Wedding Night - Page 269
Author: Sophie Kinsella
“Wait,” I say, and sit bolt upright at the realization. “The villain of the piece isn’t Ben, it’s Richard. If he’d proposed to Lottie in the first place, none of this would have happened.”
“Oh,” says Richard, and rubs his nose. “Ah.”
There’s a weird, silent little beat, in which I wonder wildly whether Richard will hurl himself onto one knee on the sand and do the business, but it passes, and no one says anything. Yet there’s a strangeness in the air now; this is pretty awkward; I should never have mentioned it.…
“Well, I can do something about that.” Lottie has a strange fire in her eyes. “Wait there. I need my bag.”
We all watch in puzzlement as she hurries back to the restaurant, heads straight to our table, and starts scrabbling in her handbag. What on earth is she up to?
And then suddenly I gasp. Oh God. I know. I want to hug myself with glee, with nerves, with anticipation. This could be amazing, this could be brilliant.…
Do not fuck it up, Richard.
And now she’s coming back toward us and her chin is up but trembling, and I can see exactly what she’s going to do, and I am so, so, so glad I am here to see this.
I can’t breathe. Lottie is walking slowly and deliberately up to Richard. She kneels down in front of him and holds out a ring.
It’s quite a nice ring, I see, to my relief. Quite manly.
“Richard,” she says, and blows out sharply, as though with nerves. “Richard …”
Tears are in my eyes. I can’t believe I’m doing this. It’s what I should have done in the first place.
“Richard,” I say for a third time. “Even though I’m currently married to someone else—will you marry me?”
There’s a taut, still silence. The last sliver of light from the sun slips away into the sea, and, above us, tiny stars start to glimmer in the deep-blue sky.
“Of course. Of course. Of course.” Richard envelops me in a bear hug.
“Of course! It’s what I want. Marriage. To you. Nothing else. I was an idiot before.” He hits his own head. “I was a fool. I was a—”
“It’s OK,” I say gently. “I know. So … it’s a yes?”
“Of course it’s a yes! Oh God.” He shakes his head. “Of course it’s a yes. I’m not letting you get away again.” He’s holding my hand so tightly, I think he may break a bone.
“Congratulations!” Fliss throws her arms around me, while Lorcan pumps Richard’s hand energetically. “You’re engaged! For real this time! We need champagne!”
“And an annulment,” puts in Lorcan drily.
I’m engaged! To Richard! I feel light-headed with euphoria and shock at myself. I proposed? I proposed? Why didn’t I do this before? It was easy!
“Good work!” says Lorcan, kissing me. “Congratulations!”
“I’m so happy.” Fliss is hugging herself. “So, so, so happy. It’s exactly what I hoped for.” She shakes her head disbelievingly. “After all that.” She reaches out and squeezes my hand.
“After all that.” I squeeze it back. A waiter is passing, and Fliss summons him over.
“Champagne, please! We have an engagement to celebrate!”
And now, as we all finally draw breath, there’s a pause. Everyone’s looking at the ring lying in my palm. Richard still hasn’t taken it from me. Should I slide it onto his finger? Or just hand it over? Or … what? What are you supposed to do with men’s engagement rings?
“Sweetheart, about the ring,” says Richard at last. I can tell he’s trying to contort his face from “dubious” to “enthusiastic,” but it’s not working.
“Nice ring,” observes Lorcan.
“It’s lovely,” says Fliss encouragingly.
“Absolutely,” says Richard quickly. “Very … shiny. Very smart. It’s just that—”
“You don’t have to wear it,” I say hastily. “It’s not for wearing. You can keep it on your nightstand or whatever … maybe keep it in a drawer … or in a safe.…”
The look of relief on Richard’s face is so palpable, I can’t help laughing. As he hugs me tight again, I slip the ring into my pocket. We’ll just quietly forget it.
I knew that ring was a mistake.