“You have a meeting tonight? I thought we could have a quiet dinner, you know, just the two of us.” Emily stirred her coffee, holding her head up with her free hand.
“We will have other nights, Em.” Aubrey responded briskly. “I promised to keep the weekend free, remember? Friday nights are difficult.”
Emily nodded, “I understand.”
Aubrey stood up and took her dishes to the sink. “What’s on your agenda today?”
“I don’t really have one.” Emily sighed. “I suppose I will go work on my thesis.”
“Oh, don’t be grumpy.” Aubrey kissed the side of Emily’s head. “Maybe Jessica or Ashley are free?”
Emily smiled but then her smile faltered, “I wouldn’t want to bother them.”
Aubrey frowned, “it’s not a bother, I’m sure.”
“I’ll think about it. Will you be back for lunch?” Emily asked, hopefully.
“Sorry,” Aubrey winced, “we are short trainers today. I have three groups to meet and start off.” She kissed Emily softly. “I will be back before bed time and have all weekend off, I promise.”
Emily smiled and returned the kiss, although it was half hearted. She watched as Aubrey headed out the door with a wave before picking up her phone.
Emily: well I guess the honeymoon is over.
Stacie: what do you mean? What’s wrong?
Emily: Aubrey is working and didn’t even realize it’s Valentine’s Day.
Stacie: are you sure?
Emily: she is working late and suggested I call Jess or Ashley to hang out.
Stacie: oh. Maybe she’s just distracted.
Emily: maybe. She did say she has the weekend off.
Stacie: maybe she’s got something planned for tomorrow.
Emily: Aubrey Posen does not do surprises. I’d know if we had plans.
Stacie: wanna come over here today?
Emily: would you mind?
Stacie: nah. It’s cartoons and coloring for our Valentine’s Day. Color something for Bree.
Emily: oh yeah, that’d be great.
Stacie: come on over, grumpy.
Emily had to admit, as she pulled up to the lodge gate, that Bella and Stacie had been lovely distractions. Emily only cried twice- lunch and dinner time. The rest of the day they decorated cupcakes, sang along with music videos, colored pictures and watched movies. It was more fun than sitting at home alone or working on her thesis.
“Good evening, Miss Junk.” Anthony touched his hat as he opened the gate for her.
“You too, Anthony. Did you get to have dinner with your wife?” Emily smiled.
Anthony nodded. “Ricardo took the afternoon shift so I could get fresh flowers and bring home her favorite take out. Thanks for the reminder.”
Emily smiled. “Any time, happy Valentine’s Day.” She pulled through the gate, happy she had helped someone have a good holiday. She parked in front of the cabin she shared with Aubrey and was relieved the porch light was on. Aubrey had kept her word and come home before bedtime. Emily looked at her watch and winced. It was later than she had planned, but then she never said when she would be home.
She walked to the front door and inserted the key. As she pushed the door open, she felt the brush of something against her hand. She reached for the foyer light, but it didn’t turn on. “Aubs, the front light isn’t working,” she called out. She didn’t hear a response. “I guess you are in the shower.” Emily used her phone flashlight to see what had brushed against the back of her hand. A yellow piece of yarn was tied to the back of the door.
“What are you up to?” Emily called again. When there was still no response, she closed the door and untied the yarn. She rolled it into a ball as she followed it along to the kitchen. There, it was tied to a drawer handle. Above the drawer on the counter was the fondue pot and a bowl of strawberries. The bowl had a sign that said “dip me.”
Laughing, Emily obliged and dipped a strawberry into the melted chocolate. As she bit into the treat, she saw a second strand of yellow yarn taped to the door jamb on the far side of the kitchen. She walked over, released it and started to roll it up. It led her to the dining room. On the table with the end of the yarn under it was a crystal vase with cut flowers in it. Two types were red and one was white. She stepped closer to identify red carnations and tulips and white lilies.
