If you have not read the previous posts in the Valentine's Day series, please be sure to start here and read them all before this one.
After leaving Rachael in the hospital and giving her brother a rose, Rachael and I made an interesting discovery. We liked each other. Quite a lot. Now, we'd only just started dating, so it would be premature to label it 'True Love' or anything quite that extreme, but looking back, I believe the first seeds of love were planted and they later grew into a beautiful relationship that has continued to grow and has sustained us all these years.
The next few months went by quickly, with more and more time spent together. Our dates were frequent, our conversations were no longer stilted, and I was falling more and more for Rachael each day. I was fairly confident that her feelings matched my own, and this served as a great foundation for what was actually a fairly cruel practical joke. Looking back, I somewhat regret what I gave Rachael for her 18th birthday.
No, it's not that I regret giving her the diamond earrings. They looked gorgeous on her. In fact, she still has them, and she still looks gorgeous with them on.
I regret the way I gave them to her. By this time, I was starting to feel somewhat confident that this was it. That Rachael was The One. While I thought she felt the same, I was not quite sure. I was still plagued with a fair measure of uncertainty and I think this was the genesis of my plan.....
The day started beautifully.
I picked Rachael up and we were heading to Apple Hill to spend a romantic day together, celebrating her 18th birthday.
We talked, and held hands, and might have even kissed a time or two. And no adverse reactions this time. We were hospital-free without a care in the world. Except for some manufactured ones, on my part.
On the way to Apple Hill, we decided to stop in Tahoe. Oh, you don't go through Tahoe when driving from Sacramento to Apple Hill? Well, you probably just need to get a better navigator. Rachael can show you the way.
Now Tahoe is a very nice city, romantic in its own rite, but was definitely not where we had planned to go. It turns out that we had taken the wrong Interstate heading East out of Sacramento. An easy mistake to be sure, but somewhat inconvenient.
After driving almost to Reno on I-80, we took the Highway that runs from I-80 to Hwy. 50- I think it's Hwy. 89 or 87, or something like that. We eventually made our way towards Apple Hill.
All day long, I had successfully attempted to act nervous and had made several leading comments, like how I loved our life together, etc.
All the world's a stage and the men and women simply players.
I was setting the stage.
Rachael and I had our parts to play.
When I purchased the diamond earrings for Rachael, I had made sure that they came in a very distinct box. A box that could easily be mistaken for one that contained a ring. Maybe an engagement ring.
We pulled into an apple orchard and drove into seclusion. I acted more and more nervous with each passing minute.
I'm not sure if I'm a good actor, or if Rachael is just a great audience, but the ploy was working.
I nervously and abruptly began my planned-for conversation while trying to make sure it appeared that I was FINALLY going to come clean with what was making me so nervous all day.
'Rachael, I know we haven't been dating for that long.'
I take her hand in mine and gaze into her eyes.
She has already gone still, not quite sure where this is heading.
'But I know my feelings for you are real.'
Did I just see her stiffen? Is that concern I see in her eyes?
I get down on one knee, still holding one of her hands in mine.
'I believe we are meant for each other. I am looking forward to our future together.'
I know, I know. I'm really tempting fate, us being out in the middle of a desolate apple orchard with no Emergency Room close.
'I just have one question I need to ask you.....'
I believe she is breathing somewhat erratically now.
'Rachael, will you.........
Long pause. Time has stopped for Rachael. I can see the indecision on her face. I can tell she wants to say yes and wants to say no, all at the same time. But I also can tell that she will someday be my wife.
I slowly open the box.
'Accept these diamond earrings for your 18th birthday?'
I truly do not think there is a woman in the world that has ever been happier to get a pair of diamond earrings.
At this point, I think I knew that our destiny was to be together.
Looking back, I actually feel embarrassed about doing this. And I'm worried about what you will think of me for doing it. And I agree it was a cruel thing to do. My only plea is that you'll consider I did not do it out of cruelty, but out of insecurity, and maybe a slightly evil sense of humor. But not cruelty.
I could not be cruel to the girl I loved.
And I WAS in love.
For Rachael's side of the story, please check out her post, The First Proposal.
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