Up. Down. Twist, twist. Up. Down. Twist, twist.
I watched the rhythmic motion of the coffee sleeve as Jamie fiddled with it. He still hadn’t looked at me.
“Are you sure this is what you want?”
“No.” His gaze flicked to my face for a millisecond as I answered. “But I think it’s what I need.”
He nodded absently.
Up. Down. Twist, twist.
“I can’t say I understand why you want to postpone the wedding. I thought you wanted to get married. I thought you wanted to marry me.”
His voice was so quiet I could barely make out the words over the sound of the patrons around us. God, I was hurting him, and it was shattering my heart in my chest.
I really was a monster.
“I do want to marry you! I really do! It’s just…You know I love you, right? More than anything?” His hands stopped moving as I paused, then resumed their steady, distracted activity. “I can’t explain it. I just want to see…I need to make sure…it’s not that…”
I raked my hands through my hair and slammed against the back of the seat. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go down. I clasped my hands in my lap, pulling every muscle in tight and I held very still. I was losing control of the situation.
“Shit! This is coming out all wrong. I practiced what I was going to say a hundred times and it came out so much better than this!”
The corner of his mouth twitched into a smirk, the closest thing to a smile I’d seen since we sat down here thirty minutes ago. Maybe since he heard I climbed out that window.
“Only a hundred?” He flicked his eyes up to me then back at the table. I released my hands and relaxed just a little.
“Well, maybe not a hundred times – but that’s not far off!”
How could I make him understand? I wanted to marry him. I loved him. But over the course of the last month, since he proposed and I accepted, I started worrying. It’s a thing I did, all the time, over everything. I had been in love before – at least I thought I had been. Why hadn’t those other relationships worked out? I had fallen out of love with other men, or they with me. Who was to say that this relationship, this love, wouldn’t fall to the wayside, just like the rest? In line with my regular prep work and checking and double-checking, I needed to find out why my previous loves had fizzled out – and how to ensure this one wouldn’t. Jamie was the best thing in my life and I couldn’t stand the thought of finding out too late I wasn’t the best thing in his.
I watched him for a few minutes, neither of us speaking. I didn’t know what else to say. Finally, he sighed and shrugged.
“I mean, I can’t make you marry me. If you need some time to figure things out, to make absolutely sure this is what you want, then time is what you’ll have. And you know I’ll be here whenever you’re ready.”
He was so accepting, so matter-of-fact, that I was immediately angry. One of the traits I had always adored about him was, at this moment, pissing me off. I wanted him to yell at me, to tell me not to go. I wanted to hear that he was scared, too, that his feelings weren’t so indisputable – and that we’d be okay anyway.
Leaning forward with both palms flat on the table I hissed, “Aren’t you at least a little bit afraid?”
At that, his head snapped up, his expression placid, his eyes like steel.
“No. Not at all.”