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I have faith. Adam is the man God picked for me, I just know it. And I just know that when Adam finally pops the question, we'll get married and live happily ever after. I say "when" because I'm an optimist. And because I believe that God is a mighty God — even mightier than Adam's paralyzing fear of commitment! Chapter One
The silky ballad fades into my show's theme music. "And that does it for me today. I'm your host, Suzann White, and I'll see you right here bright and early Monday morning on WRXR, your prescription for light rock at 102.9 FM. Until then, make your day a great one." Your prescription for light rock. Trust me, I didn't write that one. Since this is L.A., a city where people really utilize their pharmaceuticals, evidently the guys in marketing thought it might stick. It did, so who am I to argue? I bet it sounded clever the first time. Try saying it twenty times a day for four years, and you can see where it might wear on a soul. I balked when someone suggested we ought to hand out little promotional pill boxes. I thought that was pushing it (pun intended). Well, I tried not to hold it against management when they did it anyway. I pull my headphones off and exhale. It's harder than you think voicing a sunny disposition from six to ten a.m. everyday. There's only so much perkiness coffee and protein shakes can give — you've got to manufacture the rest. Sure, there are days when I want to go around sticking my tongue out at the world after four hours of on-air cheeriness. I'm only human. But for the most part, my job's pretty wonderful. Today, though, I can't wait to get off the air. It's Friday, and my weekend starts at 12:01 p.m. Off the air at 10:00 a.m., two hours in the office, and I'm a free woman until the dastardly hour of 4:00 a.m. Monday morning. Forget late-night TV — I'm yawning by 8:00 p.m. Good thing Adam's a morning person. It takes a special guy to date someone who can't stay out much later than your average twelve-year-old. And Adam is one special guy. He even got up to drive me to work the week my car was in the shop. Okay, he loaned me his car after the second day, but it's the thought that counts. He still had to pay for a cab to get his own adorable self to work for the rest of the week. When we get married, I'm going to invest in one of those vibrating alarm clocks that fits inside your pillow so that I can get up and still let him sleep in.
I say "when we get married" because I am an optimist. And because we've been dating seriously for almost a year now. And because I believe Adam's the guy God's got picked out for me. And because God is a mighty God, mightier than even Adam's near-psychotic fear of commitment. And because we're going out to a fancy dinner for our one-year anniversary tonight. I may even stay out past nine to celebrate. If he pops the question. Question is, how big an "if" is that? Chapter Two
"So do you think he'll propose?" my friend Lindy asks over iced teas after work. She voices an animated television character, so she gets off work in the middle of the day, too. I just found the most perfect pair of shoes to go with the dress I'm planning to wear tonight. And, I just happened to get my nails done this afternoon. Really. Yeah, well, Lindy didn't believe that, either. Hey, a smart gal prepares. If I'm going to be thrusting my left hand under people's noses all weekend, it's only fitting that my nails be nice. "If he has any sense of timing at all," I reply, "this weekend would be the perfect time." Lindy, whose picture should be in the dictionary under the words "control freak," gives me the look I know far too well. That you're-looking-on-the-bright-side-when-you-should-beworrying look. "You have been ring shopping together, haven't you?" she inquires in a low, suspicious voice. Ring shopping is for control freaks like Lindy. I trust Adam's good taste. The guy has a natural sense of style. Sure, I augment it occasionally, but that kind of collaboration is what will make us a great couple. I am 100% certain I will not be standing in my bedroom three years from now looking at Adam and saying, "You're not really going to wear that, are you?" "I've pointed out rings that I like," I reply. "He gave me a gorgeous bracelet for Christmas. Adam knows his hardware, trust me. I predict a classic Tiffany setting in platinum." We joke about it, Lindy and I, but the truth is that if Adam asked me with a plastic ring from a bubble-gum machine, I'd say yes. I'm so in love with this man it hurts. I can see our children when I close my eyes. I can see the kind of man he'll be in twenty-five years and I want to be there so badly it takes my breath away. When I look at him, I see the person I've prayed about since I was fifteen years old. I see God's perfect mate for me. "You're doing it again." Lindy waves her hands in front of my face. "What?" "You went to that dreamy married place again. Honestly, Suz." She mimes a phone next to her ear. "Propose, Adam, and put the poor girl out of her misery."
Works best in crisis mode. praying over the evening with each step. it was ugly.I sigh. That kind." I quote my grandmother's favorite phrase. very serious. Man. I walk home. but why aren't you at work?" He looks like something horrible has just happened. I've had many dates go up in smoke because Jacob concocted a crisis at 4:30 p. when I'm shocked out of my stupor by the sight of my dreamy soon-to-be-fiancé sitting on my front steps. as if I'd been here for a while and hadn't just walked up to find him slumped on my front steps. it's not Jacob that did the doing. Then she threw a suitcase at him and told him not to come home. She called him all kinds of names in front of everyone. "What happened?" Adam looks at me. it's three o'clock in the afternoon." Jacob is Adam's boss at the public relations firm where Adam works. this is how marriage ends. "Honey. what's wrong?" "Jacob. In his mind right now. almost distractedly." After Lindy and I say goodbye. Lindy. I know we're having dinner tonight. but a bit of a soap opera. "Hi. "Barb came into the office this afternoon. ranting and raving. . "Oh. Loves emergencies. It doesn't matter one bit that I am nothing — nothing like this Barb woman.m." It does not matter that you could barely place Adam and Jacob in the same male species. or I'm going to need your prayers if he doesn't. still in my "dreamy married place." I'm just going to pretend like I understood that. "Get on your knees tonight for me. Nobody knew what to do." "Huh?" Not good. "His wife left him. That she was leaving for the Virgin Islands for the next few days. and that he was to have his things cleared out by the time she got back. Maybe four. "What'd Jacob do now?" "Actually. Definitely not good. I'm walking down my block. and that she'd had the locks changed on their house this morning." "Adam. Chapter Three "Adam?" "Oh. You can just see it in Adam's eyes. Looking awful. She told him he'd have to call her lawyer to let him in. Public humiliation. I'm trying not to be bitter here. I sit down beside him. Jacob's generally a nice guy. It's sort of what got done to Jacob. from your mouth to God's ears." I want so much for tonight to be special that I'm afraid I'll mess it up with all my expectations." he says. Adam's going to need your prayers to propose. but if this guy ruins tonight it'll take three months of prayer to get me to forgiveness mode.
