The gang’s all here.
Onstage, in a chair with my guitar, I tap at the microphone and the crowd goes hushed.
“My father used to put together jigsaw puzzles in his spare time; it was a hobby for him. Huge, complicated puzzles with thousands of pieces. I remember pushing my toy cars around on the carpet while he sat at a table in his study, patiently putting together one piece after the next.”
I see Nicholas smiling softly, because he remembers too.
“And sometimes, there were pieces, just one or two, that were odd, that didn’t seem to fit in anywhere. He would put them off to the side and I would think, maybe there’s something wrong with them, maybe they’re broken. But then . . . he would find the piece they fit with, their match—and when the two pieces were joined, you could see what they were supposed to be. Where they fit and how important they were to the whole picture.”
I scan the crowd, searching for my Sarah’s dark eyes, and when I find them they’re already filling with tears.
Because she knows what’s coming.
“The official account of tonight will be very proper and appropriate and . . . fucking boring. But that’s okay. Because those of you here, those of you who mean the most to Sarah and me, you’ll know the true story of how it all happened. That once upon a time, a pitiful lad met a shy, lovely lass and together they became something more . . . something strong and beautiful and forever. And one night he sang her a song, in a fantastic rickety old pub—a song with a question in it. And after he played the very last note, she said yes a thousand times.”
My lips slide into a grin. “At least . . . that’s how I’m hoping it’ll go.”
I bring my fingers to the strings and play the opening notes of “Marry Me” by Train.
And as I sing every word, lyrics about forever not being enough time and wearing out I love you’s, about love showing the way and promises to sing to her every night, I look at Sarah the whole time and she doesn’t take her eyes off me for a moment.
She’s already nodding when the last guitar notes ring out, when I leave the stage and stand before her and sink down, not on one knee but two—and I offer her my mother’s ring—a flawless, oval diamond upon a bed of glittering smaller diamonds, set in a shiny platinum band.
“I love you, Sarah. You already know that, but I promise to tell you and show you every single day, just the same. I promise to keep you safe, always, so you’re never afraid to be bold and brave…even when it scares the hell out of me. I will cherish your sweetness, and be inspired by your strength and kindness. And I promise you a life filled with adventure and excitement and fun, and enough laughter and love to fill the pages of a thousand books.”
I smile up at her, my throat tight with emotion and my heart close to bursting.
“Will you marry me, Sarah?”
And with happy tears streaming down her face, my beautiful girl goes down on her knees with me, and she takes my face in her hands and whispers, “Yes, Henry. Yes, I’ll marry you. Yes, yes, yes, yes . . .”
I pull her against me, and we seal our words with a long kiss. And the claps and cheers of those who know us best and love us most fill the air.
And that, that’s the story you won’t see on television or read in the history books. The tale of an unruly prince who found the queen of his heart, and learned how to be a King.