“You don’t have to do this, Aubs.” Emily chuckled. “I am sorry I was being a baby about it being Valentine’s Day and you were working. Come out now, please?” She stood and waited but again didn’t hear a response. She bent over to smell the flowers and saw a third strand of yellow yarn extending from the far side of the vase. She carefully removed it and followed the new trail.
This one led to the bedroom. The room was lit with dozens of candles, and the yarn end was wrapped around the arm of a fluffy teddy bear seated on her pillow. Emily looked around, “Aubs? Where are you?” She crossed to the teddy bear and untied the yarn, causing something to fall as she did so. Rolling her eyes because she hated to ruin the candlelight ambience but couldn’t see what dropped, she turned on her flashlight again. It reflected off something shiny. Before she could retrieve it, Aubrey stepped out from the bathroom with two glasses of champagne.
“I didn’t think of that.” Aubrey smiled as she laughed at herself. “Here.” She handed over one glass. “I’ll get it.”
Emily sat down again and sipped at the drink. “You really are too much, you know that? I just spent the day telling Stacie you don’t do surprises and here you are.” She broke off.
Aubrey was now on the floor and held out the object that had fallen. She softly sang,
Don't be afraid.
We'll make it out of this mess.
It's a love story.
Baby, just say 'Yes'.
Emily swallowed hard, put her glass down and slid onto the floor beside the bed. She placed her hands on either side of Aubrey’s face and kissed her.
When they finally broke apart, Aubrey asked shakily, “is that a yes?”
Emily nodded vigorously. “Oh my stars. A thousand times, yes.”
Aubrey wrapped her arms around Emily and they kissed again.
“I thought you didn’t like surprises?” Emily laughed as Aubrey slipped the ring onto Emily’s hand.
“I don’t like being surprised.” Aubrey clarified. “I love surprising you.” She took a shaky breath. “You scared me, you know.”
Wiping a tear from her eye, Emily’s smile faded. “What did I...?”
Aubrey smiled, although it was a little tremulous. “It’s late.”
“Oh,” Emily blushed and looked down. “I told you, I was just being a baby.”
“You were not,” Aubrey gently corrected her. “At least a hundred times these last two hours I second guessed surprising you. I was so sure you weren’t coming back.”
Emily shook her head and lifted her hand to caress Aubrey’s cheek, the candlelight reflecting off her new ring. “I couldn’t have stayed away. Even if you never gave me this pretty bauble, I’m so yours.”
Aubrey blinked back tears. “Every path leads back to you.” She picked up both glasses of champagne, handing one over to Emily. “I’d rather they be beside you.”
“You say the most wonderfully sappy voice things.” Emily’s voice was barely above a whisper as they clinked glasses. “There is no one else I’d rather journey with.” They sipped the champagne to seal the toast and kissed again.
Emily jumped as her phone buzzed.
Emily laughed and took a picture of her ringed hand resting in Aubrey’s palm and sent it. In minutes, it was on the Bella Chat and the congratulations started pouring in.
Chloe: omg Elf why didn’t you tell me.
Beca: Jeeze, Posen. Top us all again.
Stacie: want to reword that?
Beca: fuck you, Conrad.
Amy: that bed is getting awfully full
Chloe: quit while you are behind, Beca
Jessica: ew! Can we get back to the happy couple?
Ashley: yeah! Best wishes!
Esther: I can officiate now that Satan has left my body
Flo: madre a mia, you are a minister, Esther?
Esther: among other things.
CR: I don’t want to know. Congrats, you two!
Chloe: ooooh! We get to plan a wedding!
Beca: can I poke my eye out first?
Stacie: ignore the Grumpy one, Bree. You did good! She had no idea!
Emily looked up from the phone and at Aubrey. “Stacie knew?”
“Only after I panicked and you weren’t home yet.” Aubrey admitted.
“Is that why she started nudging me out the door?” Emily laughed quietly. “I guess I should thank her.”
Aubrey took the phone out of Emily’s hand and turned it off. “The weekend is ours, remember?”
“We will have other weekends,” Emily teased back even as she leaned in for another kiss. She knew that while it may be true, there would never be another weekend like this.