89. The Big Question

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In the warm air of the evening, Hester Park looked picture-perfect with its rolling green hills and the golden radiance of the waning sun, hanging just over the top of the distant tree line. A chorus of crickets chirped to the croaking of frogs and the occasional hoo-hoo of an owl.

Henry took Sarah's hand in his and leaned a bit closer. Staring out across the town's lake, they were on the tail end of a romantic evening.

They had enjoyed a picnic dinner of roast chicken, creamy potato salad, and leafy greens topped with crushed walnuts and a sweet vinaigrette dressing. And for dessert, Sarah had baked an apple pie that was simply out of this world.

After dinner, they packed up their wicker picnic basket and folded up the red-and-white sheet. Then they strolled over to the water, shimmering with gold streaks as a light breeze picked up.

Sarah murmured, "Henry, I've been having such a wonderful time with you."

Henry felt his heart drumming as Sarah gazed at him through pensive eyes. He felt as though he might just fall into the sweet depth of her gaze. She was so pretty. Dark brown curls framed her gentle face and yet there was an undeniable strength in her expression.

"I've been having a great time with you too. I always enjoy our time together."

Henry thought of the ring in his pocket. In a few minutes, he would take it out and slip it onto Sarah's finger. Then he would have her answer. His heart fluttered at the thought. He wanted to pop the question at the right moment.

"You know," Sarah said. "I think that we go really well together."

"Like oatmeal cookies and milk," Henry said, half joking.

Sarah sighed. "Be serious for a minute." She paused for a breath. "I've been thinking, maybe we could continue to go really well together ..."

Henry felt his nerves clench up. He wanted the moment to be a total surprise. But here she was trying to talk about commitments. If he proposed now, it would all come out like a big dud, unless he could figure a way to change the subject. "Hey, I saw your friend Helen at the market today."

"Is that so?" Sarah said. "You know, Nella and I were bridesmaids in her wedding. She got married to a nice boy from church, the one she'd been seeing for quite some time. The two of them are so happy together. You know ... I think about that sometimes ... marriage that is."

Sarah looked up at Henry, her eyes imploring.

Henry felt his blood pressure rising. His attempt to divert Sarah's attention from marriage had backfired. Mind racing, he said, "Yeah, marriage is good, I suppose. But it's probably too early for us to be talking like that. We haven't been seeing each other all that long. That's moving a bit fast, don't you think?"

Sarah pursed her lips. "No, actually, I don't think that," she replied, her voice taut as a rope pulled at both ends. "I think that life is short, and it's important to act on what makes you happy. You can't hesitate in life. I just ... you know ... oh, never mind!"

Sarah pulled away from Henry and turned her back to him.

This was going in the wrong direction. "Aw, come on, Sarah," Henry said. "Don't be angry."

Without turning around, Sarah folded her hands. "I'm not angry!" she said, almost shouting.

Henry felt the panic in his heart. All Henry wanted to do was propose, and now Sarah was mad at him. He'd missed his chance to seize that perfect moment to ask the question. He'd been thrown a curve ball.

Then Henry remembered something his mother had once told him.

When life throws you a curve, take your best swing.

A few feet behind Sarah, Henry lowered to one knee, pressing against the damp grass. "Okay," he said. "Well, I have a surprise for you." He reached into his trouser pocket and withdrew the box.

"I'm not in the mood," Sarah said. "I want to go home." She was looking out on the lake, now shimmering under the new moon.

Henry removed the ring and returned the empty box to his pocket. Seeing as she wasn't going to turn around, he saw no other option but to push forward. "I have something for you."

"What?" Sarah said, still refusing to face him.

"It's a ring."

Sarah grunted and it actually sounded more like a growl. "Henry Louis, you're so full of it!"

Henry grinned. "Just turn around." His heart started to beat faster.

"You do not," Sarah shouted as she whirled around, "have a ..." Eyes fanning wide, she let out a loud gasp, bringing one hand up to cover her mouth. With the other hand, she pointed a shaky finger at the ring. The diamond glistened under the light of the moon.

"Ms. Sarah Stewart, will you marry me?" Henry said, rising to his feet. He stepped in close and held up the ring.

Sarah looked up at Henry, tears welling in her eyes. "Yes. I will marry you."

Henry took Sarah's hand and slid the ring onto her trembling finger. He took Sarah into his arms and kissed her. It had worked out, and this was the happiest day of his life.

"Henry, this is a dream come true," Sarah whispered, her lips almost touching Henry's. "I didn't want to say too much and scare you off, but I was so hoping for this day. All I want is you. I want to marry you and start a family." She pulled back a little and met Henry's eyes.

"I love you, Henry Louis."

"And I love you too, Sarah Stewart."


Author's Note

Hopefully you liked this marriage proposal. Hey, I couldn't make it easy on Henry, could I? Lol!

As always, I do very much appreciate the reads and votes.

And if you loved the way things turned out for Henry and Sarah, leave a heart ( <3 ) or a comment.  ;)

Thanks,

Tom

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