predatory lawyers and ugliness. "I love you." he says. "I love you so much. Tell me he didn't just ask me if I still want to go to dinner tonight. Most of the time. Adam." I kick the shoebox with the absolutely adorable cream sling-backs out of view behind my handbag." Barb is…was Jacob's third wife. "I had kind of looked forward to celebrating. Almost turquoise. on my rooftop or in the high-occupancy-vehicle lane of the freeway so long as he just popped the question." Adam turns and looks at me. Lord. "Do you?" I say. married people. but shot through with flecks of deep sapphire. my hand on his slumped shoulder. is it? Because I wouldn't care if Adam proposed in the bathroom. If that means ham sandwiches on my living room floor because that's where you are. then okay. and I am not going to hurl luggage and insults at you. Do you?" Chapter Four He didn't. He's got reason to react this way. Lord. Do I want to go to dinner tonight? What kind of question is that? Actually. I want to go anywhere that will get me to "Yes!" As in "Yes. Come on." If he produces a ring now I won't care if we eat at McDonald's tonight. vaulting every prayer I can up to heaven on his behalf. Adam Torrence." he says. fighting the urge to take his face in my hands and force him to look at me. Today they looked clouded and strained. "Do I what?" He looks at me. Jacob and Barb were crazy in love only months ago. "Do I still want to go to dinner tonight? I dunno. and I have the same catch in my throat that I hear in his voice. "I mean. sounding thoroughly distracted and unconvinced. Celebrating our anniversary. ever. I want to go to dinner tonight. would it be too much to ask for Ruth and Billy Graham to walk down the street this very minute? Our pastor and his wife? Anyone happily married for over four months? Battlestations! Commitment path destabilizing! Evasive maneuvers! "I love you. I will marry you!" I sit next to the man I love. Adam Torrence." I say as gently as I know how. "I want to be with you tonight. I see heaven when I look into them. He grabs my hand. that isn't the real question at all. Would it be wise to point that out right now? . I need a brilliant answer here…. "But. breaking away from my gaze." "I know. He has the most astounding blue eyes I'd ever seen. Adam's parents had the ugliest divorce in the history of…well. "Is it enough?" he says.
yep. He orders the gazillion-layer chocolate cake because. Suz. But over time. And I trust God. It's lilting through my head like the lyrics to Stand by Your Man. I mean really out. sling-backs at the ready. "I know that here. But we're staying for dessert. Chapter Five Oh. guys can get away with those kind of weapons-grade desserts. not if… Hang on to that. He said when. "I trust us. I've got a few things to do before then. Marriage is a leap of faith. all right. When I stand in that church." With a quick peck on the cheek. the aforementioned adorable cream slingbacks gracing my feet. One year ago today. to someplace nice. when I saw that hunk of a guy hammering nails at the "House the Homeless" fundraiser. Sure. It's dessert. We never stay for dessert — Adam's a get-an-ice-cream-on-the-way-home kind of guy." Adam's sigh is so heavy I swear he's sinking into the concrete. Suz. nearly banging his head with his hand. Me? I'm playing with . You love someone. you know. I'm scared. And not just because we are different people. We're not anything like Jacob and Barb. "I want it to be forever with us. I just know it. in that blue shirt I gave him for his birthday and slategray slacks. It's our night." Adam pulls in a deep breath and straightens up." When. but because God will be in our marriage. Do you think the bottom will still drop out of my stomach after I've seen him dressed up fifty times? A hundred and fifty? Will I still think he looks amazing in his retiree-white leather loafers and Bermuda shorts? Adam sighs and gazes at me. "But I need to know it here.Adam holds my hand tighter. Adam trots off down the street. you commit your life to them and you trust love and God to do the rest. if you could see me now: perfect red dress." I grab Adam's hand. Adam's bare arms could raise an eighty-year-old woman's blood pressure. "Not at first. It's more than perfect." he says. Oh. "You know. he'll be the senior center hottie. It makes me crazy." He places his hand over his heart. Adam. that first shock of wild attraction deepened into something warm and solid and worthy of a lifetime. I knew then what I know now: Adam is the guy for me. I know it." I reply. I'll pick you up at seven-thirty. my temperature's definitely on the rise. humming What a Mighty God We Serve. "I can't stand the doubt. Never. It wasn't love at first sight — I confess to something a little more carnal at first sight. I say the only thing I can say: "It will be forever with us." "I don't think you ever get to know for sure. demure blush-pink nails resting atop the tablecloth. we should go out to dinner tonight. Really. Seeing Adam dressed up a bit tonight. Can you hear that? That chorus of cherubim and seraphim singing "Halleluiah?" I bounce up my steps. I feel it. but it's not enough to stop me from walking down any aisles. It'll be tonight. I won't ever go back on those vows. We're not Jacob and Barb.
