Long Cold Winter: Chapter Forty-Six

“Matt, Honey?” Amanda’s voice woke Matt with a start. He raised his head to find he was still behind his desk. How long had he been asleep?

He wiped the sleep from his eyes. “In here, Baby.”

She appeared in the doorway. “You’ve been asleep.”

He nodded, embarrassed. “Yes. How long? What time is it?”

She smiled at him sweetly. “What do you remember last?”

He looked at her bewildered. “The last thing I remember was the intern dropping off tomorrow’s workload. I sat down to rest before coming out to spend time with you and the girls. I must’ve dozed off. What time is it?”

She took his hand. “You have only been asleep for two hours. Relax. Come, Rip Van Winkle. Dinner is ready.”

He rose and left the office with her. Just being next to her was like being in heaven. He smiled, satisfied. She was all he needed.

He looked over at her. “So who made dinner? I know I have been lax.”

She winked at him. “I did. I fixed my favorite. Duck L’orange with vegetables almondine. And for you, me as dessert. Later.”

He smiled and winked back. “Mmmmm. Sounds so good. So divine.”

They entered the dining room. She presented him to the rest. “I found him. He was still in his office. Napping.”

He bowed and put his hand on his heart in mock seriousness. “Please accept my sincerest apologies for being tardy. I will try not to let it happen again.” He made a final, dramatic sweeping bow.

Laughter followed and they all sat to enjoy the meal. But it was more than a meal. It was family time. They were growing close again.

Matt was excited. Amazing how the addition of just one person could change everything. Amanda had brought new life into the house. A renewed sense of family. It was as if she had been meant to be there at that very moment in time.

She was healing old wounds. Renewing old bonds. Strengthening what had fallen into disrepair. Bringing everyone back together.

He knew he had to do something to keep her. But he held back in fear. Afraid of rejection. Afraid of losing what he had found in her.

He stood without warning and turned to her. “I know it is still early in our relationship. I know I am being impulsive. But I know my heart. And my heart says the time is right.”

He went to his knees and took her hand in his. He stared at her hand for a while, then looked into her eyes. She sat stunned for a few minutes, then put her other hand on top of his. “Yes?”

He remained serious. “I will understand if you do not feel this is the time, but I will still be disappointed.”

She was confused. “Right time for what, Love?”

He looked down, swallowed the lump in his throat, then looked back up into her eyes. “Will you marry me?” A lopsided smile forced itself onto his face, showing just how nervous he truly was. “I mean, I have thought long and hard about this. I love you, Amanda. Since you have come into my life, I have felt things I have not felt for years.

“We can take as long as you want in our engagement to learn all there is to know about each other. All I know is that I want to spend my life, what is left, with you.”

A shocked silence hung over the room like a thin gossamer curtain. All eyes were upon Matt and Amanda. Matt had strayed from his traditional sense of order. Everyone had witnessed that.

Amanda now sat in stunned silence. Her heart thrilled at what had been asked, yet she had been totally unprepared for it. She felt like jumping up and running, but at the same time, she wanted nothing more than to take Matt in her arms and hold him close.

In the week that she had been a part of his life, she had known that this day would come. She just did not think it would be so soon. So unexpected. So impulsive.

The only thing she knew for certain was that this felt so right. His question had felt wonderfully right. And there could only be one answer. No other.

She took a deep breath, the shock wearing off. “Matthew Morrow, I don’t know whether to kiss you or cry. What you asked was so wonderful and beautiful.” She sought calm where there was only excitement, then gave in. Her voice shaking. “I know there is only one right answer to what you ask. And it is Yes. Yes!” She kissed him.

He looked down. “I-I know I didn’t plan this out very well. I was supposed to have a ring and–I don’t. I don’t even know what size to get.”

She raised his chin and looked into his eyes. “I don’t mind. We can get the ring together.” She took him in her arms. “Oh, my love! You sure know how to surprise a woman, don’t you?”

He looked up at her and smiled. “I do, don’t I? I even surprised myself this time. I-I didn’t think I could be brave enough to pull it off.”

She giggled. “Well, you did.”

He snorted with laughter. “I have a confession to make, my love. I had been practicing this when I fell asleep. The intern was not the last thing I remember. I had been standing in front of that silly mirror in my office trying lines and becoming frustrated. I sat down and put my head on my desk to think. That was the last thing I did before falling asleep.”

She smiled at him. “Did it help?”

He looked at her quizzically. “What?”

She giggled. “Did rehearsing your lines help?”

He smiled. “No. What I just said was done in the fly by the seat of your pants method. It had not been rehearsed. But it came from my heart. By impulse.”

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