By Sharyn Kopf
We’ve now been kissing for a good five minutes. Emphasis on good. Which is strange behavior, I suppose, for a girl who just said no to a marriage proposal.
Finally, Matt pulls back and rests his forehead on mine. “Maybe you shouldn’t kiss me like that if you’re not going to marry me.”
I turn my head. “Brontë said, ‘It is a solemn and strange and perilous thing for a woman to become a wife.’”
“Do you have a Charlotte Brontë quote for everything?”
“She’s not wrong. My propensity for literature aside, you really don’t know me that well.”
He pulls away and crosses his arms and stares out the bay window. Moonlight glistens off inky-black water of Lake Tamaha just past the back patio, and a loon yodels to his sweetheart from the edge of the lake. A chorus of friends respond to his call. The music eases my stress, which is why we usually hang out at Matt’s place instead of my noisy apartment downtown. I didn’t choose to fall in love with a man who lives on a lake. That was merely serendipitous.
As I ponder what on earth to say, my phone rings. It’s my mom. Why she’s calling me while on her honeymoon—her third honeymoon—is such a mystery I have to answer. I glance at Matt, who shrugs, stands, and strides into the kitchen. He rattles around in the cupboards as I swipe the phone on.
“Are you kidding me?”
She laughs. “Hello to you too.”
“Why are you calling me now?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I miss you. I want to know how you’re doing. Thought I’d see if you and Matt are having a good evening.”
Oh, good grief. I glare in the direction of the kitchen. “He told you. Great.”
Her sigh echoes all the way from Belize. “It’s not uncommon for a man to ask a parent’s permission.”
The earthy scent of black tea wafts from the kitchen. I slink into the den and shut the door. “So, he didn’t ask Dad?”
“You know your father. Greg doesn’t think anyone is good enough for his little mouse.” Fortunately, the annoyance in her tone is directed at my dad, not me. She continues, “Anyway, what did you say?”
“I said no.”
“Are you kidding me?”
The den door bangs open. Matt has changed from his jeans and Crimson Tide jersey into an Oxford blue three-piece suit. He holds a copy of Jane Eyre in his hands as he strides into the room.
“Um … Mom? I’ll have to call you back.” I hang up.
“You think I don’t know you?” He opens the book and reads, “‘I ask you to pass through life at my side—to be my second self, and best earthly companion.’”
He quotes Brontë again, saying, “‘Better to be without logic than without feeling.’”
Well, he certainly came prepared. “Do you really think you can out-quote an English literature professor?”
He moves closer. “Do you really think you can outlast a marathon runner?”
Good point. I take a step back. “Why can’t things stay the way they are?”
“I’ve never been a fan of the status quo.”
Well, that’s for certain. This former football star spent his life following his heart but using his head. Which is how he created a must-have phone app, then sold it for enough to be comfortable. We met volunteering at a soup kitchen. No nine-to-five for Matt Barnes.
It’s all the reasons I fell in love with him … and can’t marry him. I’m not at all like my mom; he’s too much like my dad. And Matt knows that.
He begins pacing in front of me, pausing only to make a point. “Do you love your dad?”
“Of course. I love both of my parents.”
“Do they love each other?”
I grimace and laugh. “Not at all.”
“So you admit things didn’t work out between them?”
“Is this an interrogation?”
He stops pacing. “I believe it’s in my best interest to point out the error of your thinking.”
“Oh, really? Maybe you’re the one who’s wrong.”
“I don’t think so.” He takes my hand and leads me to a leather sofa. Once seated, he says, “Can’t you see that it’s because you love your dad and you’re nothing like your mom that I’m the perfect guy for you?”
He kisses my nose. “You love that I’m unpredictable and like to take risks.”
“And Mom hated that about Dad.”
His lips slide across my cheek and touch the soft spot behind my ear. Because he knows it drives me crazy. “So how about we stop talking about your parents and you say—”
He pulls back, and I repeat it. “Definitely, yes.”
And now we’re kissing again.
She lives in Bellefontaine, Ohio.