She looked back at her family.
They were watching expectantly.
Could this be happening? Could it be real? If she’d had a free hand, she’d have pinched himself.
“Melissa?” Jared prompted.
“I think-” she nodded “-the restaurant is a good idea.”
“Yeah?” A grin split his face.
“And the photographer.” She assured herself it was all real. Jared had found her. And he wanted to be with her. “I have a feeling Stephanie will expect pictures.”
Jared’s grin widened.
Sheila spoke out. “But can we see the-”
Ben clapped a hand over her mouth.
It took her all of three seconds to escape. “Good grief. It’s obvious she’s going to say yes. They can reenact it later for the photographer.”
Everyone stared openmouthed at Sheila.
“What?” she asked. “Come on, Renee. Back me up. We want to see the ring.”
Adam’s wife stepped forward. “I have to say, I’m with Sheila on this.”
Melissa started to laugh. “Go ahead,” she told Jared. She was planning to say yes.
“In a minute,” he told her, stepping back to pull Melissa into the foyer, around the corner, beyond the view of her family.
He held her hand firmly, staring into her eyes. “I love you.”
The world disappeared around them, and Melissa’s chest filled with a warm shimmering glow. The worries lifted off her shoulders and the vestiges of pain evaporated from inside her.
“I love you, too,” she breathed, touching his face, letting his essence seep through her fingertips and into her soul.
Jared sobered as he leaned in for a kiss. His lips touched hers and magic seem to saturate the atmosphere around them. It was a very long minute before he pulled back.
“We can reenact this part later for the camera,” he whispered, reaching to his inside jacket pocket. “But will you marry me?” He flipped open the jewel case to reveal a stunning solitaire.
Melissa nodded. “Yes. Oh, yes.” She couldn’t imagine a more amazing future than one with Jared.
He slipped the ring onto her finger. Then he kissed her hand and whispered, “Go ahead and show it off.”
Though her family was waiting, Jared was her world. She went up on tiptoe, hugging him tight, and he lifted her off the floor to spin her around.
Sheila squealed in the background, and suddenly the entire family was pouring into the foyer, admiring Melissa’s engagement ring and welcoming Jared into the family.