“Troy, wait!” Melissa called as he stormed away from her office. She disentangled herself from Andy’s arms and hurried after Troy, following him down the short hallway and into the main showroom floor.
Dozens of customers seemed to suddenly need to shop in the sporting goods section of the store near her office. She ignored them.
“Troy, stop! Come back here.”
He wheeled around to face her. “I just needed to see it for myself that you did indeed have your ex-boyfriend with you in your office. Now I know where I stand.”
“Is this the guy your father said you weren’t allowed to marry?” Andy asked, coming up behind her. “Is he the reason you left me?”
She spun on Andy. “I did not leave you for Troy. I left you because I didn’t want to marry you.”
“Wait, is this the guy who only wanted to be with you because you were beautiful?” Troy asked.
Melissa now stood between the man she almost married and the man she wished she could marry. They glared at each other with vitriol in their eyes.
“That is not true that I only wanted her because she was beautiful,” Andy insisted. “But it is true that she’s beautiful. Every man in this building thinks she’s beautiful.”
“But she is so much more than her beauty,” Troy said in hushed awe.
“I am very aware how much more she is than her beauty,” Andy insisted. “I have known her for years. And I’ve loved her for years. I know the strong independent woman that she is. I want to serve by her side forever.”
That was hitting below the belt. Andy knew that if Melissa married Troy, she wouldn’t be his equal and she wouldn’t be able to get married in the temple forever. They would only be married until they died, and not for eternity. Mennonites didn’t believe that marriage could last forever if a couple is sealed in a temple.
“You deserve to have a temple marriage.” Andy turned to her and pleaded with his eyes. “You deserve to be married in the everlasting covenant. You deserve to have your children born in the covenant. You deserve to have a man who will treat you like a princess.”
“I don’t want to be worshipped,” Melissa said. “I want to be loved.”
“Love is not the only thing that makes a marriage,” Andy said. “You and I have a connection that’s eternal.”
“We can’t even get along for an entire conversation,” Melissa pointed out. “We’re arguing about whether we’re in love.”
“I’m not arguing with you. I’m fighting for you. Because I love you, and I’ve always loved you, and I will always love you. You have my heart, and you will for eternity. Please, I’ll do anything. I’ll move here so you can continue working. I can find a job here in Michigan, or I can work remotely. I want to be by your side. I want you to feel the kind of love that we felt at the time that I got down on one knee and gave you that diamond ring.”
“Your daddy bought that diamond ring.”
“And I’m still paying him back.” Andy chuckled.
“Giving you that ring was the best choice I ever made.”
“Accepting that ring was the worst choice I ever made.”
“I can’t believe that to be true.”
Would Andy never give up? Time to bring out the big guns. Two could play at this game. Melissa squeezed her eyes shut. “Andy, what color are my eyes?”
“What are you talking about Melissa?” Andy sighed. “Why does it matter what color your eyes are?”
“Just tell me. Do you remember what color my eyes are?”
“I think they're hazel, right?”
“You tell me.”
“I haven’t seen you in forever,” Andy said.
“Really?” She kept her eyes shut. “Because you’ve been standing in my office looking into my eyes for the past half an hour. Now go for it. Tell me what color my eyes are.”
“They’re hazel,” Andy stated confidently.
“Troy, what color are my eyes?” Melissa continued to stand there with her eyes closed knowing approximately what his answer would be before he said it out loud.
Troy’s voice lowered to a husky, burning undertone, and he almost whispered, “Sometimes they’re a dark jade. But when the light hits them just right they sparkle like emeralds.”
“That proves nothing!” Andy said. “All that proves is that he thinks you’re beautiful also.”
“No, it proves that Troy has looked into my soul.” Melissa finally opened her eyes and faced Andy. “Troy knows me on a deeper level than any man has ever known me before. It doesn’t matter that Troy and I have differences in opinions about doctrine. It doesn’t matter that Troy and I belong to different churches. It doesn’t matter that Troy and I are going to disagree about a lot of things. What matters is that Troy and I can’t keep our eyes off each other. We can’t keep our hands off each other. We’ve never kissed before, but I know that once we start kissing, we’re never going to want to keep our lips off of each other either.”
“I remember a time when you couldn’t keep your lips off me either.”
“I never felt anything when I kissed you the way I feel when I look in Troy’s eyes.” She turned around and pierced her gaze right into Troy. “I love you. I’ve loved you for weeks and I can’t imagine my life without you. Please come back to me. Please don’t shut me out. We can find a way to make everything work. I love you and I want to be your wife and I want to serve by your side or behind you or in front of you. Whatever you want. I want to raise your babies and I want to sleep next to you every night. I want to live beside you for the rest of my life and die in your arms.”
Troy didn’t hesitate a second beyond Melissa’s heartfelt speech. He pulled her into his arms and kissed her with a passion that she never knew possible.
People throughout the store whistled and catcalled and applauded.
Somewhere in Melissa’s peripheral vision, Andy took a step back, completely defeated. Maybe now he would head back to Utah and realize their breakup was forever.
When they finally pulled apart to breathe, Troy whispered, “I’ve wanted to do that since the day I met you.”
“Oops,” Melissa said with a nervous chuckle. “I guess we didn’t wait until our wedding to kiss each other for the first time. You wanted the minister to give you permission to kiss your bride.”
“Well since my minister won’t give us permission to get married anyway, it doesn’t really matter what he says.” Troy chuckled in irony. “I would like to get married civilly right away though because I can’t wait to kiss you again.”
“I’m totally on board with that plan,” she said.
“I know exactly what kind of engagement ring I want to buy you,” Troy said with a cocky grin.
“You do?” She bit he lower lip playfully. “What kind?”
Book Club Discussion Questions: Knowing how fast social media travels… how much trouble did Troy just step into?