I don't want to get over that. This was supposed to be a proposal. God could ask something huge and impossible of me. Right. Breathe. Adam. There is no ring.fire risking a crème brûlée. For sure. that he's hidden the ring in a diversionary box. I'm having trouble breathing. it'd feel like this. don't breathe. My left hand. I know it. It's an oblong black velvet box. Be anybody. because you make me feel like… Well. As in Not. This sure sounded like it was going to be a proposal. Not just beating." I'm going to cry. My heart is thumping in my chest. . For strength. who doesn't pull pranks. and if I could be sure you'd be at my side. The tiny shred of hope fizzles and disappears. For mercy. I bet every woman in Los Angeles thought this was a proposal! I know I did…. No. "This year has been great. Who cares? No one's going to be looking at my thighs — they'll all be sighing at my left hand. I can't get over that. I don't think you realize how huge that is. If time could sparkle. How could anyone produce an oblong-shaped box after a speech like that? You heard that speech. Adam clears his throat. Oblong as in not square or round or small. Ever. We have something." Chapter Six It's a black velvet box. For one sick. then I'd know I could do it. For wisdom. "I think you're right about needing to celebrate tonight. And I know you love me. "Suz. you and I. thumping. Who wants to tell their children "I splurged and ordered the fat-free frozen yogurt the night your father proposed"? This is a crème brûlée kind of moment. but who really does that anymore. "I've got something for you. his voice full of importance. No proposal. breathe and take in every nanosecond of this moment… "So. I thank God every night for you." Thumping. Size. I just know it. my brain plays with the notion that Adam is pulling a fast one. More than I ever thought I'd love anyone. He's not getting down on his knees or anything." Breathe." He takes my hand. Suzann. too. Proposal material. twisted moment. Suzann White. pray. I don't just think you love me. knowing full well my "skinny jeans" won't fit tomorrow. anyway? "I love you." he says. Every day. like I could do anything. or guess it. Ring.
"I am supportive. He probably thinks I'm savoring the moment. and he just told me he wants the same. ungrateful. just spoke the equivalent of wanting to spend the rest of his life with me. as a woman who ought to be getting married. alone and awkward.But there is a box. her hands flying wildly. So now I need hardware to seal the deal? It feels like two hours have just gone by. waiting for me to open the box. Yes. Greedy. "You're not helping. He's just sitting there. I've almost got a grip on this whole non-proposal scenario. I yell into an imaginary megaphone. You know there are those moments that make you so sad and so happy at the same time? When you know God is doing something huge in your life and part of you is thrilled and another part of you is buckling under the burden? That would be now. I open the box. What is this man's problem?" . I take a deep breath. Lindy's not exactly the calmest person God ever created." More like "unsavory. smiling. gives you a Hollywood-worthy declaration of love and then hands you a necklace?!" Lindy is stomping around her kitchen. you ridiculous woman. there was a lot going on in that moment. I confess to God that I'm disappointed. getting out stuff to make coffee. Hang on. And I'm griping? I love this man. A study in contrast. as a friend. Sitting. I already know I want to spend the rest of my life with him. Totally. Now you're stomping on it? What's the matter with me? He just told me he loves me. "You guys are nuts about each other. The man poured his heart out to you. biological-clockcrazed ugliness. but Adam seems unaware of the tiny war raging in my brain. I value you. "Cue the supportive friend!" Lindy slams a hand onto one hip. "You're joking. and beg him to change my heart fast enough so that Adam will never know all that just shot through my brain. you just heard a speech most men would never utter. but I don't think you could qualify any of it as "savoring." Lindy starts yanking open cabinet doors. Chapter Seven "A cross?! Adam takes you to a fancy restaurant." I don't need her whipping me into the frenzy I've almost got squelched. As a person. If I didn't like you so much it'd be nauseating. defiant in all its blackness against the fancydinner-promise-white of the tablecloth. hopelessly in love. Tell me you're joking." as a matter of fact." Maybe coming here was a mistake.
I have a handsome man who loves me and I will not cry. "Tonight. It catches the morning sun and sends a smattering of tiny rainbows on the wall. I'm flattered she's so outraged on my behalf. and they've got all kinds of audio toys up there at the studio. step one wasn't a step of anything — thanks to all those prayers for wisdom. "It beautiful. "Oh. She comes up behind me." "Okay. Actually. I'm supposed to call him at two to figure out what time we're meeting. It's not wrong to want to marry someone you're crazy in love with. but I'm not really sure I want to drink whatever she's brewing right now. I stopped her when she offered to make a subliminal message tape of "Ask Suzann to marry you" and slip it into Adam's stereo. I head to the living room mirror in self-defense. "But it's not what you wanted. It looks great on you. I've never owned one with tiny diamonds sparkling on it like this one." pronounces Lindy in a brisk voice. Lindy merely hands me the box of tissues. Lindy had a sixteen-stage battle plan drawn out by the time I left her place. Just get it all out and then we'll figure out what to do next. as much to myself as to Lindy." She turns me by my shoulders. I've stuffed this disappointment back down so many times in the last twelve hours I'm not sure it'll stay down much longer. There's a thing at church. Fifteen minutes later. will you? I'm not going to think you an ungrateful hag or anything. "It's gorgeous. I'm still sobbing." Look at me. only now it's into my coffee mug. I spent half the night finding the bright side and carefully building a wall around this disappointment. "When do you see Adam again?" Lindy says. who am I kidding? I'm already sobbing. just cry. I think. bringing a second box of tissues over to the couch where I have been single-handedly solving L. It's a beautiful cross. I don't doubt she'd have done it if I gave her the go-ahead.A. I will not cry. ." I declare. I'm not even sure I should be here. I never knew coffee could be a weapon until I met Lindy. And she knows me and loves me too much to pretend otherwise. I feel my dander getting back up just listening to her. It's expensive.You should see this woman make coffee when she's angry. How can Lindy knock it down in two minutes? Because she is my friend.'s drought problem for the last quarter of an hour. "So now we know step one…" Step one of what? Chapter Eight Step one was what it should have been all along: seeing Adam." "I'm not going to…" Oh. She voices an animated cartoon character.
