Aside from Gina mentioning Alicia, Thanksgiving went really well. My family really embraced Deidre and I was happy for that. Gina didn't talk to her at all during the dinner or afterwards when we passed around early Christmas gifts from my two uncles who wouldn't be there. They had both gotten Deidre some perfume.
"I know it's not much," Uncle Kyle said but Deidre beamed.
"It's great! I'm sorry I didn't get anything for you!"
"Don't worry about it."
Another football came on and Deidre yawned. She leaned into me and I smiled down at her. Her eyes were slowly closing until she finally fell asleep.
"She's a wonderful young woman," Uncle Kyle whispered.
"Yeah, she is," I said, smiling as she snuggled closer. She was shivering and my mom passed me a blanket to put around her. "I'm a very lucky guy."
"How long have you been together?"
"About three months."
Aunt Amanda smiled. "When are you going to propose?"
I blushed as Uncle Kyle said, "Oh, come on, Amanda. They haven't been dating for that long."
"He loves her, though. I can tell."
I just smiled nervously and turned my eyes to the TV. I had planned to propose to her today at dinner but, after what happened with Gina, I figured it wasn't a good idea. Now that I thought about it, though, it wasn't a very romantic way to propose.
I sat here, Deidre starting to snore quietly, and contemplated different ways and places to propose. It took me about an hour before I thought of the perfect place.
Deidre woke up just as everyone was leaving. She went to shake hands but they all pulled her into a hug. She looked uncomfortable but accepted them all the same. Gina, though, left without saying anything.
"Hurry and change into something warm," I told her and she frowned. I ushered her to the stairs. "Go, go. Be ready in ten minutes."
"What are you doing?" my mom asked and I gestured for them to follow me to the dining room.
"I know where I'm going to do it," I whispered. "But I need your help."
I was still a little sleepy after all the food. I changed into a pair of blue jeans, black winter boots, and a long sleeved red shirt. I stopped by the coat closet and got my coat on, buttoning it up.
"Okay, Artemis," I called. "I'm ready."
He didn't respond and I frowned, going into the kitchen. My mom and Evelyn were standing in there with their coats on, too.
"Where's Artemis?" I asked.
"Oh, he wants us to meet him there," Evelyn answered.
I frowned. "Meet him where?"
"Let's go," my mom said, her voice shaking.
"Are you okay, Mom?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just a little tired from all the food."
"Okay," I said slowly and followed them to the garage.
Evelyn groaned as she started the car. "I really don't like driving on the ice."
"So why isn't Artemis driving? Where is he?"
Evelyn didn't answer and I got worried. He didn't go to talk to Gina, did he? I hoped not. She was just a little girl who didn't understand. When I was her age, I couldn't understand why my father was hurting my mom and I.
I yawned and closed my eyes. I didn't know how far Gina lived so I leaned my head back. Perhaps I could take a nap and be awake enough to try and calm Artemis down. I didn't get a chance to fall asleep, though, when the car pulled to a stop.
"This is where we drop you off," Evelyn said cheerfully.
"Why?" I asked, frowning. "The fountain is closed."
"We'll be back in an hour," my mom said. "There are some gifts we need to get now that the prices are down."
I sighed heavily. "All right. But if Artemis isn't here and you're ditching me, I'm going to kill you."
My mom just laughed and I got out. They drove off and I frowned around me. It was snowing again and I climbed over the small gate. I put my hand out to catch snowflakes, wandering around and waiting for Artemis to make himself known.
I smiled down at the holes on the ground. When spring came, I was certain it would be open again. I hummed to myself and skipped around the holes.
"Careful or you'll trip."
I squealed. "You scared me."
Artemis was standing in front of the bigger geyser. He had his coat on and a pair of nice jeans. He smiled at me and held his hands out. I walked over and took them.
"What's going on? Our mom's totally abandoned me here," I pouted.
"That's because I asked them to," he said and I glared at him.
"Not funny, Artemis," I said and he dropped my hands, smiling tenderly at me. "I have no gloves, it's freezing out, I'm sleepy, and- What are you doing?"
He put his hand into his pocket, slowly getting down on his knee. I gasped and put my hand over my mouth. I took a step back, my heart pounding in my chest.
"Ar-Artemis?" I whispered but he just kept that smile on his face.
He took a small red velvet box out of his pocket and I was finding it hard to breathe.
"We've been through a lot, Deidre," he whispered. "From the first time we met, to Julia, to your father, to today. Looking back on it all, I see how much I love you. I know our moms pretty much forced us into this," he added and opened the box, "but I'm doing this because I love you. All I can do now is hope that you agree to be my wife. Not because of our moms, not because of the business, and definitely not because of what people are expecting of us. I want you to say yes because you love me, too."
He bit his lower lip and looked up at me. I was stunned. I had no idea he would actually go through with a traditional proposal. I tried to find my voice but I couldn't. The ring was gorgeous. It was silver with a heart shaped diamond. His smile was starting to fade and he was looking scared.
I got down on my knees carefully and took his face in my hands. His eyes flicked between the two of mine as I leaned forward and kissed he gently.
"I love you, Artemis," I whispered. "I don't care what happens around us. I don't care about your family, your business, and I definitely don't care about the money. Even if we were to become homeless, I would still love you." I took a deep breath, closing my eyes. "There is nothing I'd love more than to marry you."
He pressed his lips to mine and pulled me close. I kissed him back, tears of joy falling down my face as I wrapped my arms around his neck. I leaned into him and he fell onto his back, laughing into my lips.
I heard people clapping and looked up. Our moms were gathered as was Larry and some of his family members. I laughed and got off him, standing up and straightening my jacket. He stood and slid the ring onto my finger. I kissed him again.
"I was afraid you were going to say no," he said breathlessly.
I hugged him, grinning into his neck.