like to join us for dinner at the estate tonight?"
I just nodded and he winked at me, walking off. I turned to Megan who was looking at me with a smile.
"You're nervous," she stated and I laughed. "You're never nervous. What happened today?"
I held her hand - something she insisted on instead of my arm - and led her to the forest.
"Trenton put me on a new project," I lied. "I'm moving on to high heels that are significantly higher than what I'm used to."
Megan shook her head, pulling her cloak tighter around her. "I don't understand women who wear high heels. They look so uncomfortable!"
"Agreed," I said. "You should see some of the ones that Trenton's had to make."
I bit my lip. We were at our houses and she was about to go into hers.
"Will you join me on a walk?" I asked.
"Just into the forest a little," I said and she nodded.
"Tell me about your day," I said and she walked closer.
Over the last week, she had become more comfortable around me. I made sure she and I spent a lot of time together. I knew it would take a while to help her through her insecurities. She still had many. But so did I and, one thing I remember my father saying, was that you have to work together in a relationship. Now she felt comfortable enough to let me kiss her without freezing at my touch.
"Oh, it was pretty uneventful to tell the truth," she said. "We have tests coming up next week that I've been preparing for. I didn't realize how much work goes into it! Not only do you need to pick the right questions, but you have to do it for each age group. The other teachers have been great at helping me, though."
"Has Morgan started?" I asked, my heart beating quicker when the rock came into view.
"Yep," she said happily. "I put her in charge of recess since she loves watching kids so much."
"Do you like kids?" I asked.
"Very much so," she nodded.
We stopped and I bit my lip. Megan frowned and tilted her head at me.
"What is it, Silas?" she asked.
I couldn't stop the smile from spreading on my face at the way my name sounded coming from her lips.
"Well," I said then cleared my throat again. "Do you remember when we first met?"
She laughed and looked at the rock. "How could I forget? I made a fool out of myself."
"Yeah, yeah you did," I said and she nudged me playfully. "But that's not what I remember. I remember seeing a beautiful young woman in distress. I wasn't sure what upset her, but it was rather disheartening to see her upset. Some women aren't meant to cry." She smiled and leaned into me. "You weren't meant to cry, Megan. You're made to laugh, to sing, to dance." I kissed the top of her head. "To be loved. So, I have a question for you."
I felt her stiffen and knew she had finally caught on. I let go of her hand and got the box out from my pocket.
"I-I know it's tradition to get on one knee," I said and my eyes locked on hers. "But I've never been one for tradition. Will you marry me, Megan Buckley?"
She stared at the ring, her jaw dropped. Then she looked at me, her eyes watering. Thomas warned me this would happen.
"Don't push her. Give her some breathing time. She'll panic."
As the minutes stretched on, though, it was I who started to panic. She covered her face with both hands and my heart felt like it was sinking. She started to cry. I had no idea what to do. I was about to close the box when she threw her arms around me and kissed me on the lips.
The force of her sudden hug made me stumble back a little. Before I could kiss her back, she broke away.
"Should I take that as a yes?" I asked and she laughed, wiping at her tears.
"Yes," she nodded. "Yes, yes, yes."
I beamed and put the ring on her finger. She beamed at it and kissed me again.