too." All that lovely contentedness. and I need to cope with this my way. Actually. Mostly. gazing at the cross he fastened around my neck a mere twenty-four hours ago. I thought we ought to start it off right. Hey. "Me. Did I mention how much I love red? And roses? See what I mean about this guy? I accept the beautiful flower. I know that now. God and I use to work things out. that blissful almostlyness. And that's okay. we will. "Hey. It's just around my neck instead of around my finger." I give him a kiss and the world falls back into place. "What?" "It's Valentine's Day in three weeks. There's still the whole host of people we'll see in church in ten minutes. that a sparkling. "Me. Actually. Valentine's Day. Will Adam and I talk about what our future holds? Yes. too. Why didn't I realize that one look at Adam in the light of a calmer day would help far more than anything else? Well. you know exactly the sort of semi-satisfied at-least-we'regetting-somewhere compromise I'm talking about.Which. either. lovely cross now graces my neck. Now? He brings that up now? Where do guys learn to mess with our minds like that? ." Because if you're female. and you've been within ten feet of a decent guy. Mostly." Adam replies. I admit. "Why the rose?" "It's the first day of our second year together. And don't tell me you don't know exactly what I mean by "almostly. I ignored all of her suggestions. "Our way" being the one Adam. of course. yes. I'm in broadcast communication. But he's adorable even without the rose. guess what I remembered this morning?" Adam says as we walk up the sidewalk to the church's activities center." That's almostly true. But not today. not my way. Ground zero for serious relationships. I won't forget what I want. Almostly. faith-filled man who loves me. but she's more of a control freak than she knows." It's going to be okay. after about ten minutes of thought and prayer. but I won't forget what I have. I am sporting precious metal. I didn't. I love Lindy. evaporates in the space of seven seconds. the fact that he's holding a red rose does help. That I'm holding my favorite flower. many of whom were thinking I'd be sporting precious metal today. Today I'm going to remember that I have a wonderful. I can make up a word. but our way. Well. "I'm liking year two very much so far.
We know the deal. either." . Don't make it worse. We already want it (even when we say we don't need it). Don't think I haven't noticed the astounding number of weddings and proposals popping up on my favorite shows. you. And. Enjoy it with your friends. How dare you thrust your buttercream frosted layers at me when I'm just trying to innocently browse a copy of Newsweek! And you. "Oh. shameful jewelry stores. oh. I don't need to know which colors are "in" — I've already been planning that sort of thing for years and it doesn't matter that I won't admit that to anyone. no fair ganging up on me. Thank you. television shows. What's the matter with you people? Can't a self-respecting single woman get through the first half of February without seven thousand dousings of marital bliss? Does every single soap opera on the planet have to involve a wedding just because it's the second month of the year? And. Keep your impossibly attractive tableaus — the gorgeous men in the fairytale settings uttering the things every woman longs to hear — away from our vulnerable imaginations! We've been fed Prince Charming since we were three. You know it. would every engaged woman in Los Angeles please hide her left hand for the next three weeks? Come on now. Must you tempt us with sparkling. Chapter Ten "What do you want to do for Valentine's Day?" Get engaged. Take your rose-petaled happiness and keep it to yourself until I ask you for your help. if it's not too much to ask. To our almostlyness. I'm done now. Don't feed the frenzy. be a sport. I can't bear to know what this year's "must have" bridesmaid's dress is. but leave the rest of us naked-fingered women to our struggles with the men we love. I don't know. We know it. serious relationships can exist — for years at a time.Chapter Nine An open letter to bridal magazines everywhere: Stop it. something nice. You got yours. I do not need to hear about how French tulips make the elegant statement I've been looking for. white-silked lushness at me from the magazine rack at the convenience store. Don't flirt your lovely. You are the cruelest of all. even — without the inclusion of diamonds? Not every man can look stunning and romantic as he proposes to his wife-to-be on the Tuscan cost with a ring that would send most of us into cardiac arrest. glittering trinkets until we're ready to hiss "my precious!" like Golem in Lord of the Rings? Do you not realize that healthy.
" He attempts a bow. don't go there. "I'm not brave enough to venture out into that minefield. Tell me which restaurant you'd like. Wow." "Don't what?" "Don't do that thing. Then he plants my hands around his waist and pulls me close. I read that article. "I want what every woman wants. It sounds like just the kind of place I've been looking for. of course. was it? Like I said. Grotto. There was even something about it in the paper this week so you can go dig up the info. Don't balk — I'll employ any means necessary here. I was . The place should be filled with guys popping the question on Valentine's Day." I declare. what do you want to do?" How would you answer that in my position? Do I go for brutal honesty? Do I respect the Universal Guy Commitment Fear as the unopposable force that it is? I stall. Adam will get safety in numbers and maybe even moral support in the men's room or something. "Grotto. any means necessary. it just makes my heart swoon. Suz. Bingo! That wildly romantic fondue restaurant." Adam furrows his eyebrows. There was just a piece in the paper about how the restaurant averages six proposals a weekend." That wasn't too blatant." He looks up and winks. Don't get your hopes all whipped up. C'mon. "Let's get really romantic and go to Grotto. You know. "I think I need more detail than that. "Grotto. "Within budgetary reason.Adam puts down the book he's holding as we browse our favorite bookshop." He read the article? The one about how many people get engaged there? And he wants to go? He's eager to go? Oh. that sort of thing. a nice dinner. madam. and it always gets us into trouble. all those roses. flowers. You know me — a nice dinner could mean a really great cheeseburger. I love it when he does that. And I am so in the mood to swoon. "Oh no you don't. Suz. all that love and happiness." He extracts me from the mystery novels I've been scanning by pulling both of my hands toward him." My brain shuffles through proposal-worthy-but-not-too-pricey restaurants. This is Hollywood and some wishes go far beyond my means. "Hey. Men are terrible at it. I can drop a big hint here if I name somewhere famous for proposals but someplace still within Adam's nonmovie-star price range. I just melt. 'Something nice' is the minefield of relationships. "Your wish is my command. Too late… Chapter Eleven Did I mention Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday? All that red." His eyes light up. I want to feel special and to make a big deal about being in love. That 'read my mind' thing women do.
