Benjamin growls low, and August rushes to clarify, “I didn’t mean off the “meat” market so to speak. I meant as far as relationships go.”

Benjamin rolls his eyes, unbuttons his suit jacket to sit in his chair, and pointedly ignores August.

I give him a sweet smile. “Well, it’s nice seeing you again, but—”

August holds his hands up in surrender, a deep laugh following it. “I get it… I’m intruding.”

“Yes, you are,” Benjamin mutters.

“Best of luck to both of you,” August says. With an evil glint in his eyes, he murmurs right to me, “But if you ever dump this guy, Elena… you know where to find me.”

Benjamin growls again. August snorts before retreating quickly. I pick my napkin up to pretend to wipe my mouth again, but really, I’m stifling a laugh.

“Funny guy,” Benjamin mutters as he watches me, a slight lift to one corner of his mouth.

“Men are so weird… the little games you play. People think women are the only ones who do that stuff, but men are just as bad.”

A waiter approaches, a white plate in hand, and sits a chocolate torte down in front of me. I’m so full I can’t even look at the damn thing.

I shake my head, my gaze going across the table. “I told you I’m stuffed.”

The waiter brandishes two spoons, sitting one beside the plate and handing another to a grinning Benjamin. “I think I can manage to eat enough of this for the both of us.”

“Have at it,” I say with a laugh.

We chat, and I sip my wine. Benjamin takes small bites of the torte, reaching across the table each time rather than just pulling the plate his way. Every other bite or so, he remarks how good it is and that I should try some.

I merely shake my head to decline each time.

Finally, he gives me a look of mild annoyance. “You’re not making this easy.”

“Making what easy?” I ask.

“Can you at least look at the plate?”

“Huh?” I say with a frown, then dip my head to see what he’s talking about.

On the plate is a demolished torte, one lonely bite left behind with some crumbs. What I had failed to notice when the plate was set down was there was elegant cursive writing in chocolate around the edge of the white china.

Will you marry me?

I snap my head up to look at Benjamin, mouth dropping open. He’s smiling, holding up a black velvet box.

He opens it, and my mouth drops open even wider as I take in the massive teardrop-shaped diamond twinkling so fiercely in the candlelight I’m almost blinded.

“Oh my God,” I murmur, one hand fluttering to the base of my throat.

“I thought we agreed God doesn’t have a direct hand in playing with our lives like this,” Benjamin chides. He and I have had deep discussions about God, divinity, and what His purpose in our lives is. He even goes to church with me most Sundays, though he sometimes likes to just be lazy and stay home, which is okay, too.

My heart swells at his pointed reminder our God is very mysterious in his ways, and that the ring glistening in front of me only has to do with the man holding the box.

Because he loves me and wants to marry me.

The realization is shocking. I mean, we’d grown so close over the last few months. We’ve integrated our lives permanently as he bought a home about halfway in between Vegas and Henderson. We moved in together quickly, and we’ve been sharing our dreams for the future together.

But we’d never outright discussed marriage, so this is an incredible surprise to me.

“Elena,” he says, and I drag my gaze from the diamond to him. “No one ever starts out their adult lives thinking they’ll be married twice. But I’ve learned our lives may have phases, which can include more than one type of love. You know how I feel about April and Cassidy. You’ve patiently listened to me talk about them over these past months. You’ve given me a safe environment to do so, always encouraging me to never forget what I had with them.”

This is true. I’d even demanded Benjamin pull his photos of them out and place them around our house, so he never forgets or diminishes their memories again.

“But while I’ll always cherish them, they are my past and you are my future. It’s going to be a long, beautiful future together. One I hope is filled with children, and, one day, grandchildren. I want to grow old with you. Share all of life’s grand adventures with you. I love you more than anything in this world or beyond, and I’m begging you to please make me the happiest man alive by agreeing to marry me.”

It’s at this point I have tears flowing freely down my face, and snot threatens to drip from my nose. I take my napkin, hastily dabbing the offending wetness away before I’m able to give him an enthusiastic nod of assent.

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