“Oh my gosh! What are you doing here?” Leanne stood from where she was perched in the front row of a very full lecture hall. Good. Lots of people would witness her rejection… again. “How many times do I have to break up with you?”
“You’ve never actually broken up with me,” Sam said, barely glancing at the confused and startled professor with his gaping mouth and wide eyes. “You’ve just delayed the inevitable.”
She huffed and folded her arms across her chest, looking off into the corner over his shoulder. He didn’t mean to cut his timing so close to the start of her class period, but he had to find the perfect ring.
“I’m never going away,” Sam said, stepping closer to her. She didn’t back up, but she didn’t lesson her defensive stance. “Now that I know how good it feels to sleep in your arms.”
Some guy a few rows back whistled seductively. Sam ignored him.
“Do you see what this says?” Sam held up his cell phone with the contacts list open, her name listed first and paired with his. “It says Leanne Cohen. The love of my life. The woman who will grow old with me. The woman who will someday gift me the opportunity to become a dad.”
That brought a tiny sliver of a smile to Leanne’s lips, but she firmed her expression. “I’m not leaving school and moving to Dubai.”
“I’m not asking you to move to Dubai.”
“Oh, I know. You want me to follow you and Nicholas and Adele off to who knows where.”
“Hear me out, okay?” Sam hurried on with his impassioned speech. “We’ll get married now, finish your master’s program here, figure out where Nicholas is leading us, and go there for your PhD.”
“But that’s so uncertain,” she pleaded.
“That’s what makes it real. That’s why I trust it. That’s why I’m asking you to give up all that you have to follow a compass that may or may not be pointing north. And if it’s not, who cares.” He paused and lowered his voice. “As long as I get to sleep next to you every night from now until eternity—with fewer layers of clothing between us—I will treasure every moment of my life with you.”
“You only want to marry me because my sisters are married to your brothers and our parents for some reason think all of their children are supposed to marry each other.”
“No, that’s not the reason I want to marry you,” Sam said. “I love you. I love you because of your intelligence and strength and tenacity.”
“Sam, why are you doing this to me?” Frustration gave way to exasperation.
“Because you’ve already said yes to me a million times in your dreams. But maybe this will persuade you to say yes while you’re still awake.” Sam lowered himself to his knee in front of her whole lecture hall full of classmates, and one very annoyed professor. With a ring box open that contained an enormous diamond ring, Sam whispered passionately. “Please, my love, for the billionth time, will you marry me?”
He waited for what felt like hours but was probably only seconds for her to say no.
“Yes,” she whispered.
“Yes?” Dare he hope that he’d heard her correctly.
“Yes! Yes, I’ll marry you and sleep next to you, and follow wherever you lead me.”
“Wherever Nicholas leads us,” Sam corrected her, hopping to his feet.
“What?” Exasperation filled her voice again.
“Never mind,” Sam said. “You follow me, and I’ll follow him, and we’ll all be going in the correct direction.”
“Whatever. Just get over here and kiss me,” Leanne demanded.
“Do you want the ring on your hand first?” Sam asked, holding up the little velvet box.
“Yes.” She jumped on her toes like a little girl. “Yes, yes, give me that ring.”
Sam slipped the ring from the box and onto Leanne’s finger. As they finally kissed one another the lecture hall erupted in applause.
Six weeks later…
“I just got a text from my sister, Rachel.” Leanne set her laptop on the king-sized bed and shoved aside three textbooks and a spiral notebook. Their bed had gradually become a great place to study since they didn’t want to get out from under the covers. Instead, they propped themselves up with lots of pillows.
“Hmm?” Sam didn’t glance up from the abstract he was reading on geological assessments in mineral deposit variations. Not a topic his bride was likely to encounter in entry level natural resources management, but he’d gotten distracted on the second floor of the library. Sam’s attention was suddenly pulled away by an incoming text of his own. “Ooh, I just got one from Liam. Do you think they’re all still mad at us for eloping?”
“Don’t know, don’t care.” Leanne said holding up her phone. “Oh… my… gosh.”
“What?” Sam swiped open his phone and glanced at the text from his brother. “Uh oh…”
“I’m pregnant,” Leanne read Rachel’s text out loud. “She added lots of exclamation points and several hearts. One, two, three, four, five hearts. I guess she’s excited.”
“Liam’s text says, uh, almost the same thing.” Sam gulped and read out loud. “Rachel’s pregnant! With only one exclamation point. What the heck am I supposed to do now? Am I going to have to marry her?”
Sam and Leanne looked at each other and neither could contain a snicker.
“Stairwell?” Sam asked, raising his eyebrows seductively.
“Probably,” Leanne said. “What dorks.”
“Should we answer their text?” Sam asked playfully. “Or make them wait?”
Leanne pulled Sam’s cell phone from his hand and tossed it onto the floor along with hers and several textbooks. She closed her laptop and set it carefully on the bedside table then climbed into Sam’s lap “Nah, make ’em wait. They need to learn some patience.”
Sam rolled Leanne onto the bed and looked down into her deep blue eyes. “I’m glad we waited.” He loved the weight of the thick gold band on his left hand reminding him frequently that they no longer needed to wait.
“Me too.” Leanne’s peaceful smile invited Sam’s kiss. They didn’t get any more studying done that night.