It is New Year’s Day morning.
After a damp squib of a New Year’s Eve involving a disappointing soirée under the Pont Alexandre III, a predictable lack of taxis in the vicinity of the Champs Elysées and rather more walking in the icy early hours wearing a gauzy dress and stockings than was advisable whilst heavy with cold, The Boy and I are dozing in bed.
To say The Boy is not a morning person would be something of an understatement. Upwards of four heavily sugared espressos and two cigarettes are required before he is able to manage anything approaching speech, and displays of affection the wrong side of midday are rare. I’ve learnt not to take this behaviour personally and, indeed, have grown rather fond of his habitual morning grimace: eyes scrunched tightly closed so as not to let in the merest chink of light, brow furrowed, lips pursed.
So when he wakes for a moment, rolls over and snuggles into my shoulder, his arm creeping around me, I am surprised and pleased and touched. And suddenly the question I’d been carrying around with me for three whole days in Amsterdam – never quite managing to find the right moment – wells up and, before I can stop myself, crosses my lips.
“I think I’d like to…” I say, shyly.
I regret the “I think” afterwards, because it doesn’t sound, well, sure enough. I also regret the fact that I addressed my question to somewhere slightly northwest of his collarbone instead of gazing deeply into his brown eyes.
“Um, can you ask me again later? When I’m awake?” replies the Boy, groggily.
“Yes. Of course,” I mumble.
I’m mortified. Groaning on the inside. But there is nothing I can do now except wait. And see whether he chooses to remember our exchange when he wakes up.
Several hours later, I open my eyes to a vision of The Boy – showered, dressed and perched on the edge of the bed – looking at me intently with an odd expression on his face. Somehow he manages to remind me of the dramatic chipmunk and a lovestruck puppy, simultaneously.
“That question you asked me earlier… Did you mean it?” he says slowly as I blink and rub the sleep from my eyes. “Because if you did… then the answer is YES.”
For a moment the only sound is my sharp intake of breath. Then I hug him tightly. I don’t think I’d ever got as far as imagining beyond actually popping the question, and I have no idea what to do, or say, next.
“T’es pas dans la merde là!” says The Boy – who I realise will need a name change, now that he has been promoted to Husband-to-be – with a grin. That seals the deal: together, we have managed to make this a scene we will never be able to recount to our grandchildren.
Neither of us dares refer to the subject for the rest of the day. I think we are both in shock.