It's four words. I know perfectly well why I'm jittery tonight. I know it could. My heart. it counts even if you're doing your nails while praying. "Suzann. Monks and nuns have walked while they prayed. I got a kiss that pulled the world out from underneath my feet. aren't I? Well. I'm female and all females know how to multi-task. cut me a bit of a break. . Play-Doh-and-Legos kind of mom?" Okay. do you want to have kids? Do you want to be a mom? You know. It's Valentine's Day and baby. so am I. is fond of jumping the gun. That man can kiss. getting engaged on Valentine's Day is almost a no-brainer — the whole day's built around love. Hey. It can't be wrong to think that tonight might be the night. I'll play charades. I can name it in two. He has a tie on — that's got to count for something. however. He's no poet. God and I even had a long talk about my expectations this afternoon. carpool. we have liftoff in five…four…three… Chapter Tweleve "Suzann. I've got a question to ask you. taking requests and dedications. The way he touches my cheek. playing all my favorite love songs. you can even do it in two: "Marry me" works just as well. I've tried and tried not to get my hopes up. I know Adam knows it. "Will you marry me?" Four words. but I feel like I've got to ask it anyway. I know it. Lindy knits while she prays. the at-home. What's a little nail enamel between the faithful? I admit it. too. I'll make up a cue card if you need one. after all). I can name that proposal in four words. you just fill in the blanks. Yes. and I think I already know the answer. because it's important. That Brother Lawrence guy peeled potatoes while he prayed. fine.practically gushing on the air today. It's a red tie. We belong together. I was openly begging God to get Adam to propose. but they went up without my consent. but the man's non-verbal skills speak volumes. My head knows this. For that matter. I understand the concept of God's perfect timing. Did I mention red is my favorite color? I'm repeating myself. love is in the air. Adam looks sharp tonight. Name that proposal! He is staring dreamily into my eyes over dessert and I'm sending every telepathic shout of "I want to marry you" that I can. it's not wrong to want to marry the man you're crazy in love with. That's got to be good. could it? Okay. When we got out of the car in the restaurant parking lot tonight. He's fidgeting. "My timing is perfect" was all I kept receiving. Like Lindy said. Come on Adam. I figure He knows what I'm thinking anyway so why try to hide it? I didn't get a whole lot back in response. Come on. and he's not really much of a communicator (which is okay since I communicate more than enough for the both of us — I'm a professional. just ask. the way he pulls me into his arms — that is about two hearts that belong together." Houston.
I've…I've always wanted to be a mother. It wasn't an acceptable answer then. Am I making any sense?" He's twisting his napkin into knots. Lots of kids. What have I done? I have practically just begged this man to marry me. We're definitely heading in the right direction. I know what Adam was saying. I know he loves me. not caring that the people at the next table are staring at me. please make this okay. Oh. I'd want you to want that. There's such a crowd of emotions on his face that I can't tell if he's going to cry or cheer or run from the room. into my bone-deep desire to be with this man and build a family with him. I mean. So for heaven's sake.Not the question we were shooting for. mercy. His look and his words fuel the ferocious craving in my soul. either. I can't fault the guy for wanting to cover all his bases before popping the big question. I love him more than I've ever loved him. "I know. a question highly pertinent to the issue at hand. "Yeah. I know he loves me. staring down at it and looking as if it just cost him a great deal to admit that. The pause before he answers is beyond enormous. I remind myself. Light years from good. I want a life with you. but that's beside the point here. I'm sucked into the power of the moment. will you please ask me?" Oh. "I want to marry you. but could we have a talk about Your concept of perfect timing? But." Adam says quietly. "I didn't have that. huh. "I want to have kids. I want your children. Because no . I want to be a mother. Chapter Thirteen I know? I know? "I know" is what Han Solo said to Princess Leia when she finally admitted she loved him. as if saying that gave it new strength and urgency. Lord? I know You're God Almighty and all. But I can't for the life of me tell what he's thinking right now. Utter terror. "I think kids should have that. no longer able to stop myself." he says softly." I say. I want to marry you. I'm not making any sense. we should want that together. Adam looks like a five-alarm fire just went off in his chest. At this moment. I cry to heaven. although it comes out more of a sigh than a word. I grab Adam's hand. My pride is worn raw and my heart laid open in utter terror. Adam. None of that stopped this moment from hurting like an open wound. "I want to have children with you. I know he was being honest at a tremendous cost. can I? Sure I can. Lord." And suddenly I'm tearing up in a way I never expected." I'm openly crying now. Perfect timing. Not good. Adam Torrence. Badly.
what have I done? "No. And that cuts through me in ways I can't even put into words. clutching my handbag and trying to breathe when I hear Adam's footsteps behind me. I somehow catch the most unexpected conversation. I can't even bring myself to look at him. believe me I'd have asked Adam weeks ago. Where do we go from here? Where can we go from here? I've done everything but do the asking myself. you idiot. I've let myself get caught up in a rush that never should have happened and I've ruined everything. gasping sobs. If I thought it would solve anything. tear-running-down-one-cheek crying here. He just stands there for a moment. But that's just what I've done.matter how I rationalize it. Lord." Adam gulps out. don't…" Adam sounds so hopelessly lost. "Land sakes. Those that didn't hear my pathetic begging can't help but notice my current crying. "I… I…" I choke on any reply I attempt. I'm choking out ugly. What is there to say? This isn't one of those moments you can fix with a well-turned phrase. suddenly needing to hear his answer. And it's not the lovely. Not because he's feeling pressured or cornered or that it just seemed the right thing to do at the time. To just curl up in an unmarried little ball and die. because he loves me. Right now. It'd just make things worse. I want the man I love to propose because he can't imagine life without me. I've ruined everything. I've got to get out of here. it feels like Adam knows full well how much I want to marry him and he still can't bring himself to take that step. I want to die. This is horrible and awful and all my own doing. begging him to ask me — isn't any different from asking him. Half the restaurant is staring at me. Suzann. but I don't care. go get her!" Chapter Fourteen I'm standing in the parking lot. Could this get any more public or painful? "Yes. My vision is a teary blur. "Well then. The older gentleman to Adam's left has slammed something down on the table. and I don't care who's looking. I fumble for my handbag. knocking silverware onto the floor. young man. Oh. As I push past the dropped jaws of the other diners. isn't it? Asking him — no. . do you love that woman?" I stop dead in my tracks. Not because I wouldn't wait any longer for him to spit the words out. But my asking won't change his fear of the commitment. backing him into an emotional corner.
" I plead. much less to speak it. until you know that you want this enough to not care about the odds against us. I look up at him. How I got to be standing in the checkout line of a toy store buying Spring Wedding Barbie and Commitment-Ready Ken (not their real names — but I imagine you guessed that) and a host of matrimonial accessories. It's early. Suzann. "Come on. It'll be full of people who can't stay married and who mess up marriage and mess up each other.' Adam. Nobody can. You know that. "I love you too much to fake this. Chapter Fifteen I don't remember much about how I got here. "I can't help you. The world will always be full of bad parents and horrible childhoods. when I know how I feel and what you want. "Find your way out of this. Already has." I can't bear the thought of being in his car. then I…" I cannot finish that sentence. refusing to accept what I've just said. but there are four wrappers in my handbag. But a deeper part of me knows that no matter how sharp and stabbing. And I wish I was at the place you are. it is the truth. It comes over me as if I have just turned to stone." he goes on." He looks at me and I actually feel my heart breaking. don't you get that it's ripping me up not being sure?" Adam slams his hand on his car hood. Before I mean it with every bone in my body. so despite my ridiculously high heels. pushing out an exasperated breath. and I'll get a cab somewhere along the way. And I don't know how much longer I can wait for you. I'll love you and pray for you and wait for you as long as I can. and there's a gut-wrenching catch in his voice. Adam. I squint my eyes shut and apply every ounce of will I have into standing up straight when I want to crumple into tiny bits. I didn't think this could hurt more. Until you can ask me anyway. Right now I just need to be moving. "I can't fix this for you. save me."I love you." Part of me is wailing inside. Some blisters are worth having." I say with a voice that's so steady I'm not even sure it's mine. unflinching fact. I turn away and start walking toward home. As if all the pain and aching have just solidified into cold. "It's not about 'sure. I remember the first candy bar. Suzann. won't you at least let me take you home?" He was asking that a third time when I turned the corner. but I can't do this for you. I'm not sure. and it hits me. that I could say the things — the thing you want to hear from me…" The unsaid "but" hanging off the end of that sentence could rip a girl in two. You have to help me. I can't even bring myself to think of it. . "I…need to go. Adam? What is it that's missing?" "Don't you think I've asked myself that a million times? Don't you think I want to be sure? When I look at you. I remember crying in the cab. Father." Oh. "What else do you need. "I don't know how. I could swear I heard the snap. "To say it before I'm sure. actually.
I might eat every pie on the West Coast. bingeing on Barbie attire seems a lot safer than several other things my credit card could be doing right now. I'd have to explain why I'm dining with an entire Barbie bridal party. "I called him baaad names for bein' so mean to you." She stares at my shopping bag with one raised eyebrow. She didn't need to — evidently Adam's been phoning all over town trying to find me. We stayed up talking." And so I sat there. Lindy plops down in the middle of her living room floor and starts rummaging through the bags. "I didn't figure on the Barbie thing. "That mean boy who called b'fore. but it made me feel better anyway. as Lindy re-enacted her conversation with Adam using Barbie and Ken. "I figured you didn't want to be found." Lindy says. I didn't answer it. and the whole world is on a date. Just being generally silly." There are days when it's weird having a cartoon character voice for your best friend. but I don't have the emotional fortitude right now to stop it." she says after hugging me. "Plus. My folks live three hundred miles from here. I need that. as she pulls Barbie from her box. Or signing up for a lifetime subscription to a Christian online dating service with an ad that reads "Only Commitment-Ready Males Need Apply. I know Adam. "You wanna come in an' play? My mom says it's okay. There's only one place I can go. There's some disturbing impulse at work here. laughing and crying. Plus. still in kiddie mode. Like six dozen pairs of expensive shoes. which was my best defense against the tide of despair that threatened to overtake me at any moment. It's Valentine's Day. Lindy's so hilarious she could make a funeral funny. I figured you'd end up here eventually if you suspected Adam was camping out on your doorstep." I can't go home. If I head to the all-night diner across the street. he's going to be waiting for me there and I don't want to see him yet. I can't spend the night in ToyMania. Besides.I think it started with the Skipper bridesmaid that looked so much like Lindy. though. accessorizing Barbie and then accessorizing ourselves. *** Lindy didn't even ask why I appeared on her door with a bag full of dolls and their tiny special-occasion outfits." She adopts a five-year-old voice. Chapter Sixteen I spent the night at Lindy's. Then there are the days when the weirdness is just what the doctor ordered. We dreamed up complicated schemes to get . Right now. Like booking a three-week vacation to Fiji. I'm sure she didn't say half the things she said she did. My cell phone rang eight times in the next hour.
Last night I slammed up against the truth I wouldn't face before: it's not just a matter of time. and simply go to bed. convincing myself that Adam just needs more time to work through his issues. I know better now. And of God. but because I love Adam so much that I'm desperate to see him healed. No note. someone was thumping on my door. can you help take down the life I've built up for myself with this man? How do I dismantle the dreams I've pieced together? How do I stop loving him now that I've stopped waiting for him? I didn't like the answer that came back to me. But having an injury is not the same thing as choosing to heal. don't answer your phone and call in sick to work the following Monday. Last night I realized this is not a question of time. It was Adam. and I laughed over them until my giggles finally dissolved into the fullscale sobbing I knew would surface sometime that night. You can't. You don't. It'll just be about hurt now. . you'd think the world would get the hint that you'd really rather be alone. I held my breath as I got out of the cab at my apartment. But he's not here. Now he has to believe it. I figured Lindy had decided it was time to drag me out of my despair. We belong together. when you sleep the entire weekend. Even if it's not to marry me. What's left to say? Before last night I might have spent today consoling myself. Lord. instead of about happiness. oh merciful Lord. I know that the man's lived with the worst model of marriage the world has ever produced. Only I don't just feel as if my heart is broken. At 4:00 p. If Adam has pulled an all-night vigil and is still there. There's just a single red rose pinned to my door. Monday afternoon. Desperately. I won't stop loving Adam anytime soon.m. I don't know how I'm going to do this. Adam knows it. But. This is a question of Adam. what if it's not to marry me? How. I wasn't sure what I'd do. choose to make that leap of faith. I'm usually such a happy person. Not just because I need God to fix this. Adam has to choose to heal. with its eleven messages waiting for me. I walk right past my answering machine. I feel as if my whole life is broken. Chapter Seventeen You know. I still love him. Adam may never be ready to commit to marriage. I always thought "broken-hearted" was a sort of ridiculous phrase. I have sent up so many prayers over the past twelve hours.Adam to propose. No chance.
he's still the most handsome man God ever created. if you're lucky. Jacob's decided to declare bankruptcy if it'll keep Barb from getting any more of his money. catty part of me that relished the fact that he looked terrible. But I held back. after all.I suppose. cajoling and waiting for Adam to come around. I wanted to. drank half a bottle of scotch in front of us as he told us how ugly things have gotten between him and Barb. Adam doesn't even sit down." Adam is the kind of man who needs to have things in order before he can move on. non-caloric passion. And. Even if it's excruciating. Even bleary-eyed. I did brush my hair on the way to answer the door. Handed each of us two weeks' severance and told us to not come back on Tuesday. We're still too connected. Lindy got me stuck on knitting. How cruel is it to be shot by the stray bullet of an ugly divorce? Fsst. I had to stop myself from hugging him. I didn't even know I'd kept it lit until I felt it go out. hands stuffed awkwardly in his pockets. And now he's unemployed. and then told us all to box up our stuff and go home. This morning. I knew it might be him. how many photos of us there are around my apartment. I wanted him to suffer as much as I had over the past three days. It would have been so easy. I grab a soda and sit down at my kitchen table. When will I ever learn to be careful what I pray for? Chapter Eighteen "So what'd you do then?" Lindy asks as we're walking home from our favorite yarn shop. But. The guy who can't buy a new carton of eggs until the last egg is gone in the old carton. feeling better by knowing there's a whole dinette set between us. man. for a disconnected moment. He just stands in my kitchen. That's actually a huge part of his problem. you get a . He's waiting for life to fall into place before he thinks we can get married." but that also meant living the cycle of disappointment. He called us all into his office. I knew I'd have to deal with him eventually. mussing his hair. It's a safe. He stood there for a moment. I asked God to be merciful and make this a clean break." but I can't just extract him out of my life like a bad tooth. the guy looked really bad. I wonder. "Can I come in? Just for a minute?" I almost said "No. picking at a photo of us on my fridge. Life just exploded out of place. I wanted to let myself slip back into the old "us. There was some tiny. I want to end this the right way. The tiny flame of hope that had been lingering in the back of my heart was snuffed out. where she just bought me some gorgeous red boyfriend-breakup-yarn as a consolation gift. "I…um…I got laid off today. on some level.
sometimes. huh?" I shoot her the look she deserves. I'm not sure he can work his way through this. I can't love him out of it. From a woman who hasn't had a successful date in months. then things might be different. it's too large to fit a linebacker or might only fit Aunt Lucy's Chihuahua. "What was I supposed to do? If I comfort him through this. then there isn't anything that will. " —to marry Adam Torrence? Yes." says Lindy. then next month there'll be another reason why he's not ready to get married." Great. "Kick a guy when he's down. ." "Whoa. Now he just lost his job because of a bad marriage." I shoot back." Lindy replies." "Don't get me wrong. but a satisfying hobby nonetheless. And the guy certainly has issues. he's got whopping issues now. I'm just trying to get to the place where I can thank God for protecting me from what might have happened if I'd let this go any further. Holding a small black velvet box. But I don't know if he can marry me. But God's a big God. in that parking lot. "Don't go feeding me any hope. Lindy points to the front steps of my apartment. Just what I need. If he had issues before. Trouble is. Okay. that there isn't a single thing I can do about that. if that isn't enough to pull him out of his doubts. "No." I pull in a big sigh designed to keep the tears at bay. "And it hit me. where Adam Torrence sits. "Of course I'm not sure." I practically stamp my foot in defiance. I won't corner him into proposing and I don't want to marry him until he works his way through this." "Don't do that. If in the course of a year and all we've been through. But I can't be that for him. who often speaks the truth whether or not you want to hear it. Do I still want to —" My voice catches and I am reminded how much hurt is still lurking just below the surface. "And why not?" I bark back. And I think you're doing the right thing by pulling back. you know. I've squashed that little bit of hope down so many times I think I'll choke on it if it shows up again." "You're sure?" I stop dead on the sidewalk. It just hurts too much. Adam's parents hate each other. I don't love him any less now than I did a week ago. "I want to tell the guy off as bad as you do. I don't even know if he knows if he can marry me. Not now.cool sweater out of your efforts. that I'd pray for him and then told him it was better if he left. Or anyone. More Lindy relationship lectures. If it was a month or so from now and I could be his friend without it ripping my heart to shreds. "What was there to do? I told him I was sorry." "Suz?" "What?" "I wouldn't follow that train of thought right now.
Nothing is how I wanted it to be. I drop my shopping bag on the ground. I lost the woman I love. but I'm pretty sure he doesn't want to talk to me. someone applauding and Lindy whooping "Thank you. he gets down on one knee." Adam stands up. Jesus!" from her bench. There's only one person I could ever try to be a good husband for. "Not until…" Until what? I don't even know what I'm saying. "But I realized yesterday that I can't fix any of it without you. The world is a messy place. Adam clears his throat. I watch his hand lift the lid of the box to reveal the most beautiful ring ever created. "Suzann White. and I'm suddenly acutely aware how poorly I'm dressed." I say. People are trashing their marriages left and right. I lost my job. I'm just going to go sit over there on that bench and…um…knit something. Suddenly I can't seem to find enough oxygen to breathe. grabbing her elbow. but I could never make this work without you. It's absolutely perfect. In the instant I register that I look like an idiot. I'm in lousy shape. I heard horns beeping. Chapter Twenty . I realize that I don't care. When he reaches me on the street corner. "That man does not look like he wants an audience. It's completely different than what I had in mind. In the distance. But I know there's only one person on earth I could make a good marriage with. and I faintly notice Lindy gathering up my shopping bag and backing away. I pulled that man to his feet and kissed his socks off. A passing driver cheers and beeps his horn. I thought this would be the last situation on earth I'd find the courage to ask you to marry me. Will you marry me?" I could barely choke the word out I was crying so hard." Lindy says. and I'm scared to death. My feet are glued to the ground. Who I could be scared with. And that one person is you. heading off in the opposite direction. I nodded so enthusiastically I thought my head would fall off. I don't even know if I know what a good marriage looks like." Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I watch Adam take the ring out of the box and reach for my hand. Send up a flare if you need me. He walks toward me. "Don't you dare leave me. I don't know how to make this work. "My life fell apart this weekend. and the world is crumbling around me. but more important.Chapter Nineteen I repeat: holding a small black velvet box! A ring box! "I think I hear my mom calling me.
" Sound effects of wild applause and the Wedding March fill my earphones. giving me a thumbs-up. I will marry you. Adam. Interns are dancing in the hallway. brought to you today by Olsen Motorsports. where cars are their passion. just in case you just tuned in. Now do you see why God wanted him on His side? I'd be annoyed if I weren't so absolutely lovestruck. we'll take a few more music wishes from callers. but this guy didn't just grasp the concept of commitment. "And yes. you're on with Suzann. that would be the fourth time this morning. I imagine I now have two or three hundred thousand audio witnesses. I suppose I should have a long conversation with God about my concept of perfect timing. it took him a while. "Hi. Adam has called and proposed every hour of my show. Because. I'm not going to tell him that. My engineer just taps his earphones. Not that I'll need it. making doe-eyes at me behind the red roses they've swiped from my bouquets.An unemployed man should stop at four dozen roses. Two restaurants have offered to host the reception for free if I'll agree to a live broadcast. The End ." A yellow light flashes on my console. he embodied it." I push the connection switch on my console and wait for the cue from my engineer. "perfect" doesn't look at all like what you had planned. miming that he can't quite make out what I'm saying. "No more" into the studio intercom. His grin tells me Adam might make it on the air a time or two more before I sign off today. It seems he's decided to make up for lost time by backing up his first proposal with several very public declarations of his intentions. Yes. Three bakeries have faxed over offers to do the cake. I mute my microphone and yell. What's your Wednesday Music Wish?" "Suzann. A woman from sales somehow made a veil from shredded paper and tried to put in on my head during the last newsbreak. "And that's today's weather. sometimes. will you marry me?" I look over to see my engineer grinning shamelessly. And getting to "yes" may just be the most amazing journey of all. folks. even though I haven't had a spare moment to go get my nails done. speechless. If he tries to get out of this. Two hundred people have asked to see my ring. Me? I'm just staring at my left hand. "But before we return to our Wish 'Em Wednesday Music Jam. Sure.